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The Czechoslovak Legion


Crest of the Czechoslovak Legion

            The main objective that finally sealed the fate of the Allied intervention in Siberia was the rescue of the Czechoslovak Legion from Russia.  President Wilson denied countless proposals from the Allies to intervene in Russia, until the protection and safe passage of the Czechoslovak Legion out of Russia to the Western front was starting to come into question.  The primary objective of President Wilson’s Aide Memoire was to render all possible assistance to the Czechoslovak Legion, who had become isolated in Russia as a result of Czech capitulation to Germany, as it made it’s way east across Siberia via the Trans-Siberian railroad.  Furthermore, the Allies were to enable the Czechoslovak Legion to leave Russia and return to their homeland; or use them in a reconstituted Eastern Front, which had since collapsed.  The Czechoslovak Legion had distinguished itself in combat against Germany.  Therefore, the Allies considered the safety of the Czechoslovak Legion essential.  In the summer of 1918, the relationship between the Allies and Russia had begun to deteriorate.  The deterioration can be explained by the story of the Czechoslovak Legion.

            Before World War I started, large amounts of Czechs and Slovaks were living in the larger cities of Western Russia as well as in Volhynia, a historic region in the countryside of Western Ukraine.  There were strong ties between Czech and Slovak intellectuals and the Russian intelligentsia who resented Austrian and Hungarian dominance (Read, 38.)

            Large numbers of Czech and Slovakian soldiers that were fighting for the Austro-Hungarian Army from 1914 to 1917, were either captured, or decided to defect to the Russian Army.  The Provisional Government in Russia organized the Czech and Slovakian soldiers into a regiment called the Druzhina, or Czechoslovak Legion (Melton, 8.)  The highest commanding officers were mostly Russian in nationality, but Czech nationals that had established themselves in the Tsarist army were also transferred to the Druzhina as commanding officers.  Russians used the Czech Legion to battle against the Germans and undertake reconnaissance missions on the Eastern Front of World War I.  As larger numbers of Czech and Slovak soldiers on the Austro-Hungarian side were defecting and being captured, the Czechoslovak National Council further stressed the idea that all the prisoners should be combined into the Druzina, thereby making it a formidable Czechoslovak force that could increase Allied success against the Central Powers.

            The Tsarist government of Russia did not necessarily support the formation of a strictly Czechoslovak force.  The Russian empire was made up of many nationalities, so therefore it did not make sense to the Tsar to single out a select group of nationalities to create an off-branch of the Russian Military (Kennan, 4.)  However, after Tsar Nicholas II was overthrown in February 1917, and his government abolished in March, the governmental hesitations that were preventing the Czechoslovak Legion from becoming its own independent, formidable fighting force dissipated.  The newly installed Provisional Government of Russia took a different approach to the formation of the Czech and Slovak fighting force.  The Druzhina was allowed to quickly expand through the recruitment and conversion of prisoners of war and Czechs and Slovaks that were taken from Russian industrial factories.  The Druzhina grew quickly into an entire army corps that was then renamed the “Czech Corps (Kennan 4.)”

            After the Czech Corps had gained strength and proven themselves in the Brusilov offensive in June 1917, Thomas Mayarsk, who was soon to become the new president of the Czechoslovak Republic in 1918, traveled to Russian in order to evaluate the Czech Corps and organize them into a more deployable force that could be transported to fight the Germans on the Western Front of the war (Tunstall, 52.)  Although the Czech Corps had proven their fighting capacity on the front lines of the Brusilov offensive, the massive amounts of casualties that the Russian’s faced, combined with the deteriorating economic and political situation in Russia hindered the effectiveness of the Czech Corps on Russia’s Eastern front.  Masaryk felt that the Czech Corps would be much more effective if they were to abandon the Eastern Front and make their way to the Western Front where they would assimilate with the other Allied troops in France.

