Hovhannes Bagramyan
Ivan Khristoforovich Bagramyan , also known as Hovhannes Khachaturi BaghramyanPronunciation: Bagramyan's name is most commonly written in English as Bagramyan "bahg-rahm-yahn" or Bagramian. However, the Armenian transcription
Armenian alphabet
The Armenian alphabet is an alphabet that has been used to write the Armenian language since the year 405 or 406. It was devised by Saint Mesrop Mashtots, an Armenian linguist and ecclesiastical leader, and contained originally 36 letters. Two more letters, օ and ֆ, were added in the Middle Ages...

 of his name is Baghramyan. This is primarily due to the fact that Western sources that used his memoirs, which were published in Russian, transliterated
Romanization of Russian
Romanization of the Russian alphabet is the process of transliterating the Russian language from the Cyrillic alphabet into the Latin alphabet...

 the Russified form of his last name which omits the letters -gh in its pronunciation. The Armenian pronunciation is Hovhannes hɤvhaˈnɛs Khachatury xatʃʰatɯˈɹi Baghramyan baʀɹamˈjan
in Armenia, – 21 September 1982, was a Soviet
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 Armenian military commander and Marshal of the Soviet Union
Marshal of the Soviet Union
Marshal of the Soviet Union was the de facto highest military rank of the Soviet Union. ....

. During World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, Bagramyan was the first non-Slavic military officer to become a commander of a Front
Front (Soviet Army)
A front was a major military organization in the Soviet Army during many wars. It was roughly equivalent to an army group in the militaries of most other countries except Germany...

. He was among several Armenians in the Soviet Army
Soviet Army
The Soviet Army is the name given to the main part of the Armed Forces of the Soviet Union between 1946 and 1992. Previously, it had been known as the Red Army. Informally, Армия referred to all the MOD armed forces, except, in some cases, the Soviet Navy.This article covers the Soviet Ground...

 who held the highest proportion of high ranking officers in the Soviet military during the war.

Bagramyan's experience in military planning as a chief of staff allowed him to distinguish himself as a capable commander in the early stages of the Soviet counter-offensives against Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

. He was given his first command of a unit in 1942, and in November 1943 received his most prestigious command as the commander of the 1st Baltic Front
1st Baltic Front
The First Baltic Front was a Front of the Soviet Army during the Second World War. The commanders of it were Army General Andrey Yeryomenko and succeeded by Army General Bagramyan. It was formed by re-naming the Kalinin Front in October 12, 1943 and took part in several important military...

. As commander of the Baltic Front, he participated in the offensives which pushed German forces
The Wehrmacht – from , to defend and , the might/power) were the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the Heer , the Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe .-Origin and use of the term:...

 out of the Baltic republics.

He did not immediately join the Communist Party
Communist Party of the Soviet Union
The Communist Party of the Soviet Union was the only legal, ruling political party in the Soviet Union and one of the largest communist organizations in the world...

 after the consolidation of the October Revolution
October Revolution
The October Revolution , also known as the Great October Socialist Revolution , Red October, the October Uprising or the Bolshevik Revolution, was a political revolution and a part of the Russian Revolution of 1917...

, becoming a member only in 1941, a move atypical for a Soviet military officer. After the war, he served as a deputy member of the Supreme Soviet
Supreme Soviet
The Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union was the Supreme Soviet in the Soviet Union and the only one with the power to pass constitutional amendments...

s of the Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic
Latvian SSR
The Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic , also known as the Latvian SSR for short, was one of the republics that made up the Soviet Union. Established on 21 July 1940 as a puppet state during World War II in the territory of the previously independent Republic of Latvia after it had been occupied by...

 and Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic and was a regular attendee of the Party Congresses
Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
The Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union was the gathering of the delegates of the Communist Party and its predecessors. According the party statute, it was the supreme ruling body of the entire Communist Party....

. In 1952, he became a candidate for entry into the Central Committee
Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
The Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union , abbreviated in Russian as ЦК, "Tse-ka", earlier was also called as the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party ...

 and, in 1961, was inducted as a full member. For his contributions during the war, he was widely regarded as a national hero in the Soviet Union, and continues to hold such esteemed status among Armenians.

Early life

Ivan Bagramyan was born to Armenian parents in the village of Chardakhlu
Çardaqli, Shamkir
Çardaqlı is a village in the Shamkir Rayon of Azerbaijan. Prior to the Karabakh War the village was populated by ethnic Armenians.- During World War II:...

, near Yelizavetpol, Azerbaijan (currently city of Gendje,) then a part of the Russian Empire
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

. Hamazasp Babadjanyan, a fellow Armenian who was to become the chief marshal of the Soviet Armor corps, was born in the same village. While Bagramyan's father, Khachatur, went to work all day at the railway station in Yelizavetpol, his mother, Mariam, stayed at home to take care of her seven children. Because his parents could not afford to send him to the local gymnasium
Gymnasium (school)
A gymnasium is a type of school providing secondary education in some parts of Europe, comparable to English grammar schools or sixth form colleges and U.S. college preparatory high schools. The word γυμνάσιον was used in Ancient Greece, meaning a locality for both physical and intellectual...

, they decided to enroll him at a recently opened two-year school in Yelizavetpol.

Graduating in 1912, Bagramyan, whom everyone affectionately called Vanya, followed his father and his brothers in a path in rail work, attending the three-year railway technical institute in Tiflis. He graduated with honors and was slated to become a railway engineer within a few years when events in the First World War changed his life.

World War I

Bagramyan was well aware of the military situation at the Caucasus front
Caucasus Campaign
The Caucasus Campaign comprised armed conflicts between the Ottoman Empire and the Russian Empire, later including Azerbaijan, Armenia, Central Caspian Dictatorship and the UK as part of the Middle Eastern theatre or alternatively named as part of the Caucasus Campaign during World War I...

 during the first months of the world war. In the winter of 1914-15, the Imperial Russian Army
Imperial Russian Army
The Imperial Russian Army was the land armed force of the Russian Empire, active from around 1721 to the Russian Revolution of 1917. In the early 1850s, the Russian army consisted of around 938,731 regular soldiers and 245,850 irregulars . Until the time of military reform of Dmitry Milyutin in...

 was able to withstand and repel the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

's eastward advance, and to take the fight to its territory. Bagramyan also began reading harrowing reports in the Russian press of what was taking place against his fellow kinsmen across the border: the Ottomans had embarked on their campaign
Armenian Genocide
The Armenian Genocide—also known as the Armenian Holocaust, the Armenian Massacres and, by Armenians, as the Great Crime—refers to the deliberate and systematic destruction of the Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire during and just after World War I...

 to systematically annihilate their Armenian subjects. He desperately wished to join the military effort but because he was only seventeen and a railway mechanic, he was not liable to be drafted. This did not dissuade him from trying, as he later remarked, "My place was at the front."

