esmaspäev, märts 26, 2007

The Truth Leaks Out

For all the times I pick on RIA Novosti, I should commend them for the following piece by Leonid Mlechin, who is called a "member of the RIA Novosti Expert Council."

On several occasions over the past two years Russia's state-controlled media has carried the opinions of experts who, with access to Soviet Foreign Ministry archives, openly discuss the illegal activities that led to the incorporation of Estonia into the USSR.

In 1940 the three Baltic countries were annexed and absorbed by the Soviet Union. Some of our politicians still claim that all three joined the U.S.S.R. of their own free will. But declassified documents from the Soviet Foreign Ministry paint a completely different picture. The Soviet Union incorporated the three republics after sending in troops, changing their governments by force, and holding elections that could not be called democratic by any stretch of the imagination.


As has been pointed out here before it may take some time until the government of Russia formally acknowledges those activities. But it's nice to see that the ball has indeed started rolling at the "expert level." Eventually it will trickle down to the politicians themselves. As Mlechin rightly points out:

... Modern politicians are in no way responsible for events in the 1930s and 1940s. Why should they display false solidarity with the criminals of that era?



UPDATE

In the comments section there was a question about how Estonians have dealt with the legacy of the German occupation. I decided to browse on over to www.okupatsioon.ee to find out. They have an excellent group of films, just click on films and you will get to choose which part of the 50 year-long occupation suits you.

It is told from the Estonian perspective. However, it lacks the passion or broad statements you'll find in Mart Laar's books. A lot of information is obviously left out, but it addresses collaboration with the Germans, and the concentration camps in Estonia. Many of the interviewees were children and teenagers at the time, so it's based on many personal stories.

One part that will change the way I view Kuressaare forever is that the castle was actually used as a dumping ground for bodies during the first year of Soviet terror in Estonia in 1940. The old wells were filled with victims. It's just ... disgusting.

It's unbelievable to watch how a small people - 1 million - are first invaded by a foreign power and 'inducted' into the 'Sun of Stalin' where clocks are set to Moscow time and slogans are displayed in barns. Then come the Germans, who send young Estonians off to schools in Germany to begin "Germanization" of Ostland. Then the Stalinists come back in '44. I haven't seen anything so bizarre since I watched old videos of "struggle sessions" in Mao's China in the 60s.

There's even an interview with Kindral Ants Laaneots, who spent a good part of his childhood in a camp in Siberia.

Highly Recommended for Estophiles.

59 kommentaari:

Jens-Olaf ütles ...

But this sentence contradict it again:
'Civilized Europe would not have joined the Nazis. Some 40,000 Lets fought on the side of Nazi Germany, including 20,000 SS volunteers...'
Civilized?
When the Soviets killed and murdered millions and the Germans learned to do it even better, Estonia was not killing its minorities, not the Estonian jews, there were no camps, no killing fields before 1939. And it was not a real democracy I have to add.
I am tired of this kind of propaganda.

Jens-Olaf ütles ...

Somewhere I found this statement. Post soviet history will never understand it. It is beyond of their imagination:
'On the one hand a lot of Estonians reacted with relief when the Balticgermans left, they wished to become really independent.'
It was 1939.

rakamon ütles ...

Estonian history was discussed thoroughly in the perestroyka era at the Supreme Soviet in Moscow. First Moscow did not recognize the Molotov - Ribbendrop pact, then they did not recognize occupation and so on, but finally they run out of arguments. Today there are new trends in the Kremlin history. I wander, why they have chosen to start so massive brainwashing - would Putin like to stay in power, creating a mess around Russia?

martintg ütles ...

The article starts off okay, but then descends into yet another Balt bashing exercise and plays up the "fascist Balt" sterotype. The article basically says: "Okay, we did occupy you, but you deserved it anyway because you were are all fanatical Nazis"

The fact is that a significant majority of those who served in German forces were conscripted in 1944. It is also a fact that the judgement of the Nuremburg trials explicitly exempted conscripts from any guilt or association with Nazi war crimes that may otherwise be due to membership of the the Waffen SS.

Anonüümne ütles ...

A bit offtopic, but wanted to pass on to you guys some interesting thoughts on exile, expats and repats. The article here talks about Russia, but I know it applies to Estonia as well. See if it rings a bell for any of you. http://www.exile.ru/2007-March-23/roving_russophobe.html

Giustino ütles ...

The fact is that a significant majority of those who served in German forces were conscripted in 1944. It is also a fact that the judgement of the Nuremburg trials explicitly exempted conscripts from any guilt or association with Nazi war crimes that may otherwise be due to membership of the the Waffen SS.

You are talking about the Estonian SS, Martin, but the writer is also writing about Latvians and Lithuanians and perhaps unfairly lumps Estonians in with Lithuanians who may have been part of Einsatzgruppen A.

Here's a document that describes the participation of Balts in the activities of Einsatzgruppen:

http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Holocaust/Einsatz_Baltic.html

"In Estonia there was no opportunity of instigating pogroms owing to the relatively small number of Jews. The Estonian self-defense units only eliminated some individual Communists, who were particularly hated, but in general limited themselves to carrying out arrests...."

Giustino ütles ...

Today there are new trends in the Kremlin history. I wander, why they have chosen to start so massive brainwashing - would Putin like to stay in power, creating a mess around Russia?

