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The United Baltic Duchy is a puppet state of the German Empire on the Baltic Sea in Northeastern Europe. The Duchy, which is de jure a very autonomous member state of the German Empire, but enjoys de facto independence over its internal affairs, is ruled and governed by the elitist Baltic German aristocracy, with the German Adolf Friedrich von Mecklenburg serving as elected Duke. Due to the absence of a modern constitution, the native Estonian and Latvian populations are quasi second class-citizens, which leads to frequent unrest on the countryside. The currently ruling liberals try to modernize the old Duchy into something that can actually survive the 20th century - But times are changing, Russia acts more and more hostile towards the German Oststaaten and the reactionary-traditionalist resistance within the Duchy against the liberal reforms grows stronger with every day...

The United Baltic Duchy borders Russia to the east, White Ruthenia to the southeast, Lithuania to the south and the Baltic Sea to the west and north.

History

Liberation from Russia

By 1916, the Eastern Front of the Weltkrieg had stabilized and stable German rule could be introduced to the former Russian governorates of Grodno, Kovno, Vilna and Courland under the administrative name of Ober Ost. While the former three governorates were primarily inhabited by Poles, Lithuanians, Jews and White Ruthenians, Courland was home to a large Baltic German population which had resided and ruled there ever since the Livonian Crusade of the 13th century.

The Russian Baltic governorates (1721-1918), the predecessor to the United Baltic Duchy

The Baltic Germans wholeheartedly began to cooperate with the Ober Ost administration, as they had suffered under the autocratic rule of the late Tsarist Regime. The Germans on the other hand supported cultural, political and economic initiatives of the Baltic Germans. By September 1917, local Baltic Germans began forming provincial councils.

In early 1918, the Imperial German Army advanced further north into the Governorates of Livland and Reval, as the Russians tried to delay the signing of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. After that, even more Baltic Germans found themselves under German rule - However, many more ethnic Latvians and Estonians as well, which would become a problem later that year.

On 8 March 1918, the local Baltic German-dominated Assembly of Courland declared the restoration of the old Duchy of Courland, which was formally recognised by Kaiser Wilhelm II on 15 March 1918. On 12 April 1918, a Provincial Assembly composed of 35 Baltic Germans, 13 Estonians, and 11 Latvians passed a resolution calling upon the German Emperor to recognize the Baltic provinces as a monarchy and make them a German protectorate; The idea of a so-called "United Baltic Duchy" was born.

The capital of the new state was to be Riga. It was to be a confederation of seven cantons: 'Kurland' (Courland), Riga, 'Lettgallen' (Latgale), 'Südlivland' (South Livonia), 'Nordlivland' (North Livonia), 'Ösel' (Saaremaa), and 'Estland' (Estonia).

The first head of state of the United Baltic Duchy was to be Duke Adolf Friedrich von Mecklenburg, not as a sovereign monarch, but as a subordinate to the German Kaiser, similar to other princes of the German Empire. Adolf Friedrich agreed, but was not able to ascend to the throne immediately. Therefore, an appointed Regency Council consisting of four Baltic Germans, three Estonians and three Latvians was elected on 5 November 1918 and governed the Duchy in the name of the absent Duke.

Turmoil in the Baltics

Estonian freedom fighters near Wesenberg (Rakvere), early 1919

Despite cooperation of the new monarchy with the local Latvian and Estonian elite, most of the native Baltic population was not very keen to remain under foreign rule and wanted to finally establish their own independent nations. In mid-November 1918, during a time when Germany transferred thousands of troops to the west to prepare for the great offensive against the French, British and Belgians, Estonian resistance forces called "Omakaitse" assaulted Reval, Tartu, Haapsalu and other major cities, flying the blue-black-white tricolor of the National Awakening, which triggered the Estonian War of Independence. The Provisional Government headed by Jaan Poska, which already had proclaimed the independence of Estonia before the Germans had occupied the region, once again gathered in Reval.

The situation for the Latvians was poor. The Latvian nation was divided by warring powers, as the German-Soviet frontline stretched right through Latgale. While Latvia was also divided along political lines, as many Latvians were supporters of the Bolshevik "Iskolat" (the Executive Committee of the Soviet of Workers, Soldiers, and the Landless in Latvia), which was not willing to cooperate with the more moderate nationalists. Additionally, Courland and Livonia were under much tighter German control than Estonia. Therefore a Latvian declaration of independence never came to be, leaving the Latvians in a very defeatist mood throughout the 1920s.

