The German VI Reserve Corps is formed

to map

06. January 1919

In the end of 1918, young Latvian republic was facing similar difficulties as Estonia, but with some differences: whilst in Estonia the main obstacles in organizing People's Army were the issues with morale and supplies, in Latvia it was the lack of eligible men.
Majority of the men had been drafted before the German occupation, in 1918, into Latvian Riflemen Battalions, and sent to Soviet Russia, where in November 1918, invasion of the homeland was being organized.

Latvian Provisional Government, lead by Kārlis Ulmanis, turned to its neighbors, also to Germany with a help request. Latter was interested in protecting its borders from the Bolsheviks, thus in December 1918, Latvia and Germans made a deal, according to which Germans took the obligation to protect Latvia's borders.

To achieve this, German IV Reserve Corps was formed out of volunteers and other eligible men; this corpse included, for example, the famous Iron Division and Baltische Landeswehr, but also an unit from Russian White Guard and some national Latvian units. Baltische Landeswehr consisted mainly of Baltic Germans. In January 1919, general major Rüdiger von der Goltz (see image) became the leader of the corps.

The situation in young Republic of Latvia was catastrophic: the Red Army had captured all of Latgallia (Latgale), Latvian Livonia, and large part of Courland. Ulmanis' government was forced to move to Liepāja, where the head quarters of the newly formed IV Reserve Corps was located. Russian advance stopped at Venta River line, where the Germans had managed to build a strong defense position.

Latvian government had to take ambitious von Goltz into consideration, who was seeking revenge for Germany's loss in the WWI. According to his plans, anti-Entente Russian-German alliance had to be formed; but the national states that had formed at the borders of the Russian empire stood in the way. To achieve fore mentioned goals, Germany's troops in Courland were supplied with new men and equipment, and the VI Reserve Corps grew into a formidable force. Goltz's disparaging attitude towards Latvian government was displayed by his attempt to organize a coup in February 1919, which failed.

Source: Eesti ajalugu. VI, Vabadussõjast taasiseseisvumiseni. Tartu: Ilmamaa, 2005
Eesti Vabadussõda, 1918-1920, 1. Tallinn: Mats, 1996
Eesti ajaloo atlas. Tallinn: Avita, 2006.                                                                                                   
Image source:

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