Baltische Landeswehr
Baltische Landeswehr was the name of the unified armed forces
Armed forces
The armed forces of a country are its government-sponsored defense, fighting forces, and organizations. They exist to further the foreign and domestic policies of their governing body, and to defend that body and the nation it represents from external aggressors. In some countries paramilitary...

 of the Couronian
Courland is one of the historical and cultural regions of Latvia. The regions of Semigallia and Selonia are sometimes considered as part of Courland.- Geography and climate :...

 and Livonian nobility
Baltic nobility
The Baltic nobility was the privileged social class in the territories of today's Estonia and Latvia. It existed continuously since the medieval foundation of Terra Mariana...

 from 7 December 1918 to 3 July 1919.

Command structure

The Landeswehr was subordinated to the German
Ober Ost
Ober Ost is short for Oberbefehlshaber der gesamten Deutschen Streitkräfte im Osten, which is a German term meaning "Supreme Commander of All German Forces in the East" during World War I. In practice it refers not only to said commander, but also to his governing military staff and the district...

 VI Reserve Corps commanded by Rüdiger von der Goltz
Rüdiger von der Goltz
Gustav Adolf Joachim Rüdiger, Graf von der Goltz was German Army general during World War I. After World War I he was the commander of the army of the Baltic German-established Government of Latvia, which played an instrumental role in the defeat of Russian Bolsheviks and their local allies in...

, a position he gained in on 1 February 1919. The commander of the Landeswehr during its operations was Major
Major is a rank of commissioned officer, with corresponding ranks existing in almost every military in the world.When used unhyphenated, in conjunction with no other indicator of rank, the term refers to the rank just senior to that of an Army captain and just below the rank of lieutenant colonel. ...

 Alfred Fletcher.


  • Major Emil von Scheibler (7 December 1918 - 6 February 1919)
  • Major Alfred Fletcher (6 February 1919 - 3 July 1919)
  • Lieutenant-Colonel Harold Alexander (British; July 1919)


After the November 11, 1918, armistice
Armistice with Germany (Compiègne)
The armistice between the Allies and Germany was an agreement that ended the fighting in the First World War. It was signed in a railway carriage in Compiègne Forest on 11 November 1918 and marked a victory for the Allies and a complete defeat for Germany, although not technically a surrender...

 the Inter-Allied Commission of Control
Military Inter-Allied Commission of Control
The term Military Inter-Allied Commission of Control was used in a series of peace treaties concluded after the First World War between different countries...

 insisted that the German troops remain in the Baltic countries
Baltic countries
The term Baltic states refers to the Baltic territories which gained independence from the Russian Empire in the wake of World War I: primarily the contiguous trio of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania ; Finland also fell within the scope of the term after initially gaining independence in the 1920s.The...

 to prevent the region from being re-occupied by the Red Army
Red Army
The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army started out as the Soviet Union's revolutionary communist combat groups during the Russian Civil War of 1918-1922. It grew into the national army of the Soviet Union. By the 1930s the Red Army was among the largest armies in history.The "Red Army" name refers to...

. As the Soviet westward offensive of 1918–1919 approached, the Provisional Government of Latvia approached August Winnig, the German attorney in the Baltics, and signed an agreement with him authorising the organisation of land defense forces on 7 December 1918. The parties signed another agreement on 29 December which secured all foreign soldiers, who participated in the battles for the freedom of Latvia, full citizenship of Latvia. The arms, horse harness
Horse harness
A horse harness is a type of horse tack that allows a horse or other equine to pull various horse-drawn vehicles such as a carriage, wagon or sleigh. Harnesses may also be used to hitch animals to other loads such as a plow or canal boat....

 and uniforms were to be supplied by the state of Germany. The food supplies were to be taken care of by the Provisional Government of Latvia.

Theaters and Campaigns

In late February 1919 only the seaport of Liepāja
Liepāja ; ), is a republican city in western Latvia, located on the Baltic Sea directly at 21°E. It is the largest city in the Kurzeme Region of Latvia, the third largest city in Latvia after Riga and Daugavpils and an important ice-free port...

 (Libau) and surroundings remained in the hands of the German and Latvian forces. In February and March 1919, the Landeswehr was able to win a series of victories over the Red Army
Red Army
The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army started out as the Soviet Union's revolutionary communist combat groups during the Russian Civil War of 1918-1922. It grew into the national army of the Soviet Union. By the 1930s the Red Army was among the largest armies in history.The "Red Army" name refers to...

, first occupying the port of Ventspils
Ventspils is a city in northwestern Latvia in the Courland historical region of Latvia, the sixth largest city in the country. As of 2006, Ventspils had a population of 43,806. Ventspils is situated on the Venta River and the Baltic Sea, and has an ice-free port...

 (Windau), and then advancing south and east towards Riga
Riga is the capital and largest city of Latvia. With 702,891 inhabitants Riga is the largest city of the Baltic states, one of the largest cities in Northern Europe and home to more than one third of Latvia's population. The city is an important seaport and a major industrial, commercial,...

. The murder of three men of the Baltische Landeswehr led to the coup d'état
Coup d'état
A coup d'état state, literally: strike/blow of state)—also known as a coup, putsch, and overthrow—is the sudden, extrajudicial deposition of a government, usually by a small group of the existing state establishment—typically the military—to replace the deposed government with another body; either...

 of April 16, 1919, by the proclamation of the Government of a Lutheran
Lutheranism is a major branch of Western Christianity that identifies with the theology of Martin Luther, a German reformer. Luther's efforts to reform the theology and practice of the church launched the Protestant Reformation...

 clergyman, Andrievs Niedra
Andrievs Niedra
Andrievs Niedra was a Latvian writer, Lutheran pastor and the Prime Minister of the German puppet government in Latvia between April and June 1919, during the Latvian War of Independence.Niedra's first collection of poems was published...

. Parleys, in which the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 and the United Kingdom took part, did not prevent the advance on Riga and the capture of this city on May 22, where Baron Hans von Manteuffel made an entry with a small detachment, and died leading his men. Latvian national government was deposed while the Freikorps moved on to capture Riga on May 23, 1919. Latvians sought assistance from the Estonian People's Army
Military of Estonia
The Estonian Defence Forces is the name of the unified armed forces of the Republic of Estonia. The Estonian military is a defence force consisting of Maavägi , Merevägi , Õhuvägi and a paramilitary organization Kaitseliit...

 (Eesti Rahvavägi) which had been occupying Northern Latvia since earlier that year. After the Bolshevik
The Bolsheviks, originally also Bolshevists , derived from bol'shinstvo, "majority") were a faction of the Marxist Russian Social Democratic Labour Party which split apart from the Menshevik faction at the Second Party Congress in 1903....

s had been driven out from most of Latvia, the Allies ordered the German government to withdraw its troops from the Baltic region. However, the Germans succeeded in negotiating a postponement, arguing that this would have given the Bolsheviks a free hand. In June 1919, General von der Goltz ordered his troops not to advance east against the Red Army, as the Allies
In everyday English usage, allies are people, groups, or nations that have joined together in an association for mutual benefit or to achieve some common purpose, whether or not explicit agreement has been worked out between them...

 had been expecting, but north, against the Estonians. On June 19, the Landeswehr launched an attack to capture areas around Cēsis
Cēsis , is a town in Latvia located in the northern part of the Central Vidzeme Upland. Cēsis is on the Gauja River valley, and is built on a series of ridges above the river overlooking the woods below...

 (Wenden), however in the battles over the following few days they were defeated by the Estonian 3rd Division, including the Latvian 2nd Cesis regiment, led by Ernst Põdder
Ernst Põdder
Ernst Põdder VR I/1 was a famous Estonian military commander in the Estonian War of Independence....

. On the morning of June 23, the Germans began a general retreat toward Riga. The Allies again insisted that the Germans withdraw their remaining troops from Latvia and intervened to impose a ceasefire between the Estonians and the Landeswehr when the Estonians were about to march into Riga. In the meantime, an Allied mission composed of British troops under General Sir Hubert de la Poer Gough had arrived in the Baltic with the task of clearing the Germans from the region and organizing native armies for the Baltic States. To ensure its return to Latvian control, the Baltische Landeswehr was placed under British authority.