Putin is sort of a 'counter revolutionary' - he sees Yeltsin's leadership in a negative light and most of his supporters do as well.
This attitude seems prevalent in Russia today. I have American friends that live there and they absorb it too. It's basically goes like this:

1. Yelstin was a fool
2. The Americans exploited Russia's weakness in the 90s
3. Russia's not going to take it anymore
4. So what if journalists get killed there, it happened in the 90s too.
5. So what if democracy is dying in Russia, Putin at least has brought stability and that's what's most important.

1991 is therefore an 'incomplete' revolution for Russia. Because of the nature of Russian politics I guess it was possible for a few men (Gorbachev,Yeltsin, Yakovlev) to have a large impact.

But the wheels that were set in motion never gained much traction. We all saw what happened to Yeltsin - he turned into a bumbling drunk. Gorbachev has been rejected. There is no reverence for the policies of the 1980s or the dismantling of the communist state in 1991.

That sort of self-criticism you saw in the early days is gone.

Giustino ütles ...

A bit offtopic, but wanted to pass on to you guys some interesting thoughts on exile, expats and repats. The article here talks about Russia, but I know it applies to Estonia as well.

Cool article.

I haven't experienced the 'wannabe English' thing here in Estonia. Maybe it's because I am not in Tallinn, and also because Estonian names (Piret, for instance) are hard to anglicise. No one named Piret has ever tried to pass themselves off as Brigitta to me.

One funny thing that has happened is that my name - Justin - gets used and abused here. I usually introduce myself as "yuustin" - the way the name is pronounced here. But I know that my wife's grandmother calls me "Sass" just because Justin so easily slips the mind. My last name is also impossible. I believe that my wife's cousin had us down in their address book under the name "Preatone."

At least one time I used my wife's maiden name in a difficult situation, just so I wouldn't have to spell everything out over the phone.

So for that day, I was "Justin Saluveer" :)

Anonüümne ütles ...

"Most of the 4,500 Jews living in Estonia at the start of the Eastern campaign fled with the retreating Red Army. About 2,000 stayed behind. In Reval alone there were about 1,000 Jews.

The arrest of all male Jews over the age of sixteen is almost completed. With the exception of the doctors and the Jewish Elders appointed by the Sonderkommando they [the remaining Jews] are being executed by the Estonian Self-defense under the supervision of Sonderkommando 1a. Jewesses between the ages of 16 through 60 in Reval and Pernau, who are fit for work, were arrested and used to cut peat and for other work.

At present a camp is being built at Harku, to which all the Jews in Estonia will be sent, so that in a short time Estonia will be cleared of Jews"

http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Holocaust/Einsatz_Baltic.html

Help me out here but what has Estonia to say about that? Is this part of the history taught in school, does that part of the history has a corner at the occupation museum...I was recently in the area of Paldiski, there is a holocaust memorial...don't know, who builded it, when? Howsoever, would like to know more about how the Estonian citizen dispute about this part of their history

FIE Lembit Nugis ütles ...
Autor on selle kommentaari eemaldanud.
Estonia in World Media (Rus) ütles ...

Just posted under wrong account. To the Jewish question. Proper link should end with something like "html", so try again

Jens-Olaf ütles ...

Few German politicians tried to bring more attention to the forgotten survivors of the Holocaust in the former "Ostblock". To collect money or get the parliament ready for a law to offer some pension to them. Lobby work. It was in the 90s. When they visited the grave yards earlier they saw that in Soviet times the jewish victims were "anonymisiert" Only für "friedliche Sowjetbürger" was allowed to write on the grave stones. Some German foundations raised memorials later, but in Estonia I don't know.
http://www.kontakte-kontakty.de/deutsch/ns-opfer/shoa_in_lettland/kein_geld.php

Jens-Olaf ütles ...

In addition, there were some million DM at that time for the victims for Estonia and Lithuania, but the contract allowed the use for social institutions. Sometimes for places where no victims were living. It was accidental. The lobby tried for years that Germany should offer individual pensions. Obisoiusly the survivors were in their 70s, 80s or 90s. And each months more passed away. But the German government refused to do so. They said it would be a "Präzedenzfall". That other victim groups from other countries would demand the same. A tragedy. Still 50 years after the war.

Jens-Olaf ütles ...

Another finding from author Kasekamp in an article of the Estonian Foreign Ministry website:
'While the handful of surviving Estonian suspects were not even remotely in any positions of responsibility, Martin Sandberger, the Nazi Security Police chief directly responsible for implementing the Final Solution in Estonia was released from prison already in 1958 and is still enjoying his pension years near Stuttgart.' This was written in 2003

Giustino ütles ...

Help me out here but what has Estonia to say about that? Is this part of the history taught in school, does that part of the history has a corner at the occupation museum...

I haven't been to the occupation museum and I obviously didn't attend Estonian schools. Most people I know here are aware of it though.

I think that when confronted with the crimes against humanity the 'defensive' Russian position is to point out war crimes committed by Estonians.

The reason Estonians don't react in an apologetic way is that:

1. Every Estonian government apologizes for these crimes. The most recent apologies were last year. Perhaps they have already worked their way into a speech this year too.

2. More people have personal experiences with the Soviet crimes.

Though this all happened decades ago, it still resonates. The children of the war are in their 70s now, but they are still active enough to remember all their friends from childhood that didn't make it and most of all to talk about it.