Rüdiger von der Goltz, the most influential man in Finland and the Baltics as of 1918

The sudden unrest in Estonia however caught the Germans off guard, as they had focused too much on the west. To prevent the situation getting out of control and causing nationalist revolts all over occupied Eastern Europe, the Ober Ost administration decided to transfer one of their most powerful and prestigious troops, the Baltic Sea Division, led by Rüdiger von der Goltz, which had cut their teeth during the Finnish Civil War in early 1918, from Helsinki to Estonia. Von der Goltz would be responsible for setting up the Baltische Landeswehr (Baltic Territorial Army), the United Baltic Duchy's first own armed forces, in the following months. Thanks to von der Goltz's expertise, the Estonian insurgency had been crushed by early 1919, with the Estonian provisional government fleeing to Sweden.

Post-Weltkrieg

With German rule in the Baltics secured, a period of peace began to set in. Adolf Friedrich arrived in Riga after the end of the turmoil and was finally crowned as Duke of the United Baltic Duchy. However, despite being now the official head of state, the true power remained in the hands of the influential Baltische Landeswehr - and therefore in the hands of von der Goltz, who remained in the Baltics on behalf of Germany to reform the Baltische Landeswehr into a permanent, organized and professional standing army.

The United Baltic Duchy as part of the German economic bloc Mitteleuropa

After the end of the war, it became clear that the incorporation of the United Baltic Duchy as a completely integrated federal state into the German Empire had been nothing more than a nationalist utopia; the economy was in shambles, many young Baltic Germans moved into Germany proper because of missing perspectives and plans to colonise the Baltics had to be ditched, similar to the Polish Frontier Strip project, as almost nobody was willing to give up their secure home in Germany after a devastating war for a backwards swath of land near the Russian border. Therefore, while the Duchy was de jure included as a territory with a special autonomous, almost ceremonial status into the German Empire, it would remain independent all but on paper, enjoying de facto independence over its internal affairs and not participating in German elections. As part of Germany, it also joined the economic Mitteleuropa alliance as well as the Reichspakt.

Different than the other German Oststaaten (Lithuania, Poland, White Ruthenia and Ukraine), the United Baltic Duchy never got a modern constitution and was governed the same way as the Russian Baltic governorates over the last 200 years, with a complicated and almost ancient administrative structure. Following a succession of several conservative governments controlled by the reactionary Baltic Knighthoods, the most long lasting one being one led by Freiherr Adolf Pilar von Pilchau (1851-1925), the pressure for reform building up within the United Baltic Duchy eventually became too hard to bear. A strengthening Baltic German middle class, traditionally reluctantly allied with the conservative nobility, started to sway to the other side, even considering an alliance with reformist and Baltic nationalist groups if it meant that any reform to the byzantine, antiquated system is introduced.

Even many members of the traditionalist Baltic Knighthoods themselves began considering a change of direction. Not all were convinced by the arguments put forward by the growing liberal undercurrent, however. Some saw this kowtowing to the interests of Latvians, Estonians and liberals as a betrayal of the inherent, Teutonic identity of the Baltic Germans, these ideas attracting them to the clandestine Baltic Brotherhood, a millenarian Christian fundamentalist, Baltic German supremacist, pan-German nationalist secret order composed of younger members of the Baltic German nobility, which operates in secret circles and grows its power in the Duchy by infiltrating the noble classes, especially appealing to younger, more disillusioned and ambitious nobles.

Paul Schiemann, Chairman of the DbDP and prominent Baltic German liberal politician

Eventually, the Duke himself had to intervene. Though by no means a liberal reformist, Adolf Friedrich was pragmatic enough to understand that a blind march towards reaction will spell no good for his realm. Using the powers of royal prerogative, he dismissed the previous Chairman of the Land Colleges and cooperated with the liberal reformist Baltic German Democratic Party (DbDP), appointing Friedrich von Samson-Himmelstjerna as replacement. A large plurality of seats in the newly assembled Landtag were also held by the DbDP or their allies - the native representative Democratic Centre and fellow liberal DbFP. Thanks to tenuous alliances with moderate conservatives in the Reform Party and because of the advice of the sickly Paul Schiemann, probably the most prominent Baltic German liberal of non-aristocratic background, Chairman von Samson-Himmelstjerna has managed to avoid Dualism in the Duchy, for now.

