Wartime Leaders

Wartime Leaders

1936 - 1939


Georgy Zhukov
1896 – 1974 
Marshal Of The Soviet Union

Responsible for breaking the siege of Leningrad: Zhukov coordinated attacks to weaken German and Finnish lines, creating small openings for supplies to enter the city. It also allowed for evacuations along the frozen Lake Lagoda in 1943. Led successful defense of Moscow. Promoted to Marshall of Soviet Union. Took leading role in battle of Kursk, repelling the German offensive on the eastern Front. Led Liberation of Belarus to The Battle of Berlin.


Semyon Budyonny
1883 – 1973
Marshal Of The Soviet Union

Budyonny joined The Russian Army in 1903 and served as a non – commissioned officer in World War One. Fought for the Bolsheviks during The Russian Civil War. At the start of the war, Budyonny commanded the Reserve Army and then Soviet forces in Ukraine. He was severely defeated during the battles of Kiev and Uman. Budyonny presided over one of the largest encirclements in military history. Though all he did was carry out Stalin’s orders not to retreat under any circumstances, Budyonny became a scapegoat for the Red Army’s failures in the early days of World War II. He was demoted to the post of Commander of the Red Army Cavalry, which kept him busy behind the lines. The Red Army’s inability to stop the German advance did little damage to Budyonny’s reputation in The Soviet Union. Budyonny was seen more as a hero from The Bolshevik era as supposed to a failure from The Second World War. Budyonny retired as a three time Hero of the Soviet Union.


Ivan Konev
1897 – 1973
Marshal Of The Soviet Union

Konev was promoted to Colonel-General after playing a key role in The Defense of Moscow. He lead the southern forces during The Battle of Kursk in 1943, before being sent to Ukraine. Konev was made Marshal of the Soviet Union in 1944 after his army retook Belgorod, Odessa, Kharkiv, and Kiev. He and Gregory Zhukov coordinated a massive offensive in the winter of 1945 that pushed The Germans out of Poland, allowed The Red Army to Capture Konigsberg, and assisted in The Battle of Berlin. While Zhukov was given the honor of taking Berlin, Konev was sent to Czechoslovakia, where his forces fought in The Battle of Prague. Ivan Konev died in 1971 as one of the most popular military figures in Soviet history. He is a two time Hero of the Soviet Union and is buried in The Kremlin Wall Necropolis.


Aleksandr Vasilevsky
1895 – 1977 
Red Army Chief Of General Staff.

Vasilevsky was The Red Army’s Chief of General Staff for most of the war. He oversaw The Defense Of Moscow. Vasilevsky worked with Zhukov during The Battle Of Stalingrad and oversaw Operation Bagration, which liberated Belarus and The Balkan States. He was in command of The Battle Of Konigsberg. Vasilevsky also lead Soviet forces against Japan in 1945. Vasilevsky briefly returned to prominence after publishing his memoirs in 1973. He died in 1977.


Andrey Vlasov
1901 – 1946 
Soviet General Who Defected To Nazis – tried as a traitor

Vlasov was commanding a mechanized tank group near Kiev when the Nazis invaded in 1941. His unit was one of the few to escape encirclement in Ukraine. In January 1942 Vlasov was featured in wartime propaganda beside Gregory Zhukov for his role in The Defense of Moscow.

In July 1942 Vlasov was attempting to break The Siege of Leningrad when his forces were surrounded in German held territory. He was taken prisoner and began professing an Anti-Stalinist point of view. The Nazis saw the charismatic general, who was popular with his men as a valuable propaganda tool. Vlasov was taken back to Germany where he wrote a pamphlet criticizing Soviet policies that was airdropped into The Soviet Union. He would lecture to captured Soviet POWs, hoping to recruit them into his Russian Liberation Army that would fight on the German side to free Russia from Stalin’s rule.

The Nazis were initially reluctant to allow Vlasov to command an army in battle—rather than creating one for propaganda purposes—but they relented and Vlasov led troops in minor fighting along the Oder River, before moving south in mid-April 1945. The force was stationed near Prague. Vlasov then switched sides again and fought in a few battles on behalf of the Czech resistance. Not wanting to face The Soviets or The Nazis, Vlasov retreated west and surrendered to The Americans. He was forcibly repatriated to The Soviet Union and executed for treason in 1946.

Andrey Vlasov is remembered as a traitor. His Russian Liberation movement inspired other Soviet soldiers to defect and “Vlasov’s forces” came to represent Anti-Stalinist or Anti-Communist soldiers from the USSR fighting against the Red Army during the war. Within the USSR, the name Vlasov and anyone serving in his Liberation Army (“Vlasovites”) became synonymous with the highest form of treachery both during and after the war.