Vasilevskii, Aleksandr Mikhailovich
Born Sept. 18 (30), 1895, in the village of Novaia Gol’chikha, Kostroma Province. Soviet military figure; marshal of the Soviet Union (Feb. 16, 1943); twice Hero of the Soviet Union (July 29, 1944; Sept. 8, 1945). Member of the CPSU since 1938. Born into the family of a priest.
Vasilevskii graduated from the Aleksei Military School in 1915 and took part in World War I (1914-18), his last rank in the old army being captain second class. He joined the Soviet Army in 1918 and commanded a company, battalion, and regiment during the Civil War. After the war he was chief of a division school, commander of a rifle regiment, deputy section chief of the Combat Training Directorate of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army, and section chief of combat training for the Volga Military District. In 1937 he graduated from the General Staff Academy and served in the General Staff. In May 1940 he became deputy chief of the operations division, and in August 1941 he became chief of the operations division and deputy chief, then first deputy chief of the General Staff. In June 1942 he became chief of the General Staff and deputy people’s commissar of defense.
Vasilevskii is a prominent representative of Soviet military science. During the Great Patriotic War and under orders from the Headquarters of the Supreme Command in 1942-44 he coordinated the operations of many fronts, including the Southwestern, Don, and Stalingrad fronts in the encirclement and rout of fascist German troops in the Battle of Stalingrad in 1942-43; the Voronezh and Steppe fronts in the Battle of Kursk in 1943; the Southwestern and Southern fronts in the liberation of the Donets Basin in the summer of 1943; the Fourth Ukrainian Front and the Black Sea Fleet in the liberation of the Crimea in the spring of 1944; the Third and Fourth Ukrainian fronts in operations in the Right-bank Ukraine; and the Third Byelorussian and First and Second Baltic fronts in operations during the liberation of Byelorussia, Latvia, and Lithuania in the summer of 1944. In February 1945 he was promoted to the Headquarters of the Supreme Command and appointed commander of the Third Byelorussian Front. He conducted successfully operations to capture Eastern Prussia and the city of Königsberg. In June 1945 he was appointed commander of Soviet forces in the Far East and directed them during the Soviet-Japanese War of 1945. In 1946 he became chief of the General Staff and first deputy minister of defense; in 1949 he became minister of the armed forces of the USSR; during 1950-53 he was minister of war, and from 1953 until 1957 he was first deputy and deputy minister of defense. In January 1959 he was assigned to management work at the USSR Ministry of Defense. He was deputy to the second, third, and fourth convocations of the USSR Supreme Soviet. From 1952 until 1961 he was a member of the Central Committee of the CPSU. He has been awarded seven Orders of Lenin, the Order of the October Revolution, two Orders of Victory, two orders of the Red Banner, the Order of Suvorov First Class, the Order of the Red Star, 14 foreign orders, and various medals.