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Under the Rule of Stalin’s Generals, Forward to Liberate Our Motherland!

Image Information
Under the Rule of Stalin’s Generals, Forward to Liberate Our Motherland!
Image Filename wwii0225.jpg
Image Size 142.09 KB
Image Dimensions 364 x 500
Photographer Unknown
Photographer Title
Caption Author Jason McDonald
Date Photographed 2/1/1943
State or Province
Country Soviet Union
Record Number
Status Caption ©2009, ©2024 MFA Productions LLC Please Do Not Duplicate or Distribute Without Permission
Poster celebrating the successful completion of Operation Uranus, the campaign to encircle German Field Marshal Friedrich von Paulus’s Sixth Army at Stalingrad. The caption reads, “Under the rule of Stalin’s generals, forward to liberate our Motherland! Marshal of the Soviet Union G. K. Zhukov, Marshal of the Soviet Union A. M. Vasilevsky, and Chief Marshal of Artillery N. N. Voronov.“ These three commanders were responsible for Operation Uranus as Stavka Verkhovnogo Glavnokomandovaniya (Supreme Main Command) representatives. All reported directly to Soviet Premier Josef Stalin. Marshal Georgi Zhukov (December 1, 1896-June 18, 1974) ordered strict security for Operation Uranus, even leaving General Vasily Chiukov, commander of the 62nd Army in Stalingrad itself, without information about the impending offensive. Marshal Nikolai Voronov (May 5, 1899-February 28, 1968) wrote in “Two Hundred Days of Fire: Accounts By Participants And Witnesses Of The Battle of Stalingrad“: “With the purpose of keeping offensive preparations secret, it was forbidden to publish any written, printed, and graphic documents. At first, a very limited number of generals and officers were acquainted with the new combat missions. This, of course, made preparation for the operations very diffcult, and made us plan our work by each Front and then by each Army. In my case, the number of officers who could be entrusted with such an important secret was also quite limited.“ Working first in Moscow, Zhukov, Vasilevsky, and Vronov planned the offensive and then went to Stalingrad to carry it out. The offensive – two Fronts conducting a wide pincer movement with a linkup at Kalach – was reminiscent of Zhukov’s pincer action in Manchuria in 1939. The Marshals’ role was to coordinate the actions of the various Fronts – equivalent to a United States Army Group, but with smaller formations – while the ground commanders personally directed the fighting. The Northern pincer attacked on November 19 and the Southern pincer attacked on November 20, 1943. Zhukov left soon after to direct Operation Mars, which was to prevent Army Group Center from assisting Army Group South’s relief of Sixth Army, but that offensive failed to make much progress. Zhukov later attempted to break the encirclement of Leningrad while the Sixth Army was slowly dying. Marshal Alexsandr Vasilevsky (September 30, 1895-December 5, 1977) directed Operation Uranus at the highest levels once the operation began. Stalin, already realizing the benefits of appearing as the director of successful offensives, put himself at the head of the operation, as indicated by the possessive in this poster – “Stalin’s Generals.“ In 1953, when Nikita Khrushchev became Premier, he attributed the planning and success of Operation Uranus to his own initiative, angering Soviet historians and supporters of the three generals. On February 2, 1963, the twentieth anniversary of the surrender of the Sixth Army, efforts to recognize Zhukov, Vasilevsky, and Voronov for their planning and execution of Operation Mars restored the three generals’ reputations.

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