Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic

Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic

infobox Former Country
native_name = Eesti Nõukogude Sotsialistlik Vabariik
Эстонская Советская Социалистическая Республика
conventional_long_name = Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic
common_name = Estonian SSR
continent = Europe
status = Puppet state and later constituent republic of the Soviet Union
government_type = Socialist republic
year_start = 1940
year_end = 1991
date_start = December 30
date_end = December 26 1991
p1 = Estonia
flag_p1 = Flag of Estonia.svg
s1 = Estonia
flag_s1 = Flag of Estonia.svg

symbol = Coat of arms of the Estonian SSR

capital =
latd=59 |latm=25 |latNS=N |longd=24 |longm=45 |longEW=E
largest_city = capital
national_motto = "Kõigi maade proletaarlased ühienege!" (English: _en. "Workers of the world, unite!")
national_anthem = "Jää kestma, Kalevite kange rahvas"
(English: _en. "Endure, the brave people of Kalev")
common_languages = Russian (de jure) Estonian (de facto)
currency = Ruble (SUR)
leader1 =
leader2 = Karl Vaino
year_leader1 =
year_leader2 = 1986-1991
title_leader = General Secretary
title_deputy = Premier of the memberstate
deputy1 =
year_deputy1 =
deputy2 =
year_deputy2 =
stat_year1 = 1991
stat_area1 = 45227
stat_pop1 = 1565662
footnotes = 1Official names of the USSR
footnotes2 = 247,549 km² were defined according to the Tartu Peace Treaty in 1920 between Estonia and Russia. Today the remaining 2,323 km² is still illegally annexed by Russia.
The ceded areas include the Petserimaa county and the boundary in the north of Lake Peipus as the Lands behind the city of Narva including Ivangorod (Jaanilinn). [Territorial changes of the Baltic states#Actual territorial changes after World War II Soviet territorial changes against Estonia after World War II] [ Pechory under Russian control]
utc_offset = +3
cctld = .su
calling_code = 7
The Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic ( _et. Eesti Nõukogude Sotsialistlik Vabariik; _ru. Эстонская Советская Социалистическая Республика "Estonskaya Sovetskaya Sotsalisticheskaya Respublika"), also known as the Estonian SSR for short, was one of the republics that made up the former Soviet Union. Referred to as a short-lived, Soviet-backed puppet state [The Baltic States: Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania (Postcommunist States and Nations) David J. Smith from Front Matter ISBN-10: 0415285801 ] [Estonia: Identity and Independence: Jean-Jacques Subrenat, David Cousins, Alexander Harding, Richard C. Waterhouse on Page 246. ISBN-10: 9042008903 ] proclaimed on July 21, 1940 after the invasion and occupation of the Republic of Estonia by the Soviet Union, and subsequently to the constituent republic of the Soviet Union that succeeded it after annexation between 1940-1941 and 1944-1991. Estonian territory was occupied by Nazi Germany from 1941 to 1944 (see Occupation of Estonia by Nazi Germany).


oviet Occupation 1940

The fate of the Republic of Estonia before the World War II was decided by the German-Soviet Nonaggression Pact and the of August 1939.

On September 24, 1939 warships of the Soviet Navy appeared off Estonian ports and Soviet bombers began a threatening patrol over Tallinn and the nearby countryside. [,9171,762664,00.html Moscow's Week] at Time Magazine on Monday, October 9, 1939] Moscow demanded that Estonia allow the USSR to establish military bases and station 25,000 troops on Estonian soil for the duration of the European war. [ The Baltic States: Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania by David J. Smith, Page 24, ISBN 0415285801 ] The government of Estonia accepted the ultimatum signing the corresponding agreement on September 28. 1939.

On June 12, 1940, according to the director of the Russian State Archive of the Naval Department Pavel Petrov (C.Phil.), the order for total military blockade of Estonia to the Soviet Baltic Fleet was given. [ [] Pavel Petrov] at Finnish Defence Forces home page] [ [ documents published] from the State Archive of the Russian Navy ]

On June 14 the Soviet military blockade of Estonia went into effect while the world’s attention was focused on the fall of Paris to Nazi Germany. Two Soviet bombers downed a Finnish passenger airplane "Kaleva" flying from Tallinn to Helsinki carrying three diplomatic pouches from the U.S. legations in Tallinn, Riga and Helsinki. [ [ The Last Flight from Tallinn] at American Foreign Service Association]

On June 16, the Soviet Union invaded Estonia. [,9171,764071-2,00.html Five Years of Dates] at Time magazine on Monday, Jun. 24, 1940 ] the Soviet Union presented an ultimatum, demanding the replacement of the Estonian government and free access for Soviet troops. The Red Army emerged from the military bases in Estonia and, aided by an additional 90,000 Soviet troops, took over the country, occupying the territories of Republic of Estonia, [The World Book Encyclopedia ISBN-10: 0716601036] , ["The History of the Baltic States" by Kevin O'Connor ISBN-10: 0313323550 ] and organizing and supporting communist protests all over the country. ["Estonia: Identity and Independence" by Jean-Jacques Subrenat, David Cousins, Alexander Harding, Richard C. Waterhouse ISBN-10: 9042008903]

