Khoorloogiin Choybalsan (Mongolian, Хорлоогийн Чойбалсан) (February 8, 1895 – January 26, 1952) was the Communist leader of the Mongolian People's Republic and Marshal of the Mongolian armed forces from the 1930s until his death in 1952. He achieved the office with the assistance of the NKVD, acting on the orders of Joseph Stalin, who had decided that Choibalsan would be a more pliable ruler of the Soviet puppet state than more nationalistic members of the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party. In this he generally proved correct, as Choibalsan did not attempt to navigate an independent foreign policy but rather put his country at Stalin's disposal in matters of international relations. He also emulated Stalin's domestic policies, cultivating a totalitarian political culture and promoting a cult of personality with himself as head.
After World War II, Choibalsan grew increasingly disenchanted with Stalin, as it became clear that Stalin would not back Choibalsan's dream of completely unifying Mongolia. Choibalsan went to Moscow in late 1951 to receive treatment for kidney cancer, and died the following January. Initially, Stalin blamed the so-called "Doctors' Plot", but after his own death, and the revelation that the "Doctors' Plot" was designed to begin a new round of purges, many have speculated that Stalin himself was responsible for Choibalsan's death.
Khorloogiin Choibalsan in The War That Came Early
Khorloogiin Choibalsan followed Stalin's lead in the late 1930s by conducting purges of the officer corps of the Mongolian Army. Many officers were driven to defect rather than endure the purge. Though their defection was motivated entirely by a sense of self-preservation and the need to escape the danger which Choibalsan had created for them, the Mongolian dictator convinced himself that the defections were evidence of disloyalty, which made him even more suspicious of remaining officers.
- Hitler's War, pg. 49.
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