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Copy of the Papers of the History Confrence of the Estonian Memento Association on June 16 2007

History Conference of the Estonian
Memento Association

An International Tribunal for the Prosecution of Communism

June 16, 2007



 Occupation and Propaganda

Meelis Maripuu


The Annihilation of the Estonian Rural Municipality

Indrek Paavle


The Destruction of the Estonian Political Elite during the
Soviet Occupation

Peep Varju

Preparing for the 1949 Deportations, Operation Priboi in the
Estonian S.S.R.

Aigi Rahi-Tamm, Andres Kahar


Partisan Warfare in Tartu in 1941

Herbert Lindmäe


All Crimes of Communist Regimes Deserve to Be Punished

Marju Toom


Resolution of the Anticommunist History Conference

Occupation and Propaganda

Meelis Maripuu

PhD Student, Tartu University

The events of recent history, which are subject to many interpretations, some of which are even contradictory, are often used as means of propaganda, both by states and sometimes simply by various interest groups. The following will be a brief treatment of the portrayal in the Russian mass media of the occupations of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania and to some extent of Poland, along with the the guidance given for the treatment of these topics by the Russian state. The electronic mass media in particular has been monitored. These media are characterized by speediness of dissemination of information and nimble reactions, and also by what is an essentially unlimited capacity to transmit information.

When reading the content of the Russian mass media, and while tracking the steps taken in recent times by those who are in positions of power and the sciences, one gets the impression as though researchers of recent history in the Baltic States and Poland have succeeded in pulling off an unprecedented exploit: they have, with the silent consent of the Western states, created a “Black myth of Soviet occupation” and its bloody crimes. With this, a revision of World War II seems to have been achieved, as a consequence of which the Soviet Union has been made “an accomplice responsible for the outbreak of the war”, and – as time goes by – even the “main culprit”. It is Russia who has to ingest this “stew of injustice”, with Russian historians unable to ward off the myths dreamt up by the historians of the Baltic States and Poland, nor are they capable of fending off the propaganda attacks that come from these states. There is still a last-minute chance that the world can be rescued from the clutches of the Baltic and Polish revisionists, before history the way that it really happened fades into oblivion. However – when this particular phase of Russia’s history is being treated or assessed, the Russians either don’t know how or simply forget to differentiate between two different things, one being the destruction of Nazi Germany on the Eastern Front, and the other being the imposition of own’s own occupation regime and subsequently of political supremacy on the liberated areas of Eastern Europe.

Russian historians see a way out in the speedy creation of a “true history” of World War II, intended for distribution to both the domestic audience and to
international readers.[1]

As a historian putting myself in their shoes, I have to say: what better could one wish for? A large number of qualified Russian historians will begin to devote their attention to the topic, and as though by a stroke of luck, the Russian Minister of Defense Anatoli Serdjukov announced at beginning of May of 2007 that a decision had been taken to declassify documents of the World War II era that are kept in the archives of the Ministry of Defense.[2] For now, let’s not dwell on the issue of what sort of practical ramifications – if any – the partial declassification of the archives of the Russian Ministry of Defense might have for Estonian historians. Let’s try instead, on the basis of indications we’ve seen up until now, to discern the shape that might be given to Russia’s new treatment of the World War II period and consequently also to the occupations of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

What makes comprehending and accepting the historical literature in respect to this period difficult in Russia, and what also makes it difficult in Russia to comprehend and accept perspectives that differ from this literature in is the fact that the victory achieved in World War II (or The Great Patriotic War, if we use Russian parlance) and the military-political events that are related to all of this, beginning with 1939, have been canonized right from the end of the war. Additonally, because of political developments in Russia during recent years, the theme is being changed or has even been turned into a new civil religion for the consolidation of the people, and for that matter into the cornerstone for the
image of the nation. The fundamental aspects of this religion are never discussed.

Regardless, let’s have a look at some key issues that compel Russia to present its history in exactly this manner, and also see why it has not been possible to make this dovetail with the way that neighboring countries comprehend their histories.

The mythologization of the so-called Great Patriotic War was something that already took place back in the Soviet Union. All archive materials and the media were under the total control of the authorities. In the case of the Baltic States, there was no way that a public version of the historical perspective of the 20th century could be allowed to differ somehow from what we knew so well during that era. This view included such facets as:

The establishment of Soviet power in 1917;

Intervention by imperialist Western countries and the creation of bourgeois republics with their help;

The restoration of Soviet power in 1940 through socialist revolutions;

The Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945 against fascist Germany and the liberation of the Baltic States from fascist occupation;

The rebuilding of constituent socialist republics during 1944/45.

Within this historical view, there was no place for the confidential protocol of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, for the joint occupation of Poland by Germany and the Soviet Union, for the Soviet ultimatums to the Baltic States, for the occupation and annexation of those countries, nor for mentions of mass repressions.

In connection with the disintegration of the totalitarian Soviet central structures of power, “confused times” arrived, as the nineties followed the eighties. In parallel with the strivings of the Baltic States to reestablish their independence, a number of democratic transformations also took place in Russia. Step by step, the archives were opened and it became possible for the Baltic States and for Russia herself to get to know their own histories, which had been dictated up until that point by the ideologues of the Communist Party. In the present-day context, the most important turning point of that period has to be regarded as the making public of the secret addenda of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, which were subsequently being struck down by the Soviet Congress of People’s Deputies on December 24, 1989.[3] During the years that followed, in the course of democratic reforms, Russia opened her archives, which allowed historians to begin to restore the picture of events that had taken place decades earlier. This, to a considerable extent, focused on research pertaining to political repressions.

For a number of years following the Congress of People’s Deputies, the events of 1939/1940 weren’t the subject of intense political attention. During recent years, however, the situation has cardinally changed, particularly after the celebrations marking the 65th anniversary of the end of World War II in the spring of 2005. For the Soviet Union and also for Russia later on, the decision of the Congress of People’s Deputies was the demarcation line beyond which no one has been willing to go, and to which reference has subsequently been made when needed. The last drop in the bucket was the statement made by US President George Bush on May 7, 2005 in Riga, when he referred to the occupation of the Baltic States by the USSR during World War II.[4] It is of symbolic significance that the statement was made while en route to Moscow, where the 65th anniversary of the victory over Germany was about to be marked. In its comments, with references to statements made by President Putin, the Russian Foreign Ministry referred to the decision of the Congress of People’s Deputies, and found that no additional mention of the issue was called for. This statement and other reactions on the part of Russia permitted the conclusion to be drawn that Moscow owns up in a roundabout way to annexing (the Baltic States), but refuses to be drawn into discussion of occupation. [5]

This provided no solution to the problem. To paraphrase the popular Estonian writer Oskar Luts, one can say, “When the Baltic States became independent again, the history of World War II had already been written.” However, during recent years, the writings of our historians have filled in the missing pieces, and even other nations and international organizations have been forced to admit that some things in this world of ours have come about in a fashion that differs from what has been said up until now. To some extent, we can even agree with the accusations of the Russian side that our historians have begun to revise the history of World War II.

This turn of events is totally unacceptable for Russia. As of the year 2005, an ongoing attempt to discredit historical treatments produced in the Baltic States has been clearly discernible, at an ever-increasing pace, at the same time that work continues on a modernized version of the Russian conception of the
Second World War period. The Soviet-era version would actually fit the bill
otherwise for the Russians, but it is impossible to make the archival materials that were revealed during the period of liberalization and particularly during the jumbled early nineties disappear. Consequently, they have to be given an
appropriate interpretation.

When, during the Soviet period, every historical topic had to somehow be linked to the thoughts and utterances of Lenin and/or Stalin, an effort is now being made in respect to the history of the Baltic States during the 20th century – beginning with their founding as independent states – to connect them in all sorts of plausible and implausible ways with national socialism and fascism. As the latter have been internationally declared to be criminal in nature, and since the entire Western world regards them in an extremely negative manner, the intent of the effort is self-evident.

One might ask: is this something that can be taken seriously, and who would believe it? In comparison to last year, the Yevropa publishing house disseminated a series of anonymous books[6], which were not taken particularly seriously, a new level has been achieved today. A number of well-known academic historians have been co-opted into a special round table that has been convened for this purpose. Specific working objectives have been finalized. The objective is to establish a special investigatory body.[7] In principle, such an
approach might create a sense of trustworthiness, particularly since the basic working methods have been postulated as follows:

  • a broad-based historical discussion is to take place on specific historical topics;
  • a systematic integration into the historical process of archive documents is to take place, their historical significance is to be analyzed and subsequently synthesized, while taking into consideration materials that have already been published.

What, however, are the tasks assigned to this work?

  1. To give high priority to dealing a counterblow in the battle being waged against historical fabrications, in respect to the political-ideological speculation emanating from the Baltic States in the area of history.
  2. The Russian state organs need not distance themselves from historical problems on the basis of the principle of “let history be left to the historians”, but rather they need to formulate a precise and clear political position in respect to the most important historical issues and convey this to scientific communities and the public (author’s emphasis).
  3. Experts find that during the years of 1989-1989, mistakes took place in the making of political-legal assessments about the historical events of the 1939/40-year. If these mistakes are not rectified, Russia is going to be unable to defend herself against the pressure emanating from the Baltic States. This refers specifically to the need to correct the stance taken by the Congress of People’s Deputies in respect to the MRP.
  4. It was stated that the predominant majority of the historians of the
    Baltic States are linked to a rigid scheme that operates with the support of the respective governments, the objective of which is to
    endorse the pseudo-historical anti-Russian initiatives of the governments of those countries, etc.

In order to be able to strike a blow against the pseudo-historical conceptions of the Baltic States, more than a dozen topics are regarded as high-priority, to be treated through the use of all possible communications channels, such as monographs, scientific conferences, specialized publications, newspapers, and all electronic media. Here, a selection of those topics:

  1. The military-political and legal circumstances of the attainment of independence, both de facto and de jure during 1918-1920;
  2. the Baltic Entente: the anti-Soviet military-political system of consultations of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania;
  3. the attitude of these states towards the aggressive actions of Germany and Italy, and Poland’s participation in the dividing of Czechoslovakia;
  4. the ties that the political leaderships, high-ranking military officers, the repressive structures and fascist political organizations of the Baltic states had with the intelligence services and ideological instructors of foreign powers, to include those of Great Britain and Germany, also considering the NSDAP;
  5. undemocratic coups in the Baltic States: legal and political aspects;
  6. the Soviet-German non-aggression pact of August 23, 1939 and its
    secret protocol: the circumstances under which it was signed, and an assessment of its influence upon the Baltic States;
  7. the collapse of the nationalist-authoritarian state systems of the Baltic States in 1940 and the voluntary union of those republics with the USSR (author’s emphasis);
  8. the nature of Stalinist repressions and their extent in the Baltic States;
  9. collaboration on the part of the remnants of the nationalist-authoritarian state systems, soldiers and the repressive structures with the Hitlerite occupants;
  10. the myth of the “underground national governments” during 1941-1944, the “occupation” of Tallinn by Soviet troops in September 1944, in the city center of which the flag of the pre-war Republic was supposedly raised “in the name of the temporary national government”, etc.;
  11. the restoration of the Baltic Soviet Republics and their progress after liberation from the Nazi occupation; the ties of underground nationalist movements to Western centers of subversion.[8]

In comparison to the old scheme outlined at the beginning of the article, the differences now involve the seeking of ties with Nazi Germany and the placement of emphasis on Stalinist repressions. It is understandable that after the publication of the documents previously referred to at the beginning of the 1990’s, the repressions of the Stalinist era can’t be denied. The escape route would be to find an appropriate explanation.

Although the topics listed here are only now being seriously incorporated into work plans, one can already discern these conceptualizations in the utterances of historians and politicians in the most recent books to have been published, and also on the Internet, showing that a decision has been taken to prove the impossibility of occupations in 1940 and 1944.[9]

  • The backgrounds of events are tracked back until the years 1917-1918, which are presented as the First Estonian Civil War, which culminated in the accession to power of nationalists, because of support provided by the German Empire and the imperialist Western states.
  • The coup carried out in 1934 by Konstantin Päts is assigned an important role, since this makes it possible to cast doubts on the legitimacy of the Estonian government during the 1939/1940 period, and as a consequence of this, also on the transferral of state continuity through Jüri Uluots and the Government of Otto Tief.
  • It is impossible to ignore the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, the Bases Agreement permitting the establishment of Red Army bases on the territories of the Baltic States, and the ultimatum of June 17, 1940, but the argument goes that the Great Power needs of the Soviet Union
    required these actions, and that one way or another, everything was JOKK (acronym from the Estonian – “juriidiliselt on kõik korras”, meaning that legally speaking, everything was in proper order).
  • Up until the present, the annexation of the Baltic States has been admitted and even violent incorporation has been admitted as well, but through a unilateral interpretation of international law, the existence of occupation as such is ruled out. As regards the wordings of the themes listed above, the author believes one in particular merits being singled out: “the collapse of the nationalist-authoritarian state systems of the Baltic States in 1940 and these republics joining with the USSR.” This speaker understands this to be indicative of an attempt to try to construct a scheme that would make it possible to jettison the Yeltsin-era recognition of the fact of annexation, and to once again
    begin to construe entry into the USSR as being a consequence of
    internal developments in the Baltic States. During this year, a new history textbook about Russian history in the 20th and 21st centuries has already been published, in which the impression is left that the Baltic countries voluntarily entered into union with the Soviet Union. The policies of Stalin are referred to in superlatives. In its treatment of the 1940 year, the textbook notes that Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania joined the Soviet Union, but there is no mention of the fact that the Red Army
    occupied the Baltic States, imprisoned their national leaders, and rigged elections to boot. The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact is mentioned, but the legal and historical aspects of the pact are not. The policies of the West are partially blamed for these events having come about;
  • The activities of the Forest Brethren (guerrilla movements) and resistance organizations are presented as though these constituted a
    Second Estonian Civil War, and Stalinist repressions are reflected as nothing more than countermeasures that simply had to be employed, and in fact helped to keep the Civil War from turning bloodier. The
    deportees are depicted primarily as a Nazi German fifth column, and as enemy subversives along with their family members, who had to be – in the national interest – quickly expelled from what was going to turn into a theater of operations in a war that would break out shortly, since they would have initiated an uprising as soon as German troops
    There may not be differences worth mentioning in the
    assessment of the number of persons who were affected by these measures, when compared to Estonian statistics, but it is incomprehensible to the Russian side why these actions would be referred to as mass repressions. In absolute terms, one is, after all, speaking of
    insignificant numbers of people.
  • Particular attention will be paid to the German occupation period,
    emphasizing the collaboration of Estonians with Nazi Germany and presumed involvement in war crimes.
  • Post-war repressions are reflected – numerically speaking – in a similar manner to data compiled by Estonian historians, but the conclusions that are reached about these figures are of a cardinally different kind: those involved were Soviet citizens who had betrayed their country, and were war criminals, of whom as many as two thirds went unpunished, thanks to the humane character of the Soviet authorities. Under the circumstances and seen from the vantage point of the USSR, the repressions were moderate in nature and absolutely necessary;
  • The so-called “liberation” of Estonia and the other Baltic States in 1944 is deemed to be of special significance in light of the events of April 2007[10]. It might in principle be possible to reach consensus in this
    regard – yes, the Red Army freed Estonia of German occupation – but the attainment of consensus is made impossible by the unwillingness of Russia to differentiate between the Great Patriotic War and the
    Second World War. Had the Great Patriotic War ended geographically at the Estonian border, on the opposite banks of the Narva River and Lake Lämmi, and had that been followed by the liberation of Europe from German occupation alongside the Western allies, it would be possible, with a sense of gratitude, to honor the Red Army soldiers who perished here. Unfortunately, they came instead to free the Estonian SSR and the advancing Red Army usurped the right to govern throughout all of Eastern and Central Europe.

In Russian publications, efforts are made at all costs to link all treatments of Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian as well as Polish history, particularly within the framework of the points listed above, with the decisions of the Nuremberg Tribunal. It seems that those decisions are seen as the penultimate consensual nexus between Russia and the democratic Western states, as though the decisions arrived at there represent a symbolic cauldron in Hell, the fires of which are kept stoked by both sides. Once the Baltic peoples have been cast into that cauldron, not even George Bush will deign to pull them out.

The Annihilation of the Estonian Rural MUnicipality

Indrek Paavle

PhD Student, Tartu University

Why talk at today’s conference about the local government of the rural municipality? What does this have to do with Communism’s crimes in Estonia?

A local government – the stress is on the word “local” – is a local administration run by the local people. Or: “the basis for the local government is the concept of a community that is responsible for solving the community’s own problems and for managing the community’s own life”.1

For Estonians, the local government is a historically familiar way for managing community life, the roots of which stretch far back into history. Concretely, the rural municipality legislation of 1866 gave the peasants of Estonia and Livonia (An historical Baltic province encompassing a southern part of Estonia and a northern part of Latvia. Translator) an opportunity to participate in local decision-making. The local municipality council, administration, and elder became elective. So, from that time on, Estonians have dealt with a local government functioning on the basis of contemporary principles.

The concept of the local government was one of the main premises for the
realisation of Estonian statehood. The functioning local governments had
enabled Estonians to acquire the experience and skills necessary for establishing their own state. To quote Jüri Uluots (A highly respected Estonian jurist and statesman, 1890 – 1945. Translator): “There isn’t a legal principle, which, in Estonia, could compete, when it comes to its longevity, continuity, and educative nature, with the concept of local government. The Estonian local government has been the corner-stone upon which our present rests.”2 He is supported by contemporary German academic Wolfgang Drechsler: “The Estonian state has, historically, developed from local governments. And Estonians have lived in a social structure based upon the principle of a self-organised community for centuries longer than almost all other European nations.”3

A two-level government system with long traditions, even though based upon legislation only a few years old, functioned in Estonia, at the county, city, and rural municipality level, in 1940. Albeit it is true, that the legislation of the second half of the 1930s dealing with the regulating of local governments, was born within the environment of an authoritarian regime (Estonia was under the “benevolent dictatorship” of Konstantin Päts from 1934 till the Soviet takeover in 1940. Translator), with one of the aims of the enactment of the new Rural
Municipality Act having been the increasing of the central government’s control over the local government of the rural municipality. But, much more essential was the concept, which had remained unchanged, that formed the basic
essence of the local government – that the members of the local council and local government be local residents, who, in the making of their decisions, would promote local interests. So, either one way or another, this system was very democratic in comparison to what existed in the totalitarian U.S.S.R.

Local government means local action, local decision-making, local initiative. These phenomena are the corner-stones of a democratic social structure. Local government is the symbol of a democratic social structure. Totally different principles rule in a totalitarian state, where, to ensure total obedience, local initiative and decision-making are suppressed. Therefore, the concept of local government does not appear in Soviet constitutional law. Instead, in the Soviet Union, there existed local central government organs, which, as opposed to a local government, did not deal with the deciding of local matters with the participation of local residents. To the contrary, they were completely under the control of the central authorities, the on-the-spot representations of the central authorities. Local soviets, as tools for carrying out internal control by the centralised state, must not, in any case, be confused with local governments.

To rule the citizenry in an occupied country, it is essential to suppress every form of independent thought, which is embodied in the form of a LOCAL government. Therefore, the annihilation of the Estonian local government, as both a concept and a physical entity, was one of the primary tasks of the Soviet occupation regime.

Sovietisation, at the local government level, started even sooner than at the central government level. Already at the end of June, the beginning of July, 1940, all county governors and the mayors of larger towns were replaced.4  The next systematic step was taken on 25 July 1940 – the local government councils were banned, which was justified by the claim that their activities were no longer compatible with the declaration that had been adopted four days earlier, on July 21, by the puppet parliament, which ruled that all political power now belonged to the masses in the form of the “people’s soviets”.5 Who cares, that the first “soviets” weren’t formed until the year 1948? The dispersing of the local councils, in turn, provided a so-called “legal basis” for replacing the executive organs – the town administrations and the local governments of the rural municipalities – that had been appointed by the councils.

Strictly speaking, when the councils were banned, it was no longer possible, in legal terms, to talk about local governments, and thus, we could end our discussion right here. But, leaving aside legal terminology, and concentrating upon the gist of the matter, the occupation authorities could not limit themselves to just these measures. It was necessary to replace all of the local leadership, and to eliminate the local elite. They were also driven by the realisation that their actual control over the rural areas was still quite weak, and the fact that a Soviet-style land reform program had been initiated. And the latter could not be properly implemented as long as the former local governments of the rural municipalities were still in office, since nine out of ten rural municipality mayors were themselves farm owners.

And land reform was not the only driving force. One essential factor was the fact that the rural municipality mayors, as the local communities’ opinion-makers and authoritative individuals, posed a potential threat as possible resistance leaders. The relevance of this fear soon became apparent during the Summer War
(In the summer of 1941, as the German forces were advancing upon Estonia, a large-scale armed insurrection broke out against the Soviet occupation. The Estonian nationalist resistance managed to liberate many parts of Estonia
before the Germans arrived. Translator)

On July 31, Maksim Unt, in the capacity of prime minister (Prime Minister
Johannes Vares had, two days before, gone to Moscow), put into force an amendment to the Rural Municipality Act, with which he assumed, as the minister of the interior, the right to relieve from office “in the interests of the state”, rural municipality mayors and their assistants, as well as the right to appoint their replacements.6 This step was necessary since the occupation authorities did not have time to follow the previously existing formal procedures for relieving a rural municipality mayor from office.

On the basis of the new Amendment, Unt, on the very same day, relieved from office all the rural municipality mayors along with their assistants. Thus, the rural municipality mayors, who had assumed office just at the beginning of the year, were being replaced. The quest to find their replacements had already begun earlier. In most rural municipalities, the new local governments assumed office during the first days of August. The majority of these people were new. 10% of the former rural municipality mayors retained their positions, but, by the end of the year, only 7.7% of them were still in office.7

In addition to the rural municipality mayors, in the eyes of the occupation
authorities, the rural municipality secretaries also posed a serious threat. A rural municipality secretary was usually one of the most influential and educated men in the community. In most cases, these people had extensive professional
experience, having held their position for many years, in a few cases even decades, with many of them having worked as rural municipality secretaries throughout the whole independence period. Cleansing operations were launched immediately after the new local governments of the rural municipalities assumed office. On August 19, the Interior Ministry sent, to the local governments of the rural municipalities, a secret directive instructing them to inform the Ministry, by August 24, at the latest, which rural municipality secretaries it would not be advisable to retain at their posts in the new political environment.8 But then it became apparent that getting rid of a rural municipality secretary could bring with it various complications. In several rural municipalities where this was done, the administration of the rural community came to a standstill, since the new people were incapable of coping with the task – efficient administrative managing requires knowledge, skills, and on-hands experience. So, the occupation authorities tried to save the situation by transferring rural municipality secretaries to other rural municipalities, instead of dismissing them. Thus, it was possible to continue to make use of their knowledge and experience. At the same, it was hoped that transferring the rural municipality secretaries to a new environment would reduce their influence among the local residents.

