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General Aleksei I. Antonov, 1896-1962

General Aleksei I. Antonov, 1896-1962


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General Aleksei I. Antonov, 1896-1962

General Aleksei I. Antonov was a Soviet general who rose to be Head of Operations and Deputy Chief of Staff of the Red Army from 1942 to 1945. The son of a Tsarist artillery officer, Antonov joined the Red Army after the revolution, attending the Frunze Military Academy in 1921. In 1941-42 he served as the Chief of Staff for the South and North Caucasus Front and then the Transcaucasus Front, before being appointed as General Vasilevsky's representative in Moscow. His first stint in Moscow was not a success, for Stalin was said to dislike him, and so he was posted to the Voronezh Front.

Antonov performed so well there that he was recalled to Moscow as Chief of Operations in December 1942, under Vasilevsky, who was now Chief of Staff. In April 1943 Antonov was also appointed First Deputy Chief of Staff, although as Vasilevsky spent nearly two thirds of his time at the fronts, Antonov often acted as Chief of Staff himself, although he did not officially receive that post until February 1945, when Vasilevsky was posted to command the Third Belorussian Front.

Antonov's main duty as deputy Chief of Staff was to liaise between Stalin and the Front commanders. He was also responsible for planning Operation Bagration, and to some extent the Berlin campaign of 1945. He proved to be a very able staff officer, capable of producing detailed accurate plans, and also of coping with Stalin. From 1944 he also acted as the chief Soviet spokesman, performing that role at the Moscow Conference and at Potsdam. He served as Chief of Staff from February 1945 until March 1946.


Career [ edit ]

Born in Grodno in a family of Kryashen Ώ] ΐ] ethnicity as the son of an artillery officer of the Imperial Russian Army, Α] Antonov graduated from Frunze Military Academy in 1921 and joined the Red Army during the Russian Civil War. He became an instructor at Frunze Military Academy in 1938.

In 1941, Antonov became chief of staff for the Soviet Southwestern Front and Southern Front. In December 1942 he became Deputy Chief General Staff of the combined Soviet forces and Head of the Operations Directorate, a pivotal role within the Stavka. Β] In fact, A. I. Antonov was effective leader of the Soviet General Staff since chief of staff A. M. Vasilevsky was usually absent due to his frequent frontline missions as Stavka representative. As a result, Stavka relieved Antonov of his position in Operational Directorate, so that Antonov could fully concentrate in the leadership in the General Staff. In February 1945, Vasilevsky was appointed as the commander of 3rd Belarusian Front, and Antonov finally became the formal leader of Soviet General Staff. Γ] In spite of his key role in the Red Army's ultimate victory, he was never named a Marshal of the Soviet Union.

Richard Overy writes of him at this time:

Vasilevsky came to rely on one subordinate above all others: the chief of operations, General Aleksei Antonov. [. ] On December 11 [1942] the forty-six-year-old Antonov stepped into the role which was more directly exposed to Stalin's inquisitive leadership than any other. Antonov rose to the challenge. Instead of rushing off to report to Stalin when he arrived in Moscow, he spent the first week familiarizing himself thoroughly with the General Staff and the state of the front. Only when he was fully primed did he go to see his commander. The two men developed the most effective working relationship of the war. Antonov displayed a calm intelligence married to a massive energy and exceptional industry. According to his deputy, General Sergei Shtemenko, Antonov never lost his temper or allowed circumstances to get the better of him. He was firm, caustic, slow to praise and a tough taskmaster, but the rigorous regimen that he imposed on his staff won their respect. Above all he was adept at manipulating Stalin. He did not sugar-coat his reports. He was prepared to stand up to Stalin with what his deputy regarded as a 'brave outspokenness'. So skilled was he at providing the evening situation reports concisely and accurately that even Zhukov bowed to his capability and allowed Antonov to present them in his place. The trust that Stalin came to place in Antonov was reflected in his survivability. He retained his office until February 1945, when he was made chief of staff in Vasilevsky's place. Δ]

By 1944 Antonov was Chief Spokesman and was present at the Moscow, Yalta and Potsdam Conferences. At the Yalta Conference he briefed the Western Allies on co-ordinating military actions, Ε] and by stressing how the Allies could aid Soviets through bombing lines of communications contributed to the Dresden raid. Ζ]

After the war Antonov became Deputy Commander-in-Chief and then Commander-in-Chief of the Transcaucasus Military District. In 1955, he became Chief of Staff of the Combined Forces of the Warsaw Pact. He held this post until his death in 1962. Η]


Aleksei Antonov

Born Sept. 15, 1896, in Grodno died June 18, 1962, in Moscow. Soviet general of the army (1943). Member of the CPSU from 1928. Born into the family of an officer. Graduated from the Pavlov Military School (1916).

