kolmapäev, mai 09, 2007

Why the Estonian State Doesn't Love the Red Army

Yesterday saw a historic event. Three ministers of the Estonian government, Prime Minister Andrus Ansip, Defense Minister Jaak Aaviksoo, and Population Affairs Minister Urve Palo, did what none of their predecessors had ever done. They laid flowers at a memorial to a controversial statue that officially is dedicated to all fallen soldiers of World War II, but for decades was for one army, the Red Army.

Discussion in Western media of the controversy in Tallinn often boils down the Estonian experience into words like "mass deportation", "repression", and, of course, "occupation." News oulets like Reuters have been softening their take recently, describing the Estonian experience as "what they see as an occupation." But what does this all mean, and why did it take the Estonian state 16 years to lay a wreath at a memorial for long dead men?

Most readers here know of the pact that Hitler and Stalin signed in 1939 that lay the foundation for the war that broke out later. What essentially happened is that two former empires decided to scrap the results of the First World War and the Treaty of Versailles and conspired to reconstitute their former empires. Estonia fell into the Soviet sphere, and after about nine months of a mutual assistance pact, where the USSR agreed not to interefere in internal Estonian political affairs, a coup was organized in June 1940, and a pro-communist government was dictated by Moscow that petitioned for membership and was accepted into the USSR.

The Estonian state, meanwhile, was liquidated, and by liquidated I mean imprisoned or murdered, between the date of occupation in 1940 and the winter of 1942.

Among the first to go was President Konstantin Päts (pictured). He was arrested on July 30, 1940, by the NKVD and deported to Russia. He lived out the last days of his life in a psychiatric hospital in Kalinin, where he died in 1956. In 1990, his remains were reburied in Estonia.

Otto Strandmann, a former prime minister and head of state, (pictured at right), decided to take his life rather than surrender to the NKVD Soviet Secret Police. He committed suicide on Feb. 2, 1941, when the NKVD came to arrest him. He is buried in Tallinn.

Aado Birk, a former prime minister, was arrested in June 1941, and sent to Sosva prison camp where he was sentenced to death, but died before his execution on Feb. 2, 1942. This was an immense price to pay considering he had only served as an interim prime minister for two days in 1920.

Former prime minister and head of state Ants Piip was arrested by the NKVD in June 1941, and sent to a prison camp in Perm, where he died in October 1942. He was 58 years old.

Juhan Kukk, another former head of state, was arrested by the NKVD in 1940. He died in a prison camp in Russia in December 1945.

Karl Akel, left, was not so lucky to find himself in a prison camp. Akel had served as Estonian head of state for nine months in 1924. For this crime he was arrested in October 1940, and shot by the NKVD on July 3, 1941.

Jüri Jaakson, who served as head of state in 1924 and 1925, was similarly arrested, sent to Russia, was tried and executed on April 20, 1942 in Sosva.

Some Estonian political leaders slipped through the cracks though because no one knows whether they were shot, or if they merely died of disease or hunger in a Soviet prison camp.

One such man is Jaan Teemant, who served as head of state in 1925-1927 and again in 1932. For his crimes, he was imprisoned in July 1940. Nobody knows what became of him after he was arrested by the NKVD.

Another man for whom no ending is known is Jaan Tõnisson. Tõnisson played a central role in the founding of the Estonian state and served as prime minister and head of state on several occasions. He was arrested by the NKVD in December 1940. After which no comprehensive data is available, although some say he was shot in Tallinn in July 1941.

Finally, Kaarel Eenpalu, who served as head of state in 1935, was arrested and deported to Vjatka prison camp in Russia, where he died on January 28, 1942.

But don't worry. The Soviet Union tried to kill all of Estonia's prime ministers and heads of states, but it didn't get them all. So there is a happy ending to this tale of suffering and murder at the hands of Moscow.

That is because August Rei, right, who served as head of state in 1928 and 1929, escaped to Sweden before he could be shot or sent to die in a prison camp.

