Military Review

Alexander Vasilevsky - Conductor of the Great Patriotic Fronts

Exactly 120 years ago, 30 September (18 September old style) 1895, in the small village of New Golchik, Kineshma District, Kostroma Province (today, in the city of Vichuga, Ivanovo Region) was born Alexander Mikhailovich Vasilevsky. The future marshal of the Soviet Union was born in the family of an Orthodox priest. A talented General Staff Officer, Marshal Vasilevsky was a real conductor of the Great Patriotic War fronts. His daily work and a huge amount of rough work were the basis of many brilliant victories of the Red Army. One of the best senior strategic officers, Alexander Vasilevsky, did not win such loud fame as the victorious marshal like Georgy Zhukov, but his role in the victory over Nazi Germany is hardly less significant.

Alexander Mikhailovich was born in a large family. His father, Mikhail Alexandrovich Vasilevsky, was a church regent and psalm-reader of Nicholsky's co-religious (direction in the Old Believers) church. Mother Nadezhda Vasilevskaya was engaged in raising 8 children. The future marshal was the fourth oldest among his brothers and sisters. Originally known future Soviet commander chose the spiritual path, following the example of his father. In 1909, he graduated from the Kineshma Theological School, after which he entered the Kostroma Theological Seminary. The diploma of this seminary allowed to continue education in any secular educational institution. Vasilevsky finished the seminar already at the height of the First World War in January, 1915, and his life course changed drastically. Vasilevsky did not find a serious priest in himself, but he decided to go to defend the country.

Since February 1915, Alexander Vasilevsky has been part of the Russian Imperial Army. In June, 1915, he graduated from the accelerated courses (4 of the month) at the famous Moscow Alekseev Military School, he was awarded the rank of ensign. Vasilevsky spent almost two years at the front. Without a normal rest, vacations, the future great commander matured in battles, his character was forged by a warrior. Vasilevsky managed to take part in the famous Brusilovsky breakthrough in May 1916. In 1917, Alexander Vasilevsky, already in the rank of captain, acted as battalion commander on the South-Western and Romanian fronts. In the conditions of the total collapse of the army after the October Revolution, Vasilevsky abandoned his service and returned to his home.

Alexander Vasilevsky - Conductor of the Great Patriotic Fronts
Alexander Vasilevsky 1 August 1928 of the year

Returning home, he spent some time working in the field of education. In June, 1918 was appointed an instructor in the general education center in Ugletskaya volost (Kineshma district of Kostroma province). And since September, 1918 worked as a teacher of primary schools in the villages of Verkhovye and Podyakovlevo of the Tula province (today the territory of the Oryol region).

He was again called up for military service in April 1919, now in the Red Army. The captain of the tsarist army, in fact, begins a new military career with a sergeant position, becoming an assistant platoon commander. However, the knowledge and experience gained makes itself felt, and soon enough it grows to the assistant commander of the regiment. Vasilevsky is a member of the civil war since January 1920 of the year; in the position of assistant commander of the 429 Infantry Regiment in the 11 and 96 Infantry Divisions, he fought on the Western Front. He fought against the gangs that operated on the territory of the Samara and Tula provinces, detachments of Bulak-Balakhovich. Took part in the Soviet-Polish war as an assistant commander of the 96 th rifle division from the 15 th army. But now Vasilevsky could not rise above the post of regiment commander afterwards for long 10 years, most likely, his past was affected.

The long-awaited jump in the fate of the future marshal occurred in 1930 year. According to the results of the autumn maneuvers, Vladimir Triandafillov, who was one of the greatest theorists in the operational art of the Red Army (he was the author of the so-called "deep operation" - the basic operational doctrine of the Soviet armed forces right up to the Great Patriotic War), drew attention to a capable commander. Unfortunately, Triandafillov himself, who at the time was occupying the post of deputy chief of staff of the Red Army, was killed in the July 12 air crash of the year 1931. However, before that, he managed to note the talented regiment commander Alexander Vasilevsky and promoted him through the staff line. Thanks to him, Vasilevsky got into the system of combat training of the Red Army, where he was able to concentrate on summarizing and analyzing the experience of the use of troops.

Beginning in March 1931, the future marshal served in the Directorate of Combat Training of the Red Army - Assistant Head of the Sector and 2 Division. From December 1934 was the head of the combat training department of the Volga Military District. In April, 1936 was sent to study at the newly established country in the Academy of the General Staff of the Red Army, but after finishing the first course of the academy, he was unexpectedly appointed head of the logistics department at the same academy. It is noteworthy that the former head of the department I. I. Trutko was repressed at this time.

In October, 1937 was waiting for him a new appointment - the head of the operational training department of the Operational Directorate of the General Staff. In 1938, by order of the USSR People’s Commissar of Defense Alexander Mikhailovich Vasilevsky, the rights of the General Staff graduated from the Academy were appropriated. From 21 in May 1940, Vasilevsky served as Deputy Chief of the Operational Directorate of the General Staff. If, according to another Soviet Marshal Boris Shaposhnikov, the General Staff was the brain of the army, its operational management was the brain of the General Staff itself. Operational control was the place where all the options for conducting combat operations were planned and calculated.

