First World War refugees

In late 1914, during the First World War, the government of Tsarist Russia and its military leadership gave the order for the evacuation of inhabitants from Kurzeme, and later from other areas, to Russia’s territories. During the war, about one million Latvian inhabitants were located outside of Latvia in Russian territory. By 1927, 223,573 refugees had returned to Latvia from Russia and obtained Latvian citizenship.

Latvian refugees in Russia had already created a strong support system at this time, when the Latvian nation was yet to be established, to help refugees who were scattered over a wide territory to the east of Latvia. Just like later, after the Second World War, educational institutions had been established, newspapers published, cultural events organized and there were also political activities. The main organization at this time was the Latvian Central Welfare Committee, which existed from 1915 until 1918.