Alksnis, Iakov Ivanovich
(also Ia. I. Astrov). Born Jan. 14 (26), 1897; died July 29, 1938. Soviet military figure. Army commander of the second class from 1935. Member of the Communist Party from 1916.
Alksnis was born to the family of a Latvian farm laborer in the province of Livonia. His army career began in 1917, when he graduated from the Odessa Officer’s Candidate School and was sent to the western front, where during the October Revolution he actively participated in revolutionary work among the soldiers. He joined the Red Army in May 1919 and became military commissar for Orel Province, commissar for the 55th Infantry Division, military commissar for the Don Oblast, and assistant to the commander of the Orel military district. In 1924 he graduated from the M. V. Frunze Military Academy. From 1924 to 1926, Alksnis headed the Office of Troop Organization and Duty and served as its commissar, and from 1926 to 1931 he was deputy chief of the Red Army Air Force. From 1931 on, he was commander of the air force and a member of the Military Revolutionary Council of the USSR and later the Military Council of the People’s Commissariat of Defense. From January 1937, Alksnis was also deputy people’s commissar of defense for aviation. A deputy to the first convocation of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, he was awarded the Order of Lenin, the Order of the Red Banner, the Order of the Red Star, and one Mongolian Order.