Latvian War of Independence

1918–20 conflict between the newly-declared Republic of Latvia and the Russian SFSR / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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The Latvian War of Independence (Latvian: Latvijas Neatkarības karš), sometimes called Latvia's freedom battles (Latvijas brīvības cīņas) or the Latvian War of Liberation (Latvijas atbrīvošanas karš), was a series of military conflicts in Latvia between 5 December 1918, after the newly proclaimed Republic of Latvia was invaded by Soviet Russia, and the signing of the Latvian-Soviet Riga Peace Treaty on 11 August 1920.[4]

Quick facts: Latvian War of Independence, Date, Location, ...
Latvian War of Independence
Part of Russian Civil War and Polish–Soviet War

The North Latvian Brigade entering Riga in 1919
Date5 December 1918 – 11 August 1920
(1 year, 8 months and 6 days)

Latvian victory

Independence of Latvia
1918–April 1919   1918–April 1919
April–July 1919 April–July 1919 April–July 1919
July 1919–1920 October–December 1919 July 1919–1920
Commanders and leaders
Kārlis Ulmanis
Oskars Kalpaks
Jānis Balodis
Dāvids Sīmansons
Jorģis Zemitāns
Roberts Dambītis
Ernst Põdder
Viktor Puskar
Edward Rydz-Śmigły
Harold Alexander
Rüdiger von der Goltz
Alfred Fletcher
Josef Bischoff
Pavel Bermondt-Avalov
Walter von Eberhardt
Jukums Vācietis
Sergei Kamenev
Dmitry Nadyozhny
Vladimir Gittis
Pēteris Slavens
69,232 (January 1920)[1]
Casualties and losses
3,046 killed
4,085 wounded[2]
840 killed
3,000 wounded[3]
at least 2000 POWs captured
11 executed
  1. All Latvian national units with formal allegiance to Latvian Provisional Government were under German and Estonian military commands at this period.
  2. Fought only against Soviets.
  3. Formed from merger of (South) Latvian Independent Brigade and North Latvian Brigade.
  4. Naval support.
  5. Fought only against Latvia and its allies.

The war can be divided into a few stages: Soviet offensive, German-Latvian liberation of Kurzeme and Riga, Estonian-Latvian liberation of Vidzeme, Bermontian offensive, Latvian-Polish liberation of Latgale.

The war involved Latvia (its provisional government supported by Estonia, Poland and the Western Allies—particularly the navy of United Kingdom) against the Russian SFSR and the Bolsheviks' short-lived Latvian Socialist Soviet Republic. Germany and the Baltic nobility added another level of intrigue, initially being nominally allied to the Nationalist/Allied force but attempting to jockey for German domination of Latvia. Eventually, tensions flared up after a German coup against the Latvian government, leading to open war.

Following a cease-fire, a ploy was developed by the Germans, nominally dissolving into the West Russian Volunteer Army led by Gen. Pavel Bermont-Avalov. This West Russian Volunteer Army included Germans and former Russian prisoners of war nominally allied with the White Army in the Russian Civil War, but both Bermondt-Avalov and von der Goltz were more interested in eliminating the nationalists than fighting the Bolsheviks.

Certain episodes of the Latvian Independence War were also part of the Polish-Soviet War, particularly the Battle of Daugavpils.