Rei was appointed prime minister in duties of president by the last legal respresentative of the Estonian state, Jüru Uluots, in January 1945 in Sweden. Rei lived a long life, and remained in his position until his death in 1963 at the age of 75. In 2006, his remains were reburied in Tallinn.

Because of August Rei, the Estonian state did not die in 1940 or 1941 or 1945. Estonian independence that was restored in 1991 was not the foundation of a new country, but the restoration of an old one. Gold that the Estonian government had deposited in a safe place in 1939 was transferred back to the Estonian state after 1991 upon which it based its restored currency, the kroon.

The purpose of this history lesson is not to sour the memories of the soldiers of the Red Army that defeated Germany 62 years ago this day. It's to explain to those that are willing to read, why exactly the Estonian state was not content to allow a memorial to the army that supported these actions in Estonia stand beside its national library and the church where it buries its leaders.

Furthermore, it's to underscore the humanity and restraint the state has taken in dealing with its past. Ansip, Aaviksoo, and Palo no doubt have relatives that shared the fates of Jaakson, Tõnisson, and Akel. But that terrible past is no longer an obstacle for the state as it observes what are essentially international holidays. Therefore, the laying of the flowers yesterday at the military cemetery in Tallinn at the foot of the Bronze Soldier was more than a PR stunt for the purposes of reconciliation. It was a moment of coming to terms with history.

68 kommentaari:

Scott ütles ...

Great post, Giustino.

It's also notable that the chain hanging around the neck of Pats, a symbol of the Estonian head of state, in his photo now resides in the Kremlin archive. I read somewhere that Yuri Gagarin's daughter is in charge of it.

It's no great surprise that Russia doesn't give it back, despite Estonian requests to do so.

Kristopher ütles ...

What's with all the photos of Savisaar lately with something similar hanging from his neck, though? :)

admin ütles ...

Still remains a mystery how the countries of Beethoven, Bach, Goethe, Pushkin, Tolstoy, produced this chapter in history.
Taken a little trip to Narva Joesu, the forests are full of graveyards all the way down the river Narva, and the edges of the road from K-J to SPB still surrounded by bomb craters to this day.
And Bush starts the same old story 3 years ago...

stockholm slender ütles ...

Already this is a very chilling description, but still one that encompasses only a narrow section of the political elite: the destruction was truly society wide. The national culture was brutally repressed, there was the forced collectivization of agriculture with all the associated horrors, summary executions, repressions, deportations, wholesale destruction of national economy and civil society etc. etc. I think it would be fairly objective to say that it was not much - or at all - short of a full scale attempt at a national holocaust for the Estonian Republic.

Cairbre ütles ...

Just to let you know, Justin: images you linked are not visible for anyone outside of Estonia.

Giustino ütles ...

I think I fixed it. Let me know.

Cairbre ütles ...

Karl Akel doesn't load but I can see other images now. Thanks :)

Giustino ütles ...

refresh. he'll show up.

karLos ütles ...

at the risk of sounding non conciliatory - i thought estonia's leaders might not have liked the red army (and it's symbols) because when the "liberation" occured, the germans had already left - so effectively liberated estonia not from germans or facists, but from it's own government and independence. (mart laar inferred this in his own blog quite recently, and i posted a question somewhere but cant remember where and someone confirmed it[!]).

am i wrong?

Kaur ütles ...

It's true karlos, the german army didn't wait in Tallinn to allow the Red Army to catch them, they left one day before and when Red Army marched into Tallinn there was already Estonian flag in Toompea.

Fred Fry ütles ...

Great post.

Thanks.

karLos ütles ...

It's true karlos, the german army didn't wait in Tallinn to allow the Red Army to catch them, they left one day before and when Red Army marched into Tallinn there was already Estonian flag in Toompea.

well then i hope the red supporters appreciate this gesture from the government. i'm not sure i could have shown this level of patience and conciliation if i were PM.

space_maze ütles ...

