The son of an officer, a professional revolutionary
Historians are still arguing over who was the first to propose to call the "Red" revolutionary army, which was supposed to replace the imperial army in Russia, which never became a republican one. This name literally suggested itself, since red became a real symbol of the revolution.
The basis, or rather, the small backbone of the new armed forces, was to be made up of the Red Guard, which was born in the days of the first Russian revolution. The Bolsheviks had no doubt that the new army also needed an absolutely new leadership.
The change of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief was imminent, and the War Ministry was immediately transformed into the People's Commissariat. It cannot be said that the personnel issue was really acute, but it was decided to put a collegium of three people at the head of the military department.
First, the collegium was called the Committee, and then the Council of People's Commissars for Military and Naval Affairs. It included active participants in the October coup, who even before that had managed to prove themselves as experts in military affairs - Vladimir Antonov-Ovseenko, Pavel Dybenko and Nikolai Krylenko.
The first of them is Vladimir Aleksandrovich Antonov-Ovseenko, a native of Chernigov, the son of an officer, who broke up with his parents early. Ovseenko became widely known as a cadet who renounced the oath in connection with "an organic disgust for the military," in his own words.
Fate still made him a military man, not quite ordinary, but for quite a long time.
Vladimir Ovseenko, better known by his double surname, was called Shtyk or Nikita by his fellow revolutionaries, and at the age of 19 he was campaigning at an infantry school in St. Petersburg, but openly did not want to become an officer.
However, I had to. In 1904, he finished his studies and, with the rank of second lieutenant, departed for Warsaw - in the 40th Kolyvan Infantry Regiment. Most likely, he still had to take the oath, otherwise how did he get the officer's rank?
In Russian Poland, Ovseenko continued his revolutionary work and even tried to organize a military committee of the RSDLP in Warsaw. How successful - historians, again, are still arguing. More importantly, already in 1905, the young revolutionary was considered an expert in military affairs.
Already in his youth, he was a staunch Social Democrat, one of those revolutionaries who are usually called professional. However, he joined the Bolshevik Party, for which the break with the Mensheviks was in many ways decisive, only in 1917, when he was 34 years old.
The most suitable age for great accomplishments, and it is no coincidence that Vladimir Ovseenko had already taken the pseudonym Antonov by that time.
Deserter and illegal
The first Russian revolution found Second Lieutenant Ovseenko at a time when he deserted immediately after being assigned to the Far East to fight the Japanese. He went into an illegal position and immediately went back to Poland, only this time to its Austrian part.
In Krakow and Lvov, Vladimir Ovseenko became close to Felix Dzerzhinsky, and from there they tried to organize an uprising of two Russian regiments and an artillery brigade stationed very close - in Novo-Alexandria. The leaders made their way into Russian Poland, but the uprising failed.
The participants were arrested, but Ovseenko fled from the Warsaw prison, returning to Austria-Hungary. From there, in May 1905, he moved to St. Petersburg, became a member of the RSDLP committee there and actively agitated soldiers and officers against the war and the tsarist regime.
He was captured in Kronstadt, but, having named someone else's last name, Ovseenko managed to avoid a court-martial, and was released under an amnesty in connection with the Manifesto of October 17. When the revolution began to decline, he, already having a double surname, moved through Moscow to the south of Russia, tried to organize an uprising in Sevastopol and was again arrested.
The death sentence for Antonov-Ovseenko was replaced by 20 years of hard labor. But he managed to escape again, together with about fifteen comrades. He was hiding in Finland, worked underground in both capitals of the empire, was arrested again, but none of the witnesses identified him.
Before the World War, Antonov-Ovseenko was already in France and there he joined the Mezhraiontsy, became friends with Trotsky and Martov, editing their newspaper Nashe Slovo (Golos). He wrote himself, and a lot, and not only in Nashe Slovo - under the pseudonym A. Galsky.
In the same place, in "Golos", he conducted a military survey, often making absolutely accurate predictions, and strengthened his reputation as a military expert. By the February revolution, Vladimir Antonov-Ovseenko was already in the party elite of the RSDLP, although not yet as a member of the Central Committee. But he finally joined the Bolsheviks only in June 1917, when he was already able to return to Russia.
Someone Ovseenko, nicknamed Antonov
Antonov-Ovseenko was introduced to the Military Organization under the Central Committee of the RSDLP (b), and he was sent to Helsingfors to campaign for navy... Several times he spoke at the June All-Russian conference of front and rear organizations of the RSDLP (b), and then participated in the preparation of the unsuccessful July performance of the Bolsheviks.
