Aleksandr Vasilevsky

Aleksandr Vasilevsky

Aleksandr Mikhaylovich Vasilevsky (Russian: Алекса́ндр Миха́йлович Василе́вский, September 30 1895, Vichuga – December 5, 1977) was a Russian career officer in the Red Army, promoted to Marshal of the Soviet Union in 1943. He was the Chief of the General Staff of the Soviet Armed Forces 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 planning and coordinating almost all decisive Soviet offensives, from the Stalingrad counteroffensive to the assault on East Prussia and Königsberg.

Vasilevsky began his military career during World War I, earning the rank of captain by 1917. At the start of the October Revolution and the Civil War he was conscripted into the Red Army, taking part in the Polish-Soviet War. After the war, he quickly rose through the ranks, becoming a regimental commander by 1930. In this position, he showed great skill in organizing and training his troops. Vasilevsky's talent was noticed, and in 1931 he was appointed a member of the Directorate of Military Training. In 1937, following Stalin's Great Purge, he was promoted to General Staff officer.

At the start of the 1943 Soviet counteroffensive of World War II, Vasilevsky coordinated and executed the Red Army's offensive on the upper Don, in the Donbass, Crimea, Belarus and Baltic states, ending the war with the capture of Königsberg in April 1945. In July 1945, he was appointed Commander-in-Chief of Soviet forces in the Far East, executing the Manchurian Strategic Offensive Operation 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. With Nikita Khrushchev's rise, Vasilevsky began losing power and was eventually pensioned off. After his death, he was buried in the Kremlin Wall Necropolis in recognition of his past service and contributions to his nation.

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... Vasilevsky was regarded by his peers as a kind and soft military commander ... General Sergei Shtemenko, a member of the General Staff during the war, described Vasilevsky as a brilliant, yet modest officer with outstanding ... Shtemenko pointed out Vasilevsky's prodigious talent for strategic and operational planning ...