Vasilevsky, Aleksandr Mikhaylovich

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Vasilevsky, Aleksandr Mikhaylovich, born 30-09-1895 in Novaya Golchikha in the Kineshma Uyezd. Vasilevsky was the fourth of eight children. His father, Mikhail Aleksandrovich Vasilevsky, was a priest to the nearby St. Nicholas Church. His mother, Nadezhda Ivanovna Sokolova, was the daughter of a priest in the nearby village of Ugletz. Vasilevsky reportedly broke off all contact with his parents after 1926 because of his Communist Party of the Soviet Union membership and his military duties in the Red Army; three of his brothers did so also. However, the family resumed relations in 1940, following Josef Stalin’s   suggestion that they do so. According to Vasilevsky, his family was extremely poor. His father spent most of his time working to earn money, while the children assisted by working in the fields. In 1897, the family moved to Novopokrovskoe, where his father became a priest to the newly-built Ascension Church, and where Aleksandr began his education in the church school. In 1909, he entered Kostroma seminary, which required considerable financial sacrifice on the part of his parents.  The same year, a ministerial directive preventing former seminary’s from starting university studies initiated a nationwide seminarian movement, with classes stopping in most Russian seminaries. Vasilevsky, among others, was expelled from Kostroma, and only returned several months later, after the semifinalists’ demands had been satisfied. After completing his studies in the seminary and spending a few years working as a teacher, Vasilevsky intended to become an agronomist or a surveyor, but the outbreak of the First World War changed his plans. According to his own words, he was “overwhelmed with patriotic feelings” and decided to become a soldier instead. Vasilevsky took his exams in January 1915 and entered the Alexander Military Law Academy  in February. As he recalls, “I did not decide to become an officer to start a military career. I still wanted to be an agronomist and work in some remote corner of Russia after the war. I could not suppose that my country would change, and I would.” After four months of courses that he later considered to be completely outdated, theoretical, and inappropriate for modern warfare, he was sent to the front with the rank of praporshchik, the highest non-commissioned rank in the Russian infantry, in May 1915. On 22-06-1941, he learned of the German bombing of several important military and civilian objectives, starting Operation Barbarossa.  In August 1941, Vasilevsky was appointed Chief of the Operations Directorate of the General Staff and Deputy Chief of the General Staff, making him one of the key figures in the Soviet military leadership. At the end of September 1941, Vasilevsky gave a speech before the General Staff, describing the situation as extremely difficult, but pointing out that the northern part of the front was holding, that Leningrad still offered resistance, and that such a situation would potentially allow some reserves to be gathered in the northern part of the front. At the start of 1944, Vasilevsky coordinated the Soviet offensive on the right bank of the Dnieper, leading to a decisive victory in eastern Ukraine. On 10-04-1944, the day Odessa was retaken, Vasilevsky was presented with the Order of Victory, only the second ever awarded, the first having been awarded to Georgi Zhukow.  Vasilevsky’s car rolled over a mine during an inspection of Sevastopol after the fighting ended on 10-05-1944. He received a head wound, cut by flying glass, and was evacuated to Moscow for recovery. Between 1946 and 1949, Vasilevsky remained Chief of Staff, then became Defense Minister from 1949 to 1953. Following Stalin’s death in 1953, Vasilevsky fell from grace and was replaced by Nikolai Bulganin, he died age 24-02-1975, age 79, although he remained deputy Defense minister. In 1956, he was appointed Deputy Defense Minister of Military Science, a secondary position with no real military power. Vasilevsky would occupy this position for only one year before being pensioned off by Nikita Khrushchev
, thus becoming a victim of the bloodless purge that also saw the end of Zhukov. In 1959, he was appointed General Inspector of the Ministry of Defense, an honorary position. In 1973, he published his memoirs, The Matter of My Whole Life.

Death and burial ground of Vasilevsky, Aleksandr Mikhaylovich.

 Aleksandr Vasilevsky died on 05-12-1977, age 85. His body was cremated and his ashes immured in the Kremlin Wall Necropolis
 

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