A platoon is a military unit composed of two or more squads/sections/patrols. Platoon organization varies depending on the country and the branch, but per the official tables of organization as published in U. S. military documents. S. infantry rifle platoon consists of 43 Marines. There are other types of infantry platoons, depending upon service and type of infantry company/battalion to which the platoon is assigned, these platoons may range from as few as 18 to 69. Non-infantry platoons may range from as small as a nine-man communications platoon to a 102-man maintenance platoon. A platoon leader or commander is the officer in command of a platoon; this person is a junior officer—a second or first lieutenant or an equivalent rank. The officer is assisted by a platoon sergeant. A platoon is the smallest military unit led by a commissioned officer. Rifle platoons consist of a small platoon headquarters and three or four sections or squads. In some armies, platoon is used throughout the branches of the army.
In a few armies, such as the French Army, a platoon is a cavalry unit, the infantry use "section" as the equivalent unit. A unit consisting of several platoons is called a company/battery/troop. According to Merriam-Webster, "The term was first used in the 17th century to refer to a small body of musketeers who fired together in a volley alternately with another platoon." The word came from pelote meaning a small ball. The suffix "-on" can be an augmentative suffix in French, but on the other hand is a diminutive suffix in relationship to animals, so the original intention in forming peloton from pelote is not clear. Nonetheless it is documented that it took the meaning of a group of soldiers firing a volley together, while a different platoon reloaded; this implies an augmentative intention in the etymology. Since soldiers were organized in two or three lines, which were supposed to fire volleys together, this would have meant platoons organised with the intention of a half or a third of the company firing at once.
The modern French word peloton, when not meaning platoon, can refer to the main body of riders in a bicycle race. Pelote itself comes from the low Latin "pilotta" from Latin "pila", meaning "ball", the French suffix "-on" derives from the Latin suffix "-onus"; the platoon was a firing unit rather than an organization. The system was said to have been invented by Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden in 1618. In the French Army in the 1670s, a battalion was divided into 18 platoons who were grouped into three "firings"; the system was used in the British, Austrian and Dutch armies. On 1 October 1913, under a scheme by General Sir Ivor Maxse, the regular battalions of the British Army were reorganised from the previous eight companies to a four company structure, with each company having four platoons as separate units each commanded by a lieutenant with a platoon sergeant as his deputy; each platoon was divided into four sections, each commanded by a corporal. Due to a shortage of officers, a non commissioned officer rank of Platoon Sergeant Major was introduced from 1938 to 1940 for experienced non-commissioned officers who were given command of platoons.
In the Australian Army, an infantry platoon has thirty-six soldiers organized into three eight-man sections and a twelve-man maneuver support section. A lieutenant as platoon commander and a sergeant as platoon sergeant, accompanied by a platoon signaller and sometimes a platoon medic. A section comprises eight soldiers led by a corporal with a lance corporal as second in command; each section has two fireteams of four men, one led by the corporal and the other by the lance corporal. Each fireteam has one soldier with a 7.62mm Maximi GSMG and the other three armed with F88 Steyr assault rifles. One rifle per fireteam has an attached 40mm grenade launcher. Fireteam bravo has a HK417 7.62mm for the designated marksman role. More the designated marksman of each Australian fireteam has been issued the HK417 in Afghanistan and afterwards; the platoon may have three MAG 58 general-purpose machine guns, one M2 Browning heavy machine gun or a Mk 19 grenade launcher at its disposal. In the British Army, a rifle platoon from an infantry company consists of three sections of eight men, plus a signaller, a platoon sergeant, the platoon commander and a mortar man operating a light mortar.
This may not be the case for all British Infantry units, since the 51mm mortars are not part of the TOE post-Afghanistan. Under Army 2020, a platoon in the Heavy Protected Mobility Regiments will consist of around 30 soldiers in four Mastiff/FRES UV vehicles; as of March 2016, the British Army is reviewing whether to retain the FN Herstal Para Minimi 5.56×45mm light machine gun and the M6-640 Commando 60 mm mortar at platoon level in dismounted units. Each section is commanded by a corporal, with a lance corporal as second-in-command and s
Order of the Red Banner
The Order of the Red Banner was the first Soviet military decoration. The Order was established on 16 September 1918, during the Russian Civil War by decree of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee, it was the highest award of Soviet Russia, subsequently the Soviet Union, until the Order of Lenin was established in 1930. Recipients were recognised for extraordinary heroism and courage demonstrated on the battlefield; the Order was awarded to individuals as well as to military units, ships and social organizations, state enterprises. In years, it was awarded on the twentieth and again on the thirtieth anniversary of military, police, or state security service without requiring participation in combat; the Russian Order of the Red Banner was established during the Russian Civil War by decree of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee of September 16, 1918. The first recipient was Vasily Blyukher on September 28, 1918; the second recipient was Iona Yakir. During the Civil War, there existed named orders and decorations established by the Soviet communist governments of several other constituent and nonconstituent republics.
