Baltic Landswehr

(Freikorps im Baltikum)



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.



Estonian fighters, Kauperjano guerilla rgt.

( May, 1919)

Latvian cavalryman, Balodis rgt. & Landswehr fighter

( May, 1919 )

Reconstructions © Andrey Karashchuk


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 Sep 1919. The legion served under the Freiwillige Russische Westarmee commanded by Colonel Prince Pavel Avalov-Bermondt.


Click on the below map for full-screen image

Source: Putzgers, F.W., Historischer Schul-Atlas, Bielefeld, 1929





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

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.



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