About Christmas battles

Latviešu strēlnieki ieņemtajā Ložmetējkalnā ar iegūtajām trofejām. 1917. Latvijas Kara muzejs

The Christmas battle ended on January 11. The Latvian riflemen of the heavily fortified position of the German army - Ložmetējkalns - managed to take the battle on the third day. The price of Christmas battles was very high. Hundreds of Latvian and other Russian army soldiers had lost their lives trying to knock the Germans out of position. The narrator vividly describes the scenes on the battlefield after the end of the Christmas battles.

"The next night, our sanitary workers removed the fallen from the enemy's barbed wire fences. There were a hundred and five men in our company. The commander of the first company, Captain Lasmanis, was numb with his right hand raised, in which he found a clenched grenade ready to be thrown. He had fallen, two bullets caught in his forehead. The little praporšchik, who was smiling at an innocent girl, was removed from the fence by a bullet pierced by countless bullets. Fieldfighter Ivanov, mortally wounded, shot himself with his nail, but senior non-commissioned officer Birnis, also mortally wounded, pulled out his pocket knife and cut his throat. ”

Storyteller: 5. Zemgales latviešu strēlnieku pulka virsnieks Harijs Bundulis

Related objects

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.

Latvian soldiers’ former medical warehouse

Located in Babīte district, near the Antiņi soldiers cemetery and restored trenches.

During World War I, from 1915, defensive positions of the army of the Russian Empire were located in this area. In 1917, during the Christmas battles, at the Antiņi house was the headquarters of the 5th Zemgale Latvian Rifle Regiment and an infirmary with a medicine warehouse, which was headed by the prominent Latvian military doctor Pēteris Snīķeris.

During the Christmas battles, the attacks of Latvian riflemen on German army units took place in particularly harsh and unfavorable conditions. The injuries sustained in the fighting were of all kinds - wounds, contusions and injuries caused by firearms, as well as frostbite. Thousands of Latvian soldiers had to be provided with timely medical assistance. It was organized so that the injured received care as soon as possible. There were unarmed paramedics on the battlefield who provided first aid and removed the wounded from dangerous places. Dressing points were set up in the vicinity of the battlefields, where care was continued and sorting was carried out. Severely wounded soldiers were evacuated to hospitals or hospitals in carts and cars. Cemeteries were set up near Lazarete, where the dead were buried.

Nowadays you can see the old medicine store. The Antiņi Soldiers Cemetery is nearby, as are World War I trenches and dugouts. The environment is suitable for walks in the woods, revealing vivid evidence of military heritage.


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.


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.