            Russia’s government was in a constant state of chaos as the Bolsheviks, led by Vladimir Lenin, worked to overthrow the Provisional Government in Russia, and implement Soviet rule. The Bolshevik movement was against the war with Germany.  Although many of Russia’s military leaders promised the allies that they would continue to hold the lines against the German advance, the Bolshevik’s powerful overtake of Moscow and St. Petersburg was undermining their ambitions.  The Bolshevik takeover also worried the Czech Corps.  When the Bolsheviks came to power, there was a break between the newly installed Soviet government and the Ukrainian Rada (Cipko, Palij, 1993.)  The Czech Corps were stationed in Ukraine, and therefore declared their neutral position in the developing Russian civil war.  After the Bolsheviks began negotiating a peace treaty to end war between Russia and Germany, the Czech Corps were exposed as the only Allied force left on the Eastern Front.  They were the only military capacity standing in the way of the Central Powers’ eastern expansion.  The Allied governments recognized the autonomous Czechoslovak Army, which was a separate military group made up of Czechs and Slovaks in Europe, as an official Allied military faction in December of 1917.  The French were assigned command over the Czechoslovak Army.  France started negotiations with Russia authorities to integrate the Russian Czech Corps into the official Czechoslovak Army that was now under French Command.  The French government wanted to extract the Czech Corps out of Russia, and send them to France as soon as possible in order to strengthen the Western Front.  Thomas Masaryk still maintained responsibility of negotiations with the Soviets to secure this deal.  However, the Soviets were not going to solidify negotiations until deliberations on Brest-Litovsk peace treaty between the Germans and Bolsheviks had ended (Kennan, 5.)

            As the Czech Corps waited for the Brest-Litovsk negotiations to end and their new assignments to be handed down from the French command, they were still stationed around Kiev, Ukraine.  Their operations consisted of guarding war and ammunition depots that were left behind by the discouraged and dismantled Russian Imperial Army.  The Czech Corps also managed to capture a large amount of weapons from the Central Powers during the Brusilov offensive (Kennan, 6.)  Not only were Czech Corps very well established, they were also heavily armed.

            On February 9, 1918, authorities from the Ukrainian Rada and the Central Powers met together to declare their own peace treaty at Brest-Litovsk.  The Bolshevik movement was quickly gaining more power, and imposing on Kiev.  The Ukraine was had reached a peace agreement with the Central Powers, which was now a problem for the Czech Corps (Duffy, 2009.)  When the Bolshevik Government signed an armistice with the Germans, the Czech Corps were still able to maintain a safe haven in the Ukraine; there was still a degree of separation away from the enemy.  When the Ukrainian Rada signed the peace treaty, the Czech Corps realized that they were now posted on territory that had negotiated peace with their main enemy.  As soon as the treaty was signed, the Germans continued their eastern expansion into the Russia, and now, the Ukraine.  At the direction of Masaryk, the Czech Corps immediately began to mobilize.  Masaryk did not encounter any opposition from the Bolsheviks on the matter of evacuating the Czech Corps to the Western Front after the Brest-Litovsk Treaty, so he went ahead and gave the order.  The Czech Corps were to be transported out of Western Russia to Vladivostok under nominal command of the French Army via the Trans-Siberian Railroad (Melton, 8.)  The overall plan for the Czech Corps was to first be shipped across the Pacific from Vladivostok to the United States.  After arriving to the United States, they were to be shipped across the Atlantic directly to the Western Front to once again battle against the Germans under French command.  The Germans managed to catch the Czech extraction at the Bakhmach railway junction.  After some serious fighting, the Czech Corps managed to make their way out and continue movement to the East (Kennan, 6.)