On June 17, Estonia accepted the ultimatum. The Estonian government decided according to the Kellogg-Briand Pact not to defend themselves; given the overwhelming Soviet force both on the borders and inside the country, the order was given not to resist, to avoid bloodshed and open war. [The Baltic States: Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania by David J. Smith p.19 ISBN 0415285801]

Most of the Estonian Defence Forces and the Estonian Defence League surrendered according to the orders and were disarmed by the Red Army. Only the Estonian Independent Signal Battalion stationed in Tallinn at Raua Street showed resistance. As the Red Army brought in additional reinforcements supported by six armoured fighting vehicles, the battle lasted several hours until sundown. There was one dead, several wounded on the Estonian side and about 10 killed and more wounded on the Soviet side. Finally the military resistance was ended with negotiations and the Independent Signal Battalion surrendered and was disarmed. [et icon [ 51 years from the Raua Street Battle] at Estonian Defence Forces Home Page]

On June 21, 1940, the Soviet occupation of the Republic of Estonia was complete. [Estonia: Identity and Independence by Jean-Jacques Subrenat, David Cousins, Alexander Harding, Richard C. Waterhouse ISBN 9042008903] The Flag of Estonia was replaced with a Red flag on Pikk Hermann tower.

On June 21 the President Konstantin Päts (deported to Ufa on July 30 and later arrested) formed a new government under Prime Minister Johannes Vares.

On July 14-15 the rigged, extraordinary single-party parliamentary election were held where all but pro-Communist candidates were outlawed. People were forced to vote under the threat of prosecution, and those who didn't were later arrested on charges of treason and executed. [,9171,764407,00.html Justice in The Baltic] at Time magazine on Monday, Aug. 19, 1940 ] Tribunals were set up to punish "traitors to the people." those who had fallen short of the "political duty" of voting Estonia into the USSR. The communist "Union of the Estonian Working People" "won" an absolute majority of seats. On July 21 the parliament ("Riigivolikogu") proclaimed the formation of the Estonian SSR, and, despite the promises given before the election, petitioned to join the Soviet Union on July 22. In response the Estonian SSR was formally incorporated into the Soviet Union (USSR) on August 6, 1940, and nominally became the 16th constituent republic of the USSR. (On July 16, 1956, the Karelo-Finnish SSR was demoted to the Karelian ASSR; from then on until 1991, the Estonian SSR was considered the 15th constituent republic.)

According to Estonian and Western accounts the Republic of Estonia was occupied by the Soviet Union in June 1940, [ [,9171,764134,00.html Soviet occupation of Estonia ] at Time Magazine on Monday, Jul. 01, 1940 ] [The World Book Encyclopedia ISBN-10: 0716601036 ] [ The History of the Baltic States by Kevin O'Connor ISBN-10: 0313323550 ] [Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs: [ Molotovi-Ribbentropi pakt ja selle tagajärjed] ] and forcibly incorporated as a result of a communist Coup d'état supported by the Soviet troops. [Estonia: Identity and Independence by Jean-Jacques Subrenat, David Cousins, Alexander Harding, Richard C. Waterhouse ISBN-10: 9042008903 ] The United States, United Kingdom and other western powers considered the annexation of Estonia by USSR illegal following the Stimson Doctrine — a stance that made the doctrine an established precedent of international law. [Vitas, Robert A. (1990). "The United States and Lithuania. The Stimson Doctrine of Nonrecognition". N.Y.: Praeger. ISBN 0275934128.] Although the US and the UK, the allies of the USSR against Germany during the World War II recognized the occupation of the Baltic states by USSR at Yalta Conference in 1945 de facto, they retained diplomatic relations with the exiled representatives of the independent Republic of Estonia,Mälksoo, Lauri (2000). [ Professor Uluots, the Estonian Government in Exile and the Continuity of the Republic of Estonia in International Law] . "Nordic Journal of International Law" 69.3, 289-316.] never formally recognized the annexation of Estonia de jure. [cite journal | last=European Parliament | title=Resolution on the situation in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania | journal=Official Journal of the European Communities | volume=C 42/78 | date=January 13, 1983 | url= "whereas the Soviet annexias of the three Baltic States still has not been formally recognized by most European States and the USA, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and the Vatican still adhere to the concept of the Baltic States".]

Russian government and officials however continue to maintain that the Soviet annexation of Estonia was legitimate [ [ Russia denies Baltic 'occupation'] by BBC News] see|Occupation of Baltic Republics

oviet Terror

The Soviet authorities, having gained control over Estonia, immediately imposed their regime and system. Order № 001223 "On the Procedure for carrying out the from Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia" was issued.

