General Patton stuns Marshall Zhukov into silence

October 29, 2012

General Patton and Marshall Zhukov reviewing Allied troops in Berlin, 1945.

Pat Merle-Smith has told me of what took place during a second Berlin visit in the first week of September 1945. “The Russians were putting on a military review for all four occupying powers. [General Patton] was seated next to Marshal Zhukov and I, naturally, was with the standees a few rows below. I heard quite clearly what was said when some huge Soviet tanks passed by. ‘My dear General Patton, you see that tank, it carries a cannon which can throw a shell seven miles.’ Patton answered, ‘Indeed?’ Well, my dear Marshal Zhukov, let me tell you this, if any of my gunners started firing at your people before they had closed to less than seven hundred yards I’d have them court-martialed for cowardice.’ It was the first time I saw a Russian commander stunned into silence.”

Fred Ayer, Jr. Before the Colors Fade: Portrait of a Soldier George S. Patton, Jr. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1964), p. 245.

Short Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 225


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