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Transitions and Leading Change

Photo: General of the Army V. I. Chuikov attended the Paris Conference on 11 May 1949 with Andrey Smirnov and Andrei Vychinski shortly after he transitioned to the position of Commander of the Soviet Ground Forces in Berlin. On 12 May 1949, the lifting of the Berlin blockade occurred.

An effective leader raises employee standards--everyone in the organization is held to a higher level of accountability. The leader sets the tone and vision for the organization and for the individuals who comprise it, even if these team members do not accept it at first. When others doubt, he believes the vision can be realized with hard work and consistent effort. Throughout his career, Marshal Chuikov was assigned to various positions because he was an effective leader who was efficient and made necessary changes.

Based on anecdotal information, General Chuikov was appointed to the position in East Germany to negotiate the end of the Berlin blockade, which was initiated due to Stalin's orders in 1948 while his predecessor Marshal Sokolovsky was still in leadership. Although the article “Soviet East German Army Head Relieved” was printed to announce the end of Chuikov’s service in Germany, it provides some insight into his activities while in Berlin. In 1949 the German Democratic Republic (GDR) was established, and it was time for the USSR to move away from the guardianship of the occupied zone to create an alliance with this new country. This entailed a new regime for the deployment of the Soviet Army as well. When Vasily Ivanovich took command, he also conducted a “clean-up job” to tighten standards and restore order for the Red Army stationed there.

According to The Charlotte Observer dated 6 June 1953, Chuikov was brought into leadership in East Germany “because the Russians felt a new face was needed. He replaced Marshal Vasily Sokolovsky, who imposed the blockade. […] When Sokolovsky was replaced by Chuikov, the lifting of the Berlin blockade was negotiated.

Chuikov earned a reputation in East Germany of being a hard taskmaster. He inherited a force of officers and men who had experienced soft occupation life, plunder, and unlimited powers. Inside of two years, Chuikov weeded out families, fired German servants, jacked up field training and whipped the 25 Red Army divisions into hardened outfits. He took the Russian soldier off the streets of East Germany and placed the bulk of the troops behind the walls of army compounds.”

Special thanks to reviewer/contributor Rustem Vakhitov.


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