1914 - 1918 I Maailmasõda - ajajoon

Enne Eesti ja Läti Vabariigi väl¬jakuulutamist teenisid eesti ja läti sõdurid I maailmasõja ajal Tsaari-Venemaa armees. Ehkki mõlemad riigid kuulutasid sõja lõpuks välja iseseisvuse, ei toonud see meie rahvastele rahu. Eesti ja Läti pidid oma olemasolu kaitsma mitme poliitilise jõu ambitsioonide eest. Saksamaa püüdis haarata Läti ja Eesti territooriumi, baltisaks¬lased tegid katset rajada oma riiki, Nõukogude Venemaa tahtis annekteerida Balti riike ja endised tsaariarmee ohvitserid tegutsesid eesmärgiga puruks lüüa bolševi¬kud ja tuua Balti kubermangud tagasi Venemaa rüppe.

28. juuni 1914
Puhkes esimene maailmasõda

Vastamisi seisis kaks koalitsiooni: Entente (Suurbritannia, Prantsusmaa, Venemaa) ja Keskriigid (Saksamaa, Austria-Ungari, Türgi, Bulgaaria, samuti Itaalia, kes hiljem asus Entente'i poolele). Baltimaadel oli alanud sõjas Venemaa jaoks strateegiline tähtsus. Iseäranis oluline roll oli sel piirkonnal pealinna Petrogradi kaitsmisel. Maailmasõja eel oli Eestisse rajatud mitu olulist militaarobjekti. Sõja vältel tööd jätkusid, näiteks Peeter Suure merekindluse ehitusel. Tallinnast sai Venemaa Läänemere sõjalaevastiku baas, kuhu rajati sadam ja sõjatehased.

Juuli 1914
Algas reservistide ja noorsõdurite mobiliseerimine sõjaväkke

Hinnanguliselt mobiliseeriti esimese maailmasõja ajal Venemaa Keisririigi sõjaväkke umbes 80 000 meest, kellest umbkaudu kümnendik hukkus sõjas. Paljudele eestlastest haritlastele avanes aga sõja ajal võimalus saada ohvitserideks kiirendatud korras, mistõttu teenis Vene sõjaväes 1917. aastaks üle 2000 eesti soost ohvitseri.

July 28, 1914
The Austro-Hungarian Empire declares war against Serbia

The Austro-Hungarian Empire declares war against Serbia and invades and bombards Belgrade with artillery.

August 1, 1914
Germany declares war on Russia

Supporting its allies Germany began a mobilization. In August 1914 and February 1915, the Russian army suffered heavy losses at the Masurian lakes and at Augustov in East Prussia. Almost 20,000 Latvians fell in battle or were captured. By the end of April 1915, the Germans began an offensive in the direction of Lithuania and Courland. The city of Liepāja fell on May 7, and by the end of the month, the Germans had occupied Courland all the way to the Venta River.

 

August 1, 1914
Germany declares war on Russia

To defend Saint Petersburg (Petrograd), the construction of sea defences began on Estonian and Finnish coastlines (Peter the Great Naval Fortress) in 1912. The construction on the islands of Western Estonia began in 1915. 57 cannon-equipped coastline defence forts, 13 anti-aircraft forts and several seaplane bases were built by 1917. Potential landing operation areas were equipped with barbed wire and trenches.
80,000 men from Estonia (from the Governorate of Estonia and the Estonian part of the Governorate of Livonia) were mobilised, of whom approximately 15,000 died. Though before the war Estonian men served in regiments in Estonia, Livonia or Courland, during the war Estonians served on all fronts.
 

August 28, 1914
A German cruiser Magdeburg ran aground near Osmussaar

Most of the crew was evacuated but the Russian Navy succeeded in capturing 45 sailors and officers as well as German Navy codes.

May 1, 1915
German Navy arrived in the Gulf of Riga

During the night of 1 May 1915, the German Navy arrived in the Gulf of Riga and sent a unit to the Island of Ruhnu. The unit landed at around 03:00. They were hoping to find Russian soldiers and a radio station. The Germans destroyed the top part of the lighthouse, including the lantern, and the petroleum warehouses. Four lighthouse guards were taken prisoner.

August 1, 1915
Establishment of voluntary Latvian riflemen's battalions

On July 13, the Germans continued offensive. By the end of July, they moved to the East, taking positions on the banks of the Daugava River.  Latvian politicians agreed that it was necessary to establish national military units in the Russian army to defend Riga and liberate Courland from the Germans.  A command was issued on the establishment of the first two voluntary Latvian riflemen's battalions.  The slogan was "Gather Under Latvian Flags!" An enrolment commission began its work on August 12, and 472 men volunteered during the first two days.

 

August 1915
There were several smaller skirmishes between the German and Russian Navy in the Gulf of Riga

The German Navy tried to break through the minefields of the Russian Navy’s Baltic Fleet and supported the ongoing attack of German troops around Riga. The goal of the German Navy was to destroy units of the Russian Navy’s Baltic Fleet operating in the Muhu Strait as well as bomb fortifications at the mouth of Daugava River and Pärnu harbour. The German Navy also bombed Kuressaare and Roomassaare harbour, though without clear success.

On 20 August 1915, there was an attempt to land at Pärnu, but due to the counteractions of Russian forces the attempt was unsuccessful. The commandant of Pärnu, Colonel Aleksandr Rodzjanko, feared that more German troops would appear and ordered the most important civil buildings in the city, such as Waldhof’s cellulose factory and Pärnu Power Plant, to be destroyed. Though the activities of the German Navy were unsuccessful, the Gulf of Riga became one of the most active areas of fighting for the next two years.