His opportunity came on September 16, 1915, when he was accepted by the Russian Army as a volunteer. He was placed in the 116th Reserve Battalion and sent to Akhaltsikhe
Akhaltsikhe is a small city in Georgia's southwestern region of Samtskhe-Javakheti. It is situated on the both banks of a small river Potskhovi, which separates the city to the old city in the north and new in the south. The name of the city translates from Georgian as "new fortress".- History...

 for basic training. With his training complete in December, he joined the Second Caucasus Frontier Regiment of the Russian Expeditionary Corps, which was sent to dislodge the Ottoman Turks in Persia. Bagramyan participated in several battles in Asadabad
Asadabad, Iran
Asadabad is a city in and capital of Asadabad County, Hamadan Province, Iran. At the 2006 census, its population was 51,304, in 12,583 families.-Situation & History:It is known as the birth place of Seyyed Jamaleddin Asadabadi...

, Hamedan and Kermanshah
Kermanshah is a city in and the capital of Kermanshah Province, Iran. At the 2006 census, its population was 784,602, in 198,117 families.The overwhelming majority of Kermanshahi people are Shi'a Muslims...

, the Russian victories here sending Ottoman forces reeling towards Anatolia.

Learning about the exploits of the men in the outfit, the chief of staff of the regiment, General Pavel Melik-Shahnazaryan, advised Bagramyan to return to Tiflis to enroll in the Praporshchik
Praporshchik is a rank in the Russian military.-Imperial Russia:Praporshchik was originally a name of a junior commissioned officer rank in the military of the Russian Empire equivalent to ensign...

Military Academy. But in order to attend the school, Bagramyan needed to satisfy the academy's requirement of having completed school at a gymnasium. This did not deter him and, after preparing for the courses in Armavir
Armavir, Armenia
Armavir is a city located in western Armenia. The 1989 census reported that the city had a total population of 46,900, but this has declined considerably: the 2001 census counted 32,034; estimate for 2008 is 26,387. It is the capital of the Armavir province . The city of Armavir in Russia, founded...

, he passed his exams and began attending the academy on February 13, 1917. He graduated in June 1917 and was assigned to the Third Armenian Infantry regiment stationed near Lake Urmia
Lake Urmia
Lake Urmia , ancient name: Lake Matiene) is a salt lake in northwestern Iran, near Iran's border with Turkey. The lake is between the Iranian provinces of East Azerbaijan and West Azerbaijan, west of the southern portion of the similarly shaped Caspian Sea...

. But with the overthrow of the Russian Provisional Government
Russian Provisional Government
The Russian Provisional Government was the short-lived administrative body which sought to govern Russia immediately following the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II . On September 14, the State Duma of the Russian Empire was officially dissolved by the newly created Directorate, and the country was...

 in the midst of the October Revolution
October Revolution
The October Revolution , also known as the Great October Socialist Revolution , Red October, the October Uprising or the Bolshevik Revolution, was a political revolution and a part of the Russian Revolution of 1917...

 of 1917, his unit was demobilized.

However, with the creation of the newly established Democratic Republic of Armenia
Democratic Republic of Armenia
The Democratic Republic of Armenia was the first modern establishment of an Armenian state...

 in 1918, Bagramyan enlisted in the Third Armenian Regiment of that country's armed forces
Military history of Armenia
The military history of Armenia is defined by the situation of the Armenian Highland between the Hellenistic states, and later the Byzantine Empire, in the west and the Persian Empire to the east...

. After the Ottoman Empire signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk
Treaty of Brest-Litovsk
The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was a peace treaty signed on March 3, 1918, mediated by South African Andrik Fuller, at Brest-Litovsk between Russia and the Central Powers, headed by Germany, marking Russia's exit from World War I.While the treaty was practically obsolete before the end of the year,...

 (March 3, 1918) with the Russian SFSR, from April 1, 1918 he was in the First Armenian Cavalry Regiment, which put a halt to the Ottoman 3rd Army
Third Army (Ottoman Empire)
The Ottoman Third Army was originally established in the Balkans and later defended the northern and eastern parts of the Ottoman Empire. Its initial headquarters was at Salonica. With the onset of World War I, it moved to Erzurum Fortress. The headquarters was moved to Susehir after the Battle...

, which was bent on conquering the remains of the republic in the regions of Karaurgani, Sarikamish
Sarıkamış is a town and a district of Kars Province in the Eastern Anatolia region of Turkey. The population is 17,860 as of 2010.The town sits in a valley and is surrounded by mountains, many of which are covered with pine forests. It has very long winters, with average of 7–8 ft of...

 and Kars
Kars Province
Kars Province is a province of Turkey, located in the northeastern part of the country. It shares part of its border with the Republic of Armenia.The provinces of Ardahan and Iğdır were until the 1990s part of Kars Province.-History:...

. He most notably participated in the May 1918 battle of Sardarapat
Battle of Sardarapat
The Battle of Sardarabad or Battle of Sardarapat was a battle of the Caucasus Campaign of World War I that took place near Sardarabad , Armenia from May 21-29, 1918...

, where the Armenian military scored a crucial victory against Turkish forces. He remained in the regiment until May 1920.

Interwar years

Three years after the toppling of the Provisional Government by the Bolshevik
The Bolsheviks, originally also Bolshevists , derived from bol'shinstvo, "majority") were a faction of the Marxist Russian Social Democratic Labour Party which split apart from the Menshevik faction at the Second Party Congress in 1903....

s in October 1917, the Red Army
Red Army
The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army started out as the Soviet Union's revolutionary communist combat groups during the Russian Civil War of 1918-1922. It grew into the national army of the Soviet Union. By the 1930s the Red Army was among the largest armies in history.The "Red Army" name refers to...

 invaded the southern Caucasus republics of Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan , officially the Republic of Azerbaijan is the largest country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded by the Caspian Sea to the east, Russia to the north, Georgia to the northwest, Armenia to the west, and Iran to...

, Georgia
Georgia (country)
Georgia is a sovereign state in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded to the west by the Black Sea, to the north by Russia, to the southwest by Turkey, to the south by Armenia, and to the southeast by Azerbaijan. The capital of...

 and Armenia
Armenia , officially the Republic of Armenia , is a landlocked mountainous country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia...

. In May 1920, Bagramyan, upset with the country's social and political conditions, participated in a failed rebellion against the Dashnak-led government of Armenia. He was jailed and sent to work in the fields for several months but was allowed to rejoin the military with the outbreak of the Turkish–Armenian War. But in December 1920, Armenia was sovietized and the national army was subsequently disbanded. Bagramyan, however, chose to join the 11th Soviet Army and was appointed a cavalry regiment commander.

As life in Armenia grew relatively more stable under Soviet rule, Bagramyan sought to locate a woman he had met several years earlier, Tamara Hamayakovna. Tamara, who was at this time living in Nakhichevan
The Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic is a landlocked exclave of Azerbaijan. The region covers 5,363 km² and borders Armenia to the east and north, Iran to the south and west, and Turkey to the northwest...

 with her family, had been married to an Armenian officer who had been killed during the Turkish-Armenian war, leaving her with their one-year-old son, Movses. Bagramyan visited her and the two decided to get married at the end of 1922. In addition to their son Movses, who went on to become a painter, they had a daughter, Margarit, who later became a doctor. Tamara remained at Bagramyan's side until her death in 1973.

