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(1) Military units created during wartime from the civilian population and consisting primarily of volunteers. The home guard has been used since ancient times to involve the broad masses of the people in repulsing foreign aggressors. The term is also used for medieval militia-type military units composed of knights or nobles and city militias. In the early 17th century a people’s volunteer corps led by Minin and Pozharskii played an outstanding role in the fight against Polish and Swedish intervention. In the 19th century a home guard made up of serfs and other classes of the population subject to the poll tax was formed in 1806–07, 1812–13, and 1855–56 as a subsidiary, untrained reserve for the regular army. A people’s volunteer corps fought in the Patriotic War of 1812. In the USSR the people’s volunteer corps during the Great Patriotic War of 1941–45 was a vivid manifestation of Soviet patriotism in the struggle against the fascist German aggressors.
(2) A category of military serviceman enlisted for active duty during wartime in prerevolutionary Russia from 1874 until 1917. The home guard included persons not subject to conscription for regular army duty and persons who had completed their reserve term (from 36 to 40 years, after 1891 from 39 to 43 years). They were divided into two classes—members of the first were suitable for line duty and were intended to replenish the regular army; members of the second were not suitable for line duty and were intended for service in the rear. Command personnel were taken from reserve officers or older retired officers. A similar category of military service in Germany and Austria-Hungary was called the Landsturm.