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Andrey Antonovich Grechko (1903-76)

Andrey Antonovich Grechko was a Soviet military leader, government and party member and Marshal of the Soviet Union. Grechko was not only a military man but also a distinguished politician who enjoyed the confidence of the Kremlin.

Andrey Grechko was born in the village of Golodaevka in the Rostov Region of southern Russia into a peasant family. His education consisted of only two years of schooling. He served in the Soviet army from 1919 and fought in the 1917-1923 Civil War as a soldier of the First Cavalry Army. In 1926, after graduating from cavalry school, where he received his main education, he commanded a platoon and then a squadron in the First Cavalry Brigade of the Moscow Military District.

Ten years later he graduated from the Frunze Military Academy and in October 1938 he became Chief of Staff of the Special Cavalry Division of the Belarusian Special Military District. In September 1939 he took part in the Red Armys march against the Nazis in Poland. In 1941 he graduated from the General Staff Military Academy.

During the first days after Hitlers armies invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941, Grechko worked in the General Staff. In July he requested to be sent to the Southwestern Front and appointed commander of a cavalry division. In 1942 General Major Grechko was appointed Commander of the Fifth Cavalry Corps, which took part in the Barvenkovo-Lozovskaya offensive operation in Ukraine. Starting 12 March 1942, he commanded a task force, which, as part of the Southern Front, fought the enemys superior numbers in Donbass (the Donets Basin). Starting 15 April 1942, he commanded the Twelfth Army defending the Voroshilovograd (now Lugansk, Ukraine) Region. Later, the Twelfth Army took an active part in the battle for the Caucasus.

In September that same year, Grechko was appointed Commander of the 47th Army, whose task was to prevent the enemy from invading the South Caucasus along the Black Sea coast through Novorossiysk and using the Novorossiysk port. In October he took command of the 18th Army that stopped the enemy from crossing the Caucasus mountain range, and in November, successfully destroyed the group that attempted the crossing.

In 1943, he took over the 56th Army, which participated in the battles in the South Caucasus and took part in the Krasnodar offensive as part of the North Caucasus Front. After the defeat of the German fascist forces in Kuban on 16 October 1943, Grechko was appointed Deputy Commander of the Voronezh Front (which on 20 October was renamed to the First Ukrainian Front), and took part in the liberation of the Ukrainian capital, Kiev.

On 15 December 1943, Grechko was appointed Commander of the First Guard Army, which he led until the end of the war, conducting various military operations that showed he was a courage commander, deliberate in fulfilling his daring plans.

From the end of the World War II until 1953 Grechko commanded the Kiev Military District. In 1953 he was chief of the Soviet military force in Germany. In 1955 he was awarded the highest military rank of Marshall of the Soviet Union. In 1958, he received the title of Hero of the Soviet Union, an Order of Lenin, and the Gold Star medal for showing courage and heroism in combating the fascist aggressors.

In 1960 he became First Deputy Defense Minister and Commander of the joint forces of Warsaw Pact. Three years later he became Soviet Defense Minister, and continued to work hard to further strengthen the military capabilities of the USSR. His controversial appointment may have been influenced by a variety of factors, such as his personal relationship with Brezhnev. In October 1976, for his achievements in building and strengthening the Soviet military, Grechko was awarded a second Gold Star medal.

Andrey Grechko entered the Central Executive Committee of the Communist Party in 1961, and the Politburo in 1973. He was also a deputy of the second, and fourth through ninth Supreme Soviets of the USSR. Except for the brief appointment of the immense1y popular World War II leader, Marshal Zhukov, to the Politburo by Krushchev during the struggle for power in 1956, no professional military leader had been permitted to participate in the policymaking process of the exclusive proceedings of the Politburo, the most restricted and most powerful organ in the Soviet Union.

The extraordinary promotion of Andropov (State Security), Gromyko and Marshal Grechko to full membership in the Politburo at the April , 1973, Plenum of the Party Central Committee among other things, focused attention on the growing influence and political participation of military leaders.

