The Estonian State Commission on Examination of the Policies of Repression. The White Book— losses inflicted on the Estonian nation by the occupation regimes. Estonian Encyclopedia Publishers, ISBN 9985-70-195-x, Republic of Estonia, 2005. 175 pp.
The object of this summary is to create public awareness in general of this significant document, enabling interested readers to pursue further with an individual study. Where suitable, the summary includes relevant current observations.
In the field of international politics , the words “White Book” and “White Paper” normally indicate, symbolically, a state sponsored investigative publication of serious matters of national concern, with particular reference to historical events. The object is to investigate, tell the truth, record it, forming a foundation of relevant historical knowledge, and take further action, if so recommended.
The Estonian White Paper policy was established by the Estonian Parliament (Riigikogu) in 1992, creating the Estonian State Commission on Examination of the Policies of Repression (ESCEPR), setting the “final goal to publish a scientific examination into all the losses and damages by the Estonian nation during the occupation regimes.”
The resulting White Book consists of nine original papers, in the following fields: Survey of the Occupation Regimes, by Enn Sarv, Member of the Board of the Association of Former Political Prisoners, and Peep Varju, Deputy Chairman of the Estonian State Commission on Examination the Policies of Repression; Population (Human Losses, by Aigi Rahi-Tamm, Dr. Sc. (Hist,), Lecturer of the University of Tartu; Health Care, by Virve Kask, PhD (med.), former lecturer of the University of Tartu; Permanent Health Damages, by Dr. Heino Noor, consultant of the Estonian Medical and Legal Aid Center of Victims of Repression); Culture (Higher Education and Research Work, by Jaan Laas, PhD. (Econ.), Lecturer at Eurouniversity; Fine Arts, by Jaak Kangilaski, PhD. (Arts), Vice-Lector of the University of Tartu; Environment (Environmental Damage by Rein Ratas, PhD. (Biol.), Development Director of Tallmac Ltd.; Enormous Environmental Damage caused by Occupation Army, by Anto Raukas, Dr. Sc. (Geol.), Member of Estonian Academy of Science, Professor of the Estonian Maritime Academy; and finally the Economy (Economic Damage, by Kalev Kukk, Ph.D. (Econ.), former member of the Riigikogu).
Vello Salo, Dr. Sc. (Theol.), Editor-in-Chief, was the Chairman of the Commission.
After twelve years of work, the survey was published, based on the present state of knowledge of archives, but onlyof those in Estonia — it has not been possible to use archives of occupation regimes. However, all published sources have been considered, outlined in the bulk of reference material of 34 pages — an impressive listing.
The book contains data of two types:
1) Scientifically documented losses and damages;
2) Estimates based on the latter.
To facilitate the absorption of this very ample and fascinating material, and to appreciate the concept of this important publication, this summary will present first the verbatim quotations of the leading paragraph of each paper. Then, it will expand on this with suitable commentary, quotations and statistics, in order to present the scope of this publication and its message.
I – Survey of Occupation Regimes
The authors commence as follows:
“In 1939 the heavy pressure of great powers preparing for the world war and direct aggression and occupation struck the independent and neutral state of Estonia. Three consecutive occupation regimes lasted more than 50 years.
The Republic of Estonia had signed non-aggression pacts with both the Soviet Union and Germany. The Soviet Union, like Estonia, had joined international agreements banning aggression. These agreements, together with the Tartu Peace Treaty, formed a system that regulated all mutual relations of the two countries”.
As this is the guiding chapter of this publication, a thorough historical outline of occupation is given as follows.
After the start of the World War II on Sept. 1st, 1939, the Soviet Union submitted aggressive demands for military bases in Estonia, regardless that Estonia had declared neutrality. (This was a consequence of the Molotov-Rippentrop Pact of Aug. 23rd, 1939, leaving the three Baltic states in the Soviet Union’s sphere of influence.) In October, strong Soviet troops were brought to Estonia. Estonia was no longer an independent nation, de facto.
On Oct. 12th, 1939, a new Estonian government was formed, under the Prime Minister Jüri Uluots. Though the government tried to avoid any provocations, the Soviet Union presented further territorial demands, also using Estonian territory for launching attacks on Finland. As a result of its actions, the Soviet Union was expelled from the League of Nations Dec. 14th, 1939. However, this expulsion had no practical value.
On June 16, 1940 another ultimatum was presented to Estonia. Though the Estonian government agreed to all conditions, at the time General Johan Laidoner met Soviet officers in Narva on June 17th, to sign the agreement, the Soviet troops had already invaded deep into Estonian territory. Thus, Estonia was now completely occupied. All the political, economic and other arrangements were now dictated from the Soviet Embassy, under Andrei Zhdanov. (Under his direction, a new government was to be formed, to be led by Johannes Vares-Barbarus.) Then, on June 21st, 1940, another Estonian collaborator, Maksim Unt, arranged a workers demonstration at the Parliament Buildings and at the President’s residence in Kadriorg, demanding the formation of a new government. The majority of “demonstrators” were workers from Soviet military bases, supported by Red Army soldiers and tanks.
This was followed with the so-called elections of the Chamber of Deputies (Riigivolikogu), staged July 14-15 1940, under supervision of the occupation army. Before that, by a decree, the Vares government removed on July 9th all candidates opposing the Communist Block. It was no contest...
After this “election”, the Riigivolikogu decided to establish communist power in Estonia and join the Soviet Union. The Estonian President Konstantin Päts was held as a prisoner in his Kadriorg residence, and forced to sign all illegal documents.
(To be continued.)
The White Book: A summary with observations