On June 23, 1941, the day after the beginning of the Great Patriotic War, under the instruction of the Soviet of People’s Commissars of USSR and the All-Russian Communist Party of Bolsheviks Central Committee was formed the extraordinary body of the higher military governing – General Headquarters (Stavka) of the USSR Armed Forces. It was headed by People’s Commissar for Defense, Marshal of the Soviet Union S. K. Timoshenko. Among Stavka members there were the members of Politburo of the Central Committee of the All-Russian Communist Party of Bolsheviks I. V. Stalin, V. M. Molotov, Marshal of the Soviet Union K. E. Voroshilov, People’s Commissar for Defense assistant, Marshal of the Soviet Union S. M. Budyonny, People’s Commissar of the Navy N. G. Kuznetsov and the General staff Head, Army-General G. K. Zhukov.
By the same instruction under Stavka was formed the Institution of permanent advisors which included Marshals of the Soviet Union B. M. Shaposhnikov and G. I. Kulik, Generals K. A. Meretskov, P. F. Zhigaryov, N. F. Vatutin, N. N. Voronov as well as A. I. Mikoyan, L. M. Kaganovich, L. P. Berya, N. A. Voznesensky, A. A. Zhdanov, G. M. Malenkov, L. Z. Mekhlis.
During the entire war Stavka was located in Moscow. However, when the bombardment began, it was transferred from Kremlin to a small mansion near Kirov Gates. A month later at the platform of ‘Kirovskaya’ metro station was organized the underground Center of strategic management of the Armed Forces. There were arranged the offices for I. V. Stalin and B. M. Shaposhnikov; the operations section of the General Staff and the People’s Commissariat for Defense Department.
On July 10, 1941 in order to ensure the centralized and efficient governing over the armed fighting, under the instruction of the State Committee for Defense of USSR N 10, the General Headquarters was reformed into Stavka. It was headed by the State Committee for Defense President I. V. Stalin. Under the same instruction People’s Commissar for Defense assistant, Marshal of the Soviet Union B. M. Shaposhnikov was made a member of Stavka as well.
On August 8, 1941 Stalin was assigned the Supreme Commander in Chief. From that time on Stavka was called the Supreme General Headquarters.
At the final stage of the Great Patriotic War the Stavka membership changed for the last time. Under the instruction of the State Committee for Defense of USSR from February 17, 1945 the following Stavka composition was determined: Marshals of the Soviet Union I. V. Stalin (the President - Supreme Commander in Chief), G. K. Zhukov (People’s Commissar for Defense assistant) and A. M. Vasilevsky (People’s Commissar for Defense assistant), Army-Generals N. A. Bulganin (a member of the State Committee for Defense and People’s Commissar for Defense assistant) and A. I. Antonov (General Staff Head), Navy Admiral N. G. Kuznetsov (People’s Commissar of the Navy of USSR).
Stavka activities were large-scale and multi-aspect. Stavka made changes and introduced clarity to the structure and arrangement of the Armed Forces; planned campaigns and offensives; set up goals for the fronts and Fleets governing over their fighting activities; organized coordination between different strategic groups and formations of different types of the Armed Forces and partisans; distributed among fronts reserve formations and funds; controlled the course of fulfillment of the set up goals; supervised the study and general conclusions of the war experience.
The main working body of Stavka and of the Supreme Commander in Chief was the General Staff of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army which operated in close connection with People’s Commissariats for Defense and Navy Departments.
Lit.: Данилов В. Д. Ставка ВГК: Ставка Верховного Главнокомандования, 1941-1945. М., 1991; Павленко И. Д. Ставка Верховного Главнокомандования // Большая советская энциклопедия. Т. 24. Кн. 1. М., 1976; Ставка Верховного Главнокомандования // Жуков Г. К. Воспоминания и размышления. М., 2002. Т. 1. гл. 11; То же [Электронный ресурс]. URL: http://militera.lib.ru/memo/russian/zhukov1/11.html.
From the Presidential library materials: