Marshall Budyonny’s Dacha #6: STAVKA Orders

Campaign Series East Front III | Marshall Budyonny's Dacha

My fellow Vsadniks,

You might by surprised to know that STAVKA is not an acronym. It is a Russian word that means “general headquarters.” Stavka orders contain a wealth of historical information about the Red Army during the Great Patriotic War. This is a primer on Stavka’s background, and about the system of orders, and how to find these for research.

Background on Stavka

The Red Army General Headquarters was known as Stavka, located in Moscow. This designation had also been used in Imperial Russia, prior to the 1917 Bolshevik revolution. For the Red Army fighting the German invasion, Stavka was re-created 23 June, 1941, the day after the beginning of the Great Patriotic War.

The Soviet of People’s Commissars of USSR and the All-Russian Communist Party of Bolsheviks Central Committee  ordered Stavka’s creation as a general headquarters. Initially, Marshal of the Soviet Union S. K. Timoshenko was appointed the head of Stavka. In addition, the membership included IV Stalin, VM Molotov, K E Voroshilov, SM Budyonny, G Kuznetsov, and GK Zhukov.

Permanent advisors included BM Shaposhnikov, GI Kulik, Generals KA Meretskov, PF Zhigaryov, N F Vatutin, NN Voronov as well as AI Mikoyan, LM Kaganovich, LP Berya, NA Voznesensky, AA Zhdanov, GM Malenkov, and LZ Mekhlis.

Later, Stalin became the head of Stavka, and BM Shaposhnikov was chief of staff, and signed many of the Stavka orders and directives. It was under Order No. 83 that Stavka was reformed on 10 July 1941. It was then known as the supreme headquarters with Stalin as Supreme Commander in Chief.

Function of Stavka

Stavka was basically a General Staff, with Shaposhnikov running the daily administration, and General AM Vasilevsky as his deputy. Vasilevsky had developed a defense plan in 1940 in the event the Germans attacked.

The organization had many roles, including operational planning, advise on tactics and strategy, discipline, command changes, and unit tables of organization and equipment. It communicated these ideas through directives, orders, and occasionally decrees.

Stavka issued hundreds of documents each year. Most were directives, (direktiva), informational, or providing advice, but many were orders, (prikaz,) and  mandatory. Some of these, signed by Stalin are known as Stalin’s Orders. The serial numbering of directives continued to increase through the war. These are primary source documents for research.

Stavka Document Identification

Various documents had slight different titles depending on whether they were directives, orders, or decrees. Directives were the majority of documents, and in the title had these Russian words:

ДИРЕКТИВА СТАВКА ВГК No. XX. (Directive of Stavka Surpreme High Command No. XX) The Cyrillic text is useful for searches to find these. More hits are obtained at Russian language websites.

Directives would be typically signed by Timoshenko (ТИМОШЕНКО,) in the early weeks of war, but later by Shaposhnikov. (ШАПОШНИКОВ)

Orders can be identified by ПРИКАЗ СТАВКА ВГК No. XX. (Order of Stavka Surpreme High Command No. XX) These would be typically signed by Stalin. (СТАЛИН) The only title difference is in the words ДИРЕКТИВА vs ПРИКАЗ. Decrees are ПОСТАНОВЛЕНИЕ. In the titles, the letters were usually all uppercase. A glossary in the next section will be useful for identifying and translating Russian words identifying these documents.


This glossary will help with the keywords for document titles. The presentation is in the form of

Cyrillic = Transliteration = English translation

Ставка Главного Командования   приказывает

Stavka Glavnogo Komandovanija   prikazyvaet

High Command Headquarters orders

приказ = prikaz = order (singular)

приказывает = prikazyvaet =  orders (plural)

Командования = Komandovanija  = command

Главного =  Glavnogo = main or high

Ставка = General headquarters

Верховного = Verhovnogo = supreme

директива = direktiva = directive

доклад = doklad = report

Секретно =  Sekretno = Secretly

Постановление = Postanovleniye = Decree

Государственного = Gosudarstvennogo = State

Комитета = Komiteta = Committee

Обороны = Oborony = Defense

ВГК  = VGK  = supreme high command

ГК =  GK = high command

CВГК = SVGK = Stavka Supreme High Command

Internet Searches

The most effective way to search for these documents is to use the Russian Cyrillic form, and search on Google. This search engine offers a means of translating the documents that are found. To convert Latin letters to Cyrillic, the website is very helpful.

Researchers should also open a tab of “Google Translate,” to assist. This will not only translate Russian Cyrillic into English, (or the language of your choice,)  but displays the transliteration.

The primary search term for orders is ПРИКАЗ СТАВКА, and for directives,  ДИРЕКТИВА СТАВКА.

Other words or abbreviations in the glossary may be used as keywords as well. Sometimes hits are for mostly modern documents. If this occurs, include the year, like 1941 as a keyword.

Terra Russian Archive

This archive offers Word documents with many Stavka orders and directives. These are in Russian, but paragraphs can be easily highlighted, copied, and pasted into Google Translate to read in a preferred language. These are large, perhaps 400 or 500 pages. The link to obtain these is:

These records cover all the Great Patriotic War years, 1941, 42, 43, 44, 45.

For your convenience a copy of the 1941 document is available here.

Stavka Order 83

This was the order, issued 10 July 1941, that made Stavka the supreme headquarters of the Red Army, Navy, and Air Force. It also illustrates a translation technique of inserting translated paragraphs in between the Cyrillic text. It is easier to make Google Translations with paragraphs, rather than entire documents. This order was signed by Stalin. It also established commanders for the fronts.


Государственный Комитет Обороны


от 10 июля 1941 года № ГКО-77сс


Секретно № 83сс от 10/VII 41 г.

Копия — тов. Жукову лично

Экз. единственный

Командующим округами, флотами и армиями, которые обязываются ознакомить с документом членов соответствующих военных советов, а также командиров корпусов и дивизий

Копия: Председателям Совнаркомов и секретарям ЦК Компартий союзных республик

Государственный Комитет Обороны постановил:

State Defense Committee

Decree of July 10, 1941 No. GKO-77ss


Secret No. 83cc dated 10 / VII 41

Copy – Comrade Zhukov personally

Ex. only

Commander of the districts, fleets and armies who undertake to familiarize the members of the relevant military councils, as well as the commanders of the corps and divisions with a document.

The State Defense Committee responded to the chairmen of the Council of People’s Commissars and the secretaries of the Central Committee of the Communist Parties of the Union Republics:

  1. Назначить Главнокомандующим войсками северо-западного направления Маршала Советского Союза т. К. Ворошилова с подчинением ему Северного и Северо-Западного фронтов.


  1. To appoint Comrade K. Voroshilov Commander-in-Chief of the North-West Marshal of the Soviet Union with subordination of the Northern and North-Western Fronts to him.


  1. Назначить Главнокомандующим войсками западного направления Маршала Советского Союза Наркома Обороны т. С. Тимошенко, с подчинением ему войск Западного фронта.


  1. To appoint Commander Timoshenko, Commander-in-Chief of the Western Forces of the Marshal of the Soviet Union, Commissar of Defense, with the subordination of the troops of the Western Front to him.


  1. Назначить Главнокомандующим войсками юго-западного направления Маршала Советского Союза т. С. Буденного, с подчинением ему Юго-Западного и Южного фронтов.


  1. To appoint Commander S. Budyonny, Commander-in-Chief of the southwestern forces of the Marshal of the Soviet Union, with the subordination of the Southwestern and Southern Fronts to him.


  1. Ставку Главного Командования преобразовать в Ставку Верховного Командования и определить ее в составе: Председателя Государственного Комитета Обороны т. Сталина, заместителя Председателя Государственного Комитета Обороны т. Молотова, маршалов тт. Тимошенко, Буденного, Ворошилова, Шапошникова, начальника Генштаба Генерала армии т. Жукова.


  1. To convert the Headquarters of the High Command into the Headquarters of the Supreme Command and determine it as follows: Chairman of the State Defense Committee, Comrade Stalin, Deputy Chairman of the State Committee of Defense, Comrade Molotov, Marshals Comrade. Tymoshenko, Budyonny, Voroshilov, Shaposhnikov, Chief of the General Staff of the Army General, Comrade Zhukov.