            On March 15, 1918, the Moscow-based Soviet People’s Commissars (Sovnarkom) permitted the Czech Corps to make their escape out of Russia by traveling east on the Trans-Siberian Railroad to Vladivostok (Mawdsley, 19.)  However, one of the conditions that would ensure safe passage of the Czech Corps was that they must surrender some of their arms to Antonov-Ovseyenko, the Bolshevik Commander in the Ukraine (Bunyan, 80.)  Once trainloads of Czech soldiers were disarmed in Kursk, Russia, they would continue on their journey eastward through Siberia to Vladivostok.

            Even after the Czechoslovak Legion (the new name assigned to the Czech Corps after beginning their independent journey across Russia) was partially disarmed by the Soviets, the new Russian government still had heavy suspicions about the Czechoslovak Legion’s intentions for moving east through Siberia (Benes, 354.)  The soviets thought that the Legion might have plans to link up with Ataman Grigory Semyonov or the Japanese.  It was by chance that Leon Trotsky arrived to Moscow on March 17, 1918, as the Commissar for War just two days after the Soviets agreed to let the Czechoslovak Legion escape in peace.  Trotsky had take control of all military responsibility, so he requested at once to review the terms of the Czechoslovak Legion’s grant for a safe escape through Russian territory (Benes, 355.)

            After Trotsky’s review, on March 26, 1918, Commissar of Nationalities Joseph Stalin sent a telegram to the Czechoslovak National Council.  The telegram contained the new conditions that were to be met by the Czechoslovak Legion if they wished to have a safe evacuation out of Russia through Siberia (Bunyan, 81.)  The following conditions were:

 

1)    The Evacuation must begin at once.

2)    The non-Communist Russian officers who still occupied the highest command positions in the Corps (referred to as the “counter-revolutionary commanders”) must be immediately removed.

3)    The members of the Corps should proceed not as fighting units but as a group of free citizens, taking with them a certain quantity of arms for self-defense against the attack of counter-revolutionists.

 

            The conditions were set into place immediately.  Soviet military officials proceeded to the city of Penza, which was the current position of the Czechoslovak Legion on March 27, 1918.  They were there to enforce the new conditions.  The Soviet officials declared to the Czechoslovak Legion, “each trainload of Czechs may have one armed company of 168 men, with rifles and a single trench mortar (Bunyan, 82.)”  The Soviet military officials also retained the counter-revolutionary commanders.  After the Czechoslovak Legion had passed Soviet Inspection, they were back on their way to the east.  Although the majority of the Czech soldiers had complied with the terms of the Soviet inspection, some of them were suspicious of the Bolsheviks.  They felt that once they gave up their weapons, they would be very vulnerable to outside attacks from revolutionary guerillas, or possibly even the Bolsheviks (Kennan, 9.)  Therefore, a number of Czech soldiers hid additional arms and supplies in the trains that escaped the eyes of the Soviet officials.

            After the Allied commanders, especially President Wilson, agreed upon the Allied intervention the Japanese wasted no time in deploying to Siberia.  By April 5, 1918, the Japanese had deployed their first troops.  This was months before the other Allies would reach Siberia.  The Bolsheviks read the Japanese landing as the beginning of some type of large-scale movement against the Russian government (Kluchnikov, Sabanin, 137.)  The soviets became even more suspicious about the objectives of the Czechoslovak Legion.  The Soviets jumped to conclusions and ordered that the Czechoslovak Legion’s movement across Siberia be immediately stopped on April 7, 1918.  After the Soviet’s worries about the Japanese landing had been pacified a few days later, they recalled the orders to stop the Czechs, and let them continue.  This was a brief rift in the Soviet-Czechoslovak relationship, however tensions would continue to grow past this point.