The next phase of the Sovietisation of the rural municipality began at the beginning of 1941. Andrei Andreyev, one of the members of the Secretariat of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, who had conducted an unannounced inspection tour of the Baltic States in December, had not been satisfied with the rate of Sovietisation. Since town mayors, as well as county governors and rural municipality mayors were “still” in office, he ordered that this oversight be taken care of immediately, and informed Stalin and Molotov that “an act dealing with the formation of executive committees will be issued in the following days”. Andreyev also criticised the especially weak influence of the Communist Party (CP) in Estonia, especially in the countryside.9 This, also, seems to indicate that the Soviets very well realised where the potential threat lay.

In January and February of 1941, the local governments of the rural municipalities were replaced with executive committees. In the course of this extensive undertaking, all administrative structures of the rural municipalities were also “cleansed” of independence-era people. In all of Estonia, there was only one man who managed to be a rural municipality mayor both before and after
August 1940, and to carry on as an executive committee chairman.10

But even the replacing of people was not enough of a guarantee of loyalty for the occupation authorities. In 1946, Dmitri Kuzmin, the personnel secretary of the Central Committee of the CP of Estonia, said, at a large meeting: “If we fire someone, then I’m presented a report to the effect that I’ve cleaned my apparatus…but where do these people get to…If it’s not a matter of isolating them, then they resume working, at an equal or higher position, with only their workplace changing…”11 It may seem to be a slightly inappropriate comparison, but, in 1940-41, things were no different. Local leaders, although they were no longer in office, posed a threat as long as they had not been isolated. Therefore, the destruction of the local government was accompanied by the process known, later, as the repression of the individual. In this case, the repressed were the leaders of the local governments.

During this first Soviet occupation of Estonia (1940-1941), at least 40 rural
municipality mayors (16% of the total number) were the victims of repression. At this point, one can, of course, utter a shout of surprise – so few?! But how many professions were there in Estonia that had a higher percentage of their practitioners physically eliminated by the occupation authorities? The state security structures, the sphere consisting of leading politicians. But who else?

And now, a few words concerning the “technical” aspect. Arrested rural municipality mayors were usually not indicted for having been rural municipality mayors. In the process of being investigated and interrogated, this matter, of course, arose, but it was of secondary importance. They were, as a rule, charged with having been among the local leaders of “organisations hostile to the people”, such as the Kaitseliit (The Defence League – Estonia’s popular voluntary paramilitary civil defence organisation. Translator) and the Isamaaliit (The Fatherland League – the only so-called “political party” that was permitted to function during the authoritarian Päts dictatorship. Translator). It is, of course, obvious that such organisations were, at the local level, led by socially active and influential individuals, who, due to these very same attributes, were also the men who would become rural municipality mayors. So, to reiterate – the objective was to eliminate any possible opposition by removing any potential leaders that the people would follow.

Of those arrested, only a few managed to stay alive. During the course of the years 1941-42, 34 rural municipality mayors were executed, or died unnatural deaths, with 15 of them having received death sentences. Only four men managed to survive their Soviet imprisonment, and to return to their homeland after many years. At least two rural municipality mayors fell victim to the Red Terror of the summer of 1941.12

The first one to be arrested, on 30 August 1940, was Artur Gross, the Tõlliste rural municipality mayor, in Valgamaa County. He was held in Tallinn’s Patarei Prison in 1940-41. On 8 March 1941, he was sentenced to eight years in
Siberia, where he died on 30 June 1942, at the age of 60.13 I have no idea why Gross was arrested at such an early date. He had been an average Estonian rural municipality mayor – a farmer, with an elementary education, who owned his own land. Greater than average, were only his age and tenure of office (he had, on and off, held that office since 1908).14

The fate of the rural municipality secretaries is comparable to that of the rural municipality mayors. 48 rural municipality secretaries (19.4% of the total) were repressed already before the outbreak of the War on the Eastern Front. There are apparent differences between the various counties – if, in the counties of Järvamaa, Pärnumaa, and Valgamaa, not a single rural municipality secretary was arrested, then, of Virumaa’s rural municipality secretaries, 13 (39.4%) were arrested, and of Saaremaa’s independence-era rural municipality secretaries, 10 (62.5%). In both of the aforementioned counties, the Soviet occupation lasted longer than in the rest of Estonia.

The fate of those arrested was rather grim. 21 men were executed, in 1942, in Siberian prison camps, while 14 died in captivity.15 Two rural municipality secretaries were among the victims of the bloodbath perpetrated by the Soviet security forces, in the summer of 1941, in Saaremaa County’s Kuressaare Castle, and one was murdered by a Hävituspataljon (Destruction Battalions – voluntary, lightly armed, paramilitary units recruited by the Soviet authorities, in the summer of 1941, from amongst Estonia Communist collaborators, and even
released criminals. They were used mostly for fighting against the anti-Soviet
Estonian guerrillas, in the course of which, the Destruction Battalions extensively terrorised and brutalised the civilian population. Translator).16

In 1944 (The Soviets, having been driven out of Estonia by the advancing
German forces in the summer of 1941, re-occupied Estonia in the late summer of 1944. Estonia remained occupied by the Soviets until the summer of 1991. Translator), the Soviets resumed their endeavours. But now, in the case of most victims, there was the additional charge of having collaborated with the German occupying authorities. The pre-War suspicions of the Soviet occupation authorities had been confirmed. Those rural municipality mayors and secretaries who had survived did actually become resistance leaders in the summer of 1941. As the opportunity arose, these men, right away, on their own initiative, started to restore the disbanded local governments of the rural municipalities.

After the war, the Soviet regime repressed at least an additional 73 former rural municipality mayors. Thus, all together, about half (46%) of the last rural
municipality mayors. There are few other sectors of the population in which “cleansing” was carried out so extensively.

In the course of the years 1944-52, Soviet security organs arrested, at least, another 32 independence-era rural municipality secretaries. All together, the Soviet regime repressed at least 32% of the last independence-era rural
municipality secretaries. The Soviet regime dealt with these rural municipality secretaries a bit less harshly. Generally, they were not charged with collaborating with the German occupiers, since, even in the Estonian local governments of the rural municipalities, the Nazi fuehrer principle predominated, so that the rural municipality mayor was much more powerful than before. Thus, the other officials, including the rural municipality secretaries, had less authority.17 I also presume that the Soviet regime did not see as great a threat in the rural municipality secretaries since, in the Soviet perspective, these were minor officials, rather than the influential local opinion-makers and socially prominent members of the community that they had been in pre-War Estonia.

At this point, I would like to present an illustrative example. Farm owner
Johannes-Alfred Pärtma was, in the years 1934-37, the assistant mayor of Viljandimaa County’s Tuhalaane Rural Municipality, and in 1937-40, the rural municipality mayor. He was also the leader of the local Kaitseliit unit. Thus, in 1941, he became the leader of the local Omakaitse (Home Guard – an
Estonian voluntary militia that the German occupation authorities used as a local auxiliary security force in the years 1941-44. Tranlator). In the fall of 1944, when the Soviets re-occupied Estonia, he went into hiding in the Pärtma Forest. In 1946, he came out and became “legalised”. In 1949, he was to be deported (To an unknown location in the hinterlands of the USSR. Translator), but again managed to escape into the forest. In 1953, he again became “legalised”, but “continued to hide his past”, and worked as a driver in a “kolkhoz”. On 20 July 1955, Pärtma was finally arrested. The case went to court on October 17. The main charges against him dealt with his activities in the Kaitseliit and the Omakaitse. But the case was dismissed, on 8 November 1955, with a ruling issued by the prosecutor. It was found that Pärtma had to be amnestied, since, on 17 September 1955, an act had been adopted “concerning the amnestying of Soviet citizens who had cooperated, during the Great Patriotic War, 1941-45, with the occupiers”, and he was released. Two weeks later, the aforementioned ruling was annulled, since it was found that he, after all, was not covered by the amnesty. Pärtma was, again, arrested, and the whole process started all over again. On 21 February 1956, the tribunal sentenced him to 25 years in a forced labour camp.18

Hereby, I have reached the post-War period. So, what became of the traditional Estonian rural municipality? When dealing with the second half of the 1940s, then the catchphrases are: “systematically forcing the village community to die out” and “mass repressions”. And this all was accompanied by the ingraining of new principles of governance. As far as principles of governance are concerned, we can talk about the splitting up of the rural municipality by the formation of the village councils, and the bringing of the Party’s control to the rural municipality level. Communist Party organisers, of whom many were locals, were appointed to each rural municipality. But these were locals who had been thoroughly propagandised by the Soviets. Their main function was the gathering of information. Thanks to these local activists, the Party was able to establish an essential depository of information with which to control the whole nation. The Party had to know who was doing what, and, in a very Orwellian sense, who was thinking what. Informing on others was greatly encouraged and promoted.

All these activities also had the ulterior motive of destroying the community’s sense of unity. This communal sense of unity sometimes expressed itself in rather strange ways. I’ll present just one example. From 1944 on, Feodor Lodeikin worked as the Alatskivi Rural Municipality’s Party organiser. He was a local, and managed to stay at the same location longer than most other rural municipality Party organisers. In March of 1948, it was decided to transfer him elsewhere, since, working for a long time, in the same location, did not affect an official well – or, at least, that is what the Party leadership thought. But, Lodeikin did not want to leave, and the people of the Rural Municipality did not want him to leave either. So, signatures were gathered. But this was a serious infringement of Party discipline by Lodeikin – if the Party assigned you to another position, you had to go, and no objections were tolerated. Therefore, Lodeikin was punished. In addition, the Party was especially upset that everyone had signed this petition – along with the “stooges of the German occupiers” and the kulaks, even local Communists (also the latter, because “having quite a low standing on the ideological scale, they did not realise the true nature of these petitions – that these were a kulaks’ stratagem, and went ahead and signed the letter”).19 In the course of the next year, to year and a half, the rural municipality Party organiser was replaced at least three times. Can such instability be attributed to the united opposition of this community?

The Alatskivi incident was not the only case of a rural municipality official gathering signatures in an Estonian rural municipality in the second half of the 1940s.

At this point, it may seem that I’ve veered away from my basic topic. If so, then I can assure you that I haven’t strayed very far. The Incident that I just talked about should be viewed in a broader context. The gathering of signatures shows that the people of this rural municipality were of a common opinion concerning a specific issue, and demonstrated grassroots-level initiative. But neither phenomenon was in the interests of the occupying authorities, who were still in the process of reinforcing their position. It is always easier to rule if the conquered population does not stick together. And, I dare to claim that the Mass Deportations of 1949 (In March 1949, the Soviet occupiers deported over 90,000 people, mostly from rural areas, out of the three Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia to the hinterlands of the U.S.S.R. The aim was to break the backbone of the Baltic resistance to the Soviet occupation. Some of these people were imprisoned in forced labour camps, but most were forcibly resettled in
remote and isolated villages. Most of these people, of course, perished, but some of them managed to survive, and to, eventually, even make their way back to their homeland. Translator) put an end to such people’s initiatives. After all, one of the main aims of this large-scale terrorising operation was to suppress the whole population emotionally. It is possible that one of the objectives of the 1950 administrative reform was to wipe out the remaining traditional ties in the rural communities. The local government of the rural municipality had not, in the legal sense, existed for a long time already. Now, the rural municipality, itself, was also eliminated.

If we examine the local government of the rural community, not from a rather limited legal terminology point of view, but rather, as a community’s true form of self-government, which places primary importance upon self-initiative, self-determination, and the community members’ concern for the welfare of their community, then we realise that these are the very values against which the Communist regime waged a constant battle. But how successfully?

The Destruction of the Estonian Political Elite During the Soviet Occupation

Peep Varju

Engineer, Estonian Memento Association

The basis for this presentation is the body of material that was previously ascertained by The National Committee for Investigating the Repressive Policy of Occupations. The first short survey of the material was compiled with the participation of the commission chairman Jaan Kross and was published in 1994. Subsequently, after the Riigikogu commissioned a study, the state commission prepared a more comprehensive investigation into the fate of the members of the Estonian parliament who perished during the repressions. This investigation was published in September 2000, when a plaque commemorating the perished representatives was dedicated on the Riigikogu building.

We have defined the following groups as the political elite:

  1. heads of state
  2. members of the government, meaning ministers
  3. elected parliamentary representatives
  4. leaders of local government (county governors and mayors)

Heads of State

The category “heads of state” includes the prime ministers, state elders and the president who held office during the first Independence Period from the War of Independence until the occupation of Estonia on June 17, 1940. There were eleven such people. The consequences of the Communist terror regime were the following: three were shot, five died while imprisoned, one committed suicide, one died in a mental hospital in Russia, and one escaped to the West.

In the parliamentary pre-World War II Republic of Estonia, prime ministers were the heads of state. As of December 20, 1920, after the passage of the constitution by the Constituent Assembly, the Prime Minister was given the title of State Elder, and thereby was also given the representative functions of President. The new constitution that came into force in 1938 specified that the head of state must be the President, as a independent entity, which had relatively extensive powers.

Let’s take a closer look at the fate of the heads of state who fell into the grasp of the Soviet occupation.

  1. Friedrich Akel, State Elder from March 26, 1924 to December 16, 1924, subsequently the Foreign Minister on repeated occasions, member of two sessions of the Riigikogu and Estonian Ambassador to Sweden. Arrested by the NKVD on October 17, 1940 and shot in
    Tallinn on July 3, 1941.
  2. Ado Birk, Prime Minister in 1920, Foreign Minister in two governments, Estonian Ambassador in Moscow 1922-1926 and a leading
    figure in the Orthodox Church. Arrested on June 14, 1941, the day of the mass deportations, sentenced to death in the Sosva prison camp in Russia, and died on February 2, 1942 before the sentence could be carried out.
  3. Karl Einbund-Eenpalu, State Elder from July 19, 1932 to November 1, 1932, member of all six sessions of the Riigikogu during the first
    independence period, Minister of the Interior and Prime Minister, one of the founders of the Estonian Police. Among the first to be arrested on July 24, 1940, taken to the Kirov prison in Russia and died on the night of January 27-28, 1942 in the Vjatka prison camp.
  4. Jüri Jaakson, State Elder from December 16, 1924 to December 15, 1925, President of the Bank of Estonia. Arrested on June 14, 1941 and shot on April 20, 1942 in the Sverdlovsk Central Prison in Russia.
  5. Juhan Kukk, State Elder from November 21, 1922 to August 2, 1923, Minister of Economic Affairs and Finance in various governments.
    Arrested by the NKVD on October 16, 1940, and taken to Russia. Died in prison in Archangelsk on December 4, 1942.
  6. Ants Piip, Prime Minister and first Estonian State Elder from December 20, 1920 to January 25, 1925, repeatedly Foreign Minister,
    Estonian Ambassador to the United States, Professor of International Law at the University of Tartu. Arrested by the NKVD on June 30, 1941, and taken to Russia, where he died on October 1, 1942 in the Perm prison camp.
  7. Konstantin Päts, President of the Republic of Estonia April 21, 1938 to July 23, 1940, President-Regent 1937-1938; five-time State Elder starting on January 25, 1921, and Prime Minister acting as President in 1934-1937, as well as Prime Minister of the Provisional Government in 1918. Arrested by the NKVD on July 30, 1940. Released from an
    involuntary treatment institution at the end of 1955 and brought to the Jämejala mental hospital in Estonia. When his presence in Estonia became widely known and support of the people for the former president began to be shown, he was taken back to Russia. He died on January 18, 1956 in the Tver (Kalinin) mental hospital. Reburied in
    Tallinn at the Metsakalmistu Cemetery on October 21, 1990.
  8. August Rei, State Elder from December 4, 1928 to July 9, 1929, chairman of the Constituent Assembly, member of several sessions of the Riigikogu, Foreign Minister, and Estonian Ambassador in Moscow from 1937. In June 1940 received orders from the puppet government
    installed by the Communists to return to Tallinn from Moscow. On his way back, managed to escape to Stockholm via Riga on July 17, 1941. Was an Estonian exile leader, and Prime Minister in the capacity of Acting President of the Exile Government. Died in Stockholm on March 29, 1963.
  9. Otto Strandman, Prime Minister and State Elder from July 9, 1929 to February 12, 1931, member of the IV and V sessions of the Riigikogu, Estonian Ambassador in Paris, Brussels, and the Vatican in 1933-1939. In 1939, asked to be discharged from his position and retired. Six months after the start of the Soviet occupation was ordered to
    appear at the NKVD, upon which he committed suicide on February 5, 1941.
  10. Jaan Teemant, State Elder on two occasions from December 15, 1925 to December 9, 1927 and February 19, 1932 to July 19, 1932. Member of four sessions of the Riigikogu. Among the first to be arrested by the NKVD on July 23, 1940. Disappeared thereafter without a trace. The last information available about him dates from the summer of 1941, while he was in the custody of a prison transport in Russia.
  11. Jaan Tõnisson, Prime Minister during the War of Independence, subsequently State Elder on two occasions (December 9, 1927 to December 4, 1928 and May 18, 1933 to October 21, 1933), member and chairman of several sessions of the Arrested by the NKVD on December 12, 1940. His fate is unknown. Considered to have disappeared without a trace, because exact information on his fate is lacking. He was probably shot in Tallinn in July 1941, because a copy of the minutes of the death sentence passed on July 2, 1941 by the military tribunal has survived. However, this copy is not reliable,
    because it lacks the signatures of the tribunal members.

The dignified behavior of the Estonian government leaders while incarcerated is evidenced best by the KGB file of the 72-year-old State Elder Jaan Tõnisson. He rejects all the fabricated accusations, and upon the presentation of the summary of accusations on June 25, 1941, answers as follows: “On grounds of the Peace Treaty concluded between Estonian and Soviet Russia in 1920, I do not acknowledge my guilt. I also base my argument on the Mutual Assistance Pact concluded between Estonia and the Soviet Union in 1939. [11]


In addition to the aforementioned prime ministers and state elders, the 24 governments of the first Independence Period comprised 89 people. Prior to the first Soviet occupation, eleven of them had died (ten of natural causes and one – Karl Kark – was killed during the attempted communist uprising of December 1, 1924). When the occupation began, eight former government members were abroad. Six were ambassadors, and two – Juhan Kartau and Jüri Annusson – had gone abroad earlier. The ambassadors were Karl Ast-Rumor, Heinrich Laretei, Jaan Lattik, Kaarel-Robert Pusta, Karl Selter and August Warma. It is also known that four former ministers – Oskar Amberg, Johan Holberg, Peet Johanson and Nikolai Kann – availed themselves of the repatriation of the Baltic Germans to Germany as a means to depart from Estonia, i.e. to escape from anticipated repressions.

Consequently, 54 former members of the Estonian government fell into the grasp of the Soviet occupation. Of these, Theodor Rõuk committed suicide on July 21, 1940. Of the 53 remaining, 50 former members of the government soon fell victim to repressions. Actually, 51 former ministers were arrested during the first Soviet occupation, but one of them succeeded in escaping. Former Foreign Minister Hans Rebane was arrested by the NKVD on August 16, 1941, but the ship that was transporting the prisoners from Tallinn to Leningrad sank after being hit by a German torpedo, and some of the prisoners were able to reach the Estonian shore.

By the end of the first Soviet occupation, 16 (17) former ministers remained at liberty. They were kept under surveillance during the German occupation, but weren’t physically harmed. One died a natural death (Jaan Masing) and one (Karl-Johannes Soonpää) fell in an armed struggle against Soviet parachutists on June 15, 1944.

Six former ministers escaped to the West before the beginning of the next
Soviet occupation (Ernst-Heinrich Ein, Johan Müller, Jaan Raudsepp, Hans Rebane, Johan Reinhold-Raid and Jüri Uluots). Of the former ministers who remained in Estonia, six were arrested: Otto Tief, Nikolai Talts, Aleksander
Veiderma, August Hanko, Karl-Ferdinand Kornel, and Gustav Viiard. Three
former ministers were not arrested, but even they did not entirely escape being kept under surveillance.

At the beginning of the second Soviet occupation, all the members of the Otto Tief government, who were appointed by Jüri Uluots’ directive of September 18, 1944 and who had remained in Estonia were successively arrested. The exception was Minister of Agriculture Karl Liidak, who assumed under a false name and died on January 16, 1945. The following members of the government were arrested: Prime Minister Otto Tief, Minister of Education Arnold Susi, Minister of Finance Hugo Pärtelpoeg, Minister of Social Affairs Voldemar Sumberg, Minister of Roads Johannes Pikkov, Minister without Portfolio Juhan Kaarlimäe, Commander of the Defense Forces Jaan Maide, State Auditor General Oskar Gustavson, Chancellor of Justice Richard Övel, and Chief of Domestic Security Juhan Reigo.

The total number of former Estonian ministers (members of government) arrested during the two Soviet occupations is 67 (68). Along with the aforementioned eleven heads of state, the following summary can be compiled about 100 members of government.

Shot:                                                           23

Died in prison or while under arrest:   38

Committed suicide:                                4

Fell in battle:                                             1

Died in mental hospital:                         1

Died in exile:                                            1

Escaped to the West:                              25

Returned home after repressions:       7

Generally, it is useless to search the KGB files for the truth about the actual thoughts and actions of the more than sixty Estonian ministers during their last days of incarceration. An exception is the precise answer given on December 11, 1940 by Oskar Kask, a 43-year-old lawyer, former Minister of Social Affairs and member of several sessions of the Riigikogu, to the interrogator’s questions, which is recorded in his file, “As a minister I fulfilled my obligations to the state honestly and with great enthusiasm, and endeavored to do everything to secure the independence of Estonia by acting within the limits of valid legislation in the interests of the Estonian state and people.” [12]

Oskar Kask was shot in Sverdlovsk on April 13, 1942.

General Aleksander Tõnisson, hero of the War of Independence and commander of the Viru front is another of the ministers killed by the Communists whose investigation file gives testimony to his fortitude. At the session of the war tribunal on June 28, 1941, the accused answers succinctly, “Yes, as an officer of the Estonian Army I actively fought against the Red Army” [13]

The ministers of the Republic of Estonia as citizens are characterized by the fate of the former Minister of Courts and the Interior Vladimir Roopere. He was arrested on July 17, 1940 in the centre of Tallinn during the infamous demonstration at the Soviet Embassy after the so-called “July elections”. Vladimir Roopere, who happened to be on the corner of Mündi and Pikk Streets, saw how the demonstrators were preparing to rip the Estonian flag that was being carried in the formation.  He was among those who tried to stop the public desecration of the Estonian flag. During the course of this activity, he was
arrested by plainclothes NKVD men, who had secretly infiltrated Estonia from the Soviet Union and controlled the situation in the capital. This is recorded in the minutes of Roopere’s first interrogation.[14] As a citizen Vladimir Roopere is characterized by the fact he voluntarily resigned his position as minister in order to initiate a lawsuit as a private individual against slander published about him in the press. He won the case.

The arrest of Vladimir Roopere by agents who had secretly infiltrated the country is also confirmed by the KGB file of another minister, August Peet, the
Minister of the Interior of the Provisional Government.[15] August Peet was
arrested on July 19, 1940 in the legally still independent Republic of Estonia, two days before the so-called “petition to join the Soviet Union” issued by the Parliament. August Peet disappeared without a trace, although his file contains a document regarding his illegal detention without an arrest order, which was drawn up two months later in September 1940. In this statement, KGB investigator Viktor Bradlei confirms that August Peet was arrested by a group of Soviet operatives before the formation of the ESSR Ministry of the Interior (NKVD) and that those making the arrest had no arrest orders!

