Radola Gajda

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Radola Gajda
Radola Gajda in the 1920s
Born(1892-02-14)14 February 1892
Kotor, Kingdom of Dalmatia, Austria-Hungary
Died15 April 1948(1948-04-15) (aged 56)
Prague, Czechoslovakia
AllegianceFlag of Austria-Hungary (1869-1918).svg  Austria-Hungary
Flag of the Kingdom of Montenegro.svg  Kingdom of Montenegro
Flag of The Russian Empire 1883.svg  Russian Empire
Flag of the Czech Republic.svg  Czechoslovakia
Years of service1910-11; 1914-15 (Austro-Hungarian Army)
1915 - 1916 (Montenegrin Army)
1917-19; 1920-26 (Czechoslovak Army)
1919 (White Army)
RankCaptain (Montenegro)
Major General (Czechoslovakia)
Commands held Siberian Army

Radola Gajda, born as Rudolf Geidl (14 February 1892, Kotor, Kingdom of Dalmatia, Austria-Hungary – 15 April 1948, Prague, Czechoslovakia was military commander and politician.

Kotor Place in Kotor Municipality, Montenegro

Kotor is a coastal town in Montenegro. It is located in a secluded part of the Gulf of Kotor. The city has a population of 13,510 and is the administrative center of Kotor Municipality.

Kingdom of Dalmatia second kingdom, crown land of the Austrian Empire (1815-1867) and the Cisleithanian half of Austria-Hungary (1867-1918)

The Kingdom of Dalmatia was a crown land of the Austrian Empire (1815–1867) and the Cisleithanian half of Austria-Hungary (1867–1918). It encompassed the entirety of the region of Dalmatia, with its capital at Zadar.

Austria-Hungary Constitutional monarchic union from 1867 to October 1918

Austria-Hungary, often referred to as the Austro-Hungarian Empire or the Dual Monarchy, was a constitutional monarchy in Central and Eastern Europe from 1867 to 1918. It was formed by giving a new constitution to the Austrian Empire, which devolved powers on Austria (Cisleithania) and Hungary (Transleithania) and placed them on an equal footing. It broke apart into several states at the end of World War I.


Early years

Geidl's father was an officer in the Austro-Hungarian Army based in Kotor. His mother was a poor Montenegrin noblewoman. Later, the family moved to Kyjov, Moravia, where Geidl studied at a secondary grammar school. In 1910 he went through one year of compulsory military service in Mostar. Afterwards Geidl left for the Balkans and likely took part in the Balkan Wars (1912–13). At the start of World War I he rejoined the Austro-Hungarian Army and served in Dalmatia and Sarajevo. In September 1915 he was taken prisoner in Višegrad, Bosnia.

Austro-Hungarian Army ground force of the Austro-Hungarian Dual Monarchy from 1867 to 1918

The Austro-Hungarian Army was the ground force of the Austro-Hungarian Dual Monarchy from 1867 to 1918. It was composed of three parts: the joint army, the Imperial Austrian Landwehr, and the Royal Hungarian Honvéd.

Montenegrins, literally "People of the Black Mountain", are a nation and South Slavic ethnic group native to Montenegro.

Moravia Historical land in Czech Republic

Moravia is a historical region in the Czech Republic and one of the historical Czech lands, together with Bohemia and Czech Silesia. The medieval and early modern Margraviate of Moravia was a crown land of the Lands of the Bohemian Crown, an imperial state of the Holy Roman Empire, later a crown land of the Austrian Empire and briefly also one of 17 former crown lands of the Cisleithanian part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire from 1867 to 1918. During the early 20th century, Moravia was one of the five lands of Czechoslovakia from 1918 to 1928; it was then merged with Czech Silesia, and eventually dissolved by abolition of the land system in 1949.


Immediately after his capture, Geidl switched sides and was commissioned as a captain in the Montenegrin Army. Having some experience as an apothecary, he pretended to be a physician. [1] Following the collapse of the Montenegrin Army in 1916, Gajda escaped into Russia where he joined a Serbian battalion as a physician.