During the first year of Soviet occupation (1940-1941) over 8,000 people, including most of the country's leading politicians and military officers, were arrested. About 2,200 of the arrested were executed in Estonia, while most others were moved to prison camps in Russia, from where very few were later able to return alive.On July 19, 1940, the Commander-in-chief of the Estonian Army Johan Laidoner was captured by the NKVD and deported together with his wife to the Town of Penza. Laidoner died in the Vladimir Prison Camp, Russia on March 13, 1953. [ [ General Johan Laidoner] at The Estonian War Museum ] President of Estonia, Konstantin Päts was arrested and deported by the Soviets to Ufa in Russia on July 30, he died in a psychiatric hospital in Kalinin (currently Tver) in Russia in 1956.

800 Estonian officers, about half of the total, were executed, arrested or starved to death in prison camps.

Nazi Occupation 1941-1944

After Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941,the Wehrmacht reached Estonia in (July 1941).Although initially the Germans were perceived as liberators from the USSR and its repressions by most Estonians in hope for restoration of the countries independence, it was soon realized that they were but another occupying power. Germans pillaged the country for the war effort and unleashed the Holocaust. Estonia was incorporated into the German province of Ostland.

Destruction of graveyards and war memorials

Estonian graveyards and monuments were destroyed. Among others, in the Tallinn Military Cemetery the majority of gravestones from 1918–1944 were destroyed by the Soviet authorities. This graveyard was then re-used by the Red Army after World War II. [ [ Linda Soomre Memorial Plaque] at ] Other cemeteries destroyed by the authorities during the Soviet era in Estonia include Baltic German cemeteries, Kopli cemetery (established in 1774), Mõigu cemetery and the oldest cemetery in Tallinn, the Kalamaja cemetery (from the 16th century). After the re-occupation of Estonia in 1944, the destruction of monuments from the Republic of Estonia, which had survived or had been restored during the German occupation, continued. On 15 April 1945, in Pärnu, a monument by Amandus Adamson, erected to 87 persons who had fallen in the Estonian War of Independence, was blown up. The destruction of war memorials continued for several years and occurred across all districts of the country. A comprehensive file concerning the monuments of the Estonian War of Independence, compiled by the Military Department of the EC(b)P Central Committee in April 1945, has been preserved in the Estonian State Archives. Monuments are listed by counties in this file and it specifies the amount of explosive and an evaluation concerning the transportation that were needed. An extract regarding Võrumaa reads:

"In order to carry out demolition works, 15 Party activists and 275 persons from the Destruction Battalion must be mobilised. 15 workers are needed for the execution of each demolition and 10 people are needed for protection.... In order to carry out demolition works, 225 kg of TNT, 150 metres of rope/fuse and 100 primers are needed, since there is no demolition material on the spot. 11 lorries, which are available but which lack petrol, are needed for carrying the ruins away." [Report by the Chairman of the EC(b)P Võrumaa Committee, Tamm, No. 101/s to the EC(b)P CC 1st secretary Nikolai Karotamm. 06.04.1945. ERAF Archives depot 1, ref. 3, depository unit 501. L. 37.]

oviet repressions against ethnic Russians in Estonia

* Sergei Zarkevich, an activist involved with Russian organizations in Estonia. The owner of the "Russian Book" store: arrest order issued by NKVD on June 23, 1940, executed on March 25, 1941.
* Oleg Vasilovsky, a former General in the Russian Imperial Army. Arrest order issued by NKVD on July 1, 1940. Further fate unknown.
* Sergei Klensky, one of the former leaders of the Russian Peasants Labor Party. Arrested on July 22. On November 19 1940, sentenced to 8 years in a prison camp. Further fate unknown.
* Mikhail Aleksandrov
* Arseni Zhitkov. [ [ fate of individuals arrested ] at EIHC]

Other ethnic Russians in Estonia arrested and executed by different Soviet War Tribunals in 1940-1941:
Ivan Salnikov, Pavel Mironov, Mihhail Arhipov, Vassili belugin, Vladimir Strekoytov, Vasili Zhilin, Vladimir Utekhin, Sergei Samennikov, Ivan Meitsev, Ivan Yeremeyev, Konstatin Bushuyev, Yegor Andreyev, Nikolai Sausailov, Aleksandr Serpukhov, Konstatin Nosov, Aleksandr Nekrasov, Nikolai Vasilev-Muroman, Aleksei Sinelshikov, Pyotr Molonenkov, Grigory Varlamov, Stepan Pylnikov, Ivan Lishayev, Pavel Belousev, Nikolai Gusev, Leonid Sakharov, Aleksander Chuganov, Fyodor Dobrovidov, Lev Dobek, Andrei Leontev, Ivan Sokolov, Ivan Svetlov, Vladimir Semenov, Valentin Semenov-Vasilev, Vasili Kamelkov, Georgi Lokhov, Aleksei Forlov, Ivan Ivanov, Vasili Karamsin, Aleksandr Krasilnikov, Aleksandr Zhukov, etc.Full list at: [ [ Individuals executed ] at EIHC]