 

1916
The front line at Riga and the Daugava River

The front lines were stabilised in the territory of Latvia, and a trench war began with many unsuccessful attempts to break them.  The battles took place at Ķekava and Jēkabpils in March and July, as well as at Ilūkste. In August, the battles at Smārde took place.  Between April and October, the Latvian riflemen fought on Death Island, deterring the Germans from crossing the Daugava River on their way to Riga.  This is one of the first frontline sectors in Latvia where Germans use poisonous gases.

The so-called Christmas battles at the frontline of Riga near Tīreļpurvs Swamp occurred from December 23-29 (Julian calendar).  The objective was to liberate the city of Jelgava and Courland, but they suffered heavy losses.

1917
The Russian army collapses and Rīga is occupied

The Russian army collapses and Riga is occupied

As the war dragged on, people and politicians in Russia were increasingly dissatisfied with the rule of the Tsar, and during the February 1917 revolution, the Tsar was forced to abdicate in favour of a temporary government.  The Bolsheviks overthrew the government in November, and the radical wing of the Communist Party, led by Vladimir Lenin, led the process.  The Russian army was weak, German made use of that fact, and launched Hutier's Offensive - occupied Riga in early September 1917.  Latvian riflemen delayed the Germans at the Jugla River, thus rescuing Russia's 12th army. In October 1917, German Naval Infantry launched operation Albion and occupied the islands of Western Estonia.

30. märts 1917
Vene Ajutine Valitsus kinnitas määruse, millega eestlastega asustatud ala liideti ühtseks autonoomseks Eestimaa rahvuskubermanguks eesotsas kubermangukomissariga

Viimase juurde moodustati nõuandva organina Maanõukogu, mille valimised toimusid kevadel ja suvel. Algas hoogne poliitiline tegevus ning erakondade asutamine. Rahvuslike poliitikute seas hakkas levima mõte taotleda Eestile osariigi staatust Vene riigis. Kasvas ka enamlaste populaarsus, kelle eestvedamisel asuti linnades ja Eestis paiknenud tsaariarmee väeosades moodustama tööliste nõukogusid.

Aprill 1917
Algas Eestis rahvusväeosade formeerimine

Eestis rahvusväeosad koondati detsembriks 1. Eesti jalaväediviisi. Rahvusväeosade moodustamiseks naases 1917. aastal Eestisse kümneid tuhandeid sõjaväelasi, kes olid seni hajutatud tsaariarmee erinevatesse väeosadesse. Sellega pandi alus tulevale võidukale Eesti armeele Vabadussõjas.

15. november 1917
Maanõukogu kuulutas end kõrgeima võimu kandjaks Eestimaal

Sellega oli pandud õiguslik alus omariikluse kujunemisele, kuigi veel samal päeval saatsid enamlased Maanõukogu laiali.

November 29, 1917
Latvian Provisional National Council established in Valka

It was a political organization of the Latvian Central Committee for Refugee Support, representatives of Latvian political parties and Vidzeme Provisional Land Council and Latgale Provisional Land Council. Due to the achievements of the German army, the National Council also met in Petrograd, in secret from the Bolshevik regime. Council played a key role in strengthening the idea of Latvian independence in front of the Western Allies.

1918
Under German control

Following the failure of the Brest-Litovsk peace talks on 16 February 1918, the German army leadership announced that the ceasefire would be abolished on 17 February. During Operation Faustschlag, the German army moved forward rapidly along the railway lines without serious resistance. On February 18, German troops occupied the city of Daugavpils and continued to Estonia and Pskov. Already on February 19, Lenin urged the German side to offer a peace treaty on any terms. On March 3 the Brest-Litovsk treaty was signed between the Germans and Russia.The full German occupation meant that Latvian riflemen retreated to Russia and joined the Bolsheviks as Latvian red riflemen units as part of the Soviet Red Army.

24. veebruar 1918
Eesti Päästekomitee kuulutas iseseisvusmanifestiga välja Eesti Vabariigi loomise

Ära kasutati olukorda, kus Vene väed olid Eestist põgenemas, kuid pealetungivad Saksa väed ei olnud veel tervet maad hõivanud. Järgmisel päeval moodustati Tallinnas Eesti Ajutine Valitsus (peaministriks Konstantin Päts), mis sai tegutseda vaid mõned päevad enne Saksa vägede saabumist Tallinna ja okupatsioonivõimu kehtestamist. Saksa keisririik ei tunnustanud äsja väljakuulutatud Eesti Vabariiki. Eesti ja Läti alal üritati luua Saksamaaga liidus olevat Balti Hertsogiriiki, kus juhtroll oleks olnud kohalikel baltisakslastel. Keskriikide lüüasaamisega esimeses maailmasõjas 1918. aasta novembriks kukkus see plaan läbi. Saksamaa alustas seejärel oma vägede evakueerimist Eestist.

November 11, 1918
The end of World War I

While the Armistice was concluded on the western front, the war in the east continued. Estonian Provisional Government returned to power and the Estonian Defence League was created to lend it military support. Meanwhile, political forces in Latvia continued to agree on a common platform for declaring independence.

12. novembril 1918
Ajutine Valitsus otsustas luua regulaarsõjaväe

16. novembril 1918 kuulutati välja kutseliste sõjaväelaste kohustuslik ja teistele vabatahtlik mobilisatsioon. Eesti kaitsevägi oli sündinud.

November 18, 1918
Latvian independence

A merger of nationalist and anti-Bolshevik forces in Latvia established the People's Council, which declared Latvia's independence and established a temporary government led by Kārlis Ulmanis.  The new government gradually took over governance from German occupation and military institutions.

19. novembril 1918
Eesti Ajutise Valitsuse esindajad sõlmisid Saksamaa valitsuse esindajaga lepingu võimu üleandmise kohta Eesti territooriumil