Czech Legion

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.
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References in periodicals archive ?
Caption: A Czech legion machine gun position in the wintery Siberian forest.
One of the few potent fighting forces in Russia was the thirtythousand-strong Czech Legion making its way along the Trans-Siberian Railroad to Vladivostok.
On the Western front, another Czech legion served under French command.
The Longjiang camp contained German and Austrian Bolshevik POWs who had fought with the Czech Legion in Siberia.
But bickering between the British commanders, White generals and the leaders of the Czech Legion meant little was achieved.
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.
The ambivalence of the Czech Legion, the lack of Allied recognition, the intervention of Japan in the Far East, and the semi-autonomous War Lords were problems that Kolchak faced, tried, and failed to resolve.
Caption: A train carrying members of the Czech Legion moves through the city of Krasnoyarsk.
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).
Despite his admiration for the Czech Legion, Johnson was convinced that Bolshevism--its radical excesses notwithstanding--was preferable to tsarism, which, as he later said, was "absolutely unfeeling to the masses of the people."(25) Following the Red army's victory in the civil war, he offered his perception of the common Russian's attitude toward Bolshevism--and included his own view of Russia's likely future--in a letter to the editor of his alma mater's alumni magazine.
In fact, enough Central Powers' soldiers of Polish and Serbian descent changed sides that Polish and Serbian contingents were formed which fought alongside, and were eventually absorbed, into the Czech Legion.

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