Status of the Estonians and Latvians

According to the poorly defined byzantine laws of the Duchy, the ethnic Estonian and Latvian populations are de facto second class-citizens who do not enjoy full citizen rights. While the liberal Samson-Himmelstjerna government is opting to change that in the near future, nationalist leaders of the respective ethnic groups still despise the Ducal government and aim to establish native rule to their ancient homelands one day.

Artur Sirk, Estonian nationalist, Independence War veteran and current Head of the Estonian Government in Exile

Ever since their defeat by the Landeswehr , the Estonian Government in Exile has remained in Stockholm. However, in 1920, Jaan Poska died, which was a severe hit for the Estonian National Movement, as it lacked prominent, charismatic and popular leaders. This would change in 1930, when cooling relations between Germany on one side and Russia on the other allowed Estonian emigres across the Baltic to contact each other yet again. An Estonian National Congress was organized in Petrograd in 1930, which elected a new National Committee of the Estonian government-in-exile, led by Artur Sirk, a veteran of the War of Independence. The Congress concluded that it shall maintain a hostile stance towards the United Baltic Duchy for the foreseeable future and support any rebellion in native Estonian territory under any circumstances.

Under Sirk's orders, Estonian war veterans and fresh recruits from Estonia and from the emigrant population have re-founded the Omakaitse, preparing to cross the Gulf of Finland and return to Reval one day once more. Radio messages from Helsinki and Petrograd are reaching the local Estonian population, calling for resistance and a fight for independence. However, the Estonian Executive Committee is far from uniform. Voices are starting to rise up complaining about Sirk's authoritarian attitude - using his power among the Omakaitse and the state of the émigré movement, he consistently shuts down dissent among his peers over his actions, while the Omakaitse itself is turning more and more to a disciplined personal guard than an all-Estonian fighting force. Fears are abound that if Estonia breaks free with Sirk in control, its future will be far from democratic.

Jēkabs Peterss, co-founder of the former Soviet secret service, Bolshevik and current leader of the Syndicalist-backed Revolutionary Latvian Legion

The Latvian National Movement has undergone major developments as well, even though it is still politically divided between lefts and moderates. After the fall of the Bolshevik Regime, many Latvian communists fled to the West, establishing themselves in the Commune of France at first and later in the Union of Britain, which already had a pre-established Latvian community. Many of them were working class and thus swiftly swept up by the anarchist, syndicalist and communist movement even before the Weltkrieg. Britain was also chosen because it was the country of choice of the man rapidly turning out to be the leader of the Latvian socialist exiles, Jēkabs Peterss, one of the former founders of the Soviet Secret Service, the Cheka. Peterss spent the decade after his return to Britain rebuilding the scattered Latvian Social Democracy in exile and ultimately participated in a new revolution, a British one. Respected among Syndicalist authorities, Peterss managed to rally French and British support for the Latvian cause and is occupied with instructing a small armed force of exiles named the “Revolutionary Latvian Legion”, formed and trained under the wing of the British Army. Should the opportunity arise, he is ready to lead his forces back into his homeland to restore the freedom of the Latvian people...

While the Latvian leftists are closely cooperating with the Syndicalist International, the moderates have found their closest ally in the Russian Republic. Based in the town of Daugavpils, the Russians have set up an autonomous zone in the Latgale region in the late 1920s, which has become a safe haven for Latvian nationalism. The relatively liberal constitution of the Russian Republic allows Latvian culture there to flourish - the Latvian community has their own schools, newspapers, cultural gatherings and events, and, in the Dvinsk governorate, even their own political representatives.

However, there are also those Latvian nationalists who are non-compromisial on their desire to see a free Latvia, not one autonomous within Russia. These hardliners are gathered around the Latvian Central Council, a successor to the Latvian Provisional National Council which operates in Petrograd. The council has a long history and was already established in 1917, even surviving the Red Terror in Petrograd during the short Bolshevik period. The Council is internationally one of the most legitimate Latvian representative bodies, as they were involved in the publishing of the January 30 Declaration of 1918, which, while not a declaration of independence in any practical terms, but at least a proclamation which advocated for the creation of an independent, democratic Latvian republic.

