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Marshal of the Soviet Union
Маршал Советского Союза
Uniform shoulder strap (1955–1991)
Country Soviet Union
Service branchRed Army (1922–1946)
Soviet Army (1946–1991)
RankGeneral officer
Formation22 September 1935
AbolishedDecember 1991
Next higher rankGeneralissimus
Next lower rankChief marshal of the branch
General of the Army
Equivalent ranksAdmiral of the fleet of the Soviet Union
Rank insignias of Marshal of the Soviet Union
Gorget patch
1935–40
Gorget patch
1940–43
Sleeve chevron
1940–43
Shoulder board
1943–55
Peaked cap
1945–91

Marshal of the Soviet Union (Russian: Маршал Советского Союза, romanizedMarshal sovetskogo soyuza, pronounced [ˈmarʂəl sɐˈvʲetskəgə sɐˈjuzə]) was the second-highest military rank of the Soviet Union. Joseph Stalin wore the uniform and insignia of Marshal after World War II.

The rank of Marshal of the Soviet Union was created in 1935 and abolished in 1991 when the Soviet Union dissolved. Forty-one people held this rank. The equivalent naval rank was until 1955 admiral of the fleet and from 1955 Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union.

History of the rank

See also: List of Field Marshals of the Russian Empire

The first five marshals of the Soviet Union from left to right: Tukhachevsky, Budyonny, Voroshilov, Blyukher, and Yegorov. Only Budyonny and Voroshilov would survive the Great Purge.

The military rank of Marshal of the Soviet Union was established by a decree of the Soviet Cabinet, the Council of People's Commissars (Sovnarkom), on 22 September 1935. On 20 November, the rank was conferred on five people: People's Commissar of Defence and veteran Bolshevik Kliment Voroshilov, Chief of the General Staff of the Red Army Alexander Yegorov, and three senior commanders, Vasily Blyukher, Semyon Budyonny, and Mikhail Tukhachevsky.

Of these, Blyukher, Tukhachevsky, and Yegorov were executed during Stalin's Great Purge of 1937–38. On 7 May 1940, three new Marshals were appointed: the new People's Commissar of Defence, Semyon Timoshenko, Boris Shaposhnikov, and Grigory Kulik.

During World War II, Kulik was demoted for incompetence, and the rank of Marshal of the Soviet Union was given to a number of military commanders who earned it on merit. These included Georgy Zhukov, Ivan Konev and Konstantin Rokossovsky to name a few. In 1943, Stalin himself was made a Marshal of the Soviet Union, and in 1945, he was joined by his intelligence and police chief Lavrenti Beria. These non-military Marshals were joined in 1947 by politician Nikolai Bulganin.

Two Marshals were executed in postwar purges: Kulik in 1950 and Beria in 1953, following Stalin's death. Thereafter the rank was awarded only to professional soldiers, with the exception of Leonid Brezhnev, who made himself a Marshal in 1976, and Dmitry Ustinov, who was prominent in the arms industry and was appointed Defence Minister in July 1976. The last Marshal of the Soviet Union was Dmitry Yazov, appointed in 1990, who was imprisoned after the failed coup against Mikhail Gorbachev in 1991. Marshal Sergei Akhromeev committed suicide in 1991 during the fall of the Soviet Union.

The Marshals fell into three generational groups.

All Marshals in the third category had been officers in World War II, except Ustinov, who had been People's Commissar for Armaments. Even Yazov, who was 20 when the war ended, had been a platoon commander. Brezhnev was not a professional soldier, but was still commissioned as a political commissar in the war.

Of the 35 Marshals who were career soldiers, the majority were of Russian origin. Timoshenko (Tymoshenko), Kulik (Kulyk), Grechko (Hrechko), Yeremenko (Yeryomenko), Moskalenko, Batitsky (Batytsʹkyy) and Koshevoy (Koshovyy) were of Ukrainian origin, while Sokolovsky (Sakaloŭski) and Yakubovsky (Jakuboŭski) had Belarusian origins. Rokossovsky (Rokossowski) was born in Congress Poland to a Polish family, while Malinovsky (Malinowsky) was born in Odessa (now in Ukraine) to a Polish father. Tukhachevsky also had Polish ancestry. Bagramyan (Baghramyan) was the sole marshal of Armenian origin.

