The Battle of Cēsis (Latvian : Cēsu kaujas; Estonian : Võnnu lahingBattle of Võnnu; German : Schlacht von Wenden, Battle of Wenden), fought near Cēsis (or Võnnu, Wenden) in June 1919, was a decisive battle in the Estonian War of Independence and the Latvian War of Independence. After heavy fighting an Estonian force moving from the north, supplemented by Latvian units, repelled Baltic German attacks and went on full counter-attack.
Latvian is a Baltic language spoken in the Baltic region. It is the language of Latvians and the official language of Latvia as well as one of the official languages of the European Union. It is sometimes known in English as Lettish, and cognates of the word remain the most commonly used name for the Latvian language in Germanic languages other than English. There are about 1.3 million native Latvian speakers in Latvia and 100,000 abroad. Altogether, 2 million, or 80% of the population of Latvia, speak Latvian. Of those, 1.16 million or 56% use it as their primary language at home. The use of the Latvian language in various areas of social life in Latvia is increasing.
The Estonian language is the official language of Estonia, spoken natively by about 1.1 million people: 922,000 people in Estonia and 160,000 outside Estonia. It is a Southern Finnic language and is the second most spoken language among all the Finnic languages.
German is a West Germanic language that is mainly spoken in Central Europe. It is the most widely spoken and official or co-official language in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, South Tyrol (Italy), the German-speaking Community of Belgium, and Liechtenstein. It is also one of the three official languages of Luxembourg and a co-official language in the Opole Voivodeship in Poland. The languages which are most similar to German are the other members of the West Germanic language branch: Afrikaans, Dutch, English, the Frisian languages, Low German/Low Saxon, Luxembourgish, and Yiddish. There are also strong similarities in vocabulary with Danish, Norwegian and Swedish, although those belong to the North Germanic group. German is the second most widely spoken Germanic language, after English.
Latvia had declared independence in 1918, but was unable to stop the advance of the Red Army, resulting in the loss of Riga. The advance of the Red Latvian Riflemen was stopped by the German VI Reserve Corps.The Reserve Corps under general Rüdiger von der Goltz consisted of the Baltische Landeswehr , the Freikorps Iron Division, and the Guard Reserve Division. The Latvian volunteers loyal to the Provisional Government were also placed under the command of the Baltische Landeswehr. On 16 April 1919, the Latvian government of Kārlis Ulmanis was toppled by the Germans, who installed a puppet German Provisional Government of Latvia headed by Andrievs Niedra. However, the Latvian Brigade led by Jānis Balodis remained passively under the German command.
The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army, frequently shortened to Red Army was the army and the air force of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, and, after 1922, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The army was established immediately after the 1917 October Revolution. The Bolsheviks raised an army to oppose the military confederations of their adversaries during the Russian Civil War. Beginning in February 1946, the Red Army, along with the Soviet Navy, embodied the main component of the Soviet Armed Forces; taking the official name of "Soviet Army", until its dissolution in December 1991.
Riga is the capital and largest city of Latvia. With 637,827 inhabitants (2018), it is also the largest city in the three Baltic states, home to one third of Latvia's population and one tenth of the three Baltic states' combined population. The city lies on the Gulf of Riga, at the mouth of the Daugava river. Riga's territory covers 307.17 km2 (118.60 sq mi) and lies 1–10 m above sea level, on a flat and sandy plain.
The Latvian Riflemen were originally a military formation of the Imperial Russian Army assembled starting 1915 in Latvia in order to defend Baltic territories against Germans in World War I. Initially the battalions were formed by volunteers, and from 1916 by conscription among the Latvian population. A total of about 40,000 troops were drafted into the Latvian Riflemen Division.
After recapturing Riga from the Red Army, the VI Reserve Corps continued its advance north. At the same time, the 3rd Estonian Division, having pushed the Soviets out of south Estonia, was advancing into Latvia from the north. Estonia continued to recognise the Ulmanis government, and neither side was ready to back down. On 5 June, fighting started, with the Landeswehr capturing Cēsis the following day.On 10 June with the mediation of the Allies a ceasefire was declared, but talks failed, and on 19 June fighting recommenced.
The Allies of World War I or Entente Powers is the term commonly used for the coalition that opposed the Central Powers of Germany, Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria during the First World War (1914–1918).
On 19 June, fighting resumed with an Iron Division attack on the Estonian positions near Limbaži.At that time, the 3rd Estonian Division, including the 2nd Latvian Cēsis Regiment under Colonel Krišjānis Berķis, had 5,990 infantry and 125 cavalry. The pro-German forces had 5,500–6,300 infantry, 500–600 cavalry and a strong advantage in cannons, machine guns and mortars. German forces achieved some success under Limbaži, but were soon pushed back. The Landeswehr main attack started on 21 June, breaking through the positions of the 2nd Latvian Cēsis Regiment at the Rauna River. The situation became critical for the 3rd Estonian Division, but the German assault was stopped by three Estonian armoured trains and the Kuperjanov Partisan Battalion.
Limbaži is a town in the Vidzeme region of northern Latvia. Limbaži is located 90 km northeast of the capital Riga. The population is 8705 people. During the Middle Ages, as part of Livonia, Limbazi was a fortified town with stone walls, second in importance only to Riga.
Krišjānis Berķis was a Latvian general. Rising to prominence as an officer of the Latvian Riflemen in World War I, he was promoted to the rank of general during the Latvian War of Independence, and served on the Army General Staff after the war.