Antonov served in World War I with the rank of ensign. He was demobilized in May 1918 and worked as an office employee in Petrograd. A member of the Soviet Army from April 1919, he participated in the Civil War as chief of staff of a brigade on the Southern Front. After the Civil War he moved up through the ranks from this post to chief of staff of a military district (1937). He graduated from the Frunze Military Academy in 1931, its operations faculty in 1933, and the Academy of the General Staff in 1937. From 1938 to 1940 he was engaged in teaching. After August 1941, during the Great Patriotic War, Antonov&mdasha highly skilled and talented staff worker&mdashheld the posts of chief of staff of the Southern, Northern Caucasus, and Transcaucasus fronts and the Black Sea group of troops after August 1941. In December 1942 he became first deputy chief of the General Staff, and in February 1945 he became chief of the General Staff. He participated in the Yalta and Potsdam conferences. He served as first deputy chief of the General Staff from March 1946. From 1948 to 1954 he served as first deputy commander and commander of the troops of the Transcaucasus military Okrug. From April 1954 he served as first deputy chief of the General Staff and from May 1955 as chief of staff of the United Armed Forces of the countries of the Warsaw Treaty Organization as well. He was awarded the Order of Victory, three Orders of Lenin, four Orders of the Red Banner, two Orders of Suvorov First Class, Orders of Kutuzov First Class and of the Patriotic War First Class, and 14 foreign orders and medals. He was a deputy at the second to the sixth convocations of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR. He was buried in Red Square.


Antonov, Aleksei

Born Sept. 15, 1896, in Grodno died June 18, 1962, in Moscow. Soviet general of the army (1943). Member of the CPSU from 1928. Born into the family of an officer. Graduated from the Pavlov Military School (1916).

Antonov served in World War I with the rank of ensign. He was demobilized in May 1918 and worked as an office employee in Petrograd. A member of the Soviet Army from April 1919, he participated in the Civil War as chief of staff of a brigade on the Southern Front. After the Civil War he moved up through the ranks from this post to chief of staff of a military district (1937). He graduated from the Frunze Military Academy in 1931, its operations faculty in 1933, and the Academy of the General Staff in 1937. From 1938 to 1940 he was engaged in teaching. After August 1941, during the Great Patriotic War, Antonov&mdasha highly skilled and talented staff worker&mdashheld the posts of chief of staff of the Southern, Northern Caucasus, and Transcaucasus fronts and the Black Sea group of troops after August 1941. In December 1942 he became first deputy chief of the General Staff, and in February 1945 he became chief of the General Staff. He participated in the Yalta and Potsdam conferences. He served as first deputy chief of the General Staff from March 1946. From 1948 to 1954 he served as first deputy commander and commander of the troops of the Transcaucasus military Okrug. From April 1954 he served as first deputy chief of the General Staff and from May 1955 as chief of staff of the United Armed Forces of the countries of the Warsaw Treaty Organization as well. He was awarded the Order of Victory, three Orders of Lenin, four Orders of the Red Banner, two Orders of Suvorov First Class, Orders of Kutuzov First Class and of the Patriotic War First Class, and 14 foreign orders and medals. He was a deputy at the second to the sixth convocations of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR. He was buried in Red Square.


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Primeiros anos Editar

Seu pai, Innokentii Antonov, fillo de militar, era oficial de artillería e súa nai era Teresa Antonova. Por parte de pai era tártaro keräşen [ 2 ] [ 3 ] e a súa nai era polaca, filla dun exiliado enviado a Siberia por participar na revolta de xaneiro (1863-1864). Aleksei naceu na cidade belarusa de Hrodna onde seu pai estaba destinado, foi o segundo fillo da familia, tras a súa irmá máis vella, Liudmila. En 1904 a Innokentii destinárono a Ostroh (Ucraína) e Aleksei estudou na escola da cidade. En 1908 morreu seu pai, e a familia viviu da pensión da nai que completaba dando clases preparatorias a estudantes da localidade. En 1914 logo do comezo da Primeira Guerra Mundial a familia estableceuse en Petrogrado, onde a nai tiña familiares. Ao ano seguinte morreulle a nai.

Primeira guerra mundial e Guerra civil Editar

En 1916 entrou no exército imperial e en decembro tras recibir un curso de adestramento acelerado graduouse na Escola Militar Pavel [ 4 ] con destino como praporshchik no Rexemento de cazadores da Garda. A primeiros de 1917 integrouse no 8º Exército na fronte do suroeste so o mando do xeneral Alexei Kaledin e entrou en combate no verán de 1917 no decurso da ofensiva Kerenskii no sur de Stanislau. Durante a contraofensiva alemá ferírono na cabeza, recuperándose nun hospital en Petrogrado. Polo seu valor recibiu a Orde de Santa Ana de 4º grao [ 5 ] .

En setembro de 1917 participou na construción de estruturas defensivas nos outeiros de Pulkovo, na periferia de Petrogrado, contra o intento de Golpe de Estado de Kornilov, permaneceu en servizo activo logo da revolución de outubro e en marzo de 1918 pasou á reserva para estudar no Instituto Forestal de Petrogrado e asemade traballar no comité local de alimentos. Mais a Guerra civil e a intervención aliada fixo que Antonov volvese ao servizo activo no Exército Vermello en abril de 1919. Cumpriu funcións de oficial de Estado Maior [ 6 ] en diversas unidades en Ucraína.

Entreguerras Editar

En 1931 graduouse na Academia Militar M.V. Frunze [ 7 ] e destinado como xefe de Estado Maior da 46 División de Infantería con sede en Korosten (Ucraína). Entre 1932 e 1933 volveu de novo á academia militar, ao recentemente creado departamento de operacións, e logo regresou á súa antiga unidade. Entre outubro de 1934 e agosto de 1935 serviu como xefe de Estado Maior da XII rexión fortificada Mogilev-Iampol e despois no departamento de operacións do distrito militar de Kharkiv.