3. Most of the Nazi criminals were punished following the reoccupation by the Soviets. This process reached a conclusion perhaps by the mid-1960s. That was 40 years ago.

4. Estonia has been fairly tolerant towards perpetrators of war crimes on its soil, sad to say.

For example, Vasily Beskov, who aided in the deportation of 20,000 Estonians in 1949, including my daughters' great-great aunt and great-great-grandfather, was found guilty of crimes and sentenced to what? Expulsion from Estonia.

That's a slap on the wrist.

The big "pay back" here is going to be moving a war monument from a city square to a cemetery.

The most recent terrible action by "Estonian fascists" (as described by Pravda) was to lay a wreath of barbed wire at said monument on the anniversary of those deportations.

Estonians are actually pretty tolerant people when you think about it. No firing squads, no lengthy jail sentences.

If someone wants to track down all the cases of Estonian war criminals on the German side their welcome to explain their fates.

Jens-Olaf ütles ...

From what I know, a lot of Germans, responsible for something connected with the holocaust could hide their record after war. Two high rank officials in Latvia from my city in Germany did that. We will never know what they did, what papers they signed. I want to emphasize that the Germans did a lot of "Vergangenheitsbewältigung". But to get to know about who did what during the Shoa the time has passed. These German officials I mentioned could hide their secrets. So we will not know what really happened. From my German viewpoint, singling out the Estonians to blame for the holocaust, when soviet times did not allow proper research on the shoa, it's not a good feeling. We (Germans) have not done our part, how could they. Yes they should... sigh.

martintg ütles ...

http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Holocaust/Einsatz_Baltic.html

Help me out here but what has Estonia to say about that? Is this part of the history taught in school, does that part of the history has a corner at the occupation museum...I was recently in the area of Paldiski, there is a holocaust memorial...don't know, who builded it, when? Howsoever, would like to know more about how the Estonian citizen dispute about this part of their history


There is no dispute about this part of history. The Estonian government has regularly apologised for the actions of some individuals. Estonia has fully and honestly assessed its role during WW2, unlike Russia. See www.historycommission.ee

This Russian campaign to use the Holocaust as a "pressure point" is truly imbecilic, similar to the use of economic sanctions in the 90's, which in fact helped Estonia reorient itself economically with Europe.

As a nation, Estonia has nothing to be ashamed of. Estonians have never been historically anti-semitic. While Nazi Germany was perpetrating its orgy of violence such as Kristalnacht against the Jews during the 1930's (no doubt fuelled by the Russian fabricated Protocols of the Elders of Zion), Estonia Jews enjoyed the most progressive policies of cutural autonomy in all of Europe. Unfortunately that happy state of affairs ended when the Soviets occupied Estonia and shut down all the Jewish organisations and language schools, and deported a significant number of Jews to Siberia.

Unfortunately, as in the case of many European nations occupied by the Nazis, some Estonian individuals did participate in the Holocaust. The actions of these criminals have been condemned and the government has apologised appropriately on behalf of the Estonian nation for the deeds perpetrated by these individuals.

Giustino ütles ...

Speaking of minorities that suffered during the German occupation, does Estonia have a Roma community?

I've met Estonian Jews, but I haven't seen anyone roaming around in traditional Roma dress, like you see in Finland.

Is there a Roma village I haven't visited yet - perhaps nestled between Võrumaa and Setumaa?

Aivar ütles ...

I remember from childhood that there were gypsies living outside Paide, in a single rundown farmhouse in the middle of the field toward Reopalu. The house may still be there. They had a brown horse.
As for jews, I do not recall any instances of hostility or negative comments or even jokes about them. If anything, there was quiet admiration towards them. Ita Ever, Roman Baskin, Eri Klas, Hagi Shein, Juri Lotman, etc. all prominent and truly loved people in Estonia.
OK, there I remeber one jewish joke, but that was just disparaging poor estonian business acumen. If there is anti-semitism in Estonia then I believe it is an import from russians and germans. I've lived in Russia and that is some truly anti-semitic country.

space_maze ütles ...

There was, in all my experiences with Estonians, only one incident which *could* be taken as anti-semetic, though it was, in my eyes, clearly not - anger with the Efraim Zuroff of the Simon Wiesenthal Institute, over his bulldog-like remarks over Estonia.

I experienced much the same here in Austria though when he made some .. comments .. about local happenings here recently. Including angry comments by the leader of the Austrian Jewish Community, making it quite clear that he didn't believe Zuroff had a clue what he was talking about.

Aivar ütles ...

Talking about the truth leaking out ... Maybe some of you understand Russian, so I give you the link to a very interesting russian program about the Bronze Soldier and the meaning of the WWII for Estonia and Russia. There is a moment there when one Russian speaks up and tries to remind the crowd who behaves like a howling pack of hyenas that Russia has behaved unjustly toward Estonia and they have a right to feel threatened and offended. Just watch the reaction on Nikita Mihhalkov's face for example. To me it is a sad thing to see that even the Russian intelligentsia is misguided and misinformed. It is astounding how intelligent people seem to be unable to take a neutral view of the facts and analyze all sides of of the controversy. It really makes one doubt about the brigther future for Russia and her people. I sometimes wonder whether they are posturing or are they just plain dumb. And I fear the latter which really hard to say, because I'd hesitate to dismiss people in one big brush like that. But, anyway, here's the link. Sudite sami or judge for yourself ... http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-1771190232799173867&hl=en

Giustino ütles ...

