People's Guard

People's Guard (Narodnia gvardiia; German: Nationalgarde). Territorial militias established in the Austrian Empire during the Revolution of 1848–9 in the Habsburg monarchy. Ferdinand I declared their creation on 14 March 1848, and his decree of 8 April empowered them to defend the constitutional monarchy and preserve law and order. The Poles of western Galicia formed a force of 20,000 men. In eastern Galicia the units were to include both Ukrainians and Poles, but such formations were never created. Ukrainian units were organized after appeals were issued by the Supreme Ruthenian Council in September, but only in Berezhany, Lviv, Stanyslaviv, Stryi, Ternopil, Yavoriv, and Zhovkva. They had their own Ukrainian commanders, distinct uniforms, and flags depicting a golden lion on an azure background. The first drill manual in Ukrainian was published at that time in Kolomyia. Because of government opposition the Ukrainian units never fully developed, except in Yavoriv, which had 300 uniformed members. The People's Guard was abolished as an institution on 10 January 1849. People's Guard units were re-established in 1991 after Ukraine declared its sovereignty.

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 3 (1993).]

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