oviet Deportations

Mass deportations of ethnic Estonians during the Soviet era together with migration into Estonia from other parts of the Soviet Union resulted in the proportion of ethnic Estonians in the country decreasing from 88% in 1934 to 62% in 1989. [ Background Note: Estonia] AT U.S Department of State ] " While the Baltic republics had the highest living standard in the Soviet Union and high rates of industrialization, the ethnic Estonians in Estonian SSR (similarly to Latvians in Latvian SSR, but unlike Lithuanians in Lithuanian SSR) suffered a sharp decline of their proportion in the total population due to the large-scale immigration, mostly of Russians. While in 1934 the Estonians comprised 88 percent of the total population of Estonia, by 1959 and 1970 their number had decreased to 75 and 68 percent, respectively (and to 61.5% by 1989. [ [ The White Book] , P. 21.] )

This decline in percentage was especially severe among the urban and young populations, which made it difficult for Estonians to maintain their ethnic identity. Within 11 years between 1959 and 1970 the proportion of Estonians in Tallinn declined by as much as 4%, from 60% to 56% of the total population. [Parming, Tõnu (1980). [ Population Processes and the Nationality Issue in the Soviet Baltic] . "Soviet Studies" 32 (3), 398-414.] Population growth throughout the existence of the Estonian SSR was mainly due to immigration from other regions of the Soviet Union. [ [ The White Book] , P. 21, 147, 150.] Although the percentage of Estonians in the total population of the Estonian SSR declined due to Soviet migration policies, the total number of ethnic Estonians increased over the Soviet period as a whole. [ BIRTHS, DEATHS AND NATURAL INCREASE. ESTONIANS] ] This was due to a positive natural growth rate of some 1 or 2 thousand per year. As an example, in 1970, the number of live births of Estonians was 14,429 and the number of deaths was 12,356, giving natural increase of 2,073 ethnic Estonians.

In 1940-1941 and 1944-1951 during the Soviet deportations from Estonia tens of thousands of Estonian citizens were forcibly resettled to Siberia. [Parming, Tõnu (1972). [ Population changes in Estonia, 1935-1970] . "Population Studies" 26 (1), 53-78.] During the first year of occupation, 1940-1941, alone, an estimated 43,900 lives were irrecoverably lost, not counting refugees. [ [ Valge raamat] , page 42] The following three-year Nazi occupation brought with it a loss of 32,740 lives, again not counting refugees. Another 16,000 people deaths were caused through Soviet repressions in the years following 1944.

oviet Occupation 1944-1991

Soviet forces re-occupied Estonia in the autumn of 1944 after fierce battles in the northeast of the country on the Narva river and on the Tannenberg Line (Sinimäed). In 1944, faced with the country being re-occupied by the Soviet Army, 80,000 people fled from Estonia by sea to Finland and Sweden. 25,000 Estonians reached Sweden and a further 42,000 Germany. During the war about 8,000 Estonian Swedes and their family members had emigrated to Sweden. After the retreat of the Germans, about 30,000 partisans remained in hiding in the Estonian forests, initiating a massive guerrilla war.

In 1945 some territories of eastern Estonia with the towns of Jaanilinn and Petseri were transferred to the RSFSR.

In 1949 27,650 Soviet troops were still fighting against the ethnic Estonian guerrilla "forest brothers". The 1949 mass deportation when about 21,000 people were removed from Estonia broke the back of the partisan movement. 6,600 partisans gave themselves up in November 1949. Later on, the failure of the Hungarian uprising broke the morale of 700 men still remaining under cover. According to the Soviet data, up until 1953 20,351 partisans were defeated. Of these, 1,510 perished in the battles. During that period, 1,728 members of the Red Army, NKVD and the militia were killed by the "forest brothers". August Sabbe, the last surviving "Forest Brother" in Estonia, was discovered and killed [ Laar, Mart. War in the Woods: Estonia's Struggle for Survival, 1944-1956. ISBN 0-929590-08-2 ] by KGB agents in 1978.During the first post-war decade of Soviet rule, Estonia was governed by Moscow via Russian-born Estonian governors. Born into the families of native Estonians in Russia, the latter had obtained their education in the Soviet Union during the Stalinist admnistration at the end of the 1930s. Many of them had fought in the Red Army (in the Estonian Rifle Corps), few of them had mastered the Estonian language. [Biographical Research in Eastern Europe: Altered Lives and Broken Biographies. Humphrey, Miller, Zdravomyslova ISBN 0754616576]

