Latvian Army
I Wars of Independence, First Independance, II WW2

On January 5, 1919, the first largest national military unit was established - the Separate Latvian Battalion under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Oskars Kalpaks. This unit, which was transformed into a brigade in March, together with the Northern Latvian Brigade, organized in Estonia and commanded by Colonel Jorgis Zemitans, formed the Latvian Army. The newly formed army grew and hardened in the battles against the Bermontians near Riga and Kurzeme, as well as in the battles against the Bolsheviks on the Latgale front.

One week after the end of World War I and the conclusion of the Compiegne armistice on November 11, 1918, the establishment of an independent Latvian state was proclaimed. The new caretaker government had hoped to do without a regular army, as no one was going to attack. On November 13, 1918, Soviet Russia revoked the Brestlitov Treaty of Peace, which had renounced Baltic territory in favor of Germany, and began moving west. Expectations that the German army would fulfill its commitment to defend Latvia against the Bolshevik invasion did not materialize.

Meanwhile, troops loyal to the Provisional Government of the Republic of Latvia were formed in Riga. In the spring of 1919, the Latvian Armed Forces consisted of the Landeswehr (German-Baltic National Guard), the Northern Latvian Brigade and the Southern Latvian Brigade. On July 10, 1919, General Dāvis Sīmansons united the two brigades, becoming the first Commander-in-Chief of the Latvian Army. This day is considered to be the day when the Latvian army was established.

In 1919, the Latvian army was rapidly armed and developed, and armaments and equipment were received from England, Poland and other countries. At the beginning of 1920, about 52,000 soldiers served in the Latvian Armed Forces. The War of Independence ended on August 11, 1920, when a peace treaty was signed with Soviet Russia. Immediately after the War of Independence, the Latvian army began to move to a peacetime state. The Latvian army consisted of four infantry divisions with three infantry regiments and an artillery regiment each. The infantry regiments were numbered and named after Latvian cities. The Latvian army also had a navy consisting of the flagship Virsaitis, a submarine division with two submarines "Ronis" and "Spidola", as well as a mine division with two minesweepers "Imanta" and "Viesturs" and several support ships.

The composition of the army was formed on the basis of the general military service to which all Latvian citizens were subjected. Until 1931, the service period was 18 months, later it was shortened to 12 months for infantry, 15 - for other weapons classes. The army and navy were administered by the Ministry of War. The army commander was in charge of the army, who was responsible for training and preparing the army.

On June 1, 1940, there were 30,843 men in the Latvian army. On June 17, 1940, during World War II, Soviet troops took control of all of Latvia and Estonia. The Latvian army was gradually disbanded, retiring in reserve, arresting and deporting Latvian soldiers. On September 27, 1940, the position of the Minister of War of Latvia was abolished, but on October 9, 1940, the position of Commander of the Latvian People's Army was abolished.

On June 17, 1989, the founding conference of the Latvian Riflemen's Association was held in the Great Hall of the State University of Latvia in Riga. After which, in a few weeks, more than 500 former soldiers joined the Latvian Riflemen's Association. In the autumn, branches and groups were established in Jelgava, Tukums, Liepaja, Bauska, Balvi, Livani, Moscow and elsewhere. Active work is beginning on the creation and development of laws, regulations and various documents that will be necessary for the establishment and existence of the army.

On September 10, 1991, a law on compulsory military service was passed. Due to this law, all male citizens of Latvia, aged 19-50, must perform compulsory military service. Shortly after the adoption of this law, on November 11, the Brothers' Cemetery is given the first oath of soldiers since the restoration of Latvia's independence.

More information sources

1. 100 events in the history of Latvia. People and processes 1918-2018. JSC “Latvijas Mediji”, 2018.

2. The blizzard of souls. Digital Museum. Available: https://www.dveseluputenis.lv/lv/laika-skala/notikums/105/sarkanas-armijas-iebrukums-latvija/ [accessed: 08.05.2021.].

3. National Armed Forces website. Available: https://www.mil.lv/lv/par-mums/vesture [accessed 08.05.202

Related objects

Exposition of military bikes in the Bicycle museum in Saulkrasti

The Bicycle Museum is located in Saulkrasti not far from the A1 highway and the railway station Pabaži, near the White Dune. Museum’s collection is made up of technically the most interesting examples of bicycle development history in Latvia. It is the largest bicycle collection in the Baltics with about 60 bicycles made and used in Latvia, including army-type bicycles. In the beginning of the 20th century many armies started to widely utilise the availability and benefits of bicycles. Special bicycle units were formed because of their mobility. Bicycle units were able to gather intelligence and launch unexpected attacks more easily, and were more mobile than regular infantry when it came to operations over a wide area. After World War I the Latvian Army also had bicycle units who used Latvian-made army bicycles. Any soldier who was in such a bicycle unit had to meet strict requirements. Good stamina, eyesight and hearing, as well as a healthy heart and lungs were a must. They could not weigh less than 80 kg and their height had to be 165-180 cm. The standard in the Latvian Army was that a well-trained cyclist should be able to cover 80-100 km in day, and up to 150 km in forced conditions. In winter, when bicycles could not be used, skis were used. A soldier from a bicycle unit had to be able to ski 50-60 km per day. Many soldiers from bicycle units would later become professional athletes.

