German troops invade mainland Estonia

to map

19. February 1918

The German military leadership interpreted the discontinuation of the peace talks as the end of the truce, and announced that on February 18, 1918, at 12:00, overall assault of German troops will begin.

By February 19, Virtsu was taken, troops reached Haapsalu by February 21, and moved on to Tallinn from there. I Estonian Battalion, present at Haapsalu, had already previously arrested the members of Läänemaa Council, and disarmed Russian naval battery in Vormsi Island.

Germans did not arm Estonians, but put them in charge of keeping peace in Haapsalu and in nearby areas. On February 22, assault continued towards Tallinn, a larger battle with the Red Guard took place near Riisipere train station. On February 23, last of the Red Guard defenders were destroyed near Keila, and on February 24, Germans reached Saue, one of the small towns near Tallinn.

On February 22, 1918, Germans also entered Valka in Southern Estonian, where they obtained few dozen cannons and about 2000 prisoners. Soldiers of the Estonian Battalion had freed Tartu by February 22, but already in the morning of 24, German troops entered the the town, being greeted by cheering local Baltic-Germans.

Estonian nationalists tried to establish Estonian rule also in Võru, but there the Bolsheviks offered heavy resistance, and German troops captured the town directly from the Russians. Thus, in few days, most of South-Eastern and Western Estonia had fallen to the Germans; in the yet not conquered areas, few Estonian troops continued to take over the power from the Bolsheviks.

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
Image: Eesti ajaloo atlas. Tallinn: Avita, 2006.         


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