The Holocaust in Estonia refers to the Nazi crimes during the occupation of Estonia by Nazi Germany. Prior to the war, there were approximately 4,300 Estonian Jews. After the Soviet 1940 occupation about 10% of the Jewish population was deported to Siberia, along with other Estonians. About 75% of Estonian Jews, aware of the fate that awaited them from Nazi Germany, escaped to the Soviet Union; virtually all of those who remained (between 950 and 1,000 people) were killed by Einsatzgruppe A and local collaborators before the end of 1941. Roma people of Estonia were also murdered and enslaved by the Nazi occupiers and their collaborators. The Nazis and their allies also killed around 6,000 ethnic Estonians and 1,000 ethnic Russians who were accused of being communist sympathizers or the relatives of communist sympathizers. In addition around 25,000 Soviet prisoners-of-war and Jews from other parts of Europe were killed in Estonia during the German occupation.
Prior to World War II, Jewish life flourished with the level of cultural autonomy accorded being the most extensive in all of Europe, giving full control of education and other aspects of cultural life to the local Jewish population. In 1936, the British-based Jewish newspaper The Jewish Chronicle reported that "Estonia is the only country in Eastern Europe where neither the Government nor the people practice any discrimination against Jews and where Jews are left in peace and are allowed to lead a free and unmolested life and fashion it in accord with their national and cultural principles."
Round-ups and killings of the remaining Jews began immediately as the first stage of Generalplan Ost which would require the "removal" of 50% of Estonians.:54 Undertaken by the extermination squad Einsatzkommando (Sonderkommando) 1A under Martin Sandberger, part of Einsatzgruppe A led by Walter Stahlecker, who followed the arrival of the first German troops on July 7, 1941. Arrests and executions continued as the Germans, with the assistance of local collaborators, advanced through Estonia. Estonia became a part of the Reichskommissariat Ostland. A Sicherheitspolizei (Security Police) was established for internal security under the leadership of Ain-Ervin Mere in 1942. Estonia was declared Judenfrei quite early by the German occupation regime at the Wannsee Conference. The Jews who had remained in Estonia (929 according to the most recent calculation) were killed. Fewer than a dozen Estonian Jews are known to have survived the war in Estonia.
The Estonian state archives contain death certificates and lists of Jews shot dated July, August, and early September 1941. For example, the official death certificate of Rubin Teitelbaum, born in Tapa on January 17, 1907, states laconically in a form with item 7 already printed with only the date left blank: "7. By a decision of the Sicherheitspolizei on September 4, 1941, condemned to death, with the decision being carried out the same day in Tallinn." Teitelbaum's crime was "being a Jew" and thus constituting a "threat to the public order".
On September 11, 1941 an article entitled "Juuditäht seljal" – "A Jewish Star on the Back" appeared in the Estonian mass-circulation newspaper Postimees. It stated that Dr. Otto-Heinrich Drechsler, the High Commissioner of Ostland, had proclaimed ordinances in accordance with which all Jewish residents of Ostland from that day onward had to wear visible yellow six-pointed Star of David at least 10 cm (4 in). in diameter on the left side of their chest and back.
On the same day regulations issued by the Sicherheitspolizei were delivered to all local police departments proclaiming that the Nuremberg Laws were in force in Ostland, defining who is a Jew, and what Jews could and could not do. Jews were prohibited from changing their place of residence, walking along the sidewalk, using any means of transportation, going to theatres, museums, cinema, or school. The professions of lawyer, physician, notary, banker, or real estate agent were declared closed to Jews, as was the occupation of street hawker. The regulations also declared that the property and homes of Jewish residents were to be confiscated. The regulations emphasized that work to this ends was to be begun as soon as possible, and that lists of Jews, their addresses, and their property were to be completed by the police by September 20, 1941.