In 1923, Bagramyan was appointed commander of the Alexandropol Cavalry Regiment, a position he held until 1931. Two years later, Bagramyan graduated from the Leningrad Cavalry School and, in 1934, from the Frunze Military Academy. In his memoirs, Pyotr Grigorenko
Pyotr Grigorenko
Petro Grigorenko or Petro Hryhorovych Hryhorenko or Pyotr Grigoryevich Grigorenko was a high-ranked Soviet Army commander of Ukrainian descent, later a prominent Soviet human rights activist, dissident and writer.-Early life:Petro Grigorenko was born in a village of rural Zaporizhzhia Oblast,...

, a Ukrainian commander who attended Frunze, recalled how Bagramyan was expelled from the academy by his superiors after they had learned that he had been a secret member of the banned Dashnak Armenian nationalist party for more than a decade. Pending his arrest, Grigorenko described Bagramyan "deeply depressed, saying he only wished they'd arrest him soon so that he could get it over with." Grigorenko advised that he appeal the arrest warrant which Bagramyan reluctantly did and, with the help of Armenian politburo
Politburo , literally "Political Bureau [of the Central Committee]," is the executive committee for a number of communist political parties.-Marxist-Leninist states:...

 member Anastas Mikoyan
Anastas Mikoyan
Anastas Ivanovich Mikoyan was an Armenian Old Bolshevik and Soviet statesman during the rules of Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin, Nikita Khrushchev, and Leonid Brezhnev....

, the arrest warrant was revoked and he accepted to be "rehabilitated
Rehabilitation (Soviet)
Rehabilitation in the context of the former Soviet Union, and the Post-Soviet states, was the restoration of a person who was criminally prosecuted without due basis, to the state of acquittal...

." From 1934 to 1936, he served as the chief of staff
Chief of Staff
The title, chief of staff, identifies the leader of a complex organization, institution, or body of persons and it also may identify a Principal Staff Officer , who is the coordinator of the supporting staff or a primary aide to an important individual, such as a president.In general, a chief of...

 of the 5th Cavalry Division, and from 1938, he worked as a senior instructor and lecturer at the Military Academy of the Soviet General Staff. Concurrently, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

 had purged
Great Purge
The Great Purge was a series of campaigns of political repression and persecution in the Soviet Union orchestrated by Joseph Stalin from 1936 to 1938...

 much of the Soviet officer corps of its veteran commanders. While fellow students from the military academy, Andrei Yeremenko
Andrei Yeremenko
Andrey Ivanovich Yeryomenko or Yeremenko or Eremenko was a Soviet general during World War II, Marshal of the Soviet Union.-Draft and early service:...

 and Georgy Zhukov
Georgy Zhukov
Marshal of the Soviet Union Georgy Konstantinovich Zhukov , was a Russian career officer in the Red Army who, in the course of World War II, played a pivotal role in leading the Red Army through much of Eastern Europe to liberate the Soviet Union and other nations from the Axis Powers' occupation...

, had seen their careers rise, Bagramyan's had remained stagnant.

In 1940, when General Zhukov was promoted to commander of the Kiev Military District
Kiev Military District
The Kiev Military District was a Russian unit of military-administrative division of the Imperial Russian Army and subsequently of the Ukrainian Army, RKKA, and Soviet Armed Forces...

 in the Ukraine, Bagramyan wrote a letter asking to serve under his command. Zhukov agreed, and in December asked for his help writing a paper to be presented to the commanders of the Soviet Military Districts. Bagramyan's paper, Conducting a Contemporary Offensive Operation, apparently impressed Zhukov, as he promoted Bagramyan to become the head of Operations for the Soviet 12th Army
12th Army (Soviet Union)
The Soviet Union's 12th Army was a field army formed multiple times during the Russian Civil War and World War II.-Civil War & Polish-Soviet War:...

 based in the Ukraine. Within three months however, Bagramyan, then a colonel
Colonel , abbreviated Col or COL, is a military rank of a senior commissioned officer. It or a corresponding rank exists in most armies and in many air forces; the naval equivalent rank is generally "Captain". It is also used in some police forces and other paramilitary rank structures...

, was appointed deputy chief of staff of the Southwestern Front, headquartered in Kiev.


In June 1941, Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 violated the Molotov-Ribbentrop non-aggression pact
Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact
The Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, named after the Soviet foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov and the German foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop, was an agreement officially titled the Treaty of Non-Aggression between Germany and the Soviet Union and signed in Moscow in the late hours of 23 August 1939...

 and invaded
Operation Barbarossa
Operation Barbarossa was the code name for Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union during World War II that began on 22 June 1941. Over 4.5 million troops of the Axis powers invaded the USSR along a front., the largest invasion in the history of warfare...

 the Soviet Union. Unlike many of the border troops who were caught off guard by the offensive, Bagramyan and his commander, General Mikhail Kirponos
Mikhail Kirponos
Mikhail Petrovich Kirponos was a Soviet Ukrainian general of the Red Army. Being accorded the highest military decoration, the Hero of the Soviet Union title, for the skill and courage in commanding a division in the 1939-1940 Finnish campaign, Kirponos is mostly remembered for his crucial role...

 believed an invasion by Germany was inevitable. However, Kipronos chose to ignore Bagramyan's viewpoint that the German offensive would employ the lightning speed Blitzkrieg
For other uses of the word, see: Blitzkrieg Blitzkrieg is an anglicized word describing all-motorised force concentration of tanks, infantry, artillery, combat engineers and air power, concentrating overwhelming force at high speed to break through enemy lines, and, once the lines are broken,...

 tactics like those used in the campaigns in Poland
Invasion of Poland (1939)
The Invasion of Poland, also known as the September Campaign or 1939 Defensive War in Poland and the Poland Campaign in Germany, was an invasion of Poland by Germany, the Soviet Union, and a small Slovak contingent that marked the start of World War II in Europe...

 in 1939 and Western Europe in 1940. Since the winter of 1939–40, Bagramyan had been busy devising a battle plan that would counter threats from the western Ukraine that was approved after numerous revisions on May 10, 1940.

On the morning of June 22, he was tasked with the overseeing of a transfer of a military convoy to Ternopol. While his column was passing the Soviet airfields near the city of Brody
Brody is a city in the Lviv Oblast of western Ukraine. It is the administrative center of the Brody Raion , and is located in the valley of the upper Styr River, approximately 90 kilometres northeast of the oblast capital, Lviv...

, German air strikes hit the aircraft on the ground. Several hours later, they arrived in Ternopol, having been strafed twice by the planes. Three days after the invasion, the plans for the counter-offensive were implemented, but disorder engulfed the troops, and the counter-attack collapsed. Bagramyan took part in the great tank battles in western Ukraine and the defensive operation around Kiev
Battle of Kiev (1941)
The Battle of Kiev was the German name for the operation that resulted in a very large encirclement of Soviet troops in the vicinity of Kiev during World War II. It is considered the largest encirclement of troops in history. The operation ran from 23 August – 26 September 1941 as part of Operation...

, in which Kirponos was killed and the entire Front captured by the Germans. He was one of a handful of senior officers who escaped from the encircled Front.

