Czech Legion


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Czech Legion,

military force of about 40,000 to 50,000 men, composed mostly of Czech and Slovak Russian prisoners of war and deserters from the Austro-Hungarian army who enrolled in the Russian army during World War I. Constituted with the consent of the Russian revolutionary government set up in 1917, the legion took a minor part in fighting the Germans and Austrians. After Russia left the war as a result of the peace of Brest-Litovsk in 1918, an agreement between the legion and the Bolshevik regime in Russia allowed for the evacuation of the legion via the Trans-Siberian RR and its eventual transfer to the Franco-German front. During its evacuation, the legion reluctantly became involved in the Russian civil war, fighting mostly on the anti-Bolshevik side, and controlled in mid-1918 much of the vital railroad line. However, plans (favored by some Allied officials) to use the legion for intervention against the Soviet regime never materialized.
References in periodicals archive ?
On the Western front, another Czech legion served under French command.
But bickering between the British commanders, White generals and the leaders of the Czech Legion meant little was achieved.
Consisting mainly of Czech and Slovak soldiers hoping to gain support in their quest for an independent homeland, the Czech Legion had become a significant presence in Russia.
Ultimately, the Czech legion was able to successfully depart Russia by 1920 and return home to the newly formed Czechoslovakia.
American forces were dispatched to conduct defensive operations to protect allied stores and supplies already on Russian docks, to assist the Czech Legion in evacuating their forces from the Siberian interior, and to not interfere in internal Russian affairs.
During World War 1 tens of thousands of Czech and Slovaks defected to the Allied side and fought the Central Powers (see "Guns of the Czech Legion," (3/20/04, 4/20/04).
With the collapse of Imperial Russia, and the resulting chaos of the Communist revolution, the 50,000-man Czech Legion fought its way eastwards, 5,000 miles, along the Trans-Siberian railroad to the Pacific port of Vladivostok, where they were taken off by Allied vessels and returned to Europe.
The largest of the Czech legions was in Russia, and they were eventually equipped with a mixture of Russian, Japanese, German and Austrian small arms.

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