A cannon is a type of gun classified as artillery that launches a projectile using propellant. In the past, gunpowder was the primary propellant before the invention of smokeless powder in the 19th century. Cannon vary in caliber, range, mobility, rate of fire, angle of fire, and firepower; different forms of cannon combine and balance these attributes in varying degrees, depending on their intended use on the battlefield. The word cannon is derived from several languages, in which the original definition can usually be translated as tube, cane, or reed. In the modern era, the term cannon has fallen into decline, replaced by guns or artillery if not a more specific term such as mortar or howitzer, except for high calibre automatic weapons firing bigger rounds than machine guns, called autocannons.
The Landeswehr continued attacking at several parts of the front, and more Estonian forces joined the battle.After stopping the last German attacks, the Estonian forces started a full counter-attack on 23 June resulting in the recapture of Cēsis. The German units started a general retreat toward Riga.
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. Cēsis was one of the candidate cities for the title of European Capital of Culture 2014.
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The Battle of Cēsis was a decisive victory for Estonia against the pro-German forces. The 3rd Estonian Division continued their advance towards Riga. On 3 July, the Estonian forces were at the outskirts of the city. Estonia, Latvia and the pro-German Provisional Government of Latvia signed the Ceasefire of Strazdumuiža on the demand of the Entente. The armistice restored the Ulmanis government in Riga. German forces were ordered to leave Latvia, the Baltic-German Landeswehr was put under command of the Latvian government and sent to fight against the Red Army. However, to circumvent Entente's orders, many German soldiers instead of leaving, were incorporated into the West Russian Volunteer Army. Fighting in Latvia and Lithuania restarted in October and continued until December 1919.
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.
The Latvian War of Independence, sometimes called the Latvia's freedom struggles or the Latvian War of Liberation, 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.
The Lithuanian Wars of Independence, also known as the Freedom Struggles, refer to three wars Lithuania fought defending its independence at the end of World War I: with Bolshevik forces, Bermontians, and Poland. The wars delayed international recognition of independent Lithuania and the formation of civil institutions.
Estonia celebrates the anniversary of the battle as Victory Day, a national holiday.
The 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. It was proposed in April 1918, after Estonia and Latvia had formally declared independence.
The Estonian War of Independence, also known as the Estonian Liberation War, was a defensive campaign of the Estonian Army and its allies, most notably the White Russian Northwestern Army, Latvia, and the United Kingdom, against the Soviet Western Front offensive and the aggression of the Baltische Landeswehr. It was fought in connection with the Russian Civil War during 1918–1920. The campaign was the struggle of Estonia for its sovereignty in the aftermath of World War I. It resulted in a victory for the newly established state and was concluded in the Treaty of Tartu.
Gustav Adolf Joachim Rüdiger Graf von der Goltz was a German army general during the First World War. He commanded the Baltic Sea Division, which successfully intervened in the Finnish Civil War in the spring of 1918. Goltz stayed with his troops in Finland until December 1918 representing German interests, and in practise ruled the country as a military dictator during this period. After the Armistice of 11 November 1918, Goltz commanded the army of the Baltic German-established Government of Latvia, which in 1919 was instrumental in the defeat of the Russian Bolsheviks and their local allies in Latvia, but suffered a defeat against Estonia and was eventually unsuccessful in retaining German control over the Baltic region after the War.
Johan Pitka, VR I/1, was an Estonian statesman, businessman, sea captain and a rear admiral (1919). He was the Commander of the Estonian Navy in the Estonian War of Independence.
After 1918, the term Freikorps was used for the anti-communist paramilitary organizations that sprang up around the German Empire, including in the Baltic states, as soldiers returned in defeat from World War I. It was one of the many Weimar paramilitary groups active during that time.
Julius Kuperjanov VR I/2, VR II/2 and VR II/3 was an Estonian military officer during the War of Independence and commander of the Tartumaa Partisan Battalion renamed after him posthumously.
The Baltic Landwehr or Baltische Landeswehr was the name of the unified armed forces of the Couronian and Livonian nobility from 7 December 1918 to 3 July 1919.
Ernst Põdder VR I/1 was a famous Estonian military commander in the Estonian War of Independence.
Nikolai Reek VR I/2, VR II/2, VR II/3 was the Estonian military commander during the Estonian War of Independence.
Jānis Balodis was an army general, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Latvia (1919–1921), Minister of War (1931–1940) and politician who was one of the principal figures during the Latvian War of Independence and the dictatorship of Kārlis Ulmanis, when he officially was the number two of the regime as the Minister of War, Deputy Prime Minister and Vice President.
The Battle of Paju was fought in Paju, near Valga, Estonia, on 31 January 1919 during the Estonian War of Independence. After heavy fighting, the Tartu-Valga group of the Estonian Army pushed the Red Latvian Riflemen out of the Paju Manor. It was the fiercest battle in the early period of war. Estonian commander Julius Kuperjanov fell in the fighting.
Anatol Leonid Fürst von Lieven, was a Baltic German prince of the Lieven family who commanded a counter-revolutionary White movement during the Russian Civil War in Latvia known after him as the Liventsy.
The Kuperjanov Infantry Battalion is a battalion of the Estonian Land Forces. It is a part of the 2nd Infantry Brigade. Battalion headquarters is at Taara Army Base, Võru, and is commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Toomas Tõniste.
Võidupüha or Victory Day in English is a Public holiday in Estonia which takes on June 23. It has been celebrated since 1934. The holiday marks the victory of Estonia in the Battle of Cēsis by the Baltische Landeswehr on June 23, 1919.
Jorģis Zemitāns was an army officer and commander of the Latvian Northern Brigade during the Latvian War of Independence.
The 1st Division was one of the three Estonian divisions created during the Estonian War of Independence, which was active till the Soviet occupation of Estonia. Since the restoration of independence in 1991 there are no divisions currently among the Estonian Defence Forces.
The Battle of Cēsis was fought between native Estonian forces and the Germanic knights and their allies during the Livonian Crusade.