Generalissimus of the Soviet Union

Generalissimus of the Soviet Union (Russian: Генералиссимус Советского Союза, romanized: Generalissimus Sovetskogo Soyuza) was the highest military rank in the Soviet Union, created after World War II for Joseph Stalin and awarded to him on 27 June 1945. Stalin soon came to regret the rank, which he considered too ostentatious, and continued to wear his Marshal insignia and uniform.

Generalissimus of the Soviet Union
Генералиссимус Советского Союза
Proposed uniform epaulette
Country Soviet Union
Service branch Soviet Armed Forces
RankGeneral officer
Next higher rankNone
Next lower rank

History edit

The rank of Generalissimus (or Generalissimo) was awarded to several military leaders in the Imperial Russian Army, including for the first time by Peter the Great to Aleksei Shein in 1696, by Catherine I to Prince Alexander Danilovich Menshikov in 1727, to Duke Anthony Ulrich of Brunswick in 1740, and most famously by Paul I to Count Alexander Suvorov after the War of the Second Coalition in 1799.[1]

The first proposal to create the rank of Generalissimus of the Soviet Union came after the Red Army's victory at the Battle of Stalingrad in World War II. On 6 February 1943, the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks) received an appeal from employees at a Moscow factory for Joseph Stalin, "a brilliant military leader", to be awarded the title of Generalissimus of the Red Army. Another such proposal was submitted to the party's Politburo on 24 June 1945, the day of the Victory Parade in Moscow's Red Square, by the commanders of the Red Army, Navy, and the General Staff. The note stated that "for the outstanding leadership of combat operations of the active Army and Navy, which led to the historic victory over Nazi Germany in the Great Patriotic War", it was necessary "to establish the military rank of Generalissimus of the Soviet Union and to award it to Comrade Stalin".[2]

The rank of Generalissimus was established by the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet on 26 June 1945,[3] and awarded to Stalin (who had held the rank of Marshal since 1943) on 27 June by the same body "for especially outstanding services to the Motherland in leading all the armed forces of the state during the war".[2] Stalin soon regretted allowing himself the title, and at the Potsdam Conference asked Winston Churchill to continue to refer to him as Marshal instead.[4] Stalin rejected any distinction between his rank and Marshal, and continued to wear his Marshal insignia and uniform. According to the memoirs of General Sergei Shtemenko, in one episode General Andrey Khrulyov, the head of logistics for the Red Army, designed an "opulent" uniform for the rank "sewn on the model of Kutuzov's times", with a high standing collar and gilded stripes on the trousers. Upon presenting it to Stalin, the following was said:

Stalin: Who are you going to dress like this?
Khrulyov: This is the proposed uniform for the Generalissimus.
Stalin: For whom?
Khrulyov: For you, Comrade Stalin...

Stalin burst into a long and angry tirade against his excessive glorification, and the subject was not raised again.[5] The rank of Generalissimus, while never awarded to another holder, continued to appear in the list of ranks and in statutes of the Soviet Armed Forces until 1993.[2] In 1996, a replica of the proposed uniform was exhibited at the Museum of the Great Patriotic War in Moscow, and design sketches for it were published in 2001.[6]

Proposed shoulder insignia edit

Below are proposed designs of the shoulder insignia of Generalissimus of the Soviet Union.[6]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ Trofimov, Anton. "Пять генералиссимусов России: кто они?" [Five generalissimos of Russia: who are they?]. (in Russian). Retrieved 4 September 2023.
  2. ^ a b c Arzumanov, Ilya (25 June 2015). "Генералиссимус Советского Союза. Досье" [Generalissimus of the Soviet Union. Dossier]. TASS (in Russian). Retrieved 4 September 2023.
  3. ^ "об установлении высшего воинского звания — генералиссимус советского союза" [On the Establishment of the Highest Military Rank – Generalissimus of the Soviet Union] (in Russian). Gazette of the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union. 26 June 1945. Retrieved 2 April 2022.
  4. ^ Service, Robert (2005). Stalin: A Biography. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. p. 548. ISBN 978-0-674-01697-2.
  5. ^ Shtemenko, Sergei Matveevich (1989). "13. Reflections on military leadership". Генеральный штаб в годы войны [General Staff During the War] (in Russian). Moscow: Military Publishing House. ISBN 5-9713-0069-5. Retrieved 19 November 2021.
  6. ^ a b "Васильевский Полигон. Мундир для генералиссимуса" [Uniform for the Generalissimus]. (in Russian). Retrieved 2023-09-04.