Last modified: 2023-07-22 by valentin poposki
Keywords: russian empire | white army | russian civil war | white russians |
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image by Pete Loeser, 13 April 2014
West Russian Volunteer Army Flag - Based on this photo.
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The Russian Civil War began in the confusion caused by the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II in February 1917. It was the result of long-standing discontent with the monarchy that erupted into mass protests. In 1917 the autocratic Russian leaders pressured Tsar Nicholas into abdicating, which he did during the during the "February Revolution." Following Tsar Nicholas' abdication, a Russian Provisional Government was formed under the leadership of Alexander Kerensky, but it inturn was overthrown by the extremist Bolshevik Party in the "October Revolution," which triggered the bloody Russian Civil War. The extremist Bolshevik party's take over would eventual lead to the execution of the whole Russian Imperial Family (Nicholas II, Empress Alexandra and their five children) in July of 1918.
The Russian Civil War (c1917/1918-1923) pitted the Red Bolsheviks (and the Red Army) and their allies against their adversaries the White Russians. The White Russians were not a unified army and were comprised of many of the Bolsheviks' enemies on both the left and right. After a very bloody 6-year conflict (between the Whites and Reds) the Bolsheviks emerged victorious in the late 1922s and early 1923. They eventually moved on to establishing the Soviet Union (USSR) across most of the territory of the former Russian Empire.
1. Wikipedia: Russian Civil War
2. Wikipedia: February Revolution
3. Wikipedia: Revolutions of 1917-1923
4. Wikipedia: Bolsheviks
Pete Loeser, 17 July 2023
The West Russian Volunteer Army, sometimes referred to as the "Bermontians," was a pro-German military formation in Latvia and Lithuania during the Russian Civil War in 1918-1919. The armistice ending the fighting in World War I had stipulated that troops of the "former" German Empire were to remain in the Baltic provinces of the "former" Russian Empire to help fight Bolshevik advances and were to withdraw once the Allies determined the situation was under control. The order to withdraw was given after the Treaty of Versailles was signed in June 1919.
However, a portion of the West Russian Volunteer Army stayed under the leadership of General Rüdiger von der Goltz to attempt to sustain German power in the Baltic region. To camouflage this attempt, they merged with the White Russian "Special Russian Corps" led by Cossack General Pavel Bermondt-Avalov; they then numbered approximately 50,000 troops. After suffering several White Russian setbacks and reversals General Goltz was himself recalled eventually leaving Lieutenant General von Eberhardt in command. General Eberhardt was eventually able to organize the evacuation of the remaining German volunteers through Lithuania to East Prussia. By the end of 1919, the last of the German volunteers were gone from the region.
This particular flag illustration is based on the only remaining example of a flag used by the West Russian Volunteer Army, the centered emblem is a common design used by many Russian military orders, which is a bit confusing as most of the West Russian Volunteer Army consisted of Freikorps soldiers (German mercenary volunteers), Baltic Germans, and Imperial Russian Army prisoners-of-war who agreed to fight against the Bolsheviks. (source).
Pete Loeser, 13 July 2023