I honestly find Russian language and culture a bit impenetrable. There are many Americans that master the language and learn how to fit into the culture, but it takes a lot of conscious effort on their part.

Therefore, I don't necessarily view them as "dumb" -- especially in Moscow, people are just surrounded by land for miles and miles. Most perhaps don't speak any other language than Russian. Most only have access to Russian interpreted history which is often unchanged since the "Cult of Stalin" with regards to the Baltics.

In a word -- it's like Texas. I remember getting up in Salt Lake City and putting on the TV. There was a local TV program on and some guy was railing against morally permissive Europe and how it was leading to the downfall of Western civilization. And I thought to myself, "If Western civilization fell, would anyone in Utah really know?"

How much of their vision of Estonia is just pure imagination?

rakamon ütles ...

How much of their vision of Estonia is just pure imagination?

Not just imagination, it is just a mosaic of often repeated stereotypes. What is more worrying is that many local russians (how many - it is an important question not properly studied) think the same way.
If we admit that integration policy has not been successful, nobody still can't tell, how to reach these brains at all.
How do deal with people who believe that eSStonians are retarded farm-dwellers who have dermocratic (the power of shit - coproctatia?)puny nazi police state, that happened thanks to the historical mistakes made by Lenin and Yeltsin? They believe, that Estonia had no noteworthy economy and even culture before SSSR gave us a helping hand and provided us with skillful engineers and qualified workers.
Along with collectivization russians started also a campaign against illiteracy, which was practically non-existent in this country. Few people, who were lucky enough to pay a visit abroad, were first instructed, how to use the knife and fork. Despite long practice the KGB intructors still could not recognize the fact, that their trainees could easily beat them with skillful use of these fancy instruments.
I guess that mainstream russian mindset is formed by deep feeling of inferiority (in so called cvilized countries so many things are done and understood differently)combined with immense pride (we, russians have specific russian soul and a special mission in the world). This strange combination turns them almost autistic. They interpret the world by projecting their own troubles (like - Estonia is antidemocratic nazi police state).
But of course it would be difficult to believe that the integration should be replaced with rehabilitation.

plasma-jack ütles ...

[i]I was recently in the area of Paldiski, there is a holocaust memorial...don't know, who builded it, when?[/i]

It is near Klooga, to be more precise. It was builded by Estonian government in 1994.

plasma-jack ütles ...

*built.

And about your more general questions - Estonia has condemned Holocaust (and all other genocides) since the regaining of the independence (something that Soviet Union never did, but let's not start on that one). There is a national Holocaust memorial day. Should I state the obvious - that this issue is also taught at schools' history lessons? Well, it can't hurt if I do.

plasma-jack ütles ...

does that part of the history has a corner at the occupation museum.

oh, the last one. Yes, it does. Thats why they call it the museum of the occupationS, plural.

Giustino and others, I really recommend visiting the museum. I really love the architecture and... well, you have to see those giant statues of Kingisepp, Kalinin and Anvelt, they're surreal.

Giustino ütles ...

Does the Estonian reaction to communism fall under the anecdote that "Estonians are slow to get started but once they get started they can't be stopped."

I have heard this phrase used in regards to Estonian wedding parties, but perhaps its applicable here, too.

Estonia visitor ütles ...

Do you guys think the occupation museum really gives a taste of the occupation years?

I went along and walked out thinking I hadn't learned much. There was some black and white footage showing the advances of the German and Soviet armies, some written exhibits, the statues mentioned earlier, consigned to the lower level, but the majority of exhibits seemed to be various items from the Soviet years, for example a commissioner's car, a chair, "Onward Comrades" posters in Russian, various gadgets, etc etc. Nothing that really gives the average tourist with no prior knowledge of Estonia much idea of how good or bad life was during those years.

I'm contrasting this to the "Museum of Horrors" in Berlin, which really gave me a picture into how horrible life was under the Nazis AND the Communists. I'm talking about pictures of prisoners kneeling about to be shot by the Nazis, various Stasi exhibits, examples of the various desperate methods people used to escape to West Berlin. I walked out from there feeling very unsettled. In contrast, I could see, for example, a tourist leaving the occupation museum remarking that it had some "quaint" exhibits, and that's about it.

plasma-jack ütles ...

well, at least they have a bar in our museum.

Jens-Olaf ütles ...
Autor on selle kommentaari eemaldanud.
Estonia visitor ütles ...

"well, at least they have a bar in our museum."

Yes, and I took advantage of this facility :)

I wasn't trying to say the museum is inferior, just that it doesn't truly give a strong impression of the "horrors of occupation" that one always hears about.

I regret when I was in Riga I didn't have a look at the O/M there, even though I passed by it. It may have given me a better idea of the horrors of those years.

Jens-Olaf ütles ...

There is a German blog that addresses the Bronze issue the second time and many here would agree, that's my impression:
'The Estonian nationalists should recognize that the profanation of the “Bronze Soldier” is no minor offence. It’s not like spitting on the sidewalk, it’s more like spitting in the face of the dead and I find it difficult to believe that such a behaviour could possibly be a part of Estonia’s national character.'
A German view

Michael ütles ...

