In regards to the Second World War, therefore, it is important to remember that just as some Estonians welcomed the German troops following the destruction of their government, annexation of their land, and mass deportations, the Irish people remained neutral, and were not exactly saddened when London was bombed during the blitz. Some Irish privately saw it as just rewards, just like some Estonians may be sympathetic to the Chechnyan cause. And just as the Germans looked to exploit Estonia's fear of Russia, the Germans similarly looked for partnership with Ireland. German occupation and British occupation were discussed as equally loathsome in the Irish Dail. And Ireland's neutral posturing went to the point that Eamonn de Valera, the Irish president (pictured), sent his condolences to Germany upon Hitler's death.
Winston Churchill attacked Irish neutrality during the war, which led de Valera to make the following comments in response:
Mr. Churchill is proud of Britain's stand alone, after France had fallen and before America entered the War.
Could he not find in his heart the generosity to acknowledge that there is a small nation that stood alone not for one year or two, but for several hundred years against aggression; that endured spoliations, famines, massacres in endless succession; that was clubbed many times into insensibility, but that each time on returning [to] consciousness took up the fight anew; a small nation that could never be got to accept defeat and has never surrendered her soul?
Mr. Churchill is justly proud of his nation's perseverance against heavy odds. But we in this island are still prouder of our people's perseverance for freedom through all the centuries. We, of our time, have played our part in the perseverance, and we have pledged ourselves to the dead generations who have preserved intact for us this glorious heritage, that we, too, will strive to be faithful to the end, and pass on this tradition unblemished.
By looking at the way Churchill and de Valera both interpreted history, and therefore the way both leaders saw their countries and neighbors at the same exact moment in time, you can begin to understand why Estonian lawmakers have such a hard time explaining themselves to Russian law makers and vice versa.
Like the Irish under de Valera, Estonians see their history within spans of thousands of years, while England as we know it is not even 1,000 years old yet. What may be the most important moment in one country's life - perhaps the Russian victory over Germany - is only a wrinkle in time for another culture. I think that anybody that is an outsider to Estonia and is trying to understand the country and its history, can find a worthy metaphor in Irish-British relations. Most metaphors are imperfect, but if you are looking for a baseline, this one could work well.