Jānis Kurelis, leader of the Latvian resistance movement in the United Baltic Duchy

The council, known for its anti-German rhetoric, is openly supported by Russia and responsible for funding guerilla forces in the United Baltic Duchy, known as the "Forest Brothers". Formed out of experienced Estonian and Latvian forces from Siberia during the Russian Civil War, the Forest Brothers operate out of the vast forests of Central Livonia and Eastern Estonia and are responsible for various sabotage acts. Their commanding officer, the ethnic Latvian former Tsarist veteran Jānis Kurelis enjoys huge influence among the rebel forces. As a military man, Kurelis rarely expresses his political opinions aside for the general idea of liberation of Latvia. He is, however, particularly sympathetic to the political thought of the Latvian nationalist lawyer Kārlis Ulmanis, and though Ulmanis bears little influence upon Latvian politics, the two men have contact with one another and Kurelis cites his thoughts often - which call for a Second National Awakening to rid Latvia of all foreign influences. This Awakening must come in politics as well - the Latvian state must follow its own unique political path, not the liberal democracy or Syndicalism of the West.

For now, Estonian and Latvian nationalism is mostly limited to smoke-filled backrooms in Scandinavia, Russia and the Syndicalist bloc and the Baltische Landeswehr is still able to crush most of the native Forest Brothers resistance. However, dark times are on the horizon, and eventually the Estonian and Latvian nations will have to prove themselves if they do not to vanish in the annals of history.

Politics

The Baltic Knighthoods

No discussion of Baltic government can be done without first addressing the elephant in the room - the Four Baltic Knighthoods, around which all governmental actions within the United Baltic Duchy revolve themselves.

The Baltic Germans originate from the German conquests of the region during the Northern Crusades, and the formation of a Germanic-ruled state called Terra Mariana. Though established concurrently with the State of the Teutonic Order, it differed in that the colonization of Terra Mariana was far weaker and the state itself far more remote from the rest of the Holy Roman Empire. The German population of the region was sparse and generally composed of noble knights of the Livonian Order. Civil wars in Terra Mariana were frequent, the Church, the Hansa free cities and the Order constantly vied for control over the territory, and to defend their rights and privileges, the nobility began to band themselves into corporations known as the Knighthoods. These corporations were recognized by the Livonian Order and the Archbishopric of Riga and were granted the right to self-governance, they continued to grow in power, gain additional privileges and powers, until, by 1561, Grand Duke Sigismund II Augustus of Lithuania, in the Treaty of Vilnius between Lithuania and the Livonian Confederation, recognized them as the supreme governing authority of the region and granted them the privilege to organize self-government.

Schloss Buringshof in Southern Livonia, a typical Baltic German manor owned by the von Pistohlkors noble family, early 1930s

There are four Baltic Knighthoods - of Livland, Estland, Courland and Ösel. All of them arose under their own political circumstances and had little contact with one another until the 18th century, when they all fell under the rule of the same country - Russia. The Russian Empire recognized the autonomy and peculiar institutions of the Baltic Germans and supported them, and throughout most of the 19th century they remained autonomous. It was the first region in the Russian Empire to abolish serfdom and prospered as a result. Though Baltic German autonomy was getting increasingly restricted in the second half of the century due to Russification campaigns, the Knighthoods remained, cooperated with the German occupation forces during the Weltkrieg, and championed the formation of the United Baltic Duchy, a state they have formed according to their liking.

A Knighthood is, in the most simple terms, a guild for the nobility. It holds a registry of all noble families which belong to the Knighthood, generally no more than a few hundred of them, it has a legal code and a series of regulations for all members to follow, and it has an autonomous government which deliberates on internal matters of the Knighthood without any interference from the central government. Each Knighthood has an internal assembly (Rittertag) which elects various officials and appoints numerous honorary offices for the nobles, as well as the Knighthood Captain (Ritterschaftshauptmann), the top official in the Knighthood. Their main political role is forming Land Colleges (Landratskollegium), partially legislative, partially executive institutions which are formed in each Canton as well as on a nationwide level. A Land College is a council of 12 noble representatives which fulfills a hybrid role of an upper house and an executive authority. Its task is to review laws and possibly return them to the Landtag, they attend Landtag meetings, and yet at the same time they are unable to propose any laws and instead fulfill the executive duties of the province/state. It also plays the role of the Supreme Court, or, in the case of Cantonal Colleges, the supreme cantonal court. The Landtag has no say in the formation of their respective Land College, only the Duke does in the case of the national Land College.