Although the United States and the United Kingdom, the allies of the USSR against Germany during World War II, recognized the occupation of the Republic of Estonia by USSR at Yalta Conference in 1945 de facto, the governments of the rest of the western democracies did not recognize the seizure of Estonia by the USSR in 1940 and in 1944 de jure according to the Sumner Welles' declaration of July 23, 1940 [ [ Daniel Fried, Assistant Secretary of State] at U.S Department of State] [The Baltic States and their Region: New Europe or Old? by David J. Smith on Page 48 ISBN 9042016663] [Post-Cold War Identity Politics: Northern and Baltic Experiences by Marko Lehti on Page 272: "Soviet occupation in Baltic countries - a position supported by the fact that an overwhelming majority of states never recognized the 1940 incorporation de jure." ISBN 0714683515] Such countries recognized Estonian diplomats who still functioned in many countries in the name of their former governments. These consuls persisted in this anomalous situation until the ultimate restoration of Estonia's independence in 1991. [Diplomats Without a Country: Baltic Diplomacy, International Law, and the Cold War by James T. McHugh , James S. Pacy, Page 2. ISBN 0313318786]

The first freely elected parliament during the Soviet era in Estonia had passed independence resolutions on May 8, 1990, and renamed the Estonian SSR the Republic of Estonia. On August 20, 1991 the Estonian parliament issued a Declaration of Independence from the Soviet Union. On September 6, 1991, the USSR Supreme Council recognized the independence of Estonia. [ The Rise and Fall of the Soviet Union: 1917-1991 (Sources in History) Richard Sakwa Page 248, ISBN-10: 0415122902] , immediately followed by the international recognitions of the Republic of Estonia.

In 1992, Heinrich Mark, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Estonia in exile, [ [ Heinrich Mark] at ] presented his credentials to the newly elected President of Estonia Lennart Meri. On February 23, 1989 The flag of the Estonian SSR was lowered on Pikk Hermann, and replaced with the blue-black-white flag of Estonia on February 24, 1989.

The last Soviet troops withdrew from Estonia in August 1994. [ [ Baltic Military District]]

Historical, pre-Perestroika Soviet Sources

Up to the reassessment of Soviet history in USSR that began during Perestroika, before the USSR had condemned the 1939 secret protocol between Nazi Germany and itself that had led to the invasion and occupation of the three Baltic countries including Estonia. [ The Forty-Third Session of the UN Sub-Commission] at Google Scholar]

The events in 1939 according to the pre-Perestroika Soviet sources were following: in a former province of the Russian Empire, the Province of Estonia (Russian: Эстляндская губерния), Soviet power was established in the end of October 1917. The Estonian Soviet Republic was proclaimed in Narva on November 29, 1918 but fell to counter-revolutionaries and the White Armies in 1919. In June 1940 Soviet power was restored in Estonian as workers overthrew the fascist dictatorship in the icon [ State Symbols - Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic] ] Endel Vanatoa, Estonian SSR, a Reference Book, Perioodika Publisher, 1985, p.11, [ available at Google Print] ] Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd edition, entry on "СССР.Население", available online [ here] ] According to Soviet sources the Soviet government suggested that the Government of the Republic of Estonia conclude a mutual assistance treaty between the two countries. Pressure from Estonian working people forced the Estonian government to accept this suggestion. On September 28, 1939 the Pact of Mutual Assistance was signed [ru icon [ 1939 USSR-Estonia Mutual Aid Pact (full text)] ] which allowed the USSR to station a limited number of Soviet Army units in Estonia. Economic difficulties, dissatisfaction with the Estonian government's policies "sabotaging fulfillment of the Pact and the Estonian government", and political orientation towards Nazi Germany lead to a revolutionary situation in June 1940. A note from the Soviet government to the Estonian Government suggested that they stuck strictly to the Pact of Mutual Assistance. To guarantee fulfillment of the Pact additional military units entered Estonia, welcomed by the Estonian workers who demanded the resignation of the Estonian government. On June 21 under the leadership of the Estonian Communist Party political demonstrations by workers were held in Tallinn, Tartu, Narva and other cities. On the same day the fascist government was overthrown, and the People's government lead by Johannes Vares was formed. On July 14-15 1940 elections for the Estonian Parliament, the State Assembly(Riigikogu) were held. The "Working People’s Union", created by an initiative of the Estonian Communist Party received with 84.1% turnout 92.8% of the votes. [ [ POLITICS, MIGRATION AND MINORITIES IN ESTONIA, 1918-1998] , pdf, p.79] .Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd ed., entry on "Эстонская Советская Социалистическая Республика", available [ online] ] On July 21 1940 the State Assembly adopted the declaration of the restoration of Soviet power in Estonia and proclaimed the Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic. On July 22 the declaration of Estonia's wish to join the USSR was ratified and the Supreme Soviet of the USSR was petitioned accordingly. The request was approved by the Supreme Soviet of the USSR on August 6, 1940. On July 23 the State Assembly proclaimed all land to be People's Property while banks and heavy industry were nationalized. On August 25 the State Assembly adopted the Constitution of the Estonian SSR, renamed itself the Supreme Soviet of the Estonian SSR and approved the Council of People's Commissars of the Estonian SSR.


While views diverge on history of Estonia, the core of the controversy lies in the different interpretations of the historical events during World War II and after.