After taking command of the Baltische Landeswehr in mid-July 1919, Lieutenant-Colonel Harold Alexander (the future Field Marshal the Earl Alexander of Tunis
Tunis is the capital of both the Tunisian Republic and the Tunis Governorate. It is Tunisia's largest city, with a population of 728,453 as of 2004; the greater metropolitan area holds some 2,412,500 inhabitants....

 and Governor General of Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, 1946-1952), gradually dismissed the German elements. The Germans released from the Baltische Landeswehr were incorporated into the Deutsche Legion in September 1919. The legion served under the West Russian Volunteer Army
West Russian Volunteer Army
The West Russian Volunteer Army or Bermontians was an army in the Baltic provinces of the former Russian Empire during the Russian Civil War of 1918-1920....

 commanded by Colonel Prince Pavel Bermondt-Avalov. The British insisted that General von der Goltz leave Latvia, and he turned his troops over to Bermondt-Avalov's West Russian Volunteer Army
West Russian Volunteer Army
The West Russian Volunteer Army or Bermontians was an army in the Baltic provinces of the former Russian Empire during the Russian Civil War of 1918-1920....

. General von der Goltz later claimed in his memoirs that his major strategic goal in 1919 had been to launch a campaign in cooperation with the white Russian forces
White movement
The White movement and its military arm the White Army - known as the White Guard or the Whites - was a loose confederation of Anti-Communist forces.The movement comprised one of the politico-military Russian forces who fought...

 to overturn the Bolshevik regime by marching on Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg is a city and a federal subject of Russia located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea...

 and to install a pro-German government in Russia.

Prominent members

Prominent Baltic
Baltic region
The terms Baltic region, Baltic Rim countries, and Baltic Rim refer to slightly different combinations of countries in the general area surrounding the Baltic Sea.- Etymology :...

 officers from the Landeswehr era include:

  • Generalmajor Erich Alt (Luftwaffe) (leader of the 1. Baltischen Flieger-Abteilung (433))
  • Generalmajor Rudolf Bader (in the Badisches Freiwilligen Abteilung Medem)
  • Generalmajor Heinrich Baron von Behr
    Heinrich Baron von Behr
    Heinrich Alexander Ferdinand Baron von Behr was a highly decorated Generalmajor in the Wehrmacht during World War II and an Generalmajor in the Bundeswehr. He was also a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves...

  • Generalmajor z.V. Heinrich Burggraf und Graf zu Dohna-Schlobitten
  • Generalmajor Karl Dormagen
  • Generalmajor Dipl. Ing. Hans Henrici
  • General der Artillerie Kurt Jahn
    Kurt Jahn
    General Kurt Jahn, aka Curt Jahn, was a German general and commander in Lombardy, Italy during World War II. Born in Schmalkalden, Germany, he was captured West of Mailand, Baden-Württemberg, Germany on May 1, 1945....

  • Generalleutnant Heinrich Rauch (Luftwaffe) (aerial observer in Flieger-Abteilung 433)

(the ranks are the highest ranks reached in the Third Reich era)


Members of the Baltische Landeswehr wore shoulder strap piping in light blue and white, the Baltic colors.

Order of battle (20 May 1919)

  • 1. Deutsch-Balt. Kampfbataillon (Stoßtrupp Manteuffel; Baron
    Baron is a title of nobility. The word baron comes from Old French baron, itself from Old High German and Latin baro meaning " man, warrior"; it merged with cognate Old English beorn meaning "nobleman"...

     Hans von Manteuffel)
  • 2. Deutsch-Balt. Kampfbataillon (Hauptmann Malmede)
  • 3. Deutsch-Balt. Kampfbataillon (Rittmeister Graf zu Eulenburg)
  • MG-Scharfschützen-Abteilung (Hauptmann Freiherr von Khaynach)
  • Russische Abteilung Fürst Lieven
    The Lievens are one of the oldest and noblest families of Baltic Germans. They claim descent from Caupo of Turaida , the Livonian quasi rex who converted to Christianity in 1186, when Bishop Meinhard attempted to Christianize the region...