A great article, and thanks for it. Such a nice and condensed summary of how Estonia "voluntarily joined" the Soviet Union...

The pictures are all loading fine for me, now. Getting to Estonian sites in general has been challenging these last few weeks. A few days ago, I tried to get to reform's web-page, and got the notice that my IP-address has been logged and will be handed over to the authorities if it becomes necessary. Oh boy oh boy oh boy...

Now, the site just won't load.

Does anyone actually know how on earth Otto Tief managed to .. like .. survive? IIRC, he headed the privisionary government that Tallinn was "liberated" from, and yet was not executed, AFAIK. --> Huh?

plasma-jack ütles ...

actually, it seems that most of the government was left alive. funny thing, indeed. Arnold Susi met Solzhenitsyn in prison, soon after they both were arrested, the latter wrote about it in "Gulag".

tambourine man ütles ...

What is the Russian argument over not returning the presidential chain? Do they claim that it was a "gift" from Estonian president upon "voluntarily" joining the CCCP? Are they mocking Estonians of being "indian givers"?

What's the scoop on that?

Agu-Enrik Ubailves ütles ...
Autor on selle kommentaari eemaldanud.
Scott ütles ...

tambourine man:

From an interview with the former Russian ambassador to Estonia:

"Let us talk about symbols. The Russian minister of culture said 18 months ago that the return of the [prewar] Estonian presidential chain of office was only a technical matter. Why has this still not been resolved?

- This is down to our bureaucracy. I am in favour of the chain's return, but I would not like to name a date. I think this will happen quite soon."

Of course, this was back in 2004.
article

Joshua ütles ...

Hi Guistino:

I know this is not your area of expertise, but I was wondering if you might have some knowledge of this subject or know some folks who do...


-----
My name is Josh Goldstein, researcher at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School. Here at Berkman, we just started a new project on 'Internet and Democracy', trying to better understand the way Internet (broadly) has been utilized by democratic movements around the world.

The end product will be a series of case studies as well as some online tools developed to help other activist/organizers around the world. The first case study I am writing is on the Orange Revolution.

I am still in an exploratory phase, and have some ideas of what I want to focus on, but I am trying to talk to as many knowledgeable people as possible.

I know you focus on Estonia, but I was wondering if this is an area where you have knowledge or you may know some others who do. If so, are you available to set up a time to chat in the next few days? My schedule is fairly flexible so just let me know what time is good



Thanks.Josh

www.inanafricanminute.blogspot.com

tambourine man ütles ...

In an attempt to guess what is going on in these thick sculls of Kremlinites I suggest that perhaps Russia is reluctant to return the presidential insignia to a "fascist regime" that does not properly care and honor historic artifacts and precious memorabilia?

After all it means so much to Estonia and her people that Russia is in fact acting responsibly in looking after the interests of Estonian people. How can you trust a symbol of free Estonia into the hands of this "regime" that violates the human rights, etc, etc. ?


(Sorry guys, I've read too many Russian sites lately with their twisted logic and propaganda that I've lost my marbles. Let me know when it's not funny anymore.)

Kaur ütles ...

Joshua,
Silver Meikar, a young Estonian politician from the Reform party is an Ukrainian activist and as far as I know was also connected with the orange revolution. He has been to Ukraine many times and has also written about recent events in his blog. His blog address is www.meikar.ee and e-mail address is silver@meikar.ee.

Scott ütles ...

Kaur,

Good job. Silver Meikar is exactly who they need to talk to. He was there in the tent city.

madis.listak ütles ...

who want's to understand Estonian and Russian history better should read Viktor Suworow's alias Nikolai Georgevits Rezun's books.
If you understand russian or german language then you can watch a documentary named "Posledny Mif" (Last Myth)

German version
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OtvhRG-H9L4

Russian full version (1-3 parts):
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=2785608975308572742
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=6023550469492986524
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-4882292908585263798

If you want to know how president Putin understands history:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DFYfOfowEHk&mode=related&search=

Scott ütles ...

madis.listak:

Can you summarize the comments on the youtube video? I don't know Russian.