  1. Резервную армию подчинить Ставке Верховного Командования с тем, чтобы потом, когда она будет приведена в полную боевую готовность, — подчинить ее главнокомандующему войсками западного направления.


  1. The reserve army should be subordinated to the Headquarters of the High Command so that later, when it is put on full alert, it should be subordinated to the Commander-in-Chief of Western troops.


  1. Обязать главкомов указать в специальном приказе подчиненному им фронтовому и армейскому командованию, что наблюдающиеся факты самовольного отхода и сдачи стратегических пунктов без разрешения высшего командования — позорят Красную Армию, что впредь за самовольный отход виновные командиры будут караться расстрелом.


  1. To oblige the commanders in a special order to indicate to the front-line and army command subordinate to them that the observed facts of unauthorized withdrawal and surrender of strategic points without the permission of the high command disgrace the Red Army, that henceforth for unauthorized withdrawal guilty commanders will be punished by execution.


  1. Обязать главкомов почаще обращаться к войскам своего направления с призывом держаться стойко и самоотверженно защищать нашу землю от немецких грабителей и поработителей.


  1. To oblige commanders-in-chief more often to appeal to the troops of their direction with an appeal to stay steadfast and selflessly to protect our land from German robbers and enslavers.


  1. Обязать главкомов почаще разбрасывать с самолетов в тылу немецких войск небольшие листовки за своей подписью с призывом к населению громить тылы немецких армий, рвать мосты, развинчивать рельсы, поджигать леса, уйти в партизаны, все время беспокоить немцев угнетателей. В призыве указывать, что скоро придет Красная Армия и освободит их от немецкого гнета.


  1. To oblige commanders-in-chief more often to scatter small leaflets signed from the planes in the rear of the German troops with an appeal to the population to smash the rear of the German armies, tear down bridges, open rails, set fire to forests, go into partisans, and disturb Germans of the oppressors all the time. In a call to indicate that the Red Army will come soon and free them from German oppression.


Председатель Государственного

Комитета Обороны


РГАСПИ, Ф 644, Оп. 1, Д. 2 Лл. 1

Chairman of the State

Defense Committee


RGASPY, F 644, Op. 1, D. 2 Ll. 1


Image of Stalin Order 270

This is an image of the Stavka order 270, which was issued on 16 August 1941. It was one the first instances where Stalin ordered Red Army personnel to “fight to the last”, and virtually banned commanders from surrendering, and set out severe penalties for deserters and senior officers regarded as derelicting their duties. Order 270 is widely regarded as the basis of subsequent, often controversial Soviet policies regarding prisoners of war.

Image of Stalin Order 270


“Stavka (General Headquarters) created in USSR”m

“The Great Patriotic War: Headquarters of the Supreme Command. Documents and P89 materials. 1941 year”, Terra Russian Archives

“Order No. 270”, Wikipedia

Campaign Series East Front III | Marshall Budyonny's Dacha

Marshall Semyon M. Budyonny

Marshall Budyonny’s Dacha is the latest series of articles by David Galster that will cover various aspects of scenario design, and some key historical points for Campaign Series: East Front III.







Image of Stalin Order 270

Marshall Budyonny’s Dacha #5: German Tactical Symbols

Campaign Series East Front III | Marshall Budyonny's Dacha

My fellow Vsadniks,

If you are curious about the strange looking symbols on Situation Maps, or other old Wehrmacht documents, this primer on German Tactical Symbols is for you. Knowing how to read these symbols is useful in researching unit organization diagrams, and maps.

Tactical Symbol Primer

A unique system for representing military units on maps and organizational charts  was employed by the German Army. These symbols represented the formation size for the various corps, divisions, regiments, and so forth, as well as the primary combat type, whether infantry, tank, or artillery, etc.

Headquarters symbols had two purposes. First, it indicated the size, function, and mobility of the unit. And, second, it represented the headquarters. For all headquarters units with separate KStN, symbols were placed to the right of the echelon’s symbol, as well as units directly assigned to the headquarters.

The symbols were mnemonic. Headquarters symbols reflected units’ pennants used on vehicles or the standards themselves. Anyone seeing these could immediately recognize the unit type.

The different functions and mobility additions were used to enhance the echelon’s symbol to indicate a specific purpose. Company-sized units and sub-units symbols were also modified similarly.

