The commander of the 62nd Army V.I. Chuikov (left) and member of the military council K.A. Gurov during a conversation with the legendary sniper V.G. Zaitsev is considering his rifle
120 years ago, on February 12, 1900, the future legendary commander of the Great Patriotic War, Marshal of the Soviet Union, twice Hero of the Soviet Union Vasily Ivanovich Chuikov, was born. The hero of the defense of Stalingrad and the commander to whom Berlin surrendered.
From jung to commander
Vasily was born into a large peasant family in the village of Serebryanye Prudy, Venevsky district, Tula province. Studied at a parish school. He began to serve in 1917 as a cabin boy in the training mine detachment of the Baltic Fleet. In the spring of 1918 he joined the ranks of the Red Army. He entered military instructor courses, after graduation he was assigned to the Sievers Special Brigade (1st Ukrainian Special Brigade). As an assistant to the company commander, he fought with the Krasnovites, then transferred to Kazan on the Eastern Front, where he bravely fought with the Kolchakites. He held the position of assistant commander, regiment commander. In the spring of 1920, Chuikov’s 43rd Infantry Regiment, as part of the 5th Division, was transferred to the Western Front against the Poles. After the end of the war with Poland, together with the regiment, he remained on the western border, guarded the borders, fought against bandits.
In 1922, he continued his studies at the Military Academy of the Red Army, after graduating from the main faculty, he remained at the academy at the oriental faculty (Chinese branch). At the beginning of 1928 he was sent to China as a military adviser (in fact, an intelligence officer). Since 1929, the chief of intelligence of the Special Red Banner Far Eastern Army. In 1932 he returned to Moscow as the head of the Advanced Training Courses for intelligence command at the Headquarters of the Red Army. Until 1939, he consistently commanded the 4th Mechanized Brigade of the Belarusian Military District, the 5th Rifle Corps, the Bobruisk Army Group, the 4th Army (participates in the Polish campaign of the Red Army), the 9th Army (Winter War), again the 4th Army …
In June 1940, Vasily Chuikov was awarded the rank of Lieutenant General. From December 1940 to March 1942 he was again sent to the Celestial Empire, where he was a military attaché at the Soviet mission and the main military adviser to Chiang Kai-shek. Chuikov helped the Chinese, who, under the conditions of the Japanese invasion, were at war with each other (Kuomintang troops against the communists), to maintain a united front against Japan.
Military adviser in China V. Chuikov. 1940 year
With the beginning of the Great Patriotic War, the general repeatedly asked to send his front to fight against the Germans. In May 1942, he commanded troops on the fronts of the Great War. Commander of the 1st Reserve Army, reorganized into the 64th. Since July 1942, Chuikov’s army fought stubborn battles in the Stalingrad direction. From September 1942 until the end of the war, Vasily Chuikov (with a short break in the fall of 1943) commanded the 62nd Army (it became the 8th Guards).
Glory to Chuikov came precisely in Stalingrad. His words became legendary: “There is no land for us beyond the Volga!” The chief of staff of the 62nd Army N. I. Krylov recalled the words of the commander: “For the Nazis to be able to take Stalingrad, they must kill us all!” In his memoirs, he also noted the commander as “alien to templates (in that situation, adherence to them could ruin everything), to the audacity of courageous in making decisions, possessing a truly iron will … As a military leader, he is extremely inherent in the ability not to miss the moment when it is necessary to do something important, the ability to foresee complications and danger, when it is not too late to prevent them to some extent. “
The Germans could not throw the Chuikovites into the Volga. By the end of the defensive period of the Battle of Stalingrad, his army held the area north of the Stalingrad Tractor Plant, the Lower settlement of the Barrikady plant, part of the Krasny Oktyabr plant and several blocks in the city center. Chuikov was a supporter of active combat, showed himself to be a master of urban battles, created assault groups (from a platoon to an infantry company). Soviet stormtroopers penetrated the ruins and underground communications to the rear of the Nazis and delivered unexpected blows. This experience was later used in the assault on many other cities, including Berlin. Therefore, Chuikov was nicknamed the “General Storm”.
The soldiers loved and respected their commander. Chuikov himself noted:
“From personal experience I know that when you talk with the fighters in the trench, share with them both sorrow and joy, smoke, sort out the situation together, advise how to act, then the fighters will surely have confidence:“ Since the general was here, it means that we must hold on! ” And the fighter will not retreat without an order, he will fight the enemy to the last opportunity. “
Subsequently, Chuikov’s guards as part of the Southwestern Front (from October 1943 – the 3rd Ukrainian Front) successfully fought in the Donbass, liberating Little Russia-Ukraine, Odessa in the battle for the Dnieper. In June 1944, the 8th Guards Army was withdrawn to the headquarters reserve, then included in the 1st Belorussian Front. As part of the 1st BF, Chuikov’s army took part in the liberation of Belarus, Poland, fought on the Magnushevsky bridgehead, made a throw from the Vistula to the Oder. Then the guards besieged and took Poznan, fought on the Küstrinsky bridgehead, stormed Küstrin. The last operation of the 8th Guards Army was the Berlin. It was at the command post of Colonel General Vasily Chuikov that on May 2, 1945, the head of the German Berlin garrison, General Weindling, signed the act of surrendering the German capital.