The August 1, 1924, decree of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee established the all-Soviet Order of the Red Banner for deserving personnel of the Red Army. Other nonmilitary awards used the phrase "Order of the Red Banner" in their title. From 1918 till the late 1930s there was a Soviet collective variant - the Revolutionary Red Banner of Honor; this was in the form of a special military color awarded to distinguished Red Army, Soviet Air Force, Soviet Navy units. It was older than the Order of the Red Banner, having been established on August 3, 1918, a month and several weeks before; as a military decoration, the Order of the Red Banner recognised heroism in combat or otherwise extraordinary accomplishments of military valour during combat operations. Before the establishment of the Order of Lenin on April 5, 1930, the Order of the Red Banner functioned as the highest military order of the USSR. During World War II, under various titles, it was presented to both individuals and military units for acts of extreme military heroism.
In some ways, the Order of the Red Banner was more prestigious, as it could only be awarded for bravery during combat operations whereas the Order of Lenin was sometimes awarded to non-military personnel and political leaders. Nearly all well-known Soviet commanders became recipients of the Order of the Red Banner; when the Order was awarded to whole formations, the prefix "Red Banner" was added to their official designations. Naval vessels flew a special ensign; the Order of the Red Banner was used as a "long service award" between 1944 and 1958 to mark twenty and thirty years of service in the military, state security, or police. Decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR of September 14, 1957, emphasised the devaluation of certain Soviet high military Orders used as long service awards instead of their intended criteria; this led to the joint January 25, 1958, decree of the Ministers of Defence, of Internal Affairs, of the Chairman of the Committee on State Security of the USSR establishing the Medal "For Impeccable Service," putting an end to the practice of awarding long service variants of the Order of the Red Banner.
The Order consisted of a white-enamelled badge, which had a golden Hammer and Sickle badge surrounded by two golden panicles of wheat on a Red Star, backed by crossed hammer, torch, a red flag bearing the motto Proletarians of the World, Unite!. The whole was surrounded by two golden panicles of wheat. Additional awards of the Order bore a white enamelled shield with a silver sequence number at the bottom of the obverse. A recipient of multiple Orders of the Red Banner would wear a basic badge of the Order with a numeral corresponding to the sequence of the award on a cartouche over the wheat at the bottom of the badge; the early variants of the Order were screw back badges to allow wear on clothing. Variants hung from a standard Soviet pentagonal mount with a ring through the suspension loop; the mount was covered with an overlapping 24mm wide red silk moiré ribbon with 1.5mm wide white edge stripes and a 7mm wide white central stripe. The Order of the Red Banner was worn on the left side of the chest and when in the presence of other Orders and medals of the USSR, was placed after the Order of the October Revolution.
If worn in the presence of Orders or medals of the Russian Federation, the latter have precedence. Baltic Fleet Soviet Northern Fleet Pacific Ocean Fleet Far Eastern Military District First Army First Guards Tank Army Second Guards Tank Army 1st Rifle Division 6th Rifle Division 24th Rifle Division 45th Rifle Division 27th Guards Rifle Division 39th Guards Rifle Division 19th Motor Rifle Division 76th Guards Airborne Division 85th Rifle Division 100th Guards Rifle Division 106th Guards Tula Airborne Division 17th Rifle Regiment, 32nd Rifle Division 72nd Mechanized Brigade French fighter squadron Normandie-Niemen Feats of valour worthy of the award of the Order of the Red Banner were as much against internal as against external enemies of the USSR, as detailed below: Stalin's Chief Executioner Va
Operation Koltso was the last part of the Battle of Stalingrad. It resulted in the capitulation of the remaining Axis forces encircled in the city; the operation was launched on 10 January 1943 with a mass artillery bombardment of the German positions outside the city by the seven encircling Soviet armies. In the first three days, the Soviets lost 26,000 men and over half their tanks; the western half of the Stalingrad pocket had been lost by 17 January. On the 10th, it became clear. "The 44th, 76th and 28th Infantry Divisions were badly hit." The 3rd Infantry Division, deployed on the southwestern corner of the cauldron since the end of Nov. 1942, was ordered to retreat to new defensive positions to avoid encirclement. The fighting paused for four days while the Soviet forces regrouped and redeployed for the next phase of the operation; the second phase of the offensive began on 20 January with a Soviet push toward the airfield at Gumrak. Two days the airfield was occupied by the Soviets, its capture meant an end to the evacuation of the German wounded and that any further air supply would have to be by parachute.