No curso 1936-1937 foi profesor da reorganizada Academia de Estado Maior do Exército Vermello, onde daban clase a elite dos teóricos da arte militar soviética: Mikhail Alafuso, Dmitrii Karbishev ou Evgenii Shilovskii e tivo como alumnos a recoñecidos militares como Aleksandr Vasilevskii, Leonid Govorov, Ivan Bagramyan ou Nikolai Vatutin. En xullo de 1937 serviu como xefe de Estado Maior do distrito militar de Moscova coa misión de organizar novos escenarios por mor da reorganización da estrutura das divisións de infantería, coa aparición de divisións de artillería antitanque e antiaéreas así como un batallón de carros de combate e unha completamente reorganizada forza aérea.

A partir de decembro de 1938 dedicouse á docencia e investigación na Academia M. V. Frunze, en particular estudou a táctica ofensiva do exército alemán e o uso dos carros de combate durante a guerra civil española e foi un dos autores dos manuais tacticos cos que o Exército Vermello vai comezar a guerra [ 8 ] . O 4 de xuño de 1940 ascendeu a xeneral maior [ 9 ] e en marzo de 1941 asumiu o posto de subdirector de persoal do distrito militar de Kiev.

Segunda guerra mundial Editar

Fronte Sur Editar

O 24 de xuño de 1941 ao principiar a operación Barbarossa Antonov asumiu o posto de xefe de persoal do distrito militar especial de Kiev coa misión de realizar unha rápida mobilización do exército e en operacións de evacuación da primeira liña de combate. En agosto asumiu as funcións de xefe de persoal da Fronte Sur. A finais de agosto e primeiros de setembro o grupo de exércitos "Sur" chegou ao Dnieper nunha ampla fronte dende Kherson ata Kiev e a finais de setembro as tropas soviéticas loitaban por manter a rexión de Melitopol. O 5 de outubro, Antonov incorporouse ao 9º Exército para asistir o seu comandante, Fiodor Kharitonov, para evitar que as súas tropas quedasen rodeadas polo 1º Exército Panzer. Antonov xeneralizou e sistematizou a experiencia das tropas soviéticas na loita contra do exército alemán dos primeiros meses de guerra. En outubro as súas recomendacións sobre como dirixir o combate, das tácticas de recoñecemento e mais camuflaxe e da interacción entre as diferentes forzas remitíronse os cuarteis xerais das unidades na fronte e na retagarda. Esas recomendacións xogaron un papel clave [ 10 ] na contraofensiva sobre Rostov de novembro de 1941 que planificou o propio Antonov, seguindo ordes directas de Timoshenko, organizando as forzas soviéticas involucradas e mantendo ferreamente o segredo dos movementos das tropas [ 11 ] . A reconquista de Rostov a noite do 28 de novembro Rostov foi unha primeiras ofensivas exitosas do Exército Vermello na guerra e pola súa decisiva contribución Antonov recibiu a Orde da Bandeira Vermella o 13 de decembro e a promoción a tenente xeneral o 27 de decembro. En xaneiro de 1942 planificou a Ofensiva Barvenkovo-Lozovaya.

O 28 de xullo co inicio da batalla polo Cáucaso as frontes do Sur e do Cáucaso uníronse nunha única fronte do Cáucaso Norte so o mando de Semion Budionnii. Antonov serviu como xefe de Estado Maior da fronte, dividida en dous grupos operativos. Idea súa foi a instalación de lanzadores múltiples de foguetes en dresinas. En novembro de 1942 fíxose cargo da xefatura do Estado Maior da Fronte Transcaucásica creando as condicións para que no decurso da batalla do Cáucaso os soviéticos avanzasen en xaneiro e febreiro de 1943 os alemáns deixasen libre o norte do Cáucaso. Durante o breve período que permaneceu no posto, Antonov creou 19 divisións e 211 batallóns nacionais das diferentes nacionalidades da URSS.

Estado Maior Soviético Editar

En decembro de 1942 o xefe do Estado Maior soviético, Aleksandr Vasilevskii, ofreceulle o posto de segundo xefe do Estado Maior soviético e director de operacións. En xaneiro de 1943 supervisou persoalmente a fronte de Briansk, coordinando as forzas da fronte na ofensiva Ostrogozhsk-Rossosh, que rematou o 27 de xaneiro coa vitoria soviética, e mais tamén na operación Voronezh-Kastornoe (24 de xaneiro-17 de febreiro). A finais de marzo volveu a Moscova e ao longo dos meses seguintes reuniuse con Stalin varias veces ao día. A partir da primavera/verán de 1943 participou no desenvolvemento de todas as campañas e operacións estratéxicas importantes das forzas armadas. A primeira foi a operación de Kursk, a súa planificación principiou en abril [ 12 ] traballando conxuntamente con Vasilevskii e Zhukov elaboraron un plan xeral para toda a operación, á planificada ofensiva alemá na zona de Kursk opuxeron unha defensa fondamente graduada, desangrando as tropas alemás en batallas defensivas e finalmente as forzas de cinco frontes entraron á ofensiva derrotando os alemás. Na metade dos preparativos Antonov deixou a dirección de operacións para se concentrar no Estado Maior. O 27 de agosto de 1943 ascendeu a xeneral do exército.