Bagramyan was then appointed chief of staff to Marshal Semyon Timoshenko
Semyon Timoshenko
Semyon Konstantinovich Timoshenko was a Soviet military commander and senior professional officer of the Red Army at the beginning of the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941.-Early life:...

 and along with future Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev
Nikita Khrushchev
Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev led the Soviet Union during part of the Cold War. He served as First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1953 to 1964, and as Chairman of the Council of Ministers, or Premier, from 1958 to 1964...

, then a political officer
Political commissar
The political commissar is the supervisory political officer responsible for the political education and organisation, and loyalty to the government of the military...

, coordinated the fighting around Rostov
Battle of Rostov (1941)
The article is about the German Army Group South Sea of Azov Offensive Operation commanded by General Gerd von Rundstedt, the Soviet Rostov Defensive Operation by the Southern Front commanded by General-Colonel Yakov Cherevichenko, and the Rostov Offensive Operation executed by the...

. In his memoirs, Khrushchev described Bagramyan as a "very precise person who reported on everything just as it was. How many troops we had, their positions, and the general situation."
Khrushchev went on to detail an account in where Marshal Semyon Budyonny
Semyon Budyonny
Semyon Mikhailovich Budyonny , sometimes transliterated as Budennyj, Budyonnyy, Budennii, Budenny, Budyoni, Budyenny, or Budenny, was a Soviet cavalryman, military commander, politician and a close ally of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin.-Early life:...

, sent by the chief of the operations department from the Soviet capital of Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

 to Kiev and representing the STAVKA
Stavka was the term used to refer to a command element of the armed forces from the time of the Kievan Rus′, more formally during the history of Imperial Russia as administrative staff and General Headquarters during late 19th Century Imperial Russian armed forces and those of the Soviet Union...

, courtmartialed Bagramyan, who protested and stated that if he was an incapable staff officer, then he should instead be given a field unit to command. To Bagramyan's astonishment, Budyonny went on to attempt to convince him to agree to his execution. Khrushchev remarked that the argument was essentially sparked arbitrarily and had taken place after an "abundant feast with cognac" and that "in those days we didn't take that kind of conversation seriously." According to him, at the time however, the Soviet military was especially suspicious of the men in its ranks, itself judging that there were "enemies of the people
Enemy of the people
The term enemy of the people is a fluid designation of political or class opponents of the group using the term. The term implies that the "enemies" in question are acting against society as a whole. It is similar to the notion of "enemy of the state". The term originated in Roman times as ,...

...everywhere, especially the Red Army."

Bagramyan was instrumental in the planning of two Soviet counter-offensives against the Germans, including the major push made by Soviet forces in December during the battle of Moscow
Battle of Moscow
The Battle of Moscow is the name given by Soviet historians to two periods of strategically significant fighting on a sector of the Eastern Front during World War II. It took place between October 1941 and January 1942. The Soviet defensive effort frustrated Hitler's attack on Moscow, capital of...

, and for this was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant General
Lieutenant General
Lieutenant General is a military rank used in many countries. The rank traces its origins to the Middle Ages where the title of Lieutenant General was held by the second in command on the battlefield, who was normally subordinate to a Captain General....

. In the same month, he was made the chief of staff of a military operations group that would oversee three Army Groups: the Southern
Soviet Southern Front
The Southern Front was a Front - a roughly Army group sized formation - of the Soviet Army during the Second World War. The Southern Front directed military operations during the Soviet occupation of Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina in 1940, and then was formed twice after the June 1941 German...

, the Southwestern and Bryansk
Bryansk is a city and the administrative center of Bryansk Oblast, Russia, located southwest of Moscow. Population: -History:The first written mention of Bryansk was in 1146, in the Hypatian Codex, as Debryansk...

 Fronts. In March 1942, he went along with Khrushchev and Timoshenko to Moscow to present the plans of a new counter-offensive in the Ukrainian city of Kharkov to Stalin. Stalin, impressed with his plan, approved the operation and on April 8, promoted Bagramyan as Chief of Staff of the Southwestern Front. On May 12, 1942, armies of the Southwestern Front attacked Kharkov but the launch of the offensive came at an inopportune moment since they were attacking from the Barvenkovo Salient
Salient may refer to:* See Salients, re-entrants and pockets for the battlefield feature* Salient , part of a discrete territory projecting out of the main portion, bordered by foreign territory on three sides, into which it projects...

, a region that German forces were near closing.

While Soviet forces were initially successful in recapturing Kharkov
Second Battle of Kharkov
The Second Battle of Kharkov, so named by Wilhelm Keitel, was an Axis counter-offensive against the Red Army Izium bridgehead offensive conducted from 12 May to 28 May 1942, on the Eastern Front during World War II. Its objective was to eliminate the Izium bridgehead over Seversky Donets, or the...

, they found themselves trapped by the German army after the closing of Barvenkovo. On May 18, Bagramyan asked Timoshenko to alter the plans but Timoshenko along with Stalin refused to approve his request. Soviet losses were heavy as the 6th
6th Army (Soviet Union)
The 6th Army was a field army of the Soviet Red Army formed four times during World War II and active with the Russian Ground Forces up until 1998...

, 9th and 57th armies (approximately 18–20 divisions
Division (military)
A division is a large military unit or formation usually consisting of between 10,000 and 20,000 soldiers. In most armies, a division is composed of several regiments or brigades, and in turn several divisions typically make up a corps...

) comprising a large portion of the Southwestern Front, were all destroyed and Bagramyan was removed from his post on June 28 by STAVKA. According to Khrushchev, Bagramyan was so devastated from the immense loss of men that after the operation was called off, "he burst into tears. His nerves cracked...He was weeping for our army." Held responsible for the failure of the operation and "poor staff work", he was demoted to chief of staff of the Soviet 28th Army. Several days later, he wrote a letter to Stalin asking to "serve at the front at any capacity, however modest." British military historian John Erickson
John Erickson (historian)
John Erickson was a British historian who wrote extensively on the Second World War...

, however, contends that Bagramyan was unfairly scapegoated by Stalin in his attempts to "hunt for [the] culprits" of the mismanagement of operations.

The 16th Army

Though he had never led a fighting unit prior to the war, he was given his first command of an army in the Western Front as his superiors, and particularly marshal Zhukov were impressed with his skills and capabilities as a staff officer. Zhukov, with the approval of STAVKA, appointed him commander of the 16th Army
16th Army (Soviet Union)
The 16th Army was a Soviet field army active from 1940 to 1945.-First Formation, 16th Army:Before Operation Barbarossa, HQ 16th Army was formed in July 1940 in the Transbaikal Military District . General Lieutenant М. F. Лукин took command...

 (2nd formation), (July 1942 - April 1943) replacing its former commander, Konstantin Rokossovsky
Konstantin Rokossovsky
Konstantin Rokossovskiy was a Polish-origin Soviet career officer who was a Marshal of the Soviet Union, as well as Marshal of Poland and Polish Defence Minister, who was famously known for his service in the Eastern Front, where he received high esteem for his outstanding military skill...

 who had been sent to command the Bryansk Front
Bryansk Front
The Bryansk Front was a Front of the Soviet Army during the Second World War.General Andrei Yeremenko was designated commander of the Front when it first formed in mid-late August 1941, comprising, in Erickson's words, 'on paper two armies, 50th and 13th, with eight rifle divisions each, three...

