The Revolt of the Czechoslovak Corps in 1918: Modern View on the Problem

Kopylov N.A.


The events which took place in Russia in 1917–1920 exerted a significant impact on the fate of many countries and the people. First, that concerns the nations which were part of the European empires. Since 1917 the issue of finding their own statehood, success in which would be guaranteed by the existence of national military formations, was the key one for them. The Czechoslovak corps formed in Russia became one for the heads of the Czechoslovak National Council, which led the struggle for independence. The concept currently existing in many respects and developed in the twenties in Soviet historiography connects the stay of Czechoslovaks in Russia with «armed rebellion» against the Soviet system as the factor of the launch of Civil war and foreign intervention, planned by the Entente, directed to stifle the young Soviet republic. A turn to this issue from the perspective of the military-political relations between Russia and heads of the Czechoslovak movement for independence with the involvement of the new case of sources forces one to reconsider traditional historiographic estimates. The author carries out the analysis of operations of the Czechoslovak corps (later, legion) in Russia of the period of 1917–1919 on the basis of modern domestic and foreign data, noting a peculiar development of the attitude of the Czechoslovak command and the political management towards revolutionary events of 1917, from neutrality to armed resistance. The great influence on actions of the Czechoslovak legion was exerted by the foreign policy of the Bolsheviks which led to a formal exit of Russia from World War I and put Czechoslovak military in position of actual hostages of internal political opposition of supporters and detractors of revolution, on the one hand, and irreconcilable contradictions in diplomatic relations of Russia and Germany and the Entente, on the other hand. The way out was found in the form of a military coup against the Soviet Power which representatives of the Allies treated as an effort to restore anti-German front in Russia, and the Czech political leaders as ensuring the independence of future Czechoslovak Republic. Based on the fact of the involvement in fight against the Bolshevism, the Czech politicians wanted to get the most regarding the historical borders of Czechoslovakia at the forthcoming peace conference in Paris. Sustainable use in the diplomatic game of the fact of involvement of the legion in anti- Bolshevist fight, when the western politicians believed that with its help it would be possible to restore democratic Russia, brought significant benefit to the Czechoslovak party in the form of acceptance of almost all its requirements by the western powers concerning borders.


World War I; Russian revolution; Czechoslovak case; Parisian conference; Civil war in Russia.

DOI: 10.31249/rsm/2019.03.01

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