Aleksandr Vasilevsky

Marshal of the Soviet Union (1895-1977)

Aleksandr Mikhaylovich Vasilevsky (September 30, 1895December 5, 1977) was a Soviet military commander, promoted to Marshal of the Soviet Union in 1943. He was the Soviet Chief of the General Staff and Deputy Minister of Defense during World War II, as well as Minister of Defense from 1949 to 1953. As the Chief of the General Staff, Vasilevsky was responsible for the planning and coordination of almost all decisive Soviet offensives, from the Stalingrad counteroffensive to the assault on East Prussia and Königsberg. In July 1945, he was appointed Commander-in-Chief of Soviet forces in the Far East, executing Operation August Storm and subsequently accepting Japan's surrender. After the war, he became the Soviet Defense Minister, a position he held until Stalin's death in 1953. After his death, he was buried in the Kremlin Wall Necropolis in recognition of his past service and contributions to his nation.

I did not decide to become an officer to start a military career. I still wanted to be an agronomist and work in some remote corner of Russia after the war.


  • According to one account, his chief of staff reported to him on looting and damage. 'Comrade Marshall,' he said, 'the soldiers are not behaving themselves. They break furniture, mirrors and dishes. What are your instructions in this connection?' Vasilevsky, perhaps the most intelligent and cultivated of all Soviet commanders, was apparently silent for a few moments. 'I don't give a fuck,' he said eventually. 'It is now time for our soldiers to issue their own justice.'
  • I did not decide to become an officer to start a military career. I still wanted to be an agronomist and work in some remote corner of Russia after the war. I could not suppose that my country would change, and I would.
    • Quoted in "The matter of my whole life" - by Marshal A.M. Vasilevsky - Moscow, Politizdat, 1978.
  • Why I should be in Romania in the name of unknown to me goal. There was a time when I led soldiers to battle, thinking I was doing my duty as a Russian patriot. However, I understood that we have been cheated, that people needed peace. The old army and Soviet Union are not compatible, therefore, my military career had to end. With no remorse, I could go back to my favorite occupation, working in the field.
    • Quoted in "The matter of my whole life" - by Marshal A.M. Vasilevsky - Moscow, Politizdat, 1978 - Page 30.
  • Conditions to the north of us, in the Voronezh and Steppe Fronts zone of action, and our offensive on Kharkov demands that we not lose time and we commit all forces so that we can draw off as many divisions as possible from Kharkov. And even if we do not draw them off, at least we will not give Manstein the ability to take any of his units from our part of the front. If we attract one or two German tank divisions - it will be the best contribution to the defeat of the enemy in the south.
    • To Vasily Chuikov. Quoted in "Soviet Military Deception in the Second World War" - Page 228 - by David M. Glantz - History - 1989.
  • By seizing the formerly little-known Height 102.0 – the Mamayev Hill - the Red Army fought its way to the fascists' den – Berlin. We are proud to say that our victory in Stalingrad radically changed the whole situation in the Second World War. And this victory meant that our Motherland had withstood one of the most difficult tests in its history.
    • Quoted in "The Voice of Russia," Copyright 2002.

About Vasilevsky

  • The engagements in which Zhukov won his reputation were so massive that, inevitably, many outstanding Soviet military men were involved- either under Zhukov's command or in coordinated and associated movements. There was then, and there continued for years to be, a raging competition for military glory in these engagements. Deep lines of political cleavage and quarrels also underlay the military disputes. Not only military glory was involved; political intrigue, intra-Party quarrels, high-level Kremlin politics were at issue. The principal military rivals of Zhukov were his fellow marshals, Ivan S. Konev, Rodion Malinovsky, V. I. Chuikov, A. I. Yeremenko, Semyon Timonshenko, and to a lesser extent men like K. K. Rokossovsky, V. D. Sokolovsky, and the staff chiefs, A. M. Vasilevsky, Boris Shaposhnikov and, later on, S. M. Shtemenko. Rivals of a different category were Stalin's cronies, men like Voroshilov and Budenny, and police generals such as L. Z. Mekhlis and G. I. Kulik.
    • Harrison E. Salisbury (editor), Introduction to Marshal Zhukov's Greatest Battles (New York: Harper & Row, 1969) by Georgy Zhukov, translated from Russian by Theodore Shabad, p. 14-15
  • A man who knew his job as he spent a long time commanding a regiment and who earned great respect from everybody.
  • It was my view that the catastrophe. . . . could have been avoided if Vasilevsky had taken the position he should have. He could have taken a different position. . . . but he didn't do that, and as a result, in my view, he had a hand in the destruction of thousands of Red Army fighters in the Kharkov campaign.
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