The Formation of the Latvian Army and the War of Liberation (1918-1920)

Immediately following the proclamation of the state in 1918, the War of Liberation began. A small group of patriots, who maintained their belief in the new state despite the difficult political and military circumstances, began forming the army, which eventually succeeded in defending the newly born Latvia. Fighting against the independent German military forces lead by von der Goltz and Bermont-Avalov, the Latvian army began the liberation of Riga on November 3th, 1919. In this effort it was supported by Allied naval gunfire. Riga was liberated on November 11th. Since that time, November 11 has been a day of national celebration - Lacplesis Day. On November 28th, the German military was driven from Latvia.

Under the administration of the Ministry of Defence, the formation of the National Army units was started, and by 1920 the armed forces consisted of 72,000 men. Colonel Oskars Kalpaks was the first Commander of the National Armed Forces, and the first Commander-in-Chief of the Latvian Army was General Davids Simansons.

Combating both internal and external enemies united the people and strengthened their belief in an independent state. By August 11th, 1920, all foreign armies were driven from the territory of Latvia and the War of Liberation ended with the signing of the Latvian - Soviet Peace Treaty.

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Soldiers of the Latvian Army on the frontlines in the Eastern part of Latvia, summer 1920