            The Czechoslovak Legion began to change its submissive attitude toward the Bolsheviks.  Some of the Russia commanders in the Legion that had avoided capture by the Soviets were tied to underground Russian anti-Communist groups.  On April 14, 1918, several of the commanding officers from the First Division of the Czechoslovak Legion met at Kirsanov to discuss their options.  They discussed recent efforts by the Bolsheviks to penetrate their ranks and flip Czech soldiers to fight for the Soviet cause (Izvestiya, No. 83, 1918.)  The Soviets began a heavy propaganda campaign to rally for conscription of Czechs into regional Red Guard units or the new Soviet Red Army.  The Czech commanders were also suspicious of the German influence on Soviet officials after the treaty of Brest-Litovsk.  Count Mirbach had just arrived in Moscow to take over as the new German Ambassador (Bothmer, 123.)  The Czech commanders could not help but feel that behind every Bolshevik official that they were negotiating with, the was a secret, enemy German influence.  Therefore, the leaders of the Czechoslovak Legion had decided to fight their way out of Russia if they had to (Kennan, 10.)

            The British military was also taking great interest in the current situation of the Czechoslovak Legion.  On April 1, 1918, British Military officers approached the French government and the Czechoslovak National Council with an alternate plan for the Czechoslovak Legion.  The British thought that the Legion could be used effectively in the Allied intervention if it linked up with Japan, or if they were to move north to Murmansk and Archangelsk to guard ports and protect allied supplies from the Germans (Benes, 357.)  After hearing out the British, the French command respectively denied any change in the Czechoslovaks movement.  The French command needed the Czechs on the Western Front, and did not want to waste any time getting them there.

            Although the first proposal was shot down, the idea of using the Czechoslovak Legion in Russia still lingered in the minds of the British and French commanders.  Shortly after the first plan, French and British Military authorities began to create a more specialized plan.  The plan was to essentially divide the Czechoslovak Legion in half.  The division was based on the troops current location along the Trans-Siberian Railroad.  The trainloads of Czech soldiers that had already passed east of the Urals would continue on their way to Vladivostok to eventually be sent to France.  The Czech soldiers that were west of the Urals were to be redirected to Northern Russia where they would guard the ports of Archangelsk and Murmansk (Newbolt, 318.)  The idea started to gain serious popularity, so it was officially proposed to the Supreme War Council on April 27, 1918.  After its initial hearing, the plan was then brought up again on May 2, 1918.  The deliberations caused the British and French to write out strict conditions that would outline the responsibility for the split:

 

1)    The British Government undertakes to do their best to arrange transportation of those Czech Troops who are in Vladivostok or on their way to that port.

2)    The French Government undertakes to the responsibility for those troops until they are embarked.

3)    The British Government undertakes to approach M. Trotsky with a view to the concentration at Murmansk and Archangelsk of those Czech troops not belonging to the Army Corps which has left Omsk for Vladivostok (National Archives, 1918.)

 

            The Supreme War Council had ultimately decided in favor of the joint British and French Plan.  They agreed that the Czechoslovak Legion should be split, half to continue to the Vladivostok and the other half to head to Archangelsk and Murmansk.  However, the French and British militaries had not reached a solution for how quickly they wanted to transport the dedicated Czechoslovak Legion to the Western Front in France.

            The first of the Czechoslovak Legion had reached Vladivostok in May 1918.  Even though the first of the troops had ompleted the journey, the struggle with the Soviet officials was far from over.  In April 1918, Ataman Grigory Semyonov had started a new campaign against the Bolsheviks in the Trans-Baikal region.  In response to the offensive, the Soviet authorities yet again ordered the movement of the Czechoslovak Legion to be stopped.  The troops that were still traveling along the Trans-Siberian Railroad were forced to remain inactive at railroad stations and sidetracks.  When the Czechoslovak Legion commanders heard news of the British and French plans to split the force, they were astonished.  To build on the astonishment, in early May 1918, the Commissar for Foreign Affairs in the Soviet government, Georgy Vasilyevich Chicherin, granted the release of trains east of Omsk to continue to Vladivostok, but ordered the trains west of Omsk to proceed to Northern Russia (Bunyan, 85.)  The Czechoslovak Legion sent two envoys to Moscow in order to clear up their confusion.  However, once the envoys arrived, they were told that Chicherin’s orders had been negotiated with the Allies, so the orders were official and considered of best interest to the Allied war effort.  Trotsky ensured the Czechoslovak Envoy that the Soviet government would aid the First Divisions extraction to the North (Kennan, II, 12.)