Paulus on 22 January sent a radio message to OKH: Russians in action in 6 km wide on both sides Voroponovo, some with flags unfurled to the east. No way to close the gap. Withdrawal to neighboring fronts who are without ammunition and not feasible. Supply with ammunition from other fronts no longer possible. Food at an end. More than 12,000 unprovided for wounded in the encirclement. What orders shall I give the troops who have no more ammunition and will be further attacked with heavy artillery and massed infantry? Fastest decision necessary because dissolution in some places started. Confidence in the leadership still exists; the Axis retreated back into the city itself. But resistance to the Soviet advance diminished due to the exhaustion of all supplies on the Axis side. On 25 January, LI Corps commander Walther von Seydlitz-Kurzbach told his divisional commanders to decide for themselves on the matter of surrender, he was relieved of his command by Paulus. Seydlitz-Kurzbach fled the German lines under German fire and surrendered to the Soviets.
On 26 January, detachments of 21st Army met up with the 13th Guards Division to the north of the Mamaev Kurgan, which cut the Axis pocket in Stalingrad in two. Paulus and many of his senior German commanders were in the smaller southern pocket based in the city center of Stalingrad; the northern pocket was led by XI Corps commander General Strecker and centered in the area around the tractor factory. In bitter fighting, the Soviets cleared the city center. By 31 January, German resistance in the southern pocket was confined to individual buildings. Soviet forces reached Paulus's headquarters in the Univermag Department Store and the remaining German soldiers ceased their resistance. Soviet Staff officers entered the building and negotiated terms with General Schmidt. Paulus refused to participate directly. In Soviet captivity, Paulus denied claiming to have been taken by surprise, he refused to issue an order to the remaining Germans in the southern pocket to surrender. He denied having the authority to issue an order for the northern pocket to surrender.
The entire Soviet force at Stalingrad now concentrated on the northern pocket. Intense artillery fire was used to reduce resistance. Soviet forces followed up, destroying any remaining bunkers with direct fire at short range from tanks or artillery. General Strecker continued to resist based on the idea that tying down the Soviet armies at Stalingrad as long as possible would help the German situation elsewhere in the Soviet Union. By the early morning of 2 February, Strecker was informed that one of his officers had gone to negotiate surrender terms with the Soviets, he decided to put an end to the fighting. He sent a radio message to Germany, saying that his command had performed its duty to the last man and surrendered. Organized Axis resistance in the city ended
The Soviet Union the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, was a socialist state in Eurasia that existed from 1922 to 1991. Nominally a union of multiple national Soviet republics, its government and economy were centralized; the country was a one-party state, governed by the Communist Party with Moscow as its capital in its largest republic, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. Other major urban centres were Leningrad, Minsk, Alma-Ata, Novosibirsk, it spanned over 10,000 kilometres east to west across 11 time zones, over 7,200 kilometres north to south. It had five climate zones: tundra, steppes and mountains; the Soviet Union had its roots in the 1917 October Revolution, when the Bolsheviks, led by Vladimir Lenin, overthrew the Russian Provisional Government which had replaced Tsar Nicholas II during World War I. In 1922, the Soviet Union was formed by a treaty which legalized the unification of the Russian, Transcaucasian and Byelorussian republics that had occurred from 1918. Following Lenin's death in 1924 and a brief power struggle, Joseph Stalin came to power in the mid-1920s.
