Latvia and Estonia celebrate 100th anniversary of Battle of Cēsis victory

Reenactment of the Battle of Cēsis, June 22, 2019.
Reenactment of the Battle of Cēsis, June 22, 2019. Source: ERR News

Between June 19 and 23, 1919, Latvian and Estonian forces fought for control over the territories of the two fledgling republics. They faced the Landeswehr, an army raised by the Baltic German nobility and Imperial Germany to turn the proposed United Baltic Duchy into a political reality, and the lands beyond the Lithuanian border into a German vassal state.

The Latvian Northern Brigade and the Estonian 3rd Division as well as the Kuperjanov Battalion clashed with the Landeswehr at Cēsis on June 19-23, 1919, where one of the decisive battles both in the Estonian and Latvian wars of independence was fought—and won by the two Baltic republics.

The Landeswehr's main assault on June 21 was stopped by the Kuperjanov Battalion as well as three Estonian armoured trains, one of which, named Wabadus, was reconstructed and is currently in Cēsis as a mobile museum.

An Estonian counterattack on June 23 resulted in the recapture of Cēsis, and forced a German retreat towards Riga. On July 3, 1919, the Estonian forces reached the city. Faced with insurmountable odds, the pro-German Latvian Provisional Government signed an armistice that restored the republican government of Kārlis Ulmanis. The Landeswehr was integrated with the armed forces of the Republic of Latvia.

On Saturday, Victory Day in Latvia, a reenactment of the battle took place in Cēsis as the most important of a whole series of commemorative events surrounding the Estonian and Latvian victory's 100th anniversary. As Latvian public broadcaster LSM's English news wrote on Saturday, the festive program is "extremely diverse," taking place throughout the town from dawn to dusk. The celebration features singers and dancers from all over Vidzeme to offer a fascinating performance with a contemporary program at Vienības Square. Meanwhile Rīgas Street, the main artery of the city, is turned into a time warp featuring many documentary performances.


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Editor: Dario Cavegn

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