Vasily Chuikov
Vasily Ivanovich Chuikov (Russian
Russian language
Russian is a Slavic language used primarily in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an unofficial but widely spoken language in Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Turkmenistan and Estonia and, to a lesser extent, the other countries that were once constituent republics...

: Васи́лий Ива́нович Чуйко́в) (February 12, 1900 – March 18, 1982) was a Russian
The Russian people are an East Slavic ethnic group native to Russia, speaking the Russian language and primarily living in Russia and neighboring countries....

 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 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...

 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...

, twice 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:...

 (1944, 1945), who after the war became a 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. ....


Early life and career

Born into a peasant family in the village of Serebryanye Prudy
Serebryanye Prudy
Serebryanye Prudy is an urban locality and the administrative center of Serebryano-Prudsky District of Moscow Oblast, Russia, located on the Osyotr River. Among the district centers of Moscow Oblast, it is the southernmost, and the farthest from Moscow...

, he joined the Red Army during the Russian Revolution of 1917
Russian Revolution of 1917
The Russian Revolution is the collective term for a series of revolutions in Russia in 1917, which destroyed the Tsarist autocracy and led to the creation of the Soviet Union. The Tsar was deposed and replaced by a provisional government in the first revolution of February 1917...

and later attended the Frunze Military Academy. Chuikov commanded the 4th Army in the Soviet invasion of Poland
Soviet invasion of Poland
Soviet invasion of Poland can refer to:* the second phase of the Polish-Soviet War of 1920 when Soviet armies marched on Warsaw, Poland* Soviet invasion of Poland of 1939 when Soviet Union allied with Nazi Germany attacked Second Polish Republic...

 in 1939, and during the Russo-Finnish War of 1940. He was then sent to China
Republic of China
The Republic of China , commonly known as Taiwan , is a unitary sovereign state located in East Asia. Originally based in mainland China, the Republic of China currently governs the island of Taiwan , which forms over 99% of its current territory, as well as Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu and other minor...

 as an advisor to Chiang Kai-shek
Chiang Kai-shek
Chiang Kai-shek was a political and military leader of 20th century China. He is known as Jiǎng Jièshí or Jiǎng Zhōngzhèng in Mandarin....

. In May 1942 the USSR recalled their military advisor, according to Chuikov's memoirs this was due to Nationalist China claiming the USSR was providing military aid as part of an attempt to draw the USSR into the Second Sino-Japanese War
Second Sino-Japanese War
The Second Sino-Japanese War was a military conflict fought primarily between the Republic of China and the Empire of Japan. From 1937 to 1941, China fought Japan with some economic help from Germany , the Soviet Union and the United States...


Second World War

On returning to Moscow, Chuikov was placed in command of the 64th Army (later 7th Guards)
7th Guards Army
The Red Army's 7th Guards Army was re-designated from the Soviet 64th Army on April 16, 1943.64th Army had originally been formed from 1st Reserve Army in July 1942, and alongside the 62nd Army, fought the German offensive during the Battle of Stalingrad to a standstill, for which it was raised to...

, on the West bank of the Don river. The 64th Army took part in the fighting withdrawal to Stalingrad, and shortly before the Battle of 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...

 itself began, Chuikov was made commanding general of the more important 62nd Army
62nd Army (Soviet Union)
The 62nd Order of Lenin Army was a field army established by the Soviet Union's Red Army during the Second World War. Formed as the 7th Reserve Army as part of the Stavka Reserve in May 1942, the formation was designated as the 62nd Rifle Army the following month...

, which was to hold Stalingrad itself, with the 64th on its Southern flank.

It was at Stalingrad that Chuikov developed the important tactic of “hugging the enemy,” by which under-armed Soviet soldiers kept the German army so close to them as to minimize the superior firepower enjoyed by the Wehrmacht. Chuikov had witnessed firsthand the 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 the Nazis had used to sweep across the Russian steppe, so he used the Germans' carpet-bombing
Carpet bombing
Carpet bombing is a large aerial bombing done in a progressive manner to inflict damage in every part of a selected area of land. The phrase invokes the image of explosions completely covering an area, in the same way that a carpet covers a floor. Carpet bombing is usually achieved by dropping many...

 of the city to draw panzer units
Panzer Division
A panzer division was an armored division in the army and air force branches of the Wehrmacht as well as the Waffen-SS of Nazi Germany during World War II....

 into the rubble and chaos where their progress was impeded. Here they could be destroyed with Molotov cocktail
Molotov cocktail
The Molotov cocktail, also known as the petrol bomb, gasoline bomb, Molotov bomb, fire bottle, fire bomb, or simply Molotov, is a generic name used for a variety of improvised incendiary weapons...

s and Russian artillery operating at close range. This tactic also rendered the German Luftwaffe ineffective, since Stuka dive-bombers could not attack Red Army positions without firing upon their own forces.

