Těplušky a ešelony. Českoslovenští legionáři na cestě napříč Ruskem
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Teplushki and Eshelony: The Czechoslovak Legionaries across Russia by Rail
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Using specialized sources such as legionary literature (a vast sub-genre of Czech fi ction between the two world wars), memoirs, diaries, photographs, and personal effects, the author seeks in this article to portray the everyday life of the Czechoslovak legionaries in Russia from 1918 to 1920. To a considerable extent their lives were linked to their being moved about by train. At the centre of this were the teplushki , furnished and heated box cars, part of the eshelony (troop trains), which served as the makeshift homes in which they spent most of their time. The Czechoslovak volunteers boarded the teplushki in spring 1918, after retreating from the troops of the Central Powers in the Ukraine. They then headed for Vladivostok, where they were meant to board ship and sail to France. As things turned out, however, the legionaries remained in Russia far longer, and fought in battles against the Bolsheviks, at first to save themselves, but later, on the side of the Entente, in support of Masaryk’s foreign policy and the creation of an independent Czechoslovakia. The author concentrates more on the living conditions, activities, and customs of the legionaries in teplushki . He discusses the furnishings of the teplushki , the way they were decorated, and their adaptation to the current needs of the legionaries. Last but not least, he attempts to describe how the legionaries experienced their milieu and how it influenced their lives together. The author seeks to provide a vivid picture of the ‘army’ on wheels, which changed considerably over time.
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