The State Defense Committee (Russian: Государственный комитет обороны, ГКО, romanized: Gosudarstvennyĭ komitet oborony, GKO) was an extraordinary organ of state power in the USSR during the German-Soviet War (Great Patriotic War) which held complete state power in the country.
The Soviets set up the GKO on 30 June 1941 (a week after Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941) by a compound decision of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, the Council of People's Commissars (Sovnarkom), and the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. The war situation at the front lines required a more centralized form of government. The Supreme Soviet, however, continued unsuspended. On 18 June 1942 over a thousand members attended the 9th session of the Supreme Soviet in Moscow.)
Geoffrey Roberts sees the GKO as "a sort of war cabinet".
The initial composition of the committee was such:
- Chairman - Stalin
- Deputy Chairman - Molotov (until May 16, 1944)
- other members - Beria, Voroshilov, Malenkov (Aviation Industry)
On February 3, 1942 the members of the committee also became the chairman of Gosplan Voznesensky and Mikoyan, while on February 20, 1942 was also included Lazar Kaganovich (Narkom of Transportation). By the end of the war on November 22, 1944 Nikolai Bulganin (Chairman of State Bank Directory) replaced Klim Voroshilov in the committee.
- Barber, John, and Harrison, Mark. (1991). The Soviet Home Front 1941–1945: A Social and Economic History of the USSR in World War II. London: Longman. ISBN 0-582-00964-2, ISBN 0-582-00965-0.
- Werth, Alexander. (1964). Russia at War 1941–1945. New York: Carrol and Graf.