Marshal of the Soviet Union
|Birth name||Boris Mikhailovitch Shaposhnikov|
October 2, 1882|
Zlatoust, Ufa Governorate
March 26, 1945 (aged 62)|
Moscow, Soviet Union
|Buried||Kremlin Wall Necropolis|
Russian Empire (1901–1917)|
Soviet Union (1917–1945)
|Years of service||1901–1945|
Colonel (Imperial Army)|
Marshal of the Soviet Union (Red Army)
Leningrad Military District|
Moscow Military District
Chief of the General Staff
Volga Military District
World War I|
Russian Civil War
World War II
|Other work||Mozg Armii (The Brain of the Army), 1929|
Boris Mikhailovitch Shaposhnikov (Russian: Бори́с Миха́йлович Ша́пошников) (October 2 [O.S. September 20] 1882 – March 26, 1945) was a Soviet military commander, Chief of the Staff of the Red Army, and Marshal of the Soviet Union.
Shaposhnikov was born at Zlatoust, near Chelyabinsk in the Urals. He was of Orenburg Cossack origin. He joined the army of the Russian Empire in 1901 and graduated from the Nicholas General Staff Academy in 1910, reaching the rank of colonel in the Caucasus Grenadiers division in September 1917 during World War I. Also in 1917, unusual for an officer of his rank, he supported the Russian Revolution, and in May 1918 joined the Red Army.
Shaposhnikov was one of the few Red Army commanders with formal military training, and in 1921 he joined the Army's General Staff as 1st Deputy Chief of Staff, where he served until 1925, when he was appointed commander of the Leningrad Military District and then Moscow Military District in 1927. From 1928 to 1931 he was Chief of Staff of the Red Army, replacing Mikhail Tukhachevsky, with whom he had a strained relationship, then commanded the Volga Military District from 1931 to 1932. In 1932 he was appointed commandant of the Red Army's Frunze Military Academy, then in 1935 returned to the command of the Leningrad region. In 1937 he was appointed Chief of the General Staff, in succession to Alexander Ilyich Yegorov, a victim of the Case of Trotskyist Anti-Soviet Military Organization secret trial, Joseph Stalin's Great Purge of the Red Army. In May 1940 he was appointed a Marshal of the Soviet Union.
Despite his background as a Tsarist officer, Shaposhnikov won the respect and trust of Stalin. His status as a professional officer—he did not join the Communist Party until 1939—may have helped him avoid Stalin's suspicions. The price he paid for his survival during the purges was collaboration in the destruction of Tukhachevsky and many other colleagues. Stalin's admiration was shown by the fact that he always kept a copy of Shaposhnikov's most important work, Mozg Armii (Мозг армии, "The Brain of the Army") (1929), on his desk. He is also one of the few men whom Stalin addressed by his Christian name and patronymic. Mozg Armii has remained on the curriculum of the General Staff Academy since its publication in 1929.
Fortunately for the Soviet Union, Shaposhnikov had a fine military mind and high administrative skills. He combined these talents with his position in Stalin's confidence to rebuild the Red Army leadership after the purges. He obtained the release from the Gulag of 4,000 officers deemed necessary for this operation. In 1939 Stalin accepted Shaposhnikov's plan for a rapid buildup of the Red Army's strength. Although the plan was not completed before the German invasion of June 1941, it was sufficiently advanced to save the Soviet Union from complete disaster.
Shaposhnikov planned the invasion of Finland in 1940, but was much less optimistic about its duration than Stalin and the campaign's commander Kliment Voroshilov. The Winter War did not become the success the Soviet side had hoped, and Shaposhnikov resigned as Chief of the General Staff in August 1940, due to ill health and disagreements with Stalin about the conduct of that campaign. At the time of the German invasion, he was reinstated as Chief of the General Staff to succeed Georgy Zhukov, and also became Deputy People's Commissar for Defence, the post he held until his career was cut short by ill health in 1943. He resigned again as Chief of the General Staff due to ill health on 10 May 1942. He held the position of commandant of the Voroshilov Military Academy until his death in 1945. Shaposhnikov had groomed his successor, Aleksandr Vasilevsky, and remained an influential and respected advisor to Stalin until his death.
Honours and awards
- Order of St. Anna, 4th class (26 October 1914), 3rd class with Swords and Bow (1915), 2nd class with Swords (1 November 1916)
- Order of St. Vladimir, 4th class with Swords and Bow (2 November 1914)
- Order of Saint Stanislaus, 3rd class with Swords and Bow (22 July 1916)
- Three Orders of Lenin (31 December 1939, 3 October 1942, 21 February 1945)
- Order of the Red Banner, twice (14 October 1921, 3 November 1944)
- Order of Suvorov, 1st class (22 February 1944)
- Order of the Red Star, twice (15 January 1934, 22 February 1938)
- Jubilee Medal "XX Years of the Workers' and Peasants' Red Army" (22 February 1938)
- Medal "For the Defence of Moscow" (1 May 1944)
- A. Shishov. 100 Great Cossacks http://fisechko.ru/100vel/kazakov/91.html
- Smele 2015, p. 1012.
- Samuelson & Shlykov 2000, p. 98.
- Wells 2013, p. 287.
- Glantz & House 2009, p. 38.
- The Journal of Historical Review: 1996-1997, Volume 16 1996, p. 28.
- Radzinsky 2011, p. 472.
- Aldis & McDermott 2000.
- Ringer 2006, p. 143.
- Kulkov, Rzheshevskii & Shukman 2014, p. xxv.
- Aldis, Anne C.; McDermott, Roger N., eds. (2004). Russian Military Reform, 1992-2002. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-1357-5468-6.
- Glantz, David M.; House, Jonathan (2009). To the Gates of Stalingrad: Soviet-German Combat Operations, April-August 1942. Lawrence, Kansas: University Press of Kansas. ISBN 978-0-7006-1630-5.
- Kulkov, E. N.; Rzheshevskii, Oleg Aleksandrovich; Shukman, Harold (2014). Stalin and the Soviet-Finnish War, 1939-1940. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-1352-8294-3.
- Radzinsky, Edvard (2011). Stalin: The First In-depth Biography Based on Explosive New Documents from Russia's Secret Archives. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0-3077-5468-4.
- Ringer, Ronald E. (2006). Excel HSC Modern History. Pascal Press. ISBN 978-1-7412-5246-0.
- Samuelson, Lennart; Shlykov, Vitaly (2009). Plans For Stalin's War Machine: Tukhachevskii and Military-Economic Planning, 1925-1941. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-3122-2527-8.
- Smele, Jonathan D. (2015). Historical Dictionary of the Russian Civil Wars, 1916-1926: Volume 2 of Historical Dictionaries of War, Revolution, and Civil Unrest. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 978-1-4422-5281-3.
- Wells, Anne Sharp (2013). Historical Dictionary of World War II: The War against Germany and Italy: Historical Dictionaries of War, Revolution, and Civil Unrest. Scarecrow Press. ISBN 978-0-8108-7944-7.
- "The Journal of Historical Review: 1996-1997, Volume 16". The Journal of Historical Review. The University of Wisconsin - Madison: Institute for Historical Review. 1996.
- Newspaper clippings about Boris Shaposhnikov in the 20th Century Press Archives of the German National Library of Economics (ZBW)
| Chief of the Staff of the Red Army
May 1928 – April 1931
| Chief of the Staff of the Red Army
10 May 1937 – August 1940
| Chief of the Staff of the Red Army
29 July 1941 – 11 May 1942