In the early WWII period, symbols were defined by the official German handbook of military symbols (H.Dv. 272) of 1938. The KStN is an abbreviation for “Kriegstärkenachweisungen,” translated literally: “Combat Strength according to Directive.” Essentially, it is the table of organization and equipment for a unit.

Basic organizational symbols are shown here:

German Organizational Symbols

Further, there were symbols that represented specific weapons, like mortars, machine guns, or artillery infantry guns. Here is a sample of these symbols:

German Weapons Symbols

Company-sized and smaller unit symbols tends to reflect the units’ function or at the main weapon.  Units too difficult to depict are represented by a box with corresponding abbreviations inside. In case it belonged to a particular arm, the arms symbol could be placed on top of or within this box. Where various modifiers applied, these were all added to the symbol.

An example is the Motorized Light Combat Engineer Company, KStN 714. It is represented:

German Motorized Engineer Company

This represents a company with three engineer platoons. The double arrow on top signifies engineering. The circles at the lower corners represent wheels, indicating this company is motorized.

Each of the three platoons have 9 light machine guns. The “le” at the bottom means that each platoon is light. Note the thickened line at the left. This is an indicator of a company structure.

Sometimes the box is divided by platoons or sections, but this could also be companies. It depends on the context. Usually a number is set below a weapon’s symbol, indicating the quantity in that unit. The ordinal numbering is from right to left, so that the platoon on the far right would normally be 1st Zug (Platoon) and then to the left, the 2nd and 3rd.

The tables of symbols are much greater than what is presented in this primer. But once you understand the system concept, using these additional references is easier.

On maps, like the German Situation Maps, headquater symbols are mostly used. However, the Wehrmacht also detailed their units according to composition with “Kriegsgleiderung” drawings.

Kriegs = war, and gleiderung = members. Or in other words, it was the membership or composition of a larger unit represented by a drawing called a “Kriegsgliderung.” Most divisions had their own specific Kriegsgliderung.

Such a representation is shown below for the 110. Schützen-Regiment (motorisiert) or 110th Motorized Infantry Regiment:

German Motorized Infantry Regiment

The Regiment Headquarters, KStN 103c has the signal platoon and armored car section. There were also trucks and motorcycles. (Shown at bottom.)

There are two battalions, I. and II. The Battalion Headquarters, KStN 115c has a signal detachment and some trucks and motorcycles.

The first Battalion has three motorized infantry companies, KStN 138c. Note that each company has twelve light machine guns and three 50mm mortars. These are represented by the box symbol.

To the left of the companies box there is a mixed machine gun company, KStN 161c with eight MG and six 81mm mortars. (There are two MG platoons, each with two sections of two guns each.)

Going further left is the Heavy Company, KStN 1121, with two 75mm infantry guns, three 37mm anti-tank guns and one light machine gun, and an engineer platoon, with three light machine guns.

This is the Kriegsgliederung for the 110. Motorized Infantry Regiment.

German Infantry Mountain Engineer Units

German Mobile Units

German Artillery Units

Marshall Semyon Mikhailovich Budyonny

One of Stalin’s favorite generals, Budyonny, was associated with the cavalry forces. He was a highly successful commander in WWI and the Russian Civil War. However, during Operation Barbarossa, he commanded the Southwestern Front, which had disatrous encirclements, resulting in 1.5 million Red Army soldiers killed or taken prisoner. He was blamed for many of Stalin’s military strategic errors, but was retained in the Stavka command because of political connections and popularity.

Budyonny was born into a peasant family near the town of Salsk in the Don Cossack region, on  25 April, 1883. Although growing up in a Cossack region, Budyonny was not a Cossack. His parents came from Voronezh province, and were ethnic Russians. He worked as a farm labourer, shop errand boy, blacksmith’s apprentice, and steam-threshing driver.

In 1903, he was drafted into the Imperial Russian Army, where he became a cavalryman in the 46th Cossack Regiment. After fighting in the Russo-Japanese War, he attended the Academy for Cavalry Officers in St. Petersburg.

During World War I, Budyonny was the 5th Squadron’s non-commissioned troop officer in the Christian IX of Denmark 18th Seversky Dragoon Regiment, Caucasian Cavalry Division on the Western Front. He became famous for his attack on a German supply column near Brzezina, and was awarded the St. George Cross.

