During the first Soviet occupation, the initial step was the sovietization and ideologization of the scientific activities, structures and theoretical framework of all the major research and higher education centres.
1) Estonian Academy of Sciences was dissolved immediately — July 17th, 1940.
2) The Johannes Vares government began reorganizing the University of Tartu in summer 1940. Rector H. Kaho and deans were forced to resign, replaced by professors H. Riikoja and A. Tõeleid-Kliiman, organizing the political cleanout amongst the lecturers. Prof. H. Kruus was appointed the rector. The University did reopen on Sept. 30, 1940. The new statute made it clear what was the new political climate: “The goal is to educate people capable of learning the most advanced science and technology, armed with the knowledge of scientific socialism, ready to defend our Soviet homeland and to dedicate themselves wholeheartedly to the construction of the communist society”...
This policy was implemented. The Board of the University was replaced by the Soviet of the TSU. It was decreed: “...it had to assist first and foremost students from amongst the proletariat, poor farmers and working intelligentsia”. Also, a certificate was required from the rural municipality, testifying to the student's social background, former activities, and financial situation of the family before June 21st, 1940. Nothing was left to chance.
On Oct. 1st, 1940, the university had 3,478 students, decreasing to 1,987 during the next six months. Apparently, the political policies were working.
The first ones to suffer from the repression were scientists and lecturers in the fields of social and humanitarian sciences, dealing with sociology and national independence: jurists, historians, scholars of literature and history. A generation of jurist professors - at the top of the European level - was annihilated. This cleanout of the intelligentsia continued until to the beginning of the war, June 22nd, 1941.
3) The Tallinn Technical University had two faculties in the beginning of 1940: the Faculty of Building and Mechanics and the Faculty of Chemistry and Mining. There were 80 lecturers and 600 students. The “Temporary Terms of Reference of the ESSR Tallinn Technical University” were adopted in Oct. 1940, and became the founding document for the Sovietization of the university. A Chair of the Foundation of Marxism-Leninism was created. Communist A. Sipsakas from Leningrad was appointed its head. The university started to organize the political education of students.
The German occupation of 1941-1944 also damaged the research work, caused loss of lives and great material destruction. National-minded scientific workers were forced to face political, ideological and philosophical problems. A few lines about the situation at the Tartu and Tallinn universities.
At the University of Tartu, during the first months of occupation, 9 lecturers were executed. Temporary rector prof. E. Kant gave order to dismiss all employees hired after June 21st, 1940, to clean all communist literature from the libraries, and delete the Soviet affixes to the names of the university subunits. In January 1942, the occupation forces gave permission to start work in the Faculty of Medicine, Faculty of Agriculture, and Veterinary Faculty. For students the preference was given to those who had served in German military forces; they were accepted without exam. Research work had a low priority. In 1944, 110 lecturers and 100 artists, actors and writers fled over the sea to Sweden.
At the Tallinn Technical University, professor R.J. Livländer was appointed Rector on September 12, 1941. In the fall of 1941, the university had 64 lecturers and 425 students. 29 subjects were classified as being of military importance; 22 subjects were important from the reconstruction point of view. As of Feb. 10, 1944, the university remained closed until the end of the German occupation period. Lecturers succeeded in preventing the evacuation of the university properties and staff to Germany.
Then followed the second Soviet occupation of Estonia in 1944.
At that time, the local leaders had conscientiously followed all the recommendations and orders of the ideological control authority of the Soviet Union. However, this involved also fights for power among the Estonian communist leaders, culminating in 1950 when Johannes Käbin won the complete victory, remaining the leader until 1978 when Karl Vaino took over. Their ideologies affected educational institutions of Estonia.
Concerning the University of Tartu, the Communist Party and its branch at the University began to change into a Soviet institution in 1944.
1,455 students; scientists and lecturers, considered unfit for ideological reasons, were disposed of. In order to control the executives, detailed personal files were kept on every person holding such office. The new requirements reduced the freedom of choice when filling academic vacancies; people were promoted basically for their ideological loyalty and social background. Besides that, the ESSR Ministry of Education hunted for “bourgeois nationalists”. To influence the lecturers ideologically, it was compulsory to attend evening university of Marxism-Leninism. (The article describes several detailed episodes of various staff ideological difficulties in this communist controlled milieu). Then, in 1964, the TSU Chair of Scientific Communism was founded, as a result of compulsory inclusion of communism in the university curriculum. There was a state examination in communism before graduation. Successful passing opened new career opportunities in science and politics in general. (The article gives also a detailed listing of the university staff who collaborated with the occupation authorities, being thus responsible for the Sovietization of the University, and doing harm to Estonian sovereignty.)
(To be continued)
The White Book: A summary with observations (7) (1)