Andrei Grechko

Andrei Grechko
Андре́й Гре́чко
Minister of Defence
In office
12 April 1967  26 April 1976
Premier Alexei Kosygin
Preceded by Rodion Malinovsky
Succeeded by Dmitriy Ustinov
Full member of the 23rd, 24th Politburo
In office
27 April 1973  26 April 1976
Personal details
Born Andrei Antonovich Grechko
(1903-10-04)4 October 1903
Golodaevka, Don Host Oblast, Russian Empire
Died 26 April 1976(1976-04-26) (aged 72)
Moscow, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
Nationality Soviet
Political party Communist Party of the Soviet Union
Military service
Allegiance  Soviet Union
Service/branch Soviet Army
Years of service 1919–1976
Rank Marshal of the Soviet Union
Commands 18th Army
1st Guards Army
Kiev Military District
Battles/wars Russian Civil War, Second World War

Andrei Antonovich Grechko (Russian: Андре́й Анто́нович Гре́чко; 17 October [O.S. 4 October] 1903 26 April 1976) was a Soviet general, Marshal of the Soviet Union and Minister of Defense.


Born in a small town near Rostov-on-Don on 17 October 1903,[1] the son of Ukrainian peasants, he joined the Red Army in 1919, where he was a part of the “Budyonny Cavalry”. After the Russian Civil War, Grechko was enrolled into the 6th Cavalry College in the city of Taganrog, which he graduated in 1926. He joined the Communist Party in 1928, and graduated from the Frunze Military Academy in 1936. He next attended the Soviet General Staff Academy, graduating in 1941, just a few weeks before the beginning of Operation Barbarossa.

Grechko’s first command during the second world war was of the 34th Cavalry Division, which put up a valiant fight around Kremenchug (near Kiev) in the Ukraine. On 15 January 1942, Grechko was put in command of the entire V Cavalry Corps. Starting 15 April 1942 and lasting until 16 October 1943, Grechko was placed in command of 12th Army, 47th Army, 18th Army, and 56th Army. All of these units were part of the North Caucasus Front, and Grechko led them all with distinction.

In October 1943, Grechko was promoted to Deputy Commander-in-Chief of 1st Ukrainian Front. Then, on 14 December 1943, he was made the Commanding General of 1st Guards Army, a position he held until the end of the war. The First Guards Army was a part of the 4th Ukrainian Front, which was led by Col.-Gen. I. E. Petrov. Grechko led the 1st Guards in a number of offensive operations, predominantly in Hungary and into Austria.

After the war, Grechko was the Commanding General of the Kiev Military District, until 1953. Between 1953 and 1957, Grechko was the Commander-in-Chief of Soviet Forces in East Germany. On 11 March 1955, Grechko, along with five other high-ranking colleagues, all of whom had gained recognition during World War II, was promoted to the rank of Marshal of the Soviet Union. From 1957-1960, Grechko was the Commander-in-Chief of the Ground Forces, and from 1960–1967, he was the Commander-in-Chief of the Warsaw Pact Forces[2]). On 12 April 1967, Grechko was made the Minister of Defense, taking over shortly after Marshal Rodion Malinovsky died. Grechko served in this capacity until his death in 1976. During the 1970s, Grechko served as the chairman of the editorial commission that produced the official Soviet history of the Second World War.[3]

Grechko was an active member in the Communist Party, and was a member of the Politburo. As Minister of Defense, Grechko helped modernize the Soviet Army, and was greatly responsible for maintaining the military strength of the Soviet state. As Defense minister, Grechko's most notable idea was his assumption that a Third World War would always go nuclear at some point, and as such he planned that if World War III did begin, to launch all-out nuclear strikes against the NATO nations the moment that the war began.[4] For Grechko, nuclear weapons would be weapons of first resort in a world war, not weapons of last resort.[5] The urn containing his ashes is buried by the Kremlin Wall Necropolis.

Honours and awards


  1. Dennis Kavanagh (1998). "Andrei Grechko". A Dictionary of Political Biography. Oxford: OUP. p. 196. Retrieved 4 September 2013.   via Questia (subscription required)
  2. Газета «Северная Осетия» // Гость «СО».
  3. Годы войны. 1941—1943. 1976
  4. Cant, James "The SS-20 Missile-Why Were You Pointing at Me?" pages 240-253 from Russia War, Peace and Diplomacy edited by Ljubica and Mark Erickson, London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2004 page 245
  5. Cant, James "The SS-20 Missile-Why Were You Pointing at Me?" pages 240-253 from Russia War, Peace and Diplomacy edited by Ljubica and Mark Erickson, London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2004 page 245
  6. Дважды Герой Советского Союза Гречко Андрей Антонович на сайте «Герои страны».
  7. Сайт «Молодая Гвардия». А. А. Гречко.
Wikiquote has quotations related to: Andrei Grechko
Political offices
Preceded by
Rodion Malinovsky
Minister of Defence of Soviet Union
Succeeded by
Dmitriy Ustinov
Military offices
Preceded by
Ivan Konev
Supreme Commander of the Unified Armed Forces of the Warsaw Treaty Organization
Succeeded by
Ivan Yakubovsky
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