And who is the journalist in question? She looks familiar.

Agu-Enrik Ubailves ütles ...
Autor on selle kommentaari eemaldanud.
Scott ütles ...

Agu-Enrik Ubailves:

Wow. Just wow.

Thank you very much for the translation. Well, I see where the myopia on the Russian street starts. At the top.

I talked to former PM Juhan Parts the day after the U.S. voted to let the Baltic States join NATO (treaty has to be amended by the legislature). I congratulated him, and asked when he thought Estonia would have normalized relations with Russia. He replied: "When Russia thinks of Estonia as a foreign country."

Obviously, that day isn't here.

space_maze ütles ...

Hmm. I'm trying to imagine a similar situation in Germany.

Germany gets a new leader, who organises big parades on Hitler's birthday, every year, including people waving swastika flags and people carrying around portraits of Hitler.

Germany starts meddling in the affairs of its neighbours again, and starts to act as if it no longer accepts the Czech Republic, Poland, Austria, Denmark, Norway, France and Holland as independent nations.

When someone points out that this is all a bit worrysome, the leader will note that Willy Brandt apologised for what the Nazis did in the 70s, so what else do you want? Stop whining already.

Yech. I want Yeltsin back. Also if he was a drunk moron with awful policies in Chechnya, at least there was some *HOPE* of Russia SLOWLY moving towards peace with its past then. I might have even accepted .. "okay, given there history, this will just take time. I can wait."

There is nothing to wait for today.

Sam ütles ...

Space_maze:

It was most likely Yeltsin's fondness for the bottle that weakened his attention enough to allow Putin to rise to power. How apt that Russia's troubles were yet again caused by vodka.

plasma-jack ütles ...

Russia is reluctant to return the presidential insignia to a "fascist regime" that does not properly care and honor historic artifacts and precious memorabilia?

After all it means so much to Estonia


it does not mean much to Estonia. We didn't have president before Päts and he was not a real president anyway.

admin ütles ...

"There is nothing to wait for today".

There is. It's elections in Russia soon, and it COULD be worse.

Giustino ütles ...

it does not mean much to Estonia. We didn't have president before Päts and he was not a real president anyway.

The earlier government was too free form. It revolved around a group of the same people playing musical chairs.

Today's government is slightly better. You'll get a government that lasts two years or so. I am hoping that Ansip's will last all the way to 2011.

I know he's a hardass, but you've sort of got to be one if you want to get anything done in this country.

tambourine man ütles ...

Here's a good one from Russian converstations I've been following: they fear that the latest marauding in Tallinn and subsequent pressure on Estonia from Moscow shall have the 180 degree opposite effect to what Moscow was expecting - now there will be a substantial NATO buildup in the Baltic region and "near-abroad" russians shall be more forcefully integrated into their respective societies.

It is not the first time Russia acts against it's own best interests.

Is this thoughtlessly acting out in anger a basic human trait or uniquely Russian trait?

My exploration of that enigmatic russian soul shall continue. ;-)

mab ütles ...

Hi, folks. Sorry this is off-topic a bit -- but I've been reading postings and comments, and you seem like kind and knowledgeable people. So I thought you might be able to enlighten me. I just read an article entitled "Russian rights and Estonian wrongs" and the author cites as proof of discrimination against Russians in Estonia:

"Over the course of several years, the government's discriminatory policies have included: the passage of laws requiring that all
political meetings and private businesses be conducted by "fluent" speakers of Estonian, the removal of the popularly elected mayor of the town of Sillamae for not speaking Estonian well enough, the prosecution of elected officials in the town of Narva under hate-crimes statutes for taking part in a World War II memorial service under the slogan "Narva is against fascism!" and the abrupt cancellation of all 25 Russian television channels by cable operators in the capital, Tallinn (watched by a quarter of city's population)."

