Red Flag and Red Star

The choice of red as the colour of the Russu Revolution deserves further explanation. Red has ii centuries been the international symbol of mutiny ai brigandage; it was the traditional colour, symbolist blood, of pirates' flags (alongside black, standing 1 death). In international naval usage, the red flag * known as the 'flag of defiance', and was raised whe-ship was preparing for battle; in contrast to the wh flag, w hich, of course, was the flag of peace or sum der.

In Russian, red or krasm has the secondary mean« of 'pretty', but for centuries red flags set up on I taller buildings of Russian towns had meant only thing a plague epidemic. This traditional mean I caused a degree of confusion after the Revolution, » for some time W hite troops gave a wide berth to to\ 1 and villages displaying red flags. But the Bolshevj persevered with this colour, and the red flag sH became firmly established as the symbol of their br_l of communism. (The white colour chosen by arj Bolshevik forces, incidentally, was associated with pi monarchy and loyalist movements, and is thought derive from the house colour of the French BourhJ monarchy.)

The other great s\ rnbol of the Revolution was i red star. There are several legends on how the fi i pointed star came to be the badge of the Red All and, consequently, of the Soviet Union. According one credible story, in 1917 many soldiers began i arrive in Moscow on their way home from the vj with Germany and Austria. To distinguish the sold .1 of the Moscow garrison from this influx of soldiei garrison members were ordered to wear a white tin on their hats. Eventually, revolutionary fervour i these soldiers to paint their tin stars red. The inno'J tion was approved by the Bolsheviks, and the red d became the official badge of the Red Army.

Another legend has it that the five-pointed star 1 introduced by Jews, who had a major presence in I first Soviet government and military structures. I'

Ifc use Jews believed that with the Revolution ■g ss. the Promised Land would be created in hatever the truth of these stories, the party Kcame that the five points of the red star ^nd >rld revolution on the five continents.

■h I'M8 the new ruling bodv of the army, the ^BL troduced the first official Red Army badge ^k ..i enamel star set in a silver wreath. The Hfc formed from two branches: a laurel on the Im and an oak branch on the left, while the red at its centre a brass hammer-and-plough - mbojising the unity of workers and peasants, hi this badge was worn only by commanders and cadets, bur it was soon adopted by all Red ■ ».' icemen, military and civilian. Known offi-t . Revolutionary Military Symbol of the Red ¿i as required to be worn on either the head-L n the left side of the greatcoat or tunic by ^k* -ien, and in a buttonhole on civilian dress.

I smaller red enamel star with the same brass m - ind-plough device w as introduced to be worn Bi In accordance with Prikaz 321 of 7 May ^ . .ile not serving with the Red Armv faced a hew .irv tribunal if caught wearing the red star. w - first year of its use the red star w as actually I * ~ide down' (see Plate A). The star on the first

Commanders of a Kazakh cavalry regiment. All are dressed in black beshmet shirts and cherkeska coats. The regimental sleeve patch is the Muslim star and crescent, and is worn by both Kazakh junior commanders and Slav senior commanders. The figure kneeling in the Jront row. Jar right, has the sleeve insignia of a starshina (sergeant-major) probably of his own personal design. Ml are armed with dragoon or Cossack shashkas, and some also have Caucasian daggers.

official medal of the Russian Soviet Federation, the Revolutionary Order of the Red Manner, appeared in a similar orientation. The star was reversed to its now habitual position only at the end of 19IS. In the following year the plough of the hammer-and-plough device began to be replaced by the peasant's scythe (or sickle), which was more easily recognisable. At first the hammer-and-sickle was seen on non-metallic items, such as sleeve patches, but from 13 April 1922 it became the official device on the red star headgear badge, and for more than 70 years was the unchallenged symbol of the Soviet Union and its army.

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