Stalin committed the state's ideology to Marxism–Leninism and constructed a command economy which led to a period of rapid industrialization and collectivization. During his rule, political paranoia fermented and the Great Purge removed Stalin's opponents within and outside of the party via arbitrary arrests and persecutions of many people, resulting in at least 600,000 deaths. In 1933, a major famine struck the country. Before the start of World War II in 1939, the Soviets signed the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, agreeing to non-aggression with Nazi Germany, after which the USSR invaded Poland on 17 September 1939. In June 1941, Germany broke the pact and invaded the Soviet Union, opening the largest and bloodiest theatre of war in history. Soviet war casualties accounted for the highest proportion of the conflict in the effort of acquiring the upper hand over Axis forces at intense battles such as Stalingrad and Kursk; the territories overtaken by the Red Army became satellite states of the Soviet Union.
The post-war division of Europe into capitalist and communist halves would lead to increased tensions with the United States-led Western Bloc, known as the Cold War. Stalin died in 1953 and was succeeded by Nikita Khrushchev, who in 1956 denounced Stalin and began the de-Stalinization; the Cuban Missile Crisis occurred during Khrushchev's rule, among the many factors that led to his downfall in 1964. In the early 1970s, there was a brief détente of relations with the United States, but tensions resumed with the Soviet–Afghan War in 1979. In 1985, the last Soviet premier, Mikhail Gorbachev, sought to reform and liberalize the economy through his policies of glasnost and perestroika, which caused political instability. In 1989, Soviet satellite states in Eastern Europe overthrew their respective communist governments; as part of an attempt to prevent the country's dissolution due to rising nationalist and separatist movements, a referendum was held in March 1991, boycotted by some republics, that resulted in a majority of participating citizens voting in favor of preserving the union as a renewed federation.
Gorbachev's power was diminished after Russian President Boris Yeltsin's high-profile role in facing down a coup d'état attempted by Communist Party hardliners. In late 1991, Gorbachev resigned and the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union met and formally dissolved the Soviet Union; the remaining 12 constituent republics emerged as independent post-Soviet states, with the Russian Federation—formerly the Russian SFSR—assuming the Soviet Union's rights and obligations and being recognized as the successor state. The Soviet Union was a powerhouse of many significant technological achievements and innovations of the 20th century, including the world's first human-made satellite, the first humans in space and the first probe to land on another planet, Venus; the country had the largest standing military in the world. The Soviet Union was recognized as one of the five nuclear weapons states and possessed the largest stockpile of weapons of mass destruction, it was a founding permanent member of the United Nations Security Council as well as a member of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the World Federation of Trade Unions and the leading member of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance and the Warsaw Pact.
The word "Soviet" is derived from a Russian word сове́т meaning council, advice, harmony and all deriving from the proto-Slavic verbal stem of vět-iti, related to Slavic věst, English "wise", the root in "ad-vis-or", or the Dutch weten. The word sovietnik means "councillor". A number of organizations in Russian history were called "council". For example, in the Russian Empire the State Council, which functioned from 1810 to 1917, was referred to as a Council of Ministers after the revolt of 1905. During the Georgian Affair, Vladimir Lenin envisioned an expression of Great Russian ethnic chauvinism by Joseph Stalin and his supporters, calling for these nation-states to join Russia as semi-independent parts of a greater union, which he named as the Union of Soviet Republics of Europe and Asia. Stalin resisted the proposal, but accepted it, although with Lenin's agreement changed the name of the newly proposed sta
Volgograd Tsaritsyn, 1589–1925, Stalingrad, 1925–1961, is an industrial city and the administrative centre of Volgograd Oblast, Russia. The city lies on the western bank of the Volga River; the Battle of Stalingrad in World War II was one of the largest and bloodiest battles in the history of warfare. Known locally as the "Hero City", it is home to The Motherland Calls, an 85 meter statue dedicated to the heroes of the battle; the city has many tourist attractions, such as museums, sandy beaches, a self-propelled floating church. Its population was 1,021,215 at the 2010 Census, growing from 1,011,417 in the 2002 Census. Although the city may have originated in 1555, documented evidence of Tsaritsyn at the confluence of the Tsaritsa and Volga rivers dates only from 1589. Grigori Zasekin established the fortress Sary Su as part of the defences of the unstable southern border of the Tsardom of Russia; the structure stood above the mouth of the Tsaritsa River on the right bank. It soon became the nucleus of a trading settlement.