Hiya,

I am currently working on a paper based on the issues surrounding the Bronze Soldier--are the issues at hand a rise of a subtle ethno-Estonian nationalism (exclusive memory of the fighting and suffering hero) or the clarification of the past?

I appreciate your posts on the subject, interesting and informative. What is the current status? When is the date for removal? Do you have any ideas of when this will be. I have found it surprisingly difficult accessing up to date information.

Great blog,
keep it up.

Jens-Olaf ütles ...

I posted this link from Germany cause the author was mentioned at Global Voices recently and will recieve a lot of readers
Hi, estonia in world media, you are a nationalist ;-), he wrote.

plasma-jack ütles ...

are the issues at hand a rise of a subtle ethno-Estonian nationalism (exclusive memory of the fighting and suffering hero) or the clarification of the past?

This is a very good question. I personally guess that we had our peak of nationalism in the end of the 80-s, prior to the independence. And about the clarification of the past - it has already been done, by an international commission composed of quite respected people (Max Jakobson, Uffe Ellemann-Jensen, Paul Goble, Nicholas Lane, Peter Reddaway, Arseny Roginsky and Wolfgang von Stetten). Can't get any clearer than that, imho. The catch is - if you want to know the truth, or the commissions' version if it, anway. For example, a person who thinks that the democracy is the tool of the West to destroy Russia would say that the whole report is bunch of nonsense. And so would say those people who think that Holocaust never happened. It' ultimately up to every individual what he wnts to believe.

Here's the link to the commissions report, again:
http://www.historycommission.ee/temp/index.htm

Giustino ütles ...

I am currently working on a paper based on the issues surrounding the Bronze Soldier--are the issues at hand a rise of a subtle ethno-Estonian nationalism (exclusive memory of the fighting and suffering hero) or the clarification of the past?

My take is this: There's a lot of old ideological farts with nothing to do and a lot of naive teenagers with nothing to do, and together they make a Bronze Soldier controversy.

The controversy on both sides is being whipped up by old Soviet dissidents and leaders of Intermovement (who should be lucky they are still in Estonia, in my opinion).

The Estonian people have little sympathy for the Red Army due to many old, yet still healing wounds. It's quite easier for them to sympathize with a bunch of guys laying a wreath of barbed wire at the soldier's feet on the anniversary of the 1949 deportations, than people with red flags that call Estonia's liberal democratic government 'fascists.'

Andrus Ansip seized on the controversy to run to the right of Isamaa Res Publica Liit and - guess what - he got the most votes in the election.

Now he has to follow through with the plan to relocate the monument to show that he's not afraid of Russian blowhards.

I personally think that moving the monument - and yes, it's a friggin monument - to a cemetery is no. big. deal. It's just not worth the press. The reason people like to talk about it is because we like to beat our chests and feel indignant from the comfort of our computers or television studios. Most of us have no real idea what war is like. This is like Estonia's Terri Schiavo case.

Remember what happened there? They removed her feeding tube, she died, and everyone stopped talking about it. If they remove the Bronze Soldier will we get the same result?

I appreciate your posts on the subject, interesting and informative. What is the current status? When is the date for removal? Do you have any ideas of when this will be. I have found it surprisingly difficult accessing up to date information.

I honestly don't know. I guess they want it out before May 9. The defense ministry gets the final say. There may be some last minute legal challenges. Stay tuned.

kari ütles ...

mr ansip quite clearly states that the monument shall be removed. i still think it is a matter of principles, the whole monument saga that is. estonia as an independent country should not tolerate statues of oppressors in the middle of the capital. especially as the state funerals have to pass it. that is no good argument so for thats sake let the statue remain where it is. a different matter entirely is to prove to russia that we are independent. an independent country will not be dictated the architecture of its capital. just in order to show mr putin that we indeed have some cojones i definitely support our prime minister on this matter.

Martin ütles ...

Michael wrote:
I am currently working on a paper based on the issues surrounding the Bronze Soldier--are the issues at hand a rise of a subtle ethno-Estonian nationalism (exclusive memory of the fighting and suffering hero) or the clarification of the past?


No, the events revolve around the public clashes organised by a tiny group of blow hard Intermovement thugs using the formerly peaceful monument as a focus of agitation. Majority of Estonians were content to leave the monument where it is until crowds of misguided youth, incited by these Intermovement thugs, started waving red flags and hammer and sickle symbols around the place.

The issue is that the Russian government, while quite content to demolish 30 metre monuments to make way for highways, are attempting to exploit this as an issue of a rise ethno-Estonian nationalism. On the other hand, the Estonian government, alarmed that these rallys are effectively desecrating the war graves assumed to be under the monument, want to move the whole lot to a war cemetery so that these fallen soldiers can lie in peace.

Ofcourse Moscow is making great efforts to stop this move to a war cemetery, as the monument would be less effective as a rallying point for Russian nationalism if it were located in a cemetery rather than in the middle of town.

So you really ought to examine issue of the exploitation of war graves to promote the rise of a ethno-Russian nationalism within Estonia.

plasma-jack ütles ...

well, to be fair, you can't forget Kalev Rebane, Tiit Madisson and other Estonian retards as well.

Martin ütles ...

well, to be fair, you can't forget Kalev Rebane, Tiit Madisson and other Estonian retards as well.

