Jānis Balodis (1881-1965), Commander-in-Chief of the Latvian Army, Minister of War, General
I WW1 & Wars of Independence , II WW2, IV Soviet occupation

2.Latvijas armijas virspavēlnieks ģenerālis Jānis Balodis. 1920. gada pavasaris. Fotogrāfs nezināms. Avots: no Latvijas Kara muzeja

Jānis Balodis was born on February 20, 1881 in Vēženieki, Trikāta Parish. After graduating from the Trikāta parish school in 1898, he volunteered for the Russian army, serving in the Kama 110th Infantry Regiment in Kaunas. After graduating from the Vilnius Junker School in 1902, J. Balodi was promoted to podporic and was included in the 100th Ostrov Infantry Regiment. In 1905, he took part in the Russo-Japanese War, after which he continued his service in the 106th Ufa Infantry Regiment in Vilnius.

During World War I, in February 1915, Captain Jānis Balodi was wounded near Grodno and captured by the Germans. After returning from captivity, J. Balodis voluntarily joined the Armed Forces of the Provisional Government of Latvia on December 1, 1918 and became the commander of the Officers' Reserve (later the 1st Independence Company). Participated in the first battles near Lielauce, Skrunda and Venta. On February 28, 1919, he was promoted to battalion (lieutenant colonel) for military service. After the death of Colonel Oskars Kalpaks, Jānis Balodi was appointed commander of the 1st Latvian Separate Battalion (later brigade), and soon after that, on March 21, 1919, he was awarded the rank of colonel.

After the battles of Cēsis, when the Northern Latvian Brigade entered Riga on July 6, 1919 and the two groups merged into one national army, Balodis was appointed commander of the newly established 1st Kurzeme Division and thus also the commander of the Latvian military units on the Eastern Front. In this position he has performed offensive operations in Latgale. On October 16, 1919, he was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Latvian Army. Under the leadership of Jānis Balozs, the small army of Latvia, with the support of neighboring countries, destroyed and expelled the Bermontians, then in 1920. at the beginning defeated the Bolsheviks in Latgale. On January 23, 1920, he was awarded the rank of General. In March 1921, Balodis was dismissed due to its liquidation and the army's transition to peacetime. On July 1, 1921, he was voluntarily retired from the army. After the end of his military career, General J. Balodis became involved in politics, becoming a Member of the Saeima of the Republic of Latvia from 1925 to 1934. On October 26, 1925, he was appointed a member of the Lāčplēsis Military Order Council.

Jānis Balodis was awarded with all three classes of the Lāčplēsis Military Order, as well as many foreign awards. He was awarded the farm Baloži (formerly Upesmuiža) in Līvbērze Parish for his merits for the benefit of the state.

On December 7, 1931, J. Balodis was appointed Minister of War. He took an active part in the coup d'état of 15 May 1934 by Kārlis Ulmanis. Pursuant to the Law of March 12, 1936, Balodis was appointed President in the cases provided for by law.

During the Soviet occupation in July 1940, he was detained and deported with his wife to Sizran, where he lived under the supervision of the security authorities. In 1941, during the outbreak of World War II, Balodis was arrested and placed in a Kuibisheva prison. He was transferred to Ivanovo Prison in 1946 and sent to Vladimir Prison in March 1952.

Jānis Balodis was released from prison in 1956 and returned to Latvia with his wife. Lived in Saulkrasti, where he died on August 8, 1965. Buried in Riga, I Forest Cemetery.

More information sources

Eric Jacobson. Jānis Balodis. - National Encyclopedia: https://enciklopedija.lv/skirklis/29969-J%C4%81nis-Balodis

Jānis Balodis. Memory notebooks. 1918-1939 year, comp. A. Caune, publishing house of the Institute of Latvian History, Riga, 2015.

Andris Caune. General Jānis Balodis in the Russian Exile and Prison, 1940–1960, Publishing House of the Latvian Institute of History, Riga, 2016.

The Last Years of Life of General Jānis Balozs in Latvia, 1956–1965, Memories and Testimonies of Contemporaries, comp. A. Caune, Riga, publishing house of the Latvian Institute of History, 2014.

Biography of Jānis Balozis, Knight of the Lāčplēsis Military Order: http://lkok.com/detail1.asp?ID=2141

Related objects

Memorial places for generals and knights of the Lāčplēsis War Order in Trikāta Parish

The memorial stele is located next to the Trikāta cemetery chapel.

