Vasili Altfater

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Vasili Altfater
Altfater VM.jpg
Native name
Василий Михайлович Альтфатер
Born(1883-12-16)December 16, 1883
Warsaw, Congress Poland, Russian Empire
DiedApril 20, 1919(1919-04-20) (aged 35)
Moscow, Russian SFSR
Allegiance Russian Empire
 Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic
Service/branch Imperial Russian Navy
 Soviet Navy
Years of service1902–1918
RankRear Admiral
Commands heldSoviet Navy
Battles/warsWorld War I, Russian Civil War

Vasili Mikhailovich Altfater (Russian: Альтфатер, Василий Михайлович) (16 December 1883 – April 20, 1919) was a Russian-Soviet naval officer, the first Commander-in-chief of the Soviet Navy.

Altfater was born in Warsaw the son of an artillery officer, General Mikhail Altfater who was from a noble Baltic German Family.

Altfater graduated from Marine Cadet Corps (1902) and Naval Academy's Department of Hydrography (1908). During the Russo-Japanese War, Altfater participated in the defense of Port Arthur (Lüshunkou) and rescue of the crew of the battleship Petropavlovsk. Later on, Altfater served as the squadron navigating officer of the 1st destroyer division of the Baltic Fleet (1909–1910). During World War I, as Captain 2nd Rank Altfater was one of two liaison officers for the Imperial Russian Navy at the Tsar's Supreme Headquarters (the Stavka), where he had responsibility for advising on command appointments in the Baltic Fleet.[1] He was later head of the Military Administration under the Commander-in-chief of the Northern Fleet. In October 1917, Altfater was promoted to the rank of Rear-Admiral. After the October Revolution, he joined the Soviets. In February 1918, Altfater was appointed assistant to the head of the Naval Headquarters. He participated in peace negotiations in Brest-Litovsk as a naval technical adviser to the Soviet delegation[2]. In April, Altfater became a Board member at the People's Commissariat of Naval Affairs. In October, he became a member of the Revolutionary Military Council (Реввоенсовет, Revvoyensovet) and appointed Commander-in-chief of the Soviet Naval Forces.

Altfater died of a heart attack in Moscow on April 20, 1919. On receiving the news about his death, Leon Trotsky said that "the Red Fleet lost a tireless, competent, energetic and honest worker". He is buried in the Novodevichy Cemetery, Moscow.


  1. ^ Timirev, Sergei Nikolaevich (1961). Vospiminaniia morskogo offitsera. New York: American Society for the Study of Russian Naval History. pp. 52, 62.
  2. ^ Hoffman, Max (1999). The War of Lost Opportunities. Nashville [Originally published Munich 1924]: The Battery Press. pp. 200–202. ISBN 0-89839-295-0.