Montenegro Republic in Southeastern Europe

Montenegro is a country in Southeastern Europe on the Adriatic Sea. It borders Bosnia and Herzegovina to the north; Serbia and Kosovo to the east, Albania to the south and Croatia to the west. Montenegro has an area of 13,812 square kilometres and a population of 678,000, most of whom are Orthodox Christians. Its capital Podgorica is one of the twenty-three municipalities in the country. Cetinje is designated as the Old Royal Capital.

Physician professional who practices medicine

A physician, medical practitioner, medical doctor, or simply doctor is a professional who practises medicine, which is concerned with promoting, maintaining, or restoring health through the study, diagnosis, prognosis and treatment of disease, injury, and other physical and mental impairments. Physicians may focus their practice on certain disease categories, types of patients and methods of treatment—known as specialities—or they may assume responsibility for the provision of continuing and comprehensive medical care to individuals, families, and communities—known as general practice. Medical practice properly requires both a detailed knowledge of the academic disciplines underlying diseases and their treatment—the science of medicine—and also a decent competence in its applied practice—the art or craft of medicine.

Russian Empire Former country, 1721–1917

The Russian Empire, also known as Imperial Russia or simply Russia, was an empire that existed across Eurasia and North America from 1721, following the end of the Great Northern War, until the Republic was proclaimed by the Provisional Government that took power after the February Revolution of 1917.

At the end of 1916 the battalion was destroyed and Gajda joined the Czechoslovak Legions (30 January 1917) as a staff captain. Gajda proved himself as an able commander in the Battle of Zborov and quickly rose through the military hierarchy.

Battle of Zborov (1917) WW1 battle

The Battle of Zborov was a part of the Kerensky Offensive,. The battle was the first significant action of the Czechoslovak Legions on the Eastern Front and the only successful engagement of the failed Russian offensive.

During the evacuation of the Legion in 1918 via the Trans-Siberian railway violence erupted between the Legion and the Bolsheviks. Czechoslovak soldiers quickly occupied large tracts of the railway east of the Volga. Gajda commanded the area from Novonikolayevsk (Novosibirsk) north to Irkutsk. Aggressive tactics, sometimes against the orders of his superiors, helped to defeat the Bolshevik forces and connect all units of the Legion. This contributed to his conflict with Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, [2] who wanted the Legions to stay neutral in the Russian civil war.

Bolsheviks faction of the Marxist Russian Social Democratic Labour Party

The Bolsheviks, originally also Bolshevists or Bolsheviki, were a faction of the Marxist Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (RSDLP) which split apart from the Menshevik faction at the Second Party Congress in 1903. The RSDLP was a revolutionary socialist political party formed in 1898 in Minsk in Belarus to unite the various revolutionary organisations of the Russian Empire into one party.

Irkutsk City in eastern Russia

Irkutsk is the administrative center of Irkutsk Oblast, Russia, and one of the largest cities in Siberia.

Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk First Czechoslovak president

Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, sometimes anglicised to Thomas Masaryk, was a Czechoslovak politician, statesman, sociologist and philosopher.

The most successful operation was the capture of Perm (24 December 1918) where the Legion took 20,000 prisoners and seized 5,000 railway cars, 60 cannon, 1,000 machine guns and the fleet frozen in the Kama River. Gajda's enjoyed widespread popularity amongst his troops and throughout the White movement. He was promoted to Major-General and nicknamed "the Siberian Ataman" and "the Siberian Tiger." He later accepted an invitation from Aleksandr Kolchak to become a commander in his army.

Kama River river in Russia

The Kama is a river 1,805 kilometres (1,122 mi) long in Russia. It is the longest left tributary of the Volga and the largest one in discharge. At their confluence, in fact, the Kama is even larger than the Volga.

White movement anti-Bolshevik movement

The White movement and its military arm the White Army, also known as the White Guard, the White Guardsmen or simply the Whites, was a loose confederation of anti-communist forces that fought the Communist Bolsheviks, also known as the Reds, in the Russian Civil War (1917–1922/1923) and to a lesser extent continued operating as militarized associations insurrectionists both outside and within Russian borders in Siberia until roughly World War II (1939–1945).

