Georgy Zhukov

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There's no smoke without fire.

Georgy Konstantinovich Zhukov (December 1 [O.S. November 19] 1896June 18, 1974) was a Soviet military commander who, in the course of World War II, led the Red Army to liberate the Soviet Union from the Axis Powers' occupation, to advance through much of Eastern Europe, and to conquer Germany's capital, Berlin. Zhukov remained a popular figure in the Soviet Union until his death in 1974, although by his own admission he was much better dealing with military matters than with politics.


  • It is a fact that under equal conditions, large-scale battles and whole wars are won by troops which have a strong will for victory, clear goals before them, high moral standards, and devotion to the banner under which they go into battle.
    • Quoted in "The Military Quotation Book" - Page 15 - by James Charlton - 2002
  • The nature of encounter operations required of the commanders limitless initiative and constant readiness to take the responsibility for military actions.
    • Quoted in "The Military Quotation Book" - Page 49 - by James Charlton - 2002
  • If we come to a minefield, our infantry attacks exactly as it were not there.
    • To General Eisenhower, 1945. Quoted in "Russia: The People and the Power" - Page 207 - by Robert G. Kaiser - History - 1976
  • Nazis did not expect Soviet resistance to be so strong. The deeper they moved into this country's territory, the more fierce it became. When Hitler's armies approached Moscow, every man and woman here thought it imperative to resist the enemy. And that resistance grew by the day. The enemy was sustaining heavy losses, one after another. In fact, Hitler's best troops perished here. Nazis believed the Red Army was not capable of defending Moscow, but their schemes failed.
    • Quoted in "The Voice of Russia" - Copyright 2005 - by Olga Troshina
  • Generalissimo Stalin directed every move... made every decision... He is the greatest and wisest military genius who ever lived...
    • Quoted in "TOP GENERAL: ZHUKOV" - from "Time" Magazine, Monday, February 21, 1955
  • We will do all we can to insure peace... but if war is imposed upon us we will be together shoulder to shoulder as in the last war to strive for the happiness of mankind.
    • Quoted in "Odd World: A Photo-reporter's Story" - Page 299 - by John Phillips - 1959
  • If they [the Germans] attack, we will defend. If they do not attack until winter comes, then we will and will tear them to shreds!
    • Quoted in "Rickenbacker: [an autobiography]" - Page 373 - by Eddie Rickenbacker - Air pilots, Military - 1967
  • And now German generals find it hard to explain away their retreat.
    • Quoted in "These are the Russians" - Page 131 - by Richard Edward Lauterbach - 1945
  • There are things in Russia which are not as they seem.
    • Quoted in "Mandate for Change, 1953-1956: The White House Years" - Page 518 - by Dwight David Eisenhower - 1963
  • The mere existence of atomic weapons implies the possibility of their use.
    • Quoted in "The arms race: a programme for world disarmament" - Page 297 - by Philip John Noel-Baker - Political Science - 1960
  • There's no smoke without fire.
    • Quoted in "Stalin's Generals" - Page 359 - by Harold Shukman - History - 2002
  • If you feel that the Chief of the General Staff talks only rubbish, my place is not here. Better to give me a command at the front where I can be of better use!
    • To Joseph Stalin. Quoted in "Field Marshal Von Manstein, a Portrait: The Janus Head" - Page 164 - by Marcel Stein, Gwyneth Fairbank - History - 2007
  • The longer the battle lasts the more force we'll have to use!
    • Quoted in "A History of the Modern Age" - Page 175 - by Albert Fried, Julian K. Prescott - United States - 1971
  • Winning depended to a large extent on the determination of the troops and the officers. The certainty that we were going to win kept up everyone's spirits, from privates to generals.
    • Quoted in "Memoirs" - Page 167 - by Andreĭ Andreevich Gromyko, Harold Shukman - 1990
  • If the nation only knew their hands dripped with innocent blood, it would have met them not with applause but with stones.
    • Quoted in "A Century of Violence in Soviet Russia" - Page 3 - by Alexander N. Yakovlev, Anthony Austin - Political Science - 2002 -
  • Here they found real war, but they were not ready for it. They were used to easy victories. This deprived them of flexibility on the one hand, of tenacity on the other. For them, war was merely maneuvers. They have neither cavalry nor skiers, their tanks cannot pass over the snow.
    • Quoted in "The Tempering of Russia" - Page 120 - by Alexander Samuel Kaun - 1944