The physical annihilation of the members of the governments of the Estonian Republic, as a typical Communist action, is characterized by the example of the last legal pre-war government.  The so-called “broad-based” Government of the Republic that took office on October 12, 1939 comprised eleven members. Only one escaped repressions – Jüri Uluots, who was able to hide and escape to the West in 1944. An arrest order was nonetheless drawn up for him in March 1941, and his family was included in the deportation lists in June 1941[16]. Four members of the Uluots government were killed and five died in custody before 1943. Only one, academician Paul Kogerman – who was Minister of Education – was freed from custody. In his case he was freed from the Tavda prison camp as an exception on March 5, 1945, because the Soviet state required his knowledge as a recognized oil shale expert.

Against the backdrop of the repression and physical destruction of the members of the legal Estonian government, which had peaceably relinquished power, it is also necessary to know what became of the members of the puppet government – the so-called “Vares government”. Such a comparison serves to very precisely clarify both the objectives and the manner in which the communist regime governed in all of the occupied states. At the outset, there was not a single communist among the members of the Vares regime, which had been constituted under the orders of Stalin’s special emissary Andrei Zhdanov, who had been sent to Estonia from Moscow. The scenario of the staged coup d’état envisioned the exploitation of left-wing intellectuals and functionaries from the labour movement. Part of them was not accepted to be members of the
Communist Party until power had been assumed. The people aptly christened them “June Communists”. Despite the fact that they loyally served a foreign power when they contributed to the destruction of the democratic Estonian state, even these persons were not to escape being repressed. Only one of them – Neeme Ruus, who served as the Social Minister – perished as a victim of the subsequent German occupation regime. Sooner or later, despite the
services they had rendered, the remainder ended up in the lists of the victims of communist terror.

As early as July 4, 1940, the first to be recalled from his post was the Minister of the Courts Boris Sepp. His period in office had lasted all of 13 days. What proved to be his undoing was his work as a court investigator in Pärnu, back when member of the Riigikogu Jaak Nanilson had been murdered on August 16, 1924 for political reasons. At the time, a group of local communists was taken into custody as suspects, including Juhan Maksim, also a member of the Riigikogu. Later on, it turned out that Maksim was a Soviet agent, who – after escaping from Estonia – had been covertly sent back over the border into
Estonia on March 27, 1927.

During the course of the investigation, it was revealed that Boris Sepp had been a member of the Communist Party during the Civil War and had held important positions in Siberia. When he opted for Estonian citizenship in May of 1922, he was categorized as a traitor by Soviet Russia. Boris Sepp perished on November 24, 1942 at the Unžlagi Prison Camp in Gorky Oblast.[17]

Maksim Unt, who had organized the workers demonstrations that were part of the staged coup d’état – as per the instructions of Andrei Zhdanov – and who was thereafter appointed to the position of Minister of the Interior, was arrested on May 22, 1941. On the previous day, he had been removed from his ministerial position, having been charged with “implementation of improper policies”. Maksim Unt was sentenced to death on July 7 and was executed in Moscow on July 30, 1941. He too had held an important position in Siberia during the Civil War, but – having been caught taking valuables that had been robbed by the Secret Police – he escaped into the Denikin Army on the side of the White
Russian forces. When the Civil War ended, he returned to Estonia.[18] The
circumstances under which Maksim Unt died were painstakingly concealed, along with the date of his death. A bogus Notice of Death wasn’t drafted until the period of Khrushchev’s thaw, and was only then sent in a letter by the
General Headquarters of the Militia (Soviet Police) in Moscow. In accordance with a secret KGB directive, the actual dates of death of persons executed and their causes of death were substituted with made-up dates and causes. Notice of Death nr. 52, issued by the Registry of Households, registered on February 15, 1956, has an entry noting that Maksim Unt died on August 9, 1943. There is no reference to the cause of death or the place of death in the document.

The Minister of Economics of the Vares Government Juhan Narma (Nichtig) was recruited to be a KGB agent in Moscow during March 1940, three months before the occupation of Estonia. As a member of the Management Board of the Cooperative of Estonian Consumers, he was responsible during a ten year
period for the signing of trade agreements and went on repeated trips to
Moscow. Using the agent’s name Delovoi that was assigned to him, he now became a subordinate of Vladimir Botskarjov, who worked at the Embassy of the Soviet Union and was responsible for relaying secret information about the economy of Estonia. [19]  Later, as the Minister of Economics, he carried out the nationalization of banks and plots of land, as he stated during his interrogation.

When the puppet government was reorganized during August 25, 1940 as the Council of People’s Commissars, Juhan Narma lost his ministerial position and took a step downwards, accepting the modest position of the Director of the Department of Planning of Municipal Trade of the city of Tallinn. On the day of the mass deportations of June 14, 1941, he was arrested along with his wife and five children. He perished on October 19, 1943 in the Tavda Prison Camp in Sverdlovsk Oblast, having been sentenced to five years of forced labor for having been a member of the Estonian Isamaaliit political party. Nikolai Viitak, who had been the Minister of Roads in the Uluots Government, was also held in the same prison camp. He was executed on April 24, 1942. The identical fates and deaths in a communist prison camp of Nikolai Viitak, who had remained loyal to the Republic of Estonia, and Juhan Narma, who had aspired to become a June Communist, precisely characterizes the nature of Stalin’s regime. Three active June Communists – Boris Sepp, Maksim Unt and Juhan Narma were very quickly isolated from all other members of Estonian society and – as
witnesses to what actually happened during the so-called “socialist revolution” – the regime made sure that they would never tell any tales.

Another person who should apparently be added to the same list of victims of the Soviet intelligence organs was Orest Kärm – also a member of the
Johannnes Vares government, who served as Minister of Roads. Orest Kärm had been one of the persons who established the Tootsi Briquet Plant and was its first Director. In order to buy machinery from Russia, he made repeated trips there. Both his relocation to Tallinn, where he took a modest job before the June coup, and his subsequent appointment to a ministerial post attracted public
attention. Although Orest Kärm managed to retain his ministerial post even after the Council of People’s Commissars had been constituted, when he was made responsible for directing communal economics, he didn’t remain loyal to the occupation regime. During the spring of 1941 he took went into hiding in the forests of Tootsi, where he remained until the subsequent German occupation. The date of his departure from the post of Minister was April 6, 1941. During the German occupation, Orest Kärm was arrested and sentenced to death, but he was saved by local members of the Omakaitse paramilitary unit. Memoirs written by participants in the Summer War (as the violent summer of 1941 was known, when the Soviet occupants withdrew and German forces entered the country) indicate that his execution in the forest was staged, and that the members of the execution squad ordered him to flee. This former member of the Red regime was able to remain in hiding throughout the German occupation period, and is said to have perished at sea while trying to escape to the West in 1944.

Among the last of the June communists to be arrested were a number of persons accused of being “bourgeois nationalists”. They were rounded up after the VIII plenary session of the Estonian Communist Party in 1950. These were Nigol Andresen, Aleksander Jõeäär and Hans Kruus, all members of the Vares Government. All were given identical sentences of 25 years of imprisonment and 5 years of imposed exile outside Estonia in the territory of the USSR.

Many question marks remain in respect to the eventual fate of Johannes Vares-Barbarus, the man who had been appointed Prime Minister by Andrei Zhdanov. Did he really commit suicide on November 29, 1946, as one version would have it, in full awareness of his true role as the destroyer of the Estonian state and people? The other possibility is that he was killed under the orders of the NKVD, exactly as is said to have happened in the case of the Czechoslovakian Foreign Minister Jan Masaryk two years later, in March of 1948, after the communist coup. Archival documents in Moscow prove that before the June coup in
Estonia, Johannes Vares had been in contact with Soviet intelligence, gave his consent to be the head of the puppet government, and named his candidates for posts in that government.  He proposed that Aleksander Warma be
appointed Foreign Minister, Theodor Pool be appointed Minister of Agriculture, and also suggested that professor Ottomar Madisson be made Minister of Roads, but these three were rejected. Of the other candidates he proposed, five turned out to be acceptable to Zhdanov (Kruus, Andresen, Semper, Unt and Jõeäär).[20]

According to the way that friends of the Johannes Vares family remember it, it is known that within a few weeks of his assuming the post of Prime Minister, it had become apparent to him that he was in fact a hostage of the occupation forces in his office at Toompea, the seat of Estonian governments. Not once was he able to do anything to ease the predicaments of any of the people who were close to him. Through his spouse, he was able to hint to them that he had no right to make decisions about them. If we take into consideration how methodically the personnel of the Embassy of the Soviet Union on Pikk Street in Tallinn monitored and maintained records about the personalities and habits of members of Estonian society, it is no wonder that Johannes Vares simply had to catch their attention and that he was given special consideration, along with some other people. His high opinion of himself, his dissatisfaction with his societal position and his desire to be first in every area of life inevitably led him to collaboration and put him in the traitor’s role. If, side by side, one compares the repression of member of the Uluots government and the Vares puppet government by the communists, it turns out that there was little difference. The betrayal of their homeland provided none of the members of the latter group with immunity in the communist totalitarian state.

Members of Parliament

During the independence period of the Republic of Estonia from 1920-1940, there was a total of 622 Members of Parliament. Of these representatives of the people, 197 ended up as victims of the Soviet and German occupation regimes: 192 as victims of the communist terror regime and 5 as victims of the Nazi
regime. The 93 persons who were or had been Members of Parliament who fled to the West also should be regarded as indirect victims of the Soviet occupation regime. It is known that 209 Members of Parliament died a natural death, but there is uncertainty about the destiny of another 180 persons. There is very little information available about the deaths of 14 persons who died in Russia after the failed coup attempt on December 1, 1924, after fleeing from Estonia. It is likely that they perished through Stalinist mass repressions at the end of the 1930’s, when a systematic eradication of members of national minorities took place in the Soviet Union.

It was the Sixth and last session of the Parliament of the prewar Republic of Estonia that suffered the greatest losses, which consisted of 124 members (RK VI), along with substitute members. After it had been constituted in the Embassy of the Soviet Union, the puppet government headed by Johannes Vares had the Parliament dissolved on July 5, 1940. 85 of its members were arrested. Of these, 36 were executed during 1941-1942, and 32 died while imprisoned. 28 individuals weren’t arrested, since they reached safety by fleeing to the West. There is no information to be found about what became of three of these
members of Parliament, while eight members (8.8% of the total) escaped being repressed.

Even those members of the Riigikogu (RK) who broke their solemn oath of
office and chose the path of betraying the Estonian state by entering the service of the occupying power didn’t manage to avoid being arrested. Among the first to be arrested, in May of 1941, was Maksim Unt, the member of the Sixth
Session of the Riigikogu, who – as the Minister of the Interior of the Vares
Government – had played the leading role in the demolition of the Estonian State. Maksim Unt was shot by the NKVD on July 30, 1941. Two were executed during the German occupation (Neeme Ruus and Henn Treial), and the remainder were arrested as “bourgeois nationalists” in 1950. These were Aleksander Aben (RK VI), Hendrik Allik (RK II), Nigol Andresen (RK V), Augustin Hansen (RK I), Aleksander Jõeäär ( RK I-VI), and Hans Kruus (RK I).

By eliminating the political elite on a massive basis, the Soviet Union perpetrated a genocidal crime not restricted by a statute of limitations against the
Estonian people. The accusations made against persons who had been
detained consisted of concepts that could be interpreted as meaning nearly anything at all, such as “socially dangerous party”, “nationalist”, “kulak” and “has a hostile attitude towards Soviet power”. In some cases, the investigator would merely use the vague phrase: “The NKVD (or the KGB) has discovered that…”. The surveillance that the elected representatives of the Estonian people were kept under was so all-encompassing that the regime attempted to round up all former Members of Parliament, regardless of their age and degree of social activeness. One example would be that of 82 year old farm owner Jaan Saul of Kuigatsi Parish, who had been elected to the First Session of the Riigikogu in 1920, and was arrested on December 3, 1948. He perished on February 1, 1954, in the 88th year of his life, while living in forced exile outside of Estonia in Novosibirsk Oblast.

There are members of all nationalities among the Members of the Riigikogu who perished as a result of communist repressions. Bishop Joann (Nikolai Bulin), priest Valentin Smirnov, member of the Narva City Government Aleksander Ossipov, medical doctor Georgi Orlov and Vladimir Roslavlev are among the representatives of the Russian minority who are among the victims. MP’s
Nikolai Blees and Mathias Westerblom, who belonged to the German-Swedish fraction, both met their ends in the prison camps of Russia. Their social activity had been limited to providing support to the Swedish church and to efforts to help develop education provided in the Swedish language in Estonia. Neither was a member of a political party.

In respect to Members of the Riigikogu who were released from detention, the case of Rudolf Penno – arrested among the very first on July 22, 1940 at 3:20 a.m. – bears mentioning as a special case. Penno was the Vice-Chairman of the Parliament that had just been dissolved by the occupation powers.[21] He was accused of having a belligerent attitude towards the new regime, and of running for election against Rudolf Jurtom, a worker from Kunda, who had been nominated as a candidate by the communist Union of Working People in electoral district nr. 67 (which consisted of the parishes of Aaspere, Palmse, Vihula,
Vohnja and Undla). On July 10, 1940, i.e. five days after the elections had been announced and four days before the elections for the Riigivolikogu, the Electoral Committee for the districts of Virumaa annulled Rudolf Penno’s status as a candidate. Despite this, he was arrested. Even so, it wasn’t possible during the
investigation to make charges against him stick. A surprising decision was made to free Penno. The decision was confirmed on November 21, 1940 by the
People’s Commissar for Internal Affairs Boris Kumm. Had Rudolf Penno achieved his release by signing a paper consenting to cooperate with the KGB? This isn’t really significant, since his actions speak louder than words. During the “war summer” of 1941, Rudolf Penno took to the forests and became one of the leaders of the resistance in Virumaa County. Along with Lieutenant Alfons Rebane, a number of successful operations were carried out, since Rudolf Penno was an officer with experience from the War of Independence. In the fall of 1941, he went to the front as a member of the Eastern battalions, where he fought in the German Army for a year’s time. At the beginning of 1944, he fled with his family to Finland. At the same time, on February 16, 1944, his 18- year old son Ado Penno perished as a member of the so-called Finnish Boys – a unit of Estonians who fought in Finland – and was buried at the Cemetery of Heroes in Helsinki. Rudolf Penno was appointed Minister for Commerce and Industry in the Estonian Government constituted on September 18, 1944, which was headed by Otto Tief. Rudolf Penno died in exile in Stockholm on November 25, 1951.

County Governors (Maavanemad) and Mayors

After the Soviet occupation, the upper echelons of local governments, county governors and mayors were struck by a level of destruction that was just as total as the one that struck the presidents, ministers and the members of Parliament. Maksim Unt, who had been appointed Minister of the Interior under the orders of Zhdanov, began to carry out Moscow’s directives by firing the leaders of local governments. The first of them to be released from his position on June 28, 1940 was Mihkel Tang, the top official of Pechori County. The Governor of Tartu County Heinrich Lauri and the Governor of Pärnu County Jüri Marksoo were also ordered to step down on July 1, 1940. All the remaining county governors were fired in one fell swoop on July 8, 1940.[22]

Mayors and other heads of cities were fired in the same fashion at the end of July, after a decree ordaining a change in the respective law had been
announced in the name of the President of the Republic. In reality, the institution of the President of the Republic had been rendered legally moot and inactive on June 21, 1940, when President Konstantin Päts was completely isolated and became a hostage of the men of the so-called People’s Self-Defense.

Most of the senior officials who had lost their jobs at local governments were arrested on June 14, 1941, and the majority was sentenced to death behind their backs while in Siberian prison camps by extrajudicial so-called Special Commissions. Of the mayors, the following were executed: the Lord Mayor of Tallinn Aleksander Tõnisson, the Mayor of Tallinn Anton Uesson, the Mayor of Rakvere Heinrich Aviksoo, the Mayor of Narva Jaan Lust, the Mayor of
Haapsalu Hans Alver, the Mayor of Pärnu Priit Suve, the City Elder of Jõhvi Aleksander Käbin, the Mayor of Võru Priit Suit, the City Elder of Mustvee Mihkel Koppel, The City Elder of Petseri Nikolai Grünthal, the City Elder of Jõgeva
August Laur and  the City Elder of Tapa Jaan Maidre. The City Elder of Paldiski Johannes Odres died on December 17, 1941, before his death sentence could be carried out. Of the County Governors, Artur Kasterpalu of Läänemaa and Hendrik Otstavel of Saaremaa were put to death. Two county governors – Paul Männik of Harjumaa and Mihkel Hansen of Viljandimaa – managed to keep from being repressed by escaping to the West in 1944.

The physical annihilation of Estonia’s national leaders, Members of Parliament and the heads of local governments was a crime of genocide that statutes of limitation don’t apply to, exactly as set out by paragraphs 1, 2 and 3 of Article 2 of the Geneva Convention, pertaining to the partial or total destruction of
national groups.

These crimes were planned against the Estonian people by the highest leadership of the Soviet Union and were given final approval for use in the Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania), the Western Ukraine, Western Byelorussia and Moldavia on May 14, 1940. This document was entitled the Top Secret Joint Directive nr. 1299-526 cc of the Party Central Committee and the
Government of the Soviet Union. In order for the Directive to be carried out, lists were composed during the first year of Soviet occupation of people singled out for elimination. In total, there were 11 categories of such persons, with the categories having been given Russian-sounding names (words alien to the Estonian ear) such as gendarmes and owners of manors.

This classification shows clearly how this was a system employed by the
Bolsheviks of Russia for the purpose of the physical elimination of persons, to be used on the residents of territories that had just been violently taken over.

Inasfar as Estonia was concerned, as of May 26, 1941, the list contained the names of 14,471 “socially dangerous persons”, of whom 5,356 were to be sent to prison camps and another 9,115 were to be sent into forcible exile outside Estonia. A detailed plan in conformity with the General Directive for the deportation of nearly 100,000 persons to perform forced labor in Russia was approved by the People’s Commissar for Internal Affairs Lavrenti Beria on June 14, 1941. On that very day, mass deportations from the three Baltic States and Bessarabia began, to be followed a week later by mass deportations from the western
regions of the Ukraine and Byelorussia that had been taken by force from
Poland. 85,716 persons in total were deported from their homelands into external exile before the war began. 22,885 persons were sent to prison camps from the Baltic States and Moldavia[23]

Exact details about the repressed leaders of the state and local governments are included in the following appendixes

Appendix  1

Fate of the members of the government of the Republic of Estonia during the period of the Soviet occupation

Name Date of birth Time of arrest Fate
Akel, Fredrich 05.09.1871 17.09.1940 shot 03.07.1941 Tallinn.
Anderkopp, Ado 18.01.1894 22.07.1940 shot 30.06.1941 Tallinn.
Assor, Albert 08.01.1895 17.10.1940 died 16.09.1943 Krasnojarsk.
Baars, Kaarel 13.03.1875 23.01.1941 died 27.02.1942 Kirov.
Gustavson, Oskar 14.02.1889 01.1945 suicide in prison in Tallinn.
Hanko, August 18.01.1879 16.09.1945 died 25.05.1952 Kemerovo.
Hellat, Aleksander 20.08.1881 24.09.1940 died 28.11.1943 Kemerovo.
Hünerson, Jaan 04.02.1882 14.06.1941 shot 05.06.1942 Sverdlovsk.
Ipsberg, Karl 03.01.1870 14.06.1941 died 27.06.1943 Vjatka.
Jaakson, Aleksander 29.01.1892 18.10.1940 shot 02.10.1942 Kirov.
Johanson, Leopold 15.02.1888 14.06.1941 died 30.11.1942 Sosva.
Juhkam, Mihkel 04.08.1884 14.06.1941 died 28.01.1942 Sosva.
Jürima, August 23.08.1887 05.10.1940 died 15.08.1942 Vjatka.
Kaarlimäe, Juhan 21.11.1901 09.12.1944 freed 31.05.1954 Krasnojarsk.
Kaarna, Kristjan 20.10.1882 19.07.1940 died 01.01.1943 Karaganda.
Kalbus, Tõnis 05.12.1880 14.06.1941 disapp. w/o trace 20.03.1942 Sosva.
Kask, Oskar 07.01.1898 14.06.1941 shot 13.04.1942 Sverdlovsk.
Kerem, August 11 10. 1889 14 06 1941 shot 28.05.1942 Sverdlovsk.
Kogerman, Paul 05 12. 1891 14.06.1941 freed 05.03.1945 Tavda.
Kornel, Karl 25.08.1882 28.11.1945 died 19.09.1953 Irkutsk.
Kriisa, Jaan 31.12.1882 14.06.1941 died 08.08.1942 Sosva.
Kukke, Hugo 01.03.1898 14.06.1941 shot 03.08.1942 Sverdlovsk.
Kurvits, Hans 14.05.1887 14.06.1941 killed 27.12.1943 Vjatka.
Kurvits, Peeter 07.11.1891 14.06.1941 freed 31.07.1956 Kirov.
Köster, Oskar 20.12.1890 22.06.1940 died 02.08.1941 Tallinn
Larka, Andres 05.08.1879 23.07.1940 died 08.01.1943 Vjatka.
Lill, Paul 25.01.1882 14.06.1941 shot(?) 13.03.1942 Sverdlovsk.
Luts, Karl 15.11.1883 26.06.1941 died 15.01.1942 Perm.
Maide, Jaan 30.05.1896 23.10.1944 shot 10.08.1945 Moskva.
Mõttus, Alfred 12.09.1886 14.06.1941 died 04.10.1942 Sosva.
Oidermaa, Ants 02.12.1891 09.12.1940 02.07.1941 Tallinn

Appendix  1

Name Date of birth Time of arrest Fate
Oinas, Aleksander 28.12.1887 28.06.1941 died 03.03.1942 Solikamsk.
Palvadre, Anton 25.03.1886 14.06.1941 died 16.01.1942 Sosva.
Peet, August 25.04.1881 19.07.1940 missing
Piip, Ants 28.02.1884 30.06.1941 died 01.10.1942 Solikamsk.
Piiskar, Jaan 11.02.1883 14.06.1941 died 19.12.1941 Sosva.
Pikkov, Juhan 05.11.1883 11.10.1944 died 03.09.1947 Novosibirsk.
Pool, Theodor 08.12.1890 14.06.1941 shot 25.08.1942 Sverdlovsk.
Pung, Mihkel 19.10.1876 14.06.1941 died 11.11.1941 Sosva.
Pärtelpoeg, Hugo 07.02.1899 13.10.1944 died 29.04.1951 Ozerlag.
Rahamägi, Hugo-B. 02.06.1886 26.04.1941 shot 01.09.1941 Kirov
Rebane, Hans 24.12.1882 16.08.1941 flee 28.08.1941 Tallinn
Reek, Nikolai 01.02.1890 12.03.1941 shot 08.05.1942 Solikamsk.
Reichmann, Jaak 28.05.1874 24.01.1945 died 01.05.1945 Tallinn.
Reigo, Juhan 04.01.1906 22.11.1944 shot 04.10.1945 Moskva?
Roopere, Vladimir 17.01.1898 17.07.1940 died 06.11.1942 Inta.
Rostfeld, Bernhard 05.01.1884 01 Nov 1944 died 28.01.1948 Karaganda.
Rõuk, Theodor 14.12.1891 suicide 21.07.1940 Tallinn.
Sepp, Leo 07.11.1892 17.02.1941 died 13.12.1941 Solikamsk.
Soots, Jaan 12.03.1880 20.09.1940 died 06.02.1942 Solikamsk.
Sternbeck, Otto 24.12.1884 24.01.1941 shot 23.06.1941 Tallinn.
Sumberg, Voldemar 09.04.1893 22.10.1944 died 13.03.1965 Kemerovo
Susi, Arnold 04.11.1896 10.10.1944 freed 14.01.1958 Krasnojarsk.
Suursööt, Oskar 30.051893 24.07.1940 died …..  1950? Magadan.
Säkk, Eduard 01.02.1875 16.10.1940 died 01.10.1943 Tomsk.
Zimmermann, Johannes 10.05.1882 14.06.1941 shot 24.08.1942 Sverdlovsk.
Talts, Nikolai 26.11.1890 06.01.1945 died 26.01.1949 l
Teetsov, Anton 21.11.1889 14.06.1941 died 19.08.1941 in prison.
Tief, Otto 14.08.1885 10.10.1944 freed 19.09.1954, died 05.03.1976
Tupits, Artur 08.10.1892 16.11.1940 died 28.10.1941 Solikamsk.
Tõnisson, Aleksander 17.04.1875 19.12.1940 shot 30.06.1941 Tallinn.
Veerma, Richard 26.05.1901 30.07.1940 died 16.02.1942 Solikamsk.
Veiderma, Aleksander 07.04.1888 10.11.1944 freed 10.11.1954
Viiard, Gustav 15.08.1881 13.11.1950 freed 30.07.1954 Narva.
Viitak, Nikolai 14.11.1896 14.06.1941 shot 24.04.1942 Sverdlovsk.
Virma, Karl 17.03.1879 14.06.1941 died 20.11.1942 Vjatlag.
Weberman, Ernst 14.03.1885 21.12.1940 suicide 21.12.1940 Tallinn.
Övel, Richard 21.11.1894 09.02.1945 freed 16.10.1954 ??.

