I just want to expand on Mait's outline of events and to ask for help.Well, about the FK in baltic states:
1. They were never established or organized in Estonia (at least that i know)
2. After the failure to establish Baltic Duke State (literal translation, it was a puppet regime that the Germany tried to establish in Baltic states after Brest-Litowsk peace) local germans organized their army called Landeswehr in Latvia. The leader of this army was German general Rüdiger von der Golz and the army was recruited from local baltic germans and seasoned soldiers from Germany.
In may 1919 this army destroyed "red units" in Riga, put their government up there and kept moving north to do the same thing in Estonia.
The Estonian government treated this move as a war and Estonian army units were sent against it. I would not call the Estonian army of the time local militia - it was well motivated army, lead by officers that mostly had served as officers in Russian Army during WW1. The troops had had many hard battles with russian and red latvian units, pushed them out of estonia and conquered quite large areas in russia (well large compared to the territory of estonia at least).
On 22. june 1919 the Estonian army started the attack, crushed the Landeswehr next day and chased the fleeing Germans to Riga. Then the peace was settled with the help of Entente.
The new Latvian republic and government were established (politically, militarily and economically backed by Estonian Republic).
23rd of June is celebrated in Estonia as Victory Day.
By the way - the Landeswehr had good leader and officer corps and large percentage of its fighters were freiwillige from germany (motivated and seasoned troops of WW1). Simply put - the Estonians were better fighters at that time and place
No Freikorps (FK) units loyal to Germany seem to have been raised in Estonia, but ethnic Baltic Germans (BG) living in Estonia formed militias in Estonian towns during the fall of 1918 in response to the threat from Bolshevik forces. The Estonian government, which was in the process of forming an army, was wary of the BG militias and initially would not accept them into the Estonian army. In late November, the Estonian government decided to accept the BG militias. The militias were brought together into the Baltic Battalion at Rakvere under the command of a Colonel von Weiss. It was first deployed in early December 1919 against the Bolshevik forces on the Narva front. The Baltic battalion remained loyal to Estonia throughout the War of Independence.
Major-General Rüdiger von der Goltz arrived at Mitau on February 1, 1919, as Military Governor of Libau and General Officer Commanding the German Army's 6th Corps. In practical terms this meant that he assumed overall command of German forces defending that part of Latvia which was not under Bolshevik occupation. As an aside, Goltz commanded a German division that was instrumental in helping Mannerheim defeat Bolshevik forces in Finland during 1918.
The Baltische Landeswehr (BL) was a component of Goltz's army. The BL was formed by ethnic Baltic Germans in Latvia during the fall of 1918. After the Armistice, it received supplies from the German 8th Army. It was commanded by a Prussian Major of Scots descent by the name of Alfred Fletcher. The BL was initially composed of Baltic Germans, but it's ranks later swelled with Reich Germans, White Russians, and some Latvians. It had a complement of approximately 2,000 men.
Another component of Goltz's army was the Iron Division under the command of Major Josef Bischoff. The Iron Division was originally formed as the Iron Brigade during the fall of 1918. It was initially composed of approximately 600 soldiers acting as the rearguard of the German 8th Army. By the spring of 1919 after calls for volunteers had reached Germany, the Iron Division consisted of approximately 14,000 men. It had it's own artillery and air support (not sure about armour). Goltz's army also included a White Russian Division under the command of Prince A.P. Lieven and numerous Freikorps units from Germany. Goltz's entire army contained 20-30,000 men.
Goltz's mixed German army was in Latvia at the request of the Entente and the Latvian government under Karlis Ulmanis. At the time of the Armistice in November 1918, the Allies were worried about the military successes of the Bolsheviks in the Baltic area. After four years of war, none of the Western governments wanted to put forces into another conflict. The Entente's solution was to keep the German 8th Army in place until such time as local national armies could be developed to counter the Bolsheviks. This was stipulated in Article XII of the Armistice. The German force was meant to be a defensive one only. The problem with the Entente's solution was that the Germany 8th army would not or could not comply. Most of the soldiers, tired of war and demoralised by defeat, found their own way back to Germany. Thus, Ulmanis' government came to rely on the BL and the Iron Division. The Ulmanis government also agreed to a program to recruit volunteers in Germany for Goltz's army.