The Memoirs of Marshal Zhukov (1971)[edit]

First published in 1969 as Reminiscences and Reflections; first English translation was in 1971.
  • To the Soviet soldier
    • Dedication, p. 5
  • With my new instructions I returned to Berlin. The very day after my arrival I was visited by General of the Army Eisenhower with his numerous retinue, amongst whom was General Spaatz, Chief of the US Strategic Air Command. We received General Eisenhower at the Headquarters of the front in Wedenschlosse. Present at the meeting was A. Ya. Vyshinsky. We greeted each other like soldiers, and, I may say, in a friendly way. Taking both my hands in his, Eisenhower looked me over for a long time, then said, "So that's what you're like."
    • p. 659
  • Outwardly Eisenhower impressed me favourably. On June 5 Eisenhower, Montgomery and de Lattre de Tassigny arrived in Berlin to sign the declaration on the defeat of Germany and the assumption of supreme authority in Germany by Governments of the USSR, the US, Britain and France. Before the formal meeting, Eisenhower came to my headquarters to confer upon me a high American military award: I was made Chief Commander of the Legion of Merit. On receiving the award, I immediately called Stalin and told him about it. Stalin said: "We should decorate Eisenhower and Montgomery with Orders of Victory and de Lattre de Tassigny with the Order of Suvorov, First Class." "May I tell them about it?" I asked. Stalin said I could.
    • p. 660
  • At the ceremony of signing the decoration I met Field-Marshal Montgomery for the first time. During the war I had closely followed the actions of British troops under his command. In 1940 the British Expeditionary Corps had sustained a disastrous setback at Dunkirk. Later, British troops under Montgomery's command had smashed the German corps under General Rommel at El Alamein. During the Normandy landing Montgomery had ably commanded the Allied forces and their advance to the banks of the Seine. Montgomery was above medium height, very agile, soldierly, trim and created an impression of a lively and intelligent man. He began to talk about the operations at El Alamein and at Stalingrad. In his view the two operations were of equal significance. I did not want to belittle the merits of the British troops, but still I had to explain to him that the El Alamein operation was carried out on an army scale, while at Stalingrad the operation engaged a group of fronts and it had a vast strategic importance- it resulted in the rout of a maor enemy force in the area of the Volga and Don rivers and later, in the North Caucasus. It was an operation that actually marked a radical turning-point in the war and ensured the retreat of the German forces from our country.
    • p. 661
  • I have dedicated this book to the Soviet soldier. It is with his blood and sweat that the victory over the powerful enemy was gained. He knew how to face mortal danger, he displayed a supreme valour and heroism. There is no limit to the greatness of his exploit in the name of his Motherland. The Soviet soldier deserves that grateful humanity should erect him a monument to stand in the ages to come. Brilliant examples were set by officers of all ranks- from junior lieutenants to marshals- ardent patriots of their country, experienced and fearless organizers of the multi-million strong armed forces in military actions. Those who make a difference between the Soviet soldier and officer make a bad mistake, for equal in origin, way of thinking and acting, they are equally loyal to, and are true sons of, their Motherland.
    • p. 691
  • The greatness of heroic victory over Fascist Germany is in the fact that the Soviet Union did not defend the socialist state alone, but that it selflessly fought to defend the internationalist proletarian goal- defeat the bulk of the Nazi armed forces and deliver the peoples of Europe from occupation. The Soviet people have not forgotten other peoples' contribution to the victory over the common enemy. Our army and people remember and value the courage of the Resistance fighters.
    • p. 691
  • The Soviet Union is a peaceful country. The people's every goal serves the construction of Communism. They do not need war to attain their goal. But to protect the Soviet people's peaceful labour we must study our military experience in defending the socialist motherland, and make use of what will help us ensure the country's defences in the most effective way and train and rear our Armed Forces in the right spirit.
    • p. 691-692
  • The risks of war present no danger to those who are well prepared for it in advance and who are mindful of their place in the nation's defences. Confusion and panic usually appear wherever there is no adequate organizaton or appropriate leadership at a time of grim trials.
    • p. 692
  • With the technological revolution in the military field and the enormous organizational reconstruction of the army and navy, and now that their prime shock force is made up of rocketry, voices may quite frequently be heard asserting that this is an era of "push-button warfare" where man plays nothing but an auxiliary role. This view is wrong. Without arguing the great importance of rocketry and nuclear weapons, it is a fact that regardless of the scale, nature or method of warfare, man always played, and will go on playing, a major role in it. War will still require the participation of large masses of manpower- in one case directly in the armed struggle, in another, in war production and the comprehensive material backing of armed struggle.
    • p. 692

