MARSHAL ZHUKOV (Center) POURS A TOAST at the 5 June 1945 meeting in Berlin. General Eisenhower (left) departed immediately after the toast. On. the right are Field Marshal Montgomery and
General de Lattre de Tassigny.
Marshal Zhukov (C) decorates Field Marshal Montgomery (L)
Marshal Zhukov (C) decorates Field Marshal Montgomery (L) w. Russian Order of Victory as Allied chiefs who attended ceremony at Gen. Eisenhower's (whispering to Zhukov) HQ are about to drink toast.
Date taken:June 10, 1945
Courtesy Life Magazine
Date taken:June 10, 1945
Courtesy Life Magazine
Secret files recently discovered in the KGB archives describe a Top Secret meeting involving former Allied commanders from WWII who gathered in the late 1940s to enjoy a game of Stratego. It was hoped that a pleasant afternoon of board game fellowship would help to defuse Cold War tensions. Eisenhower and Zhukov played a complete game; Montgomery was invited to challenge the winner but the British officer said he needed more time to prepare.
Marshal Zhukov and General Eisenhower offered commentary and analysis of Strategowhile a hidden KGB microphone recorded the dialogue. After a stenographer transcribed this session the document was accidentally placed in Stalin’s personal “Fun Things To Do At The Dacha” folder and has been lost for over 60 years.
Each player's comments will be quoted as accurately as possible. Zhukov’s remarks will appear in red (of course) while Ike’s analysis will be shown in black. The article includes a few editorial comments. Any errors in translation are my responsibility. The early edition of Stratego enjoyed by these great commanders probably looked similar to the 1960s version. Both commanders began by evaluating the game's components.
Z: The configuration of the board disturbed me. The two bodies of water remind me of the Masurian Lakes, where our heroic Russian soldiers suffered a minor setback in 1914 under the decadent Tsarist regime.
Editor: This was actually a disastrous Russian defeat during the Tannenberg campaign.
E: I agree with Marshal Zhukov. Only an unimaginative commander like our tragically unfortunate General Burnside would launch a major attack across such restrictive terrain. However, we must remember that it is only a game.
Editor: The incompetent Burnside suffered a bloody repulse at the battle of Fredericksburg in 1862. The modern term “sideburns” developed from his magnificent whiskers.
Z: The wooden playing pieces are quite nice. Of course, in the Soviet Union even members of the working class would have deluxe tokens made of ivory and onyx.
E: I think the hidden deployment of the playing pieces creates a simple but effective “fog of war” element.
Z: Another capitalist trick. (Laughter) I agree with General Eisenhower. I wish I could have seen the faces of those fascist commanders when my surprise attacks smashed into their flanks during the heroic struggle for Stalingrad. I like the hidden units, especially the spy. He reminds me of Beria.
Editor: Beria was the ruthless head of the secret police.
E: Comrade Zhukov, why did you insist that I played with the blue tokens?
Z: You did me a big favor. If I didn’t command the red army Stalin could have me sent to a labor camp.
Editor: Marshal Zhukov was joking, of course.
Z: The game has a Napoleonic flavor that helped to create a certain mood. These period illustrations are colorful. While I find them attractive I must point out that a gallant Soviet marshal would have a much larger assortment of medals.
E: I prefer George C. Marshall.
Z: I get that one, Ike. Even in Russian. I can’t wait to tell Comrade Stalin.
E: Tell me, Marshal Zhukov… do you think the armies depicted in the game provide an interesting assortment of options for the players?
Z: Yes, and although the numerical hierarchy of the playing pieces flies in the face of the egalitarian ideals of our socialist system the combat system is quick and clean.
E: (Chuckling) You’re only saying that because you’re a marshal, and in Stratego the marshal is almost always victorious.
Z: True… and in the Soviet Union only a spy can eliminate a marshal. Stalin will love this game.
Editor: After a brief break for cigarettes and vodka the two commanders discussed the course of the game.
E: You really surprised me with those bombs!
Z: Now you know how we felt after Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
E: Seriously, how did you locate my flag so quickly to win the game?
Z: As a friend and a former comrade in arms please allow me to be frank… you Americans often seem to give yourselves away and then make silly moves. I still can’t believe you fell for that “Alpine Redoubt” propaganda back in 1945 and then halted at the Elbe River. Ha! Ha! Next time don't put your flag token in a corner.
Editor: The reader is advised to consult an unbiased source to verify Comrade Zhukov’s outlandish claims about the final days of the war in Europe.
E: (Coughing) Well, you sure fooled me today. I had trouble penetrating your side of the board. How did you set up your defenses?
Z: I used a gambit I learned from Churchill. It is called the Iron Curtain strategy. Nobody can penetrate my combination of scouts on the frontier with the more powerful playing pieces held in reserve.
E: Regardless of the outcome of our Stratego session I enjoyed the game. I predict a big future for this title and the wargame hobby.
Z: Of course! The entire concept was invented by a Russian. It will be a huge success.
E: With all due respect, Marshal Zhukov, I thought the Germans developed Kriegspiel in the 1800s.
Z: More imperialist propaganda. The creator of the modern wargame hobby was a product of the enlightened Soviet system. His name was Ivan Tuplaischmallverld.
Dwight Ike Eisenhower , Montgomery and Georgy Zhukov at the San Francisco conference , 14 June 1945 , for the creation of the United Nations charter .
The signing the German Instrument of Surrender at the Soviet headquarters in Karlshorst, Berlin. Standing in the middle is Soviet Marshal Georgy Zhukov
Marshall Zhukov on a white horse was was in charge of the WWII Victory Military Parade in Moscow commanded burning captured Nazi Military Flags on the Red Square (see photo below).
Zhukov riding a grey Akhal-Teke horse during the Moscow Victory Parade of 1945. Next to him marshal Rokossovski on a black horse. There is now an equestrian monument to Zhukov nearby.