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Shaposhnikov, Boris Mikhailovich


(18821945), marshal (1940), general staff officer, military theorist, and chief of the Red Army General Staff.

Originally a career officer in tsarist service, Shaposhnikov graduated in 1910 from the Nicholas Academy of the General Staff, then served in Turkestan, where he possibly contracted malaria, and in the Warsaw Military District. He attained regimental command during World War I, joined the Red Army in 1918, and occupied high staff positions during the Russian civil war, usually as planner or intelligence officer. He next served on the Worker's and Peasants' Red Army (RKKA) staff, then from 1925 to 1928 commanded the Leningrad and Moscow military districts. From 1928 to 1931 he was RKKA chief of staff, followed by a tour as commander of the Volga Military District. From 1933 to 1935 he headed the Frunze Military Academy, after which he commanded the Leningrad Military District. From 1937 to 1940 he served as second chief of the newly created Red Army General Staff, followed by appointment after the Winter War (19391940) as deputy Defense Commissar. At the end of July 1941, despite ill health, he replaced Georgy Zhukov to serve as chief of the General Staff until May 1942. While recovering from either nervous exhaustion or malaria, he reverted to assignment as deputy defense commissar, followed in 19431945 by tenure as chief of the Academy of the General Staff.

An officer of intellect and experience, Shaposhnikov left his mark on nearly every important military organizational and doctrinal innovation of the 1920s and 1930s. His most important scholarly work was Brain of the Army (published in three volumes, 19271929), in which he studied the Austrian model of Conrad von Hoetzendorf and the tsarist experience in 1914 to argue for the creation of a modern Soviet general staff headed by an "integrated great captain." The consummate general staff officer, Shaposhnikov was one of the few officers who enjoyed Josef Stalin's open respect, and nearly every subsequent chief of the Red Army/Soviet General Staff considered himself Shaposhnikov's disciple.

See also: military, soviet and post-soviet


Erickson, John. (1962). The Soviet High Command. New York: St. Martin's Press.

Bruce W. Menning

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