Appendix  2

Executed Members of Parliament

60 Members of Parliament were executed by the occupation forces. Of them, 55 were victims of communist terror and 5 were victims of nazi terror.

Name Date of birth Staff RK Time of arreast Date of death Place
Akel, Friedrich 05.09.1871 III, VI 17.10.1940 03.07.1941 Tallinn
Anderkopp, Ado 18.01.1894 AK, I–VI 22.07.1940 30.06.1941 Tallinn
Arro, Christjan 25.01.1885 I, II 14.06.1941 21.04.1942 Sverdlovsk
Frants (Randsalu), Karl 20.02.1895 V 14.06.1941 17.08.1942 Sverdlovsk
Haabpicht, Ernst 21.08.1898 VI 14.06.1941 04.05.1942 Sverdlovsk
Haagivang, Johan 20.01.1878 IV, VI 14.06.1941 30.10.1942 Sverdlovsk
Hansen, Augustin 23.04.1895 I 24.10.1950 12.03.1952 teadmata
Hellermaa, Mihkel 28.10.1891 III 14.06.1941 28.04.1942 Sverdlovsk
Hünerson, Jaan 04.02.1882 AK, I–V 14.06.1941 05.06.1942 Sverdlovsk
Jaakson, Aleksander 29.01.1892 I 18.10.1940 02.10.1942 Kirov
Jaakson, Jüri 16.01.1870 MN, AK, II, III, VI 14.06.1941 20.04.1942 Sverdlovsk
Jalakas, Karl-Arnold 10.02.1901 VI 14.06.1941 03.08.1942 Sverdlovsk
Kaal, Karl 25.05.1896 III 14.06.1941 24.04.1942 Sverdlovsk
Kaliste, Nigol 08.05.1884 VI 13.05.1941 07.05.1942 Solikamsk
Kalle, Jakob 09.04.1896 VI 14.06.1941 20.04.1942 Sverdlovsk
Karineel (Kornel), Alo 14.01.1892 III–VI 29.01.1941 02.04.1942 Gorki o.
Kask, Oskar 07.01.1898 III–VI 14.06.1941 13.04.1942 Sverdlovsk
Kasterpalu, Artur 14.07.1897 VI 14.06.1941 02.06.1942 Sverdlovsk
Kerem, August 11.10.1889 I–V 14.06.1941 28.05.1942 Sverdlovsk
Kokk, Jaan 20.12.1903 VI 14.06.1941 10.04.1942 Sverdlovsk
Konno, Evald 13.02.1897 VI 14.06.1941 20.04.1942 Sverdlovsk
Kukke, Hugo 01.03.1898 IV–VI 14.06.1941 03.08.1942 Sverdlovsk
Lambot, Julius 14.08.1866 II 11.08.1941 11.08.1941 Iru
Laur, August 09.10.1885 III–VI 14.06.1941 08.05.1942 Sverdlovsk
Lehtmets, Elmar 14.12.1901 VI 14.06.1941 17.07.1942 Sverdlovsk
Liivak, Karl 10.08.1874 I ? 07.07.1941 Vändra
Liivik, Jefim 20.03.1889 V 14.06.1941 04.03.1942 Sverdlovsk
Lõvi, Oskar 06.02.1903 VI 14.06.1941 02.09.1942 Sverdlovsk
Mutt, Viktor 25.05.1886 II 30.06.1941 30.04.1942 Kirov
Neggo, Viktor 24.12.1890 MN 21.12.1940 15.06.1942 Solikamsk

Appendix  2

Name Date of birth Staff RK Time of arreast Date of death Place
Ossipov, Aleksander 25.08.1890 V, VI 31.03.1941 21.12.1941 Kirov
Otstavel, Hendrik 02.10.1888 VI 17.04.1941 07.05.1942 Solikamsk
Pool, Theodor 08.12.1890 AK, I–IV 14.06.1941 25.08.1942 Sverdlovsk
Puhk, Joakim 25.05.1888 VI 31.08.1940 14.09.1942 Kirov
Põdra, Jaan 09.05.1894 VI 14.06.1941 04.02.1942 Kirov
Rahamägi, Hugo 02.06.1886 I, IV, VI 25.04.1941 01.09.1941 Kirov
Rei, Aleksander 24.01.1900 VI 29.05.1941 .05.1942? Solikamsk
Riives, Rudolf 18.04.1890 VI 08.10.1940 23.06.1941 Tallinn
Roomet, Karl 02.09.1902 VI 27.07.1941 27.07.1941 Vaimastvere
Roosiorg, Ado 03.10.1887 VI 28.07.1940 15.08.1942 Karaganda
Rukki, Josep(h) ……. 1880 V 14.06.1941 23.04.1942 Sverdlovsk
Rõigas, Märt 22.10.1908 VI 11.07.1941 12.07.1941 Vara
Saar, Aleksander 23.07.1883 I, IV, VI 27.02.1941 01.04.1942 Kirov
Smirnov, Valentin 22.04.1887 IV 05.12.1940 ……..1941
Suit, Frits 15.03.1881 I, II 14.06.1941 20.04.1942 Sverdlovsk
Tonkmann, Kustas 01.07.1882 II–V 14.06.1941 13.08.1942 Sverdlovsk
Toomel, Rudolf 14.06.1888 III 27.04.1941 17.11.1941 Kirov
Tsänk, Aleksis 12.08.1908 VI 14.06.1941 24.04.1942 Sverdlovsk
Tõnisson, Aleksander 17.04.1875 VI 19.10.1940 30.06.1941 Tallinn
Uesson, Anton 12.01.1879 I, VI 14.06.1941 13.04.1942 Sverdlovsk
Usai, August 04.12.1880 III, V 27.06.1941 08.07.1941 Tartu
Uuemaa, Juhan 24.07.1903 VI 06.11.1940 10.04.1942 Kirov
Viitak, Nikolai 14.11.1896 VI 14.06.1941 24.04.1942 Sverdlovsk
Vomm, August 13.05.1893 II, III Killed 1941 Vastsemõisa
Zimmermann, Johannes 10.05.1882 AK, I–V 14.06.1941 24.08.1942 Sverdlovsk

Appendix  3

County Governors

Name Date of birth County Time of arrest fate
Paul Männik 03.09.1901 Harjumaa escaped to West died in the USA 25.01.1987
Juhan Kaarlimäe 21.11.1901 Järvamaa arr 09.12.1944 freed 31.05.1954
Artur Kasterpalu 14.07.1897 Läänemaa arr 14.06.1941 executed 02.06.1942
Mihail Tang 30.01.1895 Petserimaa arr 28.10.1944 perished 08.07.1946
Jüri Marksoo 10.08.1876 Pärnumaa arr 14.06.1941 perished 03.10.1941
Hendrik Otstavel 02.10.1888 Saaremaa arr 11.04.1941 executed 07.05.1942
Heinrich Lauri 11.12.1890 Tartumaa arr 17.03.1941 perished 08.02.1942
Värdi, Velner 27.09.1907 Valgamaa arr 25.12.1944 freed 07.01.1955
Mihkel Hansen 29.12.1904 Viljandimaa escaped to West died in Canada 20.11.2004
Karl Pajos 02.07.1894 Virumaa arr 21.02.1945 perished 23.05.1953
August Kohver 01.01.1889 Võrumaa arr 02.011941 perished 19.08.1942

Appendix 4

Mayors and City Elders

Name Date of birth Time of arrest Fate date&place of death  
Hans Alver 12.04.1887 14.06.1941 Shot 24.04.1942 Sverdlovsk
Heinrich Aviksoo 18.12.1880 14.06.1941 Shot 10.04.1942 Sverdlovsk
Nikolai Grünthal 17.10.1897 14.06.1941 Shot 25.08.1942 Sverdlovsk
Mihkel Koppel 22.??.1891 14.06.1941 Shot 21.04.1942 Sverdlovsk
Aleksander Käbin 1898 14.06.1941 Shot 13.04.1942 Sverdlovsk
August Laur 09.10.1886 14.06.1941 Shot 08.09.1942 Sverdlovsk
Jaan Lust 10.11.1879 20.03.1941 Shot 09.06.1942 Solikamsk
Jaan Maidre 08.04.1903 14.06.1941 Shot 24.04.1942 Sverdlovsk
August Maramaa 06.04.1881 06.01.1941? Perished 26.12.1941 Kirov
Johannes Odres 25.11.1886 14.06.1941 Perished 17.11.1941 Sevurallag
Johannes Perens 26.09.1906 14.06.1941 Perished 25.12.1941 Solikamsk?
Priit Suit 15.03.1881 14.06.1941 Shot 20.04.1942 Sverdlovsk
Priit Suve 31.03.1901 14.06.1941 Shot 20.04.1942 Sverdlovsk
Aleksander Tõnisson 17.04.1875 19.12.1940 Shot 30.06.1941 Tallinn
Anton Uesson 12.01.1879 14.06.1941 Shot 13.04.1942 Sverdlovsk


Preparing for the 1949 Deportations, Operation Priboi in the Estonian S.S.R.

Aigi Rahi-Tamm, PhD, Tartu University

Andres Kahar, BA, Tartu University

The Operation known as the 1949 Deportations was the biggest violent undertaking carried out by the Soviet authorities, simultaneously, in all three Baltic States. It meant the shipping of about 91,000 people out of their homelands. Deportations have been fairly thoroughly dealt with in Estonian historiography. Lists of the deportees have been published;1 the timeline of events has been documented, as well as the individuals and institutions associated with carrying them out; and several autobiographies have been published.2 Nevertheless, we still have, in addition to the already existing materials, a need for studies that would focus more upon the people at the core of these events; that would more thoroughly analyse the effects and results of these events, as well as the Soviet period as a whole.

To date, the main stress of the research dealing with the March Deportations has been placed upon studying the activities of the Party and the Ministry of the Interior (MI). Much less research has been done about the role played by the State Security Agency, and its local sub-units, in the preparatory stage of the Operation, primarily due to the limited availability of sources. But it was, specifically, the Ministry of Security (MS) that bore the brunt of being basically responsible for making the necessary preparations for the Operation, from determining who was to be deported, to the details concerning the placing of the deportees on the trains. Therefore, the main stress of this article has been placed upon the preparatory work that needed to be done for this Operation. The article has been based, mostly, upon archival documents available in Estonia, as well as upon studies that have been published in Estonia.3 The work done by Latvian and Lithuanian colleagues has been of great help, as have been the materials in Russian archives. A list of recommended relevant literature can be found at the end of the article.

The decision to deport, and determining who was to be deported

The decision to carry out the March Deportations was made in Moscow, on 18 January 1949, at a session of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the CPSU. On 29 January, this was also followed by a corresponding Resolution, Nr. 390-139ss, by the Council of Ministers (CM) of the U.S.S.R. To use Soviet terminology, these deportations were aimed at kulaks, nationalists, and bandits, as well as their families.4

The determining of the deportees was begun in February. Years ago, in the course of carrying out a micro-analysis of one Estonian county, Tartumaa, I put together a questionnaire for the deportees, in which there was also a query concerning the reasons for having been deported.5 The responses to this question varied greatly. In the case of so-called kulaks, the situation was somewhat simpler. On 30 August 1947, the Council of Ministers of the Estonian S.S.R
issued Resolution Nr. 654, concerning the taxation of farm households, with which, higher tax rates were imposed upon kulak households. Also, the resolution listed the characteristics of a kulak household, such as, making use of hired help and agricultural machinery, etc. Every year, the executive committees of the various townships had to present to their county Executive Committee, for confirmation, lists of kulak households. Therefore, people knew, which families had been labelled as being kulaks, so that those who had been deported as kulaks, have brought this forth as the main reason for their deportation.

But, the concept of nationalist, was, and is, to this day, much less understood by the general public. Many have stated that they never understood why they had been rounded up and taken away. On their way, together, to Siberia, they tried to ponder over the reasons for being deported. It was possible to tie it in with the earlier arrests of members of their families, and, for the deportees, this truly seemed to be the most compelling argument. It was quite common to refer to the fact that the deportation had taken place as the result of a local individual informing upon them, which had been done out of hatred, for revenge, or out of greed. For instance, the story about how a “new land recipient”6 wanted to get his hands on the furnishings of a wealthier neighbouring farm, including, the farm’s fancy wall clock. The “recipient”, therefore, went and informed on the neighbour, as a result of which, the neighbours were deported, and the desired wall clock found a new owner. There are plenty of other stories similar to this one. There are recollections of the angry threats that had been directed at them about being sent to Siberia soon, which were made by Party Organisers and village Activists in the period immediately before the deportations. Stories concerning possible deportations continued to circulate among the people from the June 1941 Deportations on, and were being passed on almost throughout the Soviet period. At any rate, in the recorded autobiographies, there are many
examples of how, even in the 1960’s, some families had put suitcases, with the most basic necessities, aside, into a quiet corner, in case they would be, unexpectedly, taken away.

In the Bachelor of Arts thesis that Andres Kahar presented to the Tartu University Faculty of History in the spring of 2007, he concentrates, specifically, upon the determining of deportees by the MS. In the course of writing this paper, all the files (363 of them) of the deportees of one county – namely, Saaremaa – were thoroughly sifted. Through this process, the whole procedure for determining the deportee families became very clearly evident. Among other things, it was possible to confirm the fact that no one’s personal accusations were used as a basis for deportation. The determining of individuals and families was done only by the E.S.S.R’s Ministry of Security (MS), within its own system, and without encompassing local administrations, Party structures, Militiamen, nor

In January of 1949, it became clear what was the quota of families to be
deported that had been assigned to the Estonian S.S.R. 7,500 families were to be sent out, with the counties having to divide this number up amongst themselves. Thereafter, began a phase of rapid assembling of identification papers and the formulation of documents in the MS’s city and county offices. The documentation necessary for the sending out of each family was put together into an official file, within the Department overseeing the region that the family resided in.

Documents and facts concerning the deportees were obtained from various institutions, from the beginning of February until the middle of March. Documents concerning nationalists/bandits were obtained mostly from the MS’s “A” Department (Archives Department). These would, for instance, be copies of judgements made by Military Tribunals, arrest orders, decisions made by
Special Councils, as well as evidence of a compromising nature (for instance, proof of service in the German army, the Omakaitse7).8 Documents were also issued by Military Counter-Intelligence (copies of Tribunal judgements). Similar copies of documents (among other things, excerpts from interrogation transcripts) originated also from local County Security Departments. These also include excerpts from Agency materials, from reports concerning Chekist-military operations (mostly about bandits, including killed bandits and illegals) during the period covering January 1945 to January 1949. Memorandums, concerning family members who had escaped abroad (mostly statements by the Counter-Intelligence Departments of Border Guard Detachments), were the main evidence being used in the “families of émigré nationalists” category.

In the case of kulaks, the judicial basis for sending them out was the 14 March Estonian Council of Ministers Directive Nr. 014, along with its Addendum consisting of the lists of kulaks compiled by the County Executive Committees. But since this list was completed too late, not until the second week of March, then the County Security Departments had to, on their own, also determine, which ones were the kulak families, and obtain the appropriate documentation. This was done: by using the decisions made by the local Executive Committees, in 1947-1948, to determine, which families were kulaks; by using the documentation of Township Executive Committees, that Security Agents went to obtain from Township Executive Committees; by using Agency reports containing compromising facts (including memorandums concerning those who had fled abroad, but which, in the case of kulaks, was not the main reason for being
deported, but which was used as additional evidence); just as, by using copies of interrogation transcripts, arrest warrants, accusations etc. Thus, the Security Departments also determined, on their own, and in secret, the individuals who had been categorised as kulaks. And since it was an everyday occurrence that personnel from Security would visit the Executive Committees to examine the registries of households, and to converse with the local officials, then their activity, in this connection, did not attract any special attention. The Agents did not reveal the objective of their inquiries, and were, as a matter of fact, forbidden to do so.

The result was, that even before the Executive Committees’ lists of kulaks could be confirmed, the Security Departments had determined, on their own, those who had already been officially labelled as kulaks, and had established appropriate files dealing with them. The local administrations did not, on their own, draw up lists of deportees, nor were they informed about the deportations ahead of time. It would be essential to also stress that not all of those who had been labelled as kulaks were automatically included among the deportees. In
Tartumaa County, for instance, there were, on 14 March, 681 families, or 2,328 individuals, listed as kulaks. Of these, we find the names of 1,687 individuals among those assigned to be deported. Meaning, that 641 individuals had been left out. But, later, the list had been enlarged by the addition of 292 kulaks who had not been in the list originally. If someone, from amongst the families
labelled as kulaks, was, in the course of the intermediate days (during the time span of 14-24 March) no longer regarded as a kulak, then they were, also, no longer included among those individuals to be sent out, and their file was
destroyed. In the course of the deportation operation, there was a fair amount of confusion surrounding those families that were no longer regarded as being kulaks. Some of them were deported, despite everything. But some actually succeeded in disputing their expulsion, and managed to, thereby, avoid being sent to Siberia.

The activities of the Security Departments were primarily based upon the objective of being able to prepare the required quantity of files by the assigned deadline. It is obvious that it had not been possible, by this deadline, to identify all nationalists, nor to compile all the accusations that had been raised against them. The determining of those who were to be sent out was based upon the formal requirements that had been stipulated in the 29 January U.S.S.R. CM Resolution (the identifying of kulaks, the existence of a nationalist/bandit in the family). People’s actions, mentality, activities during the German occupation, relations with family members who had been repressed by the Soviet authorities, etc. were not of major importance. There was not even enough time to sort this all out. Just as no attempt was made, through the Agency, to identify and deport all those with an anti-Soviet mentality. Also, there was not enough time to compile files that would deal with all convicted nationalists and their families. Thus, there were, among the deportees, individuals with various degrees of pending charges, and even, Soviet Activists. One of many examples originates in Viljandimaa County, in Raudna Township, where a local Activist, Anna Valin, was recruited into the Operation. She was present at the training session that was held for the recruited Activists, while, at the same time, she, herself, had been listed as being one of those to be sent out. Meanwhile, some individuals who were known, among the people, to have been active during the German occupation, who had served in the German military or the Omakaitse, were not sent out. As a result, people were confused about the so-called level of gravity of the various offences, and the means with which these were to be punished. This, in turn, led to the episodic interpretation of the various situations. This
included the spreading of stories about the active participation of informers, which, to this day, are constantly and vehemently re-processed by the common gossip-mills.

The compiled files were sent, so as to be ratified by the minister of security, and in the case of nationalists/bandits, to also be approved by the prosecutor, from the counties on to the MS central structure in Tallinn. An MS working group wrote summaries of the files, which included data concerning the reason for being sent out (the name of the nationalist, bandit, or kulak, along with a summary of their anti-Soviet activities), as well as the names of the family members who had also been assigned to be sent out. If necessary, additional compromising evidence was obtained. After being signed and registered, the files were returned to the county of origin. This all was completed, approximately, by 18 March.

Drawing up the Operation’s action plan

Simultaneously with the compiling of the files, the county Security Departments were also dealing with formulating concrete action plans. Calculations had to be made concerning the personnel, transport facilities, communications equipment that would be needed for the Operation. This all depended on the number of families that had to be deported. Plans also had to made for how and where the operative groups were to be assembled, as well as how they would cope with possible attacks by the Forest Brethren 9, etc.

It is very obvious, that the human resources of the Ministry of Security would not have sufficed for carrying out such a massive operation. Reinforcements had to be obtained from the Ministry of the Interior, the military, the Border Guard.
Local Activists and officials would serve as auxiliaries. But this meant the
encompassing of the representatives of other institutions into the process. The decision to carry out the Deportations became known, right away, at the higher leadership level of the central Party and other power structures. At first, in
Estonia, only a few members of the Party Central Committee and the Council of Ministers, Ministry of Security personnel directly involved with making preparations for the Deportations, as well as the top leadership of the Ministry of the Interior were aware of such a decision having been made.

The U.S.S.R. interior minister’s Decree Nr. 00225 “pertaining to the sending out of kulaks and their families, the families of bandits and nationalists, from the territory of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia”, dated 12 March, specified the tasks of the Ministry of the Interior’s sub-structures in connection with the Deportation Operation, both in Moscow and on the spot, including the assignments of the four Siberian Oblast Departments that would be dealing with receiving the special shipments.10 As a result of, both, this Decree, as well as the E.S.S.R. Council of Ministers’ adoption of the 14 March Ruling11, the number of people who knew what was about to happen grew noticeably. At the same time, this did not mean that all of the personnel of an institution that had been encompassed were informed. The circle of the “informed” included only individuals directly involved with making preparations for the Operation. Even county Party and Council Activists were briefed, practically, just as the Operation was about to be launched. All the relevant documents that were distributed, before the Operation, stress its secret nature. All the activities connected with it had to be carried out on a strictly conspiratorial basis, and with seemingly innocent pretexts. The divulging, in even the slightest manner, of what was about to take place, was forbidden and punishable.