He received the St. George Cross, 3rd class, fighting the Turks near Mendelij. He won several other awards as a result of some of his exploits.

After the fall of the Tsarist regime in 1917, Budyonny was elected chairman of the squadron committee and a member of the regimental committee. When the Caucasian Cavalry Division was moved to Minsk, he was elected chairman of the regimental committee and deputy chairman of the divisional committee. He quickly rose in the ranks, getting increasingly higher commands, and ultimately became the commander of the 1st Cavalry Army during the Russian Civil War.

The 1st Cavalry Army played an important role in winning the Civil War for the Bolsheviks, driving the White General, Anton Denikin back from Moscow. Budyonny joined the Bolshevik party in 1919 and formed close relationships with Stalin and Voroshilov.

From 1921-1923, Budyonny was deputy commander of the North Caucasian Military District. He spent a great amount of time and effort in the organization and management of equestrian facilities and developing new breeds of horses.

The same year, he was also appointed assistant commander of the Red Army’s cavalry. In 1924, he became Inspector of Cavalry in the Red Army. Budyonny graduated from the Frunze Military Academy in 1932. In 1935, Budyonny was made one of the first five Marshals of the Soviet Union. Three of these five were executed in the Great Purge of the late 1930s, leaving only Budyonny and Voroshilov.

Budyonny was considered a courageous and colourful cavalry officer, but displayed disdain for the tools of modern warfare, particularly tanks, which he viewed as “incapable of ever replacing cavalry.”

During the Great Purge of 1937, the NKVD came to interrogate and arrest Budyonny. He was armed with a service Nagant M1895 revolver, and called Stalin to demand the agents leave him alone. Stalin complied and the event was not discussed again, and Budyonny survived the purge.

In July-September 1941, Budyonny was Commander-in-Chief of the Southwestern Front, facing the German invasion of Ukraine. Operating under strict orders from Stalin, (who micromanaged the war,) to not retreat under any circumstances. Budyonny’s forces were surrounded at Uman and the Battle of Kiev. The disasters which followed the encirclement cost the Soviet Union 1.5 million men killed or taken prisoner. This was one of the largest encirclements in military history.

Stalin replaced Budyonny with Semyon Timoshenko, and was then put in charge of the Reseve Front.

He held other posts during WWII, including Cavalry Inspector of the Red Army. One of his contributions was the development of the Cavalry-Mechanized group, which consisted of a cavalry corps reinforced with a mechanized corps. These were useful in the later war years.

In the post WWII era,  he became a renowned horse breeder, creating a breed that is still kept in large numbers in Russia, the Budyonny horse, which is famous for its high performance.

He was frequently commemorated for his bravery in many popular Soviet military songs, including The Red Cavalry song (Konarmieyskaya) and The Budyonny March. The stylized woolen hat, called the Budenovka, was part of the early Red Army uniform, and named after Budyonny. He was allowed to retire as a Hero of the Soviet Union, and provided a Dacha at Bakovka outside of Moscow. Finally, he died on 26 October 1973.

Budyonny Group Picture

Budyonny (Right front) and his 1st Cavalry Army officers. Note the Budenovka “helmets”


“German World War II Organizational Series”, Leo W.G. Niehorster

” Semyon Budyonny”, Wikipedia

Campaign Series East Front III | Marshall Budyonny's Dacha

Marshall Semyon M. Budyonny

Marshall Budyonny’s Dacha is the latest series of articles by David Galster that will cover various aspects of scenario design, and some key historical points for Campaign Series: East Front III.



Marshall Budyonny’s Dacha #4: Situation Maps

Campaign Series East Front III | Marshall Budyonny's Dacha

My fellow Vsadniks,

Were you aware that the German OKW produced maps of the entire east front, every day, showing  positions of major units? And, did you know that you can download these scanned maps, and use them for research?

Situation Map Background

The “situation” maps were called “Lage Ost” maps and made between June 1939 and May 1945. This is a highly significant and unique source of documentation for the 1939 Polish campaign and the Soviet-German war, 1941-45. These maps, which number approximately 2075, and were prepared for daily use by Oberkommando der Wehrmacht, OKW. They detailed dispositions and movement of German forces and their opponents.

