Duchy of Courland and Semigallia (1918)


The Duchy of Courland and Semigallia was proclaimed on March 8, 1918 in German occupied Courland Governorate by Landesrat composed of Baltic Germans who offered the crown of the Duchy to Kaiser Wilhelm II. Although the German Reichstag supported the national self determination for the Baltic peoples, the German High Command continued the policy of attaching the Baltic to the Reich by relying on Baltic Germans. [1]
On October 1918 the Chancellor of Germany Prince Maximilian of Baden proposed to have the military administration in the Baltic replaced by civilian authority. The new policy was stated in a telegram from the German Foreign Office to the military administration of the Baltic: The government of the Reich is unanimous in respect of the fundamental change in our policy towards the Baltic countries, namely that in the first instance policy is to be made with the Baltic peoples.[2]
After the German Revolution on November 18, 1918 Latvia proclaimed independence and on December 7, 1918 the German military handed over authority to the Latvian national government headed by Kārlis Ulmanis [2]

Historical Background

During World War I, German Armies had occupied the Courland Governorate of Russian Empire by the autumn of 1915. The front was settled along a line stretched between Riga, Daugavpils and Baranovitch.
The Latvian National Council was proclaimed on November 16, 1917. On November 30, 1917 the Latvian National Council proclaimed an autonomous Latvian province within ethnographic boundaries, and a formal independent Latvian republic was declared on January 15, 1918.[2]
After the Russian revolution German troops had started advancing from Courland and by the end of February 1918 the territories of the former Russian Governorate of Livonia and Autonomous Governorate of Estonia that had declared independence were also occupied and fell under the German military administration. With the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk on March 3, 1918 the Bolshevist Russia accepted the loss of the Courland Governorate and by agreements concluded in Berlin on August 27, 1918 Autonomous Governorate of Estonia and the Governorate of Livonia were severed from Russia.[2]
As a parallel political movement under the German military administration, Baltic Germans began a process of forming provincial councils between September 1917 and March 1918. The Duchy of Courland and Semigallia was proclaimed on March 8, 1918 by Landesrat composed of Baltic Germans who offered the crown of the Duchy to Kaiser Wilhelm II
On October 1918 the Chancellor of Germany Prince Maximilian of Baden proposed to have the military administration in the Baltic replaced by civilian authority. The new policy was stated in a telegram from the German Foreign Office to the military administration of the Baltic: The government of the Reich is unanimous in respect of the fundamental change in our policy towards the Baltic countries, namely that in the first instance policy is to be made with the Baltic peoples.[2]
On November 18, 1918 Latvia proclaimed independence. On December 7, 1918. the German Military handed over authority to the Latvian national government headed by Kārlis Ulmanis [2]

Recognition

Kaiser Wilhelm recognised the creation of Courland, as a German vassal by writing to Courland's Landesrat in March 8, 1918 (in German):[citation needed]
Wir Wilhelm, von Gottes Gnaden Deutscher Kaiser, König von Preußen etc. beauftragen hiermit Unseren Reichskanzler, den Grafen von Hertling, dem Kurländischen Landesrat zu erklären, daß Wir auf den Uns durch seine Vertreter übermittelten Wunsch und auf den Bericht Unseres Reichskanzlers im Namen des Deutschen Reiches das Herzogtum Kurland als freies und selbständiges Staatswesen anerkennen und bereit sind, im Namen des Deutschen Reiches diejenigen Staatsverträge mit Kurland abzuschließen, die eine enge wirtschaftliche und militärische Verbindung beider Länder gewährleisten. Gleichzeitig beauftragen Wir Unseren Reichskanzler, den Abschluß dieser Verträge vorzubereiten. Urkundlich haben Wir diesen Auftrag Allerhöchst Selbst vollzogen und mit Unserem Kaiserlichen Insiegel versehen lassen. Gegeben ................ , den 15. März 1918WilchelmGraf von Hertling.In short it says: We recognize the Duchy of Courland as a free and independent state and will conclude treaties for economic and military co-operation, signed: Wilhelm, Count of Hertling, Imperial Chancellor.

Disestablishment

The United Baltic Duchy was nominally recognized as a sovereign state[citation needed]by the Kaiser only on September 22, 1918, half a year after Soviet Russia had formally relinquished all authority over its former Imperial Baltic provinces to the German Empire in the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. After World War I, Courland became a part of the newly-formed nation of Latvia, November 18, 1918.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duchy_o...igallia_(1918)