After the victory at Stalingrad, the 62nd was redesignated as the Soviet 8th Guards Army
Soviet 8th Guards Army
The Soviet 8th Guards Army was an army of the Soviet Union's Red Army/Soviet Army, disbanded in the early 1990s.Activated in October 1941 as the 7th Reserve Army, the Army was redesignated the 62nd Army at Stalingrad in July 1942...

. Chuikov then commanded the 8th Guards as part of 1st Belorussian Front
1st Belorussian Front
The 1st Belorussian Front was a Front of the Soviet Army during World War II...

 and led its advance through Poland, finally heading the Soviet offensive which conquered Berlin
Battle of Berlin
The Battle of Berlin, designated the Berlin Strategic Offensive Operation by the Soviet Union, was the final major offensive of the European Theatre of World War II....

 in April/May 1945.

Chuikov's advance through Poland was characterized by massive advances across difficult terrain (on several occasions, the 8th Guards Army advanced over 40 miles in a single day). On May 1, 1945, Chuikov, who commanded his army operating in central Berlin, was the first Allied officer to learn about 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...

's suicide, being informed by General Hans Krebs
Hans Krebs (general)
Hans Krebs was a German Army general of infantry who served during World War II.-Early life:Krebs was born in Helmstedt. He volunteered for service in the Imperial German Army in 1914, was promoted to lieutenant in 1915, and to first lieutenant in 1925...

 who came to Chuikov's headquarters under a white flag
White flag
White flags have had different meanings throughout history and depending on the locale.-Flag of temporary truce in order to parley :...

. He accepted the surrender of Berlin's forces from General Helmuth Weidling
Helmuth Weidling
Helmuth Otto Ludwig Weidling was an officer in the German Army before and during World War II...


Chuikov appeared in the documentary film Berlin (1945), directed by Yuli Raizman
Yuli Raizman
Yuli Yakovlevich Raizman was a Soviet Russian film director and screenwriter. His film Private Life was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.-Selected filmography:* The Earth Thirsts...


Later life

After the war ended Chuikov stayed in Germany, later serving as Commander-in-Chief of the Group of Soviet Forces in Germany
Group of Soviet Forces in Germany
The Group of Soviet Forces in Germany , also known as the Group of Soviet Occupation Forces in Germany and the Western Group of Forces were the troops of the Soviet Army in East Germany....

 from 1949 until 1953, when he was made the Commanding General 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...

. While serving at that post, on March 11, 1955 he was promoted to 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. ....

. From 1960 to 1964 he was the Commander-in-Chief of the Soviet Army's Ground Forces. He also served as the Chief of the Civil Defense from 1961 until his retirement in 1972. From 1961 until his death, he was a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
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 ...


He was a major consultant for the design of the Stalingrad battle memorial on Mamayev Kurgan
Mamayev Kurgan
Mamayev Kurgan is a dominant height overlooking the city of Volgograd in Southern Russia. The name in Russian means "tumulus of Mamai"....

, and was buried there after his death at the age of 82.

Memoirs in translation

  • The Beginning of the Road: The Story of the Battle for Stalingrad, London, 1963.

In popular culture

  • Chuikov was briefly featured in the 2004 German
    Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

    Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

    n movie Downfall
    Downfall (film)
    Downfall is a 2004 German/Italian/Austrian epic war film directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel, depicting the final ten days of Adolf Hitler's life in his Berlin bunker and Nazi Germany in 1945....

    (Der Untergang), dealing with the fall of Berlin
    Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

     in 1945. He was portrayed by a Russian
    The Russian people are an East Slavic ethnic group native to Russia, speaking the Russian language and primarily living in Russia and neighboring countries....

     actor Aleksandr Slastin.
  • Dana Kramer-Rolls' novel, Home is the Hunter
    Home Is the Hunter
    Home Is the Hunter is a Star Trek: The Original Series novel written by Dana Kramer-Rolls.-Plot:Captain Kirk, commanding the USS Enterprise, gets into a fight with a Klingon ship concerning arguments over a primitive planet and its inhabitants...

    , has Star Trek
    Star Trek
    Star Trek is an American science fiction entertainment franchise created by Gene Roddenberry. The core of Star Trek is its six television series: The Original Series, The Animated Series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise...

    character Pavel Chekov
    Pavel Chekov
    Pavel Andreievich Chekov is a Russian Starfleet officer in the Star Trek fictional universe. Walter Koenig portrayed Chekov in the original Star Trek series and first seven Star Trek films; Anton Yelchin portrayed the character in the 2009 film Star Trek.-Origin:Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry...

     refer to Chuikov as his ancestor (although "Vasily" is spelled as "Vassili").
  • Chuikov is a character in Robert Conroy
    Robert Conroy
    -Writing career:*His first novel, 1901, deals with a German invasion of Long Island.*His second novel, 1862, is based on what might have happened had the United Kingdom entered into the American Civil War on the side of the Confederacy....