In the spring of 1940, Vasilevsky headed the government commission on the demarcation of the Soviet-Finnish border, and also worked out plans for action in case of a war with Germany. After the beginning of World War II, 29 June 1941 was already appointed Boris Mikhailovich Shaposhnikov, who took the place of Georgy Konstantinovich Zhukov, who left the post with considerable scandal, who was not alone in the staff walls and wanted to break into the front line closer to the troops. August 1 Alexander Vasilevsky’s 1941 is appointed Deputy Chief of the General Staff, as well as the Head of the Operations Department. Thus, one of the most fruitful officer tandems in the military administration of the Soviet Union during the war was launched. Already in 1941, Vasilevsky played one of the leading roles in organizing the defense of Moscow, as well as the subsequent counterattack of the Soviet troops.

It is worth noting that the former colonel of the tsarist army, Boris Shaposhnikov, was the only military man to whom Stalin himself always addressed exclusively by name and patronymic and, regardless of the position he held, was a personal advisor to the Soviet leader on military issues, using Stalin’s unlimited trust . However, at that time, Shaposhnikov was already 60 years old, he was ill, and the unbearable burden of the first months of World War II seriously affected his health. Therefore, Vasilevsky turned out to be more and more often the main "on the farm". Finally, in May, 1942, after the most severe disasters that befell the Red Army in the south - the cauldron near Kharkov and the collapse of the Crimean Front, Shaposhnikov retires. His place at the head of the General Staff is Alexander Vasilevsky, who officially enters the new post only 26 June 1942, before that he was moving along fronts from north to south.

Alexander Vasilevsky accepts the capitulation of Major General Alfon Hitter. Vitebsk, 28 June 1944 of the year

By the time he was already a colonel-general. In the new position, he got his hands on what is called the complete set: a catastrophe near Kharkov, a breakthrough of German troops to Stalingrad, the fall of Sevastopol, a catastrophe of the 2 shock Vlasov army near the town of Myasnoy Bor. However, Vasilevsky pulled out. He was one of the creators of the Red Army counteroffensive plan in the Battle of Stalingrad, took part in the development and coordination of some other strategic operations. Already in February, 1943, after the victory at Stalingrad, Vasilevsky became a Marshal of the Soviet Union, setting a kind of record - in the rank of army general, Alexander Vasilevsky stayed less than one month.

The modest General Staff coped well with poorly visible from the side, but a very large-scale work of the conductor of a huge orchestra, which was a functioning army. He made a great contribution to the development of Soviet military art, personally taking part in the planning of many operations. On instructions from the Supreme Command Headquarters, he coordinated the actions of the Steppe and Voronezh fronts during the Battle of Kursk. He led the planning and conduct of strategic operations for the liberation of Donbass, Northern Tavria, Crimea, Belarusian offensive operations. 29 July 1944 of the year for the exemplary performance of the tasks of the Supreme Command on the front of the struggle against the Nazi invaders, Marshal Alexander Vasilevsky was awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union.

But do not think that Vasilevsky spent all the time in the headquarters. In May, 1944, after taking Sevastopol, he was even slightly injured when the staff vehicle hit a mine. And in February 1945 of the year, he personally led one of the fronts for the first time during the war. He asked several times to release him from his post in order to personally work in the army. Stalin hesitated, because he did not want to let go of the head of the General Staff he was accustomed to, but in February came the tragic news of the death of Ivan Chernyakhovsky, commander of 3 Byelorussian Front, after which Stalin gave his consent. Leaving at the helm of the General Staff another talented officer - Alexei Antonov - Vasilevsky heads the 3 Belorussian Front, directly carrying out the operational and strategic leadership of a large alliance of troops. It was he who led the assault on Konigsberg.

Alexander Vasilevsky (left) on the front line near Sevastopol, May 3 1944

Back in the fall of 1944, Vasilevsky was given the task of calculating the necessary forces and means for a possible war with Japan. It was under his leadership that a detailed plan of the Manchurian strategic offensive operation was already drawn up in 1945. On July 30 of the same year, Alexander Mikhailovich was appointed commander-in-chief of the Soviet troops in the Far East. On the eve of the large-scale offensive, Vasilevsky personally visited the initial positions of his troops, met with the units entrusted to him, and discussed the situation with the corps and army commanders. During these meetings, the deadlines for carrying out the main tasks were clarified and reduced, in particular the access to the Manchurian Plain. The Soviet and Mongolian units needed the entire 24 of the day in order to defeat the million Kwantung Army of Japan.

The campaign of the Soviet troops “through the Gobi and Khingan”, which Western historians defined as “the August Storm”, is still being studied at military academies of the world, as an excellent example of precisely built and implemented logistics. Soviet troops (more than 400 thousand people, 2100 tanks and 7000 guns) were transferred from the west to a theater of war, which was rather poor in terms of communications, and deployed on the spot, carrying out long marches on their own, passing 80-90 kilometers on peak days without major delays due to a perfectly thought out and implemented supply system and repair.