            The cooperative relationship between the Czechoslovak Legion and the Soviets completely changed in May 1918 after a grave incident occurred on the Trans-Siberian Railroad (Bunyan, 86.)  On May 14, 1918, a train carrying Czechoslovak troops reached the station at Cheliabinsk in Western Siberia.  On the westbound tracks, there was a train containing Hungarian prisoners of war that were being returned to Hungary on orders from the conclusion of the Brest-Litovsk treaty that encouraged repatriation of all prisoners of war.  Within minutes of stopping violence erupted between the Czechs and the Hungarians.  As the train carrying the Hungarians left the station, one of the Hungarian soldiers threw a piece of iron into the Czech train, killing one of the Czech Soldiers.  A unit of Czech soldiers pursued, stopped, and boarded the Hungarian train.  The Czech soldiers then found the Hungarian perpetrator that committed the act, and lynched him (Kratochvíl, 550-551.)  After the Czechs took their revenge, local Soviet officials arrested them.  The Czechoslovak Legion in turn sent a delegation to the local prison to demand the release of their soldiers.  The Soviets then arrested the entire delegation.  When the rest of the Legion heard of this news on May 17, 1918, they initiated an armed offense against the town of Cheliabinsk, raided the town arsenal, and set their comrades free (Unterberger, 174.)  In response to the news from Cheliabinsk, the Soviet authorities in Moscow arrested the two Czech envoys that had arrived just a few days before.  The Soviets made the envoys sign a telegram to the Czechoslovak Legion that demanded the troops to immediately surrender their weapons to the local Cheliabinsk Soviet authorities.  Trotsky ordered the local Soviets to shoot any Czech soldier with a weapon on sight, and to either organize the troops into labor units or force them to enlist in the Soviet Red Army (Bunyan, 88.)  Furthermore, delegations between Czech and Soviet officials resulted in an official resolution that solidified the previous orders.  However, the Czech military officials offered a counter resolution that would go against the directive of the Soviets, strongly stating that they would retain their arms and still continue eastward.  Once word spread to the commanders of the Czechoslovak Legion about Trotsky’s orders, they decided to fight their way 4,000 miles out of Russian to Vladivostok (Melton, 9.)  Once Trotsky learned of the Czech defiance against the orders of the Soviet government, he put out this official statement:

           

“All Soviets are hereby ordered to disarm the Czechoslovaks immediately.  Every armed Czechoslovak found on the railway is to be shot on the spot; every troop train in which even one armed man is found shall be unloaded, and its soldiers shall be interned in a war prisoners' camp.  Local war commissars must proceed at once to carry out this order; every delay will be considered treason and will bring the offender severe punishment. If your forces are not adequate to disarm them, do everything possible to stop the echelons: side-track them, take their locomotives, in urgent cases tear up the railway tracks (Bunyan, 91.)”

 

            An increase in fighting between the Czechoslovak Legion and the Bolsheviks started on May 26, 1918.  Trotsky was thoroughly convinced that the Allies and Russian counter-revolutionaries were using the Czechoslovak Legion as a precursor to an upcoming Japanese intervention in Siberia (Sadoul, 369.)  Although the Soviets were blaming the Allies, none of the Allies had ever instructed the Czechoslovak Legion to challenge Soviet authority on their own.  And the French Command certainly did not authorize the Czechoslovak Legion to start a counter-revolution against the Bolsheviks in May 1918 (Kennan, 16.)  Due to all the hold ups and commotion that plagued the Czech escape, the lines of authority between the French and Czech commanders had become confused.  After hearing about the incident in Cheliabinsk, the French Military Mission in Moscow came to the decision that it was now the appropriate time to reestablish authority and require that the Czechoslovak Legion accept the conditions of the Soviets to disarm, and allow the Soviet authorities to ensure their safe passage out of Russia.  Joseph Noulens, however, negotiated with the Allies and the Soviets that the Czechs “ had the right to leave with their arms; this right ought to be respected (Noulens, 86.)”  The parties respected Noulens proposition, and approved.  But it would be some time before this news could reach the Czechoslovak Legion, and counter-revolutionary action was already underway.