The rank was abolished with the dissolution of the Soviet Union in December 1991. It was succeeded in the new Russia by the rank of Marshal of the Russian Federation, which has been held by only one person, Marshal Igor Sergeyev, who was Russian Defence Minister from 1997 to 2001.

After the death of Marshal Yazov in 2020 there were no living Marshals of the Soviet Union.

List of Marshals of the Soviet Union

List of Marshals of the Soviet Union
No. Name Photo Date of rank Positions held[a] Central
Committee
member
Secretariat
member
Politburo
member
Years[b] Additional Notes[c]
1 Kliment Voroshilov 20 Nov 1935[1] Yes No Yes 34 (1881–1969)[d] People's Commissar for Military and Naval Affairs, 1925–1934. Made Hero of the Soviet Union, 1956 and 1968; Hero of Socialist Labour, 1960.
2 Semyon Budyonny 20 Nov 1935   Yes No No 19 (1883–1973)[e] Retired, 1954. Made Hero of the Soviet Union, 1958, 1963 and 1968.
3 Alexander Yegorov 20 Nov 1935   Yes
(as candidate)
No No 3 (1883–1939)[f][g] Stripped of rank, 1938. Posthumously rehabilitated.
4 Vasily Blyukher 20 Nov 1935   Yes
(as candidate)
No No 3 (1889–1938)[f][h] Retroactively stripped of rank, 1939. Posthumously rehabilitated.
5 Mikhail Tukhachevsky 20 Nov 1935  
  • Technology and Armament Chief, Red Army/Deputy People's Commissar for War, 1931–1936.
  • First Deputy People's Commissar for Defence/Inspector of Military Training, 1936–1937.
  • Commander, Volga Military District, 1937.
Yes
(as candidate)
No No 2 (1893–1937)[f][i] Stripped of rank, 1937. Posthumously rehabilitated.
6 Semyon Timoshenko 7 May 1940   Yes No No 20 (1895–1970) Appointed to Group of Inspectors General, 1960. Chairman, State Committee for War Veterans, 1961–1970. Made Hero of the Soviet Union, 1940 and 1965; awarded Order of Victory, 1945.
7 Boris Shaposhnikov 7 May 1940   Yes
(as candidate)
No No 5 (1882–1945) Died in office.
8 Grigory Kulik 7 May 1940  
  • Chief, Main Artillery Directorate, Red Army, 1937–1941.
  • Deputy Chief of the General Staff, 1939–1941.
  • Deputy People's Commissar for Defence, 1939–1942.
  • Stavka Representative to the Crimean Front, 1941–1942.
  • Head, Main Formation and Training Directorate, Red Army, 1941.
  • Commander, 54th Army, 1941.
Yes No No 2 (1890–1950)[j] Demoted, 1942. Made Hero of the Soviet Union, 1940 (rescinded 1942). Posthumously rehabilitated.
9 Georgy Zhukov 18 Jan 1943   Yes No Yes 14 (1896–1974) Dismissed as minister of defence, 1957. Chief of the General Staff, 1941. Made Hero of the Soviet Union, 1940, 1944, 1945 and 1956; awarded Order of Victory, 1944 and 1945.
10 Aleksandr Vasilevsky 16 Feb 1943   Yes No No 16 (1895–1977) Appointed to Group of Inspectors General, 1959. Made Hero of the Soviet Union, 1944 and 1945; awarded Order of Victory, 1944 and 1945.
11 Joseph Stalin 6 Mar 1943[2] Yes Yes Yes 10 (1878–1953) Died in office. Promoted to generalissimus, 27 Jun 1945. Made Hero of the Soviet Union, 1945; Hero of Socialist Labour, 1939; awarded Order of Victory, 1944.