We have about 5000 visitors every year.

Monument to the first battle for Latvia's independence

Atroadas, Inčukalnā, Atmodas ielā 2.

2016.gada 3.jūlijā, tika atklāts piemineklis pirmajai kaujai par Latvijas neatkarību, kas veltīts Latvijas zemessardzei (Die Lettländische Landeswehr), kurā plecu pie pleca jaundibināto valsti pret boļševiku Sarkano armiju aizstāvēja vietējie baltvācieši, krievi un latvieši, kuri tolaik gan bija vienībās abās pusēs. Brāļu kapu komitejas priekšsēdētājs Eižens Upmanis tolaik secinājis, ka kauju piemiņas vietās ārpus kapiem šis varētu būt vēsturiski pirmais piemineklis apvienotajiem latviešu un baltvāciešu spēkiem. Tajā laikā par Latvijas zemessardzes jeb landesvēra latviešu vienību komandieri iecēla pulkvežleitnantu Oskaru Kalpaku, no kura vienībām Brīvības cīņu gaitā izaugusi un veidojusies vēlākā Latvijas armija.

1918.gadā visa tagadējās Latvijas teritorija bija nonākusi Vācijas impērijas un tās karaspēka rokās. Tomēr 1918.gada vasaras beigās un rudenī situācija sāka strauji noslēgties Vācijai par sliktu un bija skaidrs, ka tas ir tikai laika jautājums, kad Vācija būs spiesta atzīt sakāvi 1.Pasaules karā. Krievijas impērija, kurā Latvija ietilpa līdz 1. Pasaules karam, bija beigusi pastāvēt jau agrāk, līdz ar 1917.gada februāra un oktobra revolūcijām. 1918.gada 18.novembrī tika proklamēta Latvijas Republika. Vācijas armija, kas atradās Latvijas teritorijā, pēc pamiera noslēgšanas ar Antantes valstīm 1918.gada 11.novembrī, vairs nebija motivēta turpmākai karadarbībai un lielākā daļa tās karavīru vēlējās vienkārši atgriezties dzimtenē.

Pie šādiem apstākļiem bija skaidrs, ka Latvijas aizsardzība ir atkarīga pirmkārt no pašas Latvijas iedzīvotāju veidotas zemessardzes. Sākotnēji, pateicoties izglītotībai un salīdzinoši lielākai spējai pašorganizēties, vislielāko iniciatīvu šādas zemessardzes veidošanā izrādīja Latvijā dzīvojošie vācbaltieši. Tāpat zemessardzei pievienojās arī krievu tautības karavīri. Lai nodrošinātu zemessardzes apgādi ar uniformām, ieročiem un citiem nepieciešamajiem resursiem, Latvijas Pagaidu valdība 1918.gada 7.decembrī noslēdza līgumu ar Vācijas pārstāvi Augustu Vinnigu, paredzot zemessardzes nodrošinājumu no Latvijas teritorijā esošajām Vācijas armijas rezervēm. Šis līgums cita starpā norādīja, ka šī zemessardze ar oficiālo nosaukumu – „Latvijas zemessardze” jeb vāciski – „die Lettländische Landeswehr” būs Latvijas Republikas bruņotie spēki.

Pretīm Latvijas zemessardzei stājās divi līdz tam 1. Pasaules karā un Krievijas pilsoņu karā pieredzējušie Latviešu sarkano strēlnieku pulku karavīri (t.i. aptuveni 2000 – 3000 karavīru sastāvā). Neskatoties uz Sarkanās armijas pieredzes un skaitlisko pārsvaru, Latvijas zemessardze sīvās kaujās noturēja Inčukalnu divas dienas, līdz beidzot 1919.gada 1.janvāra vakarā, lai izvairītos no ielenkuma, bija spiesta atkāpties, zaudējot 43 kritušos, kā arī vairākus ievainotos, no kuriem lielākā daļa nonāca lielinieku gūstā, kur tika nogalināti vai nomira no bada vai slimībām.

Autors: Artis Buks. Materiāls: Laukakmens. Piemineklis izgatavots no liela izmēra monolīta akmens, kas tika atrasts Ruļļos pie Jelgavas.

 

Latvian Army Summer Camp in Litene

The Latvian Army Summer Camp in Litene is located in the forest in Litene parish, near the Pededze River. The beginnings of the Litene Camp can be traced back to 1935 when the construction of a summer camp complex for the Latgale division of the Latvian Army was started. From May to autumn, several thousand soldiers learned combat tactics and shooting skills in Litene. In the summer of 1941, Latvian Army officers were arrested by Red Army and NKVD troops at an army summer camp in Litene. Several officers were shot on the spot, while others were deported to Siberia. On 14 June 1941, at least 430 officers were arrested and deported to Siberia in the Litene and Ostrovieši camps about 10 kilometres from Litene. The only historical building that has survived from the camp is a food storage facility. Only the foundations remain from the other buildings. There is a viewing platform with the Latvian flag, benches and a well-maintained place for a fire. A demilitarised cannon was installed with the support of the Ministry of Defence and the National Armed Forces. Information boards are in place. The Wall of Pain memorial in the Litene graveyard is also connected with the events at the Litene camp. The YouTube channel of the Latvian Army features a video named ‘Litene, Katyn of the Latvian Army’.