Preparations for the Operation were made under the guidance and control of the Ministry of Security. At the beginning of February, Major General Ivan
Jermolin was sent, as the special trustee of the Ministry of Security of the U.S.S.R., to the Estonian S.S.R. to coordinate the preparatory work.12 And, in turn, special trustees of the MS central apparatus were sent out to the Security Departments in the counties. During the second week of March, every Department, along with the special trustee assigned to it, had to draw up an action plan, which was sent on to Tallinn, to the minister of security, Boris Kumm. The MS’s general plan of action was based upon these action plans, and was
forwarded, on 17 March, to the general secretary of the Estonian Communist Party’s Central Committee, Nikolai Karotamm. A day later, in the counties, on 18 March, began the organising of the Operative Groups, which were to carry out the Operation.

The Operation’s Central Headquarters was located in Riga, where the U.S.S.R. minister of security’s first deputy, Lieutenant General Sergei Ogoltsov, was also posted, and, to whom, detailed information about the development of the Operation was dispatched. The carrying out of the Operation in Estonia was coordinated by E.S.S.R. Minister of Security Kumm, and the U.S.S.R. MS’s trustee in the Estonian S.S.R., Major General Jermolin. Under them was a 12-member Headquarters Operative Team consisting of the representatives of the various services, under the leadership of Lieutenant Colonel V. Vedejev. Presumably, Ministry of the Interior, Party, and the Council of Ministers representatives were also part of this Headquarters unit. Analogous headquarters were formed in the counties. Before the launching of the Operation, a U.S.S.R. deputy minister of security, Lieutenant General Afanassi Blinov, was also assigned to Tallinn, and another deputy minister of security, Lieutenant General Nikolai Gorlinski, was dispatched to Vilnius.

Differing statistical calculations exist about the forces that would, supposedly, be needed for carrying out the Operation. According to the preliminary (drawn up during the last days of February) plans formulated by Lieutenant General
P. Burmaki, who was in charge of preparing the MS’s Internal Forces for the Operation, it would have been necessary, for carrying out the task in Estonia, to employ 2,198 Security Agents, 5,953 military personnel, 3,665 Destruction
Battalion personnel13, 8,438 Party Activists. Thus, a total of 20,254 people. But it became, very quickly, apparent, that in Estonia, there were only 634 Security Agents, so that it was necessary to bring in an additional 1,341 Agents. Just as it was necessary to bring in about 4,350 military personnel. The latter arrived in Estonia at night, during the time span of 10-15 March, primarily, from the
Sortavala Training Centre (Karjala), the 13th Motorised Rifle Regiment (Leningrad), the 7th Division (Minsk), and the 1st Division (Moscow). This also included 1,400 transport personnel. All together, the local forces, which consisted of 12,472 people, were reinforced with 5,591 individuals.14

Along with the military personnel, the political apparatus of the various detachments was also dispatched to the special assignment. The political personnel dealt with the ideological indoctrination, as well as the ensuring of the discipline, of the soldiers, by monitoring the men’s conduct after they had been deployed to the Operative Groups. When assigning the soldiers to the Operative Groups, care was taken to make sure that, even in the case of the military personnel, there would be at least one Party Member, or an officer who was a Young Communist, in every Group. This Party-connected individual would be ideologically prepared for the Operation, thereby ensuring the Party’s control over the military personnel.15

In accordance with the 12 March U.S.S.R. interior minister’s Decree 00225, the Ministry of the Interior (MI) had to draw up its own action plan, and to coordinate it with the Ministry of Security (MS). The MI’s task was: to provide increased security for maintaining law and order, as well as for guarding the state’s borders; to obtain and equip the personnel for the special transport trains and the loading stations (operative medical personnel, military convoy guards). The MI was also obliged to provide the MS with any of its personnel that the MS might have need of. Altogether, there were plans for putting 1,275 men at the disposal of the MS. About half of them were made use of in Tallinn, while the rest of the men were deployed throughout the counties. To coordinate activities, a special Headquarters Unit was established in E.S.S.R. Interior Minister Aleksander
Resev’s office. The process for appointing special trustees within the MI’s structure was analogous to that of the MS. First of all, a special U.S.S.R. MS trustee was dispatched from Moscow16 to a republic MI, and from there, in turn, special trustees were assigned to Regional Departments. The special trustees arriving in the regions, on 18-22 March, informed the local Department heads about the deportations and the tasks associated with the Operation.

The demand, that the national borders be secured even more, was brought about by the fear that people would try to escape to Finland and Sweden. It was also thought that one possible scheme would be, that some of those individuals who had managed to avoid being captured, would try to start living with relatives who resided in the Border Zone, where they could make preparations for fleeing abroad. That is why the MI Department heads in the counties next to the border were instructed to tighten up local security arrangements; to keep a watchful eye on the registration of residents in the Zone; to intensify document checks in the immediate vicinity of the border and in the nearby area, even in the case of individuals who had a permit for being in the Border Zone.17

The Operative Forces go into action

By 21 March, the MI had formed, out of the previously existing human
resources, the additional personnel that had been sent, and the 392nd Convoy Regiment, 19 Convoy Detachments for sending off the special transport trains from Estonia. Each Detachment consisted of 76 officers, 456 escorting soldiers, 57 medics – a total of 589 people. In the course of the Operation, the number of people participating in the escorting of one of these special trains grew to 696.18 Every special train had to be convoyed by a unit consisting of at least 24 soldiers. Before that, detailed plans for putting together a special train had to be drawn up – how to organise the receiving of the contingent of deportees, how to guard them, how to send them off. Where necessary, a few interpreters were also deployed to the loading stations. They were recruited, mainly, from amongst the officers of the MI’s central apparatus.

Starting on the 21 March, the Forces were deployed to the various counties. The MS and MI combined detachments tried to find, near the train stations, suitable places for loading the deportees onto the trains. These loading sites had to be on dead end roads, and had to be isolated. Therefore, some of these sites were located kilometres away from the closest town. In the loading sites that it had been possible to set up in the relative vicinity of train stations, multiple problems arose.19

Although the preparations being made for the whole Operation were being systematically concealed, the concentrating of military personnel and motor transport vehicles, especially, attracted the attention of the local population, and indicated that something secret was being organised. For instance, in the Town of Pärnu, where a problem arose with the obtaining of motor transport vehicles, an ECP and CM regulation was issued concerning the mobilisation of all automobiles in Pärnu. Militia checkpoints were set up on all roads leading out of the city, which, on 24 March, stopped automobiles and directed them to proceed to assembly points. There, the vehicles were checked out by automobile inspectors, and the drivers’ documents were taken away. In this manner, a sizeable amount of automobiles were assembled in Pärnu. But activity of this nature gave rise to many rumours among the people. And the stories were varied – it was thought that war was about to break out, that a general mobilisation was about to be declared, that a major deportation was about to be carried out, that a large-scale evacuation was about to begin, etc.

The success of such a large-scale operation was dependent upon its unexpectedness, so as to prevent people from fleeing or panicking, as well as to avoid attacks by Forest Brethren, which were also feared. Military reinforcements were brought into areas where the Forest Brethren were especially active. Also, the existing network of Agents and informants was put on special alert, so that they would, in case such activities became apparent, give timely warning. Guards were posted at railroad tracks, bridges, and dams, and patrols were sent out (265 men). Out of fear of subversive and diversionary acts, special security measures were enacted on 24 March, at 23:00 hours.20 Many other important sites, like various official buildings, oil storage facilities, motor vehicle depots, grain elevators, factories, and financial institutions were placed under 24-hour guard. Also, the number of night patrols was increased.

During the week preceding the Operation, the Operative Groups were formed and were assigned leaders. In the assigning of Group leaders, preference was given to MS and MI personnel who were familiar with the particular area that the Group was to operate in. Before the launching of the Operation, the leaders had to familiarize themselves with the locations of the farms assigned to the Group, and with the various approaches to the farms. Later, when the mistakes that had been made in the course of the Operation were analysed, the lack of the Groups’ familiarity with their assigned area was the fault that was made note of the most often. For instance, in the case of Ambla Township, in Järvamaa County, it was discovered, on the morning of 25 March, that there were no passable roads leading to some of the farms. Therefore, the Operative Group in that area had to move about on horseback, or on foot. Thus, the deporters
arrived at their assigned farms hours later than the assignment called for. The families from Piirisaare (an island in Lake Peipsi), on the other hand, were never deported, since the Laaksaare-Piirisaare ice road, connecting the island with the mainland, was beginning to melt, and no one dared cross the ice with horses.

Operation Priboi was officially launched in the early morning hours of 25 March – in the capital cities at 04:00, in the counties at 06:00. Appropriate orders were issued 6 to 10 hours before the beginning of the Operation. The Operation had to be carried out within 3 days. The Operative Groups went into action. Every Group was given a number, and were assigned definite families that the Group had to send out. For every family there was 1 soldier, or Destruction Battalion combatant, 2-3 Activists. It was estimated that every Group would, on the average, have to deal with 3-4 families, but this number was constantly being

The Activists being made use of in every Group were recruited by Party Organisers, who received this assignment from the local ECP Committee’s secretary-general, who, in turn, had been instructed by the ECP CC and CM trustee. These trustees arrived in the counties by 22 March, at the latest. Reports concerning the recruiting of Activists, of how they were specifically chosen, or, on the other hand, how they happened to be pressed into serving in the Operation just by chance, are contradictory. The Valgamaa County Activists, for instance, were picked out by ECP County Committee Secretary-General Ovsjannikov, who found the suitable individuals from amongst CP members, membership candidates, Young Communists, and Party employees. From amongst them, Karula Township Party Executive Committee (EC) Deputy Chairman Kärk, Helme Township EC Chairman Saarmets, Valga Power Plant Party Member Grossman, Party County Committee Agitation and Propaganda Department Director Kint, Sangaste Township Party Committee Secretary Kollo, and EC Deputy Chairman Vainola were especially noteworthy for their energetic participation.21 At the same time, there are also plenty of examples, where people were recruited into the Operative Groups just by chance. For instance, people leaving a cinema, who, along with others, were taken to the offices of the Township Committee, and were not permitted to leave until the beginning of the
Operation. It was the job of the activists to lead the Groups to the assigned farms, and to make a list of all the deportees’ possessions.

The deportation process itself was supposed to proceed in the following manner: “The Operative Groups, having been assigned their number of special contingent households, are taken, by car, to their district of activity, after which, stealthily, and on foot, they approach the buildings of their objectives, and blockade them simultaneously, with 3 individuals assigned to a farm. Having completed the blockading of the objectives, the Group leader, at a predetermined time, enters the house accompanied by soldiers, checks the identity of the family members, conducts a search of the farm, thereafter informs the head of the family of the government’s decision to send them out, gives them time to put their things together, and fills out the appropriate documents. At the same time, the Group leader arranges for the transporting of the special contingent to the assembling point, or directly to the loading station. The Operative Group is responsible for the organised guarding of the objectives while they are being convoyed.”

In the case of an armed attack, the Group leader was to order the convoyees to “lie down”, and, at the same time, to implement measures for eliminating the attackers, signalling, if necessary, with a red signal rocket, to neighbouring
Operative Groups to come to their aid. After completing their assignment, the Group leaders and soldiers were to remain, in accordance with the senior Security Agent’s instructions, and assist the other Operative Groups. They could also be deployed to loading stations.

Some results of the Operation

But the carrying out of the Operation did not take place as smoothly as it had been planned. Despite all the efforts, very many people were not sent out. Throughout the whole Operation, attempts were made to catch those who had hidden themselves – ambushes were set up at the farms and apartments of the potential deportees, attempts were made to locate escapees through their relatives, family members were interrogated on the spot, and the Agency carried out searches for them. In the Town of Pärnu, for instance, the MS issued an Order to search the homes of all known relatives and friends of fugitives, using information obtained from the official address bureau for this purpose. On the third day of the Operation, during the night of 27-28 March, an extensive dragnet was conducted in Pärnu (at the orders of E.S.S.R. Interior Minister Resev’s deputy, Pastelnyak). It was claimed that it was necessary to carry out a thorough check of all internal passports. For this purpose, the security personnel in Pärnu were reinforced with 50 MI employees and 45 Activists, who were organised into 7 groups. In the course of checking identification papers, 42 fugitives were caught. Analogous dragnets, under the guise of checking identity papers, for people who had tried to hide themselves, were also carried out in other towns, for instance, in Võru.

In some cases, Operative Groups drove to locations in neighbouring counties, from which appropriate information had been sent, to catch fugitives. Minors that had been left home alone, were brought, by the Operative Groups, to the assembly points in the hope that their parents would then, on their own, come to the assembly point or train station. This tactic gave results, since parents, usually, “came out” voluntarily. According to regulations, minors, without grownups, could not be taken away. There are even cases, where children were released at the last minute.

At the end of the Operation, it was reported to Moscow that 20,702 people had been deported from Estonia, which was, at any rate, less than planned. There were no follow-up mass deportations in Estonia. As opposed to Lithuania, where, on 10-20 April, an extensive dragnet was conducted to catch fugitives from the March Deportations. The result was, that 2 additional trainloads of people, 2,927 individuals, were taken away. The deputy interior minister of the USSR, V. Rjasnoi, called this an especially dangerous contingent, and they were sent to Bodaibo Trest, to the Lenzoloto gold mine.22

After the Deportations, a question remained “hanging in the air” in Estonia also – what to do with the people who had been able to avoid being sent out? E.S.S.R. Interior Minister Resev proposed that the MI could participate in the searching for and arresting of these individuals. Likewise, Resev recommended that these people be apprehended by means of a stricter interior passport
regime. He also asked that instructions be issued concerning how individuals who had been apprehended should be sent out of Estonia.

During the summer, the search for fugitives from the Deportations became more extensive. On 12 July 1949, the E.S.S.R. interior minister issued Directive
Nr. 21ss, which marked the launching of an anti-crime campaign, as well as the more intensive indicting of: those who had tried to avoid special resettlement, and illegal individuals, as well as miscellaneous criminal elements. In the follow-up orders issued by the security and interior ministers, according to which, the extensive apprehension of those who had managed to escape the Deportations was becoming, ever more, the responsibility of the Ministry of the Interior, it was proposed to the Security Departments that they give comprehensive assistance to MI operatives in apprehending and indicting illegal individuals (kulaks, those who aided the bandits, nationalists, and the family members of bandits) who had managed to avoid special resettlement and formed a base for banditry.23 But the analysis of conditions after the Deportations is the subject of another study.


Dokumente 1949. aasta märtsiküüditamisest. (Documents dealing with the March 1949 deportation). Compiled by V. Ohmann, T. Tannberg. – Akadeemia 1999, nr 3-12.

Feest, David. Terror und Gewalt auf dem estnischen Dorf. – Osteuropa. 2000, 6. Pp. 656-671.

Kahar, Andres. Eesti NSV Riikliku Julgeoleku Ministeeriumi tegevus 1949. a. märtsiküüditamise ettevalmistamisel Saaremaa osakonna näitel. (Juhendaja
A. Rahi-Tamm). Bakalaurusetöö. Tartu Ülikool. 2007. Käsikiri Ajaloo ja
arheoloogia instituudis.

Kõll, Anu-Mai. Tender Wolves. Identification and Persecution of Kulaks in
Viljandimaa 1940-1949. – The Sovietization of the Baltic States, 1940-1956. Ed. by Olaf Mertelsmann. Tartu: Kleio, 2003. Pp. 127-150.

Lietuvos kovų ir kančių istorija. I. Lietuvos gyventojų tremimai 1941, 1945-1952 m. Lietuvos istorijas institutas. (Ed. By G. Rudis). Vilnius, 1994.

Mälksoo, Lauri. Soviet genocide? Communist Mass Deportations in the Baltic Sates and International Law. – Leiden Journal of International Law. 2001, 14. Pp. 757-787.

Ohmann, Valdur. Eesti NSV Siseministeeriumi institutsionaalne areng ja arhivaalid (1940-1954). (The institutional development and records of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Estonian S.S.R. (1940-1954). Master’s thesis.
(Adviser: T. Tannberg.) Tartu University, 2000. Käsikiri Tartu Ülikooli raamatukogus.

Rahi, Aigi. On the Current State of Research into Repression in Estonia. – Yearbook of the Occupation Museum of Latvia 2003. Power Unleashed. Riga, 2003. Pp. 13-40.

Rahi-Tamm, Aigi. Deportations in Estonia, 1941-1951. – Soviet Deportations in Estonia: Impact and Legacy. Articles and Life Histories. Tartu University Press, 2007. Pp. 9-52.

Riekstiŋš, Jānis. 1949. gada 25. marta deportacija Latvija. – The Soviet Occupation Regime in the Baltic States 1944-1959; Policies and their Consequences. Materials of Conference. Riga, 2003. Pp. 162-169.

Sabbo, Hilda. Võimatu vaikida. (Impossible to remain Silent). Books 1-7. Tallinn. 1996-2005.

Strods, Heinrihs. PSRS Valsts Drošības ministrijas pilnīgi stepena Baltijas
valstu iedzīvotaju izsuūtīšanas operacija ‘Krasta banga’ (‘Priboj’) (1949. gada 25. februaris – 23. augusts). – Latvijas Vēsture. 1998, 2(30). Pp. 39-47.

Strods, Heinrihs; Kott, Matthew. The File on Operation ‘Priboi’:
A re-assessment. – Journal of Baltic Studies. 2002, 1(33). Pp. 1-36.

Partisan[24] Warfare in Tartu in 1941

Herbert Lindmäe

LLD, Prof. emer. Tartu University

It was the summer of 1941, and the Russians were engaged in the War, in their Great Patriotic War.

The Red Army’s rear, in Estonia, was as unsettled as a batch of brewing beer. In several townships in the county of Tartumaa, the Brethren of the Forest2
began to actively break the terror-based grip that the foreign occupier had
established over the nation. The nationalist resistance fighters were taking over local administrative and community centres, as well as Red Army checkpoints. On July 2, they took over the Ahja Administrative Centre; on July 3, the Alatskivi Administrative Centre and the town of Kallaste; as well as the administrative centres of Kuremaa, Laiuse, Pala, Puhja, and Rannu. On July 4, the Brethren of the Forest took over the administrative centres of Jõgeva, Meeksi, Voore, and Võnnu, as well as held a pitched battle for Torma Township. The Brethren of the Forest attacked Red Army checkpoints in the village of Võsivere in Puhja
Township, in the village of Lullikatku in Torma Township, and in the village of Rohkuse in Voore Township, as well as in the townships of Meeksi and Sadala. The foreign power was toppled in the name of the Republic of Estonia. Estonia’s blue, black, and white flag was raised as a symbol of freedom, and the Estonian national anthem was sung. Farmhouses, as well as buildings in the towns and villages, were decorated with the national colours. In some locations, local
administrations began to function almost immediately. All this confirmed that the people were fighting for an independent Estonia.

Unfortunately, these liberated administrative centres soon had to be abandoned due to the onslaught of superior Soviet forces, and the Brethren of the Forest had to retreat into the nearby woods. In the countryside, the first battles were fought against the Destruction Battalions3, the Militia4, and the Red Army.

Some claim that the Estonian Summer War of 1941 was actually a civil war, a case of brutal and bloody fratricide. But it must be realized, that in the case of Soviet occupied Estonia, we are not dealing with what could be defined as a civil war – such a conflict can take place only in a country that is not occupied by a foreign power. There were those who remained true to the Republic of
Estonia, and carried on the fight for freedom against the occupiers. But there were also those who fought, on the side of the vanquishers, against the
Estonian people, helping, as the foreign power’s collaborators, to implement the Red Terror.

At that time, it was believed that the arrival of the Germans would mean the restoration of the Republic of Estonia. And there were even grounds for this belief: after all, in 1939, Estonia and Germany had concluded a non-aggression pact, that had been ratified by the Estonian president on 22 June 1939. The treaty stipulated that Estonia and Germany would not, under any conditions, go to war, or utilize any form of violence, against each other. And if a third nation were to launch such actions against one of the treaty’s two parties, then the treaty’s other party would not, in any way, support these actions. On the
German side, this promise had been ratified by the state chancellor, as well as by Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop. Since a third nation, the USSR, had acted violently, had performed an act of aggression, and had occupied the Republic of Estonia with its armed might, then Germany, in accordance with the treaty, could not recognize this as legitimate behaviour. But no one realized that only a couple of months after the signing of this treaty, the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact had been concluded, with which Germany discarded the treaty it had signed with the Republic of Estonia, and, with a secret protocol of the Pact, gave the USSR free rein to occupy Estonia.

In the city of Tartu, the resistance movement was also intensifying. Thus,
already in March of 1941, the Estonian Health Care Museum (Eesti Tervishoiu Muuseum – ETM) Resistance Group was formed – EÜS5 members such as law student Karl Aun, Turvo Turviste, Harald Tammur, Rudolf Saago, ETM
director and infantry ensign Dr. Aleksander Koskel, Lembit Kriisa, infantry ensign August Ilves, Heiki Leesment (a member of Vironia6), as well as others. They would get together in the ETM (32 Kindral Põdra St.). Thus, their name, the ETM Group. Since quite a few people visited the Museum, the meetings being held there did not attract any attention. Diagonally across the street was the local NKVD7 Building. The masters of this house of horrors had no idea that their enemy was operating right at their doorstep. During the Summer War of 1941, the ETM Group was the biggest, and most active, of the various
Estonian anti-Soviet resistance groups. It became the first central coordinating body of the Tartu resistance movement, including the partisan warfare being conducted against the Soviets.

During the first days of the war between Germany and the USSR, plans were hatched for liberating Tartu. It was hoped that the Estonian military units stationed in Tartu would play a leading role. But, at the end of June, these units were forcibly sent off to Russia. This shattered the preliminary plans. Weapons were obtained, but there were pathetically few of them – a few handguns and rifles. Ammunition was in very short supply.

By July 1, about 150 men were participating in the Tartu resistance movement. On July 4, the members of the EMT Group gathered in the rooms of the Tartu University (TU) faculty of medicine. They discussed how to prevent the Reds from carrying out any destruction of property before leaving the city, and how to take over authority from the occupiers before the arrival of the Germans. It was found that, first of all, the City Hall, the Militia Headquarters, the NKVD Headquarters, the Red Army Headquarters, the Ropka Armoury, as well as the telephone and telegraph network, the railroad station, and the power station should be captured. They believed that they had enough men and weapons to do all this. They also made a Tartu Partisans’ seal. To do this, they used the seal of the TU faculty of medicine, from which the peripheral text was removed, so that the Coat of Arms of the Republic of Estonia in the centre remained.

During the first days of July, infantry ensign Olev Reintalu (EÜS) came to Tartu. On the day that the uprising began, he became the overall leader of the Partisans and the city’s first commandant. He held consultations with Karl Aun and Harald Tammur.

The Soviets started forcing the local civilian population to participate in the construction of field fortifications on the outskirts of the city.

On July 8, the authorities carried out a citywide dragnet. Inebriated Latvian
Militiamen started looting shops. People started leaving the fortification sites and sneaking back into town. In the afternoon, the Bolsheviks put the automatic switchboard in the Tartu Telephone Network building (29 Lai St.) on fire. Risking their lives, postal workers succeeded in extinguishing the flames. On the same day, the ETM Resistance Group held a meeting in the Health Care Museum, in which infantry ensign Olev Reintalu also participated.

On Wednesday, July 9, at 6:37 AM, the Stone Bridge (Kivisild), that crossed the Emajõgi River, was blown up. This indicated to the resistance movement that the time was ripe for action. The newspaper Tartu Kommunist (Tartu Communist) no longer appeared that day.

