Germans against Latvians

German Freikorps, Reichsheer and Reichsmarine 1919-1934.

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Germans against Latvians

Postby Lacplesis » Sun Dec 11, 2005 2:14 pm

Hindenburg once stated on the Eastern Front that he would have been in Riga, Latvia earlier if it hadn't been for the Latvians. I have aquired and read the 34 Latvian Rifleman books about the combat against the Germans and have placed on my website the last battle at Machinegun Hill in 1917, (called by the Latvians,Christmas Battles, for Russia was still under the old calendar) before the Russians replaced the Riflemen and lost the territory that the Latvians held since 1916. This is a translation of the 4th Vidzemes Battalions Day book with a day and hour by hour report. The page is

http://www.lacplesis.com/Silent_Nights.htm

Happy reading
History is what we repeat if we don't study it.
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Postby sid guttridge » Mon Dec 12, 2005 4:00 am

Hi Lacplesis,

A most interesting insight into a subject of which I know virtually nothing.

Is the Hindenberg quote sourced, or is it just one of the numerous unattributable quotations floating around?

Cheers,

Sid.
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Hindenburg

Postby Lacplesis » Mon Dec 12, 2005 5:29 pm

I read it in one of my books about the battles as a quote. This was a reference to combat methods used by the Latvians. Many people do not know about the bloody Eastern front or WWI except what TV or movies show and Hollywood never gets it right.
Normal trench combat methods in this era was for one side bombing the hell out of the enemy trenches and then charge out and hope to disperse the enemy. This would inform the enemy that an attack is coming and to be prepared. At Gallipoli, the Turks would leave the trenches when the bombardment started and immediately return after it stopped, return to stop the attackers. A quote from a Turk General at the battle site states, "If they had shot behind our trenches we wouldn't be alive today"
If you read the Daybook, you would notice training in silent crawling, getting out of the trenches quietly. Unless ordered by the Russian Command, the Latvians would leave their trenches silently with no bombardment, at night and crawl up to the enemy trenches and when the line was close enough they would all arise shouting "URRA" and jump into the enemy trenches with bayonets. The surprised Germans trying to flee would be blow up by Latvian artillery that opened up and raked the area behind the German trenches. The front lines barely moved in Latvia from 1915 until the Christmas battles in 1917 when the Russians replaced the Latvian Line and the start of the Russian Revolution.
This started a dark side of the Latvian Riflemen for Lenin and the communists hired a group, which I will not mention, as their bodyguards for they did not trust their own soldiers. At one time, they had complete control of Moscow and when the Whites attacked them, they retreated into Lubyanka Prison with Lenin and held them off for over 30 days until help arrived. They eventually got disillusioned with the Communists, returned to Latvia, and fought the Communists trying to regain Latvia. Latvia has a military history that goes back many centuries that is not known in the western word but is slowly being presented by scholars and books. Latvian history books still tell of the first defeat of Germans invading the Latvian territory in 1231 by the Letts.
History is what we repeat if we don't study it.
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Postby sid guttridge » Tue Dec 13, 2005 7:03 am

Hi Lacplessis,

The tactics you describe seem to be the same as those employed by both sides in trench raids on the Western Front in WWI.

During the period you describe in 1915-1917 did the Germans launch any major offensive operations at the northern end of the Eastern Front? I seem to recall that they were drawn south more and more to support the Austro-Hungarians.

I would still be interested to know the original source for the Hindenburg quotation.

Cheers,

Sid.
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Postby dduff442 » Mon Jan 09, 2006 2:26 am

Hi Sid,

The 1917 assault on Riga was one of the most important and decisive of the war. It was the curtain-raiser for the Kaiserschlacht the following spring and tipped Russia into Revolution. Frankly, I'm fairly ignorant of this battle, though I'm sure I can rustle up a few web sources I encountered before if you're interested.

There's a paper on the CARL (www-cgsc.army.mil/carl/) on the evolution of Stormtrooper tactics that refers to the battle. I remember one interesting detail on the employment of artillery at Riga and for the rest of the war. First, each tube would be individually calibrated (!) to work out a correction for it; second, tables to correct for wind, atmospheric pressure etc were created. This compensated for the critical shortage of shells to some extent. It was a very advanced process for its day.

Regards,
dduff
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Postby Lacplesis » Tue Jan 17, 2006 10:34 am

Sorry for the late response but I was a snowbird and just returned. I read the documents on the website that that dduff442 posted and they clearly show the difference between the Latvians way of assault and the other armies. The pages show that even though the Germans saw the Latvian way, they still first bombed the trenches and then attacked where as the Latvians in the dark crawled up to the enemy trenches and then dropping in as a group and only then would the artillery fire at the rear of the trenches to kill the retreating soldiers.
That website tells how the German officers from the Eastern front had to argue with the western front staff just to change the lenght of time of bombardment just to reduce the time of warning given to the enemy of an impending attack.
If you saw the Gallipoli battlesite or read a book about it , there is a plaque in the museum telling of the time the Anzaks and Turks met after the war. One Turkish Officer is telling the Anzaks that when they started their bombardments the Turks left the trenches until they stopped and then returned. If they had bombarded behind the trenches the turks would have been killed and the Allies would have won. Some people are slow learners
History is what we repeat if we don't study it.
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Postby Lacplesis » Wed Jan 18, 2006 1:50 pm

Can't find the quote of Hindenburgh yet but I found a listng of the WWI battles, How many Corps took part, How wide the front, How many artillery, How long they fired before the attack ,and the results. It is at
http://www.lacplesis.com/Kaujas_opracijas.htm

It is from a 1940 book in Latvian I have but with theabove info anyone can read it
History is what we repeat if we don't study it.
Lacplesis
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