Truce negotiations

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10. June 1919

With the help of the Entente, truce talks began in Võnnu.

The agreement to end fighting was quickly achieved, but both sides had very different viewpoints in all the other matters.

The Germans demanded that Estonian troops pulled back to the line defined by the use of Estonian language: to Heinaste (Ainaži)-Valga-Ibroska line; Estonians declined to give up their demands presented in Laidoner's directive. An American lieutenant-colonel, Warwik Greene, tended to support the Germans, as he saw the German troops to be subjected to Latvia's official government, which was not the case with Niedra's puppet-government.

Estonians asked for a break to think matters through, and the new meeting was arranged on June 13. By this time Entente's positions had radically changed: with the Treaty of Versailles, the relationships between Germany and the Entente had worsened. This time the Germans called for a new meeting, which was to take place in Valga, on June 20. The recess was used by both sides to gather reserves and restock.

Among other things Germans tried to reach the Northern Corps of the Russian White Guard, but Estonians managed to force the Landeswehr plane to land near Narva (see image). As officially the Iron Division was prohibited to cross Väina (Daugava) River, Niedra's government employed it on June 18. This was the beginning of "Latvia's Army", which spread the rumor that Estonia plans to conquer Northern Latvia. All together 5250 men, 310 machine guns, 48 cannons, 16 mine throwers and one armored train were rallied to the front. Estonian side answered with 6357 men, 189 machine guns, 30 cannons and two armored trains.
These figures show that the sides were relatively equal, Estonian superiority in infantry was balanced with Germany's superiority in equipment. Germans had the good old advantage of the attacker, allowing them to choose attack routes and being more free in rallying their troops. Estonians, on the other hand, had to defend a front that was more than 100 km long. Germans' attitude towards the Estonians was patronizing, equalizing them with the Bolsheviks. After Võnnu was lost, Estonians understood that their enemy is militarily superior and thus became cautious.

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: http://www.hot.ee/vabadussoda/lennuk-1.jpg


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