En novembro comezaron no Estado Maior os preparativos para a campaña militar de inverno planificouse unha despregadura de operacións ofensivas non limitadas a unha ou dúas direccións principais, senón nunha ampla fronte dende o Báltico ata o mar Negro co uso de tropas de todas as frontes, con todo tipo de unidades, e na zona costeira, co uso da armada. A atención principal ía estar nos flancos da fronte soviético-alemá: na esquerda estaba previsto liberar a marxe dereita de Ucraína, Crimea e o acceso á fronteira da URSS na dereita, a ruta do Grupo do Exército "norte", levantar o bloqueo de Leningrado e iniciar a liberación dos estados bálticos.

A ofensiva soviética comezou o 24 de decembro de 1943, denominada ofensiva Dnieper-Cárpatos, con forzas de cinco frontes 0 14 de xaneiro principiou a ofensiva Leningrado-Novgorod. A campaña durou ata maio de 1944, logrando o mando todos os obxectivos principais. O 26 de marzo as tropas soviéticas dirixíronse á fronteira soviético-romanesa, no tramo de 85 quilómetros do río Prut e avanzaron cara a Europa.

A campaña de verán de 1944 tiña como obxectivo reconquistar todos os territorios da URSS so control alemán. Antonov informou a Stalin sobre a esencia da campaña a finais de abril e o 1 de maio o líder soviético asinou a orde de aprobación. Antonov trazou a dirección do golpe principal, o belaruso, poñendo persoalmente os fundamentos da ofensiva decisiva da campaña, a operación Bragation. Unha das tarefas principais na súa preparación foi a desinformación que chegaba ao inimigo sobre a dirección previa ao ataque principal. A ofensiva durou dous meses, do 24 de xuño ao 29 de agosto e terminou nunha das máis grandes derrotas do exército alemán coa destrución de 28 das 34 divisións do Grupo de Exércitos Centro e o esnaquizamento da súa primeira liña de combate [ 13 ] .


Karriere

Født i Grodno i en familie af Kryashen- etnicitet som søn af en artilleriofficer for den kejserlige russiske hær , dimitterede Antonov fra Frunze Military Academy i 1921 og sluttede sig til den røde hær under den russiske borgerkrig . Han blev instruktør ved Frunze Military Academy i 1938.

I 1941 blev Antonov stabschef for den sovjetiske sydvestfront og sydfronten . I december 1942 blev han vicegeneralstab for de kombinerede sovjetiske styrker og chef for Operationsdirektoratet, en afgørende rolle inden for Stavka . Faktisk var AI Antonov effektiv leder af den sovjetiske generalstab, da stabschef AM Vasilevsky normalt var fraværende på grund af hans hyppige frontlinjemissioner som Stavka-repræsentant. Som et resultat befriede Stavka Antonov for sin stilling som operationelt direktorat, så Antonov fuldt ud kunne koncentrere sig om ledelsen i generalstaben. I februar 1945 blev Vasilevsky udnævnt til øverstbefalende for 3. hviderussiske front, og Antonov blev endelig den formelle leder af sovjetiske generalstab. På trods af hans nøglerolle i Røde Hærs ultimative sejr blev han aldrig udnævnt til en marskal af Sovjetunionen .

Richard Overy skriver om ham på dette tidspunkt:

Vasilevsky kom til at stole på en underordnet frem for alle andre: operationschefen, general Aleksei Antonov. [. ] Den 11. december [1942] trådte den 46-årige Antonov ind i den rolle, der var mere direkte udsat for Stalins nysgerrige ledelse end nogen anden. Antonov tog udfordringen op. I stedet for at skynde sig for at rapportere til Stalin, da han ankom til Moskva, tilbragte han den første uge med at gøre sig grundigt bekendt med generalstaben og fronten. Først da han var fuldt grundet, gik han for at se sin kommandør. De to mænd udviklede krigens mest effektive arbejdsforhold. Antonov viste en rolig intelligens gift med en massiv energi og enestående industri. Ifølge hans stedfortræder, general Sergei Shtemenko , mistede Antonov aldrig sit temperament eller tillod omstændighederne at få overhåndet. Han var fast, kaustisk, langsom til at rose og en hård taskmaster, men det strenge regime, som han pålagde sit personale, vandt deres respekt. Frem for alt var han dygtig til at manipulere Stalin. Han sukkercoatede ikke sine rapporter. Han var parat til at stå op mod Stalin med det, hans stedfortræder betragtede som en 'modig åbenhed'. Så dygtig var han til at levere aftenens situationrapporter kort og præcist, at selv Zhukov bøjede sig for sin evne og tillod Antonov at præsentere dem i hans sted. Den tillid, som Stalin kom til Antonov, blev afspejlet i hans overlevelsesevne. Han beholdt sit kontor indtil februar 1945, da han blev ansat som stabschef hos Vasilevsky.

I 1944 var Antonov cheftalsmand og var til stede på konferencerne i Moskva , Yalta og Potsdam . På Yalta-konferencen orienterede han de vestlige allierede om at koordinere militære aktioner og ved at understrege, hvordan de allierede kunne hjælpe sovjeter gennem bombning af kommunikationslinjer, der bidrog til Dresden- raidet.