For the able leadership of the Soviet troops in the Far East of the country during the short-term campaign against Japan 8 September 1945, Marshal Alexander Vasilevsky was awarded the second Gold Star medal, he twice became the Hero of the Soviet Union. After the end of the war, Vasilevsky returns to the leadership of the General Staff, and then heads the country's military leadership. Before him, the post of defense minister was occupied by Nikolai Bulganin, who, although he carried the marshal weather on his shoulders, was a party functionary, not a military leader. Before them, the Commissariat of Defense was headed personally by Joseph Stalin. The Soviet leader was suspicious of the “Marshals of Victory” and the fact that it was Alexander Vasilevsky who received the war department as a result spoke of many things.

Joseph Stalin clearly saw in Marshal a replacement for Shaposhnikov, who died in 1945 year, on the post of the conditional “Leader’s Consultant No. 1”. Moreover, all the motives of Stalin, according to the traditions of that era, remained behind the scenes. On the one hand, Alexander Vasilevsky as well as Stalin was once a seminarian. On the other hand, this was the first student of the respected Boris Shaposhnikov, who during the war proved his ability to work independently at the highest level.

Anyway, under Joseph Stalin, the career of Marshal Vasilevsky went uphill, and after his death began to crumble. A step back took place literally in the very first days after the death of the leader, when Bulganin again became the USSR Minister of Defense. At the same time, Vasilevsky didn’t have a relationship with Nikita Khrushchev, who demanded that all the military deny Stalin, but Vasilevsky, like some Soviet military leaders, did not. Alexander Vasilevsky, who of the warlords who lived in those years, most likely, more and more personally communicated with Stalin during the years of the Great Patriotic War, simply could not afford to sing, saying that the leader was planning military operations almost according to the pack from cigarettes "Belomor". And this despite the fact that the role of Joseph Stalin himself in stories Soviet Union Alexander Vasilevsky evaluated far ambiguously. In particular, he criticized repressions against senior commanders who went from 1937 year, calling these repressions one of the possible causes of the weakness of the Red Army in the initial period of the war.

The result of this behavior of Marshal Vasilevsky was that at first he became the deputy minister of defense "for military science", and in December 1957 retired. A little later, he will fall into the "paradise group" of the general inspectors of the USSR Ministry of Defense. In the year 1973, Alexander Mikhailovich released a fairly richly descriptive book of memoirs entitled “The Matter of Life”, in which he described in detail, but rather dryly, the work he had done during the war. At the same time, until the end of his days, the marshal refused to make a film about himself or to write additional biographies, citing the fact that he had already written everything in his book. Vasilevsky died 5 December 1977, at the age of 82 years. The urn with its ashes was walled up in the Kremlin wall on Red Square.

Based on materials from open sources
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  1. Russian Uzbek
    Russian Uzbek 30 September 2015 06: 30 New
    one of the best strategists in the history of Russia, a very undeservedly forgotten name
    1. Vend
      Vend 30 September 2015 09: 47 New
      Quote: Russian Uzbek
      one of the best strategists in the history of Russia, a very undeservedly forgotten name

      Not forgotten, but Vasilevsky is not deservedly in the shadows. Say the Great Patriotic War and Stalin and Zhukov come to mind. In all films, key figures. Namely, this is put off in the minds of youth.
    2. Predator
      Predator 30 September 2015 17: 58 New
      But what about the situation in Kharkov?! Vatutina and Golikova did not pull out, did not remind and did not control the flanks, and the result was 5 tank corps, 9 rifle divisions completely destroyed, plus 7 brigades and others. And there are only three lines in his memoirs .. ...
      It was not for nothing that JV Stalin told him .... and mi after Kharqiv comrade Vasilevsky cannot recover.
    3. python2a
      python2a 2 October 2015 16: 56 New
      Why forgotten?
  2. Andrey160479
    Andrey160479 30 September 2015 08: 01 New
    Quote: Russian Uzbek
    one of the best strategists in the history of Russia, a very undeservedly forgotten name

    Not true. I agree with the best strategist, but his name is not forgotten. The military academy of air defense was named after him in my hometown of Hero.
  3. parusnik
    parusnik 30 September 2015 08: 05 New
    Alexander Vasilevsky - Conductor of the Great Patriotic Fronts
    - There is such a profession - Defend the homeland ...
  4. alexej123
    alexej123 30 September 2015 10: 13 New
    Да, скорее всего сказалась и школа царского офицерства. А, то, что не стал очернять Сталина по заказу свидетельствует что "вбился" принцип - "Честь Имею".
  5. Nonna
    Nonna 30 September 2015 10: 46 New
    Eternal Glory and Memory to the soldiers of the Fatherland!
  6. zemnoyd
    zemnoyd 30 September 2015 12: 02 New
    Every day I drive past his monument.
  7. Predator
    Predator 30 September 2015 15: 54 New
    Quote: alexej123
    Да, скорее всего сказалась и школа царского офицерства. А, то, что не стал очернять Сталина по заказу свидетельствует что "вбился" принцип - "Честь Имею".

    But Vasilevsky has no reason. For all the defeats, he was not involved, since he was on the sidelines and no one particularly pressed him. And Nikita removed all who distinguished himself in the war.