reede, august 25, 2006

Sticking my nose in Estonia's business ...

Uh oh - it looks like I have just stuck my nose in Estonia's business.

I wrote this piece - which sort of examines the pronkssõdur controversy from an American perspective, on my own, and without the intention of having it published in an Estonian national newspaper. However, it was submitted to Postimees and they liked it enough to publish it. Since I read Postimees everyday (what I can read of it) I was honored to be party to the debate.

Anyway I decided to add my 2 EEK to the ongoing dialogue about monuments and memories and wars. The basic point is that Estonia's most uncontroversial heroes from the Second World War - the forest brothers - are being overlooked in the arguments about Nazis and Communists.

I also wanted to remind readers that Estonia isn't an island and that the United States has similar controversial issues (like the use of the Confederate flag) and that it's heroes from the American Revolution were controversial in their day. I even tried to draw a parallel between Estonia's forest brothers and the Green Mountain Boys of Vermont, who were also derided as gangsters in their time (and many were).

Well anyway, I am happy to be published and to contribute to this discussion. It is very meaningful for me.

5 kommentaari:

Jens-Olaf ütles ...

Estonian business? The Germans were fighting, the Soviets were fighting, the Americans send supply to them, the Estonians were fighting on both sides, some Estonians were battling with Germans and Soviets, some German soldiers were not Germans. The war ended earlier since the Americans were forced to join the conflict (in Japan and Europe) what they first tried to avoid. Your say!

Giustino ütles ...

It was really a different time back then. Estonia and Finland were foreign and far away for Americans.

Today, both make many back packers traveling lists - and many Americans, particularly from the East Coast like to do nothing more than to "conquer" Europe, hostel by hostel.

Anyway, sometimes solutions are easier to grasp when one views the dilemma from several thousands of miles away. :)

Anonüümne ütles ...

Getting published in Estonian newspaper ey?
My thoughts.
About rewriting history (“ümber kirjutanud”, “ümbertõlgendamine”). History cannot be rewritten when it’s not even history. Events in 1940s and later are real lives – lives of ourselves, our parents or grandparents. We are just lucky we live in a time where the “official” history is more or less like the real lives of rteal people. It hasn’t been always like this. That is why it is almost impossible to have a debate with a homo sovieticus. Laari ajalugu! - “Laar’s history” is all you can get out of them. They didn’t live in Estonia in 1940s, but that’s no excuse.
They have to choose between
history books of independent Estonia, lives of thousands of hundreds of people, some hard facts
and Soviet history books, lies of an authoritarian leader of current Russia
and they choose the last one...

About the forest brothers. Are we really ALLOWED to have them as our heroes? Most of the forest brothers were once part of the Estoniuan Legion (the 20th SS), some were Estonians drafted to Soviet army who returned in 1944 and found their homes in ruins and family deported or executed, the rest had no connection with the Soviet or German army. But they all were treated exactly the same as the ex SS-soldiers who didn’t have an opportunity to become a forest brothers – executed on the spot, or sent to jail for “treason” or “anti-soviet agitation and propaganda”.
As to the Estonian Legion (unit with a spotless record till the end)… the expression “süüdi mulje põhjal” suits them perfectly. Many people don’t know about the ex SS soldiers from Estonia (and Latvia, Lithuania) working as prison guyards under US Army command GUARDING NAZI WAR CRIMINALS at Nuremberg. Or about ex SS soldiers working for western armies and intelligence services (Alfons Rebane being the most famous).
They didn’t fight against the Nazis and maybe prolonged their power, but at the same time they gave tens of thousand of Estonians the chance to flee to the west who otherwise would have faced almost certain death. Also, many modern historians and war-expert believe that if they hadn’t managed to keep the Tannenberg Line (Sinimäed) for 7 months and lost the Estonian north coast to Russians, then today we would have one more ex-Soviet country - Finnish SSR.

Estonia wouldn’t be an independent country if we didn’t have the politicians abroad running the embassies during the Soviet occupation and the refugees telling people about our situation. Or the parents and teachers here in Estonia who read their children the forbidden books, thought them the forbidden songs and told them their forbidden memories.
What’s my point? We don’t need (have) one hero. All those who died or lived their lives with a dream of free Estonia in their mind are our heroes.
However, one thing is certain: soldier in Red Army (and NKVD and so on) uniform can never be the hero of [b]Estonia[/b].
Personally I can’t even respect them as simple soldiers or army commanders – Red Army was by far the worst army in WWII (the French excluded of course)

Ok then... I'd better get some work done

Giustino ütles ...

Thanks for your thoughts, Oliver.

Homo Sovieticus is a reactionary force. How long can they continue to exist? It's been 15 years now.

They remind me of Brooklyn Dodgers fans. Thousands of years ago in the 1950s, Brooklyn had its own baseball team - the Dodgers.

The brooklyn Dodgers stayed in Brooklyn for longer than the USSR stayed in Estonia - for 74 years.
But then in 1958, the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles.

Yet today, there are still old geezers walking around saying that the Brooklyn Dodgers were the greatest baseball team ever, and that they are really Brooklyn Dodgers fans.

Such sentiments are lost on the youth whose lives did not coexist with the fames baseball team. The all we can say to that is, "whatever."

Giustino ütles ...

Also, many modern historians and war-expert believe that if they hadn’t managed to keep the Tannenberg Line (Sinimäed) for 7 months and lost the Estonian north coast to Russians, then today we would have one more ex-Soviet country - Finnish SSR.

Sometimes Helsinki looks like it was once part of the USSR, with it's huge gray buildings.

The dormitory style apartment blocks on the outskirts of Helsinki also resemble the apartment blocks in parts of Estonia - especially Annelinn in Tartu, for example.

Soviet presence in Finland would have been a disaster for that country - which is beautiful.