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A Father’s Advice to a Young Leader


Pictured: an article titled «Ровесник Века» (“Rovyesnik Vyeka”), translated as “Contemporary of the Century,” written by I. Paderin to honor Marshal Chuikov’s 80th birthday appearing in the Soviet magazine Огонëк (Ogonyek), No. 7, February 1980 edition; cover art for Paderin’s book titled Земля Hе Tерпит Pобких (Zemlya Ne Tyerpit Robkikh), translated as The Earth Does Not Tolerate the Timid, published in 1970.


From his humble beginnings, Marshal Chuikov rose through the ranks to achieve the highest military rank in the former Soviet Union at the age of 55 (this will be a topic of a future blog post). One of the purposes of researching Vasily Ivanovich is to learn about the factors that shaped his leadership style throughout his career.


He was most famous for his command in Stalingrad; however, Marshal Chuikov led a lifetime of service, and there are so many rich experiences to write about. One of the people in Chuikov’s life who shaped his way of thinking and being was his father, Ivan. Before a 12-year-old “Vasyatka” left his childhood home in Silver Ponds to work in St. Petersburg, his father gave him pithy advice which stayed with him for the rest of his days. In an article appearing in Ogonyek, 8th Guards veteran and author Ivan Paderin shared the following:


“After a while, Vasyatka threw his knapsack behind his back, and [he left his] parental home. In front of the gate his father, placing his wide palm on his son’s shoulder, said: ‘Live honestly. Believe simple people, and they will understand you, they will not leave you in trouble. They have all the power. Do not run away from the people's misfortune. And if you become a soldier, stand for the people. Remember, the earth does not tolerate the timid. For the cause, for the truth, do not feel sorry for yourself.’ His father said these words quietly. But they sounded in the ears, like bells, strongly…" (14).

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