Marshal of the Soviet Union

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Marshal of the Soviet Union
Маршал Советского Союза
Rank insignia of marshal Sovetskogo Soiuza.svg
Uniform shoulder strap (1955–1990)
Marshal-Star big1.jpg
CountryFlag of the Soviet Union.svg  Soviet Union
Service branchRed Army flag (reverse).svg  Soviet Army
RankGeneral officer
NATO rank code OF-10
Formation22 September 1935
AbolishedDecember 1991
Next higher rankNone
Next lower rank Chief marshal of the branch
Equivalent ranks Admiral of the fleet of the Soviet Union
Rank insignias of Marshal of the Soviet Union
RKKA 1935 collar OF10 marshal.svg
Gorget patch
1935–40
RKKA 1940 collar OF10 marshal.svg
Gorget patch
1940–43
RKKA 1940 chevron OF10 marshal.svg
Sleeve chevron
1940–43
CCCP-Army-OF-10 (1943-1955).svg
Shoulder board
1943–55

Marshal of the Soviet Union (Russian : Маршал Советского Союза; Russian pronunciation:  [ˈmarʂəɫ sɐˈvʲɛtskəvə sɐˈjuzə] ) was the highest military rank of the Soviet Union.

Contents

The rank of Marshal of the Soviet Union was created in 1935 and abolished in 1991. 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. Both ranks were comparable to NATO rank codes OF-10.

While the supreme rank of Generalissimus of the Soviet Union, which would have been senior to Marshal of the Soviet Union, was proposed for Joseph Stalin after the Second World War, it was never officially approved.

History of the rank

The first five marshals of the Soviet Union from left to right: Tukhachevsky, Budyonny, Voroshilov, Blyukher, and Yegorov. 5marshals 01.jpg
The first five marshals of the Soviet Union from left to right: Tukhachevsky, Budyonny, Voroshilov, Blyukher, and Yegorov.

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.

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.

Sequence of ranks
lower rank:
General of the army
(Генерал армии)
Red Army Badge.svg
Marshal of the Soviet Union
(Маршал Советского Союза)
Higher rank:
Generalissimus of the Soviet Union
(highest)
Chief marshal of the branch
(Главный ма́ршал ро́да во́йск)

List of Marshals of the Soviet Union

Note: All Marshals of the Soviet Union, with the exception of non-military Marshals, had at least started their military careers in the Army. The service branches listed are the services they served in during their respective tenures as Marshals of the Soviet Union.

NamePortraitLifespanPromotedService branch/Background
Kliment Voroshilov Kliment Voroshilov.jpg 1881–1969November 1935Political
Mikhail Tukhachevsky Mikhail Tukhachevsky.jpg 1893–1937November 1935Army
Alexander Yegorov Aleksandr Egorov.jpg 1883–1939November 1935Army
Semyon Budyonny Budionnyi 1943.jpg 1883–1973November 1935Army
Vasily Blyukher 1890–1938November 1935Army
Semyon Timoshenko Marshal Sovetskogo Soiuza Geroi Sovetskogo Soiuza Semion Konstantinovich Timoshenko.jpg 1895–1970May 1940Army
Grigory Kulik Grigory Kulik.jpg 1890–1950May 1940Army
Boris Shaposhnikov Boris Shaposhnikov 02.jpg 1882–1945May 1940Army
Georgy Zhukov Zhukov LIFE.jpg 1896–1974January 1943Army
Aleksandr Vasilevsky Aleksandr Vasilevsky 4.jpg 1895–1977February 1943Army
Joseph Stalin [lower-alpha 1] Stalin the communist.jpg 1878–1953March 1943Political
Ivan Konev Ivan Stepanovich Konev.jpg 1897–1973February 1944Army
Leonid Govorov Leonid Govorov 1.jpg 1897–195518 June 1944Army
Konstantin Rokossovsky [lower-alpha 2] Konstanty Rokossowski, 1945.jpg 1896–196829 June 1944Army
Rodion Malinovsky Rodion Malinovsky 1.jpg 1898–196710 September 1944Army
Fyodor Tolbukhin Marshal Sovetskogo Soiuza F.I. Tolbukhin.jpg 1894–194912 September 1944Army
Kirill Meretskov Kirill Afanas'evich Meretskov s synom Vladimirom (cropped).jpg 1897–1968October 1944Army
Lavrentiy Beria Lavrenty Beria.jpg 1899–1953July 1945NKVD/MGB
Vasily Sokolovsky Vasily Sokolovsky.jpg 1897–1968July 1946Army
Nikolai Bulganin Bundesarchiv Bild 183-29921-0001, Bulganin, Nikolai Alexandrowitsch.jpg 1895–1975November 1947Political
Ivan Bagramyan [lower-alpha 3] Bagramian Ivan Khristoforovich.jpg 1897–1982March 1955Army
Sergey Biryuzov Sergey Biryuzov.jpg 1904–1964March 1955Army/Strategic Rocket Forces
Andrei Grechko Andrei Grechko 3.jpg 1903–1976March 1955Army
Andrei Yeremenko Marshal Sovetskogo Soiuza Geroi Sovetskogo Soiuza Andrei Ivanovich Eriomenko (cropped).jpg 1892–1970March 1955Army
Kirill Moskalenko Kirill Moskalenko 01.jpg 1902–1985March 1955Army/Strategic Rocket Forces
Vasily Chuikov Vasily Ivanovich Chuikov.jpg 1900–1982March 1955Army
Matvei Zakharov Matvei Zakharov 1.jpg 1898–1972May 1959Army
Filipp Golikov Marshal Sovetskogo Soiuza Filipp Ivanovich Golikov.jpg 1900–1980May 1961Army
Nikolay Krylov Nikolay Ivanovich Krylov 1.jpg 1903–1972May 1962Army/Strategic Rocket Forces
Ivan Yakubovsky General-maior I.I. Iakubovskii na ulitse Moskvy.jpeg 1912–1976April 1967Army
Pavel Batitsky Pavel Batitsky.jpg 1910–1984April 1968Air Defence
Pyotr Koshevoy Pyotr Koshevoy wearing marshal's uniform.jpg 1904–1976April 1968Army
Leonid Brezhnev Leonid Brezhnev Portrait (1).jpg 1906–1982May 1976Political
Dmitriy Ustinov Dmitry Ustinov (colorized, full).jpg 1908–1984July 1976Defence Industry
Viktor Kulikov Kulikov Viktor Georgievich.jpg 1921–2013January 1977Army
Nikolai Ogarkov Nikolai Ogarkov 1 (enlarged).jpg 1917–1994January 1977Army
Sergey Sokolov Sergey Leonidovich Sokolov.jpg 1911–2012February 1978Army
Sergey Akhromeyev Sergey Akhromeyev (cropped).jpg 1923–1991March 1983Army
Semyon Kurkotkin Semyon Kurkotkin 2.jpg 1917–1990March 1983Army
Vasily Petrov Marshal Vasily Ivanovich Petrov.jpg 1917–2014March 1983Army
Dmitry Yazov Dmitry Timofeyevich Yazov 1.jpg 1924–2020April 1990Army

See also

Notes

  1. Joseph Stalin was Generalissimus of the Soviet Union from 1945.
  2. Konstantin Rokossovsky was also a Marshal of Poland from 1949.
  3. Also known as Hovhannes Baghramian.

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References