            After the Czechoslovak Legion had revolted against the Soviets in Cheliabinsk, they accomplished a number of operational successes from May to June 1918.  Within that time they had seized Penza, and complete control of the Trans-Siberian Railroad from there to Omsk.  As the Czechoslovak Legion raided towns along the railroad, they were able to seize large amounts of arms and ammunition (Luckett, 163.)  These seizures made up for the supplies that had initially been taken from the Bolsheviks, and restored the Czechoslovak Legion’s arms strength.  The Czechoslovak Legion met very little resistance in their expansion until June 1918.  The Czechoslovak Legion battled against the Bolsheviks for twelve days in order to capture the Siberian city of Irkutsk; the operation was a success for the Czechoslovak Legion (Melton, 34.)  Radola Gadja, who had joined the Czechoslovak Legion on January 30, 1917, led the Czechoslovak Legion’s advance through Siberia. Gadja joined the Czechoslovak Legion as a staff captain after he was captured while serving for the Austro-Hungarian Army, he eventually worked his way up to the rank of general through his service.  He gained the most popularity from his leadership over the operation to capture Perm.  On December 24, 1918, General Gadja commanded the Czechoslovak Legion during the takeover where they captured 20,000 prisoners, 5,000 cars of rolling stock, 60 cannons, 1,000 machine guns and ships that had been frozen in the Kama River.  General Gadja and his Czechoslovak Legion were met with great resistance from a strong Bolshevik presence as they continued from Irkutsk down through the Baikal sector.  The Bolsheviks followed Trotsky’s orders, and blew up one of the tunnels along the Trans-Siberia Railroad that was sure to delay the Czechoslovak Legion’s movement.  It took General Gadja a month to clean up the tracks.  As soon as General Gadja was back on track and moving along the shores of Lake Baikal, the Bolsheviks had started a new offensive on the Czechoslovak Legion by firing on them with cannons from ships out in the water (Luckett, 165.)

            The Bolshevik Red Forces were able to reorganize when General Gadja was clearing the tracks.  General Gadja realized that his month long project allowed the enemy to regain strength, so he had no choice but to craft a daring ambush against the Bolsheviks; it may have been their only way to reach Vladivostok safely.  The operation was set into play.  A few units of General Gadja’s troops were sent to fight the Red forces, and then retreat to a valley where the rest of the Czechoslovak Legion was waiting.  The Bolsheviks followed the attacking units along the railroad.  They were accompanied by three armored trains, several troop transports, substantial amounts of soldiers, cavalry and additional artillery support.  General Gadja attacked the Red force at nightfall on August 4, 1918 (Luckett, 167).  The Czechoslovak Legion destroyed the tracks behind the advancing Red Army, and attacked them from both sides.  The battle lasted for three days.  By August 7, the Bolsheviks surrendered to the Czechoslovak Legion because they were cut off and weak from battle; there was no way for them to call in reinforcements.  The Czechoslovak Legion captured sixteen steam engines and an additional amount of weapons and rolling stock.  More importantly, they had further cleared the passage of resistance to ensure their safe escape (Luckett, 168.)