At 12 noon, the phones went dead; at about 2 PM, the waterworks stopped functioning; and the power was shut off.

Between 12 noon and 1 PM, the Bolsheviks blew up the former 2nd Division’s artillery unit’s weapons and ammunition stores in Ropka Estate. The primary detonation was followed by a series of ammunition explosions. At midday, 12:30 PM, the railroad bridge at Riia St., was blown up. The Bolsheviks abandoned the Southern part of Tartu. They also moved out of the NKVD Headquarters. Only in the Kaitseliit8 Building there were still some Destruction Battalion personnel, and Militia leader Arved Kalvo’s Militiamen were still in possession of the Militia Headquarters. And they also withdrew to the Ülejõe (Across the River) Quarter when the air raid sirens started wailing. But in the evening, some Militia and Destruction Battalion patrols, as well as some Red Army patrol vehicles, returned from there. Traffic had died down on the streets, and the shops were closed. The guards at the Prison had disappeared.

The first shot in the Tartu Partisan War was fired on Wednesday, July 9, at 3 PM, in the centre of the city, on the corner of Rüütli and Suurturu St. Lieutenant Arond Randes and H. Tammin shot a Militiaman in the head, who had just arrived in town from the city of Võru on a motorcycle, and was changing a tire. The Partisans took the Militiaman’s 9mm sub-machinegun, and disappeared around the corner, towards Toomemäe Park. H. Tammin’s combat group of about 30 men was lying in wait right in the centre of town – behind City Hall, in the Café Central (34 Ülikooli St.). The café was closed to the public and appropriately barricaded. The County Administrative Building (10 Võidu St.) was the redoubt of A. Randes’s Partisans, most of whom were his workers from the Industrial Combine.

On Kesk St., two Partisan groups had been formed. One of them, consisting mostly of secondary school students, had gathered in their schoolmate Otniel Jürisaar’s apartment. The other one, consisting of about 30 Partisans, was composed of Sergeant Major Aleksander Rannik’s men from the Estonian Army’s legendary Kuperjanov’s Partisan Battalion; some men, women, and youths from the Karlova Quarter; as well as various other individuals. The Ropka arms and ammunition stores were in the immediate vicinity of the
Estonian Meat Export’s Tartu Export Abattoir (43 Teguri St.) at the Ropka
Estate, as a result of which, the blowing up of the military stores had peppered the area around the slaughterhouse with shrapnel. Workers from the slaughterhouse were able to retrieve some rifles and ammunition from the Estate and to secrete them in the Abattoir. At first, the men acted on their own – they just didn’t have a leader. But on July 9, at about noon, a 25-30 man armed combat group was formed in the Tartu Export Abattoir under the command of Sergeant Major Eduard Lukas. 2-3 man sentry posts were set up for the protection of the slaughterhouse.

At about 5 PM, the Jänes Railroad Bridge was blown up. That night, a meeting was held in the ETM. It was decided that the activities of the individual combat groups should be coordinated, and that their general leadership should be concentrated within the ETM Group. The Tartu Partisans’ coordinated activities would begin with the blowing up of the Freedom Bridge (Vabadussild), which would prevent the Bolsheviks from returning back to Tartu’s Southern Quarter. A three member Leadership Committee was formed – with the Partisans being placed under the general command of Infantry Ensign Olev Reintalu. His assistants were to be Dr. Aleksander Koskel and Karl Aun. Identification badges, in the form of blue, black, and white armbands, were made for the Partisans. The password was to be the phrase “kolm värvi” (three colours).

At 6 PM, the city’s fire chief, Tõnis Tenno, was ordered to send all his fire trucks and fire fighting equipment across the river to Raadi Park. But these
instructions were not followed. The fire fighting equipment was, instead, held in reserve, and as need arose, was dispatched to the Ropka Woods, Karlova Park, and the Tamme District. That evening, at Infantry Ensign Olev Reintalu’s suggestion, firemen patrolled the city.

During the night, contact was established between the Coordinating Centre and the other combat groups. By that time, 10 Partisan groups, a total of about 300 men, were operating in Tartu on a coordinated basis.

Some of the Partisans’ Coordinating Centre’s personnel remained in the
Museum for the whole night. The re-assembly time was set for July 10 at 7:30 AM.

During the night, patrolling firemen, wearing the national colours, could be seen on Riia, Kalevi, and Pargi St.

On Thursday, July 10, at about 1 AM, a skirmish broke out between Red Army soldiers and unidentified Partisans at Ropka Park. Two trucks full of Red Army personnel had driven through the area, and Partisans had opened fire upon them.

It was an intensely sunny morning. The shops were all closed. Very few people could be seen on the streets. At about 9 AM, the Militia dispersed, at the corner of Riia and Kalevi St., a crowd that had gathered at the Girls’ Secondary School to demand that radios, which the authorities had confiscated at an earlier date, be returned.

It was known, that in the morning, a retreating Red Army unit of about 300 men had been in the vicinity of the Maarjamõisa Clinics. In the afternoon, it withdrew across Kärevere Bridge.

At about 9 AM, Red Army soldiers, Militiamen, and Destruction Battalion personnel came across Freedom Bridge into Tartu’s Southern Quarter. Shooting could be heard from the direction of Botaanika St. Two-man Militia patrols were on the streets with rifles at the ready. In the centre of town, pedestrians’ documents were being checked. A new Red Army unit was coming into the city along Riia Highway. Trucks full of Bolsheviks pulled up in front of the Kaitseliit and NKVD buildings. A Destruction Battalion fighter, who had been detained by the Partisans, was found in the basement of the NKVD Headquarters. It became apparent that he had been interrogated in the ETM. At 12 noon, the Museum was searched. But the raid was fruitless, since the Partisans had managed to evacuate the building earlier.

Around midday, at about 1 PM, a small group of Partisans – Lieutenant Arond Randes; TU medical student Harald Tuul; and TU law student, Infantry Ensign Evald Treude, went out on patrol in a sedan. They had tied a piece of white cloth around the car’s bumper. At Barclay Square, they confronted a group of Militiamen, who fired upon the Partisans. Randes and Tuul were wounded.

At about 2 PM, a battle broke out in the vicinity of Soinaste St. Infantry Ensign Kaljuvee’s Soinaste combat group ran into a Red patrol at Pauluse Cemetery. The Red Army soldiers fled, abandoning their truck, with its bullet-riddled radiator, to the Partisans. At about 3 PM, shooting could be heard from the Kesk St. area. Then, at Pauluse Cemetery, on Võru Highway, Corporal E. Tauts’s eight-man squad exchanged gunfire with a truck full of Red Army soldiers they confronted. The Reds dispersed, abandoning their truck.

Shooting in the city, on this side of the Emajõgi River, was becoming more widespread. A Red Army company, with weapons at the ready, rushed towards the city along Kuperjanovi St.

About 30 armed men had gathered in the yard of the warehouse of the branch office of the firm J. Puhk ja Pojad9. They were led by the warehouse manager, Sergeant Major Karl Ratnik. At about 5 PM, Partisans took over the Kaitseliit Building. The blue, black, and white flag was raised on the flagstaff of the
rooftop tower.

The crackling of gunfire brought out men from the Karlova Quarter, just as from the Võru and Kesk St. area, as well as from elsewhere. A crowd gathered on Riia Hill. Buildings sheltered this from the view of the Reds located across the river. Several hundred came, most of them young – university students and schoolboys. As the national flag was raised, the people that had gathered on Riia Hill bared their heads, and these men sang the National Anthem with
unprecedented gusto. This was practically shouted, the men’s eyes swelling with tears. The Fatherland was overwhelming their senses and hearts. There was no wind that day, so the singing could be heard all over the city. No more Reds could be seen, although, just a little earlier, some of them had been spotted, here and there, moving about on the streets. The tricolour was also hoisted atop the City Hall Tower. The raising of the flag was accompanied by hurrahs from below. Then the singing of the National Anthem could be heard from the Tähtvere Quarter, and then from the Karlova area. On Salme St., the National Anthem was being played on a trumpet. From the Pauluse Cemetery area, it was possible to hear the National Anthem being played on some kind of horn.

At about the same time, at approximately 4:30 PM, a German mechanized
reconnaissance patrol arrived in Tartu from the City of Võru. Simultaneously, two Militia platoons had been deployed from the Militia precinct house on Kompanii St. They had been ordered to move, along different routes, to the military stores that had been blown up, the previous day, in Ropka. Reports had reached the Militia that undamaged weapons, along with ammunition, were
being carried off by potential Partisans. The first Militia platoon moved along Võru St. As it passed the corner of Tehase St., the Militiamen noticed the
armoured vehicle driving along Võru St., past Pauluse Cemetary, towards the city. At first, it was presumed that this was a Red Army combat vehicle. A red flag, wrapped around a flagstaff, appeared out of the top hatch of the armoured car. But when the flag was unfurled, a black swastika on a white circle became evident. The Militiamen fled along Teguri St. towards the river. The Germans followed them, shooting at them at close range. After that, the armoured vehicle turned around and stopped at the corner of Võru and Teguri St. A German officer leaned out of the armoured car’s hatch and shouted in Estonian: “Hey, you Estonian guys! What’re you scared of? Step closer, and let’s start fighting
together against the common enemy!” Some of the Militiamen approached the armoured car. The German soldier who had called out to the Militiamen was the baron of Võrumaa County’s Rogosi Estate, Kurt von Glasenap, who had heeded Hitler’s call and had left Estonia for Germany. Some of the Militiamen fled to the Töölismaja (Workers’ House) where there were still some Destruction Battalion personnel. From there, some of them fled across the Freedom Bridge. The others fled through yards and gardens towards the Emajõe River. Here and there, they were fired upon by Partisans. Of the first Militia platoon, 13 Militiamen did not return. A third Militia platoon, when returning from the railroad station, was fired upon, in the centre of town, by Partisans concealed in surrounding shops, the Communal Bank, and various other buildings. The Militiamen fled to Lai St., and from there, across the barricaded Freedom Bridge.

At the same time, a firefight also broke out between Partisans and fleeing
Militiamen at the Ropka end of Kesk St., at Piiskop Square. Two German
armoured reconnaissance vehicles became involved in the shootout. Five
Militiamen were captured. By way of Sõbra St., the German armoured cars turned onto Võru St., herding, ahead of them, the captured Militiamen at a run. The Militiamen were beltless, as well as bareheaded. On Võru St., the Germans were met by Partisans, Sergeant Aleksander Rannik and Staff Sergenat Artur-Johannes Piir. At about 5 PM, the first Germans appeared in front of the
Kaitseliit Building, in former Postijaama Sq., at the corner of Lille St. – four dusty soldiers on two motorcycles. At the same time, right beside the Kaitseliit Building, by the Economic Cooperative Store, stood two sleek armoured cars. The German soldiers were, literally, being smothered in flowers.

At about this moment, shots could be heard from the Emajõe River end of Lille and Riia St. Men rushed off to investigate. After a brief shootout with Master Sergeant Aleksander Rannik’s men, the Bolsheviks withdrew.

Kurt von Glasenap brought a German swastika flag from his armoured car, which, although it was somewhat smaller than the Estonian flag already flying on the rooftop tower, was also hoisted.

The German forces’, that were advancing from Northern Latvia towards Pskov, flank reconnaissance unit, which had been deployed to the City of Võru, but had also veered, at its own initiative, off towards Tartu, was commanded by a lieutenant whose name is not known. SS-Sonderführer Kurt von Glasenap has, mistakenly, been regarded as the reconnaissance unit’s commander, but, actually, he was along on this trek just as an interpreter. At any rate, the fact is, that when the Germans, on the evening of July 10, reached Võru St., and from there, Riia Hill, the Partisan Battles in Tartu had already started.

Now, shooting could be heard from the Ropka Quarter, then from the direction of the Tartu Export Abattoir. And that is where the German armoured cars headed. At about 5 PM, Infantry Ensign Jaan Sepa formed, from the approximately 100 men that had gathered at Ropka, a three-platoon company. Many of the men had no weapons. So these men were deployed as a widely spaced series of sentry posts along Võru St.

A large group of men, with white armbands on their sleeves, had gathered on Võru St., on the stretch between the Abattoir’s main gate and Kastani St. Master Sergeant Aleksander Rannik lined the 42 men up in a column, four abreast, and double marched them towards Riia Hill. The column started to sing
Eestimaa mu isamaa10. But after the first verse, the singing stopped – the men were being gagged by their own overwhelming emotions. At the head of the column was the blue, black, and white flag, which had been handed to the
Partisans at the corner of Vaba St. People were gathering at the windows and doorways. The men were being bombarded with flowers.

Houses were being draped, one after the other, in the national colours. The men congregating at Riia Hill were given blue, black, and white armbands cut from a roll of wide ribbon in the EÜS colours.

At 6:45 PM, Infantry Ensign Olev Reintalu assumed command of the Partisans in the yard of the branch office of J. Puhk ja Pojad. His command post was set up in a small room facing the courtyard in the two-storey building in the yard of the branch office of J. Puhk ja Pojad on Riia St., opposite the Kaitseliit Building. By nightfall, there were two captured trucks in the office yard. Ammunition was also being brought there. Word about the Partisans’ Coordinating Centre on Riia Hill also reached this group of Partisans, so that they established contact with the larger Partisans’ Headquarters. Thus, the general leadership of the individually operating Partisan groups was handed over to the recently created Headquarters.

There was constant shooting in the city.

According to the Partisans’ commander, Infantry Ensign Olev Reintalu, the situation became especially precarious during the last hours of that day. The Destruction Battalion and Militia personnel remaining in the Southern District, the so-called “poppers” (“plõksutajad” – those who pop their guns, Translator), were sniping from well-concealed hiding places. Both, Partisans with white armbands, as well as anyone else who dared to venture out onto the street, were being shot at. Here and there, Partisans were conducting raids. But the results were meagre – the “poppers” were able to blend in with the searchers.

Armed reinforcements from the countryside were eagerly being waited for. At about 11 o’clock at night, Vorbus’s men arrived in the city by truck. They were immediately sent to the Emajõgi River. After that, trucks started arriving from many different directions: first there were the men from Tähtvere Township, then the Otepää-Palupere-Nõo Brethren of the Forest under Captain Karl
leadership, then the Partisans from Valga with Warrant Officer Heinrich Holmig at their head. They took over the stretch of the Emajõe bank in the Oa and Herne St. area.

On Friday, July 11, at midnight, the men of Elva, Nõo, Konguta, Ropka, Rõngu, Rannu, and Puhja left the City of Elva, on four trucks, for Tartu. At the instructions of Captain Karl Nortmaa, all of the area’s Partisan units had congregated in Elva. On the way, in Ropka, Major Friedrich Kurg also joined them. Just before arriving in Tartu, over a couple of hundred Partisans lined up on the highway, by the burnt down Nõo Township Administrative Centre. They were being led by Major F. Kurg, Captain Karl Nortmaa, Captain Julius Edor,
Captain Riho Piirsalu, Captain Vello Rikand, Lieutenant Rudolf Mikumägi, Lieutenant Jaan Vinni, and Lieutenant Rätsep. At about 1 AM, they started to move.

In Tartu, they left their vehicles on Kesk-Kaare St. The armed Partisans were divided up into three platoons. These were commanded by Captain Vello
Captain Riho Piirsalu, and Lieutenant Rudolf Mikumägi. They
advanced along Riia St., in battle formation, as far as the Kaitseliit Building.

In the dead of night, at about 3 AM (according to other sources, not until midday on July 11) Infantry Ensign Olev Reintalu handed over command of the Partisan units and the City of Tartu to Major Fr. Kurg. Infantry Ensign O. Reintalu became Major Kurg’s adjutant.

All day Friday, July 11, there were serious clashes with the Bolsheviks on the Emajõe River front. This was indicated by the constant noise of rifle and
machine gun fire. All the repeated attempts by the Reds to force their way across the river in the Tähtvere and Ropka Quarters, and to establish a bridgehead there, were thwarted.

At 1:30 PM, it was reported that the enemy had come across the river in the Tähtvere area. Captain Karl Talpak was given the assignment of beating back the Reds. The partisans were greeted with rifle fire at the entrance of Tähtvere Park, right by the Catholic Church. But, the enemy could not withstand the
assault, and retreated. The Partisans advanced as far as the brewery, and
assumed defensive positions on the slope of the hill. Captain K. Talpak’s command post was set up in Tähtvere Estate, in the former Steward’s Residence.

In the course of the day, under the command of Captain Vello Rikandi and others, raids were carried out in the centre of the city so as to capture “poppers” and enemy arsonists.

On Riia Hill, in Partisan Headquarters, Infantry Ensign Olev Reintalu handed his position over to Major Fr. Kurg.

In the evening, at about 7 PM, preceding actual combat units, the German field commandant’s mobile headquarters, having set itself up in Nõo Hamlet, sent its scouting party, 20 military policemen under Major Scheichenbauer, into Tartu. Captain Karl Talpak’s Partisans were at Tähtvere. The nature of the topography along the riverbank, in this area, could have provided the opportunity for crossing the river unobserved, and taking the city from behind. Therefore, the edge of the city could not be left open. Captain Karl Talpak promised that: “The men are in their positions, and, through here, not a single Red will get into the city.”

The stretch of Vabaduspuiestee Blvd. in the heart of the city, along the bank of the Emajõgi River, was being protected by Infantry Ensign Vagi Pärsimägi and his men. In the Lao St. and river harbour area, positions had been taken up by, among others, local factory workers. Export Abattoir combat detachments were in defensive positions in Ropka, beside the Emajõgi River, by the railroad
embankment. At about 6 in the evening, assistance was needed in Ropka. All available men, making up a platoon of Partisans, were deployed there to repel the Bolsheviks.

A German armoured car drove around in the downtown area – by way of Võidu St. to Politseiplats Sq., and on to the Freedom Bridge. The armoured car fired at the Emajõgi River’s opposite bank with a light machine gun. That night, at about 9 or 10, the German reconnaissance group returned to the City of Võru.

By twilight, the Emajõgi River’s southern bank, from Tähtvere Estate to Ropka Estate, was guarded by Partisans. But, at first, the defences were quite weak – along the Emajõe River line there were, probably, only about a couple of hundred men. Despite this, one thing was definite – it was no longer possible for the Bolsheviks to cross the river unopposed.

By Friday evening, there was a sense of security in Tartu. The area south of the Emajõgi River, from Lake Võrtsjärv to Lake Peipsi, was controlled by Partisan units. In the city, the Police and Fire Departments, the hospitals and the ambulance service were functioning. The residents of Tartu could be given first aid in Red Cross stations, the people were being fed, and those who had fallen victim to the ravages of war were being buried.

The day was turning into night. Just before sunset, the Reds’ numerous artillery batteries opened fire upon the defenceless Southern District of Tartu with a barrage of incendiary and fragmentation shells. All of Tartu, on this side of the river, was at the mercy of this artillery fire.

On the third day of these Partisan battles, on Saturday, July 12, Tartu was a burning inferno. The artillery fire did not wane. By the Emajõgi River, the noise of rifle and machine gun fire was incessant. About 20 men, under the leadership of Captain Mart Laidro, arrived in Tartu from Kanepi Township. From the Town of Elva, the men of the Elva Power Grid, with Infantry Ensign Hudo Rästig at their head, came by truck to help Tartu.

In the morning, the field commandant, Oberstleitnant Hans Gosebruch, arrived from Nõo. Both Major Scheichenbauer, as well as Gosebruch, visited the
Partisans’ Headquarters and the Tähtvere firing line. The German field commandant’s office was set up in the Grand Hotell (10 Vallikraavi St.).

At midday, the city was, literally, peppered with incendiary and fragmentation shells. The Kaitseliit Building started burning, and houses on Aia, Päeva, Pargi, and Tähe St. were on fire.

The fire devastated Tiigi St. In the evening, an incendiary shell struck Maarja Church. The 56.3 metre steeple of this cultural landmark burned like a candle. The tide of flames engulfed Kindral Põdra, Tiigi, J. Kuperjanovi, Veski, and
Kastani St. The fire was also raging around the university. On this day, several hundred buildings were burning in Tartu at the same time. There were no
resources for combating such an inferno. The glow of the fire could be seen dozens of kilometres away, even in the Town of Otepää. The whole city was sweltering from the heat of the blaze. Tartu was blanketed with acrid smoke.

On the evening of July 12, all hell broke loose at Tähtvere. Artillery shells were raining down on the Partisans’ positions. Captain Karl Talpak shifted his positions forward a couple of hundred metres. Thus, it was possible to get out from under the artillery fire. New defensive positions were assumed on the northern edge of Tähtvere Estate, in the ditch of the highway dissecting it.

On the 12 and 13 of July, the Partisan detachments that had so far been fighting in Tartu, were amalgamated with the four combat companies to form the Tartu City Partisan Battalion. The 1st Company was commanded by Captain Vello Rikand, the 2nd by Infantry Ensign Viktor Lillak, the 3rd by Lieutenant Rätsep, and the 4th by Captain Karl Talpak. Lieutenant Theodor Liht was assigned to be the Battalion’s chief of staff. At the time of its formation, the Battalion consisted of about 700 men. The 1st Company was positioned at Tähtvere, with the Tähtvere defensive line stretching from the brewery to the Tähtvere-Kärevere Rd. The 2nd Company was sent to assist the township Partisans, and was
deployed west of Tartu, between Kärevere and Vorbus. The 3rd Company was fighting in the city, along the bank of the Emajõe River, and the 4th Company was providing security for the Viljandi Highway, Maarjamõisa Clinics, and Tamme Quarter area.

The Reds’ artillery was also pounding the area around the Partisans’ Headquarters. This forced the headquarters to move from Riia Hill to the Exhibition Grounds by Viljandi Highway. The Partisans slept in the Exhibition Ground
pavilions and even out in the open.

The Partisan force was a very diverse group. Many of them were Tartu workers. But there were also white-collar workers, scientists, medical doctors, etc. And, in the spirit of the Estonian War of Independence (1918-1920), university and high school students were also represented. It is known that 106 Treffner
Secondary School students bore arms in the Tartu Battles. They were all united by a common struggle and an overwhelming hatred for Communists, which had been caused by the June Mass Deportations11. Their struggle was inspired by anger and hatred.

The Partisans generally wore civilian clothes, but there were also men in
Estonian military, Kaitseliit, and Fire Department uniforms. Later, blue coveralls became the uniform of many Partisans. Cartridges were carried loosely in pant or breast pockets, in canvas ammunition bags captured as war booty, or, in the form of machine gun belts, over the shoulder. Very few had ammunition pouches attached to belts or appropriate military harnesses. Membership in the Partisan force was indicated with a white handkerchief or a white strip of cloth tied around the arm; later, with a white armband bearing the Tartu Partisans’ seal or stamp. An officer tended to be identified by a blue, black, and white
armband cut from an EÜS roll of ribbon.

Captain Ludvig Saar was appointed the commandant of the City of Tartu.

During the morning of July 12, the first German combat units, armed with
anti-tank guns, arrived in the Village of Veeriku. In the evening, the Germans reached the Emajõgi front line. The first combat unit to enter the city was a company mounted on field bicycles.

Just before night fell, the first two shells from a German artillery battery flew from Ilmatsalu, behind the Maarjamõisa Clinics, towards the Reds. The Bolsheviks’ observation point in the steeple of St. Peter’s Church, was destroyed by German artillery fire.

