Joined the Russian Army, 1891. Colonel during World War I. After the October Revolution 1917, joined the Bolsheviks. Became one of the main organizers of the Latvian detachments which were Lenin’s pretorian guard during the early years of Soviet rule.
Suppressed the anti-communist Polish corps of Dowbor-Musnicki, January 1918. Commander of the Latvian division, April 1918. Defeated the left SRs’ uprising in Moscow, July 1918.
Supreme commander of the military forces of the republic, 1918-1919. His detachments were among the few professional and totally ruthless forces of the Red Army in its early days who were employed at the front against the Whites and for terror operations against the population. After the Civil War, professor at the Military Academy of the Red Army, 1921 (lectured on military history).