Quotes about Zhukov[edit]

Alphabetized by author
  • Perhaps the best epitaph for Zhukov was written by an Indian diplomat, K.P. Menon, in a different context, years before the marshal died, when Zhukov was being hounded by sycophants and ideologists under Nikita Krushchev, so officially that he had become a so-called non-person. Menon wrote: "No star shone in the Russian firmament with after Stalin's death with greater lustre than Zhukov's."
    • Albert Axell, Marshal Zhukov: The Man Who Beat Hitler (2003), p. 231
  • Zhukov has thus emerged in his twilight years to take his proper place in Soviet history. The resurrection of this great soldier, first a patriot and only then a Party member, can be viewed as an attempt by Brezhnev and his fellow leaders to give credit where credit is due and to make Soviet history a more factual record of events. Zhukov still commands the loyalty of many Russians in all walks of life, especially the veterans of World War II. Zhukov is an enduring symbol of victory on the battlefield.
    • Otto Preston Chaney, Jr., Zhukov (1971), p. 432
  • So that's what you're like.
    • Dwight D. Eisenhower's remark upon meeting Zhukov for the first time in May 1945. As quoted by Zhukov himself in The Memoirs of Marshal Zhukov (1971), p. 659
  • The name of Marshal Georgi Zhukov, the distinguished Soviet military leader of World War II and a controversial postwar minister of defense, conjures up a picture of a severe and ruthless Soviet commander, one of the few who appeared never to have lost a battle, and who was allowed by Stalin out of the shadows which normally surround Soviet personalities briefly, at least, to share some of the glory of Soviet victories during the war. No one would deny that a good and accurate biography of a soldier of Zhukov's status and achievements has been lacking for some time. After all, lives of most of the outstanding Allied and German commanders have been available for many years. Scholars, historians, and the general public have long awaited a biography of their most successful Soviet counterpart- a man who, in the closing stages of the war, had under his direct operational command fourteen field armies and many thousands of tanks and aircraft.
    • Malcom Mackintosh, in the Foreword to Zhukov (1971) by Otto Preston Chaney, Jr., p. vii
  • In spite of the biographer's best efforts, the Soviet military leader remains personally a shadowy figure. We cannot see hm at home, with his wife, children, and grandchildren, nor can we learn much about his personal likes or dislikes, his family life, his moments of despair and elation. Although Soviet secrecy plays a strong part in formulating these restrictions, they are to some extent also in the tradition of Russian letters, and any biographer of Marshal Zhukov who resits his case, as Chaney does, on the strictest accuracy of the utilization of his source material, has to make his book a study of Zhukov the soldier and relatively little of Zhukov the man.
    • Malcom Mackintosh, in the Foreword to Zhukov (1971) by Otto Preston Chaney, Jr., p. vii

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