In 1999-2000, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) filmed these records in the format of 20.32 x 25.4 cm color transparencies. Negatives and reference prints were retained by NARA, while original maps were returned to the Bundesarchiv in Koblenz, Germany. Fortunately, these have been digitized, and are now available through a website: More on this later.

The wall-sized maps were first printed  by the Mapping and Survey Branch (Abteilung fur Kriegskarten und Vermessungswesen,) and then, annotated by OKH’s Operation Branch (Operationsabteilung) to indicate specific headquarters and unit locations. New maps were prepared daily, as staff officers collated radio and teletype reports from front-line commands to indicate advances, withdrawals, or other changes in locations and shifting geographic boundaries.

The maps were sent to OKW’s Operations Staff (Wehrmachtfuhringstab) for their use in following daily military developments on the Eastern Front. At times, Adolf Hitier personally reviewed these in consultation with his generals. The approximate size of the originals varied from 193 x 193 cm to 152 x 243 cm.

The map annotations are in German, as are transliteration of Slavic place names (e.g. “Wilno” for Vilnius, “Woronesh” for Voronezh.) Knowledge of German is helpful. German and enemy command headquarters are shown by standard German Army tactical symbols. The NARA document: German Military Situation Maps provides additional technical information on the maps, and some history of their capture and exploitation by the US Army.

Sample Maps

An overall view of one of these wall-sized maps is shown here.

Lage Ost Map

Wall-sized Situation Map 26 June 1941

A “zoom-in” of a specific section of a situation map is shown here. This provides some details on the battle around Smolensk on 15 July 1941.

Map around Smolensk

Screenshot of Situation Map around Smolensk 15 July 1941

From this map, the locations of various divisions, like the German 20. Pz (blue color) or the Red Army 37th and 82nd Tank Divisions are visible.(Shown in red color.) Locations of the 2. Panzergruppe HQ is visible. (It is near Gorki.) The Red Army Western Front HQ is shown in Smolensk, but fleeing to the northeast. The next screenshot shows the resolution possible (The total map filesize is 86 MB).

Higher Resolution screenshot

Higher Resolution screenshot showing location of 2. PzGruppe HQ near Gorki

These are screenshots from the MS Paint software display of the files. Most of these files are in the *.tif format. The software program Paint is useful for viewing these as it allows various zoom levels.

Downloading Situation Map Files

The website where these maps can be obtained is This is a specialized server, and can be accessed only by pasting the following URL into a browser address bar:

After pressing the keyboard “enter” key, this website should appear. Here is a screenshot:

FTP Server Lagekarten

Screenshot website

Next select the directory Lage Ost, by left clicking on the link Lage Ost. Do not right click or attempt to open this in another tab or window at any time when working with this server. This will redirect and get off track. The next directory shows options for various years, 1941, 42, 43, 44, and 45. Army Group Weichsel 1945 is also shown.

Again, left click on the Lage Ost 1941 option, and the directories for the months June to December 1941 are shown. Left click on the month of your choice. For example, when June is selected, the screen will show the following:


FTP Server Lagekarten Daily

Daily June 1941 Situation Map Choices

The daily map of your choice can be downloaded by left clicking on the appropriate link. These maps have large filesize, shown on to the left of each link. They vary from 34 to 96 MB. Download times could take several minutes up to perhaps a half hour, depending on your internet service.

After downloading to the folder of your choice, the TIF graphic map file can be opened in MS Paint or some other suitable graphic software.


“Guide to German Military Situation Maps – “LAGE OST” (Eastern Theater), 1939-1945,” NARA

This can be downloaded from

Campaign Series East Front III | Marshall Budyonny's Dacha

Marshall Semyon M. Budyonny

Marshall Budyonny’s Dacha is the latest series of articles by David Galster that will cover various aspects of scenario design, and some key historical points for Campaign Series: East Front III.


Marshall Budyonny’s Dacha #3: Cyrillic Transliteration

Marshall Budyonny’s Dacha #2:Campaign Series East Front III | Marshall Budyonny's Dacha

My fellow Vsadniks,

Do some of our western comrades panic when they encounter text like Смоленск? Well, there is no need to, Смоленск  = Smolensk. Cyrillic is an alphabet used by millions of people in Russia and Eastern Europe. This article provides historical background, and some easy ways to transliterate into Latin letters.