. The 16th Army transferred its troops to the 5th Army, and its command and staff were moved to the second echelon of the Western Front were the Army took up command of part of the 10th Army
10th Army (Soviet Union)
The 10th Army of the Soviet Union's Red Army was a field army active from 1939 to 1944.The Army was formed in September 1939 in the Moscow Military District, and then deployed to the Western Special Military District...

's troops, and its defensive positions. On August 11, however, German forces mounted a surprise offensive on the southern flank of Western Front, splitting the 61st Army from the 16th Army which was not taking part in the Rzhev-Sychevka Offensive operation. The German forces threatened Bagramyan's left flank as he quickly moved his forces to counter their movements and halted them from advancing further on September 9.

With the rest of the Eastern Front battles almost entirely focused on Stalingrad
Battle of Stalingrad
The Battle of Stalingrad was a major battle of World War II in which Nazi Germany and its allies fought the Soviet Union for control of the city of Stalingrad in southwestern Russia. The battle took place between 23 August 1942 and 2 February 1943...

 and the Germans' attempts to advance to the Caucasus
The Caucasus, also Caucas or Caucasia , is a geopolitical region at the border of Europe and Asia, and situated between the Black and the Caspian sea...

, the 16th Army was not called up to action until February 1943. By then, the German 6th Army besieged in Stalingrad had been encircled and surrendered. The 16th Army at the time was composed of four divisions and one infantry brigade
A brigade is a major tactical military formation that is typically composed of two to five battalions, plus supporting elements depending on the era and nationality of a given army and could be perceived as an enlarged/reinforced regiment...

 and in light of the new offensive, Bagramyan's force was given two extra divisions, an infantry
Infantrymen are soldiers who are specifically trained for the role of fighting on foot to engage the enemy face to face and have historically borne the brunt of the casualties of combat in wars. As the oldest branch of combat arms, they are the backbone of armies...

 brigade, four tank
A tank is a tracked, armoured fighting vehicle designed for front-line combat which combines operational mobility, tactical offensive, and defensive capabilities...

 brigades and several artillery
Originally applied to any group of infantry primarily armed with projectile weapons, artillery has over time become limited in meaning to refer only to those engines of war that operate by projection of munitions far beyond the range of effect of personal weapons...



As the battle of Stalingrad marked the turning point of the war, German forces reorganized for a new offensive in the summer of 1943 to attack the Soviet held Kursk
Kursk is a city and the administrative center of Kursk Oblast, Russia, located at the confluence of the Kur, Tuskar, and Seym Rivers. The area around Kursk was site of a turning point in the Russian-German struggle during World War II and the site of the largest tank battle in history...

 salient in Russia. The German High Command was to utilize veteran units in its ambitions to destroy the salient, including the Ninth Army and the II SS Panzer Corps
II SS Panzer Corps
The II SS Panzer Corps was a Nazi German Waffen-SS armoured corps which saw action on both the Eastern and Western Fronts during World War II.- Formation - Kharkov :...

. STAVKA, already informed of the impending offensive, called for an advance toward the German defenses positioned near the town of Kozelsk
Kozelsk is a town in Kaluga Oblast, Russia, located on the Zhizdra River , southwest of Kaluga. Population: -History:The town of Kozelsk was first mentioned in a chronicle under the year of 1146 as a part of Principality of Chernigov...

, which would drive south with the help of the armies of the Central Front
Soviet Central Front
The Central Front was a Front of the Soviet Army during the Second World War.The Central Front describes either of two distinct organizations during the war...

. The forces would then proceed to cut off a 75 miles (120.7 km) gap that would effectively surround the Germans and cut if off from reinforcements. This was similar to the 1942 launched Operation Uranus
Operation Uranus
Operation Uranus was the codename of the Soviet strategic operation in World War II which led to the encirclement of the German Sixth Army, the Third and Fourth Romanian armies, and portions of the German Fourth Panzer Army. The operation formed part of the ongoing Battle of Stalingrad, and was...

, where the Soviet army encircled and trapped the Sixth Army in Stalingrad.
Bagramyan's Eleventh Army was tasked to take part in the offensive and was given an additional three infantry divisions and two tank corps
A corps is either a large formation, or an administrative grouping of troops within an armed force with a common function such as Artillery or Signals representing an arm of service...

, a force composed of fifteen divisions. Bagramyan, however, argued to STAVKA that its planning was too audacious in the hopes of repeating a successful encirclement like that in Uranus. He claimed that his forces would be overstretched and would have difficulty in attacking the entrenched German positions in Bolkhov
Bolkhov is a town and the administrative center of Bolkhovsky District of Oryol Oblast, Russia, located on the Nugr River , away from Oryol. Population: 12,800 ; 20,703 ....

. To avoid a repetition of the failure in Kharkov the previous year, he instead asked that the 61st Army from the Bryansk Front aid the Eleventh in destroying the German forces in Bolkhov, thus eliminating the Ninth Army's protection from the north. He appealed to his front commander Vasily Sokolovsky
Vasily Sokolovsky
Vasily Danilovich Sokolovsky was a Soviet military commander.Sokolovsky was born into a peasant family in Kozliki, a small town in the province of Grodno, near Białystok in Poland . He worked as a teacher in a rural school, where he took part in a number of protests and demonstrations against the...

 as well the Bryansk's M. A. Reyter, both of whom rejected his proposal. In April, STAVKA recalled the main commanders of the Fronts and Armies to Moscow on a briefing of the preparations for the battle. Against the protestations of Sokolovsky and Reyter, Bagramyan proposed his alternative plan to Stalin, who agreed that it would be the more correct course to follow. Bagramyan was given twenty days to prepare the Eleventh Army and on May 24 reported that his forces were ready. The Eleventh Army now was composed of 135,000 men, 280 armored fighting vehicles, 2,700 artillery pieces and several hundred planes to lend air support for the ground forces. Stalin, however, felt it necessary to further wear thin the fighting abilities of the German forces and delayed the offensive.

Ultimately, it was the German forces on who took the initiative by launching Operation Citadel on July 5 in the area around Kursk. German losses were initially heavy due to Soviet defensive preparations. Taking advantage of this, on July 12, Bagramyan's forces commenced their offensive, codenamed Operation Kutuzov
Operation Kutuzov
Operation Kutuzov was a military operation by the Red Army in its fight against the German Wehrmacht during World War II. It was named after Mikhail Illarionovich Kutuzov, the Tsarist General credited with saving Russia from defeat during the invasion by Napoleon in 1812.The Operation began on 12...

, and quickly breached the German defenses, advancing a distance of 45 miles (72 km) by July 18. By July 28, the operation concluded successfully and he was promoted to the rank of Colonel-General. In the following month, his forces took part in the large-scale tank offensives which routed the German assaults and forced Germany to remain on the defensive for the remainder of the war.


