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Marshal of the Soviet Union

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Marshal of the Soviet Union
Маршал Советского Союза
Rank insignia of маршал Советского Союза.svg
Uniform shoulder strap (1955–1990)
Marshal-Star big1.jpg
Country Soviet Union
Service branch Soviet Army
RankGeneral officer
NATO rank codeOF-10
Formation22 September 1935
AbolishedDecember 1991
Next higher rankNone
Next lower rankChief marshal of the branch
Equivalent ranksAdmiral of the fleet of the Soviet Union
Rank insignias of Marshal of the Soviet Union
Gorget patch
Gorget patch
Sleeve chevron
Shoulder board

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. 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.
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.

  • Those who had gained their reputations during the Russian Civil War. These included both those who were purged in 1937–38 (Blyukher, Tukhachevsky, and Yegorov), and those who held high commands in the early years of World War II (Budyonny, Kulik, Shaposhnikov, Timoshenko and Voroshilov). All of the latter except Shaposhnikov and Timoshenko proved out-of-step with modern warfare and were removed from commanding positions.
  • Those who made their reputations in World War II and assumed high commands in the latter part of the war. These included Zhukov, Vasilievsky, Konev, Rokossovsky, Malinovsky, Tolbukhin, Govorov, Meretskov and Sokolovsky.
  • Those who assumed high command in the Cold War era. All of these were officers in World War II, but their higher commands were held in the Warsaw Pact or as Soviet Defence Ministers. These included Grechko, Yakubovsky, Kulikov, Ogarkov, Akhromeev, and Yazov.

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
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.

Name Portrait Lifespan Promoted Service branch/Background
Kliment Voroshilov
Kliment Voroshilov.jpg
1881–1969 November 1935 Political
Mikhail Tukhachevsky
Mikhail Tukhachevsky.jpg
1893–1937 November 1935 Army
Alexander Yegorov
Александр Егоров.jpg
1883–1939 November 1935 Army
Semyon Budyonny
Будённый 1943.jpg
1883–1973 November 1935 Army
Vasily Blyukher 1890–1938 November 1935 Army
Semyon Timoshenko
Маршал Советского Союза Герой Советского Союза Семён Константинович Тимошенко.jpg
1895–1970 May 1940 Army
Grigory Kulik
Grigory Kulik.jpg
1890–1950 May 1940 Army
Boris Shaposhnikov
Boris Shaposhnikov 02.jpg
1882–1945 May 1940 Army
Georgy Zhukov
Zhukov LIFE.jpg
1896–1974 January 1943 Army
Aleksandr Vasilevsky
Aleksandr Vasilevsky 4.jpg
1895–1977 February 1943 Army
Joseph Stalin[a]
Stalin the communist.jpg
1878–1953 March 1943 Political
Ivan Konev
Ivan Stepanovich Konev.jpg
1897–1973 February 1944 Army
Leonid Govorov
Leonid Govorov 1.jpg
1897–1955 18 June 1944 Army
Konstantin Rokossovsky[b]
Konstanty Rokossowski, 1945.jpg
1896–1968 29 June 1944 Army
Rodion Malinovsky
Rodion Malinovsky 1.jpg
1898–1967 10 September 1944 Army
Fyodor Tolbukhin
Маршал Советского Союза Ф.И. Толбухин.jpg
1894–1949 12 September 1944 Army
Kirill Meretskov
Кирилл Афанасьевич Мерецков с сыном Владимиром (cropped).jpg
1897–1968 October 1944 Army
Lavrentiy Beria
Lavrenty Beria.jpg
1899–1953 July 1945 NKVD/MGB
Vasily Sokolovsky
Vasily Sokolovsky.jpg
1897–1968 July 1946 Army
Nikolai Bulganin
Bundesarchiv Bild 183-29921-0001, Bulganin, Nikolai Alexandrowitsch.jpg
1895–1975 November 1947 Political
Ivan Bagramyan[c]
Баграмян Иван Христофорович.jpg
1897–1982 March 1955 Army
Sergey Biryuzov
Sergey Biryuzov.jpg
1904–1964 March 1955 Army/Strategic Rocket Forces
Andrei Grechko
Andrei Grechko 3.jpg
1903–1976 March 1955 Army
Andrei Yeremenko
Маршал Советского Союза Герой Советского Союза Андрей Иванович Ерёменко (cropped).jpg
1892–1970 March 1955 Army
Kirill Moskalenko
Kirill Moskalenko 01.jpg
1902–1985 March 1955 Army/Strategic Rocket Forces
Vasily Chuikov
Vasily Ivanovich Chuikov.jpg
1900–1982 March 1955 Army
Matvei Zakharov
Matvei Zakharov 1.jpg
1898–1972 May 1959 Army
Filipp Golikov
Маршал Советского Союза Филипп Иванович Голиков.jpg
1900–1980 May 1961 Army
Nikolay Krylov
Nikolay Ivanovich Krylov 1.jpg
1903–1972 May 1962 Army/Strategic Rocket Forces
Ivan Yakubovsky
Генерал-майор И.И. Якубовский на улице Москвы.jpeg
1912–1976 April 1967 Army
Pavel Batitsky
Pavel Batitsky.jpg
1910–1984 April 1968 Air Defence
Pyotr Koshevoy
Pyotr Koshevoy wearing marshal's uniform.jpg
1904–1976 April 1968 Army
Leonid Brezhnev
Leonid Brezhnev Portrait (1).jpg
1906–1982 May 1976 Political
Dmitriy Ustinov
Dmitry Ustinov (colorized, full).jpg
1908–1984 July 1976 Defence Industry
Viktor Kulikov
Куликов Виктор Георгиевич.jpg
1921–2013 January 1977 Army
Nikolai Ogarkov
Nikolai Ogarkov 1 (enlarged).jpg
1917–1994 January 1977 Army
Sergey Sokolov
Sergey Leonidovich Sokolov.jpg
1911–2012 February 1978 Army
Sergey Akhromeyev
Sergey Akhromeyev (cropped).jpg
1923–1991 March 1983 Army
Semyon Kurkotkin
Semyon Kurkotkin 2.jpg
1917–1990 March 1983 Army
Vasily Petrov
Marshal Vasily Ivanovich Petrov.jpg
1917–2014 March 1983 Army
Dmitry Yazov
Dmitry Timofeyevich Yazov 1.jpg
1924–2020 April 1990 Army

See also


  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.


External links

This page was last edited on 10 April 2021, at 15:35
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