12 Ivan Konev 20 Feb 1944[3] Yes No No 18 (1897–1973) Appointed to Group of Inspectors General, 1962. Made Hero of the Soviet Union, 1944 and 1945; awarded Order of Victory, 1945.
13 Leonid Govorov 18 Jun 1944   Yes
(as candidate)
No No 11 (1897–1955) Died in office. Made Hero of the Soviet Union, 1945; awarded Order of Victory, 1945.
14 Konstantin Rokossovsky 29 Jun 1944   Yes
(as candidate)
No No 18 (1896–1968) Retired, 1962. Made Hero of the Soviet Union, 1944 and 1945; awarded Order of Victory, 1945. Made Marshal of Poland, 1949. Candidate member, 22nd–23rd Central Committee, 1962–1968.
15 Rodion Malinovsky 10 Sep 1944   Yes No No 23 (1898–1967) Died in office. Made Hero of the Soviet Union, 1945 and 1958; awarded Order of Victory, 1945.
16 Fyodor Tolbukhin 12 Sep 1944   No No No 5 (1894–1949) Died in office. Posthumously made Hero of the Soviet Union, 1965; awarded Order of Victory, 1945.
17 Kirill Meretskov 26 Oct 1944   Yes
(as candidate)
No No 20 (1897–1968) Appointed to Group of Inspectors General, 1964. Made Hero of the Soviet Union, 1940; awarded Order of Victory, 1945.
18 Lavrentiy Beria 9 Jul 1945[4] Yes No Yes 8 (1899–1953)[k] Made Hero of Socialist Labour, 1943. Stripped of rank and executed, 1953.
19 Vasily Sokolovsky 3 Jul 1946   Yes No No 14 (1897–1968)[l] Appointed to Group of Inspectors General, 1960. Made Hero of the Soviet Union, 1945.
20 Nikolai Bulganin 3 Nov 1947[5] Yes No Yes 11 (1895–1975)[m] Chairman, Council of People's Commissars, Russian SFSR, 1937–1938. Made Hero of Socialist Labour, 1955. Stripped of rank, 1958.
21 Andrei Grechko 11 Mar 1955   Yes No Yes 21 (1903–1976) Died in office. Made Hero of the Soviet Union, 1958 and 1973.
22 Kirill Moskalenko 11 Mar 1955   Yes No No 28 (1902–1985) Appointed to Group of Inspectors General, 1983. Made Hero of the Soviet Union, 1943 and 1978.
23 Vasily Chuikov 11 Mar 1955   Yes No No 17 (1900–1982) Retired, 1972. Commander-in-Chief, Group of Soviet Occupation Forces in Germany, 1949–1953. Made Hero of the Soviet Union, 1944 and 1945.
24 Ivan Bagramyan 11 Mar 1955[6] Yes No No 13 (1897–1982) Retired, 1968. Made Hero of the Soviet Union, 1944 and 1977. Last surviving Marshal of the Soviet Union to hold high command during World War II.
25 Sergey Biryuzov 11 Mar 1955   Yes No No 9 (1904–1964) Died in office. Made Hero of the Soviet Union, 1958.
26 Andrey Yeryomenko 11 Mar 1955   Yes
(as candidate)
No No 3 (1892–1970) Appointed to Group of Inspectors General, 1958. Made Hero of the Soviet Union, 1944.
27 Matvei Zakharov 8 May 1959   Yes No No 12 (1898–1972) Made Hero of the Soviet Union, 1945 and 1971. Director, Main Intelligence Directorate, 1949–1952.
28 Filipp Golikov 8 May 1961   Yes No No 1 (1900–1980) Relieved and appointed to Group of Inspectors General, 1962. Director, Main Intelligence Directorate, 1940–1941.
29 Nikolay Krylov 28 Apr 1962   Yes No No 10 (1903–1972) Died in office. Made Hero of the Soviet Union, twice in 1945.
