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Antonov, Aleksei (Jack Barter)

Brief biography:
Aleksei Antonov was a Red Army staffer in the Soviet Union who saw prominence in the Great
Patriotic War. Born in Grodno, Belarus, in 1896 and son of a Tsarist artillery commander, he
found himself studying mathematics and science at the University of Petrograd in 1915. Seeing
action in the First World War on the side of the Russian Empire and on the side of the Bolsheviks
in the Civil War he became involved in military staff work.
He served as high-ranking staffer for many Military Districts prior to the Great Patriotic War and
in 1941 became the Chief of Staff of the Southern Front, which he helped establish that same
year. By 1945 he had become Chief of the General Staff of the Red Army, the highest ranking
staff position the Soviet Union had to offer at the time. It was during this time that he became
acquainted with the top Generals in the country, Zhukov, Rokossovsky, Vasilievsky and Konev.
After the war ended he continued his staffing work, being demoted to only Deputy Chief of the
General Staff, and at the death of Stalin in 1953 was Commander of the Transcaucasian Military
District, a position he held until his death in 1962.

Biographical analysis:
One of the most interesting things about Antonov is his separation between work and home. He
published no memoirs of the Great Patriotic War and the only people who knew of his family life
were those he personally invited to his own home. He took his work seriously and carried it out
professionally, failing to form clear alliances with other professionals despite the opportunity
clearly being there. It could be said that these are the ideals of Stalinist Russia, that oppositions
and alliances rather than a dedication to Stalin himself was reason for suspicion. One could claim
that it was his coming of age during the Revolution that produced this ideal character for the
times, however his colleagues in Zhukov, Rokossovsky and Konev were seen as suspicious

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immediately after the death of Stalin, thus it could be seen as a fluke that Antonov was a strictly
professional worker.
Antonov's pursuance of higher education before and after the Revolution, albeit with some help
from the Soviet Government after, portrays him as the ideal Soviet citizen. However his
education alone cannot be attributed to the work of the Communist Party and their policies.
Antonov was already heading towards being educated at the highest level, but there was a lack
of resources that cut his studies short. Unfortunately sources fail to clarify whether it was a lack
of monetary resources on his part or lack of study resources available to the University.
Nevertheless, Antonov would arguably have been educated with or without the Revolution.
Russia was going to industrialise eventually, but the Revolution and Soviet Regime's goal was to
reach that goal and be on par with Western European countries. Thus the lack of resources in
Antonov's education was counter-balanced by Soviet compulsory education and ensured that
Antonov reached his goals with the guide of the new regime.

Another interesting finding about Antonov is the lack of information on his own political views,
which implies that he was apolitical. If this was the case then it could explain how he managed to
avoid suspicion and trouble with high-up Party officials. Often people who voiced their political
views were seen as being suspicious if they opposed Stalin's views and could end up being
executed or imprisoned. One General Shtemenko described Antonov as being the perfect
example of a professional at work and a hospitable human being at home. Antonov certainly
seems to have been unaffected by the purges under Stalin, as both of his parents died before the
Revolution, his first wife died after Stalin's death and he failed to strike up alliances with
colleagues in the military and Party. Perhaps he was aware that being political in a country where
you could be imprisoned or executed for holding different views was not a good idea and thus
decided to avoid the consequences.

A topic that probably connects more to the previous paragraph is Antonov's ambition to rise to
the top of the military command. It seems that he could have stayed being Chief of the General
Staff for longer, had Vasilievsky not seemed the more attractive option. Vasilievsky was forced to
command Fronts int he Far East as well as Prussia. There must have been something about
Antonov that made him the unattractive option when it came to choosing a Chief of the General
Staff. If it wasn't political views, perhaps it was Antonov's ambition, which does not seem to take
up the foreground in common knowledge about him.

Additional information:

Full name: Aleksei Innokentevich Antonov


Year of birth: 1896
Ethnic background: Kryashen (sub-group of Tatars; differentiated by religion) - pronounced "ke-
re-shen" "Stalin wanted to give it a Marshal for the abandonment of the Tatar nation, to which
categorically said Antonov - No!" - Implies Antonov's defensiveness when it came to his ethnicity.

Religion: Orthodox Christianity (probably)

Class background: Tsarist officer - "His father served as battery commander of the 26th Artillery
Brigade in a small fortress garrison."

Before World War 1: He was born in Grodno (now in western Belarus) on the 15th of
September 1896 (Julian calendar- Gregorian calendar adjustment to compare with Australian
dates: 3rd September 1896). His father a commander of an artillery brigade and his mother a
housewife. In 1904 the family moved to Ostrog ((Ostroh) now in western Ukraine) when his father
was transferred there. Alexei began school there at 8 years of age.