Fair enough. It's obvious that Rebane is a bonehead for allowing himself to be provoked. However, any "study" into the issues behind the Bronze Soldier is immediately biased from the start if only one side is examined, i.e. "a rise of a subtle ethno-Estonian nationalism", while completely ignoring the role of those who attempt to exploit primative ethno-Russian nationalism in formenting these clashes. Remember that this statue existed for over a decade without any issue, so why the trouble now?

Given the miserable support that ethno-Russian political parties have received in the last election, the question is who is behind this agitation? These are legitimate questions for any study into the issues surrounding the Bronze Soldier.

Giustino ütles ...

Given the miserable support that ethno-Russian political parties have received in the last election, the question is who is behind this agitation? These are legitimate questions for any study into the issues surrounding the Bronze Soldier.

I know my pop psychology analysis isn't too heavy on the big vocabulary words, but ask yourself this -- what other choice do non-repentant Intermovement members have to feel powerful?

They can't join in Estonian politics because of their lurid past. They can't access Estonian society because they are Russophones. They are not exactly old, but they aren't young either.

These are men with limited time on their hands and little avenues to power and attention - which they obviously crave.

As for the kids - how would you feel if you were a 19-year-old ethnic Russian kid in Tallinn and you get involved in this mess. One day, you are nobody. Then you go to some protest meetings and Russian officials that seem rich and powerful take an interest in you.

Here's a direct quote from Kommersant. It's hard to argue with this analysis:

I approached the Bronze Soldier. Next to the monument, a man in a black cap was collecting money from his younger comrades. This was Dmitry Linter, one of the leaders of the so-called Night Watch, a group of young people who began to keep watch by the monument last May after Prime Minister Andrus Ansip promised to have it taken away.

"Right now we're like a girl of marriageable age. Everyone knows about us, and everyone is trying to entice us over to their side. Not long ago we were at a United Russia party meeting, and right after that we attended a Just Russia meeting. Now we're being invited to Pskov by the local organization The Last Frontier," Linter says before turning to his friends: "Give me the money for tickets, you'll be reimbursed later."


These guys are getting respect and access for their actions. The memorial is just a gateway to that. For the older gentlemen, it gives them the feeling of regaining some attention or power.

Scott ütles ...

Can someone give me the lowdown on this Kalev Rebane?

This jerk somehow got a hold of my e-mail addy, and has been spamming me for the last six months with all sorts of crap.

plasma-jack ütles ...

a drug addict http://hot.ee/narkorahvuslane/ ;

obviously mental problems which might be somewhat related with having his head put in the toilet during the highschool (his own words);

hates gays because "at his weak moment he trusted one fag too much and now is ashamed of it"
:roll:

besides selling and consuming drugs works as an IT developer

Scott ütles ...

Man, Heribert Schindler has a thin skin on his blog. He apparently equates comments with "spam", and has shut down all comments on his simplistic Bronze Soldier read. LOL.

So when he deletes it, this is my final comment:


“No, it was not intended that way and I think one has to apply quite a lot of immagination and creativity to read it that way.”

“– The question arises whether Estonia will ever arrive in Europe when continuing to display such a “Third World Style” behaviour.”


You’ve essentially described Estonia guilty of banana republic behavior and declared your opinion morally superior in the EU framework. It doesn’t take much imagination or creativity to read it that way. Those are your words.

I used “Herr” because I speak German, and not French. No slight intended.

I very much doubt that you talk to people all around Europe about the bronze soldier. This is a pissant little controversy in the grand scheme of things. When Russia beat Estonia in Euro 2008 qualifying last week in Tallinn, the joke going around is that Estonia should tell the Russians that the bronze soldier is the trophy they get for their victory, and let them take it back with them.

Addressing your comments — everything that is taking place regarding the monument is in the context of the Estonian parliament, Tallinn city government, and the President of Estonia (who vetoed the first draft of the war memorials bill). If that isn’t the sign of a mature democracy, I don’t know what is.

This isn’t even a question of a battle between “fascists and communists” (both foreign and domestic). To be mild, that’s a terribly simplistic read. If you would like to educate yourself further, I would suggest you read this article by Juri Estam, who was arrested in the park for displaying the Estonian flag:

http://www.citypaper.ee/articles/909/

I don’t agree with all of his sentiments, but I certainly understand them.

One last note. One of the reasons that many Estonians want to get rid of the monument is that its original purpose was to honor the “liberators” of Tallinn from the Nazi regime. Problem is, that the Nazis had been gone for a week, and the flag that was ripped down from the parliament was the Estonian tricolor, and the provisional government was all shot. This monument, which features a large hammer and sickle and is symbolic of a regime that depopulated the country by 25%, is as distasteful for them as a swastika monument would be for many other people.

But then again, you ban the swastika in Germany, as well as Mein Kampf and other symbols of the Nazi regime. May I ask then: are you just running away from the problem by removing the symptom?

Hello? Pot meet kettle?

You’re obviously defensive, and that’s a sucky thing to be on your own blog. When you ban certain comments from “addressing the messenger, and not the message,” and then follow it up with your own comment about the “weirdos that are spamming my blog from Estonian IPs” … well, you are being at least unintentially funny.

I’ll trouble you no more.

Scott ütles ...

Thanks, Plasma. That video of Rebane is pretty damn funny. What a tool.

