The Red Guards

During the 1905 Russian Revolution, Red Guard] detachments sprang up in Moscow and in other towns I and cities. They reappeared in Februarv 1917, immedi-l ately after the second revolution, as a means of protect-! ing the People's Soviets (councils) as well as the! strategic factories and industrial sites where most Red I Guardsmen were recruited.

Although not directly aligned with the Bolshevik! party, it was the Red Guards of Petrograd who enabled I the Bolsheviks to seize power in the October revolution I of 1917. (Petrograd was the name given to Stl Petersburg at the outbreak of the Great War in 1914, as the latter name sounded German.) It was Red I Guards, in large part, who took the W inter Palace in I Petrograd and arrested the members of the provisional I government, and who later stormed the Moscow I Kremlin. And in the first months of the Revolution, ill was Red Guard detachments who were the only mili-l tarv force available to protect the capital against thel Germans, and who fought the White forces as they I started to appear all over Russia.

\t first the Red Guards organised themselves! loosely into local otryads (detachments) of perhaps 100-1 150 men who took turns patrolling the streets around I their factories and homes, and were called to arms in I case of military necessity. Smaller numbers of trusted! krasiwgvardeytsi were employed to guard local Soviets I and the Bolshevik HQ at the Stnolni Institute inl Petrograd.

\I1 Red Guardsmen were volunteers, and comman-l dcrs were elected at militia meetings. Besides factory workers, many Red Guard recruits were former ser-l vants of the rich and powerful, idealistic youths burn-l ing to participate in the 'W orld Revolution', as well asl outlaws and criminals who saw an opportunity to seize! riches from the abandoned palaces and town houses of I Russian aristocrats and merchants.

A more formalised organisation of the Red Guards! resulted f rom General kornilov's attempted coup at I the end of August 1917. Four desially (each of 10-151 men) made up a vzvod (platoon), four platoons made I up a druzliina, and three ilruzhinas formed a battalion, which was usually 600 strong. Bigger formations,! columns, groups, brigades and divisions also gradually I appeared.

By November 1917 the Red Guards numbered morel than 200,000 men, and they continued to expand with the arrival of demobilised soldiers in the last months of!

1 officer cadets) oj -i V Commanders'

>1. Pelrograd, ' They wear the forms of the old rnllery, with ■*jrJs removed, » p< a Iced caps, rcalcoats with i-red collar J red piping .oliar. Their ur belts have mbussed with eaded eagle and [»■■ii barrels, it near badges ■m discarded ■jrds on their

•thers have ieir collar h, ¿mi is a 3-inch Id cannon.

kcember the first regular regiments were Red Guard units: the 1st Red Workers' - Socialist Putilovsky Regiment, and the . Putilovsky Divizion (half-regiment). • .Guards were officially dissolved in 1918, although some detachments still remoter regions near the end of the Civil Red Guardsmen joined the Red Army - officially established in January 191,S, bin -- it integration dragged on for a number of \ ed greatly by the Guardsmen themselves, . _rdt used to behaving much as they liked, . >ire to submit to the stricter discipline of a Nevertheless, Guardsmen were especially - recruits for the Cheka political police, since the likely troublemakers in their own neigh-Js as well as the dark alleys in which to them.

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