Trikāta Cemetery preserves the memory of three outstanding Latvian generals - Roberts Dambītis, Kārlis Goppers and Jānis Balodis. Jēkabs Mūrnieks, a teacher of all these generals, is also buried in Trikāta cemetery.

The generals and the knights of the Lāčplēsis Military Order are commemorated every year with torchlight processions to the Trikāta cemetery, where there are two memorial statues, in which the names of 17 knights of the Lāčplēsis Military Order associated with Trikāta parish are engraved.
Stela was opened on November 11, 2018.

Video story about the Lāčplēsis War Order and the set of orders that belonged to General Jānis Balodis.

Daugavgrīva Fortress

Daugavgrīva Fortress (entry from Birzes street) is located on the Daugavgrīva Island where Buļļupe river joins the Daugava river. The fortress was built in the 17th century to defend from enemies moving in the direction of Riga, which was an important administrative, trade and production centre. Later it became the main fortification of the Latvian Army coastal defence with several support points. This defensive fortification system is one of the most valuable objects of Latvia's military heritage. This fortress has witnessed Latvian military history. For example, during the Crimean War (1853-1856) Latvian and Estonian gunboat crews were trained here. The main objective of these units was to protect local ports and the coast from attacks by the British navy. During World War I Daugavgrīva militiamen companies were formed here. These were the first Latvian combat units, which came even before the Latvian Riflemen. Nowadays it is possible to see the territory of the fortress. ‘Komētforts’ and the Seaside Nature Park are located nearby and Mangaļsala fortifications are on the other side of the Daugava river.

Monument to the first battle for Latvia's independence

Atroadas, Inčukalns, Atmodas Street 2.

On July 3, 2016, a monument to the first battle for Latvia's independence, dedicated to the Latvian National Guard (Die Lettländische Landeswehr), was unveiled. sides. Eižens Upmanis, the chairman of the Brothers' Cemetery Committee, concluded at the time that this could be the historically first monument to the combined Latvian and Baltic forces in the battle memorials outside the cemetery. At that time, Lieutenant Colonel Oskars Kalpaks was appointed commander of the Latvian units of the Latvian National Guard or Landesver, from whose units the later Latvian army grew and formed during the Freedom Fights.

In 1918, the entire territory of present-day Latvia had fallen into the hands of the German Empire and its troops. However, at the end of the summer and autumn of 1918, the situation began to end badly for Germany, and it was clear that it was only a matter of time before Germany would be forced to concede defeat in World War I. The Russian Empire, which included Latvia before World War I, had ceased to exist earlier, with the revolutions of February and October 1917. On November 18, 1918, the Republic of Latvia was proclaimed. After the ceasefire with the Entente on November 11, 1918, the German army, which was on the territory of Latvia, was no longer motivated for further warfare, and most of its soldiers simply wanted to return home.

Under such circumstances, it was clear that Latvia's defense depended primarily on the national guard formed by the people of Latvia. Initially, due to their education and relatively greater ability to self-organize, the greatest initiative in creating such a national guard was shown by the Baltic Germans living in Latvia. Russian soldiers also joined the National Guard. In order to ensure the supply of the National Guard with uniforms, weapons and other necessary resources, on December 7, 1918, the Provisional Government of Latvia entered into an agreement with the German representative August Vinnig, providing for the provision of the National Guard from the German army reserves in Latvia. This agreement stated, among other things, that the National Guard, officially known as the Latvian National Guard or in German, the die Lettländische Landeswehr, would be the armed forces of the Republic of Latvia.

Two soldiers of the Latvian Red Rifle Regiment (ie approximately 2,000 to 3,000 soldiers) who had previously experienced in World War I and the Russian Civil War faced the Latvian National Guard. Despite the experience and numerical superiority of the Red Army, the Latvian National Guard held Inčukalns for two days in fierce fighting, until finally, in the evening of January 1, 1919, to avoid siege, was forced to retire, losing 43 dead and several wounded, most of whom was taken captive by the Bolsheviks, where they were killed or died of starvation or disease.

Author: Artis Buks. Material: Boulder. The monument is made of large monolithic stone, which was found in Rolls near Jelgava.