Efter krigen blev Antonov vicechef og øverstkommanderende for Transkaukasus militærdistrikt . I 1955 blev han stabschef for Warszawapagtens kombinerede styrker . Han havde denne stilling indtil sin død i 1962.


Career

Born in Grodno, the son of a Tsarist artillery officer, Antonov graduated from Frunze Military Academy in 1921 and joined the Red Army during the Russian Civil War. He became an instructor at Frunze Military Academy in 1938.

In 1941, Antonov became Chief of Staff for the Soviet Southwestern Front and Southern Front. In the following year he became Deputy Chief General Staff of the combined Soviet forces and Head of the Operations Directorate. His duty was to liaise with other officers and inform Stalin of the military situation. Richard Overy writes of him at this time:

Vasilevsky came to rely on one subordinate above all others: the chief of operations, General Aleksei Antonov. [. ] On December 11 [1942] the forty-six-year-old Antonov stepped into the role which was more directly exposed to Stalin's inquisitive leadership than any other. Antonov rose to the challenge. Instead of rushing off to report to Stalin when he arrived in Moscow, he spent the first week familiarizing himself thoroughly with the General Staff and the state of the front. Only when he was fully primed did he go to see his commander. The two men developed the most effective working relationship of the war. Antonov displayed a calm intelligence married to a massive energy and exceptional industry. According to his deputy, General Sergei Shtemenko, Antonov never lost his temper or allowed circumstances to get the better of him. He was firm, caustic, slow to praise and a tough taskmaster, but the rigorous regimen that he imposed on his staff won their respect. Above all he was adept at manipulating Stalin. He did not sugar-coat his reports. He was prepared to stand up to Stalin with what his deputy regarded as a 'brave outspokenness'. So skilled was he at providing the evening situation reports concisely and accurately that even Zhukov bowed to his capability and allowed Antonov to present them in his place. The trust that Stalin came to place in Antonov was reflected in his survivability. He retained his office until February 1945, when he was made chief of staff in Vasilevsky's place. [ 1 ]

By 1944 Antonov was Chief Spokesman and was present at both the Yalta and Potsdam Conferences. At the Yalta Conference he briefed the Western Allies on how the Allies could aid Soviets by bombing lines of communications which led to the Dresden raid.

After the war Antonov became Deputy Commander-in-Chief and then Commander-in-Chief of the Transcaucasus Military District. In 1955, he became Chief of Staff of the Combined Forces of the Warsaw Pact. He held this post until his death in 1962.


The Bombing of Dresden: Was the Attack Fully Justified?

Was Operation Thunderclap—the 1945 air raid on the German city—a military necessity or an Allied war crime? The question is still debated.

Here’s What You Need to Remember: It was February 1945, and the Bombing of Dresden had yet to commence. At this point in the war, the citizens of the capital of the German state of Saxony were beginning to think that they were living a charmed life. After all, they knew that every other major German city except theirs had been flattened by countless Allied air raids since 1940.

And yet here they were, virtually untouched. (Dresden had, in fact, been first bombed by the U.S. Eighth Air Force on October 7, 1944, and again on January 16, 1945, but the damage and casualties were minimal.)

Perhaps the Dresdeners felt lucky because the city on the Elbe River, 120 miles south of Berlin, was well known as a cultural treasure—the “Florence on the Elbe” and the “Jewel Box”—and was regarded as one the world’s most beautiful cities for its architecture and museums, with few industrial or military sites worth bombing.

Among its treasures were the baroque Zwinger Palace, the State Opera House known as the Semper Oper, and the Frauenkirche, the latter built in the 1700s. Here too, the world-famous Dresden china and porcelain had been made for decades. There seemed no good reason for the status quo to change.

But Dresden’s luck was about to run out.

“I Can Assure You, Gentlemen, That We Tolerate no Scruples.”

Air Chief Marshal Arthur “Bomber” Harris, head of Britain’s Royal Air Force Bomber Command, had a special desire to wipe every major German city off the map, even though it was plainly obvious that targets were becoming fewer, and the end of the war was just weeks away.

Early in the war, British Chief of the Air Staff Charles Portal had calculated that a concerted program to bomb the Third Reich’s cities could kill 900,000 people in 18 months, seriously injure a million more, destroy six million homes, and leave 25 million Germans homeless, thus creating a humanitarian crisis that, he believed, would lead to the collapse of the Nazi government.

In 1941, Harris had said that he had been intentionally bombing civilians for a year. “I mention this,” he said, “because, for a long time, the Government, for excellent reasons, has preferred the world to think that we still held some scruples and attacked only what the humanitarians are pleased to call ‘military targets.’ I can assure you, gentlemen, that we tolerate no scruples.”

British Air Chief Marshall Arthur “Bomber” Harris, head of the RAF’s Bomber Command, was a strong proponent of taking the war to Germany’s civilian populace.

Harris was no doubt remembering that the German Luftwaffe had first engaged in “area bombing tactics” when it helped Francisco Franco in his civil war to topple the Spanish government in 1937, and then again when it bombed Polish cities during Germany’s invasion of Poland in September 1939. Still in the forefront of his mind was the Luftwaffe’s indiscriminate bombing of London and other British cities during the Battle of Britain in 1940.