With the end of operations in Kursk, the Soviets began a series of offensives on various fronts to push the Germans out of the occupied Soviet republics. In October 1943, Bagramyan's Eleventh Army was transferred to the Second Baltic Front which was concentrated on the retaking of Belarus
Belarus , officially the Republic of Belarus, is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe, bordered clockwise by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Its capital is Minsk; other major cities include Brest, Grodno , Gomel ,...

 and namely, the Baltic republics. In November, Stalin offered Bagramyan the position of head commander of the First Baltic Front which had the similar objectives of the Second but was making little headway in its attempts to advance northwards.

Stalin would allow him to retain the Eleventh Army and suggested that Colonel-General N. E. Chibisov, an officer he had served under, assume his position. Bagramyan however commented that he had had a frictional relationship with Chibisov and instead nominated Lieutenant-General K. N. Galitsky. Stalin, belatedly realizing that Bagramyan was implying that the two would be unable to coherently coordinate together due to a conflict of holding the same rank, agreed to Bagramyan's suggestion and promoted him to the rank Army General. He also agreed to have the Second Baltic Front return a tank corps and an infantry division that was taken from the Eleventh Army, thus bolstering the forces under Bagramyan to a total of four armies: the Eleventh, Thirty-ninth, Forty-third Guards and the Fourth Shock.

In the winter of 1943, his forces advanced forward towards the Belarusian city of Vitebsk
Vitebsk, also known as Viciebsk or Vitsyebsk , is a city in Belarus, near the border with Russia. The capital of the Vitebsk Oblast, in 2004 it had 342,381 inhabitants, making it the country's fourth largest city...

. One of the key elements to Bagramyan's success was that many of the soldiers were part of veteran units that had been trained in the Arctic
The Arctic is a region located at the northern-most part of the Earth. The Arctic consists of the Arctic Ocean and parts of Canada, Russia, Greenland, the United States, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland. The Arctic region consists of a vast, ice-covered ocean, surrounded by treeless permafrost...

 regions of Siberia
Siberia is an extensive region constituting almost all of Northern Asia. Comprising the central and eastern portion of the Russian Federation, it was part of the Soviet Union from its beginning, as its predecessor states, the Tsardom of Russia and the Russian Empire, conquered it during the 16th...

, enabling them to easily push through entrenched defenses the Germans had spent months preparing. Among the key locations imperative to reach Vitebsk was the small town of Gorodok
Gorodok may refer to:*Gorodok, alternative name of Haradok, Belarus*Gorodok, Russia, name of several inhabited localities in Russia-See also:*Horodok *Bely Gorodok, an urban-type settlement in Tver Oblast...

, serving as a communications hub that the Germans had heavily fortified. Despite the heavy defense preparations, Bagramyan was able to utilize his heavy artillery and air support from the Red Air Force in late December to bombard the town and then launch a three-pronged attack from the ground. The German garrison was overwhelmed, and by December 24, two infantry divisions and one tank division surrendered. In Moscow, the news of the victory at Gorodok prompted a 124 cannon salute in honor of Bagramyan and the First Baltic Front.
On April 2, 1944 Stalin granted Bagramyan's request to relieve the troops of the Front of offensive duties. However, German forces took this to their advantage as they mounted a new offensive against Soviet partisan fighters in Belarus. Bagramyan's senior staff diverted air support and other crucial supplies to aid the partisans, allowing most of them to escape the German encirclement. With the advance of Soviet forces in the Baltic and the Ukraine, German Army Group Center had largely been isolated as STAVKA prepared to eliminate the pocket (consisting of Third Panzer, Second, Fourth, and Ninth Armies). STAVKA's plan, codenamed Operation Bagration was kept secret from all of the involved Front commanders. Bagramyan himself was only informed in May 1944 of his role in the offensive.

Bagration called for the First, Second and Third Belarusian Fronts and the First Baltic to engulf Army Group Center. Bagramyan was tasked with attacking the forces in the pocket, cross the Daugava River and, along with Third Belarusian, clear the surrounding areas of Vitebsk of German forces. Although he felt the plans for the Bagration were sound, he worried about the possibility of a German incursion by Army Group North
Army Group North
Army Group North was a German strategic echelon formation commanding a grouping of Field Armies subordinated to the OKH during World War II. The army group coordinated the operations of attached separate army corps, reserve formations, rear services and logistics.- Formation :The Army Group North...

 against his forces from the north. He appealed to his superiors once more, Zhukov and Alexander Vasilevsky, to have the First Baltic Front move westwards to help eliminate the Third Panzer Army, thus splitting Army Group North in two. Zhukov and Vasilevsky accepted his argument, introducing it to Stalin in a meeting on May 23 who formally approved it in a directive on May 31.

Although Bagramyan found it acceptable to sustain heavy casualties (as did all the commanders of the Red Army), he was disturbed with the immense loss of life his forces were sustaining. He, however, attempted to reduce those levels primarily by maintaining the element of surprise in operations. In his preparations for Bagration, he planned for the Forty-third army to move through the more geographically difficult swamps and marshlands to Army Group North's right flank. This maneuver would thus take North by surprise since it expected the Soviet offensive to move through more suitable terrain. He proved correct, as in early June 1944, the Forty-third Army achieved success in its attack. Commander of the Forty-third Army, General A. P. Beloborodov wrote that during the offensive, they apprehended a German general who stated that German forces had been blindsided by the attacking forces.

As Bagramyan pushed towards Vitebsk, his forces were aided by the same Belarusian guerrilla fighters that had escaped the German encirclement in April. They provided vital intelligence, including information on the location of bridges and troop movements, and launched attacks against German logistics lines. On June 22, 1944, Bagration began as Bagramyan proceeded in moving westwards as previously planned. However, a widening gap on the Front's northern flank grew as it advanced while the Second Baltic Front, tasked to help defend that area, took no action. Stalin agreed to send a tank corps to reinforce Bagramyan's forces but ordered him to capture Polatsk
Polotsk , is a historical city in Belarus, situated on the Dvina river. It is the center of Polotsk district in Vitsebsk Voblast. Its population is more than 80,000 people...

, which would sever Army Group North's communication lines and open up a route towards the central Baltic. By July 3, his troops had accomplished the tasks set forth in the directive, destroyed the Third Panzer Army and captured Polatsk. For his achievements, on July 7 he was decorated with the title of Hero of the Soviet Union
Hero of the Soviet Union
The title Hero of the Soviet Union was the highest distinction in the Soviet Union, awarded personally or collectively for heroic feats in service to the Soviet state and society.-Overview:...


The Baltics

With the overall success of Soviet forces in Bagration, his Front was expanded by three armies (although he ceded the Fourth Shock Army to Second Baltic), the Thirty-ninth army (previously under the command of Third Belarusian), the Fifty-first and the Second Guard Armies. The First Baltic Front was ordered by STAVKA to move westward in order to stop Army Group North's remaining forces from escaping to Germany. Despite this, Bagramyan understood that many of the general orders being given to the German Army were directed by Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

, rather than the General Staff and knew that while there was a possibility that they would confront them in the Lithuania
Lithuania , officially the Republic of Lithuania is a country in Northern Europe, the biggest of the three Baltic states. It is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, whereby to the west lie Sweden and Denmark...

n city of Kaunas
Kaunas is the second-largest city in Lithuania and has historically been a leading centre of Lithuanian economic, academic, and cultural life. Kaunas was the biggest city and the center of a powiat in Trakai Voivodeship of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania since 1413. During Russian Empire occupation...