Exposition "Latvian Army in Pļaviņas in the 20th Century"

Located at Odzienas Street 2, Pļaviņas.

The permanent exposition "Latvian Army in Pļaviņas in the 20th Century" can be seen.

The building in Pļaviņas, Odzienas Street 2, has a long history - from the time when Stukmaņi wholesaler Hugo Apeltofts started active economic activity in it, thus promoting the development of Pļaviņas city, until the headquarters of the Latvian Eastern Front was established here during the War of Independence. In 1919, the activities of Latvian army units against the Red Army in Latgale were commanded directly from Pļaviņas.

In 1934, a memorial plaque was unveiled near this house with the inscription: "In 1919, the headquarters of the Eastern Front was located in this house, and here General Jānis Balodis took over the command of the Latvian National Army." It was removed and destroyed by the Soviets in 1940, but on June 16, 1990, with the support of the LNNK Plavinas branch, it was restored.

Now, next to the former headquarters building, there is a memorial stall dedicated to 15 cavalry of the Lāčplēsis Military Order born in Pļaviņas region. In Pļaviņas, as well as provides an insight into the life stories of the Knights of the Lāčplēsis War Order.

Not far from the exposition building is the Latgale Division headquarters building, which was built in 1913 by Count Teodors Medems as a Stukmaņi liqueur factory. In 1919 it was taken over by the regime of P. Stučka, where it had also established a prison. After the expulsion of the Bolsheviks, in 1925 the building was taken over by the Latvian Army, which housed the headquarters of the Latgale Division. 10 generals and other officers of the Latvian Army spent their military careers in this building. In 1940, the building was taken over by the Red Army. In the post-war years, it housed a school as well as a municipality. Around 1970, the building was started to be used by the production association "Rīgas Apīrsbs".

Visits to the exhibition must be booked in advance by calling T. 28442692.

Monument to the members of the Tirza parish who fell in the war of independence

Located in the Tirza Cemetery.

A monument with a lion's head is visible.

A monument made of broken boulder, designed by the architect Aleksandrs Birzeniekis and the sculptor Wilhelm Treys, commissioned by the Tirza Branch of the Brothers' Cemetery Committee, a monument to blacksmith Blumbergs. The monument was made with funds donated by members of the Tirza parish and the Brothers' Cemetery Committee. 2377 lats were donated to the monument fund. Opened on September 9, 1928.

The monument is made of massive granite blocks in the form of a rectangular column and leaves the impression of a symbol of strength and independence. The bronze parts and decorations of the monument were created by the sculptor Wilhelm Trejs. Material: granite, bronze, shape: architectural composition with copper forgings. On one side of the monument is the head of a bronze lion and a plaque with the inscription: "In this holy place the virtue of great men has created a long home." On the other side it is written: "For the eternal memory of the sons of the Tirzah congregation who fell in the war and in the war of independence. Anno 1928."
It is known that at the opening ceremony of the monument on September 9, 1928, it was consecrated by Archbishop Edgar Berg. The opening ceremony was also attended by the legendary General Jānis Balodis, who is an outstanding person in the history of Latvia. He was the commander-in-chief of the army in the battles against the Bermontians and the Red Army in Latgale. After the 1934 coup, he was the second person in the country and remained so after 1940.

In 2008, with the help of the Tirza Development Society, the monument was restored.

Monument to the fallen soldiers of the Latgale partisan regiment 1919 - 1920

A monument dedicated to the Latgale partisan regiment.

In the history of the War of Independence of Latvia (1919-1920), the Latgale partisan regiment, whose cradle was once in the territory of the former Balvi district, was formed from the "green" regiments already at the end of 1918.
The monument was opened for the first time on August 14, 1938, with the participation of General Jānis Balodis. The author of the monument is the artist Kārlis Jansons.
In 1940, the communists destroyed the monument, after the establishment of Soviet power, the executive committee of Abrene district decided to demolish the monument in the spring of 1941, but the image of the partisan was buried in the courtyard of the Balva militia. During the German era, the monument was restored, but when the Red Army returned, the monument was torn down a second time, taken away and destroyed. When Latvia regained its national independence, the people of Balveni collected donations for the restoration of the Latgale partisan monument. On November 11, 1993, the restored monument of Andrej Jansons, the son of the artist Kārļis Jansons, was unveiled at Balvos.

