1919 - 1940
Following the battles of riflemen and the occupation of Riga, burials at the Riga Brethren Cemetery (now the Central Square) were resumed only after the arrival of the Red Army led by the Bolshevik government of P. Stucka and the Red Latvian Riflemen in Riga. (Only one former rifleman, Peteris Knope, was buried on 6 June 1918.) 98 red riflemen and soldiers of the Red Army from the Russian regiments who had fallen in battles against German units and the brigade of Balodis at the front, and two members of the government of Soviet Latvia who had died from diseases, were buried at the Brethren Cemetery from January till 21 May 1919.
The Latvian National Army was able to bury its fallen soldiers at the Riga Brethren Cemetery only after the conclusion of the Truce of Strazdumuiza. The first fallen soldier of the Latvian Army was buried at the Brethren Cemetery on 4 July 1919 (killed on 30 June 1919). The number of the soldiers buried at the Riga Brethren Cemetery increased when an army formed of the German volunteers left in the regions of Kurzeme and Zemgale and a few Russian squadrons commanded by P. Bermont-Avalov started an attack on the Latvian Army and took the area of Pardaugava on 8 October 1919. Any soldiers who had fallen in the battles of 8–9 October, remained in the territory occupied by the enemy, and it was only after the clearing of Pardaugava that their remains could be dug up and reburied at the Brethren Cemetery. Most of them (227 persons) remained unknown soldiers.
During this period of time (1919–1940) around 800 burials of soldiers of the Latvian Army and one burial of a soldier of the Estonian Army who had remained in Latvia are identified as burials of known soldiers at the cemetery. This number of known soldiers includes ca. 540 officers or soldiers who had fallen or died from injuries during the Independence Fights (1919 –1920) and the 73 soldiers who had died in hospitals from injuries sustained in the battles after the War (from 1921 till 1922) as well as former riflemen, the soon-to-be officers of the Latvian Army and chevaliers of the Lacplesis Military Order, who had died by mid-1940s.
The soldiers who had fallen in the battles of October and November 1919 and died in hospitals from injuries were among the first to be buried at the Brethren Cemetery during the Bermont Affair. The rows of burials were later complemented by soldiers who had fallen at the Latgale front or had been injured at the front and had later died in local military hospitals and hospitals in Riga.
The remains of some soldiers which were first laid at the Brethren Cemetery were soon transferred to the cemeteries of the places where they had been born, as evidenced by notes in the registration books of the Brethren Cemetery.
Janis Zalitis, Latvian Minister of Defence, who died from pneumonia on 9 December 1919, was also buried among the soldiers after his remains were transferred from the cemetery of the parish of the Riga Ascension Orthodox Church and reburied at the Brethren Cemetery on 14 December 1924, and the burials also include the burial of Karlis Kurzemnieks, member of the National Council, who died on 13 April 1920.
Once the Freedom Fights were over, former riflemen who had died from natural causes were buried at the Brethren Cemetery.
The last of the fallen soldiers of the Riflemen units were buried at the cemetery several years after the war, in 1925. Three officers of the 2nd Riga Latvian Riflemen Regimen, I. Kalnins, A. Spolitis and A. Ulmanis who had died in late summer of 1917 in the battles during the withdrawal of the army from Riga, were transferred from the parish of Ropazi for a reburial at the Riga Brethren Cemetery on 19 May 1925.
The soldiers who had fallen in the Christmas battle were officially commemorated for the first time on 6 January 1921 in the presence of senior officials of the Latvian State. Janis Cakste, President of the State of Latvia, awarded officers of the former regiments of the Latvian Riflemen with the Lacplesis War Order for heroism in the battles against the Germans in 1916 – 1917 at a meeting at the Army Officer Club attended by all participants of the celebration in the afternoon of that day. The memorial day ended in a social event held at the Rig Latvian Society in the evening of that day.
The Association of the Old Latvian Riflemen formed in 1923 undertook centralised organisation of the commemorative events of the Christmas battle by taking duties over from a special steering committee. In 1924 this tradition, one of the longest traditions of our soldiers, was extended upon recommendations by several former riflemen into a two-day event. The main part of the event – a large procession through the streets of Riga to the graves of the fallen soldiers – remained the dominant element. The first Holy Fire was lit by the Latvian President Janis Cakste assisted by Prime Minister Zigfrids Anna Meierovics and War Minister Janis Ducens. A large procession from the Latvian War Museum was yet another of the novelties introduced in 1924. Overall, this year was very important in the history of the Riga Brethren Cemetery since the construction of the grand memorial ensemble was then started. The biggest and the most important battle of the Latvian Riflemen was celebrated in Riga, the capital of Latvia, in this two-day event for more than 10 years. It should be added that the Holy Fire Altar situated in the central section of the Riga Brethren Cemetery is there in its present form since 17 November 1933.
A Riflemen Section at the Riga Brethren Cemetery (left of the Central Square of the Riga Brethren Cemetery, next to Varoni Street from which the Riflemen Gate leads visitors inside the Cemetery) was set up for those former riflemen and their family members who did not have the right to be buried in the Central Brethren Cemetery. The first burial in the Riflemen Section was made on 9 March 1932. 93 burials were made in the Riflemen Section till July 1940, incl. 81 former riflemen, three members of staff of the organising committee of the Latvian Riflemen Battalions, a former nurse and eight riflemen family members. Six former riflemen were buried in August and September 1940.
„Rīgas Brāļu kapi 1915 – 1936 – 2011”; J.Lismanis „Apbedījumi Rīgas Brāļu kapos 1919.-1940.gadam” 31.- 41.lpp./Riga Brethren Cemetery: 1915 – 1936 – 2011; Burials at the Riga Brethren Cemetery from 1919 till 1940 by J. Lismanis, pp. 31 – 41.
„Rīgas Brāļu kapi 1915 – 1936 – 2011”; J.Hartmanis „Pirmajā pasaules karā kritušo latviešu strēlnieku apbedījumi”, 17. – 26.lpp./ Riga Brethren Cemetery: 1915 – 1936 – 2011; Burials of Fallen Latvian Riflemen in World War I by J. Hartmanis, pp. 31 – 41.