An Inconceivable Odyssey

The Czechoslovak Legion in Russia, 1914-1918

  • Nicholas William Fixler University of Minnesota
Keywords: World War I, Czechoslovakia, Russia, Czechoslovak Legion


A great deal of the material that has been produced regarding the Czechoslovak Legion which fought in Russia focuses on its story, rather than the reasons for its remarkable successes. In this paper, I will first briefly summarize the Legion’s activities in Russia, then outline the various military and geopolitical challenges which beset this army, and finally explore why the Legion was able to overcome these difficulties, which was, I argue, due to the Legion’s unorthodox structure, its adaptable diplomatic policy, and its ability to supply itself. Along with numerous secondary sources, period articles, and contemporary accounts of both the Legion’s campaigns and the Allied intervention in Siberia, the main primary source I used for this paper was the memoirs of Gustav Bećvář, a former Legionnaire who published The Lost Legion, an account of his time in the Legion, in London in 1939.