Aleksandr Mikhailovich Vasilevsky

Rank: Marshal of the USSR
Fate: Died Moscow 1977, aged 82
Bio: Vasilevsky, the son of a Russian priest, volunteered to fight in the First World War. By 1917 he was a battalion commander, but became disillusioned with the war and deserted. He was later conscripted into the Red Army during the Russian Civil War and commanded an infantry regiment.
Vasilevsky became an expert in training and planning. He joined the Directorate of Military Training, and later the Soviet Staff Officers Academy.
In 1937, because of Stalin’s ‘Great Purge’ of senior military officers, Vasilevsky found himself suddenly promoted to one of the many new vacancies on the General Staff.
When war began in June 1941, Vasilevsky was Deputy Chief of the General Staff and one of the senior military planners of the Stavka High Command. He worked tirelessly and effectively throughout the Battle of Moscow, a performance that won the trust and confidence of Josef Stalin.
In 1942 Stalin made Vasilevsky Chief of the General Staff. That summer he travelled to Stalingrad with General Zhukov, where together they masterminded the defence of the city and the decisive Soviet victory that followed.
In February 1943 Vasilevsky’s meteoric rise continued when he was promoted to Marshal of the Soviet Union. He continued to play a crucial role in the planning of all major Soviet operations until 1945, when Stalin gave him command of the 3rd Byelorussian Front. In this role, he oversaw the final Red Army assault on the German stronghold of Koenigsberg.
After victory in Europe, Stalin sent Vasilevsky to command Soviet forces in the Far East, where he implemented the Manchurian Strategic Offensive. This lightning campaign dealt a mortal blow to any lingering Japanese hopes of continuing the war.
When Vasilevsky retired in 1957 he was one of the most decorated soldiers in Soviet history, including two Hero of the Soviet Union awards. Although not a dominating personality like many of those around him, Vasilevsky was a highly effective military planner, and the architect of many great victories.