Latvian War Museum

The Latvian War Museum is located in the Old Town not far from the Freedom Monument in a historic defence building called the ‘Powder Tower’. There are 11 exhibits in the museum. There are various weapons, documents, uniforms, awards, badges and other items detailing the everyday life of a soldier in war. The Latvian War Museum is one of the oldest museums in Latvia. Its origins can be found in World War I. Museum’s collection was made up mainly of personal items of soldiers or items found on battlefields. After Latvia gained its independence the main goal of the museum became to create an exposition on the military history of Latvia and the active role of the population in protecting their land. In 1937 the museum was expanded and was technically one of the most modern museums in Europe at that time. The Powder Tower was one of the fortification towers of Riga. Some evidence dates back to 1330 where it has been mentioned as the ‘Sand Tower’. The tower was destroyed in 1621 when Riga was besieged by the Swedish Army. But in 1650 a new tower for storing gunpowder and weapons was built. After the city’s fortifications were taken down, the Powder Tower remains as one of the most important pieces of evidence of the Riga defence system.

Related stories

The life of General Jānis Balozis after returning from deportation

When the Russians tried to force a military base agreement from the Latvian government in 1940, which would make the Latvian army's resistance to the Red Army almost impossible, General J. Balodis tries to get some amendments to this agreement. But it fails. But the general's bad guys use this circumstance to later correct J. Balodi almost as a traitor. After a conflict with the Prime Minister of the State and Prime Minister K. Ulmanis, on April 5, 1940, the General was relieved of the post of Minister of War. Then J. Balodis decides to participate in the Saeima elections from the Democratic Bloc, but nothing comes out of it, because only one list may stand for election - the list of communist candidates. Latvia becomes the 14th Soviet republic.

In memory of Oskars Kalpaks

The memory of Oskars Kalpaks is preserved in many places - as evidenced by his native Liepsalu houses, a monument in Visagala cemetery, memorial events and beautiful concerts on March 6, Meirāni Kalpaks Primary School, streets in Lubāna, Madona and other cities and more. But in this article - about the preservation of the memory of Oscar Kalpaks in his native half of the 20th-30th centuries. years.

The beginning, course and end of the battles of Cēsis

The victory in the battles of Cēsis was destined to become a turning point in the struggle of Latvians and Estonians for the independence of their country. This victory crossed the line between Andriev Niedra's government and German General Riediger von der Goltz's plans to conquer the Baltics. Instead, the Provisional Government of Kārlis Ulmanis resumed its activities in Liepāja.

In memory of Pēteris Radziņš, General of the Latvian Army, two-time Knight of the Lāčplēsis War Order

General Pēteris Radziņš, born in Lugka Parish, Valka District, in a simple farmer's family, where he learned to do field work. He was a very smart young man, after graduating from school he decided in favor of the war and it started his army rescue of Latvia from Bermont's troops. P.Radziņš was one of the most outstanding officers of the Latvian Army and was awarded with numerous Latvian and foreign orders and memorials.

Par Sudrabkalniņa atklāšanas svētkiem

Atmiņu stāsta izvilkums no ģenerāļa Jāņa Baloža uzrunas Sudrabkalniņa pieminekļa atklāšanas dienā. Pilnā tekstā ir atstāsts par atklāšanas pasākuma norisi, Valsts prezidenta Kārļa Ulmaņa un ģenerāļa Jāņa Baloža uzrunas. Atmiņas izvēlētas, jo spilgti parāda to kādā stāvoklī bija Latvijas armija, kura cīnās Sudrabkalniņa apkaimē.

Bomb Hill

Bumbu Hill is a high hill in the Bolderāja dunes, Kleistu Forest, Rīga. Memorial to the Latvian Freedom Fights. During the Bermontiad in November 1919, the command post of the Latgale Division led by Krišjānis Berkis was located here. The 6th Riga Infantry Regiment, attacking from Bumbu Hill, captured Sudrabkalniņa. A memorial plaque was erected in 1939 and destroyed in 1969. The memorial site was restored in 1989.

For lesser known works by Latvian sculptor Kārlis Zāle in the old cemeteries of Dīvals and Trikāta

One of the little-known works of the sculptor Kārlis Zāle (1888-1942) is a sculpture made of limestone "Roses Roses", which was created between 1939 and 1940 and is related to the creation of the Brothers' Cemetery Ensemble.