His career with Kolchak was less successful—the Red Army had begun to take the initiative while Kolchak's forces dwindled away. Gajda, out of Kolchak's favor, was dismissed on 5 July 1919. After involving himself in the unsuccessful mutiny of Esers against Kolchak (17 November 1919) he escaped from Siberia and took ship to Europe.

Military career in Czechoslovakia

Poster of general Radola Gajda. RadolaGajda.JPG
Poster of general Radola Gajda.

After arriving in Czechoslovakia in early 1920, Gajda was given a pension and the rank of General, but was not assigned a command. In November 1920 he was sent to study military theory at the École supérieure de guerre in France. He also studied agriculture at the Institut Technique de Pratique Agricole.

Gajda returned two years later. On 9 October 1922, he was given command of the 11th Division in Košice, Slovakia. His involvement in the cultural life of the region soon endeared him to the locals. On 1 December 1924 he was named Deputy Chief of the General Staff in Prague under General Eugène Mittelhauser, head of French military mission in Czechoslovakia. Gajda became a rival of Mittelhauser and Mittelhauser's predecessor Maurice Pellé. [2] In this capacity, Gajda worked successfully to limit the influence of the mission, which was brought to an end in 1926. On 20 March 1926 he became Acting Chief of the General Staff. In his position he backed up former legionnaires against former loyalist Austrian officers.[ citation needed ]

Under pressure from president Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk Gajda was forced to retire, because he had publicly shown himself sympathetic to Italian fascism. Combined with envy, political intrigue and fear of a military coup (similar to the contemporary May Coup in Poland) this led to the dismissal of the ambitious general.[ citation needed ]


Still a young man of 34, Gajda decided to turn to politics. At the end of 1926 he took part in the founding of the National Fascist Community (Czech : Národní obec fašistická, NOF), modeled on Benito Mussolini's National Fascist Party and became its leader on 2 January 1927. In 1929 the party took several seats in parliament. In 1931 Gajda was briefly imprisoned and stripped of military rank due to a prior scandal.

During the night of 21-22 January 1933, the Židenice Mutiny broke out in Brno. This was an attempt on the part of 70 to 80 local fascists to overthrow the government by means of a military coup. The mutiny was immediately suppressed. Gajda was arrested the next day and charged with inciting the coup. Initially he was absolved of wrongdoing but after political pressure the verdict was revised. Gajda was sentenced to six months in prison and the forfeiture of his military pension.

Grave of Radola Gajda in Prague (2003), damaged by vandals in April 2007 Hrob generala Gajdy.jpg
Grave of Radola Gajda in Prague (2003), damaged by vandals in April 2007

The NOF was somewhat successful in the 1935 elections and Gajda obtained a seat in parliament, which he was to hold until 1939. At this time, the NOF had a strong anti-German orientation, supported a military buildup and favored war with Nazi Germany over the Sudetenland. (After the Munich Agreement Gajda, as a gesture of defiance, returned all French and British honors and medals.) In 1939 he was rehabilitated and restored to the rank of General. He also became active in the newly established Party of National Unity (Czech : Strana národní jednoty).

During March 1939, the Czechoslovakian political scene was in state of turmoil. Several coups were attempted, one in anticipation of making Gajda the new head of state. These amateurish coups ended in fiasco and several days later the remaining Czech lands were occupied by Nazi Germany.

Gajda was marginalized during the occupation and abandoned politics. He occasionally assisted the Czech resistance by helping army officers to flee into Poland and by hiding the resistance activities of his son. He was investigated by the Gestapo but avoided imprisonment. When World War II ended Gajda was imprisoned by the NKVD (12 May 1945) and interrogated under harsh conditions (he lost his eyesight while jailed).

Last years

In April 1947 he was brought to trial for "propagation of Fascism and Nazism", for which the prosecutor requested a life sentence. Gajda's guilt was far from clear and the resulting sentence of two years allowed him to leave prison shortly thereafter. Penniless and forgotten, he died several months later.

See also


  1. http://psp.cz/eknih/1929ns/ps/stenprot/110schuz/s110007.htm
  2. 1 2 Milan Nakonečný: Zneuctěný a zapomenutý hrdina Archived 2008-05-30 at the Wayback Machine (PDF) (in Czech)

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