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.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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