Today, November 11, is a day of remembrance in many parts of the world, whether it be called Remembrance Day, Veterans’ Day, or something else. This is usually a commemoration of November 11, 1918, when the Armistice was signed at the end of the First World War.
This may have been the end of the First World War, but hostilities were not over in Latvia. While the Latvian Republic was proclaimed a week later on November 18 (the day celebrated as Latvia’s Independence Day), Latvian territory was shortly thereafter invaded by both the Red Army and the Baltic Germans with the support of the remnants of the Russian White Army, so three different governments were fighting for control of the same territory.
It was on November 11, 1919, when the Germans and White Russians were finally driven off from Rīga by the newly formed Latvian army, despite the Latvians being outnumbered in manpower and vastly outnumbered in terms of technology (cannons, machine guns and planes). The Soviet retreat would follow, and ceasefires would be signed with both Germany and the Soviet Union in 1920.
This day was called “Lāčplēša diena” (“Lāčplēsis Day”), after the Latvian folk hero Lāčplēsis, who also lends his name to the highest order of Latvian military honours given in the interwar period. For more information on this day, please look at this infographic, available in English.
Do you have any ancestors who fought in Latvia’s War of Independence? Do share their stories here!