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Yan Gamarnik (birth name Jakov Tzudikovich Gamarnik (Russian: Я́ков Цу́дикович Гама́рник), sometimes known as Yakov Gamarnik (Russian: Я́ков Гама́рник) (June 14 [O.S. June 2] 1894 — May 31, 1937) was a Soviet military absolute commander of the Red Army of 1930 to 1937 Supreme Comissar of Belarus and politician of Jewish ethnicity.

Yan Gamarnik
Ян Гамарник
Rus Stamp-Gamarnik YB.jpg
Jan B. Gamarnik in a Soviet stamp of 1964
First Secretary of the Communist Party of Byelorussia
In office
4 December 1928 – 3 January 1930
Preceded byVilgelm Knorinsh
Succeeded byKonstantin Gey
First Secretary of the Kiev Regional Committee of the Communist Party of Ukraine (Bolsheviks)
In office
25 April 1921 – July 1923
Preceded byPost established
Succeeded byHryhoriy Hrynko
Head of the Political Directorate of the Red Workers' and Peasants' Army
In office
1 October 1929 – 31 May 1937
PresidentKliment Voroshilov
Preceded byAndrei Bubnov
Succeeded byPyotr Smirnov
Full member of the 15th, 16th Orgburo
In office
17 November 1929 – 10 February 1934
Personal details
Jakov Tzudikovich Gamarnik

June 14 [O.S. June 2] 1894
Zhytomyr, Volhynian Governorate, Russian Empire
DiedMay 31, 1937(1937-05-31) (aged 42)
Moscow, Soviet Union
Political partyAUCP(B) (1916–)
CPU(B) (1918–)
ChildrenViktoria Kochneva
Alma materSt Petersburg Psychoneurological Institute
AwardsOrder of the Red Banner (1928)
Order of Lenin (1933)
Military service
AllegianceSoviet Union
Years of service1919-1937
RankArmy Commissar of 1st rank
Unit58th Rifle Division
CommandsArmy Political Administration (1929-37)



Gamarnik speaking to sailors on parade, 1933

Gamarnik was born in Zhytomyr in a Jewish family as Jakov Tzudikovich Gamarnik. He attended the St Petersburg Psychoneurological Institute and the Law School of Kiev University. In 1917 he became a member and the secretary of the Kiev committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. From 1921 to 1923 Gamarnik was a chairman of the Kiev city council (see Mayor of Kiev). During his administration Kiev was divided into five districts. He went through many Communist Party positions, both civil and military, e.g. a First Secretary of the Belarusian Communist Party of Belorussia from December 1928 to October 1929.[1]

He was instrumental in preparing the 10-year development plan for the Far-Eastern region of the USSR. He was a member of the Central Committee elected by the 17th Congress of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks). He attended the Plenum of February 23, 1937.

An idealist, Gamarnik was a staunch supporter of Marshal Tukhachevsky's drive to make USSR a military superpower. In 1937 Gamarnik was accused of participating in an anti-Soviet conspiracy after the Case of Trotskyist Anti-Soviet Military Organization; however, shortly before the trial he had actually been called upon by the Soviet government to be one of the judges for the accused. He insisted on Tukhachevsky's innocence and later committed suicide before he could be punished for his actions. Only after this was he added to the list of conspirators. He was rehabilitated posthumously by the CC CPSU and Nikita Khrushchev in 1955.

Honours and awardsEdit

Political offices
Preceded by
Ipolit Dyakov
Mayor of Kiev
Succeeded by
Hryhoriy Hrynko



  • Robert Conquest, The Great Terror: A Reassessment, Oxford University Press, May 1990, hardcover, ISBN 0-19-505580-2 pp 201–202;
  • Several versions of Gamarnik biography
  • Gamarnik in the Fleet, with photo
  • Trotsky about Gamarnik and others
  • Profile at Handbook on history of the Communist Party and the Soviet Union 1898 – 1991