, he felt the more likely location would be in Latvia
Latvia , officially the Republic of Latvia , is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by Estonia , to the south by Lithuania , to the east by the Russian Federation , to the southeast by Belarus and shares maritime borders to the west with Sweden...

's capital, Riga
Riga is the capital and largest city of Latvia. With 702,891 inhabitants Riga is the largest city of the Baltic states, one of the largest cities in Northern Europe and home to more than one third of Latvia's population. The city is an important seaport and a major industrial, commercial,...

. He spoke with Vasilevsky who agreed to change the plans if his theory and intuition proved correct.

As the First Baltic began moving towards Lithuania and into eastern Latvia, it became clear that Army Group North would attempt to outflank Bagramyan's forces near Daugavpils
Daugavpils is a city in southeastern Latvia, located on the banks of the Daugava River, from which the city gets its name. Daugavpils literally means "Daugava Castle". With a population of over 100,000, it is the second largest city in the country after the capital Riga, which is located some...

, as he had previously predicted. Vasilevsky, keeping his promise, appealed to Stalin to allow Bagramyan to move to Daugavpils but he refused to do so. Vasilevsky in turn, took it upon his own initiative and gave Bagramyan the go ahead. However, with the loss of the Fourth Shock Army, Bagramyan was left shortchanged since his promised Thirty Ninth Army had not only not arrived but was composed of only seven divisions (in comparison to the Fourth's ten). Feeling that time was being lost, he pressed on with the units he had.

By July 9, his ground forces had made significant gains in cutting off a vital road that connected Kaunas to Daugavpils. Taking advantage of this, Bagramyan worked with other Front commanders to attack the rear guard of Army Group Center but poor coordination between the units led a stall in the advance. At this time, Bagramyan realized that German forces were most probably not going to easily retreat from the Baltics and so further advances towards Kaunas would be pointless. He proposed to STAVKA to launch a full-scale offensive towards Riga but the former rejected his plans, stating that the armies of Second and Third Baltic Fronts would have already pushed Army Group Center to Prussia by the time of the offensive. He attempted to convince them otherwise, citing the numerically deficient forces in the two Fronts, but was rebuffed and ordered to drive towards a road connecting the Lithuanian city of Shaulyai
Šiauliai , is the fourth largest city in Lithuania, with a population of 133,900. It is the capital of Šiauliai County. Unofficially, the city is the capital of Northern Lithuania.-Names:...

 to Riga, resulting in its capture in late July.

With its capture, he persuaded Vasilevsky to allow his forces to move towards Riga, receiving a formal go-ahead by STAVKA in a directive on July 29. On July 30, his forces finally reached the seaside city of Tukums
Tukums is a town in Latvia. Three regions of Latvia meet in the vicinity of Tukums – Vidzeme, Zemgale and Courland. The city was host to the Cold War facility Tukums air base.- History :...

, near the Bay of Riga, thereby cutting off a total of 38 German infantry and armored divisions in Latvia. For his achievements in this battle, he was given the title of Hero of the Soviet Union
Hero of the Soviet Union
The title Hero of the Soviet Union was the highest distinction in the Soviet Union, awarded personally or collectively for heroic feats in service to the Soviet state and society.-Overview:...

. During the month of August, Soviet forces stalled in the Riga offensive, concentrating on halting German attacks. Finally on September 14, 1944, the First, Second and Third Baltic Fronts launched full scale offensives with the objective of Riga, encountering fierce resistance by its defenders. On September 24, with his forces only 12 miles (19 km) from Riga, STAVKA ordered Bagramyan's forces to abandon it to the Second and Third Baltic Fronts, regroup, and instead advance against Memel
Klaipėda is a city in Lithuania situated at the mouth of the Nemunas River where it flows into the Baltic Sea. It is the third largest city in Lithuania and the capital of Klaipėda County....

. His forces attacked Memel
Battle of Memel
The Battle of Memel or the Siege of Memel took place when the Soviets launched their Memel Offensive Operation in late 1944. The offensive led to a three-month siege against German forces in a small bridgehead in the town and its port....

 on October 5 and on October 10, reached the city, effectively preventing Army Group North from retreating to Prussia.

In early 1945, Bagramyan's army, under the overall command of Vasilievsky, took part in the advance into East Prussia
East Prussia
East Prussia is the main part of the region of Prussia along the southeastern Baltic Coast from the 13th century to the end of World War II in May 1945. From 1772–1829 and 1878–1945, the Province of East Prussia was part of the German state of Prussia. The capital city was Königsberg.East Prussia...

. In Operation Samland
Battle of Königsberg
The Battle of Königsberg , was one of the last operations of the East Prussian Offensive during World War II. In four days of violent urban warfare, Soviet forces of the 1st Baltic Front and the 3rd Belorussian Front captured the city of Königsberg...

, Bagramyan's First Baltic Front, now known as the Samland
Sambia or Samland is a peninsula in the Kaliningrad Oblast of Russia, on the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea. The Curonian Lagoon and the Vistula Lagoon demarcate the peninsula. Prior to 1945 it formed an important part of East Prussia.-Names:Sambia is named after the Sambians, an extinct...

 Group, captured Königsberg
Königsberg was the capital of East Prussia from the Late Middle Ages until 1945 as well as the northernmost and easternmost German city with 286,666 inhabitants . Due to the multicultural society in and around the city, there are several local names for it...

 (now Kaliningrad
Kaliningrad is a seaport and the administrative center of Kaliningrad Oblast, the Russian exclave between Poland and Lithuania on the Baltic Sea...

) in April. On May 9, 1945, he accepted the surrender of the German forces penned up in Latvia
Courland Pocket
The Courland Pocket referred to the Red Army's blockade or encirclement of Axis forces on the Courland peninsula during the closing months of World War II...

, capturing a total of 158 aircraft, 18,000 vehicles, 500 tanks and assault guns among other weaponry.

Career after World War II

After the war, Bagramyan remained in command of the Baltic Military District
Baltic Military District
The Baltic Military District was a military district of the Soviet armed forces, formed briefly before the German invasion, and then reformed after World War II and disbanded after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991....

, commanding operations against partisans in Lithuania and Latvia
Forest Brothers
The Forest Brothers were Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian partisans who waged a guerrilla war against Soviet rule during the Soviet invasion and occupation of the three Baltic states during, and after, World War II...

. In 1954, he was appointed Chief Inspector of the Ministry of Defense. In 1955, he was appointed Deputy Minister of Defense
Minister of Defence of Soviet Union
-List of defence ministers:-See also:* Heads of military of Imperial Russia* Defence Ministry of the Russian Federation...

 with the rank of Marshal of the Soviet Union
Marshal of the Soviet Union
Marshal of the Soviet Union was the de facto highest military rank of the Soviet Union. ....