He was arrested at Kresty and was released on bail only in September, which is why he did not take part in the fight against Kornilov. However, Tsentrobalt immediately appointed Antonov-Ovseenko as commissar under the governor-general of Finland. After being elected to the Petrograd Military Revolutionary Committee, he immediately announced that the Petrograd garrison was in favor of transferring power to the Soviets.
Antonov-Ovseenko entered the Field Headquarters of the Military Revolutionary Committee and, together with N. Podvoisky and G. Chudnovsky, prepared the capture of the Winter Palace. The plan was flawless, but by and large there was almost no one to defend the palace. Only young cadets and women, albeit a shock battalion, could act against the Red Guards, soldiers and sailors.
In fact, he personally led the storming of the Winter Palace, which resulted in the arrest of members of the Provisional Government. In his once famous book, The Ten Days That Shook the World, John Reid wrote about him:
"In one of the rooms on the upper floor sat a thin-faced, long-haired man, a mathematician and chess player, once an officer in the tsarist army, and then a revolutionary and an exile, a certain Ovseenko, nicknamed Antonov."
He, Antonov-Ovseenko, reported to the delegates of the II Congress of Soviets in Smolny about this, as well as about the conclusion of the ministers in the Peter and Paul Fortress. Immediately at the congress, Antonov-Ovseenko was elected to the Committee on Military and Naval Affairs under the Council of People's Commissars. Together with N. Krylenko and P. Dybenko.
The triumvirate worked at the head of the military department for a very short time - from October 27 to November 23, when it was decided to appoint Nikolai Podvoisky as the people's commissar for military and naval affairs. In the October days, he was listed as a deputy, but in fact he chaired the Petrograd Military Revolutionary Committee.
They hardly write about this, but the official chairman of the All-Russian Revolutionary Committee - Socialist-Revolutionary Pavel Lazimir, young (he was only 27 years old) and not the most decisive, the Bolsheviks Trotsky, Antonov-Ovseenko and Podvoisky crushed so that he only had to put signatures on the decisions made.
Revolution devours its children
The further life and career of Antonov-Ovseenko is literally full of events.
He smashed Kerensky and Krasnov, the cadets, whom he even took hostages, then headed the Petrograd military district instead of the Socialist-Revolutionary Muravyov.
He had to deal with Kaledin's Cossacks and the newly-minted Ukrainian army of the Central Rada, command the fronts and all the troops of the South of Russia, and even the entire Soviet Ukraine. To fight with Denikin and suppress, together with Tukhachevsky, a peasant uprising in the Tambov province.
It is believed that it was on his order that General Rennenkampf (pictured) was shot, who is better known as the loser of the East Prussian operation of 1914 than as a punisher during the days of the first Russian revolution.
At the economic work, Antonov-Ovseenko showed himself not so brightly, and from about 1922 he was in opposition, and he actively opposed Stalin's autocracy. This he wrote to the Politburo that
"If Trotsky is touched, then the entire Red Army will stand up to defend the Soviet Karnot" and that the army will be able to "call to order the presumptuous leaders."
Didn't get up and didn’t call.
Vladimir Antonov-Ovseenko himself was not subjected to obstruction, but was transferred to diplomatic work for a long time. He left a vivid and not entirely good memory of himself in Spain, where during the civil war he was consul general in Barcelona, and in fact - almost the main military and political adviser to the Republicans.
The legendary prime minister, a socialist to the core, Juan Negrin called Antonov-Ovseenko "a greater Catalan than the Catalans themselves." But it is the Soviet diplomat, of course, together with the NKVD, who is accused of organizing the assassinations of the communist, the leader of the POUM Andres Nin, and the anarchist philosopher Camillo Berneri.
When the USSR was covered by a wave of repressions, he - the implacable enemy of Stalin, was recalled from Spain - he was supposed to replace Nikolai Krylenko as People's Commissar of Justice. He, let me remind you, was also a member of the Committee of Three, which headed the Ministry of War in the fall of 1917, but in 1937 he fell under repression earlier.
Almost immediately upon his arrival in his homeland, Antonov-Ovseenko only managed to talk with the director S. Vasiliev, who was helping the director of the film "Lenin in October" Mikhail Romm. He was soon arrested. And already in February 1938 he was convicted and shot.