During the time of glasnost and the reassessment of Soviet history in USSR, the USSR condemned the 1939 secret protocol between Nazi Germany and itself that had led to the invasion and occupation of the three Baltic countries. The collapse of the Soviet Union led to the restoration Republic of Estonia's sovereignty. "(See ).""According to the European Court of Human Rights, [European Court of Human Rights cases on Occupation of Baltic States] Government of Estonia, [ [ Estonia says Soviet occupation justifies it staying away from Moscow celebrations - Pravda.Ru ] ] EU, [ [ Motion for a resolution on the Situation in Estonia] by EU] USA [ [ U.S.-Baltic Relations: Celebrating 85 Years of Friendship] at] Estonia remained occupied by the Soviet Union until restoration of its independence in 1991 and the 48 years of Soviet occupation and annexation was never recognized as legal by the Western democracies.

At the same time revisionism in Russia has begun to raise fears among some historians that the Kremlin is trying to rewrite history in a way that risks playing down some of the less palatable events in the history of the Soviet Union. [ [ A Do-Over for Russian History?] at wsj]

Although it is evident from documentary evidence at the time that in all three Baltic States those who did not turn out to vote in the 1940 referendums were later summarily tried and executed on charges of treason, [,9171,764407,00.html Justice in The Baltic] at Time magazine on Monday, Aug. 19, 1940 ] the Russian government continues to maintain that the Soviet annexation of the Baltic states was legitimate [cite news | author = BBC News|Europe | title = Russia denies Baltic 'occupation' | url = | accessdate = 09-03-2007 ] and that the Soviet Union liberated the countries from the Nazis. [cite news | author = BBC News|Europe | title = Bush denounces Soviet domination | url = | accessdate = 09-03-2007 ] [] It is commonly stated that the Soviet troops had entered the Baltics in 1940 following the agreements and with the consent of the then governments of the Baltic republics. They maintain that the USSR was not in a state of war and was not waging any combat activities on the territory of the three Baltic states, therefore, the argument goes, the word 'occupation' can not be used. [ [ Russia denies it illegally annexed the Baltic republics in 1940 - Pravda.Ru ] ] [ [ Presidential aide: the term "occupation" inapplicable for Baltic States - Pravda.Ru ] ] "The assertions about [the] 'occupation' by the Soviet Union and the related claims ignore all legal, historical and political realities, and are therefore utterly groundless." (Russian Foreign Ministry) [ [ RIA Novosti - Russia - Russia's rejection of Lithuania occupation claims final -ministry ] ]


During the Soviet occupation in Estonia between 1940 to 1991, the "Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic" did not have an armed forces of her own. Because of the strategic geographical location Estonia was considered as a strategic zone for the Soviet Armed Forces. The territory was therefore heavily militarized and added to the Soviet Baltic Military District which also including a very strong presence of the Soviet Air Defence, Navy and also the Strategic Rocket Forces. The so-called military of the Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic included the following units:
*Ground units:
144th Guards Motor Rifle Division, (Tallinn); 182nd Guard Motorized Rifle Regiment, (Klooga)
188th Guard Motorized Rifle Regiment, (Klooga); 254th Guard Motorized Rifle Regiment, (Tallinn)
148th Independent Recon-Battalion, (Klooga); 295th Independent Engineer-Battalion, (Klooga)
228th Tank Regiment, (Keila); 450th Artillery Regiment, (Klooga)
*Air units:170th Naval Shturmovik Aviation Regiment, (Ämari); 321th Naval Shturmovik Aviation Regiment, (Ämari)
366th Interceptor Aviation Regiment, (Pärnu); 384th Interceptor Aircraft Regiment, (Tallinn)
425th Interceptor Aviation Regiment, (Haapsalu); 655th Interceptor Aviation Regiment, (Pärnu)
656th Interceptor Aviation Regiment, (Tapa); 66th Soviet Attack Air Regiment, (Kunda)
192th Military Transport Aviation Regiment, (Tartu); 196th Military Transport Aviation Regiment, (Tartu)
132nd Heavy Bomber Aviation Regiment, (Tartu); 2nd Air-Defence Army
*Naval units:
Red-Banner Baltic Fleet; (Tallinn)-(Paldiski)


On July 23, 1940, the Estonian SSR nationalized all land, banks and major industrial enterprises in Estonia. Peasants were only allotted small plots of land during the land reforms. Small businesses were also later nationalized. The occupation brought with it colonisation [ [ The White Book: Losses inflicted on the Estonian nation by occupation regimes] , p. 143-144.] According to some Western scholars, relations between the Soviet Union and Estonian SSR were those of internal colonialism. [Mettam, Collin W. and Stephen Wyn Williams (2001). A colonial perspective on population migration in Soviet Estonia. "Journal of Baltic Studies" 27 (1), 133-150.] [Mettam, Colin W. and Stephen Wyn Williams (1998). [ Internal colonialism and cultural division of labour in the Soviet Republic of Estonia] . "Nations and Nationalism" 4 (3), 363-388.]
* the earlier economic structures constructed mostly in 1920-1940 were purposefully destroyed;
* new production structures were constructed only to satisfy interests of the colonial power, assigning priorities according to an all-union production chain network;
* local environmental resources were used in an extensive, robber-like manner;
* the employment and migration policies were tailored towards assimilating the native population;
* former economic ties of Estonia were cut off and Estonian economy was isolated from non-Soviet markets.

