An entry in the diary of the moment when soldiers learn about preparing for the Christmas battles.

Latvian riflemen and their officers were informed at the last minute about the start of the battle. Rūdolfs Ivanovs, a non-commissioned officer of the 5th Zemgale Latvian Rifle Regiment, described in the diary the last evening before the start of the battle. A short, but bright and authentic text that shows a very important moment for a soldier - learns about the day of battle.

"We were told this morning that tomorrow at 5.00 must go on the attack. This time all eight Latvian rifle regiments will be hit. We started preparing for our upcoming task. The first job was to put clean clothes and put all the other extra things in their bags. We added the addresses of our housewives to the bags and handed them over to the head of our jewelry store for storage. I also gave the dagger holster to my husband, keeping only a rifle with a naked dagger, a grenade bag, and an anti-gas mask. We supplemented our usual norm twice, because we received additional breast cartridge bags, full of cartridges. Then the bayonet was sharpened on a brick or stone, but we wrote letters to the housewives about all things, perhaps we wrote the last greetings, because we did not know where and under what conditions we would be on the battlefield tomorrow. Among ourselves, among the members of the closest fighting, we entrusted each other with the addresses of our relatives: if someone decides to leave our ranks on the battlefield, then the survivors should report it to the relatives or relatives of the fallen.

Storyteller: Rūdolfs Ivanovs
Used sources and references:

https://www.sargs.lv/lv/pirmais-pasaules-kars/2015-12-08/ziemassvetku-kaujas-latviesu-strelnieku-atminas

3ĢenerālisPēterisSniķersZiemassvētkukaujulaik.jpg
782PaugibeļumājaskurZiemassvētkukaujulaikāgāj.jpg
80LatviešustrēlniekusagūstītieVācijasarmijask.jpg
814LatviešustrēlniekiZiemassvētkukaujustarpla.jpg
81KritušielatviešustrēlniekiZiemassvētkukaujā.jpg

Related timeline

Related objects

The Christmas Battle museum and outdoor exhibition

The Christmas Battle Memorial Park and Museum is located in Jelgava municipality, Valgunde parish, in the Mangaļi homestead. This museum is a branch of the Latvian War Museum. It was opened in 2005 and is located in the area where Christmas Battles took place. Unique World War I fortifications still remain in locations where battles took place. The indoor exhibit contains objects found in the battlefield. The open-air exposition has reconstructed fortifications. There are tourist routes and informative trails in the vicinity of the museum. The open-air exposition of World War I fortifications and indoor exhibits are available to visitors every day. Unique evidence of World War I fortifications can still be found in the vicinity of Ložmetējkalns. There is a 27 m tall observation tower that provides a panoramic view of the area where the Christmas Battle took place. The Christmas Battle is probably the best known and most dramatic event of World War I in Latvia. It has a special place in Latvia’s military and cultural history. This engagement is mainly associated with the attack of Latvian Riflemen on the German Army units in extremely harsh and unfavourable conditions. And it was also a unique situation where a large-scale combat operation was started without artillery support.

Christmas battles memorial at Antinu Brethren Cemetery

Located in Babīte district, on the side of the road near the former Antiņi house and the old medicine warehouse.

The cemetery of Antiņi or Tīreļi soldiers was established during the First World War. The defense positions of the army of the Russian Empire were located in the area. In 1917, during the Christmas battles, the headquarters of the 5th Zemgale Latvian Rifle Regiment and an infirmary with a medicine warehouse were located nearby.

In the night of January 5, 1917, in the light of eight huge bonfires, 105 fighters of the 5th Zemgale Latvian Rifle Regiment were buried in military honor. They fell in battle against the German army or died from injuries. The funeral ceremony was led by Regiment Commander Jukums Vācietis. In later years, soldiers from other units of the Russian army were also buried in the cemetery. In 1925, a monument to the architect Eizen Laube was unveiled in the cemetery, and the territory was landscaped. Information about the 3,800 soldiers buried in the cemetery can be found in many places, but it must be assessed as unlikely and unverified.

 

 
Machine Gun Hill

Located in Jelgava region, near the A9 motorway.

Ložmetējkalns is a place of World War I fighting, which is the only cultural and historical reserve of national significance in Latvia. It is located on the Long Dune, which is part of the Nordeķi - Kalnciems dune ridge. The name of the machine gun hill originated at a time when there were hard-to-occupy fortifications of the German army, which were defended by a strong machine gun fire.

Christmas battles are probably the best known and most dramatic event of World War I in the history of Latvia. It occupies a special place in the military and cultural history of Latvia. In 1917, the Latvian Rifle and Siberian units of the Russian army attacked Ložmetējkalns and occupied it. At least 600 opponents were captured, as well as valuable trophies, such as 19 machine guns. This was the most significant success of the Christmas battles and the greatest gain that the Russian troops had achieved on the Riga front. Latvian riflemen believed that they deserved the honor of the conquerors of the highlands.

Today, there is a lookout tower with views of former battles. Memorials and wartime evidence can be seen in the area. The Silenieki Brothers Cemetery is nearby.