Tuesday, April 21, 2015
Lidové Milice (People's Militia)
An infamous group of Czech Radiovka wearers:
People's Militias (Lidové milice), also called The armed fist of the working class was a militia organisation of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia during between 1948 and 1989.
The predecessor of militias were armed groups of factory workers formed in June 1945 to protect the factories during post-war chaos. In 1946 they were renamed Závodní stráže (Factory Guards) and their equipment reduced to pistols.
In the middle of February 1948 the central committee of the Communist Party decided to form armed units from Communist Party members and supporters. Early 1948 these units were renamed Dělnické milice (Worker's Militias). The militias were hastily equipped and set on alert during the communist takeover of power at the end of February. The name was soon changed to People's Militias.
The task of the militias was to protect against guerrillas expected to appear after the takeover, against undercover agents sent to Czechoslovakia and to cooperate with the police and the army. About 3,000 militiamen joined police forces. Non-communists were slowly removed from the militias. The control over the militias went to the Ministry of the Interior.
In 1952 the official status of the militias changed to being the armed part of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia and control passed to the Communist Party.
Toward the end of the 1980s, political tensions in Czechoslovakia increased and the militias, equipped with batons, were frequently deployed to disperse demonstrations against the regime. In 1989, 38,985 militiamen participated in this activity.
After the communist party's fall from power at the end of 1989, the militias were dissolved on December 21, 1989.
And yes, the berets, Radiovkas, are the same as worn by generations of Czech farmers and city folk alike, made by the same FEZCO-TONAK factory in Strakonice.
The Radiovka was such a typical part of the uniform that it appears on various commemoration coins and medals.