            Czech forces further west were also experiencing a large amount of success.  On August 6, 1918, the Czechoslovak Legion finally captured the city of Kazan in the Volga region after a month long battle.  When the troops raided the city, they discovered that the Russian Imperial gold reserves were being held at the railroad station.  The gold reserves had been sent to Kazan in 1917 because the Russian Provisional Government thought that the Germans were going to take over Petrograd (Luckett, 169.)  In his book, The Midnight War: The American Intervention in Russia, 1918-1920, Richard Goldhurst revealed the value of the capture:

 

“Twenty freight cars contained vast riches: 650,000,000 rubles in gold; 100,000,000 paper Romanovs, which still held their face value; Tsar Nicholas’s and the Empress Alexandra’s personal gold, silver, and platinum stocks; several imperial crowns; an assortment of jewels; a priceless porcelain collection; and two old assayers, who kept the registers and lived in the boxcars with their families.  The treasure had an estimated value of half a billion dollars (Goldhurst, 67-68.)”

 

            The Czechoslovak Legion quickly packed up the riches and sent them on their way to Cheliabinsk.  They would use the capture as in negotiations with the Allies and the Bolsheviks.  When General Graves arrived to Vladivostok on September 2, 1918, he immediately ordered the rescue of the Czechoslovak Legion.  However, after he issued the order he was surprised to hear that the three main Czechoslovak Legion divisions that were making their way across Siberia had finally joined forces on August 31, 1918.  The Czechoslovak legion was in complete control of the Trans-Siberian Railway from the Volga region to Vladivostok (Melton, 51.)  With the Czechoslovak troops in good position, General Graves was no longer pressed to provide them with aid.  General Graves did not realize that the Czechoslovak Legion had begun its own counter-revolutionary movement against the Bolsheviks while it progressed eastward to Vladivostok in the spring of 1918.  The Czechs were still calling for the aid of the United States, but it was for a different reason.  Outlined by President Wilson’s Aide Memoire, General Graves was prohibited to interfere with the Russian government.  The Czechoslovak Legion was requesting aid from General Graves to supply them in their fight against the Bolsheviks; this was simply against the specific conditions of the United States’ role in the allied intervention.  If the Czechoslovak Legion was still trying to escape Russia, the United States was obligated to get them out.  The Czechoslovak Legion had instead decided to remain and fight in Siberia, which would prove a big mistake to their future existence.

            Although the Czechoslovak Legion had experienced enormous successes against Soviet forces during its journey across Siberia, things started turning for the worst in September 1918.  A newly charged Red Army offensive had defeated the Czechoslovak Legion’s occupying forces in Omsk.  Also, from September – October 1918, the Bolsheviks recaptured the cities of Simbirsk, Volsk, Syran, and Samara (Melton, 81.)

            On October 1, 1918, the commanding general of the Czechoslovak Legion in Cheliabinsk, General Jan Syrový, wrote to General Graves requesting immediate aid.  He reported that:

 

“All the physical and moral forces of the Czechoslovak troops have been exhausted by four months of continuous struggle.  The men are at the end of their strength [and] the losses from disease and wounds reach a maximum of fifty percent.  The units of our eastern detachment are insufficient to hold the front.  The coming of two or three allied divisions would instantly change the situation, encouraging, by their presence, both our own troops and the Russian Units fighting with us (Syrový to Graves, 21-23.11.)”

 

            General Graves stood true to President Wilson’s Aide Memoire and denied aid to General Syrový, unless he was to abandon the Volga front. General Syrový and the Czechoslovak Legion did not take General Graves’s offer.  Later in October 1918, the 4th and 1st Regiments of the Czechoslovak Legion deserted due to the conditions they were under.  Due to heavy casualties from Bolshevik offensives, shortages of supplies, exhaustion, the harsh Siberian winter, and lack of Allied support, the entire 1st Division of the Czechoslovak Legion finally collapsed.  They were no longer an effective fighting force (Bradley, 93.)

            The Czechoslovak Legion fought valiantly so secure its escape out of Russia during the spring of 1918.  Coming across great military successes fighting across Siberia, the Czechoslovak Legion began to lose sight of its ultimate goal of escape.  They became overconfident in their abilities to carry out a counterrevolution, which slowed their evacuation out of Siberia, and influenced them to keep fighting.  If the Czechoslovak Legion had stuck to the original plan, they may not have met the harsh fate of collapse in October 1918.

