Upon Allied demands the German government announced on September 25 that von der Goltz would be replaced by General
von Eberhardt to supervise the evacuation of German troops, while at the same time the German government officially sanctioned the transfer of German volunteers to the “West Russian Army”. The Allies, tired of the German games, delivered an ultimatum on September 27 : all Germans must be evacuated at once, including those in “Russian” service, or the Allies would reinstate the blockade of Germany. The German government immediately sent an order canceling permission to transfer into “Russian” service, but this order mysteriously took several days to reach Latvia, and by that time von der Goltz could truthfully state that the transferred “Russian” troops were no longer under his command. Therefore, there was nothing that he could do. Bermondt’s “Russians” attacked Rīga on October 8, the German Legion on the right along Daugava, the Iron Division in the center along the main road from Jelgava to Rīga, and the Corps of Count von Keller on the left along the seashore. Bermondt’s total army amounted to about 51,000 men, 120 airplanes, and 101 guns, while the total Latvian army consisted of 39,000 men and 33 guns. However, since the best Latvian troops were on the eastern front against the Red Army, and since most of Bermondt’s forces were in Lithuania, initially in the battle for Rīga 6400 Latvians and 16 guns were pitted against 8600 men and 56 guns of Bermondt’s army. [page 58] The Latvian troops were mostly raw recruits undergoing training, while the Germans were veterans of World War I. German attempts to encircle the Latvians on the west bank of Daugava did not succeed, and on October 9 the Latvians withdrew to the east bank. On October 10 the Allies established a naval blockade on all German shipping in the Baltic Sea. The Estonians sent two armored trains (guns mounted on flatcars) to help in the defense of Rīga. The Allied naval squadron moved out from the Rīga harbor into the Gulf of Rīga. Still, the Germans were afraid to cross the Daugava since the Allies could re-enter and cut them off. Consequently, the Germans confined the attack on Rīga to a heavy artillery bombardment and sent some of their forces southeast to force a crossing of Daugava further upstream. They also offered a truce in insolent terms on October 11, but the Latvians did not deign to answer. The Latvians took advantage of the reduction of the German forces opposite Rīga and
Bermondt resigned from the command of his West Russian Army on November 16 . On November 17 the Iron Division and the German Legion formally requested to be taken back into the German army. was on its way to examine the situation. When they failed to do so. cheered on by the sailors. the Germans turned west and occupied most of Courland. they carried away everything portable and torched the rest. The major Latvian counterattack began on November 3 along the seashore with artillery support from the Allied ships. They liberated the suburbs of Rīga on the west bank of Daugava on November 11 . By the afternoon of October 15 the Latvians had a secure bridgehead on the left bank of Daugava. By November 16 the Latvians threatened to encircle the German headquarters at Jelgava. The Latvians crossed the Daugava north of Rīga in small boats past the Allied ships. headed by the French General Niessel. the Germans left behind them a scorched earth. A Baltic Interallied Military Mission. the commander of the Allied squadron. commanded by the French Rear Admiral Brisson. French and British cruisers and destroyers. However. by now the Latvians were growing tired of Allied Missions which urged them to fight the Reds but did nothing to stop the German atrocities. On November 10 the Latvians turned southeast. sent an ultimatum to the Germans to withdraw by noon of October 15 . The fighting was bitter on both sides: prisoners were rarely taken. Admiral Sir Walter Cowan. just in time to save Bermondt’s army from total defeat. bombarded the Germans in support of another Latvian attack. Despite American President Wilson’s program
. Stopped in the east. Von der Goltz’s successor von Eberhardt arrived in Jelgava on November 17 and ordered a German counterattack against Latvians to improve the German position before offering an armistice. On October 19 the Latvians repulsed German attempts to cross the Daugava upstream. On October 31 the Rossbach Freikorps left Germany without permission and marched to Latvia.counterattacked across Daugava on October 14 with limited success. Only Allied interference had saved the German forces from annihilation after the battle of Cēsis. It arrived on November 11. The Lithuanians were skirmishing with the German troops [page 62] on their territory and thus were threatening the German rear. By the evening the Latvians had to retreat back to the right bank.
it is possible that the jubilant Letts would have advanced upon East Prussia. They seemed to be more concerned with who is going to pay Russia’s debts to the Allies if the Reds prevail or if Russia is broken up into small nations. “but for Allied intervention. It gave the Germans It gave the Germans time to transport their loot to Prussia so that Courland was utterly devastated while Prussia was teeming with livestock. Admiral Cowan protested to the British Admiralty that such a request was madness. and most of them eventually joined Hitler’s movement. then Ulmanis became conveniently ill and would not receive the Mission. and when Eberhardt offered an armistice on November 18 (ignored by the Latvians). was a humiliation von der Goltz was spared. at least. when the German counterattack failed. This failure [page 63] disillusioned the Baltikumers even more.
. blaming the Weimar government for all their defeats . Consequently. The last of the German troops crossed the frontier of Germany on December 13.of Fourteen Points which appeared to imply that all nations are entitled to self-determination. and when the Latvians threatened to surround the Germans at Jelgava. In the words of the historian Oliver Warner . Ulmanis’ government severed diplomatic relations with Germany on November 26 and declared a state of war. that. The embittered German veterans of the Baltic campaign (called “Baltikumers” in Germany) took part in an attempted overthrow of the German government in March of 1920 (called the “Kapp Putsch”) which did not succeed. and Balodis was in the front lines fighting the Reds. The Latvian forces pursued the defeated Germans into Lithuania. The last skirmishes took place there on November 30 . and when Niessel’s Mission did arrive.” The Allies did interfere. Niessel’s Mission requested Balodis to hold back his troops. the peace conference in Paris had shown only sporadic sympathy for the nations trying to liberate themselves from the Russian prison of nations.