All banks and accounts were essentially nationalized; a lot of industrial machinery was disassembled and relocated to other Soviet territories. [ [ Valge raamat] , page 129; [ The White Book: Losses inflicted on the Estonian nation by occupation regimes] , p. 145] Before retreating in 1941, Red Army, following the scorched earth policies, burnt most industrial constructions, destroying power plants, vehicles and cattle. Millions of dollars worth of goods were also moved from Estonia to Russia under the pretext of "evacuation" without providing any compensation.

Immediately after the war, major immigration projects were undertaken, labelled "brotherly aid under Stalinist nationality policies". For postwar reconstruction, hundreds of thousands of Russophones were relocated into Estonia, mainly the cities. For example, during the years of 1945-1950, the total urban population count grew from 267,000 to 516,000; over 90% of the increase being fresh immigrants. [ [ Valge raamat] , page 129; [ The White Book: Losses inflicted on the Estonian nation by occupation regimes] , p. 147]

A special care was taken to change the ethnic structure of population,Estonian Museum of Occupations: [ Majandus: Teise maailmasõja ja Nõukogude okupatsiooni aastad (1940-1991)] ] especially in Northeastern Estonia. For example, a policy of prioritising immigrants before returning war refugees in assigning dwelling quarters was adopted. ["Narvskij rabochij" April 25, 1950, quoted in [ Valge raamat] , page 132 and [ The White Book: Losses inflicted on the Estonian nation by occupation regimes] , p. 149-150.]


On May 21, 1947, the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party (bolsheviks) authorized collectivization of Estonian agriculture. Initially it was implemented with great difficulties in the Baltic republics but it was facilitated by mass deportations of dissident farmers, termed 'kulaks'. As a result, by the end of April 1949, half of the remaining individual farmers in Estonia had joined kolkhozes. [Taagepera, Rein (1980). [ Soviet Collectivization of Estonian Agriculture: The Deportation Phase] . "Soviet Studies" 32 (3), 379-397.] [Jaska, Elmar (1952). [ The Results of Collectivization of Estonian Agriculture] . "Land Economics" 28 (3), 212-217.] ["Eesti Nõukogude Entsüklopeedia" (Estonian Soviet Encyclopedia). Tallinn: Valgus, 1972. P. 221.] 99.3% of farms had been collectivised by 1957 [ [ The White Book] , P. 155.]

oviet capital investments in Estonia

Cities, such as Tallinn, destroyed during the World War II, were rebuilt. In 1955 the TV Centre was built in Tallinn, that began TV broadcasts on June 29 of that year. [ru icon [ TV History] ] During preparations to the 1980 Summer Olympics Tallinn was selected as the host for sailing events and sports buildings were built, along with other general infrstructure and broadcasting facilities. This wave of investment included Tallinn TV Tower, Pirita Yachting Centre and Linnahall. The Tallinn Song Grounds, the venue for the song festivals, were built in 1960 [ [ Tallinn Song Grounds] ]


Oil shale and lumber, later also uranium ore, a number of large-volume capital investments were undertaken by the Soviet central power on Estonian territories, mostly under the guise of "postwar reconstruction". [ [ Valge raamat] , page 130; [ The White Book: Losses inflicted on the Estonian nation by occupation regimes] , p. 146-147.] The first Five Year Plan of the occupation, called the fourth Five Year Plan, prescribed a total of 3.5 billion roubles of investments for enterprises in Estonia.

One of the important goals in this reformation of Estonia's economy was providing economic support to Leningrad. To this end, 40% of the total capital investments of the fourth Five Year Plan to be spent in Estonia were intended for investments in oil shale mining infrastructure. Gas-rich oil shale was delivered to Leningrad via a specially built pipeline starting from 1948; gas from this very same source did not reach Tallinn until 1953. In 1961, 62.5% of the gas produced was still delivered to Leningrad.

By the end of 1954, 227,000 apartments in Leningrad were supplied with using the gas output of Kohtla-Järve; only about three percent of that, or 6,041 apartments, had been supplied in Tallinn. [ [ Valge raamat] , page 132; [ The White Book: Losses inflicted on the Estonian nation by occupation regimes] , p. 149.]

Healthcare in Estonian SSR

In the year 1950, the major problems meriting medical research were declared to be tuberculosis, traumatism, occupational diseases and dysentery. In comparison to the war years, birth rate had increased, mortality (including infant mortality) decreased, and the birth rate again exceeded the death rate. [ [ Valge raamat] , page 48]

Despite the immense needs for research, the Faculty of Medicine at Tartu State University (now University of Tartu) suffered from major purges, culminating after March 1950. Altogether, 56 staff of the university were purged; in the Faculty of Medicine, 12 professors of 17 were removed from their positions. They were replaced with less skilled but politically reliable staff.