Upon the July 12 joint directive of the Tartu commandant, as well as the general commander of the Partisans, Major Fr. Kurg, the Tartu City and County administrations (under the leadership of medical doctor Robert Sinka and chemical engineer Hans Miller, respectively) started functioning on July 13. Since City Hall was under enemy fire, the city administration, at first, set itself up in the University Women’s Clinic in Toomemäe Park, and then in the Temperance Union Building, opposite the University Church (18 Gustav Adolf St.). The first major project was to begin evacuating women and children to the towns of Elva and Otepää.

The editor-in-chief of Postimees12, Jaan Kitsberg, started, upon the Headquarters’s directive, to re-publish the newspaper. The first issue appeared on July 13. Using a hand-operated single-revolution press, they managed to print 2,600 copies. The Postimees was now a combat newspaper. It was being printed
under artillery fire, a few hundred metres from the front line. The city commandant’s first order-of-the-day was also printed in the Postimees printing press.

According to international law, we are dealing, specifically, with “partisans”. The Brethren of the Forest are directly connected with fighting in wooded areas. The Tartu Battles encompassed both city and country folk who had come out of
hiding in the forests, or who hadn’t even made it to the woods, and were participating openly in combat.

Thus, Major Friedrich Kurg, in his first decree, on July 14, refers to himself as the general commander of the Southern Estonian Partisans, and later, on July 16, in Decree Nr. 2, as the general commander of the Partisans of the Liberated Estonian Territories. According to international law, a “partisan” is a voluntary combatant fighting on territory in the possession of the enemy, who does not belong to a regular military force, but bears arms openly, and observes the laws and customs of war. The legal status of the Partisans, during the Summer War, is defined by the Acts of the Hague Convention (1907) dealing with combatants. Combatant (French) – a fighter, a member of a voluntary combat unit. In case of being captured by the enemy, a combatant, in other words, a partisan, has the right to be regarded as a prisoner of war.

The German military authorities appointed Major Fr. Kurg to be, from July 14 on, the general leader of the Partisan detachments of the liberated territories of Southern Estonia.

On Monday, July 14, Captain Karl Talpak was appointed to be the commander of the Tartu Partisan Battalion. He was, thereupon, also made head of the Fire Department. Lieutenant Ernst Paats replaced him as commander of the 1st Company.

Under the supervision of a commission of medical experts, on July 15-17, 192 (by some accounts 193) victims of the July 8-9 mass murder in Tartu Prison13 were exhumed or pulled out of the well. Much of this work was done by captured Communists. A ghastly scene unfolded in the Prison courtyard. Bodies, decomposing in the summer heat, many of them disfigured beyond recognition, lying in rows like black mummies. The whole area was enveloped in a sickening stench. Due to intensive Bolshevik artillery fire, the exhumations had to be halted several times. From time to time, members of the Omakaitse14 entered the courtyard, soon leaving it, with their eyes filled with tears of anger and pain, and with their minds and spirits devoted to revenge.

On July 18-19, Prof. Jüri Uluots, the prime minister, in the duties of the president, of the last constitutional government15 of the Republic of Estonia, visited the headquarters of Major Fr. Kurg, the general leader of the Partisans of the Liberated Estonian Territories. Major Fr. Kurg gave him an overview of the military situation. Prof. Jüri Uluots praised the Estonian Partisans for their readiness, as well as courage, to liberate and defend their homeland. In his opinion, it was necessary to take practical steps for restoring the Republic of Estonia.

Prof. J. Uluots found that the Partisan units should be consolidated into an
Estonian army, that a central staff should be established for the army, that a general military mobilisation should be carried out, that the security of local
administrations should be ensured, and that the Estonian government should be restored.

On July 19-20, a firestorm continued to devastate the centre of the city. Buildings were burning on Võidu and Kauba St. The whole sector between the streets of Turu, Uueturu, Aleksandri, and Riia were in flames. As was the
section between Uueturu, Kauba, and Aleksandri St. The centre of Tartu’s commercial activities, the Kaubahoov (Merchandise Mart), was destroyed. The
conflagration carried over from Võidu St. to the area between Jaani and Kitsa St. The section between Aia and Kitsa St. was on fire. Soviet arsonists were in

The centre of the city had, by 21 July, burned down as far as the river. On the other side of the Emajõgi River there was a similar wilderness of charred ruins. The main steeple of St. Peter’s Church, as well as the tips of its four corner steeples, were as if naked – German shells had torn away the tin of the steeples’ roofs, so that just the rafters remained.

After the scorching days of battle, July 21 was, more-or-less, quiet. Only the occasional Russian artillery shell exploded in the city or the edge of town. In the evening, the artillery fire became more frequent and spread. At the corner of Riia and Kalevi St., the gymnasium wing of the Tartu Girls’ Secondary School caught on fire. About 600 radios, confiscated from the residents of Tartu in June, were either destroyed or ruined there.

The artillery barrage lasted until the morning of July 22, when things became quiet. On the evening of July 24, the Reds’ batteries again opened fire upon the Partisans’ positions. The artillery fire became nasty at midnight. It lasted until the dawn of July 25.

With the rising of the sun, on 25 July, word began to spread: the Bolsheviks had abandoned the front. In the early hours of the morning, the Partisans constructed, by the Market Building, an improvised bridge to cross the River. At Liiva St., a long log raft was put in place to serve as a bridge. The Partisans’ Headquarters had ordered the men to cross the river in the morning, and to flush the Reds out of the woods near the city. The city was quiet. Wisps of smoke were rising from the ruins.

Of the men who fell in the Tartu Battles on the Emajõgi River Front, the names of 41 Partisans are known, as are those of 20 who were wounded. In the course of the Summer War, 145 Tartu residents were killed by shrapnel, as well as
machine gun and rifle fire.

Appendix 1

Partisans who fell in the Tartu Battles, or died of wounds received there

1.   Artur Bökler (Pekler) 20.10.1910–11.07.1941
2.   Friedrich-Voldemar Engel 03.06.1904–21.07.1941
3.   Voldemar-Aleksander Erikson 15.07.1919–12.07.1941
4.   Johannes Ilus 14.09.1913–20.07.1941
5.   Esmo Indla 10.11.1915–12.07.1941
6.   Johannes Kams 24.02.1902–15.07.1941
7.   Vladimir Keskpaik 18.07.1941
8.   Väino Kirs 16.03.1920–13.07.1941
9.   Kalju Kokk 06.07.1923–14.07.1941
10.  Edgar Konsap 28.11.1913–13.07.1941
11.  Julius Kruus 09.02.1910–12.07.1941
12.  Hermann Kurss 26.02.1910–12.07.1941
13.  Hans Kuulmata 06.03.1903–31.07.1941
14.  Heino Kõrvel 17.09.1923–10.07.1941
15.  Kristjan Leesik 09.02.1901–05.08.1941
16.  Otto Leoke 05.10.1888–11.07.1941
17.  Herbert Lepik 27.03.1917–13.07.1941
18.  Augustin Lindma 12.07.1941
19.  Adolf-Johannes Link 21.11.1908–15.07.1941
20.  Ülo Linnus 25.02.1925–14.07.1941
21.  Kristjan Luik 03.10.1899–11.07.1941
22.  August Muttik 19.11.1894–13.07.1941
23.  Eduard Noorkõrv 12 Jan 1921–10.07.1941
24.  Endel Pehk 07.1941
25.  Rudolf-Johannes Poolakene 15.03.1902–15.07.1941
26.  Paul Priks 14.05.1903–13.07.1941
27.  Leonhard Põder 14.11.1906–15.07.1941
28.  Arnold-Eduard Põlluäär 14.09.1903–16.07.1941
29.  Albert Rammul 15.08.1914–12.07.1941
30.  Vello Saareli 06.12.1910–22.07.1941

Appendix 1

31.  Rudolf Sein 14.07.1899–12.07.1941
32.  Leopold Sinijärv 08.09.1918–10.07.1941
33.  Valdur Sinikalda 19.09.1908–10.07.1941
34.  Eduard-Voldemar Sukk 28.07.1917–….07.1941
35.  Aksel Sõber 06.10.1922–13.07.1941
36.  Endel Tiigimaa 07.01.1922–12.07.1941
37.  Rudolf-Eduard Tross 04.06.1911–10.07.1941
38. Aksel Tõns 09.06.1913–17.07.1941
39. Helmi Velling –23.07.1941
40. Enn Vihermäes 02.02.1879–11.07.1941
41. Richard Vitsmaa 19.07.1917–18.07.1941
All Crimes of Communist Regimes Deserve
to Be Punished
Marju Toom

Engineer, Estonian Memento Association

I am of the opinion that all crimes against humanity that have been committed by all Communist regimes deserve to be punished.

The World has heard and learned about many of the crimes of these regimes through the Black Book1; studies that have been published to date; and what is being said today at this conference, as well as the ones in Vilnius and Riga.


I would like to tell you about a type of crime that society, and the World as a whole, has not yet, practically, become aware of. But this does not make these crimes non-existent.

I call upon you, and all the rest of the people of the World, to observe, every year, on August 12, Unborn Children’s Memorial Day, in the memory of those children who were not born, who were born with life-challenging handicaps, who were born with health disorders. And all of this due to the fact that their parents had radiation poisoning.

My presentation deals with the aspect of the crimes of the Soviet Union that is directly connected with the nuclear war that this Communist regime waged, for years, against its own people and all the inhabitants of the Northern Hemisphere.

Map of the U.S.S.R.

Brief Overview of the Soviet Union’s Nuclear War against the
Civilian Population of the Earth’s Northern Hemisphere:

Tests were, basically, carried out in designated test sites at Semipalatinsk and Novaya Zemlya. But also, within the framework of the “Mirny Atom” program2, practically all over the territory of the Soviet Union. For instance, near the city of Yakutsk, that created considerable radioactive fallout. Or in a mine under a mining town in the Donetsk region. There has also been talk about an above-ground A-bomb detonation that was carried out, in those days, in Czechoslo

In the course of 37 years, that is, in the time span of 29 August 1949-31
December 1987 the Soviet Union detonated 618 nuclear devices. 126 of these were presented to the World as means of harnessing the “peaceful atom” in the interests of the national economy. Within the framework of this program, 18 detonations were carried out outside the territory of the designated test sites.

It is very likely that:

  • 205 nuclear detonations were carried out above ground or airborne;
  • 3 bombs were detonated under water;
  • 6 bomb tests were carried out in the upper atmosphere or in outer space
  • 404 times use was made of an underground device


Total: 618

Figuratively speaking: the TNT equivalent of the detonated devices is 600 megatons, which is equal to the total power of 30,000 A-bombs of the type that the Americans dropped upon Hiroshima.

Map of Kazakhstan

Map of the Semipalatinsk

The Semipalatinsk Test Site – The Gates of Colossal Death:

The Semey Test Site’s role was to be the location for 221 tests during the years 1949–1962:

  • 30 – above-ground tests, including the first A-bomb on 29 August 1949
  • 88 – airborne, including the first thermonuclear bomb on 12 August 1953 (constructed by Sakharov) and the first H-bomb on 22 November 1955 (analogous to the one constructed by Teller)
  • 6 – devices detonated in the upper atmosphere and outer space
  • 97 – underground detonations in vertical silos and horizontal tunnels

Total: 221

10 October 1963 – in accordance with an international treaty between the U.S.S.R., the U.S.A., and Great Britain there was a cessation of above-ground and atmospheric nuclear tests. Further tests were conducted at the Semipalatinsk Test Site, but now this was done under the ground.

In addition to this, during the years 1963-1987, a further 247 underground tests were carried out, of which, 49% resulted in radioactive fallout as well as the increased contamination of the region.

The total for the Semipalatinsk Test Site: 468

29 August 1991 – President Nursultan Nazarbayev issues a decree closing the Semipalatinsk Test Site permanently.

A closer look at the two firsts in their categories:

  • the first Soviet A-bomb on 29 August 1949;
  • the first Soviet thermonuclear bomb on 12 August 1953

The first Soviet 22 kiloton A-bomb, constructed by a team personally led by Lavrenti Beria, was ready for testing on 29 August 1949. It was detonated at the Semey Test Site at a height of 30 metres from the ground.

In the construction of this bomb, uranium processed at Sillamäe3 might have been used, as well some of the 100 tons of uranium that had been sent at the orders of the head of the United States Manhattan Project, General Leslie Richard Grove, within the framework of the Lend-Lease programme.

According to Lavrenti Beria’s estimate, about 50% of the knowledge needed for constructing this A-bomb was obtained, by means of espionage, from the American Manhattan Project in Los Alamos. For instance, English and American nuclear physicists like Klaus Fuchs (1911-1988), Theodore Hall (born about 1920), and a total of more than 30 individuals (according to some sources, even more than 100 individuals) were involved in the passing on of such information to Soviet secret agents. An important role was also played by imprisoned German scientists who were deported to the Soviet Union (near Sukhumi). For instance, Baron Manfred von Ardanne, who was given the
Stalin Award, and who eventually lived, until his death, in East Germany.

The first Soviet 400 kiloton thermonuclear bomb, that was constructed
according to technology based upon the work of Andrei Sakharov, was detonated at the Semipalatinsk Test Site, also at a height of 30 metres from the ground.

This explosion proved to be one of the greatest sources of radioactive pollution in that area, since it contaminated, as well as sucked into the air (as high as the stratosphere), the whole top surface of the desert.

Kazakhstan’s president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, and the president of the
Russian Federation, Boris Yeltsin, declared the Semipalatinsk Test Site and the surrounding territory to be an ecological catastrophe area (a diameter of over 1200 kilometres). The first legislation concerning this matter:

  • Russian Federation statute 149-03, which has been in effect since 19 August 1995 and
  • The Republic of Kazakhstan’s statutes and the president’s decrees have been in effect since December 1992.

In the Internet, there are frightful pictures of the children of the parents who have radiation poisoning, and of grownups suffering from various forms of
cancer. For ethical reasons, I will not be showing them to you.


And how are Estonians connected with all of this?

By, of course, living on Mother Earth and being able to “enjoy” the contaminants that drift this far to the West. Here we are equal with all other people in the Northern Hemisphere.

But, there is an Estonian minority, which is especially closely connected with all of these horrors – it consists of:

  • most of those who were deported in 19494 and
  • most of those who had been in the GULAG on the basis of 585.

One very serious, but, so far, practically unknown part of the Soviet Union’s repressive policy was and is Stalin’s and Beria’s policy of massive eradication of nationalities with the radiation that accompanies atomic and nuclear tests and contaminates the living environment.

I think that this is just the right time to bring together and to unite into one whole various facts that have been known for a long time already, that:

  1. The Stalin-Beria NKVD6 carried out arrests on the basis of 58;
  2. The Stalin-Beria NKVD carried out mass deportations in Estonia,
    Latvia, Lithuania
    , and throughout the whole S.S.R. All together, there were more than 110 genocidal episodes concerning the people of 27-30 nationalities, of whom, more than 6 million people arrived at their destination, and in the course of the operations more than
    1 million people died;
  3. The Stalin-Beria NKVD carried out, from 1948 on, the concentrating of 58 political prisoners from other camps to the STEPLAG, that is, the area immediately to the west of the Semipalatinsk Test Site;
  4. The Stalin-Beria NKVD chose, as the settling area for the majority of the deportees of the years 1944-1949, the regions to the east, south, and north of the Semipalatinsk Test Site;
  5. The Stalin-Beria NKVD controlled the uranium mines and enrichment plants (Sillamäe – Estonia, Zholtye Vody – Ukraine, Ust-Kameno
    gorsk – Kazakhstan, Chelyabinsk – Russia),
    in the vicinity of which were especially large prison camps, including those for politicals;
  6. With the connivance of the Stalin-Beria NKVD, the Soviets, within the framework of the Lend-Lease programme, made a request for more than 100 tons of uranium from the United States, which they were given. This was done at the orders of the head of the Manhattan Project, General Leslie Richard Groves personally, to fulfil the
    request of the Soviets, so as to cover up the objective of the Manhattan Project;
  7. The Stalin-Beria NKVD ran the closed cities, the special camps for politicals and prisoners-of-war, where the Soviet atomic and hydrogen bombs were created;
  8. The Stalin-Beria NKVD possessed the results of the scientific,
    research, and technical work of almost 30 (according to some sources, more than 100) S. and British traitorous nuclear scientists, that, in Stalin’s and Beria’s opinion, was 50% responsible for the success of the Soviet atom bomb project. The “father” of the Soviet Atom bomb, Igor Kurtchatov, had his own office in the Kremlin where intelligence materials were brought for him to read. Kurtchatov gave an evaluation to each shipment from the point of view of how it would further the
    Soviet bomb project, and ordered the next “manuscripts” dealing with the matters essential for him.
  9. The Stalin-Beria NKVD ran the special camp in Sukhumi for German prisoners-of-war who were nuclear scientists and technicians. The
    results of their scientific, research, and technical endeavours, especially, for instance, in constructing uranium enrichment centrifuges,
    ensured, to a considerable extent, the successful creation of the Soviet atom bomb.
  10. At the orders of the Stalin-Beria NKVD, the Soviet Ministry of Health’s so-called IV Department (brucellosis) carried out, in the course of the years 1949-1956, in the areas adjoining the Semipalatinsk Test Site, medical studies of the residents, and veterinary studies of the livestock. The results of the studies were classified.

Leaving aside the military aspect of the A and H-bomb, and by examining the above facts as a whole, it can be assumed that Jossif Stalin and Lavrenti
, together with their NKVD, arranged

  • on an especially large scale
  • especially cheaply
  • especially ingeniously

the liquidation, by radiation, of, for them, superfluous masses of people – women and children, as well as men completely debilitated by forced labour – so that they did not have to spend a kopek on

  • killing
  • burying
  • covering it all up from the rest of the World.

The assignment was completed, yet, in the eyes of the World, their reputation remained sparkling clean.

According to the calculations of academic Andrei Sakharov, in the Northern Hemisphere, about 6 million have perished from radiation poisoning, and many times that number have been crippled.

I am convinced that this aspect of the crimes of the Communist regime of the Soviet Union, that I have brought forth here today, deserves to be punished.


  1. The official web page of the Semipalatinsk Testing Site: http://www.poligon.kz/
  2. The official web page of the Novaya Zemlja Testing Site: http://www.belushka.narod.ru/history5.htm
  3. Russian Federation statute 149-03, that has been in effect since 19 August 1995
  4. The statutes of the Republic of Kazakhstan, and the president’s
    decrees, that have been in effect since December 1992
  5. Andrei Sakharov “Memoirs. Biological Effects without a Threshold”, the magazine “Znamya” 1990 nr. 12
  6. Paul Herbert Freyer “Albert Schweitzer. Ein Lebensbild”, 1978
  7. M. Edijev “Demografitšeskije poteri deportirovannõh narodov SSSR.”
  8. Vladimir Tšikov, Gari Kern “Ohota za atomnoi bomboi”, 2000.
  9. Vladimir Tšikov, “Russkie nelegalõ v SŠA”, 2003.
  10. Margit Mariann Koppel “The March Deportations of 1949”, the
    magazine “Kultuur ja Elu” nr. 2/3 1999
  11. “WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION” National Geographic,
    November 2002
  12. Various articles that have appeared in the press, on television, on the Internet in the course of the years 1987-2007

The history conference of the Estonian Memento Union titled “Communism to be held accountable by international court”. Indrek Paavle is speaking. The conference is presided over by Peep Varju and Professor Enn Tarvel (right). The conference took place in Tallinn, in the conference hall of the National Library, on 16.06.2007.

The history conference of the Estonian Memento Union titled “Communism to be held accountable by international court”. Indrek Paavle is speaking. The conference is presided over by Peep Varju and Professor Enn Tarvel (right). The conference took place in Tallinn, in the conference hall of the National Library, on 16.06.2007.

Anticommunist History Conference

Appeal of the participants of the Anticommunist History Conference to the governments and parliaments of their own countries and the European Union, the Hague Tribunal, the United Nations Organization and the US Congress.

A Resolution

calling for the creation of a tribunal of countries around the world, for the purpose of giving an assessment to the crimes commited by communism.

The participants of the Anticommunist History Conference that took place in Tallinn on June 16, 2007 reached the conclusion that without exception, all of the communist totalitarian regimes that ruled in Central and Eastern Europe during the last century were characterized by extensive violations of human rights. Many such regimes remain in power in various parts of the world to this day. The specific nature of the violations differed, depending on the cultures, states and periods involved. They include such phenomena as individual and mass murders, executions, deaths in concentration camps, starvation, deportations, torture, slave labor and other physical manifestations of mass terror, as well as persecution on the basis of national or religious belonging, and also
violations of freedom of conscience, thought, expression and the press, along with the absence of political pluralism.

Justification for these crimes was sought on the basis of the theory of class struggle, and the dictatorship of the proletariat. Interpretations of these two
concepts were used to try to “legitimize” the elimination of such persons who were considered to be harmful in respect to the creation of the new society, and were thereby considered to be enemies of the totalitarian communist regimes. Enormous numbers of victims were citizens of the very states concerned. This pertains in particular to the peoples of the Soviet Union, in which country the number of victims exceeded by far the victims of other countries

The disintegration of the totalitarian communist regimes in Central and Eastern Europe has not always been followed by international investigations of the crimes perpetrated by these regimes. What’s more, the perpetrators of these crimes have not been brought before the courts of the international public, which is in contrast to the manner in which the world behaved in respect to the ghastly crimes perpetrated by National Socialism (Naziism).

The participants of the Anticommunist History Conference are convinced that awareness of the events of history is one of the preconditions that must exist if such crimes are to be kept from being repeated in the future. In addition: the taking of a moral stand and the condemnation of such crimes plays an important role in the education of our younger generations. If the international community takes a clear stance in respect to the past, this may well have a bearing on the way in which it behaves in the future.

Those who participated in the Anticommunist History Conference also believe that the surviving victims of the crimes of the totalitarian communist regimes and their families are deserving of support, understanding, and of recognition of the suffering that they had to bear.

Up until now, discussions have taken place internally within some of the member states of the European Council, and resolutions of condemnation have been adopted, but this does not absolve the international community of the responsibility – without delay – to take a standpoint in respect to the crimes against
humanity perpetrated by the totalitarian communist regimes.

We direct attention to the fact that the European Court of Human Rights arrived at decisions on January 17 and 24, 2006 that have the force of law in Europe, which evidenced the massive entry of Soviet Armed Forces onto the territory of Estonia in June, 1940, along with the violent establishment of Soviet government, and – with the exception of the period of intermediary German occupation during the 1941-1944 period – the continuation of the occupation of Estonia by the USSR until 1991. The European Court also determined that the USSR
undertook large and systematic actions against the residents of Estonia that are classified as crimes against humanity, to which statutes of limitations do not apply, and that are punishable under the basis of the Charter of the Nuremberg War Tribunal of 1945, and also on the basis of a number of subsequent UN
decisions and international conventions that expand upon that tribunal. The judgments of the Court determined that the totalitarian communist regime of the USSR carried out extensive and systematic actions against the residents of Estonia.

