United Baltic Duchy

​The plan of the Baltic Germans to create a protectorate under the German Emperor on the territories conquered by Germany during WW I

With German military forces being successful on the Eastern front from 1915 onwards, and Baltic Germans as a result being seen as the enemy in areas still under Russian control, the Baltic Germans considered separating the Baltic provinces from Russia and uniting them with Germany.

An opportunity arose in March 1918 after the entire Baltic area was controlled by the German army. On 12 April the Baltic Germans organised the Baltic land council (Landesrat) in Riga where they had always played a key role. The Landesrat turned to the German emperor asking him to continue the military protection of Estonia, Livonia and Courland, and also help shape them into (semi)independent states. Livonia and Courland were made up of the territory which is now Latvia. However, as the Brest-Litovsk Peace Treaty signed by Russia and Germany on 3 March 1918 preserved Russia’s sovereignty over Estonia and Livonia, the true establishment of the new states was delayed, even though Estonia had issued a declaration of independence on 24 February 1918. The issue became topical again only after a supplementary protocol to the Brest treaty was signed in Berlin on 27 August. In this Russia relinquished its rights on all the former Baltic provinces. On 22 September the German emperor finally signed the amendment recognising the independence of the Baltic countries, and on 5 November 1918 the United Baltic Duchy was proclaimed in Riga. The new country invited the Duke of Mecklenburg, Adolf Friedrich, as its ruler, was supposed to be part of Germany, but to enjoy autonomy in deciding local matters.

Two weeks later the Baltic German plans were crushed by Germany’s defeat in the world war, and thus the state was never actually realised.

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