Germany Ramps up its Attacks on Great Britain

Albert Speer, Nazi Germany’s Minister of Armaments, recalled a meeting in 1940 when Adolf Hitler endorsed Luftwaffe chief Hermann Göring’s proposal to hit London with a massive number of incendiary bombs: “Göring wants to use innumerable incendiary bombs of an altogether new type to create fires in all parts of London. Fires everywhere. Thousands of them. Then they’ll unite in one giant area conflagration.”

“Göring has the right idea,” said Hitler. “Explosive bombs don’t work, but it can be done with incendiary bombs—total destruction of London. Of what use will their fire department be once that really starts?”

Out to avenge the bombings of London, Coventry, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Southampton, Bath, Bristol, Birmingham, Sheffield, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Glasgow, Newcastle, and other cities, the Royal Air Force struck back hard at German population centers. In 1942, the U.S. Eighth Air Force set up shop in Britain and in 1943 began bombing Germany in earnest along with its British counterparts.

To retaliate, German rocket scientists (such as Werner von Braun) developed the world’s first long-range offensive missile in 1944. Hitler named it the V-1, for “Vergeltung”—the German word for “vengeance”—and ordered the Luftwaffe to step up attacks against Great Britain.

Why Dresden Became a Target for Bombing

Dresden had a population of 630,000, making it Germany’s seventh largest city. But a flood of refugees fleeing the Soviet advance in the East had swelled the population to over a million by early February 1945.

And the city was woefully unprepared for any sort of major aerial attack. Most of the antiaircraft batteries that ringed it had been removed to protect other cities.

In early 1945, the handwriting was on the wall: Nazi Germany was doomed. In January, the advancing Soviets had uncovered the death factory at Auschwitz in Poland. This exposed the Nazis’ crimes for all to see, further hardening Allied resolve to totally destroy the Third Reich—to drive a silver stake into its heart so that it could never rise again.

In northeastern Germany, the Red Army had captured East Prussia and reached the Oder River, less than 50 miles from Berlin, and was bulldozing its way toward the German capital.

From February 4 to February 11, the “Big Three” Allied leaders—U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin—met at Yalta in the Soviet Crimea (the Argonaut Conference) and hammered out their visions of the postwar world.

Other than deciding on how German territory would be carved up and administered by which power, there was little discussion about how the final military operations would be conducted. However, after General Aleksei Antonov, deputy chief of the Soviet General Staff, requested that the Allies apply some of their aerial firepower in the East, Churchill and Roosevelt promised Stalin that they would continue their bombing campaign against Germany to aid the advance of Soviet forces.

American bombs cascade down on Dresden, February 14, 1945. More than 3,900 tons of high-explosive and incendiary bombs would be dropped on the city in the two-day raid.

Dresden, therefore, became a target in early 1945. Allied intelligence revealed that, far from being an inoffensive center of culture, Dresden and the surrounding area was home to 127 factories that manufactured everything from rifles and machine guns to artillery pieces, aircraft components, precision optical devices, and poison gas (the latter manufactured by Chemische Fabrik Goye, GmbH).

Dresden was also a key rail hub, with lines running to Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Munich, Breslau, Leipzig, and Hamburg. The Wehrmacht’s headquarters had also been relocated from Berlin to the Taschenbergpalais in Dresden, and there were at least one ammunition depot and several military hospitals.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff of both the United States and Britain had earlier in the war authorized the aerial attacks on German cities to accomplish “the progressive destruction and dislocation of the German military, industrial, and economic system, and the undermining of the morale of the German people to a point where their capacity for armed resistance is fatally weakened.”

Colonel Harold E. Cook, an American prisoner of the Germans in Dresden, stated after the war, “I saw with my own eyes that Dresden was an armed camp: thousands of German troops, tanks, and artillery, and miles of freight cars loaded with supplies supporting and transporting German logistics toward the east to meet the Russians.”

Thus, RAF Bomber Command and the U.S. Army Air Forces (USAAF) determined that Dresden was a legitimate military target and decided to mount a joint attack on the city at the direct request of the Soviet government. There would be four separate raids commencing on February 13. Seven hundred and twenty-two heavy bombers of the British Royal Air Force and 527 of the USAAF would drop more than 3,900 tons of high explosives and incendiary devices as part of the planned bombing of Dresden.

Hellish Firestorm: The Bombing’s Two Waves

The U.S. Eighth Air Force was scheduled to fly the initial strikes during the bombing of Dresden on February 13 but they were canceled because of poor weather. The weather did not stop Bomber Command, however. A historian wrote, “To support the attack, Bomber Command dispatched several diversionary raids designed to confuse the German air defenses.

“These struck targets in Bonn, Magdeburg, Nuremberg, Böhlen, and Misburg, near Hannover. For Dresden, the attack was to come in two waves, with the second coming three hours after the first. This approach was designed to catch German emergency response teams exposed and increase casualties.”

The first wave was a flight of Avro Lancaster bombers from 83 Squadron, No. 5 Group, based at RAF Coningsby. They would be the pathfinders and would light up the target area with incendiaries.

Close on their tails was a group of DeHavilland Mosquitoes that dropped 1,000-pound bombs to mark the aiming points for the rest of the raiders. The main bomber force, consisting of 254 Lancasters, would arrive next with a mixed load of 500 tons of high-explosive bombs and 375 tons of incendiaries.


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Hijo de un oficial de artillería zarista, Alekséi Antónov se graduó en la Academia Militar Frunze en 1921 y se unió al Ejército Rojo. Se convirtió en instructor de dicha academia en 1938.