Saint Cyril

For their work evangelizing the Slavs, the brothers Cyril and Methodius are known as the “Apostles to the Slavs.” To help spread the gospel, they translated the Bible into a 9th century language, “Old Church Slavonic,” developing the Glagolitic alphabet for this purpose.

The Glagolitic alphabet was the first to be used for Slavonic manuscripts. But, a simpler alphabet evolved, and early Cyrillic emerged in the First Bulgarian Empire. Later, disciples Kliment and Naum finalized it under a commission of Tsar Boris I of Bulgaria. Cyrillic supplanted the Glagolitic alphabet, and more closely resembles Greek.

Manual Transliteration

Systems exist to covert Cyrillic in to Latin-style letters. The the International Scholarly System was the first, and developed in the 19th Century. The Soviets developed a system in 1935, and later GOST 16876-71 was developed by the National Administration for Geodesy and Cartography at the USSR Council of Ministers.

Using a manual table is a useful way to become familiar with Cyrillic, making sight recognition easier. This is especially useful when working with Russian maps. In the Campaign Series map editor, Cyrillic symbols do not work. If you try to use them for map labels, they will show up as question marks, like “?????”. To represent Russian place names, Cyrillic letters must be transliterated.

The following table is useful for transliteration for Russian maps made in the pre-WWII era and a few decades after. Simply find the Cyrillic symbol in the table, and get the corresponding English letter on the right hand side.

Notice that certain symbols act functionally like accent marks or apostrophes, and indicate proper usage or pronunciation of a preceding letter. For example Ь is transliterated as ‘, and Ъ as “. The letter Ь indicates that the preceding consonant is pronounced in “soft” manner, and Ъ as hard. It is important to include these ‘ and ” symbols in the transliterated word.

Cyrillic Transliteration Table

Cyrillic Transliteration Table

Online Cyrillic Transliteration

Don’t worry my dear Vsadniks, I know you are “chomping-at-the-bits” to find an easier way to handle Cyrillic. The Google translation program automatically shows the Latin transliteration along with the Cyrillic Russian text.

Google Translate Example

The text circled in blue is the transliteration of the Cyrillic Russian text above. And, you can highlight this text and copy for pasting into a document, or perhaps a map label.

Google translate can be accessed via the Google search engine, by clicking the little Google Apps icon in the upper right of the screen. It looks like:

Google Button

Click on this and a selection of Apps appear. The translate option is at the bottom.

In the case of graphic file map symbols that aren’t easily highlighted and copied, there is an online webpage for transliteration. It allows one to type in the Cyrillic characters using a special keyboard, and then these can be transliterated. The website link is:

Here is a screenshot of what this looks like:

Translit Website

The Cyrillic letters are typed by clicking the dark highlighted symbols in the “Russian Virtual Keyboard.” Once finished, click on the “Latin” button and the transliterated text appears. For example, if you click on Latin, then the word “Smolensk” appears.

And as an added feature, the “Do more” pulldown menu allows options for spell check, searching, and translating into English, German, French or Spanish.

A few Wargaming Translations

Some common Russian words and their translations follow:

РККА  =  RKKA for  Raboche Kriestianskaya Krasnaya Armiya or Workers and Peasants Red Army

CCCP = SSSR for Sojuz Sovetskih Socialisticheskih Respublik  or USSR

армия  = armiya = army

корпус = korpus = corps

дивизия = diviziya = division

полк = polk = regiment

батальон = batal’on = battalion

Генеральная = General’naya = general

полковник = polkovnik = colonel


“Saints Cyril and Methodius”, Wikipedia

” Romanization of Russian”, Wikipedia

“Romanization Systems and Roman Script Spelling Conventions”, US Board Geographic Names

Campaign Series East Front III | Marshall Budyonny's Dacha

Marshall Semyon M. Budyonny

Marshall Budyonny’s Dacha is the latest series of articles by David Galster that will cover various aspects of scenario design, and some key historical points for Campaign Series: East Front III.