Could you comment and explain what he is referring to (if anything)?
Thanks.

Tiina ütles ...

Hi mab.

"...abrupt cancellation of all 25 Russian television channels by cable operators in the capital"
---
Wow! i dont know about other statements in this article, but that about TV sounds really wrong. Cable providers, the two biggest in the market STV and Starman, have definitly not cancelled any russian channels but added them a lot in recent years. Now that digi tv is in the house Elion even offers the specific slavic package for those who want extra russian tv.

Agu-Enrik Ubailves ütles ...
Autor on selle kommentaari eemaldanud.
tambourine man ütles ...

mab,

please provide a link to that article. I think I've heard of it. Some russian professor from some small college from New England has clumsily stepped into the fray.

Carlito ütles ...

tambourine man said...
Here's a good one from Russian converstations I've been following: they fear that the latest marauding in Tallinn and subsequent pressure on Estonia from Moscow shall have the 180 degree opposite effect to what Moscow was expecting -


Tambourine: Yes there will be "blowback" a term that Putin (living in his fishbowl world)seems not to have a grip on.

Check out this analysis from the Economist >>>>

"How to Fight Back / Responding To Russia's Inept Bullying"


http://www.economist.com/world/europe/displaystory.cfm?story_id=9142057

plasma-jack ütles ...

prosecution of elected officials in the town of Narva under hate-crimes statutes for taking part in a World War II memorial service under the slogan "Narva is against fascism!"

I found out that such a service took place in 2005, organized by Russian Party in Estonia, but couldn't find any news piece about any prosecution. Other parties called it election propaganda, rather than a hate crime.
http://www.etv24.ee/index.php?0549661

plasma-jack ütles ...

that reminds me, I read from somewhere that Estonian government built a bus station to Tõnismägi to defile the graves there (:

plasma-jack ütles ...
Autor on selle kommentaari eemaldanud.
tambourine man ütles ...

regarding that Economist article ... makes one wonder how peculiar that once again little Estonia finds itself on the bleeding edge of history in the making. In the beginning we unwittingly drove the first crack into the CCCP and it came down over its own hubris just like that and now ... gosh, what about now? Are we virtually bitch slapping Russia into becoming a normal country? Or are we simply starting a WWIII that shall play itself out in the bloodless cyberspace? (Visualize heroic statues for unknown hackers when we are very old.)

Anyway, watch this World - we are doing it again! Watch and learn.


:-)

plasma-jack ütles ...

prosecution of elected officials in the town of Narva under hate-crimes statutes for taking part in a World War II memorial service under the slogan "Narva is against fascism!"

This claim, while biased, appears to have SOME basis.

according to this, a member of Narva Municipal Council was suspected of spreading hate-inciting leaflets during ele.
http://www.ekspress.ee/viewdoc/8A3B39D51217A96AC2256FFD00783B42

He was firstly sentenced a fee of about 200 Euros, but he was recently aqcuitted in higher court:
http://www.pohjarannik.ee/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=5030

The content of the leaflet is too deep for me to translate, can someone else do that? Point is that he accused other and more prominent local Russian politicians in being Nazis... That's the first time I ever heard anyone saying THAT about Stalnuhhin :-o

Andres Sehr ütles ...

the passage of laws requiring that all political meetings and private businesses be conducted by "fluent" speakers of Estonian .

I don't think I've ever heard of this law.

The private businesses part is total B.S., there are many Russian only speaking firms in Estonia. I think English is quickly invading a lot of firms as the main language.

As for politicians, some people would argue that President Ilves isn't totally fluent in Estonian and often struggles with his speeches. AFAIK he's taking Estonian classes to brush up.

plasma-jack ütles ...

sorry for flooding, but it's just too good, I must express my joy...
so it turns out that even good ol' Stalnuhhin, Velman and Efendijev are, in fact, the agents of American fascism... who would have thought?

ROFLMAO
x-D

mab ütles ...

