(In response to requests by readers, this column will offer periodic stories about the KGB in Estonia.)
Some years ago a middle aged man related to the Estonian weekly ‘Eesti Ekspress’ how in 1984, as a university student, he was forced to cooperate with the KGB. “What I am about to tell I haven’t told my mother or my brother. My story is known only to two or three people,” said the story teller starting his tale.
“My mother had a close relative who lived in Canada. She was in correspondence with him and I also wrote to him once in a while. But the relative had severed in the German army and what was especially risky for us, he had served in the Waffen SS.”
“In 1983 after I had finished my first year at Tartu University, I was drafted into the Soviet army to serve the mandatory time. I was totally against this, as were all the other boys. Why should we be forced to join the Soviet military?
“When only one half year was left for me to serve I was called in to the ‘special department’. [He is likely referring here to the political officer, the ‘politruk’, who keeps his eye on the ideological reliability of the recruits, someone who in effect has more power than the unit’s commander and who works hand-in-glove with the KGB. In contrast, ideology and politics as an institutional factor in military life is absolutely forbidden by law in the Canadian armed forces and in probably all western military.]
“At first they offered me cigarettes, wanted to know me how things were going and then suddenly they asked me how I thought I was ‘going to get away with it’. I was flabbergasted. I didn’t know what to say.
“Then their accusations became serious. ‘You are undermining our country. You’re spreading propaganda!’ A bright lamp was pointed at my face. My documents were pulled from me and studied. And then they went over with astounding precision the conversations I had had with others over the past half year.
“It was very difficult for me to refute this. They had it very precisely all on paper. But what subversion could I possibly do? Obviously I had a different orientation than the Russian draftees. For me history was all-together different than for the others. I hadn’t been a young pioneer, I didn’t belong to the Comsomol [both youth organizations of the Communist party]. I had probably explained to the others what I thought of those organizations. (Loe edasi Eesti Elu 11. oktoobri paberlehest)
More KGB stories: How a student was recruited.