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Estonian anti-German resistance movement 1941–44

The Estonian resistance movement (Estonian Eesti vastupanuliikumine) was an underground movement to resist the occupation of Estonia by Nazi Germany, 1941–1944 during World War II. Due to the unusually benign measures implemented in Estonia by the German occupation authorities, especially in contrast to the preceding harsh Soviet occupation of Estonia (1940–1941), the movement was slower to develop effective tactics on a wide scale than in other occupied countries.


  • Background 1
  • Pro-independence resistance 2
  • Pro-Soviet resistance 3
  • References 4
  • See also 5


The September 18, 1944 appointed Government of Estonia in Riigi Teataja

While there was a general mood of gratitude towards Germany as the liberator of Estonia from Soviet occupation, this reservoir of goodwill dissipated within the first months of the war and was transformed into a mood ranging from resigned indifference to active hostility.[1] Professor Uluots' request to the German occupation authorities for the establishment of an independent Estonian Government was rejected and Adolf Hitler subsequently appointed Alfred Rosenberg as Reichkommissar.[2] After it became clear that the Germans were against the restoration of independence of the Estonian state, this negative relationship between the new occupiers and the occupied was sealed.[1] Public resentment began to grow against Germany from 1942 with the imposition of conscription for men into the police battalions, the introduction of the labour draft and the reduction of food rations, while the Estonian Self-Administration was held in contempt for attempting to enforce this conscription.[3] Hjalmar Mäe, the head of the Self-Administration, became quickly unpopular for his criticism of President Konstantin Päts.[4] He had been imprisoned by Päts' regime in 1935 for taking part of an alleged coup.[5] Germans offered his position several times to Jüri Uluots, who refused.[6]

The Estonian people regarded German occupation with greater bitterness than the previous 1917–1918 German occupation and were repelled by the implementation of the German race laws and the insouciant exploitation of the country's natural resources.[2] One Dutch Nazi visiting Estonia in June 1942 commented upon the "chauvinist national consciousness" of the Estonian people and no genuine Germanophile could be found.[1]

Pro-independence resistance

An underground resistance movement,[7] whose members looked to the western Allies for support,[2] developed that reflected the political divisions that existed before 1940, ranging from Päts loyalists to the opposition groups such as the National Centre and Socialist Workers parties. The resistance, which was expressed through a campaign of non-compliance co-ordinated by the underground movement and a clandestine press,[7] was favoured by the geographical proximity to Sweden and Finland where the organised political resistance in Tartu and Tallinn were able to maintain contact with London and Stockholm via the Estonian Envoy to Finland and a fortnightly fast motorboat connection between Tallinn and Stockholm.[8]

Initially a number of underground organisations existed such as the Ernst Kull in 1943 and it was through his efforts that the various groups were merged into a unified opposition to Nazi rule.[9]

In June 1942 political leaders of Estonia who had survived Soviet repressions held a hidden meeting from the occupying powers in Estonia where the formation of an underground Estonian government and the options for preserving continuity of the republic were discussed.[10] On January 6, 1943 a meeting was held at the Estonian foreign delegation in Stockholm. It was decided that, in order to preserve the legal continuity of the Republic of Estonia, the last constitutional prime minister, Jüri Uluots, must continue to fulfill his responsibilities as prime minister.[10][11]

The movement subsequently formed the Johan Pitka,[15] the Germans overran the headquarters of Admiral Pitka in Tallinn and he was subsequently killed in the ensuing battle.[16] Most of the members and officials were caught, jailed, deported, or executed by the advancing Soviets.

Pro-Soviet resistance

A small number of Estonians were involved in underground

See also

  1. ^ a b c Misiunas, Romuald J.; Rein Taagepera; Georg von Rauch (2010). The Baltic States, years of dependence, 1940-1980. University of California Press. p. 62.  
  2. ^ a b c von Rauch, Georg (1974). Die Geschichte der baltischen Staaten. University of California Press. pp. 229–230.  
  3. ^ Statiev, Alexander (2010). The Soviet Counterinsurgency in the Western Borderlands. Cambridge University Press. p. 90.  
  4. ^ Eesti ajalugu VI. Tartu 2005. p. 200.
  5. ^ Kasekamp, Andres (2000). The radical right in interwar Estonia. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 136.  
  6. ^ Eesti ajalugu VI. Tartu 2005. p. 199.
  7. ^ a b c Smith, David James (2001). Estonia: Independence and European Integration. Routledge. p. 36.  
  8. ^ Misiunas p66
  9. ^ a b Hiio, Toomas (2009). Estonia since 1944: Reports of the Estonian International Commission for the Investigation of Crimes Against Humanity. Estonian Foundation for the Investigation of Crimes Against Humanity. pp. 377–378.  
  10. ^ a b c Chronology at the EIHC
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ Miljan, Toivo (2004). Historical Dictionary of Estonia. Scarecrow Press. p. 21.  
  13. ^ Raun, Toivo U. (2001). Estonia and the Estonians. Hoover Press. p. 163.  
  14. ^ By Royal Institute of International Affairs. Information Dept. Published 1945
  15. ^ Laur, Mati (2000). History of Estonia. Avita. p. 275.  
  16. ^ Hiio, Toomas (2006). Estonia, 1940-1945: Reports of the Estonian International Commission for the Investigation of Crimes Against Humanity. Estonian Foundation for the Investigation of Crimes Against Humanity. p. 1099.  
  17. ^ Valve Raudnask, Rõõmus eluga toimetulek.
  18. ^ Suure võitluse algus, compiled by Karl Mang & August Pähklimägi, Tallinn, 1965, p. 73-79.
  19. ^ Georgi Karl Loik.
  20. ^ «Ich habe den Anzug seit der Befreiung nicht mehr gewaschen»
  21. ^ Velise Algkooli Karskusringi Vilistlaskogu.
  22. ^ Läänemaalane Aleksander Looring 1905. aasta ajaloo uurijana.
  23. ^ Rudolf Lumi (1962). Rahvatasujad (1. osa). Estonia: Eesti Riiklik Kirjastus.  
  24. ^ Rudolf Lumi (1965). Rahvatasujad (2. osa). Tallinn, Estonia: Eesti Raamat.  


[24][23] as well as others.[22][21] Aleksander Looring,[20][19]

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