Thanks. Here's the link to the article
http://www.npetro.net/resources/Russian+rights$2C+Estonian+wrongs.doc

Although I do caution you that it is bizarre, illogical and offensive. I saw it on the Johnson Russia List.

Many thanks. Will continue to drop in:)

Mait ütles ...

plasmajack,

The trolleybus stop was placed there in early 60s, when soviets were running things here.

plasma-jack ütles ...

exactly ;-)

plasma-jack ütles ...

I also read lately that the Lihula statue was erected by government and it still stands. Not to mention those poor guys that got beaten to death in D-terminal.
Sometimes I wonder if Hitler was just a tool, a scapegoat that Estonians could blame for their war crimes in WWII.
And hey, when I think about that, it seems logical that we only joined Soviet Union to stealt their resources and best part of their population, when I think about that.

Giustino ütles ...

I read in Time that "Victory Day" as a holiday only dates back to 1965.

Only in 1965 was the country first given a day off for V-Day. That may have been because the Soviet Union, now approaching its 50th anniversary, had little else besides the defeat of Hitler to be proud of. So, the official drums started beating up the Single-Handed-Soviet-Victory-Over-Fascism theme. The worse things went in this country, the more graphic the war stories dominating Soviet TV and cinema screens each spring, the state sparing no effort to sell its tale of how "the people rallied around the Party during the Hitlerite invasion and saved the world." The point, of course, was that the people had to continue rallying around the Party, to resist the machinations of an external enemy and its internal agents.

plasma-jack ütles ...

The legend goes that shortly after the war, Stalin was congratulated by another communist for repeating the success of Czar Alexander I in First Patriotic War.
"Alexander reached Paris," was Stalin's answer.
Dunno what happened to the poor author of the compliment.

Giustino ütles ...

I also read lately that the Lihula statue was erected by government and it still stands. Not to mention those poor guys that got beaten to death in D-terminal.

Not to mention the constant parades of SS veterans. In fact there's one outside my house right now. God, those 90 year old guys like to march!

Jens-Olaf ütles ...

Since I will change my perspective soon the US was focused on the Far East. Japan. One of the great losses of the American military happpened after V-day in Europe. To enter Japan that was the biggest hurdle. At least they've got the A-bomb. But look at the Japanese, if I am right they were not surredering until the end of 1945 in Vietnam! Have to check this.

Jens-Olaf ütles ...

Saigon, capitulation 30. Nov. 1945!!!

Mait ütles ...

I'm somewhat disappointed - no-one's claimed yet that the whole statue thing was an attempt to attract the huge amount of nazi votes on Eurovision;(

Giustino ütles ...

I'm so tired of this shit. Ansip is not a Nazi. He's just a little uptight. And Lavrov is just a douchebag. Period.

stockholm slender ütles ...

Well, Goebbels certainly has faithful fans in Moscow - how nicely the Kremlin keeps the spirit of the 1930's alive. A very interesting spectacle this, AD 2007.

McMad ütles ...

Time Magazine has a rather spot-on article about Putin and all that whipped up hysteria towards Estonia.
http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1618531,00.html

space_maze ütles ...

Not to mention the constant parades of SS veterans. In fact there's one outside my house right now. God, those 90 year old guys like to march!

Also, Estonian history books openly deny the holocaust, and concentration camps are called transport camps.

I guess all those mentions of "koonduslaagrid" I've seen in Estonian books have been me having eaten the wrong kind of mushroom on those days.

I think certain people in a certain nation of are not aware of the fact that Tiit Madisson is not only not a government official of the Republic of Estonia, but has also been imprisoned by the Republic of Estonia.

Sam ütles ...

Also, being the mayor of Podunk hardly makes one a "government" official.

Jens-Olaf ütles ...

spaze_maze
I have a textbook where you can read:
koonduslagrid but if you go the other page there is written: Surmalaager, and this word underlines a photo, you better do not show to children.
from "Eesti ajalugu - ärkamisajast tänapäevani

"Surmalaager pärast fasisitde pogenemist 1944 September"

Jens-Olaf ütles ...