In 1607 the fortress garrison rebelled against the troops of Tsar Vasili Shuisky for six months. In 1608 the city acquired St. John the Baptist. At the beginning of the 17th century, the garrison consisted of 350 to 400 people. In 1670 troops of Stepan Razin captured the fortress. In 1708 the insurgent Cossack Kondraty Bulavin held the fortress. In 1717 in the Kuban pogrom, raiders from the Kuban under the command of the Crimean Tatar Bakhti Gerai blockaded the town and enslaved thousands in the area. In August 1774 Yemelyan Pugachev unsuccessfully attempted to storm the city. In 1691 Moscow established a customs-post at Tsaritsyn. In 1708 Tsaritsyn was assigned to the Kazan Governorate. According to the census in 1720, the city had a population of 408 people. In 1773 the city became a district town. From 1779 it belonged to the Saratov Viceroyalty. In 1780 the city came under the newly-established Saratov Governorate. In the 19th century Tsaritsyn became commercial center; the population expanded increasing from fewer than 3,000 people in 1807 to about 84,000 in 1900.
The first railway reached the town in 1862. The first theatre opened in 1872, the first cinema in 1907. In 1913 Tsaritsyn got its first tram-line, the city's first electric lights were installed in the city center. During the Russian Civil War of 1917–1923, Tsaritsyn came under Soviet control from November 1917. In 1918 White troops under the Ataman of the Don Cossack Host, Pyotr Krasnov, besieged Tsaritsyn; the Reds repulsed three assaults by the Whites. However, in June 1919 the White Armed Forces of South Russia under the command of General Denikin captured Tsaritsyn, which they held until January 1920; the fighting from July 1918 to January 1920 became known as the Battle for Tsaritsyn. The city was renamed Stalingrad after Joseph Stalin on April 10, 1925; this was to recognize the city and Stalin's role in its defense against the Whites between 1918 and 1920. In 1931, the German settlement-colony Old Sarepta became a district of Stalingrad. Renamed Krasnoarmeysky Rayon, it became the largest area of the city.
The first institute was opened in 1930. A year the Stalingrad Industrial Pedagogical Institute, now Volgograd State Pedagogical University, was opened. Under Stalin, the city became a center of heavy industry and transshipment by river. During World War II, German and Axis forces attacked the city, in 1942 it became the site of one of the pivotal battles of the war; the Battle of Stalingrad had the greatest casualty figures of any single battle in the history of warfare. The battle became a titanic struggle between Hitler and Stalin as both saw it of great propaganda value, each keenly aware of the namesake of the city, each poured hundreds of thousands of men into the battle; the battle began on August 23, 1942, on the same day, the city suffered heavy aerial bombardment that reduced most of it to rubble. By September, the fighting reached the city center; the fighting was of unprecedented intensity. By early November, the German forces controlled 90 percent of the city and had cornered the Soviets in two narrow pockets, but they were unable to eliminate the last pockets of Soviet resistance before Soviet forces launched a huge counterattack on November 19.
This led to the encirclement of the German Sixth Army and other Axis units. On January 31, 1943 the Sixth Army's commander, Field Marshal Friedrich Paulus, by February 2, with the elimination of straggling German troops, the Battle of Stalingrad was over. In 1945 the Soviet Union awarded Stalingrad the title Hero City for its resistance. Great Britain's King George VI awarded the citizens of Stalingrad the jeweled "Sword of Stalingrad" in recognition of their bravery. A number of cities around the world established sister and twinning links in the spirit of solidarity or reconciliation. One of the first "sister city" projects was that established during World War II between Stalingrad and Coventry in the United Kingdom – both suffered extensive devastation from aerial bombardment. On 10 November 1961, Nikita Khrushchev's administration changed the name of the city to Volg
The Axis powers known as "Rome–Berlin–Tokyo Axis", were the nations that fought in World War II against the Allies. The Axis powers agreed on their opposition to the Allies, but did not coordinate their activity; the Axis grew out of the diplomatic efforts of Germany and Japan to secure their own specific expansionist interests in the mid-1930s. The first step was the treaty signed by Germany and Italy in October 1936. Benito Mussolini declared on 1 November that all other European countries would from on rotate on the Rome–Berlin axis, thus creating the term "Axis"; the simultaneous second step was the signing in November 1936 of the Anti-Comintern Pact, an anti-communist treaty between Germany and Japan. Italy joined the Pact in 1937; the "Rome–Berlin Axis" became a military alliance in 1939 under the so-called "Pact of Steel", with the Tripartite Pact of 1940 leading to the integration of the military aims of Germany and Japan. At its zenith during World War II, the Axis presided over territories that occupied large parts of Europe, North Africa, East Asia.