Chuikov recalled the heavy fighting in Berlin:
“Every step here cost us labor and sacrifice. The battles for this last defense area of the Third Reich were marked by the massive heroism of Soviet soldiers. The stones and bricks of the ruins, the asphalt of the squares and streets of the German capital were watered with the blood of Soviet people. Yes, what! They went to mortal combat on sunny spring days. They wanted to live. For the sake of life, for the sake of happiness on earth, they paved the way to Berlin through fire and death from the Volga itself. “
Commander of the 62nd Army Lieutenant General Vasily Ivanovich Chuikov in Stalingrad
Army commander V.I. Chuikov takes the banner of the Guards banner of the 8th Guards Army
Colonel General V.I. Chuikov is discussing the upcoming operation near Odessa with the officers. April 1944
Berlin could have been taken earlier?
It is worth noting: Chuikov believed that our troops could have taken Berlin three months earlier. In the 60s, his memoirs were published, which caused fierce controversy in the Soviet generals. Vasily Chuikov said that the Soviet army could have taken Berlin in February 1945, that is, end the war 2-3 months earlier than in reality. In his opinion, stopping the offensive in the Berlin direction was a gross mistake. “As for the risk,” wrote Chuikov, “in a war one often has to take it. But in this case, the risk was well founded. ” This point of view was sharply criticized by other commanders of the Great War, including Zhukov.
During the Vistula-Oder operation, Soviet troops crossed the Oder on the move and captured a number of bridgeheads. From the bridgehead in the Kienitz-Neuendorf-Röfeld region, the German capital was only 70 km away. German troops were bound by the fighting on the Western Front and in Hungary. Berlin remained open to attack by Zhukov’s armies. However, over the 1st BF, the front was hanging from the north by the so-called. “Pomeranian Balcony” – Army Group “Vistula”. The German high command was preparing flank attacks against the Soviet Berlin group. As a result, Stalin, the Soviet General Staff and the command of the 1st BF decided that first it was necessary to eliminate the threat on the flanks, and then storm Berlin. That is, the Soviet Headquarters did not want to repeat the mistakes of the German command in the fall of 1941. If the Germans were able to deliver a strong counterattack on the Zhukov group advancing on Berlin, then our troops suffered even greater losses than in real history.
Commander of the 1st Belorussian Front Marshal of the Soviet Union G.K. Zhukov (fourth from the left in the first row), commander of the 8th Guards Army, Colonel-General V.I. Chuikov (fifth from the left in the first row) and the commander of the 4th Guards Rifle corps Major General A.M. Andreev (sixth from the left in the first row). Magnushevsky bridgehead. October 1944
Marshal of the Soviet Union
After the end of the war, Chuikov continued to command the 8th Guards Army, which was part of the Group of Soviet Occupation Forces in Germany (GSOVG). Then he was deputy commander-in-chief of the GSOVG, since March 1949 – commander-in-chief of the Soviet troops and head of the military administration in Germany. Since October 1949, the head of the Soviet Control Commission (JCC), which exercised control over the territory of the newly created German Democratic Republic (GDR).
After Stalin’s death, he was recalled to the USSR. Appointed Commander of the Kiev Military District. In March 1955 he was awarded the title of Marshal of the USSR. Since April 1960, the head of the USSR ground forces. In 1964 he was relieved of his post as commander-in-chief of the ground forces. Since 1972 – Inspector General of the Group of Inspectors General of the USSR Ministry of Defense (in fact, an honorary retirement). Vasily Ivanovich Chuikov died on March 18, 1982. At his request, twice Hero of the USSR (1944 and 1945) was buried next to his fallen soldiers, on the Mamayev Kurgan in Stalingrad.
The words of the legendary Soviet commander sound like a true testament to the descendants and the entire Russian people:
“The main fortress of our state is man. Convincing evidence of this is the steadfastness and ineradicable faith of our soldiers in victory even when, it seemed, there was nothing to breathe and death pursued at every step. For Hitler’s strategists, the origins of this phenomenon remained unsolved. Moral forces, as well as the capabilities of the mind of a person who is aware of responsibility before time, before his people, do not know measurements, they are evaluated by achievements. And the long-awaited thing happened – after holding out, we went west and reached Berlin! “
The commander-in-chief of the GSVG Chuikov transfers the management functions in the Soviet zone of occupation to the Minister of Justice of the GDR. November 11, 1949