|Marshal of the Soviet Union|
(Marshal Sovétskogo Soyuza)
Uniform shoulder strap (1955–1990)
|Next higher rank||None|
|Next lower rank||Chief marshal of the branch|
|Equivalent ranks||Admiral of the fleet of the Soviet Union|
Marshal of the Soviet Union (Russian : Маршал Советского Союза; Russian pronunciation: [ˈmarʂəɫ sɐˈvʲɛtskəvə sɐˈjuzə] ) was the highest military rank of the Soviet Union.
The rank of Marshal of the Soviet Union was created in 1935 and abolished in 1991, and 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, and to the five-star rank in anglophone armed forces.
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.
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 Ilyich 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 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 Brezhnev, who had been a commissar and Ustinov, who had been People's Commissar for Armaments. Even Yazov, who was 20 when the war ended, had been a platoon commander.
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.
|Sequence of ranks|
General of the army
Marshal of the Soviet Union
(Маршал Советского Союза)
|Higher rank: |
| Chief marshal of the branch |
(Главный ма́ршал ро́да во́йск)
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 Arms listed are the services they served in during their respective tenures as Marshals of the Soviet Union.
|Name||Photo||Lifespan||Promoted||Service Arm or Background|
|Kliment Voroshilov||1881–1969||Nov 1935||Political|
|Mikhail Tukhachevsky||1893–1937||Nov 1935||Army|
|Alexander Yegorov||1883–1939||Nov 1935||Army|
|Semyon Budyonny||1883–1973||Nov 1935||Army|
|Vasily Blyukher||1890–1938||Nov 1935||Army|
|Semyon Timoshenko||1895–1970||May 1940||Army|
|Grigory Kulik||1890–1950||May 1940||Army|
|Boris Shaposhnikov||1882–1945||May 1940||Army|
|Georgy Zhukov||1896–1974||Jan 1943||Army|
|Aleksandr Vasilevsky||1895–1977||Feb 1943||Army|
|Joseph Stalin||1878–1953||Mar 1943||Political|
|Ivan Konev||1897–1973||Feb 1944||Army|
|Leonid Govorov||1897–1955||Jun 1944||Army|
|Konstantin Rokossovsky||1896–1968||Jun 1944||Army|
|Rodion Malinovsky||1898–1967||Sep 1944||Army|
|Fyodor Tolbukhin||1894–1949||Sep 1944||Army|
|Kirill Meretskov||1897–1968||Oct 1944||Army|
|Lavrentiy Beria||1899–1953||Jul 1945||NKVD/MGB|
|Vasily Sokolovsky||1897–1968||Jul 1946||Army|
|Nikolai Bulganin||1895–1975||Nov 1947||Political|
|Ivan Bagramyan||1897–1982||Mar 1955||Army|
|Sergey Biryuzov||1904–1964||Mar 1955||Army/Strategic Rocket Forces|
|Andrei Grechko||1903–1976||Mar 1955||Army|
|Andrei Yeremenko||1892–1970||Mar 1955||Army|
|Kirill Moskalenko||1902–1985||Mar 1955||Army/Strategic Rocket Forces|
|Vasily Chuikov||1900–1982||Mar 1955||Army|
|Matvei Zakharov||1898–1972||May 1959||Army|
|Filipp Golikov||1900–1980||May 1961||Army|
|Nikolay Krylov||1903–1972||May 1962||Army/Strategic Rocket Forces|
|Ivan Yakubovsky||1912–1976||Apr 1967||Army|
|Pavel Batitsky||1910–1984||Apr 1968||Air Defence|
|Pyotr Koshevoy||1904–1976||Apr 1968||Army|
|Leonid Brezhnev||1906–1982||May 1976||Political|
|Dmitriy Ustinov||1908–1984||Jul 1976||Defence Industry|
|Viktor Kulikov||1921–2013||Jan 1977||Army|
|Nikolai Ogarkov||1917–1994||Jan 1977||Army|
|Sergey Sokolov||1911–2012||Feb 1978||Army|
|Sergey Akhromeyev||1923–1991||Mar 1983||Army|
|Semyon Kurkotkin||1917–1990||Mar 1983||Army|
|Vasily Petrov||1917–2014||Mar 1983||Army|
|Dmitry Yazov||1924–2020||Apr 1990||Army|
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