The Soviet Army's High Commands in War and Peace, 1941–1992

Richard W Harrison

The first full treatment of the unique Red Army phenomenon of High Commands during World War II and the Cold War.
Date Published :
July 2022
Publisher :
Casemate Academic
Illustration :
Photos and maps
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Hardback
ISBN : 9781952715105
Pages : 480
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
Stock Status : In stock
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The first full treatment of the unique phenomenon of High Commands in the Soviet Army during World War II and the Cold War.

The war on the Eastern Front during 1941–45 was an immense struggle, running from the Barents Sea to the Caucasus Mountains. The vast distances involved forced the Soviet political-military leadership to resort to new organizational expedients in order to control operations along the extended front. These were the high commands of the directions, which were responsible for two or more fronts (army groups) and, along maritime axes, one or more fleets.

In all, five high commands were created along the northwestern, western, southwestern, and North Caucasus strategic directions during 1941–42. However, the highly unfavorable strategic situation during the first year of the war, as well as interference in day-to-day operations by Stalin, severely limited the high commands' effectiveness. As a consequence, the high commands were abolished in mid-1942 and replaced by the more flexible system of supreme command representatives at the front. A High Command of Soviet Forces in the Far East was established in 1945 and oversaw the Red Army's highly effective campaign against Japanese forces in Manchuria.

The Far Eastern High Command was briefly resurrected in 1947 as a response to the tense situation along the Korean peninsula and the ongoing civil war in China, but was abolished in 1953, soon after Stalin's death. Growing tensions with China brought about the recreation of the Far Eastern High Command in 1979, followed a few years later by the appearance of new high commands in Europe and South Asia. However, these new high commands did not long survive the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and were abolished a year later.

The book relies almost exclusively on Soviet and post-communist archival and other sources and is the first unclassified treatment of this subject in any country, East or West.

About The Author

Richard W. Harrison earned degrees from Georgetown University, where he specialized in Russian Area Studies. He later earned his doctorate in War Studies from King’s College London. He spent several years living and working in post-communist Russia and has taught Russian History and Military History at the US Military Academy at West Point.

Dr Harrison lives with his family near Carlisle, Pennsylvania.



1. Imperial Antecedents
2. Soviet Antecedents
3. Organizing for War
4. The Northwestern High Command
5. The Western High Command
6. The Southwestern High Command
7. The North Caucasus High Command
8. The Stavka Representatives
9. The Far Eastern High Command
10. The Postwar High Commands



"...[uses] the accumulated documentary evidence, supplemented by relevant memoir references, to arrive at certain conclusions regarding the utility of the High Command concept in WWII by highlighting its weaknesses and strengths"


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