The Entente (the French and American governments were involved, but Britain was the most active and at the forefront of the Baltic policy) was never comfortable with the solution, but they saw it as the only practical alternative. Other schemes, including an effort to get the Scandinavian countries to send interventionary forces to the region in early 1919, failed. In February 1919 the British government became alarmed at the large numbers of German volunteers and the amount of material and equipment arriving in Latvia. The British persuaded the Allied Supreme Council to impose a blockade on ships carrying German volunteers, coal, and other supplies from Germany to the Baltic states. The blockade went into effect on March 3, 1919. The blockade was never strictly enforced due to practical reasons -- the absurdity of preventing the supply of an ally designated by the Entente to stop Bolshevik advances in the region and the lack of a sufficient number of warships. The blockade, such as it was, had a negative impact on Goltz's army and it was forced to rely primarily on a single rail line running from Germany to the German controlled area of Latvia for it's supplies and recruits.
Upon arriving in Latvia, Goltz determined that the position of his forces was untenable as long as Bolshevik forces were in Courland. Within two weeks, he launched an offensive which resulted in most of Latvia being cleared of Bolshevik forces by the end of March 1919. He received substantial support from the British navy during the offensive.
Despite his success, Goltz and his forces were not popular with the Ulmanis and the British governments.
For example, Latvian leaders complained that Goltz acted as an occupier rather than as advisor/defender. Goltz prevented the Latvian government from raising an indigenous army and removed or neutralised Latvian officers serving in his forces. Goltz's officers were lax in reprimanding or punishing troops who engaged in looting and other criminal activities. Goltz's forces were also quick to execute large numbers of civilians in the wake of liberating areas from Bolshevik control. There was great deal of friction between Goltz and the leaders of the British contingent -- mostly stemming from a difference in objectives. There were problems between the rankers from the German forces and those of the British, French, and Americans. At one point, the Entente prepared to defend their ships in harbor from Goltz's forces.
Goltz had some support from elements within the German government and Supreme Command and he was popular with many former soldiers in Germany, but he did not have the official support of the German government. Goltz operated independently with his own agenda. His ultimate plan appears to have been to clear the Bolsheviks out Latvia and Estonia, create a German military colony in those countries, link up with White Russian forces to take Petrograd and ultimately overthrow the Bolshevik government in Russia, and forge an alliance between Germany and a new bourgeois Russian government.
Having become tired of the Ulmanis government's complaints and it's efforts to function independently of Goltz's forces, a unit of the Landeswehr under the command of Baron von Manteuffel initiated a coup on April 16, 1919, which succeeded ousting the Ulmanis government. It is believed that Goltz knew of and tacitly supported the planning of the coup before the event, but that he did not initiate or take part in the planning or the take over. Ulmanis and the majority of his ministers made their escape and received asylum on British warships. The coup leaders installed a pro-German Latvian Pastor by the name of Andreas Niedra. The coup created a flurry of high-level political activity between the Entente and the German government. Demands were made of the German government to remove Goltz and reduce the size of the German forces in Latvia. The German government, which held only nominal control over Goltz, persuaded the Entente that if German forces were reduced in the area there was no way of holding the Bolsheviks. The Entente relented, but they demanded that Goltz not attempt to capture Riga from the Bolsheviks.
Riga was a prize that the British and the Ulmanis government in exile wanted to deny to Goltz's army. Riga was one of the best ports in the region. There were fears of another bloodbath by Freikorps units in the event of Riga's capture. The British also wanted to prevent Goltz from earning any prestige through the defeat of the Bolshevik army and occupying territory which could be used to legitimize the Goltz-backed Niedra government. The British hoped that a joint Estonian-Latvian army would move to take Riga. The Latvian contingent of the Estonian army was a division of approximatley 9,000 men commanded by Jorgis Zemitans. It was loyal to Ulmanis and had been formed in Estonia in February 1919 as a response to Goltz's efforts to prevent the Latvian government from forming an independent national army. The Latvian contingent fought under the direction of the Estonian army. The British had reason to hold out hope because the Estonian-Latvian force under the command of General Laidoner began moving south into Latvia on May 13, 1919, and subsequently occupied portions of northern and eastern Latvia under the auspices of a mutual defense treaty concluded between Estonia and Latvia in February 1919.