Local Governance

There are two forms of lowest level local governance in the Baltic provinces and three forms of elections among them.

All Baltic provinces are divided into Cantons (Kreise), and those Cantons are all divided into Parishes (Kirchspiele). A Parish is on paper the most fundamental administrative unit in the Baltic provinces. Every Parish is led by a Parish Convention (Kirchspielskonvent), which is composed of all landowners and all estate elders (representatives democratically elected by the estate of a landowner) of the Parish. All noble landowners are required to attend, therefore the Parish Convention is divided equally between landowners and estate elders, and is also a form of direct democracy. The Parish Convention deals with the administrative matters of their Parish, mainly the maintenance of roads, the postal system, the healthcare system, and the election of a parish head (Kirchspielsvorsteher), an honorary office usually held by a delegate from the Knighthood. Parishes can also levy their own taxes, although they are unable to levy more than 10 Pfennigs from each inhabitant.

Rural Courland, mid 1920s

The Parish Convention is also unable to legislate on any issues regarding education. The education system in the Baltic provinces is democratic and controlled by the Lutheran Church rather than the civilian government. Each Parish has a Parish School Administration (Kirchspiels-Schulverwaltung), which consists of the local Lutheran clergy and all teachers in the parish - this administration autonomously appoints school elders and a church guardian. These administrations receive patronage from the Knighthoods and use it to fund schools in the parish - they are required to construct a school for each 500 people, and all children are required to attend. The Baltic provinces were the first region of the Russian Empire to enforce mandatory universal education, and to this day they are the most literate region in Eastern Europe, the absolute majority of the population are able to read. All Parish school administrations elect representatives to the Church and School Convent of their Canton (Kirchen- und Schulkonvent), also composed of representatives from the landowners and the Lutheran churches. These Convents act as supervisory bodies to the school system in their respective region, and also raise money for education via landowner donations. Above all them stands the Regional School Authority (Landesschulbehörde), composed of a representative from each Canton, elected by their respective Landtags, four chief representatives of the Lutheran Church, and hired superintendents.

Each Parish is also home to dozens of rural communes (Landgemeinde), autonomous peasant collectives made up of villages and single farms which exist outside of any estate. Rural communes practice direct democracy - all land owning citizens in the commune are required to attend the commune assembly (Gemeindeversammlung). This assembly deliberates on two issues - the election of a commune committee (Gemeindeausschuss), and the banishment of commune members who have committed crimes or are considered unwelcome for one reason or another. The rural commune has its own police, levies its own taxes, sometimes hires its own soldiers for one reason or another, and helps maintain the autonomous school provided by the Parish School Administration for their community. Though they are technically a part of a Parish, rural communes are completely autonomous, do not have to follow Parish laws, do not send delegates to the Parish Convention and instead send delegates directly to the Canton.

Cantons and the Free City of Riga

The United Baltic Duchy is composed of five Cantons - Estland, Ösel, Nordlivland, Südlivland, and Courland - and the Free City of Riga. Each Canton has a bicameral parliament, composed of the Landtag and the Landratskollegium. The Landtag is composed of all members of the Canton nobility, as well as representatives from the rural communes. The chief official of each Canton is the Chief of the Church Office (Oberkirchenvorsteher-Ämter), an official elected by the Landtag with the approval of the Landratskollegium. The Chief of the Church Office, alongside two assessors - a spiritual one elected by the Lutheran Churches and a secular one elected by the Landtag - forms the head administrative authority of the Canton, responds to complaints from above and below, and supervises the self-governing entities of the Canton.

The old Hanseatic City of Riga in the early 1920s

The powers of the Cantons are limited - they too are able to levy taxes much like Parishes in order to fund local projects, but they are only able to tax farmland, and not any other economic activity in the region. Their main duty is to organize the collection of Land Contributions (Landesprästande), one of the main forms of state revenue for the United Baltic Duchy, levied from every landowner, one which the landowner is required to pay themselves instead of imposing it upon their tenants. They can either be paid in money, in goods produced by the estate, or in the form of corvee, manual labor for state projects or service in public positions (such as guards) without payment.

