Latvian Socialist Soviet Republic

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Latvian Socialist Soviet Republic
Latvijas Sociālistiskā Padomju Republika
Coat of arms of Latvian SSR
Coat of arms
Motto: "Visu zemju proletārieši, savienojieties!"
Workers of the world, unite!
Anthem: Internacionāle
CapitalRiga (to 22 May 1919)
Dvinsk (Daugavpils)
Rezhitsa (Rezekne)
Common languagesLatvian · Russian
GovernmentSocialist state
• 1918–1920
Pēteris Stučka
LegislatureAll-Latvian Congress of Workers' Soviet Deputies
• Established
17 December 1918
• Recognized by Russian SFSR
22 December 1918
• Riga captured by German Freikorps
22 May 1919
• Disestablished
13 January 1920
Preceded by
Succeeded by
United Baltic Duchy
  1. Local languages included German, Yiddish, Lithuanian and Estonian.[1]

The Latvian Socialist Soviet Republic (Latvian: Latvijas Sociālistiskā Padomju Republika, LSPR) was a short-lived socialist republic formed during the Latvian War of Independence. It was proclaimed on 17 December 1918 with the political, economic, and military backing of Vladimir Lenin and his Bolshevik government in the Russian SFSR. The head of government was Pēteris Stučka with Jūlijs Daniševskis as his deputy.[2]


The LSPR armed forces, which consisted of the Red Latvian Riflemen and other units of the Red Army, quickly captured most of the territory of present-day Latvia, forcing Kārlis Ulmanis's provisional government into a small pocket of territory around the city of Liepāja.

Stučka's government introduced sweeping communist reforms, resuming the radical policy direction from the abortive Iskolat government. Some reforms were initially popular, such as the expropriation of property from the bourgeoisie. The decision to unilaterally nationalise all agrarian land, however, had dire economic consequences for the cities, as rural support for the regime declined drastically.

The peasants no longer agreed to supply the townsfolk with foodstuffs on the government's terms, and shortages became critical. When the people in Riga and other cities began to starve, contributing to widespread discontent among the proletariat as well, a wave of terror swept both rural and urban areas, seeking out alleged counter-revolutionaries supposedly responsible for the failures of the regime. Arbitrary Revolutionary Tribunals and the so-called Flintenweiber ("Gun-Women") were memorable components of this wave of terror.

When the Entente-backed Ulmanis government counter-attacked with the backing of German Freikorps units in the spring of 1919, they quickly regained the lost territory. The capital, Riga, was recaptured on 22 May 1919, and the territory of the LSPR was reduced to a part of Latgale in eastern Latvia, until the final defeat in the Battle of Daugavpils by combined Latvian and Polish forces in early 1920.

Historians in the USSR viewed the Soviet occupation of Latvia in 1940 as reestablishing of power, and the 1920–1940 period of Independence was viewed just as a temporary break in Soviet-Latvian history.


The formation of the Soviet Latvian government was initiated by the Central Committee of the Latvian Social Democracy (LSD) in Moscow on Joseph Stalin's proposal at an extraordinary meeting of the party's Russian bureau on November 23, 1918. Special meetings were created Latvian revolutionary composition of the provisional Soviet Government.[3]

In 1919 The 1st Joint Congress of Workers', Landless and Riflemen's Councils was held in Riga on 1 January, announcing the establishment of the Latvian Socialist Soviet Republic, the establishment of a dictatorship of the proletariat, and electing the Latvian Central Executive Committee (LCIK) with 60 members and 20 candidates. LCIK appointed 11 members of the Soviet Latvian Government or Council of Commissars:[4]

In April 1919, Kārlis Ziediņš, a member of the Revolutionary War Council of the Baltic Fleet, was appointed the head of the LSPR Maritime administration. Jānis Bērziņš (Ziemelis) was the Commissioner of Education and Augusts Sukuts was the Commissioner of State Control.

All members of the government were also members of the LCIK presidium and the Central committee of the Latvian Social Democracy (later the Communist Party of Latvia). As a result, political power in Soviet Latvia was concentrated in the hands of a narrow circle of people. Eight economic commissions were merged into the Economic Council, while the war, home affairs and justice commissions were merged into the Revolutionary Struggle Council.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ (in Latvian) Decree on use of languages in official documents, 8 March 1919
  2. ^ Purs, Aldis; Plakans, Andrejs (2017). Historical Dictionary of Latvia. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 978-1-5381-0221-3.
  3. ^ "1919 in Latvia".{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  4. ^ Latvian Soviet Encyclopedia . Volume 1. Riga: The main edition of encyclopedias . P.
  5. ^ "History of Latvia, 1914-1940".{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)


  • Stuchka, P. (1919–21). Piat' mesiatsev Sotsialisticheskoi sovetskoi Latvii: Sbornik statei i dokumentov (in Russian). Pskov: Izd-vo TsK KP Latvii. pp. 2 v. OCLC 38770737.
  • Popoff, George (1932). The City of the Red Plague: Soviet Rule in a Baltic Town. London; New York: George Allen & Unwin; E. P. Dutton & Co. OCLC 413467.
  • Krastyn', IA. P. (Krastiņš, J.) (ed.) (1959–60). Sotsialisticheskaia Sovetskaia Respublika Latvii v 1919 g. i inostrannaia interventsiia: Dokumenty i materialy (in Russian and Latvian). Riga: Izd-vo Akademii Nauk Latviiskoi SSR. pp. 2 v. OCLC 18861284. {{cite book}}: |first= has generic name (help)
  • Zile, Zigurds L. (1977). "Legal Thought and the Formation of Law and Legal Institutions in the Socialist Soviet Republic of Latvia, 1917–1920". Journal of Baltic Studies. 8 (3): 195–204. doi:10.1080/01629777700000191.

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