TRUMAN, HARRY S. (1884-1972). Thirty-third president of the United States. DS. (“Harry S. Truman”). 1p. 4to. Washington, D.C., (April 9, 1946). A typed citation on White House Stationery for awarding the Legion of Merit to General Lieutenant of the Guards MICHAIL BORISOVIC ANASHKIN (1901-1951), Commanding General 129th Corps, Red Army.
Remarkable Document Signed as President Awarding U.S. Legion of Merit to Soviet World War II General, Michail Anashkin
Signed by Harry S Truman
“General Lieutenant of the Guards Michael [sic] B. Anashkin, Commanding General 129th Corps, Red Army displayed exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service from 1 February to 8 May 1945 in central Europe. He led his veteran forces in some of the swiftest and most spectacular campaigns in military history, capturing hundreds of thousands of prisoners, shattering entire systems of German fortifications, making assault crossings of numerous rivers, seizing key cities and moving with lightning speed to pulverize the retreating enemy. His masterful handling of problems involved in supplying rapidly moving forward elements over an attenuated supply line with minimum transportation was equaled [sic] only by the superior strategic and tactical judgment which enabled him to advance with hardly a pause from victory to victory.”
By the beginning of 1945, Germany’s forces in Europe were weakening and the Allied armies were making significant inroads. In mid-January, as part of the Campaign in Central Europe, the 1st Belorussian Front of the Red Army, of which Anashkin’s 129th Rifle Corps was a part, began the Vistula–Oder Offensivein which it liberated the Polish cities of Warsaw, Krakow and Poznan while facing tough resistance from Germany’s 3rd Panzer Army, as it successfully pushed west toward Berlin. By March, the Soviet Army was concentrating its military power on the Berlin Strategic Offensive Operation, the last major European assault of the war. The culmination of this campaign was the Battle of Berlin, which lasted from April 20 until the Third Reich capital’s surrender on May 2. It was during this battle that Adolf Hitler committed suicide in his Berlin bunker on April 30. The war officially ended with Germany’s unconditional surrender effective May 8 and celebrated throughout Europe as Victory in Europe (VE) Day and which, coincidentally, was Truman’s 61st birthday.
Anashkin was a career soldier who commanded the 129th Rifle Corps until 1946, thereafter teaching at the General Staff Academy. In addition to receiving the United States Legion of Merit, he was awarded the Soviet Union’s highest honors, being made a Hero of the Soviet Union in April 1945 and twice receiving the Order of Lenin.
Truman, who had been commander-in-chief barely a month, dedicated the Allied victory to the recently deceased Franklin Roosevelt. However, war continued to rage in the Pacific until Japan’s surrender in September, following Truman’s order to drop two atomic bombs.
With Soviet atomic bomb testing and the invasion of South Korea by communist forces from North Korea and China, paranoia about the threat of communism reached a fever pitch during Truman’s administration. The president authorized the establishment of the CIA and the Truman Doctrine, by which the United States agreed to help free nations resist the threat of communist aggression, was adopted, ushering in the Cold War era.
Accompanied by the ornately printed Legion of Merit certificate that bears the blind-embossed seal of the War Office and is signed by Secretary of War ROBERT P. PATTERSON (1891-1952, “Robert P. Patterson”) and U.S. Army Adjutant General EDWARD F. WITSELL (1891-1969, “Edward F. Witsell”). Both documents have nominal wear, pencil notes in Cyrillic in the upper right corners and are very fine.