Vasily Chuikov was Marshal of the Soviet Union, who accepted the surrender of the German garrison of Berlin in May 1945.
Vasily Chuikov was born on 12 February 1900 in the village Serebryanye Prudy near Moscow to a peasant family. From April 1918, he served in the Red Army and took part in the Soviet campaigns in Poland and Finland between 1939 and 1940. From 1940 to 1942, he was a military attaché and advisor to Chiang Kai-shek in the occupied China. In 1942, he returned back to the Soviet Union and took command of the Soviet 62nd Army, which saw heavy combat during the Battle of Stalingrad. For its achievements in this battle, the army was renamed to 8th Guards Army in April 1943, with Chuikov remaining its commander. With his army, he participated in the Soviet offensives in the Ukraine, Belarus and Poland, reaching the German border in January 1945. The 8th Guards Army took heavy casualties during the front attack on German positions at Seelow Heights in April 1945 and advanced towards Berlin from the southeast.
In Berlin, Chuikov’s troops were involved in heavy fighting during the assault of the Teltow Canal and the Tempelhof Airport, and reached the city centre by 1 May 1945. On the same day, Chuikov met general Hans Krebs from the Führerbunker, who arrived at his command post with a white flag and informed Chuikov about Adolf Hitler’s death. On 2 May 1945, general Helmuth Weidling, commander of the Berlin defence area, also arrived at Chuikov’s headquarters to sign the capitulation of the Berlin garrison. After the war, Chuikov remained at various key administrative positions in the Soviet Military Administration in Germany and was the commander-in-chief of the Group of Soviet Occupation Forces in Germany from 1949 to 1953. In 1955, he was promoted to Marshal of the Soviet Union.
From 1960 to 1964, Chuikov was the commander-in-chief of the Soviet Ground Forces and played an important role in the secret transportation of the Soviet missiles on Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. Vasily Chuikov died on 18 March 1982 in Moscow and was buried among the Soviet soldiers he commanded during the Battle of Stalingrad on the Mamayev Kurgan hill in present-day Volgograd.