30 Ivan Yakubovsky 12 Apr 1967   Yes No No 9 (1912–1976) Died in office. Commander-in-Chief, Group of Soviet Forces in Germany, 1960–1961; 1962–1965. Made Hero of the Soviet Union, twice in 1944.
31 Pyotr Koshevoy 15 Apr 1968   Yes
(as candidate)
No No 1 (1904–1976) Appointed to Group of Inspectors General, 1969. Made Hero of the Soviet Union, 1944 and 1945.
32 Pavel Batitsky 15 Apr 1968[7] Yes No No 10 (1910–1984) Made Hero of the Soviet Union, 1965.
33 Leonid Brezhnev 7 May 1976[8][9] Yes Yes Yes 6 (1906–1982) Died in office. First Secretary, Communist Party of Moldavia, 1950–1952; First Secretary, Communist Party of Kazakhstan, 1955–1956; Chairman, Presidium of the Supreme Soviet, 1960–1964; Second Secretary, Communist Party of the Soviet Union, 1963–1964. Made Hero of the Soviet Union, 1966, 1976, 1978 and 1981; Hero of Socialist Labour, 1961; awarded Order of Victory, 1978 (rescinded 1989).
34 Dmitry Ustinov 30 Jul 1976   Yes Yes Yes 8 (1908–1984) Died in office. People's Commissar of Armaments, 1941–1946; Minister of Armaments, 1946–1953; Minister of the Defence Industry, 1953–1957; Deputy Chairman, Council of Ministers/Chairman, Military-Industrial Commission, 1957–1963; First Deputy Chairman, Council of Ministers, 1963–1965. Made Hero of the Soviet Union, 1978; Hero of Socialist Labour, 1942 and 1961.
35 Viktor Kulikov 14 Jan 1977   Yes No No 12 (1921–2013) Relieved, 1989. Commander-in-Chief, Group of Soviet Forces in Germany, 1969–1971; Chief of the General Staff, 1971–1977; Member, 3rd State Duma of the Russian Federation, 1999–2003. Made Hero of the Soviet Union, 1981.
36 Nikolai Ogarkov 14 Jan 1977   Yes No No 11 (1917–1994) Relieved as chief of general staff, 1984; appointed to Group of Inspectors General, 1988. Military Advisor to the Russian Minister of Defence, 1992–1994. Made Hero of the Soviet Union, 1977.
37 Sergey Sokolov 17 Feb 1978   Yes No Yes
(as candidate)
9 (1911–2012) Dismissed as minister of defence, 1987. Military Advisor to the Russian Minister of Defence, 1992–2012. Made Hero of the Soviet Union, 1980. Longest-lived Marshal of the Soviet Union.
38 Sergey Akhromeyev 25 Mar 1983   Yes No No 5 (1923–1991) Appointed to Group of Inspectors General, 1988. Advisor for Military Affairs to the President of the Soviet Union, 1990–1991; Member, State Committee on the State of Emergency, 1991.[o] Made Hero of the Soviet Union, 1982.
39 Semyon Kurkotkin 25 Mar 1983   Yes No No 5 (1917–1990) Appointed to Group of Inspectors General, 1988. Commander-in-Chief, Group of Soviet Forces in Germany, 1971–1972. Made Hero of the Soviet Union, 1981.
40 Vasily Petrov 25 Mar 1983   Yes No No 3 (1917–2014) Military Advisor to the Russian Minister of Defence, 1992–2014. Made Hero of the Soviet Union, 1982.
41 Dmitry Yazov 28 Apr 1990   Yes No Yes
(as candidate)
1 (1924–2020) Dismissed as minister of defence, 1991. Last Marshal of the Soviet Union to die.

Timeline

Dmitry YazovVasily Petrov (marshal)Semyon KurkotkinSergey AkhromeyevSergey Sokolov (marshal)Nikolai OgarkovViktor KulikovDmitry UstinovLeonid BrezhnevPavel BatitskyPyotr KoshevoyIvan YakubovskyNikolay Krylov (marshal)Filipp GolikovMatvei ZakharovAndrey YeryomenkoSergey BiryuzovIvan BagramyanVasily ChuikovKirill MoskalenkoAndrei GrechkoNikolai BulganinVasily SokolovskyLavrentiy BeriaKirill MeretskovFyodor TolbukhinRodion MalinovskyKonstantin RokossovskyLeonid GovorovIvan KonevJoseph StalinAleksandr VasilevskyGeorgy ZhukovGrigory KulikBoris ShaposhnikovSemyon TimoshenkoMikhail TukhachevskyVasily BlyukherAlexander Yegorov (soldier)Semyon BudyonnyKliment Voroshilov

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Positions listed are those held by the officer when promoted to marshal, both within the Soviet Armed Forces, Communist Party of the Soviet Union and non-CPSU governmental apparatus. Politico-military positions, such as ministers, first deputy ministers, and deputy ministers of defence are to be included, whereas service on the Group of Inspectors General is not to be included.
  2. ^ Refers to number of years holding rank of marshal. Unless otherwise stated, marshals of the Soviet Union hold their rank until final relief or removal from a position within the armed forces, party or state apparatus (including membership in the Party Congress, Central Committee, Politburo/Presidium). Time spent between holding of such positions is not counted.
  3. ^ Notes include years of birth and death; awards of the Hero of the Soviet Union, Hero of Socialist Labour, Order of Victory or honours of similar significance; major military appointments prior to promotion to marshal; major non-governmental or Party-affiliated appointments; familial relationships with other marshals of the Soviet Union or significant Party and state officials; and unusual career events such as demotion, removal from office or being purged by Party leadership.
  4. ^ Resigned as head of state, 7 May 1960; removed from Presidium, 16 Jul 1960; removed from Central Committee, Oct 1961; re-elected to Central Committee, 1966.
  5. ^ Reduced to candidate member, 22nd Central Committee, 1961.
  6. ^ a b c Victim of the Great Purge.
  7. ^ Arrested and stripped of rank, 21 Feb 1938; executed, 23 Feb 1939; rehabilitated and posthumously restored as marshal, 14 Mar 1956.
  8. ^ Arrested, 22 Oct 1938; died in captivity, 9 Nov 1938; retroactively stripped of rank, Mar 1939; rehabilitated and posthumously restored as marshal, 1956.
  9. ^ Arrested and stripped of rank, 22 May 1937; executed, 12 Jun 1937; rehabilitated and posthumously restored as marshal, 31 Jan 1957.
  10. ^ Dismissed as deputy people's commissar for defence and expelled from Central Committee, 24 Feb 1942; demoted to major general, 17 Mar 1942; promoted to lieutenant general, 15 Apr 1943; demoted to major general, 9 Jul 1945; arrested and stripped of rank, 11 Jan 1947; executed, 24 Aug 1950; rehabilitated and posthumously restored as marshal, 28 Sep 1957.
  11. ^ Unofficial rank of Commissar General of State Security converted to Marshal of the Soviet Union, 9 Jul 1945; arrested, 26 Jun 1953; stripped of rank and expelled from all offices, 18 Dec 1953; executed, 23 Dec 1953.
  12. ^ Reduced to candidate member, 22nd Central Committee, 1961.
  13. ^ Resigned as premier, 27 Mar 1958; expelled from Central Committee and stripped of rank, Sep 1958; expelled from Presidium, 12 Nov 1958; retired, Feb 1960.
  14. ^ Position renamed from First Secretary at the 23rd Party Congress in 1966.
  15. ^ a b As part of the August Coup of 1991.

References

  1. ^ "Birthday Anniversary of Kliment Ye. Voroshilov, Statesman and Military Figure, Marshal of the Soviet Union". Boris Yeltsin Presidential Library. Retrieved 27 September 2021.
  2. ^ Stephan, Robert (1987). "Smersh: Soviet Military Counter-Intelligence during the Second World War". Journal of Contemporary History. 22 (4): 585–613. doi:10.1177/002200948702200403. JSTOR 260812. S2CID 159160922. Retrieved 27 September 2021.
  3. ^ "Ivan Konev - Traces of War". Retrieved 27 September 2021.
  4. ^ Birstein, Vadim (November 2013). SMERSH: Stalin's Secret Weapon. ISBN 9781849546898. Retrieved 29 September 2021. On July 9, 1945, the heads of all security structures received military ranks. Beria was promoted to marshal [...]
  5. ^ "Military Review, Volume 35, Issue 6". 1955. Retrieved 27 September 2021.
  6. ^ "Village of war chiefs". Collective Treaty Security Organization. 15 January 2020. Retrieved 29 September 2021.
  7. ^ "Батицкий Павел Фёдорович". WarHeroes (in Russian). Retrieved 3 February 2023.
  8. ^ "Брежнев Леонид Ильич". warheroes.ru. Retrieved 30 March 2023.
  9. ^ "ПЛОХ ТОТ ГЕНСЕК, КОТОРЫЙ НЕ МЕЧТАЕТ СТАТЬ МАРШАЛОМ". novayagazeta.ru. Archived from the original on 28 October 2019. Retrieved 30 March 2023.