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In 1908 his father died before Alexei's 12th birthday. At the eruption of World War One in 1914,
Alexei and his mother moved to Petrograd, where she had relatives. She died in 1915..
World War 1: August 1914-February 1917: Alexei graduated from High School in Petrograd
and passed the entrance exams to attend the University of Petrograd in 1915. He studied
Physics and Mathematics until his family could no longer afford to keep him there. Then he went
to work in a "plant", supposedly an industrial factory as it is unclear what he did during that
period. He was conscripted into the military and trained at Pavlovsk Military School. He was
rushed through training and finished in December, enrolling in a Chasseur regiment.
Extra: In between the February Revolution and the official beginning of the Russian Civil
War. One source claims: Antonov participated in the Kerensky offensive and was wounded in
battle, he was awarded the Order of Courage for his efforts and that he served under Kornilov
during the revolt. On May the 1st, 1918, his regiment in the Royal Army was dissolved and so he
stayed in reserve. During his time in reserve he worked in food and hospitality for the Petrograd
committee. One source claims he was an office employee, citing the Great Soviet Encyclopedia.
Russian Civil War (1918-1921): Enlisting in the Red Army in 1918-1919 (sources disagree),
Antonov served as a chief of staff/"assistant to the regimental adjutant". The invasions by the
White Armies provoked him to defend Russia, not necessarily for any particular army. He served
in the "First Moscow working" and then the Inzensky 15th division ("in staff positions"). His
division claimed victories in Lugansk, Liska, Valuiki, Volchansky, Korotoyak, Rostov-on-don and
Azov. In March 1920 they defeated General Anton Denikin's troops in the North Caucasus and
the White Guards in Novorossiysk. They defeated Baron Pyotr Nikolayevich Wrangel's troops
invading from the Crimea and finally, in November, defeated a White Army in the Crimea after
crossing the Sivash.
New Economic Policy (1921-1928): During this time Antonov spent most of his time studying on
how to improve the strength of the Red Army. He was focused on the militaristic, political and
communal aspects of life in the Soviet Union. By 1928 he had been accepted into the party and
was a key student in the Frunze Military Academy, named after the General who defeated Baron
Wrangel in the Crimea during the Civil War. Antonov is believed to have served under Frunze at
that time.

While studying, his talent for military affairs was revealed alongside his tendency to analyse and
conduct research. He learned to speak French fluently (and thus became qualified as a
translator) and developed a strong body with good shooting skills. His mental, verbal and
physical skills all attracted the attention of his higher-ups.
1928-1941: In 1931 he graduated from Frunze Military Academy. "Excellent operational staff
worker. Ready to work in the higher headquarters" were the words of his Chief Commissioner
Georgy Samoilovich Isserson, who would go on to become a great writer in the Soviet Union. He
served as Chief of Staff in the 46th Infantry Division and later Head of Department Staff in the
Kharkov Military District. In 1933 he graduated from the operations faculty of Frunze Military
Academy. He continued to study military strategy and organisation despite the full workload that
his official position gave him. In 1936 the District Command sent him to work at a new military
education institution as a teacher. In 1937 he graduated from the Academy of the General Staff.
From 1937-1938, Antonov served as Chief of Staff of the Moscow Military District. From
1936/1938 to 1940 he was a teacher.

Great Patriotic War (1941-1945): Antonov involved himself in the effort to create a large, trained
military force to fight the invading Nazis with at the beginning of the war. He was made Chief of
Staff of the Kiev Special Military District. He led an effort to create a Southern Front to defend
against the Nazis and was rewarded with the appointment of Chief of Staff of the Southern
Caucasus Front in August 1941. In July 1942 he was made Chief of Staff of the North Caucasus
and later of the Caucasian Front. He made his orders clear and organised as well as well-
informed. He involved the assistance of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Soviet
Union throughout much of his military activities during the war. By December 1942 he was the
Chief of Staff of the Transcaucasian Front.

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In December 1942, he was appointed Chief of Operations as well as Deputy Chief of Staff of the
Red Army, Deputy to Vasilevsky who was forced to attend the Fronts much of the time. Antonov
began to see Stalin often, reporting of the war's progress. HIstorian Richard Overy, in 'Why the
Allies won' (1997), describes Antonov as being calm, organised and a careful planner. In the
same work, Marshal Zhukov claimed Antonov was 'a master at presenting material'. Zhukov and
Antonov would argue with Stalin over how to deal with certain battles, but being the experts were
able to get Stalin to agree with them. The Battle of Kursk was largely the result of Antonov's
work. Unlike most operations officials, Antonov attended to Fronts less than most, but in January
1943 he did, after being convinced that observing the movement of troops was good for
improving his skills in General Staff. He was also involved in organising the invasions of Poland
(1944) and Berlin (1945), cabling most of his orders from Moscow. In February 1945 he became
the Chief of the General Staff. For the most part, Antonov's role was drawing up maps, keeping
up to date on the Soviet war effort (so that he could inform others) and signing paperwork
whenever the Chief of the General Staff was absent (due to Front attendance).