All major cities in the United Baltic Duchy are autonomous and have their own form of government, but whereas all the other cities are considered to be on the same rank as a Parish, only Riga is considered to be on the same rank as a Canton and is therefore under the rule of none of them. The city of Riga is inhabited by free citizens, who elect the Riga City Council (Rigaer Rat), a form of self-government which manages local needs such as police, the justice system, taxation, construction and even religious affairs. The Riga City Council is not just a representative body, but also an urban corporation and therefore has a right to supplement itself with members from guilds and merchant corporations, making it into a not so democratically elected body. Still, especially with Mayor Helmuth Stegman’s reforms in the 1930s to make the city council more inclusive to the citizenry, it is the most democratic Canton in the Duchy.

The Central Government

The United Baltic (and Livonian) Landtag in Riga, early 1920s

The central government is composed of the Landtag and the Land College. The Baltic Landtag is elected via the Prussian three class franchise. All voters in the United Baltic Duchy are divided into three groups, of highest earning, medium earning and lowest earning, each one divided in such a way that each group pays one third of the tax to the treasury, and each group gets allocated a third of the representatives. This artificially inflates the power of the wealthy landowners and the business classes, while disenfranchising the Latvians and Estonians.

With the input of the Duke, the Four Baltic Knighthoods form the national Land College, and this Land College chooses a Chairman, considered to be the Head of Government of the United Baltic Duchy, currently Friedrich von Samson-Himmelstjerna. He does not get to form a cabinet of ministers, however - the Land College, as a collective, manages the day to day affairs of the state. The powers which the Land College has over specific parts of state management are undefined, however, and the Landtag, headed by a Land Marshal, is able to form its own temporary offices to resolve issues which need to be resolved. This turns the government system of the Duchy into a bipolar system. The Landtag and the Land College are effectively independent of one another and do not answer to one another, yet need to cooperate in order to maintain stability in the country, lest this antiquated structure collapses and the government is left completely powerless.

Leadership

Since the early 1930s, a liberal coalition of the Baltic German Democratic Party (DbDP) and the Baltic German Freedom Party (DbFP) rules over the small Duchy. Chairman of the Land College Friedrich von Samson-Himmelstjerna is known as the charismatic facade of the party to the outside world, but the true star of the DbDP is Paul Schiemann, who has been active in liberal circles since the early 1900s, starting his career in the late years of the autocratic Russian Empire. Schiemann, known for his dedication to minority rights, with the goal to "civilize" the local Baltic peoples and thoroughly integrate them into the society of the Duchy, acts as the main advisor to Samson-Himmelstjerna, as he cannot actively participate in politics due to his increasingly worsening tuberculosis.

Thanks to tenuous alliances with moderate conservatives in the Baltic German Reform Party, Chairman von Samson-Himmelstjerna and his liberal coalition remain in a secure position for now; But in a drastically changing world, things could be always more unstable than it seems at first glance.


Title Name Party Portrait
Duke of the United Baltic Duchy Adolf Friedrich von Mecklenburg-Schwerin

(born 10 October 1873)

Unaffiliated
Chairman of the Land College Friedrich von Samson-Himmelstjerna

(born 07 November 1872)

Baltic German Democratic Party (DbDP)
Land Marshal: Baron Rolf Edvard Clemens von Ungern-Sternberg

(born 14 February 1880)

Baltic German Reform Party (DbRP)
Ducal Economic Affairs Commission Heinrich Freiherr von Stackelberg

(born 31 October 1905)

Baltic German Freedom Party (DbFP)
Knight-Captain of the Livonian Knighthood Adolf Constantin Baron Pilar von Pilchau (born 27 September 1885) Organisation of the Baltic Knighthoods (VdBR)
Chief of the General Staff of the Baltische Landeswehr Rüdiger von der Goltz

(born 8 December 1865)

Unaffiliated (but allegedly close connections to the Baltic Brotherhood)
thumbalt=
Commander of the Baltische Landeswehr Wessel Freytagh von Loringhoven

(born 22 November 1899)

Unaffiliated
Commander-in-Chief of the Baltische Marine Alexander von Salza (born 16 April 1885) Unaffiliated

Military

The Baltische Landeswehr (Baltic Territorial Army) is the standing army of the United Baltic Duchy and one of the most professional forces within the German sphere. While arguably small in size, all soldiers (most of them ethnic Germans) are trained to become the best of the best; Equipped with elite equipment from Germany and formed by some of the most decorated veterans of the Weltkrieg, like Rüdiger von der Goltz, once one of the most powerful men in Eastern Europe, they vastly outrank the forces of nearby Lithuania and Poland and even most of the German Heer.