We also direct attention to the fact that states that deny the occupation of
Estonia during 1940-1991 and/or also deny the applicability of the Nuremberg Charter are also in denial of the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights, and cannot – as a consequence – be members of the organizational structures of Europe.

In view of the aforementioned, the participants of the Anticommunist History Conference address their own states and in particular their governments and parliaments, as well as the European Union, the Hague Tribunal, the United Nations Organization and the US Congress, and ask that they bring into being and organize an International Tribunal for the purpose of taking a stance on the crimes perpetrated by communism during the 20th century, in order to declare communism an inhumane ideology, and to equate the crimes against humanity that were committed during the course of building communism with the ideology of national socialism.

Drawn up on June 16, 2007 in Tallinn

Conference Directors:

Enn Tarvel

Leo Õispuu

Peep Varju

[1] See for example: Rossiiskije istoriki obsudili pribaltiiskije pretnzii k Rossii.

http://www.severinform.ru/index.php?page=newsfull&date=13-02-2007&newsid=37784/23.05.2007/; Rekomendatsii rossiiskih istorikov: „Rossiia i Pribaltika: kompetentnõ na istoritšeskije pretensii limitrofov”.

http://www.regnum.ru/news/821909.html/23.05.2007/; Mihail Demurin: Letom 1940 goda imelo mesto ne okkupatsijaa a fiasko gosudarstvennosti pribaltiiskih stran.


[2] Venemaa avalikustab II maailmasõja arhiivid. Eesti Päevaleht Online, 14.06.2007

[3] Postanovlenije Sjezda narodnõh deputatov SSSR ob otsenke sovetsko-germanskogo dogovora o nenapadenii 1939 g.


[4] George W. Bush: Balti riigid ei jää enam iial üksi. http://estonia.usembassy.gov/mote_est.php

[5] Rossija nikogda ne priznaet okkupatsiju Pribaltiki.


The reaction from the Russian side appeared before Bush’s speech in Riga, in response to an appeal by Stephen Hadley, the Presidential Security Adviser 05.05.2005, in which he called on Russia to annul the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact (MRP) struck in 1939 with Germany, which led to the occupation of the Baltic States.

[6] Estonija krovavõi sled natsizma. 1941-1944

Sbornik arhivnõh dokumentov o pristuplenijah estonskih kollaboratsionistov v godõ Vtoroi mirovoi voinõ;

Tragedija Litvõ: 1941–1944 godõ;

Sbornik arhivnõh dokumentov o pristuplenijah kollaboratsionistov v godõ Vtoroi mirovoi voinõ;

Latvija pod igom natsizma: sbornik arhivnõh dokumentov.

[7] Rekomendatsii rossiiskih istorikov: “Rossija i Pribaltika: kompetentnõje otvetõ na istoritšeskije pretenzii limitrofov”. http://www.regnum.ru/news/821909.html/23.05.2007/.

[8] Ibid.

[9] See for example: Petrenko Andrei. Pribaltika protiv fašizma. Sovetskije pribaltiiskije divizii v Velikoi Otetšestvennoi voine. “Yevropa”, 2005;

Mihail Krõsi. Pribaltika meždu Gitlerom i Stalinõm. 1939–1945. Веtšе, 2004;

Mihail Krõsi. Pribaltiiski fašizm. Веtšе, 2007;

Aleksandr Dõkov. Mif o genotside: Repressii sovetskih vlastei v Estonii (1940–1953) / Predisl. S. Artemenko. Moskva, 2007.

Selection of articles by A Djukov. See: Putevoditelj.


Prestuplenija natsistov i ih posobnikov v Pribaltike (Estonija) 1941/1944: dokumentõ i svideteljstva. Tallinn, 2006.

Standpoints and commentaries presented on an ongoing basis in the mass media, related to issues having to do with the recent histories of Russia and the Baltic States.

[10]  The Government of the Republic of Estonia gave an order at the end of April 2007 to relocate a memorial dedicated to Soviet Red Army soldiers from the city center of Tallinn. The remains of the interred and the monument in question were relocated to the Tallinn Military Cemetery. Russian members of the population reacted to the government action by rioting, which was incited and supported from outside Estonia’s borders. Estonian-Russian relations underwent an extremely tense period.

1 Riigikohtu Üldkogu kohtuotsus (Supreme Court in banc Decision), 10 April 2005. Riigi Teataja (Official Gazette)  III, 2005, 13, 128. See also: Eesti Vabariigi Põhiseadus (Constitution of the Republic of Estonia), §§ 154 – 160.

2 Uluots, Jüri. Seaduse sünd: Eesti õiguse lugu (The Birth of Law: The Story of Estonian Justice). Tartu, 2004.

3 Schöber, Peter. Kohalik omavalitsus: tänapäevase kohaliku omavalitsuse idee (Local Government: The Concept of Contemporary Local Government). Tallinn, 2003. Forward by Wolfgang Drechsler.

4Vabariigi Presidendi käskkirjad (Decrees of the President of the Republic) nr. 68, 69,78, 91, 92, 109-114. RT (Official Gazzette) 1940, 57, 520-521, 530; RT 1940, 59, 559-560; RT 1940, 63, 606-611.

5 Rahva Hääl (The People’s Voice). Nr 35. 27. VII 1940. p 3.

6 Vallaseaduse täiendamise seadus. Antud Vabariigi Presidendi dekreedina. (Amendment to the Rural Municipality Act. Enacted as a Decree of the President of the Republic.) 31 July 1940. RT (Official Gateete) 1940, 89, 873.

7 Paavle, Indrek. Sovietisation of local governments in 1940-1941. – Estonia 1940-1945: Reports of the Estonian International Commission for the Investigation of Crimes Against Humanity.
Tallinn, 2006. p 244.

8 Siseministeeriumi Kohalike Omavalisuste Talituse salajane ringkiri (The Interior Ministry’s Rural Municipality Local Government Administration’s Secret Directive), 19 August 1940. ERA R 1036-1-29, 214.


10 Prangli vallavanem Johannes Sumberg (Johannes Sumberg, the rural municipality mayor of the Island of Prangli). TLA R 282-1-1. 3p.

11 Vallapartorgide nõupidamise stenogramm (Transcript of the rural municipality Party organisers’ meetings). 10 August 1946. ERAF 1-4-374, 240.

12 Paavle, Indrek. Fate of the Estonian Elite in 1940-1941. – Estonia 1940-1945. Op. cit. pp. 397-398.

13 Artur Grossi uurimistoimik (Artur Gross’s case file). ERAF 130-1-10039.

14 At the time of his arrest, Gross was 58 years old. The average age of the rural municipality mayors, who had assumed office at the beginning of 1940, was 45. He had, on and off, held office since 1908. Thus, for a total of 14 years (1908-17, 1918, 1930-34). Generally, the vast majority of the rural municipality mayors holding office had previous experience working in that position, but only a few of them had been rural municipality mayors even before independence.

15 Paavle, Indrek. Fate of the Estonian Elite in 1940-1941. Op. cit. pp. 397-398.

16 Punane terror (Red Terror). Compiled by Mart Laar and Jaan Tross. Stockholm, 1996. p 210.

17 Paavle, Indrek. Valla institutsioon Eestis 1940-1941 (The Administrative Infrastructure of the Estonian County 1940-1941). Master’s thesis. Tartu, 2003. Manuscript in the Tartu University Library. pp. 70-79.

18 Johannes Pärtmaa uurimistoimik (Johannes Pärtmaa’s case file). ERAF 129-1-22980 (1), 4-7, 69-70, 370-375; ERAF 129-1-22980 (II), 1-3, 5-10, 13, 30-31, 127-132, 206-209.

19 EK(b)P Tartumaa Komitee Büroo protokoll (Records of the Estonian CP’s Tartumaa County Committee Bureau). 22 April 1948. ERAF 12-8-10, 162-163.

[11] ERAF, 130-1- 6610

[12] ERAF, 130-1- 7674, p. 9

[13] ERAF, 130-1- 7368, p. 104

[14] ERAF, 130-1- 6877-E, pp. 21, 30, 31 and 159

[15] ERAF, 130-1- 10036-E, pp. 4 and 5

[16] ERAF, a. 3 N/N, u. 207

[17] ERAF, 130- 1-15026, p. 87

[18] ERAF, 1-6- 3999

[19] ERAF, 130-1- 4378, pp. 11, 59, 60, 61

[20] Moscow Archive PЦXИДHИ, 77- 3- 124

[21] ERAF, 130-1-1889, p. 6

[22] RT 60, 6.07.1940

[23] Moscow archive, ΓAPФ, 9479-1- 87, pp. 42 and 43

1 Küüditamine Eestist Venemaale. (The Deportation from Estonia to Russia). Books 4-6. Ed.
L. Õispuu. Tallinn, 1999-2003.

2 The association “Eesti elulood” (Estonian Biographies) has been dealing with the collecting of biographies since 1989. The best of these biographies have appeared in the series “Eesti elulood”, 1-111, 2000-2003. Some of these biographies, including those of the deportees, have been published, and commented upon by appropriate experts, in the book: She Who Remembers, Survives. Interpreting Estonian Women’s Post-Soviet Life Stories. Eds. T. Kirss, E. Kõressaar,
M. Lauristin. Tartu, 2004.

3 Rahi-Tamm, Aigi. Deportations in Estonia, 1941-1951. – Soviet Deportations in Estonia: Impact and Legacy. Articles and Life Histories. Tartu University Press, 2007. Pp. 9-52; Kahar, Andres. Eesti NSV Riikliku Julgeoleku Ministeeriumi tegevus 1949. a. märtsiküüditamise ettevalmistamisel Saaremaa osakonna näitel. (The activities of the Ministry of State Security of the Estonian SSR in setting up the March 1949 Deportations, using the Saaremaa Department as an example) (Adviser – A. Rahi-Tamm). BA dissertation. Tartu University, 2007. Manuscript in the History and Archaeology Institute.

4 The text of this resolution has been published: Lietuvos kovų ir kančių istorija. I. Lietuvos gyventoju tremimai 1941, 1945-52. a. Dokumentų rinkinys. Ed G. Rudis. Vilnius, Mokslų ir enciklopedijų leidykla 1994. Pp. 303-305.

5 Rahi, Aigi. 1949 aasta märtsiküüditamine Tartu linnas ja maakonnas. (The March 1949 deportation in the city of Tartu and in Tartu county). Tartu, 1998.

6 After re-occupying Estonia in 1944, the Soviets continued to carry out their program of distributing the land of farmers, who had more than 30 hectares, to landless agricultural labourers, who were, thus, called “new land recipients” (uusmaasaajad). But these “recipients” were not able to enjoy their new holdings for long, since, in 1949, most farmland was forcibly combined into collective and state farms. Translator

7 The “Omakaitse” (Home Guard) was a voluntary militia organised during the German occupation of Estonia (1941-9144), which the German authorities used as an auxiliary security force. Translator

8 Concerning the assembling of compromising evidence see: Rahi-Tamm, Aigi. Archives at the service of Soviet repressive organs. Compilation of the card index of “politically coloured persons” in Estonia in 1940-1957. – The Communist Security Apparatus in East Central Europe, 1944-1945 to 1989. Warsaw, 2007 (in publish); Politinių atspalvių speckartotekos sudarymas Estijoje 1940-1957 metais. – Genocidas ir rezistencija. 2006, 2 (20). Pp. 110-116.

http://www.genocid.lt/centras/lt/453/a/ [07.07.2007]

9 “Forest Brethren” (metsavennad) is a term applied to the nationalist anti-Soviet guerrillas who operated in the forests of all three Baltic states in the summer of 1941, during the first Soviet occupation, and again after the re-occupation of the Baltic states, by the Soviets, in the late summer of 1944. The activities of these freedom fighters were quite widespread, with a significant part of the rural population providing moral, logistical, and material support. This post-WW II rural armed resistance to the Soviet occupation of the Baltic States lasted until the early 1950’s, when the Soviet security forces finally succeeded in suppressing it. Operation Priboi was one measure that helped to “break the back” of the Baltic rural opposition to Sovietisation. Translator

10 Sabbo, Hilda. Võimatu vaikida. (Impossible to Be Silent). II. Tallinn, 1996. Pp. 845-850.

11 Immediately before the launching of the Operation, on 22 March, the E.S.S.R. Council of Ministers adopted Supplemental Ruling 015, with which, a certain number of kulak families were added to Ruling 014.

12 A few months later, Jermolin also coordinated Deportation Operation “Jug” in the Moldovan S.S.R.

13 The “Destruction Battalions” (Hävituspataljonid), originally formed in 1941, during the first Soviet occupation, were voluntary paramilitary civil defence units that the Soviet authorities organised in rural Estonia, that were used as an auxiliary security force. These lightly armed units were often employed in various counter-insurgency operations aimed at the Forest Brethren and other anti-Soviet elements. Since the Battalions were used to intimidate the local population, they were generally despised throughout rural Estonia. Translator

14 The number of military personnel, in the course of preparing for the Operation, was constantly changing. Of the MS Internal Forces personnel available, on the spot, 900 were stationed in
Estonia, 2,500 in Latvia, 9,500 men in Lithuania. Rossiiskii gosudarstvennyi voennyi arhiv (hereinafter RGVA). Russian State Military Archive. C. 38650, i. L, u. 408, pp. 3-9.

15 RGVA. C. 38650, i. L, u. 1336, pp. 426-427.

16 According to the 12 March U.S.S.R. MI Decree, Lieutenant General Petrov was assigned to be the U.S.S.R. MI’s special trustee in Estonia. But, in the E.S.S.R. MI reports, there appears the name of Major General Rogatin, as having been the trustee.

17 Branch of the Estonian National Archives (ERAF). C. 17/1, i 1, u. 139, pp. 161-161p.

18 ERAF. C. 17/1, i.  1, u. 139, p. 292.

19 In Keila, for instance, where a large crowd, consisting of the deportees’ relatives and acquaintances, had gathered, the guarding of the train became complicated. Therefore, a reinforcing
detachment of soldiers was brought from the 392nd Convoy Regiment, so as to increase security. On 27 March, when a record number of people had gathered at the station, 2 deportees tried to escape from the train. They took advantage of a moment when the guards were distracted by having to keep bystanders away from the train. One escapee was caught and was put on the train, while the other one managed to disappear. ERAF. C. 17/1, i. 1, u. 139, p. 281.

20 ERAF. C. 17/1, i. 1, u. 139, p. 152.

21 ERAF. C. 17/1, i. 1, u. 139, pp. 218-219.

22 Anušauskas, Arvydas. Soviet Genocide and its Consequences. – Lithuanian Historical Studies. 1999, 4. P. 325.

23 ERAF. C. 131, i. 1, u. 151, pp. 56-65.

[24] Editor remark. Although the terms “partisan” and “partisan warfare”, in English language literature dealing with World War II, are very often used to refer to armed Communist resistance to Nazi occupation in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, in this particular article, “partisan warfare” refers to Estonian nationalist armed resistance, in the summer of 1941, to the Soviet occupation of the country, which had been imposed a year earlier. This anti-Communist armed resistance was quite widespread, and had the enthusiastic support of the general Estonian population. In various places in Estonia, these nationalist Partisans were able to take over power before the arrival of the German invaders. But the Estonians had to, due to the force of circumstances, eventually relinquish authority to the Germans. Thus, these Estonian freedom fighters were not able to fulfil their hopes of re-establishing Estonian independence.

2 “Forest Brethren” (metsavennad) is term applied to the nationalist anti-Soviet Partisans who operated in rural Estonia in the summer of 1941, and again after the re-occupation of Estonia by the Soviets in the late summer of 1944. The activities of these rural freedom fighters, who used the forests as a hiding place, were quite widespread, with a large part of the rural population providing moral and material support. The post-War rural armed resistance to the Soviet occupation of Estonia, as in the other two Baltic states of Latvia and Lithuania, lasted until the early 1950’s, when the Soviet security forces finally succeeded in suppressing it. Translator

3 “Destruction Battalions” (hävituspataljonid) were voluntary (although there were cases of men being forcibly conscripted), paramilitary units commanded by Soviet security officers. The personnel were recruited from amongst local Communist supporters (and, in some cases, even the criminal element), in the summer of 1941. They were to help ensure security in Estonia, and to carry out Stalin’s scorched earth policy in the path of the advancing German forces. Thus, the Destruction Battalions were used as a counter-insurgency force for combating Estonia’s anti-Soviet Partisans and the Brethren of the Forest, in the course of which, these Battalions terrorized and brutalized the local population in many parts of the country. This lightly armed, as well as poorly trained and disciplined force consisted of about 6,000 men. Translator

4 “Militia” (miilits) is the term that the Soviet authorities applied to their regular police force in
Estonia, which consisted mostly of local Communist volunteers (although some former Estonian police officers had been kept on the force by the Soviets). In the summer of 1941, Militia units also participated in counter-insurgency operations against Estonian anti-Soviet Partisans and the Brethren of the Forest. Translator

5 “EÜS” is the acronym of the Eesti Üliõpilaste Selts (Estonian Students Society), which, being founded in 1870, is the oldest Estonian university students’ organisation. Throughout its existence, the EÜS has not only promoted cultural and academic endeavours, but has also played a leading role in the development of Estonian patriotism and independence. The EÜS colours of blue, black, and white were adopted as the national colours of the Republic of Estonia when it was founded in 1918. During the Soviet occupation, the EÜS was banned, but, along with the other Estonian students’ organisations and fraternities, continued to function in secret. Translator

6 “Vironia”, founded in 1900, was and is one of the biggest Estonian university students’ fraternities, and has always promoted Estonian patriotism. Translator

7 “NKVD” was the acronym for the greatly feared Soviet secret police agency, which was later known as the KGB. Although many positions in the Estonian NKVD were filled by Russians brought in from the USSR, this state security agency also employed, and made extensive use of, Estonian collaborators. The NKVD’s main job, during the Soviet occupation of 1940-1941, was to eliminate all political and armed resistance. Most of the approximately 7,000 Estonians arrested by the NKVD disappeared, although the bodies of some of these NKVD victims, many of them showing signs of having been tortured, were unearthed after the Soviets retreated from Estonia during the summer of 1941. Translator

8 The “Kaitseliit”  (Defence League) was the very popular Estonian voluntary paramilitary civil defence organisation that was banned by the occupying Soviet authorities. The Kaitseliit often formed the basis upon which the Estonian anti-Soviet resistance and Partisan movement was established in the summer of 1941. When the Soviets had disbanded the Kaitseliit in 1940, their security forces made extensive use of many of the organisation’s facilities. Tranlator

9J. Puhk ja Pojad” (Puhk and Sons) was one of Estonia’s biggest, wealthiest, and best-known business concerns, until it was nationalised by the occupying Soviet authorities in 1940. The Puhk family had been very active, both politically and financially, in helping to establish Estonia as an independent nation. The Soviets arrested several members of the Puhk family and deported them to the USSR, where they perished. Translator

10 A popular Estonian patriotic song at that time. Translator

11 In the course of the June 1941 Mass Deportations, the Soviet authorities, to totally terrorize and subdue the whole Estonian nation, rounded up, in a few days, over 10,000 people (in many cases, whole families, since the Soviet sense of justice was based on the principle of “collective responsibility”), loaded them into cattle cars, and deported them to the hinterlands of the USSR. The men were separated from the women and children, and were sent to forced labour camps, where most of them perished. The women and children were, usually, forcibly settled in remote villages. A few of them managed to survive and return to Estonia in the 1950’s. Very similar mass deportations were, simultaneously, also carried out in the other two Baltic states of Latvia and Lithuania.  Translator

12 The “Postimees”, which was published in Tartu, was one of Estonia’s leading newspapers. It was founded in 1857, and, in 1891, became Estonia’s first daily newspaper. Translator

13 On the night of July 8 – 9, Soviet security officers murdered as many as 193 (20 of them women, some whom had first been raped) Estonian political prisoners being held in Tartu Prison. They were killed with shots to the head, in many cases, to the forehead. Most of the bodies were buried in two pits that had been dug on the prison grounds for this purpose. The bodies of 19 (one of them a woman) of these murdered prisoners were dumped in the Prison well. These political prisoners encompassed a wide selection of Estonian citizens: both blue- and white-collar workers, craftsmen, farmers, intellectuals (including the director of Tartu Teachers’ College, as well as an author of popular youth-oriented patriotic novels), clergymen, and students.  Later, it was possible to definitely identify only about 130 of these bodies. Translator

14 The “Omakaitse” (Home Guard) was an anti-Soviet voluntary militia, modelled after the
, that was organised in many parts of Estonia as the Soviet occupiers were withdrawing in the summer of 1941. When the invading Germans had established their occupation regime in Estonia, they took over and expanded the Omakaitse, using it as a local auxiliary security force. Translator

15 The constitutional government of the Republic of Estonia went underground when the Soviets took over Estonia in June 1940. When President Konstantin Päts was arrested and deported to the USSR (Päts died in a Soviet psychiatric hospital in 1956) at the end of July 1940, Prime Minister Jüri Uluots assumed, in accordance with the Estonian Constitution, the duties of the president. During the German occupation (1941-1944), Uluots bided his time, hoping that an opportunity would arise for re-establishing the Republic of Estonia. This became possible in September 1944, when the Germans were pulling out of Estonia. But this endeavour would last for only about a week, since the Soviets re-occupied Estonia. Uluots, just like many of his fellow countrymen, managed to escape to Sweden, where he helped to establish an Estonian government-in-exile. The highly respected journalist, attorney, academic, and statesman died at the beginning of
January 1945. Translator

1 “The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression” (Stéphane Courtois, chief editor), originally published in France, in 1997, under the title “Le livre noir du Communisme”, is a collection of articles, by various authors (including Estonian historian, and former prime minister, Mart Laar), documenting the horrendous crimes committed by Communists in various parts of the world. Translator

2 “Peaceful Atom” – a Soviet campaign, which claimed that nuclear power stations, being one of the highest achievements of Soviet science and engineering, were relatively harmless. The infamous Chernobyl nuclear power station, that malfunctioned in 1986, was constructed as part of this campaign. Translator

3 In the late 1940-s, believing that there were significant uranium deposits in Estonia, the Soviets established a major uranium processing plant in the town of Sillamäe, on the north-eastern coast of Estonia, on the shore of the Gulf of Finland. When it was found that the Estonian uranium
deposits were not as promising as had been expected, uranium was brought to Sillamäe from elsewhere in the Soviet Bloc. At the peak of its activities, Sillamäe produced 25% of the Soviet Union’s enriched uranium. The Sillamäe uranium plant was shut down in 1989. Translator

4 In March 1949, the Soviet occupiers deported about 91,000 people, mostly from rural areas, out of the three Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, to the hinterlands of the U.S.S.R. The aim was to break the backbone of Baltic resistance to the Communist regime. Some of these people were imprisoned in forced labour camps, but most were forcibly resettled in remote and isolated locations. Many of these people, of course, perished, but some of them managed to survive, and to, eventually, even make their way back to their homeland.  Translator

5 “§58” is the statute on the basis of which many Estonians were arrested and punished for “anti-Soviet activities”. Many of those arrested were sentenced to 25 years of forced labour in the
Soviet GULAG, to be followed by 5 years of forced resettlement somewhere in the Soviet hinterlands. Translator

6 The “NKVD” was Stalin’s large notorious internal security and foreign intelligence organisation that later became the KGB. Translator


May 11, 2015 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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