Marshall Budyonny’s Dacha #2: Russian Military Maps

Campaign Series East Front III | Marshall Budyonny's Dacha

My fellow Vsadniks,

Finding suitable maps to make EFIII battle maps is quite tricky, but this article describes some tips to get suitable reference maps.

Russian Military Maps

The former Soviet Union made a great effort to create maps all over the world. These maps are useful for wargaming, particularly for the Barbarossa campaign. The best maps for Campaign Series are the 1:100000 or 1:50000 scale. Fortunately, these maps are reasonably well available. The system for identifying these maps is the International Maps of the World, IMW coding.

IMW System

The Soviet topographic sheets follow the International Map of the World (IMW) numbering system. In the Northern Hemisphere the numbering system begins at the Equator, and the 180° meridian with sheet number A1. Sheet numbers progress northward and eastward in letters,  and numbers respectively. The individual sheets cover 4° of latitude and 6° of longitude. Example: Sheet M36 is located between 48° and 52° north latitude and 30° to 36° east longitude.

The most useful sheets for Campaign Series mapmaking are the 1:100000 and 1:50000 scale. These also are in the Transverse Mercator projection, and have a rectangular grid system in kilometers. Using these grids is more “user friendly” for mapmaking than geographic coordinates, like latitude and longitude.

A 1:100000 sheet (100k) is identified by this IMW format: M36-18. The last number is a subdivision of the larger 4×6 degree area. Each 100k sheet is one of 144.

M-36 Map Grid

Further, each 1:100000 sheet area is divided into four 1:50000 sheets, (50k) each covering  10′ of latitude and 15′ of longitude.

M-36-18 Map Grid

In Russian (Cyrillic) the subdivision letters are A, Б, В, and Г. However some map websites use Roman letters A, B, C, and D. This needs to be kept in mind when searching for maps on the internet.

The ultimate IMW code for this 50k map is M36-18- Г, M36-18-D.

An IMW conversion spreadsheet is useful for finding the map number from geometric coordinates.

For example, in this spreadsheet, enter a geographic coordinate, 51.4N, and 32.8E. The spreadsheet will display the code M, 36, 18, and Г. The spreadsheet is shown below:

Map Conversian Table

With this IMW code M36-18- Г, a mapmaker can do an internet search to get the map.You can download the spreadsheet from here.

Map Websites

Virtually all Eastern Europe and former Soviet Union maps can be found at this webpage: The scale selection for 100k maps is 1 cm = 1 km. A large graphic map index is provided, and by selecting a square, it gives the IMW code and the correct map can be found.

Another way is to use a search engine and use the keywords: Map 100k–M36-18 (Yes, do use the double dash after 100k, it finds it more easily.) This webpage requires a three letter “Captcha” and allows users to download either a *.jpg, or sometimes a *.gif file. The webpage sometimes offers 50k maps

These maps on loadmap are more recent, from the 1970s and 80s. And for Campaign Series mapmaking, a 1:50000 scale is optimal. The language is Russian, using Cyrillic alphabet.

For older maps and 50k scale, this website has maps made by the Red Army:

This is how this website appears:

Index of Russian Maps

These maps feature a Transverse Mercator grid system, in 1 km increments. The timeframe is 1930s and early 40s, which is perfect for WWII battle maps. This website does not have much coverage as the loadmap site, but has a large number of maps. Also, the Parent Directory has maps in other scales. These maps are in the Russian language using Cyrillic alphabet.

German 50k maps of Russia also exist. The website that features these is:

These maps also have Transverse Mercator grid system, in 1 km increments, and a 1930s-early 40s timeframe. The language is in German.

Index of German Maps

Map Samples

1:100000 map section

Map Sample 1:100000

1:50000 Map Sample

Map Sample 1:50000


The IMW map system is useful for identifying maps of Russia. A spreadsheet that converts geographic coordinates to an IMW code is helpful as well and is downloadable from the CS Legion site. There are several good websites where decent maps can be obtained.


“Soviet military topographic maps Chapter 1,” USSR Chief Administration of Geodesy and Cartography

Campaign Series East Front III | Marshall Budyonny's Dacha

Marshall Semyon M. Budyonny

Marshall Budyonny’s Dacha is the latest series of articles by David Galster that will cover various aspects of scenario design, and some key historical points for Campaign Series: East Front III.