The Freikorps Fights On Estonia and Latvia War For Independence I THE GREAT WAR 1919


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Now Before I Start Todays Episode I

just wanted to tell you that The Great War Team is producing the ultimate documentary about the Battle of Berlin inNK] You can find out more at or check the first comment in the comment section below. And now on to the show. It s September 1919, and the confused, back-and-forth fighting in the Baltic region of the former Russian Empire continues.

German Freikorps Units Who Had Remained

after the November 1918 Armistice are now formally dissolve but instead of going home, they prepare to march again. Hi, I m, Jesse Alexander and Welcome to the Great War. By.

The Summer Of 1919, The Fighting In The

Baltics had ravaged the region and confirmed the independence of the new Republics of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.. The first half of the year had seen clashes amongst the Bolsheviks, the forces of the three. The Royal Navy in the Baltic Sea, and local Baltic German militias and Freikorps. By early July, an armistice had been signed at the insistence of the Allies, and the German Freikorps were ordered by the government in Berlin to withdraw.

But As Usual In The Post-1918

chaos, it wouldnt quite work out that way. The late summer and fall of 1919 would be no less of a mess than the first half of the year. , so let s start with the strange story of the Germans in the Baltics.

Up Until That Summer, They Had

been loosely organized as a militia of local Baltic Germans and Freikorps units, known as the Iron Division, under the command of Rüdiger von der Goltz.. After their defeat by the troops loyal to the Republican governments of Estonia and Latvia. At At Cesis in June, the Freikorps had agreed to withdraw,, but instead many stayed put around the town of Jelgava. .

But The Entente Feared A Uk Coalition

in Eastern Europe,, which, given that the Germans had brought Lenin to Russia to instigate the revolution. In 1917, didn t seem far fetched to many at the time. The British and French therefore threatened to resume blockading Germany if it didn t force von der Goltz

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S Men To Leave.

But. The German authorities were divided on how to proceed. The Army high command and Chancellor. Ebert did call on German forces in the Baltics to return to Germany,, but many key politicians quietly turned a blind eye to what was about to happen.


Many Freikorpsmen had been fighting for land, which they understood had been promised to them by their former Allies in the Latvian government. . They began to re-organize in secret, and. The Latvian government of Karlis Ulmanis declared they would not be granted citizenship in July, thousands gathered to lay claim to land.

They Felt They

d earned by fighting the Bolsheviks. Von der Goltz told the German government in Berlin they intended to form a quote “military-settler-state . On August 24, von der Goltz returned from lobbying in Berlin to find that the first troops scheduled to return to Germany had mutinied and refused to leave.


The Mutiny was led by Josef Bischoff and Heinz Guderian, who would go on to become a famous general in World War 2. . The Germans felt betrayed by both Latvia, which refused them land and citizenship. , and Germany, which they felt had abandoned them and had fallen under socialist rule.


Berlin was not pleased,, but its demands that the Mutineers return home were ignored. . But. The revitalized Freikorps could not declare itself openly, due to Allied.

German Opposition.

Instead, to hide the mostly German character of the force, it was christened, oddly enough, the West Russian Volunteer Army not to be confused with the Northwestern White Russian Army operating near Petrograd. The West Russian Volunteer Army was formally under the command of Great War and Russian Civil War veteran Cossack Commander Pavel UK According to one UK UK liked to think of himself as a dashing adventurer, a great–if syphilitic–lover, and a brilliant military leader.

But. Although the so-called Bermondtists did include some rather uninterested Russian prisoners released by the Germans,. It was a mostly German formation and Bermondt himself was a mere figurehead. Some in the force did dream of restoring a Russian empire in which they could settle as landowners, while others wanted to preserve German power in the Baltics, and some were simply spoiling for a fight.


September 17, German forces officially came under Bermondt s command. When Ebert sent yet another demand for them to return, von der Goltz simply told him. There were no German forces left.


As to the strength of the Bermondtians vary from 14,000 to 22,000 fighting men, about 80% of them. Germans. So by September, there was a phantom White Russian force in Latvia consisting mostly of German Freikorps. They were eager to fight, and Bischoff announced to the men they would march on Riga and reclaim the lands they felt they

D Been Promised.

. ON October 4, the Bermondtists moved on Riga, and demanded entry into the city to transit to Russia. . The Latvian government refused, and Bermondt attacked the city on October 8,.

Despite The Cold, Rain, And Wind.

The two sides were more or less evenly matched, with the Bermondtists fielding 8500 men and the Latvians between 6500 and 9000. Thanks to an agreement signed in July, the Estonians provided the Latvians some assistance, including tanks and armoured trains, and their troops guarded a stretch of the river outside the city. . Aircraft and poison gas were used in the attack, and the Bermondtists attempted to seize the bridges on the Daugava to cut off the Latvian line of retreat.


The Latvians rushed in reinforcements from the east, where they were facing the Bolsheviks. After back-and-forth fighting, the Bermontdists took one bank of the Daugava on the 10th, and began to advance downriver. Expecting Riga to fall, Ulmanis.

Government Escaped To Cesis, And Some

Latvian soldiers also fled, and some looting took place-but the city did not fall. In. Addition to the to the Latvian soldiers who remained, the Estonian tanks had intervened at a crucial moment, and the attackers had limited ammunition for their artillery. . Some residents volunteered to fight or to prepare defences, and morale soon recovered.