There were no three-way summit meetings and cooperation and coordination was minimal, with more between Germany and Italy. The war ended in 1945 with the dissolution of their alliance; as in the case of the Allies, membership of the Axis was fluid, with some nations switching sides or changing their degree of military involvement over the course of the war. The term "axis" was first applied to the Italo-German relationship by the Italian prime minister Benito Mussolini in September 1923, when he wrote in the preface to Roberto Suster's Germania Repubblica that "there is no doubt that in this moment the axis of European history passes through Berlin". At the time, he was seeking an alliance with the Weimar Republic against Yugoslavia and France in the dispute over the Free State of Fiume; the term was used by Hungary's prime minister Gyula Gömbös when advocating an alliance of Hungary with Germany and Italy in the early 1930s. Gömbös' efforts did affect the Italo-Hungarian Rome Protocols, but his sudden death in 1936 while negotiating with Germany in Munich and the arrival of Kálmán Darányi, his successor, ended Hungary's involvement in pursuing a trilateral axis.
Contentious negotiations between the Italian foreign minister, Galeazzo Ciano, the German ambassador, Ulrich von Hassell, resulted in a Nineteen-Point Protocol, signed by Ciano and his German counterpart, Konstantin von Neurath, in 1936. When Mussolini publicly announced the signing on 1 November, he proclaimed the creation of a Rome–Berlin axis. Italy under Duce Benito Mussolini had pursued a strategic alliance of Italy with Germany against France since the early 1920s. Prior to becoming head of government in Italy as leader of the Italian Fascist movement, Mussolini had advocated alliance with defeated Germany after the Paris Peace Conference of 1919 settled World War I, he believed. In early 1923, as a goodwill gesture to Germany, Italy secretly delivered weapons for the German Army, which had faced major disarmament under the provisions of the Treaty of Versailles. In September 1923, Mussolini offered German Chancellor Gustav Stresemann a "common policy": he sought German military support against potential French military intervention over Italy's diplomatic dispute with Yugoslavia over Fiume, should an Italian seizure of Fiume result in war between Italy and Yugoslavia.
The German ambassador to Italy in 1924 reported that Mussolini saw a nationalist Germany as an essential ally for Italy against France, hoped to tap into the desire within the German army and the German political right for a war of revenge against France. During the Weimar Republic, the German government did not respect the Treaty of Versailles that it had been pressured to sign, various government figures at the time rejected Germany's post-Versailles borders. General Hans von Seeckt supported an alliance between Germany and the Soviet Union to invade and partition Poland between them and restore the German-Russian border of 1914. Gustav Streseman as German foreign minister in 1925 declared that the reincorporation of territories lost to Poland and Danzig in the Treaty of Versailles was a major task of German foreign policy; the Reichswehr Ministry memorandum of 1926 declared its intention to seek the reincorporation of German territory lost to Poland as its first priority, to be followed by the return of the Saar territory, the annexation of Austria, remilitarization of the Rhineland.
Since the 1920s Italy had identified the year 1935 as a crucial date for preparing for a war against France, as 1935 was the year when Germany's obligations under the Treaty of Versailles were scheduled to expire. Meetings took place in Berlin in 1924 between Italian General Luigi Capello and prominent figures in the German military, such as von Seeckt and Erich Ludendorff, over military collaboration between Germany and Italy; the discussions concluded that Germans still wanted a war of revenge against France but were short on weapons and hoped that Italy could assist Germany. However at this time Mussolini stressed one important condition that Italy must pursue in an alliance with Germany: that Italy "must... tow them, not be towed by them". Italian foreign minister Dino Grandi in the early 1930s stressed the importance of "decisive weight", involving Italy's relations between France and Germany, in which he recognized that Italy was not yet a major power, but perceived that Italy did have
Vasily Ivanovich Chuikov was a Soviet military officer. He was the commander of the 62nd Army during the Battle of Stalingrad. Following World War II, Chuikov was Chief of the Group of Soviet Forces in Germany, commander of the Kiev Military District, Chief of the Soviet Armed Forces and Deputy Minister of Defense, head of the Soviet Civil Defense Forces. Chuikov was twice awarded the titles Hero of the Soviet Union and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross by the United States for his actions during the Battle of Stalingrad. In 1955, he was named a Marshal of the Soviet Union. Following his death in 1982, he was interred at the Stalingrad Memorial at the base of the Mamayev Hill, the site of heavy fighting. Born into a peasant family in the village of Serebryanye Prudy in the Tula region south of Moscow, Chuikov was the eighth of 12 children and the fifth of eight sons. At the age of 12, he left school and his family home to earn his living in a factory in Saint Petersburg, turning out spurs for cavalry officers.
