This Day In History: The Czech Legion Seized Valdivostok (1918)

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On July 6, 1918, troops of the Czech Legion, in Russia and sympathetic to the allies, seized the port of Vladivostok. They declared that the port was an Allied port and was to be open to all allied shipping. They threw the local communists out of the area.

The Czech Legion’s ultimate goal was to secure independence for their country from the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Many Czechs had enlisted in the Austro-Hungarian army or had been conscripted they had fought against the Allies. However, many Czech’s had also fought on the side of the allies and hoped they would help their homeland achieve independence. Many Czechs had lived in Russian since the late 19th century and they had opted to fight for their country’s independence by fighting with Russia. During the fighting on the Eastern Front, many Czechs surrendered to the Russian army and then others deliberately deserted to the enemy.

fighting on behalf of the Allies during World War I and for the cause of their own independent Czecho-Slovak state, declare the Russian port of Vladivostok, on the Pacific Ocean, to be an Allied protectorate, having gained control of the port and overthrown the local Bolshevik administration a week earlier.

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Ceremony honoring the Czech Legion

In 1917, Thomas Masaryk, a professor of philosophy, Czech nationalist and a future leader of Czechoslovakia began asked the Russian government to let him raise an army  of Czechs and Slovaks to fight Austro-Hungary. The Russian agreed and the Czech Legion was formed.

However, the Russian Revolution thwarted the plans of the Czech nationalists. They found themselves isolated in Russia. They were unable to join up with the Allies because of the German. They decided to head east and hoped to join the war by travelling via the Pacific to Western Europe.  As they did so they came into conflict with the Bolsheviks.

By the summer of 1918 they had reached the port of Vladivostok. The western allies saw them as a way of defeating or at least halting the advance of the Russian Communists. The Czechs hoped to hand over the city to the Japanese Empire and to be shipped to the battlefields of France.

On July 7 day, more Czech troops toppled Red army units and occupied the city of Irkutsk, and this allowed the allies to effectively control Siberia. This all happened as the Germans had occupied the Ukraine.

The western allies were so pleased with the successes of the Czech Legion they recognized Czechoslovakia as an independent state.

The Czech Legion are recognized as playing a major role in securing the independence of the Czechoslovakia.

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