Red Guards

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Red Guards were groups of Russian armed factory workers, which Vladimir Lenin organized to march on the Winter Palace in November 1917. The Red Guards arrested the leader of the Russian provisional government. The Red Guards had over 200,000 personnel and did perform as the regular army between the time of the new Soviet government. The Red Guard demobilized the old Russian military and then the Red Army was created as a replacement.


Chinese Red Guards

Red Guards was also the name given to the organizations of college students and schoolchildren raised in the 1960s to advance the aims of Mao Zedong's Cultural Revolution in China, and numbering perhaps 11 million in total. The Red Guards caused tremendous destruction in China. Teachers, 'intellectuals' and even government ministers were humiliated, beaten and many tens (or even hundreds) of thousands of victims died or committed suicide; the British and Soviet embassies in Beijing were attacked; libraries and cultural artefacts were destroyed (including the majority of Buddhist monasteries in Tibet), and many thousands of people were killed in armed conflict between opposing Red Guard factions in cities across China. After two years of near anarchy Mao called upon the army to restore order in China, and the Red Guards and other urban youth were sent to live on communes in the countryside, to 'learn from the peasants'.