Czechoslovak Corps Mutiny of 1918

Czechoslovak Corps Mutiny of 1918


an armed counterrevolutionary revolt of Czechoslovak troops in Soviet Russia instigated by agents of the Entente. Czechoslovak units were formed in Russia during World War I from among Austro-Hun-garian prisoners of war and Russian subjects of Czech nationality. In June 1917 two rifle divisions were united to form the Czechoslovak Corps, which was deployed in the Ukraine. After the October Revolution of 1917 the commanders of the corps, abetted by agents of the Entente, conducted anti-Soviet propaganda among the soldiers, declared the corps to be part of the French Army, and demanded that the Soviet government send the corps to Western Europe. In the second half of March 1918 most of the corps left the Ukraine; only Czechoslovak internationalists joined the Red Army to fight the Austro-German aggressors.

On Mar. 26, 1918, the Soviet government agreed to evacuate the Czechoslovak troops via Vladivostok on condition that they surrender most of their weapons to local soviets. Nevertheless, the corps commanders, meeting with agents of the Entente and Right Socialist Revolutionaries (SR’s) in Cheliabinsk on May 14, decided to stage a revolt. The soldiers were told that the Soviet government had ordered the trains stopped and the soldiers disarmed and confined in prison camps. The corps commanders exhorted the soldiers to make their way to Vladivostok by force of arms. By late May, trains carrying up to 45,000 Czechoslovak soldiers were stretched all along the Siberian Railroad from Rtish-chevo station (near Penza) to Vladivostok, a distance of about 7,000 km. The revolt began in Mariinsk on May 25 and in Cheliabinsk a day later; thereafter Czechoslovak troops and SR-White Guard detachments captured Novonikolaevsk on May 26, Penza on May 29, Syzran’ on May 30, Tomsk on May 31, Omsk on June 7, Samara on June 8, and Krasnoiarsk on June 18. Passing to the offensive, the Czechoslovak troops and White Guard detachments proceeded to seize Ufa on July 5, Simbirsk on July 22, Ekaterinburg on July 25, and Kazan on August 7, where the gold reserves of the republic fell into their hands.

The mutiny of the Czechoslovak Corps opened a new phase in the Civil War by greatly expanding the theater of operations and strengthening the counterrevolutionary forces. The mutiny was accompanied by mass arrests and executions of soviet and party functionaries and revolutionary workers and peasants. In the captured areas the Czechs abolished the Soviet governing bodies and assisted in the formation of such counterrevolutionary governments as the Committee of Members of the Constituent Assembly (Komuch) in Samara, the Cadet-SR Urals Government in Ekaterinburg, and the Provisional Siberian Government in Omsk.

In July 1918 the Soviet forces in the Volga Region were united to form the Eastern Front. In August 1918 the Soviet forces halted the advance of the Czechoslovak and SR-White Guard troops, and passing to the offensive, they liberated Kazan and Simbirsk in September, Samara and Syzran’ in October, and Ufa and Cheliabinsk in November. Military reverses and clandestine work by communists demoralized the Czechoslovak troops. In November and December 1918, after refusing to fight on the side of the White Guards, they were withdrawn from the front and put to guarding the railroad. From the second half of 1919, the Czechoslovak units retreated to the east along with Kolchak’s army. Meeting at Kuitun station on Feb. 7, 1920, the command of the Red Army and of the Czechoslovak Corps signed an armistice agreement guaranteeing the corps passage to the Far East and evacuation. In the spring of 1920 the Czechoslovak troops assembled in Vladivostok, from where they were gradually evacuated from Russia.


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Klevanskii, A. Kh. Chekhoslovatskie internatsionalisty i prodannyi korpus. Moscow, 1965.