Alexander Andreyevich Svechin

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Alexander Andreyevich Svechin (Russian: Александр Андреевич Свечин; 17 August 1878, Odessa - 28 July 1938) was a Russian and Soviet military leader, an outstanding military writer, educator and theorist, author of the military classic Strategy.


Alexander Svechin was born in Odessa, where his father was a general in the Imperial Russian Army. He was of Russian ethnicity. [1] His elder brother Mikhail Svechin (1876–1969) was a cavalry officer in the cuirassiers who fought in Russo-Japanese War and World War I, joined the White movement in Russian Civil War and died in France in 1969.

Alexander Svechin studied at St. Petersburg Cadet Corps, then in the Mikhailovsky Artillery School. Since 1899 published in the press. He graduated from the General Staff Academy in 1903.

He participated in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905 as a company commander of 22nd Eastern Siberian Regiment, and subsequently as a staff officer at the headquarters of the 16th Army Corps, and staff officer at the headquarters of 3rd Manchurian Army. After the start of World War I, he was assigned command of the 5th Finland Rifle Regiment, and was later Chief of Staff of the 7th Infantry Division, commander of the Black Sea Marine Division and finally, after rising to the rank of major general in 1916, chief of staff of the Russian 5th Army.

Following the October Revolution, in March 1918 he joined the Bolshevik cause and was immediately appointed as the military commander of the Smolensk region. He rose to became the head of the All-Russian General Staff. However, as a result of disagreements with the Soviet commander-in-chief Jukums Vācietis, Svechin was removed from his position and appointed professor of the Academy of General Staff of the Red Army from October 1918.

The new position suited Svechin, as it enabled him to combine his talents as a writer with his knowledge of military strategy. His work Strategy became required reading at Soviet military schools.

However, under Joseph Stalin, Svechin was arrested in February 1931 during the big purge of former tsarist officers in the Red Army. He sentenced to 5 years imprisonment in the gulags. However, in February 1932, he was released and returned to active duty in the Red Army, first at the intelligence agency of the General Staff, and later at the Academy of General Staff of the Red Army. He was appointed a divisional commander.

Svechin was arrested again on 30 December 1937. His name was included in the 26 July 1938 death list № 107, signed by Stalin and Molotov. On 29 July 1938 he was sentenced to death by Military Collegium of the Supreme Court of the USSR on charges of participating in a counter-revolutionary organization and training terrorists. He was shot and buried in Kommunarka (Moscow Region), 29 July 1938.

His name appears in The Red Wheel by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.


  • Svechin, A. A. (1992). Strategy, ed. Kent D. Lee; introductory essays by Andrei A. Kokoshin, et al. Minneapolis, MN: East View Publications.