Chuikov and all his brothers fought in the Russian Civil War. During the turmoil of the Russian Revolution of 1917, Chuikov became unemployed; the same year, an older brother arranged for Chuikov to be recruited into the Red Guards. The year after, in 1918, he joined the Red Army. In October 1918, Chuikov saw active service when he was sent to the Southern Front as a deputy company commander to fight against the White Army. In the spring of 1919, he became commander of the 40th Regiment, part of the 5th Army under Tukhachevsky facing the White Army under Kolchak in Siberia. Chuikov's record of service during the Civil War was distinguished. In the fighting from 1919 to 1920 he received two awards of the Order of the Red Banner for bravery and heroism, he was wounded four times—one, in Poland in 1920, left a fragment in his left arm that could not be operated on. It caused him to lose temporary use of his arm. Chuikov carried this war wound for the rest of his life, it led to septicaemia breaking out in 1981, causing a nine-month illness and his death.
He left his regiment in 1921 to continue his studies at the Frunze Military Academy, from which he graduated in 1925. On account of his excellent academic performance, Chuikov was invited to stay at the Frunze Military Academy for another year to study Chinese language and history in the Orient Studies Department. In the fall of 1926, Chuikov joined a Soviet diplomatic delegation that toured Harbin, Port Arthur, Dalian and Beijing, cities in northeastern and northern China. After completing his studies in the fall of 1927, Chuikov was dispatched to China as a military attaché. Chuikov traveled extensively in southern China and Sichuan, became fluent in Chinese, gained a deeper understanding of Chinese politics and culture. In 1929, during the China Eastern Railway Incident, Chuikov was forced to leave China after the Soviet Union broke diplomatic relations with the Republic of China on July 13. Chuikov was assigned to the newly-formed Special Red Banner Far Eastern Army in Khabarovsk and worked on military intelligence, reporting to Vasily Blyukher, the commander of the Far Eastern Army.
The Soviet Far Eastern Army defeated the Northeastern Army of Zhang Xueliang, Chuikov participated in negotiations that restored Soviet control of the China Eastern Railway. Chuikov commanded the 4th Army in the Soviet invasion of Poland in 1939, he commanded the 9th Army in the Russo-Finnish War of 1940. He was sent to China as an adviser to Chiang Kai-shek. In May 1942, the USSR recalled him. According to Chuikov's memoirs, his recall was due to Nationalist China claiming that the USSR was providing military aid as part of an attempt to draw the USSR into the Second Sino-Japanese War. On returning to Moscow, Chuikov was placed in command of the 64th Army, on the west bank of the Don River; the 64th Army took part in the fighting withdrawal to Stalingrad, shortly before the Battle of Stalingrad itself began, Chuikov was made commanding general of the more important weak 62nd Army, to hold Stalingrad itself, with the 64th on its southern flank. It was at Stalingrad that Chuikov developed the important tactic of "hugging the enemy", by which Soviet soldiers kept the German army so close to them as to minimize the airpower enjoyed by the Wehrmacht.
Chuikov had witnessed firsthand the blitzkrieg tactics the Wehrmacht had used to sweep across the Russian steppe, so he used the Germans' carpet-bombing of the city to draw panzer units into the rubble and chaos, where their progress was impeded. Here they could be destroyed with Molotov cocktails, Antitank Rifles, Soviet artillery operating at close range; this tactic rendered the German Luftwaffe ineffective, since Stuka dive-bombers could not attack Red Army positions without endangering their own forces. After the victory at Stalingrad, the 62nd Army was redesignated the Soviet 8th Guards Army. Chuikov commanded the 8th Guards as part of 1st Belorussian Front and led its advance through Poland heading the Soviet offensive which conquered Berlin while the Allied forces were wiping out what was left in Southern and Western Germany in April/May 1945. Chuikov's advance through Poland was characterized by massive advances across difficult terrain. On 1 May 1945, who commanded his army operating in central Berlin, was the first Allied officer to learn about Adolf Hitler's suicide, being informed by General Hans Krebs who had come to Chuikov's headquarters under a white flag.
He accepted the surrender of