"Tearing Apart the Bear" and British Military Involvement in the Construction of Modern Latvia: A History Untold




Rundans, Valdis V.

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Despite significant evidence to the contrary in the Latvian language, especially the memoirs of General Peteris Radzins, Latvians, historians included, and others, have persisted in mythologizing the military events of 8 October to 11 November 1919 in Riga as some sort of national miracle. Since this Latvian army victory, first celebrated as Lacplesis Day on 11 November 1920, accounts of this battle have been unrepresented, poorly represented or misrepresented. For example, the 2007 historical film Rigas Sargi (The Defenders of Riga) uses the 1888 poem Lacplesis by Andrejs Pumpurs as a template to portray the Latvians successfully defeating the German-Russian force on their own without Allied military aid. Pumpurs' dream and revolutionary legacy has provided a well used script for Latvian nation building. However, the reality documented by Radzins in 1922 clearly gives most of the credit to the Allied Fleet which provided two significant series of well planned and well coordinated naval artillery barrages in support of Latvian infantry offensives which succeeded in driving their dual enemy out of Riga thereby ending Russian-German hegemony in the Latvian territory and making Latvian independence possible. How the poem, military event, and film are related in a problematic way with respect to Latvian/Russian relations is the subject of this thesis.



Latvia, Lacplesis, Bermontiade, Rigas Sargi, Riga, Latvian War of Liberation, Politics of Memory, Andrejs Pumpurs, Peteris Radzins