Germans capture Riga

to map

21. August 1917

Despite the February Revolution in 1917, Provisional Government decided to continue fighting the war, allying with the Triple Antante against Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria and Turkey.

Concurrently, both soldiers and civilians became more and more weary of the war, thus diminishing the strength of the Red Army.

In the summer of 1917, Russian troops initiated an unsuccessfully counter assault against Germans.

Revolutionary movement spread franticly among Russian soldiers. In the Eastern Front, the XII army, stationed near Riga, was the most rebellious. Even though it was clear in August 1917, that Germans will try to capture Riga, instead of organizing the defence of the city, the commanders of the XII focused on uprooting the revolutionary cells within the battalion.
Among other things, Üksküla (Ikšķile) springboard was eliminated from the left bank of Väina (Daugava) River, thus granting the Germans an easy access across.

On August 19, 1917, German assault began with cannon fire, and among other things, chemical shells were used. German troops crossed the river and took Üksküla. Near Riga, II Latvian Riflemen Battalion offered heavy resistance. On August 21, the city was left behind. The XII army managed to pull back to Võnnu (Cēsis) , where the front finally stabilized. The army lost 25,000 men, among those 8000 dead and missing.

Sources: Eesti ajalugu. VI, Vabadussõjast taasiseseisvumiseni. Tartu: Ilmamaa, 2005
Õie Elango, Ants Ruusmann ja Karl Siilivask. Eesti maast ja rahvast: Maailmasõjast maailmasõjani. Tallinn: Olion, 1998
Eesti ajalugu: kronoloogia. Tallinn: Olion, 2007
Eesti ajaloo atlas. Tallinn: Avita, 2006. 

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