The First World War Memorial Sites in Latvia

The First World War affected present-day territory of Latvia very substantially. “Eastern Europe’s Belgium”, so figurative sometimes Latvia was called comparing it with other states most devastated during the First World War. 2014 marks 100 years since the start of the First World War. Latvia has hundreds of objects preserved since the war. They are showing evidences about important events in history of Latvia that are valuable for society as well researchers. Unfortunately, these objects are accounted and studied just partially.

In 2013, the Latvian War Museum and the Latvian Geospatial Information Agency began project with a task to discover objects that are containing evidences about the First World War. In this project the term “memorial site” was viewed in more broad sense, referring it not only to memorials created after the war for commemorative and ceremonial purposes, but also including sites that still have direct evidences about events of First World War.

Warfare reached territory of Latvia in May, 1915. The German army captured Liepāja and latter approached Jelgava. Front line was stabilized by the autumn of 1915. Within next two years, it remained almost stable. First World War’s historical and cultural sites that were investigated and included into the Interactive Map of Memorial Sites mainly are attributed to battles fought during this period of war.

Map shows the monuments, memorial plaques and remnants of concrete fortifications (as best preserved examples) attributed to the First World War, as well brothers’ cemeteries. Information about 307 objects was included in map. Each object has brief description, photo and coordinates. Henceforward, it will make easier to find objects on site. Pertaining to brethren cemeteries, it is necessary to indicate that map doesn’t include burial sites whose memorial plaques or any other signs disappeared with the lapse of time, because it is almost impossible to locate these objects in site.

Because of tremendous quantity of objects, the work on current version of map isn’t fully completed, yet. We are asking everybody, who has information about historical sites of First World War that were not included in map to help us. Please, send information to the Latvian War Museum (Dagnis.Dedumietis[at]karamuzejs.lv; phone: +371-28349259), so, that it will let us to add a new information in map about First World War Memorial Sites in Latvia.

1915-1
1915-2
1915-3
1915-4
1917
1915-1

During the First World War, when German army tried to launch attack towards Jelgava, warfare reached modern day territory of Latvia on May 2–3, 1915. The Russian troops and Daugavgrīva fortress’s United Labor Companies, composed mostly from Latvian soldiers, stopped German attacks at Ruļļu hills and forced them to retreat back. On May 8, German troops captured Liepāja and Aizpute. Front line was stabilized. German left flank held positions at Saka, but German right flank controlled positions along Venta River. Front line remained stable until July 13, 1915.

1915-2

German troops launched an attack on July 14, 1915. The German army captured whole Kurzeme. It continued assault and captured Bauska on July 29, and Jelgava on August 1. Front line was stabilized from Klapkalnciems at the western coast of Rīga Gulf towards Ķemeri and Kalnciems, stretching father alongside Lielupe River, Iecava and again along Lielupe and Mēmele.

1915-3

German army crossed Memel River and launched offensive towards Jaunjelgava on August 23, 1915. German troops captured left bank of Daugava from Pikstere River till Lielvārde.

1915-4

German army succeeded and pushed back Russian army toward Rīga and Daugavpils. Particularly fierce fighting occurred at Daugavpils. In October, 1915, newly formed Latvian Riflemen Battalions were involved in fighting. Actually, mobile warfare was over by November, 1915. Trench positions remained almost stable until September, 1917.

1917

German troops crossed Daugava at Ikšķile. They captured Rīga and pushed back Russian troops to North-East till Inčukalns. Here front line existed until February, 1918, when German army occupied whole territory of modern day Latvia.