The Landeswehr was set up in the early stages of the Estonian War of Independence; Since its formation, it has been under the firm control of Rüdiger von der Goltz. Goltz, former commander of the German Baltic Sea Division in Finland notorious for his high discipline and wide-reaching ambitions, would use it over time to deeply entrench his power basis in the Duchy. The Landeswehr has a ministry-like institution in the Ducal government, the "Landeswehrkommission", but is staffed by officers from the army. This makes them effectively independent from the government. The Landeswehr is comprised of several ground divisions and has a small navy and air force to safeguard its territory. Service is voluntary and in theory open to all Ducal citizens, however the units are segregated into German, Estonian, Latvian and Russian detachments.

The Landeswehr's air force comprises two 25 plane squadrons, one interceptor squadron of Fokker D. XVII's, and one tactical bomber squadron of Junker Ju 86's. The Ducal Navy's surface fleet consists of seven destroyers, while it's screening detachment consists of five submarines.

Foreign Relations

The United Baltic Duchy is the only German Oststaat which remains unrecognized by most of the world outside the German sphere, mainly due to its very low political legitimacy and unclear legal status. While Lithuania, White Ruthenia, Poland and Ukraine are all proper nation states ruled by a native government, the UBD is regarded as a medieval remnant by the international community totally out of place in the 20th century, as it de facto remains an artificial state construct where the majority of the population is treated as second-class citizens and the government is run by a small minority of privileged German aristocrats.

A small diplomatic corps, which mainly fulfills a ceremonial purpose, is maintained in Riga, but the United Baltic Duchy does not possess diplomatic missions like embassies or consulates in foreign countries; Most of the Ducal diplomacy is carried out through Germany, as the United Baltic Duchy is, at least on paper, a federal state of Germany proper. Based on this, the UBD can often be seen portrayed on foreign maps as an integral part of Germany, which is legally both wrong and right, as the Duchy does not have its own representatives in the German Reichstag and Bundesrat, holds elections independently from Germany and has its own constitution distinct from the Imperial German one, but still remains a de jure autonomous zone within the Empire.

Particularly bad relations exist with nearby Russia, which openly supports the Latvian cause and even established a Latvian autonomy zone in Latgale. In recent years, tensions along the border have drastically risen; Despite heavy border protection, the Forest Brother rebels most of the time access the Duchy via Russia, as many forested regions along the border are very difficult to guard.

Culture

Map depicting an estimate of all the different ethnicities of the United Baltic Duchy.

Duke Adolf Friedrich is an avid writer and sportsman himself. His books about his expeditions through Africa are popular among the well educated German citizens of the nation. He also encourages and plays hunting, tennis and golf as well as auto racing. He is amongst the founders of the "Herzöglich-Baltischer Automobilclub" (Ducal-Baltic Automobile Club) and is its honorary chairman.

Another well known author is Werner Bergengruen. His popular childrens book "Zwieselchen", features the life of a small boy in Riga. Many await his new novel, which is said to be more political than his previous works.

The works of Alexander Graf Stenbock-Fermor are seen critically by many Baltic Germans due to his alleged sympathies with the countries of the Third Internationale, especially France.

Results of the Russian Imperial Census of 1897 for the three Baltic Governorates in regards to "Mother language"
Latvian Estonian German Russian Jewish Other Total
Estonia 472

0,11%

365.959

88,67%

16.037

3,89%

20.439

4,95%

1.269

0,31%

8.540

2,07%

412.716

17,30%

Courland 505.994

75,07%

620

0,09%

51.017

7,57%

25.630

3,80%

37.689

5,59%

53.084

7,88%

674.034

28,25%

Livonia (without Riga) 436.783

42,94%

514.892

50,62%

31.287

3,08%

23.672

2,33%

6.806

0,67%

3.695

0,36%

1.017.135

42,63%

City of Riga 127.046

45,02%

3.702

1,31%

67.286

23,84%

44.452

15,75%

16.922

6,00%

22.822

8,09%

282.230

11,83%

Total 1.070.295

44,86%

885.173

37,10%

165.627

6,94%

114.193

4,79%

62.686

2,63%

88.141

3,69%

2.386.115

100%

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