This article addresses the divided memory and contested meaning of the Great War in interwar Czechoslovakia. Focusing on the legacy of a loose and short-lived movement of army deserters called ‘Green Cadres’ that appeared in 1918, it suggests that the Czechoslovak nation building project faced challenges not only from sizable ethnic minorities within the fledgling state, but also from the restive Czech peasantry. As elsewhere in East Central Europe, many peasants regarded the Green Cadres as liberators and representatives of a more radical, rural oriented national revolution. These unfulfilled hopes resonated through the interwar period. This article thus sheds light on an important social and cultural fault line that has been neglected in histories of the world wars in Europe.