 

References:


1)    Bradley, J. F. N. Civil War in Russia, 1917-1920. New York: St. Martin's, 1975. Print.

2)    Beneš, Edvard, and Paul Selver. My War Memoirs. London: G. Allen and Unwin, 1928. Print.

3)    Bothmer, Karl, Andre Nikolaevich. Sakharov, A. K. Sokolov, and Uri Felshtinski. S Grafom Mirbakhom v Moskve: Dnevnikovye Zapisi I Dokumenty Za Period S 19 Aprelia Po 24 Avgusta 1918 G. Lewistown, NY: Edwin Mellen, 1999. Print.

4)    Bunyan, James. Intervention, Civil War, and Communism in Russia, April-December 1918; Documents and Materials. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins, 1936. Print.

5)    Cipko, Serge, and Michael Palij. "Mahkno, Nestor." Encyclopedia of Ukraine. Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, 1993. Web. 14 Apr. 2012.

6)    Duffy, Michael. "Peace Treaty Between Ukraine and Central Powers, 9 February 1918." First World War.com. 22 Aug. 2009. Web. 14 Mar. 2012. <http://www.firstworldwar.com/source/ukrainianpeacetreaty.htm>.

7)    Goldhurst, Richard. The Midnight War: The American Intervention in Russia, 1918-1920. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1978. Print.

8)    Kennan, George F. "The Czechoslovak Legion." Russian Review 16.4 (1957): 3-16. Print.

9)    Kennan, George F. "The Czechoslovak Legion II." Russian Review 17.1 (1958): 11-28. Print.

10) Kluchnikov, and Sabanin. "Extract from the Russian Government’s Statement on the Japanese Landing at Vladivostok." Marxists Internet Archive. Soviet Foreign Policy, 5 Apr. 1918. Web. 10 Apr. 2012. <http://www.marxists.org/history/ussr/government/foreign-relations/1918/April/5.htm>.

11) Kratochvíl, Jaroslav, and Josef Čapek. Cesta Revoluce. Praha: Čin, 1928. Print.

12) Luckett, Richard. The White Generals: An Account of the White Movement and the Russian Civil War. London: Longman, 1971. Print.

13) Mawdsley, Evan. The Russian Civil War. Boston: Allen & Unwin, 1987. Print.

14) National Archives, War Records Division, Record Group 120, Records of the American Expeditionary Forces.  Supreme War Council Papers. 8 Apr. 1918.

15) Newbolt, Henry. History of the Great War: Naval Operations, Vol.5. [S.l.]: Longmans, 1931. Print.

16) Noulens, Joseph. Mon Ambassade En Russie Soviétique 1917-1919. Vol. II. Paris: Plon & Nourrit, 1933. Print.

17) Read, Christopher. "Russian Intelligentsia and the Bolshevik Revolution." History Today. Web. 21 Apr. 2012. <http://www.historytoday.com/christopher-read/russian-intelligentsia-and-bolshevik-revolution>.

18) Sadoul, Jacques, and Albert Thomas. Notes Sur La Révolution Bolchevique (Octobre 1917-Janvier 1919). Paris: Éditions De La Sirène, 1920. Print.

19) "Subversion of Czechoslovak Corps." Izvestiya [Moscow] 26 Apr. 1918, 83rd ed.: 3. Print.

20) Syrový to Graves, 1 October 1918, Historical Files of the AEF, file 21-23.11.

21) Tunstall, Graydon A. "Austria-Hungary and the Brusilov Offensive of 1916." The Historian 70.1 (2008): 30-53. Print.

22) Unterberger, Betty Miller. The United States, Revolutionary Russia, and the Rise of Czechoslovakia. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 1989. Print.

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