Since his appointment in 1967, Marshal A.A.Grechko, the Soviet Minister of Defense, achieved remarkable success in increasinq his personal influence as well as in guiding the growing influence of the Soviet military. His somewhat controversial appointment to succeed Marshal Malinovskii, and his subsequent appointment to the Central Committee of the Communist Party (1971) and finally to the Politburo of the Central Committee (1973), were indicative of the growing importance aissiqned by the Party, not only to the military establishment, but also to Marshal Grechko as an individual.

By the time of the 25th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (24 February 1976), Marshal A.A.Grechko, Minister of Defense of the Soviet Union, enjoyed unprecedented power by combining his leadership of the vast Soviet Armed Forces with his membership on the Politburo of the Communist Party. Marsha1 Grechko is 74 years old, and had been in the Soviet Army since 19l9. He was obviously due for retirement in the relatively near future. On April 26, 1976 - suddenly in the 73rd year of life, full of strength and health (playing tennis), Defense Minister Marshal Andrei Grechko died.

Marshal Grechkos personal friendship with Brezhnev was a factor of unknown importance. He paid great attention to military studies and chaired the editorial commissions of the multi-volume The History of the 1939-1945 World War (Istoriya Mirovoy Voyny 1939-1945) and The Soviet War Encyclopedia".

Grechko's "The Armed Forces of the Soviet State: A Soviet View" provided a detailed picture of the worldwide goals and ambitions of the Soviet Union in relation to its military and political policies. Grechko viewed all mankind as moving inevitably toward socialism and communism. He felt that only a socialist system, such as that of the U.S.S.R. could have an army with a just goal: the defense of "the revolutionary achievements of the working people." (p. 2) He regarded the Soviet armed forces as possessed of a "great liberating mission."

According to Grechko, the army fulfills an "international duty," and the goals of the Soviet army are also adopted by the armies of other socialist states, all of them assisting the peoples of nonsocialist nations in "fighting for their social and national liberation." Countries such as the United States are pictured as controlled by "reactionary imperialists" who have "not given up their aggressive schemes." Grechko concluded that the U.S.S.R. must, therefore, strengthen the combat power of the Soviet armed forces, supplying them with "modern weapons, combat equipment and other supplies."

Grechko affirmed that "any war waged by the imperialists on the U.S.S.R. or other socialist states will always be unjust and reactionary; but waged by the U.S.S.R. or other socialists states against the imperialists, any war would be just and progressive, for it would be the continuation of revolutionary policy." Grechko declared "The Soviet state is the most peaceful of nations; it is a stranger to goals of conquest or to unjust wars".

Grechko held that "to observe national sovereignty does not imply setting the interests of one socialist nation against those of another. The sovereignty of a socialist nation consists not only of its right to independence but also of its responsibility to the future of socialism, as part of the community of sister nations, the Communist movement, and the international proletariat."

The opinions of Marshal Grechko evinced the inflexible position of Marxism-Leninism. Lenin had stated that "there is only one way to pose the question: either the bourgeois ideology, or the socialist ideology; in this there is no compromise." Grechko cast some light into that Leninist dialectic by stating that "no compromise is possible between the Communist and the bourgeois ideologies, and the conflict between the two is inevitable."

His awards included six Orders of Lenin, three Orders of the Red Banner, two first class Orders of Suvorov, two first class Orders of Kutuzov, a first class Order of Bogdan Khmelnitsky, a second class Order of Suvorov, a number of medals and an award Cossack saber with his name inscribed and a gold Soviet coat of arms. He also held ten various foreign orders and medals and the title of Hero of the Czechoslovak Socialistic Republic. His name was given to a Naval Academy in 1976 (in 1990 it was renamed after the Naval officer Nikolai Kuznetsov), an avenue in Moscow and streets in Kiev and towns of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions of Ukraine.

Andrey Grechko is buried at Moscows Red Square, under the Kremlin wall.




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Page last modified: 29-06-2018 19:54:51 ZULU