esmaspäev, aprill 20, 2009

mongolian people's republic

My research into Estonia's June communists has yielded some interesting results.

The June communists were the armchair social revolutionaries and left-wing MPs drawn up by the Soviet legation in Tallinn in June 1940.

This government was installed following an ultimatum from Moscow to form a friendly government capable of carrying out the terms of the September 1939 mutual assistance pact. They were called "June communists" because they weren't actually communists. They just happened to find their communist souls after being instructed by the Soviet legation to do so.

Most had some connection with Moscow. They were brought into its web of deceit and blackmail via Soviet cultural diplomacy programs. They had been invited to present their poetry for example, by their Soviet "counterparts" in the USSR.

The head of this puppet government was Johannes Vares, a Pärnu physician and modernist poet. His deputy was Hans Kruus, a university historian. The foreign minister was Nigol Andresen, a school master with leftwing views.

According to the declaration of the government upon its installation, Estonia's new leaders would adopt a pro-Soviet position to enhance their country's independence and security. Between June 21 and the faux elections held July 14 and 15 -- which were not only unconstitutional, but closed to opposition and rigged by the Soviets -- the government continued to assuage the people that life would continue as it had before.

The elections would be free and fair, said Foreign Minister Andresen. Social Minister Neeme Ruus said that there would be no collectivization; that Estonia did not need collective farms. And at no point did anybody mention applying for membership in the Soviet Union.

The discussion of joining the USSR began on July 17 -- after the new parliament composed of handpicked Soviet stooges and leftwing intellectuals had already been "elected." Spontaneous demonstrations coincided with the outcome of a meeting between the Soviet emissaries in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, that decided on the course of events that would see the occupied countries into the Soviet Union.

According to several sources, the June communists were actually surprised by this. They didn't mind the new found status of going from marginal politicians to national leaders, with the aid of Soviet tanks of course. Still, giving up Estonian sovereignty was not what they had in mind. Why, on July 17, the same day of the "spontaneous demonstrations," they had even welcomed the new Soviet envoy to Tallinn, who toasted Estonian independence and pledged to uphold the Treaty of Tartu.

Hoping to secure some other future for their country, the Estonian leadership proposed a different outcome to Andrei Zhdanov and Vyacheslav Molotov: Estonia would have the same status as the Mongolian People's Republic, not the Ukrainian SSR, as the draft of Estonia's resolution to incorporate with the Soviets had read.

The Mongolian People's Republic? It existed from 1924 to 1992 as a nominally independent Soviet puppet state, wedged between two ideologically similar, but geopolitically rival communist regimes. While they remained free to be Mongolians, rather than Soviets, life in the Mongolian People's Republic was no picnic. About 35,000 people were killed during purges in the late 1930s. Its national leaders and intelligentsia fell prey to the same orgy of bloodletting that took place next door in the USSR. Yet, in the perverted logic of 1940, the year that Hitler took Paris, this was a preferable fate to gaining the same status as Ukraine for an Estonian poet-physician, a historian, and a school master with leftwing views.

Zhdanov's response to Vares' Mongolian suggestion was to point a loaded revolver at him and threaten him with either death or detainment (sources differ) should he not fulfill the Soviet legations orders to vote Estonia into the USSR. The Lithuanian "foreign minister" Vincas Mickevičius had a similar idea. He actually visited Molotov in Moscow, and was told that in the future, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, would vanish as independent states, and that all of these diverse nationalities would be absorbed into the great Soviet people.

So there would be no special Mongolian status for Estonia, Latvia, or Lithuania in 1940. But the idea is another to throw on the pile of big "what ifs" for Estonia, next to all the others.

6 kommentaari:

stockholm slender ütles ...

I have never thought that these people were real communists - but I suppose some might have actually been covert members. I suspect that given freedom of action their policies might have in many respects been more enlightened and more democratic than Päts' but they had no freedom of action whatsoever (maybe no real freedom to even say no to the summons to government). So, I don't know how harsh one should be with these people - times were nightmarish: a bloody, irrational terror machine was taking over the country. How would any of us behave in such circumstances?

Giustino ütles ...

Well, the Justice Minister Boris Sepp was arrested by the Soviets on July 6 for "political adventurism." He died in Siberia. I am sure that the rest of the government understood what would happen to you if you did not comply. Päts understood it too. One could see him, from June 17 onwards, as a "puppet president."
The Soviets were master liars. They told Päts and Vares until the very end that their country would remain independent. It's like a thief pointing a gun at you and saying, "Just give me your wallet and you'll live" and then blowing you away anyway. They were criminals.

How is Kuusinen treated in Finland. Does anybody remember him?

stockholm slender ütles ...

Oh well, him. Certainly not fondly by the overwhelming majority. But he really was an active communist and revolutionary. Of course we do still have a native communist tradition in the country and I suppose there are some (mainly elderly) people that are more positive about him. Not that he would be seen as a very familiar historical figure by the younger generations. He was a master survivor and outlived Stalin - there is a wonderful letter from him to Poika Tuominen in Stocholm from the crazy year of 1937: "The same busy hurly-burly is still going on here." I'm sure Tuominen read very well indeed between the lines and wasn't in a hurry to leave Stockholm for Moscow...

Puu ütles ...

You might find this interesting: The Bloody Baron

Martin ütles ...

"Psychopathic Buddhist warrior-king" has a nice implausible ring to it.

Puu ütles ...

He was a nutter.