The first time I heard of him is when he set off fireworks in front of the American embassy.

Scott ütles ...

Yep, Schindler deleted my post. HA HA! Pwoned.

Scott ütles ...

plasma-jack said...

And about your more general questions - Estonia has condemned Holocaust (and all other genocides) since the regaining of the independence (something that Soviet Union never did, but let's not start on that one). There is a national Holocaust memorial day. Should I state the obvious - that this issue is also taught at schools' history lessons? Well, it can't hurt if I do.


This is only IMO. There's a considerable amount of anti-Semitism in Estonia. Most of it is the lazy kind -- "The Jews own everything, they run everything."
I will never forget the day in a lecture where one of my students made those kinds of statements. I was so gobsmacked, that I didn't respond. It took me a few hours to process it, because I had never been exposed to that kind of attitude before.
Having dated a Jewish girl at one point (I was her "Goy", the perception was so out of step with the reality ...) I had total cognitive dissonance.
I've met a couple real anti-Semitic race-baiters, both of them from the southern rural areas (Voru).
Painting with a VERY broad brush, Estonians' real problems are with blacks and homosexuals.
Estonians are tribal in many aspects, and fear of the other is ingrained, I think, considering their history.
I think it's rather funny, however, that certain Estonian politicians speak against organized religion (Christianity), and then use it as a justification to attack gays.

But back to the main issue. What I have come to appreciate is that as a Westerner, who is indoctrinated with the horror of the Holocaust in school, the Estonian perspective is that the Holocaust was horrible, but we had crimes committed against us to, and the Soviets rubbed the holocaust on our noses for 50 years, and they executed anybody local that had anything to do with it.
So somehow remembering the Holocaust is confabulated with the Soviet era. At least that's the reaction I get from my Estonian babe, who's old enough to remember the Soviet era well.

plasma-jack ütles ...

the Soviets rubbed the holocaust on our noses for 50 years

er... I think that part is not true (being born in '83, I can't be 100% sure, but that's what I'm told by older people) Remember, even the holocaust memorial was built only AFTER the independence.
About anti-semitism - well, I didn't say there were none, I said that the subject is part of school education. That doesn't mean that everybody would want to learn every lesson. Still, it seems to me that (almost non-existent) blacks and (very in-the-closet) gays are much less popular than Jews. I mean, who would seriously hate Eino Baskin, Mihhail Lotman (although that guy is a real dumbass as a politician imo) or Eri Klas - except idological skinheads, of course.

Btw, I was Kaarel/Serial K there, the weirdo he was speaking about. My e-mail address stayed the same, I simply forgot to change the username... I'll quit too, from now on. At least Giustino doesn't seem to mind me flooding HIS blog.

rakamon ütles ...

Ja, poor Heribert is a strange man indeed. He "moderated" several of my comments, altough he stated that
There is no censorship at any time on this blog.
These comments did not include personal insults or ultimate insults. I just suggested him not to mess with the matter if his information is derived only from the Moscow sources. I investigated his matter a bit deeper and concluded that this man is probably not belonging to the Internet Brigade of Kremlin. The number of foreigners (or at least people posting the pro-Kremlin prefabricated comment in all kind of fora from western IP-addresses) seems to grow slowly but steadily.
Take a look e.g. for a man posting under the name Dane both from Hässelholm, Sweden and Tallinn.

rakamon ütles ...

...(continued, sorry) in the forum http://www.topix.net/forum/world/estonia/

Giustino ütles ...

I think it's rather funny, however, that certain Estonian politicians speak against organized religion (Christianity), and then use it as a justification to attack gays.

Estonians have a rather interesting attitude towards both. For example, churches here are beautiful and well preserved. And what do they exist for? CONCERTS, OF COURSE.

I was thinking of taking my daughter to a Lutheran service. I was raised Catholic, then Episcopalien, so I got some experience with church at a young age. This made me completely agnostic, but I still feel it would be culturally rewarding for her to go to a Lutheran service a couple times.

But there's only one service a week. That's fine, but the rest of the week? Concerts. And imagine that there's dozens of orthodox churches in the countryside that service ~0 people. I guess they serve as rehearsal spaces.

On gays, Estonians know who's gay, and they don't care. I mean there's some pretty prominent gays in media, entertainment -- whatever. BUT, they act weird when they talk about it. So it's ok to be gay, and everyone knows you are gay, but it's just too personal to come out and say, "Yep, I'm gay."

This has more to do with privacy in general. When was the last time an Estonian guy was all up in your ear about some girl? Never. I now know why Estonian women are so fashionable. They need to work ever so hard to attract interested mates :)

Giustino ütles ...

Scott,

Some of the reasons that we in the US were exposed so much to the Holocaust are that the Jews in the United States dominate some pretty important 'estates' in our society.

I mean, between the major newspapers and Hollywood, where else would Americans get their opinions? Think about how worked up we get over Israel, which is a little sliver of land on the Mediterranean sea. Would we get as worked up over Transdniester? Hell no. Why not? - well duh - Steven Spielberg isn't from Transdnistria.

And that's point two. The Jews are excellent lobbyists. Take my education. My 8th grade English teacher was Jewish. In that class we read both the Diary of Anne Frank and Night by Elie Wiesel. This was also in 1994, so our class was dispatched to watch Schindler's List in the movie theater and to write an essay on it.