De ascendencia tártara, fue hijo y nieto de oficiales artilleros, tuvo una educación esmerada hablando no solo el ruso, sino el polaco, alemán y básicamente el inglés y el francés, y mostrando inclinaciones militares hasta que queda huérfano de padre (1908) y de madre (1915), viéndose obligado a sostener a su familia. A pesar de ello, inicia sus estudios de física y matemáticas en la Universidad Politécnica Estatal de San Petersburgo.

Con el inicio de la Primera Guerra Mundial se ve obligado a dejar sus estudios, y es enviado a la academia militar graduándose en 1916 en la Escuela Militar Pávlovskoie con el rango de Segundo Teniente, siendo destinado en la primavera de 1917 al 8.º Ejército ruso en el frente sudoccidental, bajo el mando del general Alekséi Brusílov. Antónov participó en la ofensiva de Brusílov, que los éxitos iniciales terminaron en fracaso, siendo herido en la misma.

Es licenciado en 1918, trabajando como empleado en el Instituto forestal en Petrogrado, hasta que en abril de 1919 es llamado a filas por el Ejército Rojo, participando en la Guerra Civil Rusa en el Frente sur en el puesto de ayudante de jefe de Estado Mayor de la 1º División de Moscú, luego siendo nombrado jefe de Estado Mayor de la 45.º brigada de la 15.ª División, participando en la campaña de Crimea contra Wrangel. Su brigada, después de la guerra, tuvo su base en Mykolaiv (Ucrania).

En 1923, el general de división I.I. Radumets calificaba a Antónov de la siguiente forma: [ 1 ] ​

En 1925 el Comandante en Jefe del Distrito Militar Ucraniano, Iona Yakir, escribe de Antónov: [ 2 ] ​

Permanece en la 45.º brigada, donde sus mandos y subordinados tienen un inmejorable concepto, siendo enviado en 1928 a la Academia Militar Frunze, graduándose en 1931 tanto en los cursos de mando como en el de intérprete militar de francés. En 1932 vuelve a la misma academia donde a los pocos meses se graduó en Estado Mayor con los máximos honores, siendo nombrado jefe de estado mayor de la 46º división de infantería, con base en Korosten.

Entre octubre de 1932 y mayo de 1933 asistió al curso de Facultad Operativa Militar de la academia Frunze obteniendo la certificación para trabajar en los más altos puestos de Estado Mayor. En 1934-1935 fue el jefe de Estado Mayor de la división de Mogilev-Yamol en el Distrito Militar de Ucrania, que al ser reestructurado y dividido en dos, Antónov fue el jefe de estado mayor de uno de los distritos resultantes, el Distrito Militar de Járkov, entre 1935 y 1936.

Maniobras militares del distrito de Kiev de 1935 Editar

Antónov participó en el planeamiento y jugó un papel clave en la ejecución en 1935 de unas grandes maniobras militares del Ejército Rojo, que se desarrollaron en el Distrito Militar de Kiev, con la participación de 65 000 hombres, 1000 tanques y 600 aviones, en un frente de 250 kilómetros. Las maniobras fueron consideradas un éxito por Kliment Voroshílov y Iona Yakir

Academia de Estado Mayor Editar

Entre 1936 y 1937 asistió a la Academia General de Estado Mayor junto con Leonid Góvorov y Sájarov. La amistad de Antónov con Aleksandr Vasilevski, que también asistió al mismo curso y que más adelante sería el Jefe del Estado Mayor General del Ejército Rojo, sería crucial para su carrera posterior. Aunque el curso originalmente estuvo programado para durar 18 meses, para los mejores estudiantes fue reducido para poder cubrir los puestos dejados vacantes por las purgas de Stalin. Finalizado el curso, fue destinado como jefe de Estado Mayor del distrito Militar de Moscú.

Entre 1938 y 1941 fue instructor especial, así como subjefe del departamento general de tácticas militares de la academia militar Frunze, impartiendo táctica y planificación, así como tareas de entrenamiento para oficiales.

Antes del estallido de lal guerra, el 16 de marzo y 24 de junio de 1941 fue el subjefe de Estado Mayor del Distrito Militar Especial de Kiev.

Con el estallido de la guerra, el 24 de junio de 1941 se convierte en el jefe de Estado Mayor del Distrito Militar de Kiev, y lidera el equipo para el planteamiento de mando del Frente Sur, colaborando estrechamente con el coronel Ovanés Bagramián, que posteriormente ascendería a Mariscal de la Unión Soviética. Antónov fue el jefe de Estado Mayor del Frente Sur entre el 27 de agosto de 1941 hasta el 28 de julio de 1942. Planeó el contraataque de las tropas soviéticas en la ofensiva de Rostov (Operación Saturno). Desbarataron el plan estratégico alemán de asegurar el ala izquierda del frente, sí como creando las condiciones para el contraataque de las tropas soviéticas en la zona de Moscú. Entre julio y diciembre de 1942 ocupó el cargo de jefe de Estado Mayor en el Frente Norte del Cáucaso, del Estado Mayor del Grupo de Fuerzas del Mar Negro y del Estado Mayor de las fuerzas del Frente Transcaucásico, sucesivamente.

