by Shawn Bohannon

It was formed by the government of Latvia as its national defense force, but quickly fell under German control. Upon taking command of the Baltische Landeswehr, Major Alfred Fletcher, with the backing of the Baltic German land barons, began dismissing native Latvian elements and replacing them with Baltic Germans and Reichsdeutsch troops. Concurrently, German officers assumed most of the command positions. In his book Vanguard of Nazism: The Free Corps Movement in Postwar Germany, 1918-1923, author Robert G.L. Waite notes: “By mid-February 1919, Latvians composed less than one fifth of their own army.

After taking part in the capture of Riga on 22 May 1919, the Baltische Landeswehr continued its advance towards the Estonian coast preparatory for a push on St. Petersburg, Russia. However, the German plans were thwarted when an Estonian-Latvian army attacked and defeated the Baltische Landeswehr at the Battle of Wenden, 19-21 June 1919.

In the meantime, an Allied mission composed of British troops under General Sir Hubert de la Poer Gough had arrived in the Baltic with the task of clearing the Germans from the region and organizing native armies for the Baltic States. To ensure its return to Latvian control, the Baltische Landeswehr was placed under British authority. After taking command of the Baltische Landeswehr in mid-July 1919, Lieutenant-Colonel Harold Alexander, the future Field Marshal the Earl Alexander of Tunis and Governor General of Canada (1946-1952), gradually dismissed the German elements.

The Germans released from the Baltische Landeswehr were incorporated into the Deutsche Legion in September 1919. The legion served under the Freiwillige Russische Westarmee commanded by Colonel Prince Pavel Avalov-Bermondt.


Major Alfred Fletcher (Jan 1919 - July 1919)
Lieutenant-Colonel Harold Alexander (British) (July 1919)

Order of battle (20 May 1919)

1. Deutsch-Balt. Kampfbataillon (Stoßtrupp Manteuffel)
2. Deutsch-Balt. Kampfbataillon (Hauptmann Malmede)
3. Deutsch-Balt. Kampfbataillon (Rittmeister Graf zu Eulenburg)
MG-Scharfschützen-Abteilung (Hauptmann Freiherr von Khaynach)
Russische Abteilung Fürst Lieven (Cavalry Captain Prince Anatolii Pavlovich Liven or, in German, Fürst Anatol Leonid Lieven)
Lettische Kampf-Brigade (Colonel Jānis Balodis)
Stamm-Kompanie Talssen
Stamm-Kompanie Tuckum
Balten-Kompanie des Gouvernement Libau
Elements of the MG-Kompanie of III./Freiwilligen-Regiment Libau (Gouvernement Libau)
Lettische Kavallerie-Abteilung
Russische Kavallerie-Abteilung
Kavallerie-Abteilung Engelhardt
Kavallerie-Abteilung Drachenfels
Kavallerie-Abteilung Pappenheim
Kavallerie-Abteilung Halm
1. Deutsch-Balt. Batterie (Ehmke)
2. Deutsch-Balt. Batterie (Barth)
3. Deutsch-Balt. Batterie (Sievert)
Deutsch-Balt. Haubitze-Batterie
Russische Batterie (Röhl)
Badisches Freiwilligen Abteilung Medem (attached Korpstruppe)
Lettische Pionier-Kompanie
Pionier-Abteilung Stromberg
Balt. Fernsprech-Abteilung
Lettische Fernsprech-Abteilung
Balt. Funker-Abteilung
Flieger-Abteilung 433 (attached Korpstruppe)
Armee-Kraftwagen-Kolonne 021 (attached Korpstruppe)
Staffel-Stab der Landeswehr (Major Wölki)
- Munitions- und Train-Kolonne I
- Munitions- und Train-Kolonne II
- Landeskolonne III
Wirtschafts-Kompanie 1
Wirtschafts-Kompanie 2
Sammeldepot Libau

Notable members

Generalmajor Erich Alt (Luftwaffe) (leader of the 1. Baltischen Flieger-Abteilung (433))
Generalmajor Rudolf Bader (in the Badisches Freiwilligen Abteilung Medem)
Generalmajor Heinrich Baron von Behr
Generalmajor z.V. Heinrich Burggraf und Graf zu Dohna-Schlobitten
Generalmajor Karl Dormagen
Generalmajor Dipl. Ing. Hans Henrici
General der Artillerie Kurt Jahn
Waldemar Pabst (later chief-of-staff of the Austrian Heimwehr, a group silimar to the German Freikorps)
Generalleutnant Heinrich Rauch (Luftwaffe) (aerial observer in Flieger-Abteilung 433)
(the ranks are the highest ranks reached in the Third Reich era)


Members of the Baltische Landeswehr wore shoulder strap piping in light blue and white, the Baltic colors.

Sources used

Research by Shawn Bohannon
Robert G.L. Waite - Vanguard of Nazism: The Free Corps Movement in Postwar Germany, 1918-1923

Reference material on this unit

- None known at this time -