New project gives public opportunity to upload pictures of their Czechoslovak Legionary ancestors

Czechoslovak legionnaires in Russia, photo: Public Domain

A new online photo-database of Czechoslovak Legionaries who fought for the establishment of Czechoslovakia during World War One has recently been set up. The website not only gives viewers the chance to see the faces of thousands of legionaries, but also to check if an ancestor served in the force and upload their picture, or further information about them.

Since the 1990s, the Czechoslovak Legionary Association has provided online archival data detailing the specific names and origins of the Czech and Slovak soldiers who served in the Czechoslovak Legions.

Now the database is getting a personal touch after the setting up of the web-page Krev legionáře (Legionary’s blood). The author of the project, Jiří Charfreitag, is himself a decedent of a Czechoslovak legionary.

“The Czechoslovak Legionary database was already set up in 1918 to help identify those who served and was then digitised in the 1990s. We started thinking about how we could expand this database and make it more attractive to the public. This led us to add the option for the public to add specific photos and other data to each recorded legionary service member.”

Jiří Charfreitag,  photo: Ondřej Tomšů

More than 14,000 people have already added new images to the database, bringing a more personal touch to what had previously been simply a list of names.

Mr. Charfreitag says that the level of interest is considerable, with new information being added constantly.

“It is a matter of honour to have an ancestor who served in the Czechoslovak Legions. We estimate that at least a million people living in the Czech Republic today had an ancestor who was a legionary. Now, when people are at home, they have more time to research their family history.”

The database can be found on the website Those who wish to check if their ancestor served in the legions simply have to type in the name, with the option of narrowing down the search further by adding in the date and place of birth. The website then provides a list of possible legionary service members.

Asked about the accuracy of provided information, Mr. Charfreitag says that the images are corroborated with available data.

Czechoslovak legionnaires in Russia,  photo: Public Domain

“We are not able to check if the person really belongs to the family. However, all of the data that we do upload is based on further documentation that the relatives send us. These can be documents proving their service in the legions, or death certificates.”

The author of the website also highlights that it has proven to be helpful to amateur and professional historians, who use it as a pool for finding images about specific individuals they may be researching.

It is not the only recent project aimed at bringing the contemporary Czech public closer to their legionary heritage. The mobile train museum Legiovlak, which has been making rounds since 2015, draws around 100,000 visitors each year.