Entre diciembre de 1942 y mayo de 1943, fue nombrado jefe de operaciones de la administración del Estado Mayor General, y subjefe de Aleksandr Vasilevski, que era el Jefe de Estado Mayor del Ejército Rojo. Su trabajo era de enlace entre los demás oficiales e informar a Stalin de la situación militar. Desde el 20 de mayo de 1943 hasta el 4 de febrero de 1945, fue el primer subjefe del Estado Mayor General del Ejército Rojo, siendo jefe del mismo Serguéi Shtemenko. Antónov tomó parte directamente en el planeamiento de las operaciones estratégicas hasta el final de la Segunda Guerra Mundial.

Campañas y Operaciones Editar

Operación defensa de Rostov (enero-febrero de 1943), Operación de Bielorrusia (junio-agosto de 1944), Operación de los Cárpatos Orientales, Operación del Báltico (1944), Operación de Pskov-Ostróvskaya, Operación Narva (julio de 1944), Ofensiva Lvov-Sandomierz (julio-agosto de 1944), Operación Iasi-Kishinev (agosto de 1944), Operación Rogachev-Zhlóbinskaya, Operación de Crimea (abril-mayo de 1944), Operación de Kirovograd (enero de 1944), Operación de Korsun-Shevchenko (enero-febrero de 1944), operación Rovno-Lustk (enero febrero de 1944), Operación Nikopol-Krivoi Rog (enero-febrero de 1944), Operación Proskúrov-Chernivtsi (marzo-abril de 1944), Operación Uman-Botoshani (marzo-abril de 1944), Operación Berezneg-Snigerev (marzo de 1944), Operación Odessa (marzo-abril de 1944), Operación Belgrado (septiembre-noviembre de 1944), Operación Debrecen (octubre de 1944), Operación Carpatos orientales (septiembre-octubre de 1944), Operación Vístula-Óder (enero-febrero de 1945), Operación Prusia Oriental (enero-mayo de 1945), Operación Pomerania Oriental (febrero-abril de 1945), Operación Viena (marzo-abril de 1945), Operación Berlín (abril de 1945) y Operación Praga (mayo de 1945).

Campañas destacadas Editar

Tuvo un papel fundamental en el planeamiento del contraataque soviético después de la fallida Operación Ciudadela (Batalla de Kursk), por lo que fue ascendido a General de Ejército en 1943. En 1944 planificó la Operación Bagration, que consigue el colapso del Grupo de Ejércitos del Centro, en coordinación con la invasión de Normandía (Operación Overlord).

Cabe destacar el planeamiento de las campañas de Prusia Oriental, Vístula-Óder, Pomerania oriental, Viena, Berlín y Praga, campañas donde tuvo Antónov un papel destacado, como ejemplos de soluciones creativas a complejos problemas estratégicos, así como la sucesión de rápidos golpes al enemigo.

Conferencia de Yalta y Potsdam Editar

En 1944 Antónov fue el portavoz jefe y estuvo presente tanto en la Conferencia de Yalta en febrero de 1945, tratando principalmente el tema de la colaboración aliada para el bombardeo de las líneas de aprovisionamiento alemanas al frente oriental.

Participó en la Conferencia de Potsdam en julio-agosto de 1945 como parte de la delegación soviética.

Últimas campañas Editar

Vasilevski fue transferido al Tercer Frente Bielorruso a la muerte de Iván Chernyajovski el 18 de febrero, Antónov sumió el puesto de jefe de Estado Mayor General, manteniéndose en el cargo después de la rendición de Alemania, mientras Vasilevski era destinado a la dirección de mando de la Operación Torre de Agosto en el Lejano Oriente, aunque se le atribuye a Antónov el apoyo de su Estado Mayor para la derrota del ejército japonés del Guandong, asegurando la victoria en una operación estratégica en un muy corto periodo de tiempo.

La primera dificultad de planeamiento que se le presentó a Antónov, fue organizar la desmovilización de más de 5 millones de hombres para su reintegración a la economía soviética.

En septiembre de 1946 fue disuelto el Comité Estatal para la Defensa y el Cuartel General (Stavka), siendo reemplazado por el Alto Consejo Militar, y siendo nombrado Antónov como subjefe. Al retorno de Vasilevski a su posición de jefe de Estado Mayor, Antónov le fue confiada la dirección del departamento de organización y movilización.

Cuando la primera parte de la desmovilización fue culminada en 1948, Antónov fue nombrado subcomandante en jefe y Comandante en jefe del Distrito Militar del Transcáucaso.

Fue relegado como muchos otros generales soviéticos, no interviniendo en la lucha por el poder que siguieron a la muerte de Stalin. Con al ascenso de Nikita Jrushchov, vuelve a ser nombrado subjefe de Vasilevski en 1954, siendo el primer paso previo para ser nombrado Jefe de Estado Mayor del Pacto de Varsovia al año siguiente, 1955, cargo que mantuvo hasta su fallecimiento en 1962. En dicho cargo se enfrentó con numerosas dificultades, no solo militares sino políticas.

Desde 1945 se le había detectado una dolencia cardiaca, sin embargo siguió en activo, aunque requería frecuentes tratamientos médicos. Su esposa, Mariya Dmítrievna murió en 1955, y se casó en segundas nupcias con la bailarina Olga Lepeshínskaya. Antónov murió siete años más tarde un infarto cardíaco en su despacho, el 18 de junio de 1962.


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