At that age we internalized this historical crime. Most of us celebrated Christmas, but by the end of eighth grade we could identify as Jews. We related deeply to the feelings of that community.

In 10th grade, the local Synogogue used students in our school to organize an event where all students were assembled into the auditorium, and we were made to watch documentaries of the liberation of the camps, mass graves, corpses, and all.

Afterwards, real live Holocaust survivors answered questions in broken English. We were then given stickers with the Star of David that said 'never forget.'

Could you imagine if Estonians had those kind of faculties?

Could you imagine if an Estonian director made a film like Schindler's List starring Tom Hanks as Otto Tief, with an elegant film score of Runosongs, and it won Best Picture, only to be followed by Daniel Day-Lewis in Metsavend: A Story of Survival?

The kind of Jewish lobby that exists in the United States is absent in Estonia. There's few local synagogues to assemble students to show them horrible films. And remember, Estonians have their own personal horrible films, and those involved people's relatives.

That whole process that we go through in the United States probably wouldn't happen here. The ingredients are not right.

Giustino ütles ...

By the way, I probably will be accused by somebody for being 'anti-semetic' for the last post. I was once criticized for being 'anti-semetic' because I said I didn't like Seinfeld ;)

But I think it's obvious that the Jewish lobby acts with a strong purpose. I mean when your entire people are almost wiped off the face of the Earth, you bet your ass you work hard so that it will never happen again!

Jens-Olaf ütles ...

As for Germany: There is always a strong reaction if you are talking like that about lobbying. But my impression. On the one hand there is always this feeling: We are guilty, we were the Nazis etc.. On the other hand. There is a gap:
Deserters of the German Wehrmacht that were doomed were not really rehabilitated until 2002 (have to check). Important issue if you live on a small pension. Many Nazis are and had received full pension over decades instead without question. Many holocaust actors could hide their involvement and restarted their carrier in Germany after war. Especially many judges who acted according to the Third Reich jurisdiction.
We (Germans) did not care about the slave workers from Eastern Europe until most were dead, only recently it changed. Some companies of my home town are still reluctant to open their archives and do a publication of their part of Third Reich history. Erich Maria Remarque, the author of'All quiet on the Western Front' was one of the most public hatered persons in my city after war. He was born here but lived in the USA during 2. World War. He wrote the first fiction about the concentration camps and other stories. Too much for our local folks. It took three decades until they started to recognize him here, now there is a centre of research about his literature. Knowing all this, I can understand the lobbying of the Jewish community.

Giustino ütles ...

As for Germany: There is always a strong reaction if you are talking like that about lobbying.

The term 'lobby' sounds so cynical. But if you think about it - it's like the Baltic lobby that existed in Canada and the US and Western Europe during the Cold War. If a community perceives it has an interest, and if it has institutions under which it organizes itself, then it effectively becomes a lobby.
And there is nothing controversial about that.

We have an Italian "lobby" in New York -- the Knights of Columbus. They lobby against 'unfair' portrayals of Italian-Americans in Hollywood. But I feel the 'Jewish' lobby and the 'pro-Israel' lobby (not the exact same thing) are more effective in New York.

Israeli issues get fought out in all major newspapers - New York Times, Wall Street Journal, New York Post - basically, all commuters get their daily dose on the train.

Italian issues? Pssh. No one knows. I guarantee you the recent Romano Prodi issues in government got limited attention. And this is in a city where Italians are the majority ethnic group!

Again - the Italian diaspora doesn't see it in its interests to argue about these things in New York. And it is not as organized at identifying and lobbying on behalf of its interests. Many Italians probably think that Hollywood's portrayal of some Italian-Americans (Sopranos) is quite accurate.

Jens-Olaf ütles ...

From the estonian side there is a very good general overview about the Jews in Estonia, a quote:
'On 12 February 1925 the dream was fulfilled. The Estonian government passed a law pertaining to the cultural autonomy of minority peoples. This was a logical step forward in the national policies of the Estonian Republic. The Jewish community quickly prepared its application for cultural autonomy. Statistics on Jewish citizens were compiled. They totalled 3045, fulfilling the minimum requirement of 3000 for cultural autonomy. In June 1926 the Jewish Cultural Council was elected and the Jewish cultural autonomy declared. The administrative organ of this autonomy was the Board of Jewish Culture, headed by Hirsch Aisenstadt until it was disbanded in 1940 [by the Soviets]. When the German troops occupied Estonia in 1941, Aisenstadt evacuated to Russia. He returned to Estonia when the Germans had left, but was arrested by the Soviet authorities in 1949.'
More explanations why this happened:
Jews in Estonia

Aivar ütles ...

That was a very interesting link. Unless this text is pure "Russian style" propaganda and has zero facts in it based on reality then it is really interesting to see someone like Zhuroff come and start jumping on the backs of Estonians and cry "faschism, faschism." Why doesn't he pick a bone with the big boys - accuse Russia. Or is he allergic to polonium?

Giustino ütles ...

I have come to the conclusion that this "war against fascism" nonsense has zero clout in the West. Therefore it is intended solely for domestic consumption in Russia.

The generation of current foreign policy thinkers grew up in the most empowering part of the Cold War (the endgame). The "Estonians are fascists" rhetoric only scores points in Russia

bleeeeeeeeeeeeeee ütles ...

higher
poupa_e_russe