    's Red Inferno: 1945
    Red Inferno: 1945
    Red Inferno: 1945 is a 2010 novel written by Robert Conroy, the author of other alternate history novels.-Plot summary:Red Inferno: 1945 is a speculative fictional novel that depicts what could have happened if the Soviet Union had attempted to take all of Germany towards the end of World War II,...

    . The novel follows his career alongside Marshal of the Soviet Union 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...

     in a fictional situation where the Soviet Union attacks America and the remaining Allied nations. Towards the end of the novel an American Boeing B-29 Superfortress dropped a nuclear bomb near the city of Paderborn
    Paderborn is a city in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, capital of the Paderborn district. The name of the city derives from the river Pader, which originates in more than 200 springs near Paderborn Cathedral, where St. Liborius is buried.-History:...

    , Germany, where he was stationed. The fictional bomb killed him, Zhukov, and a large portion of the Soviet military's elite forces.

Honours and awards

Soviet Union
  • 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 (19 March 1944, 6 April 1945)
  • 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...

    , nine times (26 October 1943, 19 March 1944, 21 February 1945, 11 February 1950, 11 February 1960, 12 February 1970, 11 February 1975, 21 February 1978, 11 February 1980)
  • 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...

     (22 February 1968)
  • Order of the Red Banner
    Order of the Red Banner
    The Soviet government of Russia established the Order of the Red Banner , a military decoration, on September 16, 1918 during the Russian Civil War...

    , four times (1920, 1925, 1944, 1948)
  • 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...

    , 1st class, three times (28 January 1943, 23 August 1944, 29 May 1945)
  • Order of the Red Star
    Order of the Red Star
    Established on 6 April 1930, the Order of the Red Star was an order of the Soviet Union, given to Red Army and Soviet Navy personnel for "exceptional service in the cause of the defense of the Soviet Union in both war and peace". It was established by Resolution of the Presidium of the CEC of the...

  • Honorary arms with golden national emblem of the Soviet Union (22 February 1968)
  • Medal in commemoration of the centenary of the birth of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin
  • Medal for the Defence of Stalingrad
    Medal for the Defence of Stalingrad
    The Medal for the Defence of Stalingrad was established on December 22, 1942. It was designed to commemorate the deeds of all the soldiers and civilians who had actively fought in the defence of Stalingrad from the Germans, in the Battle of Stalingrad, between July 12 and November 19, 1942.The...

  • Medal For the Victory Over Germany in the Great Patriotic War 1941–1945
  • Medal for 20 years of victory
  • Medal for 30 years of victory
  • Medal "For the capture of Berlin"
  • Medal "For the Liberation of Warsaw"
  • Medal "Veteran of the Armed Forces of the USSR"
  • Medal "20 years of Workers 'and Peasants' Red Army"
  • Medal "30 Years of the Soviet Army and Navy"
  • Medal "40 Years of the Armed Forces of the USSR"
  • Medal "50 Years of the Armed Forces of the USSR"
  • Medal "60 Years of the Armed Forces of the USSR"

  • Order of Merit for the Fatherland in gold, twice (East Germany)
  • Grand Cross of the Star of People's Friendship (East Germany)
  • Cross of Grunwald
    Cross of Grunwald
    Order Krzyża Grunwaldu 1943-1960, Krzyż Grunwaldu 1960-1992 was a military decoration created in November 1943 by the High Command of Gwardia Ludowa, a World War II Polish resistance movement in Poland organised by the Polish Workers Party...

    , 2nd class (Poland)
  • Gold Cross of the 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...

  • Commander's Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta (Poland)
  • Order of Sukhbaatar (Mongolia)
  • Two orders of China
  • Distinguished Service Cross (United States)
    Distinguished Service Cross (United States)
    The Distinguished Service Cross is the second highest military decoration that can be awarded to a member of the United States Army, for extreme gallantry and risk of life in actual combat with an armed enemy force. Actions that merit the Distinguished Service Cross must be of such a high degree...

Awards of other countries

External links

Memoirs by Vasili Chuikov: Сражение века Battle of the Century – Describes his experiences during the Battle of Stalingrad. Memoirs by Vasili Chuikov: Конец третьего рейха The End of the Third Reich – Describes his experiences during the last months of the war, ending with the Battle of Berlin. Biography on the website dedicated to the Heroes of the Soviet Union/Russia.
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