Latvijas kara aviācijas aerodroms

Atrodas Vecgulbenes muižas teritorijā – vēsturiskajā centrā.

Gulbenē starpkaru periodā atradās Latvijas armijas garnizons, kurā bija izvietots 7.Siguldas kājnieku pulka bataljons, 1930-to gadu vidū uzsāka militāras aviācijas bāzes veidošanu, jo kara aviācijas veiksmīgai darbībai jau miera laikā jānodrošina plašs aerodromu tīkls. Īpaši nozīmīgi aerodromi tādās vietās, kur izveidojušies svarīgi dzelzceļu un ceļu mezgli.1935.gada 11.novembrī te uzsāka kara aerodroma būvniecība. Ar 1937.gadu Gulbenē izvietoja jaunizveidotu Aviācijas pulka vienību, kas kļuva par Latgales divīzijas izlūku 6.eskadriļu, palielinot armijas vienību skaitu Latvijas austrumu robežas tuvumā.

Redzama Oranžērijas ēka.

Ekspozīcija „Latvijas armija Pļaviņās 20. gs.”

Atrodas Odzienas ielā 2, Pļaviņās.

Apskatāma pastāvīgā ekspozīcija „Latvijas armija Pļaviņās 20. gs.”.

Ēkai Pļaviņās, Odzienas ielā 2, ir sena vēsture – no laika, kad Stukmaņu lieltirgotājs Hugo Apeltofts tajā uzsāka aktīvu saimniecisko darbību, tādējādi veicinādams Pļaviņu pilsētas attīstību, līdz brīdim, kad Brīvības cīņu jeb Neatkarības kara laikā šeit tika izveidots Latvijas Austrumu frontes štābs. 1919. gadā tieši no Pļaviņām tika vadīta Latvijas armijas vienību darbība pret Sarkano armiju Latgalē.

1934. gadā pie šī nama tika atklāta piemiņas plāksne ar uzrakstu: “Šai namā 1919. gadā atradās Austrumu frontes štābs, un šeit ģenerālis Jānis Balodis uzņēmās Latvijas Nacionālās armijas virspavēlniecību.” Padomju vara 1940. gadā  to noņēma un iznīcināja, bet 1990. gada 16. jūnijā ar LNNK Pļaviņu nodaļas atbalstu tā tika atjaunota.

Tagad pie kādreizējā štāba ēkas atrodas piemiņas stēla, kas veltīta 15 Pļaviņu novadā dzimušajiem Lāčplēša Kara ordeņa kavalieriem, bet telpās izveidota ekspozīcija „Latvijas armija Pļaviņās 20. gs.”, kura stāsta par notikumiem Brīvības cīņu laikā, Latvijas armijas 3. Latgales divīzijas štāba darbību Pļaviņās, kā arī sniedz ieskatu Lāčplēša Kara ordeņa kavalieru dzīves stāstos.

Netālu no ekspozīcijas ēkas atrodas Latgales divīzijas štāba ēka, kuru 1913. gadā, kā Stukmaņu liķiera fabiku būvēja grāfs Teodors Medems. 1919.gadā to pārņēma P. Stučkas režīms, kur tas bija izveidojis arī cietumu. Pēc boļševiku padzīšanas, 1925.gadā ēku pārņēma Latvijas armija, kura tajā izvietoja Latgales divīzijas štābu. Šajā ēkā savu militāro karjeru izgāja 10 Latvijas armijas ģenerāļi un citi virsnieki. 1940.gadā ēku pārņēma Sarkanā armija. Pēckara gados tajā izvietojās skola, kā arī pašvaldība. Ap 1970.gadu ēku sāka izmantot ražošanas apvienība “Rīgas Apģērbs”. 

Ekspozīcijas apmeklējumu iepriekš jāpiesaka zvanot T. 28442692.

Memoriāls „Sāpju siena”

Artrodas Litenes kapos.

2001.gada 14.jūnijā Litenes kapos tika atklāts arhitektu Dinas Grūbes, Benitas un Daiņa Bērziņu, akmeņkaļu Ivara Feldberga un Sandra Skribnovska radītais memoriāls „Sāpju siena”, tā simbolizē 1941.gada nogalināto karavīru atdusas vietu. 1988.gada oktobrī bijušās Latvijas armijas vasaras nometnes teritorijā Sitas silā Litenes pagastā tika atrasti 1941.gada jūnijā padomju armijas noslepkavoto 11 virsnieku pīšļi. Lai gan tos neizdevās identificēt, tomēr 1989.gada 2.decembrī, iesvētot dievkalpojumā Gulbenes evaņģēliski luteriskajā baznīcā, svinīgi pārapbedīja Litenes kapos.

11 balti krusti, piemiņas plāksne un informācijas stendi.

 

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