Under pressure from the Allies to remove Goltz, to reduce the number of German forces, and to maintain the status quo in the Baltic states, the German government recalled Goltz to Berlin for consultations in early May 1919. The German government chose not remove Goltz or to reduce the number of troops, but he was ordered not to take Riga and to cease offensive operations. Goltz made the rounds of powerful government bureaucrats and public rallies. In doing so, he found a loophole. The German government recognized the BL as a native force rather than a German one. If the BL attacked and the German forces remained in a support role, then Berlin would not oppose the action. Goltz returned to Latvia and Riga fell on May 22 to the BL with the Iron Division and other FK units in support.
Also during May there had been a great deal of debate within and between the Allied governments regarding what should be done about the situation in the Baltic states. The Entente reached several decisions which were made known to the German government within days of Riga's capture. One was the formation of an Allied military mission under the command of British Lieutenant General Sir Hubert Gough. It's purpose was to check the activities of the German forces and to organize the development of local armies in the Baltic states. It was also that a minimum of 50 percent of the German forces were to begin a withdrawal from the Baltic states in mid-June. Goltz was allowed to remain in command. If Goltz and the German forces failed to comply, the blockade would be strictly enforced. In another development immediately following the liberation of Riga, the British government by-passed the Niedra government and provided weapons and training directly to Latvians loyal to Ulmanis in order to create a force capable of countering the Germans. The British efforts were such that two Latvian divisions were formed by mid-June.
Within days of the fall of Riga, Goltz ordered his forces to move north toward Estonia. On June 3rd or June 5th (accounts vary), the BL met the Estonian-Latvian army near Cesis (Wenden). Instead of recognizing their shared interest in defeating the Bolsheviks, each side demanded that the other retreat. Words failed and skirmishing ensued. Gough arrived on the scene and was able to bring about a cease-fire. The cease-fire failed (accounts vary as to which side was the cause) on June 9th or 10th (again sources vary) and there were a series of skirmishes and battles over the next three weeks, notably at Roopa on June 20 and at Cesis (Wenden) on June 22-23.
During this period, the German forces began suffering supply, leadership, and morale problems. Their supplies ran low. German officers became aware of the hardening of foreign opinion and willingness to take measures to stop the German forces. Those of Baltic German heritage with family and business ties in the region took notice of the British support to the new Latvian divisions and began to think of their futures in the event of the failure of Goltz's forces. Thus, the officer corps was beginning to have second thoughts regarding their commitments and the continuation of the fighting. Many of the German volunteers also became somewhat disillusioned with the fact that they were no longer fighting Bolsheviks. Quite a few are said to have defected to the Estonian-Latvian army and then taken up arm against their former comrades in Goltz's army.
At the battle of Cesis (Wenden), the Estonian army was under the command of Major-General Ernst Podder. The battle has been described as extremely violent (aren't most battles?) and included the use of tanks and partisan forces on the Estonian side. The German forces were beaten and pushed back to the suburbs of Riga within a few days. Gough was able to impose another ceasefire and an armistice was signed at Strazdumuiza (Strasdenhof) on July 3, 1919. The Armistice stipulated that all German forces were to be withdrawn to Latvia; the Estonian army was to pull back to the Estonian border; the Ulmanis government was to be restored to power; and the Baltische Landeswehr was to be purged of all German volunteers and put under the command of then Colonel Alexander (later Field Marshal Alexander).
The foregoing represents what I have been able to piece together from a number of sources (often contradictory ones at that). Can anyone provide additional details regarding the war between the German forces and Estonia during June 1919 (particularly the battle of Cesis)? Can anyone recommend any books, articles, or websites (in English or German) on this subject?
Thank You and Best Regards,
(Edited 20.12.02 to reflect correct spelling of Laidoner. Edited 31.01.03 to reflect correct spelling of Baltische Landeswehr)