In German there is a different between
KZ, Konzentrationslager and
Vernichtungslager.

Giustino ütles ...

My chief real criticism of Estonian policies right now would be that the school reform is too extreme and that the rightwing government thinks that passing a law makes it so.

Integration takes time. Acquisition of language takes time. I mean I live with an Estonian speaker and I still am not fluent.

It's dumb to make Russian language schools go to 60 percent Estonian in incremental stages. I don't see why reducing that proportion wouldn't take away some of the pressure they are under.

I mean, if 30 percent of my curriculum in high school was in Spanish, I'd have pretty damn good Spanish. At least reduce it to an eventual 50 percent. 60 percent is just waving your majority status in their face.

I think that institutionally speaking Estonian educators understand and accept the need for Estonian language teaching. But perhaps the government's plans are too ambitious.

Giustino ütles ...

PS: one of the reasons these plans have had limited debate in the Estonian press/society is that they don't effect "us" (yes, I know I am not Estonian, but my kid is a native speaker so I am not worried about this).

From what I can infer from news (and not in person because Tartu is pretty homogenous) there's a lot of silent resentment about this policy.

Agu-Enrik Ubailves ütles ...
Autor on selle kommentaari eemaldanud.
karLos ütles ...

It will be just bad education.

yeah, i agree. it'll give them more reasons to complain about how they're second class citizens, and even an actual valid reason to blame the government for their problems.

space_maze ütles ...

I also agree - 30% should be enough, if you'll have Russian schools at all.

Personally, I don't think the whole school segregation thing is "good". I am very glad about the fact that my parents put me in a German-speaking school in Austria, as opposed to one of the three English-speaking schools there are here in Vienna. Through literature, movies, social contacts, visits to England and the US, and whatnot, I still had enough contact with the English language to not end up deficient in its usage. But not having been in a special school surely made me feel a lot less of an outsider in society than I would have otherwise.

Mind you, I do understand that not having separated schools in Lasnamäe would be problematic, as the 80% Russians would obviously not integrate in with the 20% Estonians.

I was in a class that was about 70% foreigners for four years here, and it worked just fine - there's noone in that class that I wouldn't call Austrian, at this point. But that situation was completely different, as .. there was one Hungarian kid. Two Bosnians. One American, yours truely. Three Turkish kids. One Korean. One Indonesian. One Iranian. One Somalian. And the "real" Austrians in the class, like most Viennese, all had names like Svoboda, Vavra and Tombinski - products of previous waves of immigration.

So what language did the Indonesian kid use to communicate with the Hungarian kid? German, of course.

It's a lot easier to integrate a gazillion tiny communities than one big one.

space_maze ütles ...

Oh, but please please please .. can we have History be one subject taught in Estonian in future? By Estonian teachers?

Agu-Enrik Ubailves ütles ...
Autor on selle kommentaari eemaldanud.
Urmo ütles ...

"makes one wonder how peculiar that once again little Estonia finds itself on the bleeding edge of history in the making. In the beginning we unwittingly drove the first crack into the CCCP and it came down over its own hubris just like that and now"

While risking stomping on the national pride many have shown here, I think CCCP breakup was inevidable. So baltics were not the cause but reaction, natural to appear in the region most closest to the west. Same goes to the bronze events. Russia had playing hardball with so many creating a situation wired to explode.

If i think of the russian schools, situation seems quite hopeless. Due to the teachers or more precisely lack of them, no law can change things. Only action plan I see is really boosting the money spent on the education, especially on training new teachers. Doing that would be a good plan anyway.

I would also investigate what on earth are (history) teachers telling to the kids in russian schools. I've heard stories from our Migration Board clerks that should have alerted government years ago. I was personally very nervous then I learned some schools have teachers telling kids they should not take language exam to gain citizenship (be like us, with grey passport).