Only after the Khrushchev Thaw period of 1956 did healthcare networks start to stabilise. Due to natural development, science and technology advanced and popular welfare increased. All demographic indicators improved; birth rate increased, mortality decreased. Healthcare became freely available to everybody during the Soviet era.

Alcoholism became a growing health issue. [ [ Valge raamat] , page 49] Up until 1985 and the beginning of glasnost, it was illegal to publish statistical data on alcohol sales. It is estimated that alcoholism peaked in 1982-1984, when consumption reached 11.2 litres of absolute alcohol per person per annum. (In comparison, in Finland during the same period consumption only 6-7 litres per person per annum).

Budgetary system

In the Soviet system, all local proceeds were initially appropriated into the federal budget at Moscow, and some of them were then invested back in the local economies. Thus, investment figures do not represent actual income; rather, they resemble the spending side of the national budget. Fact|date=July 2007


The Soviet rule significantly slowed Estonia's economic growth, resulting in a wide "wealth gap" in comparison with its neighboring countries (e.g., Finland, Sweden). [ [ Valge raamat] , pages 125, 148] For example, Estonian economy and standard of living exceeded that in Finland prior to WWII Fact|date=May 2008. Despite Soviet and now Russian claims of improvements in standards, even three decades after WWII Estonia was rife with housing and food shortages. Taagepera, Rein. Estonia, Return to Independence. Westview Series on the Post-Soviet Republics. Westview Press in cooperation with the Harriman Institute. 1993.] The economic damages directly attributable to the second Soviet occupation (from 1945 to 1991) have been estimated to lie in the range of hundreds of billions of dollars. [ [ Valge raamat] , page 20] Similarly, the damages to Estonian ecology were estimated at around 4 billion USD.

Moscow Olympic Games of 1980

Tallinn was selected the host of the sailing events which led to controversy since Western countries had not "de jure" recognized ESSR as part of USSR. In preparations, a number of sports and general infrastructure buildings were built, including Tallinn TV Tower, Pirita Yachting Centre and Linnahall.

ee also

* Estonia
* Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact
* History of Estonia
* Demographics of Estonia

Notes and references

External links

* [ Museum of occupations of Estonia] — Project by the Kistler-Ritso Estonian Foundation
* [ Estonian International Commission for Investigation of Crimes Against Humanity]

Further reading

* Jaska, Elmar (1952). [ The Results of Collectivization of Estonian Agriculture] . "Land Economics" 28 (3), 212-217.
* Kareda, Endel (1949). "Estonia in the Soviet Grip: Life and Conditions under Soviet Occupation 1947-1949". London: Boreas.
* Kukk, Mare (1993). Political opposition in Soviet Estonia 1940-1987. "Journal of Baltic Studies" 24 (4), 369-384.
* Kulu, Hill (2003). [ Residence and migration in post-war Soviet Estonia: the case of Russian-born Estonians] . "Tijdschrift voor Economische en Sociale Geografie" 94 (5), 576-588.
* Kurman, George (1977). Literary censorship in general and in Soviet Estonia. "Journal of Baltic Studies" 8 (1), 3-15.
* Mander, Ülo (1994). [ Changes of landscape structure in Estonia during the Soviet period] . "GeoJournal" 33 (1), 45-54.
* Mettam, Collin W. and Stephen Wyn Williams (2001). A colonial perspective on population migration in Soviet Estonia. "Journal of Baltic Studies" 27 (1), 133-150.
* Mettam, Colin W. and Stephen Wyn Williams (1998). [ Internal colonialism and cultural division of labour in the Soviet Republic of Estonia] . "Nations and Nationalism" 4 (3), 363-388.
* Parming, Tõnu (1972). [ Population changes in Estonia, 1935-1970] . "Population Studies" 26 (1), 53-78.
* Parming, Tõnu (1980). [ Population Processes and the Nationality Issue in the Soviet Baltic] . "Soviet Studies" 32 (3), 398-414.
* Parming, Tõnu and Elmar Järvesoo (eds.). "A Case Study of a Soviet Republic: The Estonian SSR". Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1978.
* Rebas, Hain (2005). Dependence and opposition. Problems in Soviet Estonian historiography in the late 1940s and early 1950s. "Journal of Baltic Studies" 36 (4), 423-448.
* Taagepera, Rein (1980). [ Soviet Collectivization of Estonian Agriculture: The Deportation Phase] . "Soviet Studies" 32 (3), 379-397.
* Taagepera, Rein. "Estonia: Return to Independence". Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1993. ISBN 0813317037.
* Tammaru, Tiit (2002). [ Universal and Specific Features of Urbanization in Estonia under Socialism: The Empirical Evidence of the Sources of Urban and Rural Population Growth] . "The Professional Geographer" 54 (4), 544–556.
* Virkkunen, Joni (1999). [ The politics of identity: Ethnicity, minority and nationalism in Soviet Estonia] . "GeoJournal" 48 (2), 83-89.

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