Konev joined the Bolshevik Party in 1918 and subsequently entered the Red Army. Avoiding the purge in 1937 that killed most officers his age, Konev was rapidly promoted when the war began in 1939. He worked his way up the army ranks to the post of commander of the 1st Ukrainian Front in May 1944. Konev participated in many of the major military operations on the Eastern Front. In July 1943, he helped to achieve a huge victory at the Battle of Kursk. in January-February 1944 his forces encircled and killed or captured large German forces in the Korsun-Shevchenkovski operation. In July 1944,during the Lvov-Sandomierz Operation, his forces advanced into Poland and captured tens of thousands of Germans. In January 1945, his forces took part in the Vistula-Oder Operation, liberating the city of Krakow and the Nazi camp at Auschwitz. In April 1945, his forces advanced towards Berlin, but Konev was ordered to turn south to liberate Czechoslovakia instead.
In the 1950s, he occupied a number of high-ranking military posts and helped design the Warsaw Pact Treaty in 1955. From 1955 to 1960 he was commander-in-chief of Warsaw Pact forces.
In 1956 Hungarian patriots tried to overthrow the brutal Communist regime. The uprising was prepared during 1955 and began with a demonstration of 200,000 in Budapest on 23 October 1956. The desperate red leaders asked Moscow for help in suppressing it, but the rebels resisted, forcing Soviet troops into the suburbs of the capital. On November 2, 1956, Marshal Konev ordered the commander of the Special Corps to liquidate the uprising, providing him with additional troops and tanks. Hundreds of thousands of Hungarians escaped to the West in the chaos, but the uprising was quickly crushed. The Hungarian army remained neutral, refusing to fire on fellow Hungarians. The Hungarian Workers' Party (the Communist Party)was weakened by the affair, but it changed its name and resumed its police state.
- David M. Glantz and Jonathan M. House. When Titans Clashed: How the Red Army Stopped Hitler (1998)