He was a Soviet representative at the Yalta and Potsdam conferences in 1944 and 1945
respectively. Stalin chose him because he was able to keep track of the Soviet plans and overall
war effort. He knew what the Allies wanted to do and how interactions were going between the
Soviet Union and them.

Antonov also was involved in negotiations over the invasion of Korea and the occupation of
Yugoslavia.
He was awarded an Order of Victory for "participation in the development of the decisive war
operations".

Official positions:

1915-1918 - Chasseur regiment conscript for the Russian Imperial Army.


1918-1933 - Red Army regimental Chief of Staff.

1933-1937 - Head of Department Staff of the Karkhov Military District.

1937-1938 - Chief of Staff of the Moscow Military District.


1941-1942 - Chief of Staff of the South Caucasus Front.
July 1942-Dec 1942 - Chief of Staff of the North Caucasus Front.
Dec 1942 - Chief of Staff of the Trans-Caucasian Front.

Dec 1942-Feb 1945 - Chief of Operations and Deputy Chief of the General Staff.

Feb 1945-March 1946 - Chief of the General Staff

Wiki character relationships:


Vasilievsky - Presented his three Orders of Lenin.
Zhukov - Kept close contact with him because of his ability to keep up to date with military
information.
Yakovlev - Had things to say about him and his relationship with Stalin and his ability as a Chief
of Staff.
Shaposhnikov (2018 character) - Also a representative of the Stavka of the Supreme Council.
Konev - Described as companions with him.

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Rokossovsky - Involved in organising the Second Baltic Front with him and others.

Novikov - Involved in organising the Second Baltic Front with him and others.
Bagramyan (2018 character) - involved in organising the Second Baltic Front with him and
others.

Other Antonov's:

 Aleksandr S. Antonov: In the 'Russian Civil War' by A. Sumpf for the Online International
Encyclopedia of the First World War, the war ended while Aleksei Antonov was fighting the
forces of General Mikhail Tukhachevensky, but he was defeated in July 1921, leading a
Green Army. The confusion here is that it was Aleksandr S. Antonov, Socialist Revolutionary,
and not Aleksei Antonov, future Chief of General Staff, that was fighting Tukhachevensky.
 Alexey Antonov: Deputy Premier of the Soviet Union (19 December 1980- 1 October 1988).
It is best to note that when researching General Aleksei Antonov, check the year discussed,
as General Aleksei Antonov was long since deceased by the 1980s, and this Antonov only
saw prominence in the 1980s and perhaps the early years of Putin's Presidency of the
Russian Federation.

Bibliography:

1. Ethnocultural Internet-server of the Kryashens, 'The


Kryashens', http://www.kryashen.ru/engl/eng.php (Links to an external site.)(Note: translated
using Mozilla Firefox add-on based on Google Translate)
2. Public organization of veterans (disabled) war and military service of the Republic of
Tatarstan, 'Army General Alexei Innokentevich
Antonov', http://www.tatveteran.ru/generaly/?id=144 (Links to an external site.) (Note:
translated using Mozilla add-on based on Google Translate)
3. Dowling, T. (2014), Russia at War: From the Mongol Conquest to Afghanistan, Chechnya,
and
Beyond, https://books.google.com.au/books?id=KTq2BQAAQBAJ&pg=PA40&dq=russia+at+
war+aleksei+antonov&hl=en&sa=X&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=russia%20at%20war%20al
eksei%20antonov&f=false (Links to an external site.), pp 40-41.
4. American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies (1962), The Current Digest of
the Soviet Press, Vol
14, https://books.google.com.au/books?id=Y_URAAAAIAAJ&dq=soviet+general+aleksei+ant
onov&focus=searchwithinvolume&q=
5. Sumpf, A. (2014), Russian Civil War, 1914 1918 Online International Encyclopedia of the
First World War, http://encyclopedia.1914-1918-online.net/article/russian_civil_war (Links to
an external site.), Viewed 17 August 2016.
6. http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Battle_of_Kursk (Links to an external site.) New
World Encyclopedia - tons of references that look good.
7. http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/people_antonov_aleksei.html (Links to an external
site.) article says he wasn't particularly useful to Stalin.
8. http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/battles_berlin.html (Links to an external site.) article that
describes the Battle of Berlin and Antonov's role in it.
9. http://encyclopedia2.thefreedictionary.com/Aleksei+Antonov (Links to an external site.) article
cites Great Soviet Encyclopedia.
10. https://zamos.ru/dossier/a/4367/ (Links to an external site.) Zamoskvorechye District (thus
Moscow Military District) history newspaper

Primary Source: http://marshallfoundation.org/library/digital-archive/to-general-of-the-army-


alexey-i-antonov1/ (Links to an external site.) correspondence between an American officer and
Antonov.