An Emergency Battalion Of Students, Civil

servants, and firemen damaged the bridges at night to prevent an enemy crossing. Ulmanis returned, alongside four Estonian armored trains. But sporadic bombardment of the city continued, and the fighting bogged down for some four weeks, during which time the guns of Royal Navy ships supported the Latvian Republic and cut off German shipping and supply routes in the Baltic. On. October 15, following an ultimatum, the Royal Navy fired on a German fort, allegedly in response to German fire directed at their ships.

Finding It Quote

silly to blow the enemy out of the fort and not occupy it. , the Latvians agreed to make an amphibious. Assault.


s how a British sailor describedNK] a large collection of ferry boats, pleasure steamers,, launches and tugs crowded with troops came down the river and made for the fort under our barrage, which we lifted at the proper time. .

The Crews Of All These Craft Were Women

and they handled them well. We then weighed [anchor] and steamed slowly up river, shooting at the Germans who were bolting across country pursued by the Letts, who[ ]took 300 prisoners. This action helped stop the main assault on the southern bank of the river.


This point, Bermondt offered the Latvians a ceasefire if they d help him attack Bolshevik Russia-an offer. The Latvians ignored. On November 4, the Bermondtists attacked the town of Liepaja with 8000 men.


The 8000 men. The small Latvian garrison of 2000 defended the town as best it could, but by the 14th the Bermondtists had taken the outer defences. The Royal Navy intervened again, and naval gunfire. In support of the Latvians turned the tide.

One British Sailor Uk

as soon as the Germans started to run, the men of Libau went after them by Cart, car, tram, or anything on wheels, armed with anything from rifles to spades and pick-axes. .

Jesse, You Know The Royal Navy

wasnt the only actor in the Baltic Sea in 1919, right Oh, hi Drach, nice of you to stop by. I do know a bit more about the naval military history of the region, but it s already tough to put all the events on land into one video. Such.

A Coincidence Then, That I Just Released

a video detailing the naval warfare in the Baltic Sea. 1919! Yes, such a coincidence. Well, I will check your video out and I am sure our fans will be interested as well. Bye! Thanks, Bye! Generally speaking, between Latvians and Germans. , few prisoners were taken

But The Latvians Often Spared The Russian Bermondtists,

since most were more eager to hold political meetings than to fight. Freikorpsman Rudolf Höss, who would later become Auschwitz s first commandantNK]NK] fighting in the Baltic was more savage and desperate than anything else in all the Freikorps fighting I saw before or afterwards. There was no real front to speak UK the enemy was everywhere. And whenever there was a clash, it turned into butchery to the extent of total annihilation.

. So. Although the fighting had bogged down in front of Riga,. The tide had begun to turn at Liepaja, and now the Latvian Republic would go over to the attack once.

Attack Once And For All.

Back in Riga,. On November 11, the Latvians attacked along the Daugava, outflanking and surprising the enemy, who swiftly retreated. The Bermondtists were nearly surrounded at Jelgava, but were saved at the last minute by the 1000 strong Rossbach Freikorps, which arrived after a forced march from East Prussia through Lithuania-against orders from Berlin. After.

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These Defeats, Von Der Goltz Asked

for his men to officially be allowed back into the German army, and the Germans requested an armistice.. But. The Latvians and Lithuanians ignored the armistice request, and the Latvians even declared war on Germany. On November 26.

As The Defeated Bermondtists Retreated Towards

the Lithuanian border, the Freikorpsmen left a trail of destruction.. They torched Jelgava before they left, and spared no one. They came across. According to historian Robert UKNK] soldiers of the Iron Division and the German Legion.

German Legion Unloaded All Their Despair And Fury

in one wild power blow against the Latvians, as villages burst into flames. , prisoners were trampled under foot [in] chaotic revenge and destructive Joy. The leaders were powerless or else looked on with grim approval .

During The Retreat,.

Many Freikorpsmen were executed by their officers for plundering, which some have seen as a foreshadowing of 1945. At the end of November, the last Bermondtians left Latvia and entered Lithuania. . The Latvians wanted to pursue the enemy across the border, but the Entente pressured them to stay put.

The French Attempted To Negotiate A

ceasefire,, but the Lithuanian army attacked at Radviliskis, and had chased the Germans into East Prussia by mid December. SO. The Freikorps army of so-called White Russians had been beaten after months of bitter fighting but while all this was going on, the Bolshevik Red Army. Army and Allied forces were still facing each other, and this front was not quiet either.

In Fact, There Were Germans On

this Frnt too, who had chosen a different path than theNK] After. The Battle of Cesis and the ensuing armistice, the Baltic German militia, known as the Landeswehr, was placed under the command of 27-year-old British Colonel Harold Alexander, who would later become a field marshal inNK] They were stationed facing the Bolsheviks, and remained loyal to Alexander rather than marching to aid the Bermondtist attack on Riga. It didn t hurt of course that the Latvian Republic had intercepted messages between the Bermondtists and the Landeswehr, so any.


The Great War Team is producing the ultimate documentary about the Battle of Berlin inNK . This week’s episode is a look at the events in the Baltic region of the former Russian Empire . In the summer of 1919, the fighting in the Baltics had ravaged the region and confirmed the independence of the new Republics of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania . German Freikorps units who had remained after the November 1918 Armistice are now formally dissolve . But instead of going home, they prepare to march again, they are preparing to march . They are led by local Baltic Germans and the German government under the command of Rüdiger von der Goltz . They had been loosely organized as a militia of local . Baltic . Germans and FreikOrps units, known as the Iron Division, but were ordered by the . government in Berlin to withdraw from the region to withdraw . But as usual in the post-1918 chaos, it wouldn&t quite work out that way ….. Click here to read more and watch the full video