Sokolovskii, Vasilii Danilovich
Born July 9 (21), 1897, in Kozliki, Biatystok District, Grodno Province; died May 10,1968, in Moscow. Soviet military figure. Marshal of the Soviet Union (1946). Hero of the Soviet Union (Apr. 29, 1945). Member of the CPSU from 1931.
The son of a poor peasant, Sokolovskii joined the Red Army in 1918 and fought in the Civil War as company commander, regimental commander, brigade commander, and chief of staff of a rifle division. Upon graduation from the Military Academy of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army in 1921, he served in Middle Asia as deputy chief of the operations division of the Turkestan Front, as chief of staff and division commander, and as commander of the group of forces of Fergana and Samarkand oblasts. He took an active part in the struggle against the Basmachi revolt.
After the Civil War, Sokolovskii was chief of staff of a rifle division and corps (1922–30), division commander (1930–34), deputy chief of staff of the Volga Military District, and chief of staff of the Urals and Moscow military districts (1935–11). Appointed deputy chief of the general staff in February 1941, he saw service in the Great Patriotic War of 1941–45 as chief of staff of the Western Front (July 1941-January 1942 and May 1942-February 1943), chief of staff of the western axis (1942), army group commander of the Western Front (1943–44), chief of staff of the First Ukrainian Front (April 1944-April 1945), and first deputy army group commander of the First Byelorussian Front (April-May 1945).
After the war, Sokolovskii was deputy commander in chief and, from March 1946, commander in chief of the Soviet Group of Forces in Germany and head of the Soviet military administration in Germany; at the same time, he was the USSR’s member on the Control Council for the administration of Germany (March 1946-March 1949). He was first deputy minister of war of the USSR from March 1949, chief of the general staff and first deputy minister of defense of the USSR from June 1952, and inspector general of the Group of Inspectors General of the Ministry of Defense from 1960 to 1968.
Sokolovskii was a member of the Central Committee of the CPSU from 1952 to 1961 and a candidate member of the Central Committee of the CPSU from 1961. He was a deputy to the second through seventh convocations of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR. He wrote and directed the research for several works on military theory and military history, including Military Strategy (1962) and The Defeat of the Fascist German Troops Near Moscow (1964). He is buried on Red Square at the Kremlin Wall. The Novocherkassk Higher Military Command School of Communications is named after Sokolovskii.
Sokolovskii was awarded eight Orders of Lenin, the Order of the October Revolution, three Orders of the Red Banner, three Orders of Suvorov First Class, three Orders of Kutuzov First Class, an honorary sword with a gold representation of the state emblem of the USSR, various medals, and 12 orders and numerous medals from foreign states.