The White Book: A summary with observations (13)
Archived Articles 21 Jul 2006 Viktor VirakEWR
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While there could have been entirely valid political reasons to abstain, as yet, claiming for compensation-apology from Russia, this policy may have been influenced by some other related philosophies. For instance, Hando Runnel (cited in Estonian Life, Feb. 24, 2006) comments: “We know the wrongs, really we all do, but is it us who needs to wipe them away?” Or, an article in Eesti Elu, March 10, 2006, comparing the Latvian (action) and Estonian (non-action) cases regarding publication of names of KGB agents, where the historian Indrek Jürjo states that Estonia cannot follow the Latvian example because 1) lack of information base about KGB agents who remained in Estonia; 2) that the Laar Government gave an opportunity for agents to make confessions of their deeds to the Estonian Security Police; 3) The Government guaranteed that their past will remain a state secret: “Publicizing their names would have been incorrect for those who had confessed.” And, statements like: “The Baltic countries were occupied as a consequence of mutual assistance pact, concluded between the Soviet Union and the Baltic States, already in the fall of 1939.” are of no help, confusing the issue — it was a case of aggression! (The quotation is from Magnus Ilmjärv's dissertation at the Helsinki University, 2004, “Silent Submission.”) [Chapter I of the White Book discusses the aggression events.]

This apparent silencing policy is thoroughly discussed by Vello Helk in his article “Silence as a Tool to Suppress the Truth.” (Rahvuslik Kontakt 4[188]2005), describing an unhealthy situation in an independent state.

On the same topic, in Lithuania, “Parliament passed a law demanding to seek compensation from Russia for the Soviet occupation damage back in 200.” (The Baltic Times, March 9-15, 2006).

In this general context of crimes by communism, the recent resolution by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (The Baltic Times, Feb. 2-2006) may embolden the involved independent nations to have those claims for responsibilities for crimes to be brought forward.

Relevant paragraphs of this resolution:

“(5) The fall of totalitarian communist regimes in Central and Eastern Europe has not been followed in all cases by an international investigation of the crimes committed by them. Moreover, the authors of those crimes have not been brought to trial by the international community, as was the case with horrible crimes committed by National Socialism (nazism).

(7) The Assembly is convinced that the awareness of history is one of the premeditations for avoiding similar crimes in the future. Furthermore, moral assessment and condemnation of crimes committed play an important role in the education of young generations. The clear position of the international community on the past may be a reference for their future actions.

(8) Moreover, the Assembly believes that these victims of crimes committed by totalitarian communist regimes who are still alive, or their families, deserve sympathy, understanding and recognition for their sufferings.”

Also, The Baltic Times (Feb. 2-2006) states: “It is estimated that 100 million people were killed by communist regimes in the 20th Century.”

Summing up, in principle there appears to be no insurmountable difficulties in terms of political assertiveness to initiate action on compensation for sufferings of Estonian nation during the Soviet occupations. (As mentioned in preceding, Lithuanians have done it). It would mean that up to now not identified crimes against humanity would be brought out from the “black hole.” 12 years of conscientious work by Estonian researchers would have not been in vain, in regard to this particular issue.

However, a question lingers: is the present Estonian internal political climate healthy enough to undertake the historical action to remedy the wrongdoings in a manner suitable to an independent nation? Vello Helk comments in his article “The Pendulum Handling History Keeps Oscillating” (Rahvuslik Kontakt 1[189]2006): “Meanwhile the Parliament (Riigikogu) had even condemned communism and its crimes, but it still has remained as a declaration, which does not even apply to Estonian communists.” There is enough moral and political support by the European Commission to carry it through.

•••
(Endnote: An interested reader should be aware of a parallel document by the International Commission for the Investigation of Crimes Against Humanity, ISBN 9949-13-057-3-2005, chaired by the Minister Max Jakobson, initiated in 1998 by the Estonian Government. So far, Phase I, The Soviet Occupation in Estonia, 1940-1941, and Phase II, The German Occupation of Estonia, 1941-1944, have been published. (Phase III, Soviet Occupation 1944-1991, is in the process of being published). This is a thorough, encompassing document, being also quite specific in establishing the responsibilities for committed crimes.)
 
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