Red Army

Red Army
Communist star.svg
Active15 January 1918 – 25 February 1946 (1918-01-15 – 1946-02-25)
AllegianceCommunist Party of the Soviet Union
RoleLand warfare

The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army (Russian: Рабоче-крестьянская Красная армия (РККА), Raboče-krestjjanskaja Krasnaja armija (RKKA)), frequently shortened to Red Army (Красная армия (КА), Krasnaja armija (KA); also in critical literature and folklore of that epoch – Red Horde,[1] Army of Work) was the army and the air force of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, and, after 1922, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The army was established immediately after the 1917 October Revolution (Red October or Bolshevik Revolution). The Bolsheviks raised an army to oppose the military confederations (especially the various groups collectively known as the White Army) of their adversaries during the Russian Civil War. Beginning in February 1946, the Red Army, along with the Soviet Navy, embodied the main component of the Soviet Armed Forces; taking the official name of "Soviet Army", until its dissolution in December 1991.

The Red Army is credited as being the decisive land force in the Allied victory in the European theatre of World War II, and its invasion of Manchuria contributed heavily to the ultimate unconditional surrender of Imperial Japan. During operations on the Eastern Front, it accounted for 75–80% of casualties the Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS suffered during the war and ultimately captured the Nazi German capital, Berlin.[2]


In September 1917, Vladimir Lenin wrote: "There is only one way to prevent the restoration of the police, and that is to create a people's militia and to fuse it with the army (the standing army to be replaced by the arming of the entire people)."[3] At the time, the Imperial Russian Army had started to collapse. Approximately 23% (about 19 million) of the male population of the Russian Empire were mobilized; however, most of them were not equipped with any weapons and had support roles such as maintaining the lines of communication and the base areas. The Tsarist general Nikolay Dukhonin estimated that there had been 2 million deserters, 1.8 million dead, 5 million wounded and 2 million prisoners. He estimated the remaining troops as numbering 10 million.[4]

Red Guards unit of the Vulkan factory

While the Imperial Russian Army was being taken apart, "it became apparent that the rag-tag Red Guard units and elements of the imperial army who had gone over the side of the Bolsheviks were quite inadequate to the task of defending the new government against external foes." Therefore, the Council of People's Commissars decided to form the Red Army on 28 January 1918.[a] They envisioned a body "formed from the class-conscious and best elements of the working classes." All citizens of the Russian republic aged 18 or older were eligible. Its role being the defense "of the Soviet authority, the creation of a basis for the transformation of the standing army into a force deriving its strength from a nation in arms, and, furthermore, the creation of a basis for the support of the coming Socialist Revolution in Europe." Enlistment was conditional upon "guarantees being given by a military or civil committee functioning within the territory of the Soviet Power, or by party or trade union committees or, in extreme cases, by two persons belonging to one of the above organizations." In the event of an entire unit wanting to join the Red Army, a "collective guarantee and the affirmative vote of all its members would be necessary." [5][6] Because the Red Army was composed mainly of peasants, the families of those who served were guaranteed rations and assistance with farm work.[7] Some peasants who remained at home yearned to join the Army; men, along with some women, flooded the recruitment centres. If they were turned away they would collect scrap metal and prepare care-packages. In some cases the money they earned would go towards tanks for the Army.[8]

The Council of People's Commissars appointed itself the supreme head of the Red Army, delegating command and administration of the army to the Commissariat for Military Affairs and the Special All-Russian College within this commissariat.[5] Nikolai Krylenko was the supreme commander-in-chief, with Aleksandr Myasnikyan as deputy.[9] Nikolai Podvoisky became the commissar for war, Pavel Dybenko, commissar for the fleet. Proshyan, Samoisky, Steinberg were also specified as people's commissars as well as Vladimir Bonch-Bruyevich from the Bureau of Commissars. At a joint meeting of Bolsheviks and Left Socialist-Revolutionaries, held on 22 February 1918, Krylenko remarked: "We have no army. The demoralized soldiers are fleeing, panic-stricken, as soon as they see a German helmet appear on the horizon, abandoning their artillery, convoys and all war material to the triumphantly advancing enemy. The Red Guard units are brushed aside like flies. We have no power to stay the enemy; only an immediate signing of the peace treaty will save us from destruction."[5]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Rooi Leër
العربية: الجيش الأحمر
azərbaycanca: Qızıl Ordu
বাংলা: লাল ফৌজ
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Рабоча-Сялянская Чырвоная Армія
български: Червена армия
Boarisch: Rote Armee
bosanski: Crvena armija
brezhoneg: Lu Ruz
буряад: Улаан арми
català: Exèrcit Roig
čeština: Rudá armáda
Cymraeg: Y Fyddin Goch
dansk: Røde Hær
Deutsch: Rote Armee
eesti: Punaarmee
español: Ejército Rojo
Esperanto: Ruĝa Armeo
euskara: Armada Gorria
فارسی: ارتش سرخ
français: Armée rouge
한국어: 붉은 군대
हिन्दी: लाल सेना
hrvatski: Crvena armija
Bahasa Indonesia: Tentara Merah
íslenska: Rauði herinn
italiano: Armata Rossa
Basa Jawa: Tentara Abang
ქართული: წითელი არმია
latviešu: Sarkanā armija
lietuvių: Raudonoji armija
македонски: Црвена армија
मराठी: लाल सैन्य
მარგალური: ჭითა არმია
مازِرونی: سرخ ارتش
Bahasa Melayu: Tentera Merah
नेपाली: द रेड आर्मी
日本語: 赤軍
norsk nynorsk: Den raude hæren
occitan: Armada Roja
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ: ਲਾਲ ਫ਼ੌਜ
پنجابی: رتی فوج
português: Exército Vermelho
română: Armata Roșie
саха тыла: Кыһыл Аармыйа
Scots: Reid Airmy
Seeltersk: Roode Armee
sicilianu: Armata russa
Simple English: Red Army
slovenčina: Červená armáda
slovenščina: Rdeča armada
српски / srpski: Црвена армија
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Crvena armija
Basa Sunda: Tentara Beureum
svenska: Röda armén
Tagalog: Hukbong Pula
தமிழ்: செஞ்சேனை
Türkçe: Kızıl Ordu
українська: Червона армія
اردو: سرخ فوج
Tiếng Việt: Hồng Quân
ייִדיש: רויטע ארמיי
粵語: 蘇聯紅軍
中文: 苏联红军