. He was also head of the Military Academy of General Staff and commander of the reserve forces of the Soviet Armed Forces.

He spent much of his time writing articles in military journals on Soviet strategic operations and most notably, co-authored the six-volume work on Soviet involvement during World War II, The Soviet Union's Great Patriotic War (1941–1945). In August 1967, Bagramyan accompanied General Secretary
General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union was the title given to the leader of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. With some exceptions, the office was synonymous with leader of the Soviet Union...

 Leonid Brezhnev
Leonid Brezhnev
Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev  – 10 November 1982) was the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union , presiding over the country from 1964 until his death in 1982. His eighteen-year term as General Secretary was second only to that of Joseph Stalin in...

 and premier Alexei Kosygin to North Vietnam
North Vietnam
The Democratic Republic of Vietnam , was a communist state that ruled the northern half of Vietnam from 1954 until 1976 following the Geneva Conference and laid claim to all of Vietnam from 1945 to 1954 during the First Indochina War, during which they controlled pockets of territory throughout...

, where they met with Vietnamese leaders as he, serving in the role of a military expert, helped negotiate the transfer of logistics and arms to the country during the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...


He retired in 1968. In 1971, Bagramyan completed his first volume of his memoirs in This is How the War Began in 1971 and in 1977, the second volume Thus We Went to Victory was published. Among the numerous points he noted in the second book was an analysis of the Red Army's costly offensives in the early stages of the war:
In 1980, another book of Bagramyan titled "My Memoirs" was published based on the first and second volumes. A large section of the book dedicated to the Armenian issues including territories of Western Armenia, massacres of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire, Armenian Genocide, struggle against Turkey's invasions, epic battle of Sardarapat
Battle of Sardarapat
The Battle of Sardarabad or Battle of Sardarapat was a battle of the Caucasus Campaign of World War I that took place near Sardarabad , Armenia from May 21-29, 1918...

 and others. As a participant of Armenian-Turkish wars and Sardarapat battle, he provided first-handed important material on the developments of those days.

Marshal Bagramyan was awarded with numerous Soviet and foreign Orders and medals for his service including with two Orders of the Hero of the Soviet Union
Hero of the Soviet Union
The title Hero of the Soviet Union was the highest distinction in the Soviet Union, awarded personally or collectively for heroic feats in service to the Soviet state and society.-Overview:...

, seven Orders of Lenin, the Order of the October Revolution
Order of the October Revolution
The Order of the October Revolution was instituted on October 31, 1967, in time for the 50th anniversary of the October Revolution. It was awarded to individuals or groups for services furthering communism or the state, or in enhancing the defenses of the Soviet Union, military and civil...

, three Orders of the Red Banner, two Orders of Suvorov and the Order of Kutuzov
Order of Kutuzov
The Order of Kutuzov is a Soviet and Russian military award, named after famous Russian Field Marshal Mikhail Illarionovich Kutuzov ....

. Among the other commendations he received were the Polish Virtuti Militari
Virtuti Militari
The Order Wojenny Virtuti Militari is Poland's highest military decoration for heroism and courage in the face of the enemy at war...

, the Medal For the Victory Over Germany
Medal For the Victory Over Germany
The Medal For The Victory Over Germany In The Great Patriotic War 1941–1945 was one of the most widespread military decorations in the Soviet Union. 14,933,000 people were awarded this medal...

 and the Medal For the Victory Over Japan
Medal For the Victory Over Japan
The medal For the Victory Over Japan was a Soviet military decoration, awarded to all the soldiers, officers and partisans who directly participated in the live combat actions against Japan during the Second World War...


After the death of Marshal Vasily Chuikov
Vasily Chuikov
Vasily Ivanovich Chuikov was a Russian lieutenant general in the Red Army during World War II, twice Hero of the Soviet Union , who after the war became a Marshal of the Soviet Union.-Early life and career:Born into a peasant family in the village of Serebryanye Prudy, he joined the Red Army during...

 on March 18, 1982, he was the last surviving Soviet Marshal who held a high command in World War II. However, only several months later, Bagramyan died, on September 21, 1982, from illness at the age of 84, and was buried with full military honors at the Kremlin Wall Necropolis
Kremlin Wall Necropolis
Burials in the Kremlin Wall Necropolis in Moscow began in November 1917, when 240 pro-Bolshevik victims of the October Revolution were buried in mass graves on Red Square. It is centered on both sides of Lenin's Mausoleum, initially built in wood in 1924 and rebuilt in granite in 1929–1930...

 in Moscow. A town (Latitude: 40.1933333 Longitude: 44.3686111), a military firing range and an army training brigade, and a subway station and street in the capital of Armenia
Armenia , officially the Republic of Armenia , is a landlocked mountainous country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia...

, Yerevan
Yerevan is the capital and largest city of Armenia and one of the world's oldest continuously-inhabited cities. Situated along the Hrazdan River, Yerevan is the administrative, cultural, and industrial center of the country...

, are named in his honor. On May 11, 1997, the government of Armenia established the commemorative 100th Anniversary of Marshal Bagramyan medal . It is awarded to service and civilian personnel who participated in the Second World War.

Honours and awards

  • Hero of the Soviet Union
    Hero of the Soviet Union
    The title Hero of the Soviet Union was the highest distinction in the Soviet Union, awarded personally or collectively for heroic feats in service to the Soviet state and society.-Overview:...

    , twice (29 July 1944 and 1 December 1977)
  • Order of Lenin
    Order of Lenin
    The Order of Lenin , named after the leader of the Russian October Revolution, was the highest decoration bestowed by the Soviet Union...

    , seven times (1944, 1945, 1947, 1957, 1967, 1972 and 1977)
  • Order of the October Revolution
    Order of the October Revolution
    The Order of the October Revolution was instituted on October 31, 1967, in time for the 50th anniversary of the October Revolution. It was awarded to individuals or groups for services furthering communism or the state, or in enhancing the defenses of the Soviet Union, military and civil...

  • Order of Red Banner, three times (1941, 1944 and 1951)
  • Order of Suvorov
    Order of Suvorov
    The Order of Suvorov is a Soviet award, named after Aleksandr Suvorov , that was established on July 29, 1942 by a decision of the Presidium of Supreme Soviet of the USSR. This decoration was created to award senior army personnel for exceptional leadership in combat operations...

     first class twice (1943 and 1945)
  • Order of Kutuzov
    Order of Kutuzov
    The Order of Kutuzov is a Soviet and Russian military award, named after famous Russian Field Marshal Mikhail Illarionovich Kutuzov ....

     first class (1943)
  • Order for Service to the Homeland in the Armed Forces
  • Order of Karl Marx
    Order of Karl Marx
    The Order of Karl Marx was the most important order in the German Democratic Republic . Award of the order also included a prize of 20,000 East German marks....

     (German Democratic Republic)
  • Order of the Republic of Bulgaria
  • Order of Polonia Restituta, Knight (twice)
  • Order by Sukh Bator (Mongolian People's Republic)
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