     (Cavalry Captain Prince Anatolii Pavlovich Liven or, in German, Fürst Anatol Leonid Lieven)
  • Lettische Kampf-Brigade (Colonel Jānis Balodis
    Janis Balodis
    Jānis Balodis was an army officer and politician who was a principal figure in the foundation and government of independent Latvia. He was commander in chief of the army and navy during the Latvian war of independence and later was a cabinet member and vice president...

  • Stamm-Kompanie Talssen
  • Stamm-Kompanie Tuckum
  • Balten-Kompanie des Gouvernement Libau
  • Elements of the MG-Kompanie of III./Freiwilligen-Regiment Libau (Gouvernement Libau)
  • Lettische Kavallerie-Abteilung
  • Russische Kavallerie-Abteilung
  • Kavallerie-Abteilung Engelhardt
  • Kavallerie-Abteilung Drachenfels
  • Kavallerie-Abteilung Pappenheim
  • Kavallerie-Abteilung Halm
  • 1. Deutsch-Balt. Batterie (Ehmke)
  • 2. Deutsch-Balt. Batterie (Barth)
  • 3. Deutsch-Balt. Batterie (Sievert)
  • Deutsch-Balt. Haubitze-Batterie
  • Russische Batterie (Röhl)
  • Badisches Freiwilligen Abteilung Medem (attached Korpstruppe)
  • Lettische Pionier-Kompanie
  • Pionier-Abteilung Stromberg
  • Balt. Fernsprech-Abteilung
  • Lettische Fernsprech-Abteilung
  • Balt. Funker-Abteilung
  • Flieger-Abteilung 433 (attached Korpstruppe)
  • Armee-Kraftwagen-Kolonne 021 (attached Korpstruppe)
  • Staffel-Stab der Landeswehr (Major Wölki)
    • Munitions- und Train-Kolonne I
    • Munitions- und Train-Kolonne II
    • Landeskolonne III
  • Feldlazarett
  • Sanitäts-Kompanie
  • Sanitäts-Kraftwagen-Zug
  • Wirtschafts-Kompanie 1
  • Wirtschafts-Kompanie 2
  • Bahnschutz-Detachement
  • Pferdelazarett
  • Sammeldepot Libau

See also

  • Aftermath of World War I
    Aftermath of World War I
    The fighting in World War I ended in western Europe when the Armistice took effect at 11:00 am GMT on November 11, 1918, and in eastern Europe by the early 1920s. During and in the aftermath of the war the political, cultural, and social order was drastically changed in Europe, Asia and Africa,...

  • Bundeswehr
    The Bundeswehr consists of the unified armed forces of Germany and their civil administration and procurement authorities...

  • Estonian War of Independence
  • Freikorps in the Baltic
    Freikorps in the Baltic
    After 1918, the term Freikorps was used for the paramilitary organizations that sprang up around the German Empire, including in the Baltic states as soldiers returned in defeat from World War I...

  • Latvian Riflemen
    Latvian Riflemen
    This article is about Latvian military formations in World War I and Russian Civil War. For Red Army military formations in World War II see Latvian Riflemen Soviet Divisions....

  • Latvian War of Independence
  • Military of Germany
  • Ober Ost
    Ober Ost
    Ober Ost is short for Oberbefehlshaber der gesamten Deutschen Streitkräfte im Osten, which is a German term meaning "Supreme Commander of All German Forces in the East" during World War I. In practice it refers not only to said commander, but also to his governing military staff and the district...

  • Reichswehr
    The Reichswehr formed the military organisation of Germany from 1919 until 1935, when it was renamed the Wehrmacht ....

  • United Baltic Duchy
    United Baltic Duchy
    The proposed United Baltic Duchy also known as the Grand Duchy of Livonia was a state proposed by the Baltic German nobility and exiled Russian nobility after the Russian revolution and German occupation of the Courland, Livonian and Estonian governorates of the Russian Empire.The idea comprised...

  • Wehrmacht
    The Wehrmacht – from , to defend and , the might/power) were the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the Heer , the Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe .-Origin and use of the term:...

External links

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