Anton Ivanovich Denikin

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Anton Invanovich Denikin (Russian: Антон Иванович Деникин), born in Szpetal Dolnyj, Russia, now part of Poland on December, 16 1872 is a Russian military officer. The current Defence Minister and Chief of General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, he is one of the surviving and most known White Generals of the Russian Civil War.



Prior to the Weltkrieg

Denikin was born on December 7, 1872, in Szpetal Dolnyj village near the Polish city Wloclawek(then part of the Russian empire). His father, Ivan Efimovich Denikin, had been born a serf in the province of Saratov. Sent as a recruit to do 25 years of military service, Ivan Denikin became an officer on the 22nd year of his army service, in 1856. He retired from the army in 1869 with the rank of a major. In 1869 Ivan Denikin married a poor Polish seamstress, Elżbieta Wrzesińska - his second wife. Anton Denikin, the couple's only child, learned to speak two languages (Russian and Polish) at the same time. His father's commitment to Russian patriotism and the Orthodox religion was crucial for Anton Denikin's decision to become a soldier.

The Denikins lived very close to poverty (the retired major's small pension was their only source of income). After his father's death in 1885, Denikin's family financial situation got even worse. Anton Denikin began tutoring younger schoolmates so that the family could earn an additional income. In 1890 Denikin began a course at the Kiev Junker School, a military college from which he graduated in 1892. Twenty-year-old Denikin joined an artillery brigade, where he served for three years.

In 1895 he was first accepted into General Staff Academy, where he did not meet the academic requirements in the first of two years. After the dissapointment, Denikin attempted to attain acceptance again. On his next attempt he did better and ended up fourteenth in his class. However, to his misfortune, the Academy decided to introduce a new system of calculating grades and as a result Denikin was not offered a staff appointment after the final exams. Denikin protested the decision to the highest authority, the Grand Duke, and after being offered a settlement which he would rescind his complaint in order to attain acceptance into General Staff school again, Denikin declined, feeling insulted at the lack of integrity presented by the offer.

Denikin first saw active service during the 1905 Russo-Japanese War. In 1905 he was promoted to the rank of colonel. In 1910 he was appointed commander of the 17th infantry regiment. A few weeks before the outbreak of the Weltkrieg, Denikin reached the rank of major-general.


By the outbreak of the Weltkrieg in August 1914 Denikin was a Chief of Staff of the Kiev military district with the rank of Major-General. He was initially appointed Quartermaster of of General Brusilov's 8th Army. Not one for staff service, Denikin petitioned for an appointment to a fighting front. He was transferred to the 4th Rifle brigade. His brigade was transformed into a division in 1915. It was with this brigade Denikin would accomplish his greatest feats as a General.

In 1916 he was appointed to command the VIII Corps and lead troops in Romania during the last successful Russian campaign of the war, the Brusilov Offensive. Following the February Revolution and the overthrow of the Czar he became Chief of Staff to Mikhail Alekseev, then Alexei Brusilov, and finally Lavr Georgevich Kornilov. Denikin supported the attempted coup of his commander, the Kornilov Affair, in September 1917 and was arrested and imprisoned with him. After this Alekseev would be reappointed commander-in-Chief.

Russian Civil War

Following the October Revolution both Denikin and Kornilov escaped to Novocherkassk in southern Russia and, with other Tsarist officers, formed the Volunteer Army, initially commanded by Alekseev. Kornilov was killed in April 1918 near Ekaterinodar and the Volunteer Army came under Denikin's command. Sending a delegate to the Omsk Congress in 1919, Denikin early rallied to the White unified command proposed by Kerensky, although he was hostile to a German intervention in the conflict. In the face of a Communist counter-offensive he withdrew his forces back towards the Don area in what was known as the Ice March. Denikin led one final assault of the southern White forces in their final push to capture Moscow in the summer of 1919. For a time, it then appeared that the White Army would succeed in its drive; Leon Trotsky, as commander of Red Army forces hastily concluded an agreement with Nestor Makhno's anarchist Revolutionary Insurrectionary Army of Ukraine or 'Black Army' for mutual support. Makhno duly turned his Black Army east and led his troops against Denikin's extended lines of supply, forcing him to retreat. Denikin's army was defeated at Orel in October 1919, some 400km south of Moscow. The White Forces, helped by Groener's expeditionary corps, managed to settle a counter-offensive against Makhno and Trotsky in the South, and Denikin was one of the participants to the Battle of Tsaritsyn in February 1921, and among the first White Generals to enter freed Moscow in September.

Rallied to the Russian Federation, Denikin was appointed Chief of General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation by Kerensky, as Wrangel was seen as too compromised with the extremists to lead the army. When Alexandr Kolchak tried to seize power in 1925, Denikin and loyal elements of the army called to the help of retired Soviet officers and managed to stop the coupsters. Afterwards, Denikin assumed the Ministry of Defence, succeeding to Kolchak.

Political positions

Due to his achievements during the Russian Civil War, Denikin is widely respected in Russian society and viewed as a devout and honest patriot, who has even refused to bear the title of Field Marshal, unlike Petr Wrangel. The son of a serf who has suffered from the Czarist system, Denikin is viewed in surface as a Republican and by the way as a loyalist to the Kerensky government, and thus disliked by both extremes. But above all, Denikin is a patriot who wishes only order and integrity for the country he has fought for, still controlling large parts of the army. In some interviews, then asked if a case of emergency similar to the 1925 Kolchak coup attempt, he said that "if democracy has to be sacrified in order to save Russia, then it will be". Since then, Denikin has stated that cooperation with far right and monarchists would be necessary in case of emergency, in order to balance the leftists or other troubles. An old man whatever, Denikin is more focused on the becoming of the Russian Army, still considering that the old theories of mass conscription and concentration will improve it and ensure Russia's security.


General Denikin has married Xenia Vasilievna Chizh, from whom he had a daughter, Marina Antonovna, born in 1919.

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