These regulations also provided for the establishment of a concentration camp near the south-eastern Estonian city of Tartu. A later decision provided for the construction of a Jewish ghetto near the town of Harku, but this was never built, a small concentration camp being built there instead. The Estonian State Archives contain material pertinent to the cases of about 450 Estonian Jews. They were typically arrested either at home or in the street, taken to the local police station, and charged with the 'crime' of being Jews. They were either shot outright or sent to concentration camp and shot later. An Estonian woman, E. S. describes the arrest of her Jewish husband as follows:
As my husband did not go out of the house, I was the one to go to town every day to see what was going on. I was very frightened when I saw a poster at the corner of Vabaduse Square and Harju Street calling for people to show where the apartments of Jews were located. On that fatal day of September 13, I went out again because the weather was fine but I remember being very worried. I rushed home and when I got there and heard some voices in our apartment I had a foreboding that something bad had happened. There were two men in our apartment from the Selbstschutz who said they were taking my husband to the police station. I ran after them and went to the chief officer and asked for permission to see my husband. The chief officer said that he could not give me permission but added, in a low voice, that I should come the next morning when the prisoners would be taken to prison and perhaps I could see my husband in the corridor. I returned the next morning as I had been advised, and it was the last time I saw my husband. On September 15 I went to the German Sicherheitspolizei on Tõnismägi in an attempt to get information about my husband. I was told he had been shot. I asked the reason since he had not been a communist but a businessman, The answer was: "Aber er war doch ein Jude." [But he was a Jew.].
After the invasion of the Baltic States, it was the intention of the Nazi government to use the Baltic countries as their main area of mass genocide. Consequently, Jews from countries outside the Baltics were deported there to be killed. An estimated 10,000 Jews were killed in Estonia after having been deported to camps there from elsewhere in Eastern Europe. The Nazi regime also established 22 concentration camps in occupied Estonian territory for foreign Jews, where they would used as slave laborers. The largest, Vaivara concentration camp, served as a transit camp and processed 20,000 Jews from Latvia and the Lithuanian ghettos. Usually able-bodied men were selected to work in the oil shale mines in northeastern Estonia. Women, children, and old people were killed on arrival.
According to testimony of the survivors, at least two transports with about 2,100–2,150 Central European Jews, arrived at the railway station at Raasiku, one from Theresienstadt (Terezin) with Czechoslovakian Jews and one from Berlin with German citizens. Around 1,700–1,750 people were immediately taken to an execution site at the Kalevi-Liiva sand dunes and shot. About 450 people were selected for work at the Jägala camp
Transport Be 1.9.1942 from Theresienstadt arrived at the Raasiku station on September 5, 1942, after a five-day trip. According to testimony by Ralf Gerrets, one of the accused at the war crimes trials in 1961, eight busloads of Estonian auxiliary police had arrived from Tallinn. The selection process was supervised by Ain-Ervin Mere, chief of Security Police in Estonia; those transportees not selected for slave labor were sent by bus to a killing site near the camp. Later the police, in teams of 6 to 8 men, killed the Jews by machine gun fire,. During later investigations, however, some guards of camp denied the participation of police and said that executions were done by camp personnel. On the first day, a total of 900 people were murdered in this way. Gerrets testifies that he had fired a pistol at a victim who was still making noises in the pile of bodies. The whole operation was directed by SS commanders Heinrich Bergmann and Julius Geese. Few witnesses pointed out Heinrich Bergmann as the key figure behind the extermination of Estonian gypsies. In the case of Be 1.9.1942, the only ones chosen for labor and to survive the war were a small group of young women who were taken through a series of concentration camps in Estonia, Poland and Germany to Bergen-Belsen, where they were liberated. Camp commandant Laak used the women as sex slaves, killing many after they had outlived their usefulness.
A number of foreign witnesses were heard at the post-war trials in Soviet Estonia, including five women who had been transported on Be 1.9.1942 from Theresienstadt.
The accused Mere, Gerrets and Viik actively participated in crimes and mass killings that were perpetrated by the Nazi invaders on the territory of the Estonian SSR. In accordance with the Nazi racial theory, the Sicherheitspolizei and Sicherheitsdienst were instructed to exterminate the Jews and Gypsies. To that end, during August and September of 1941, Mere and his collaborators set up a death camp at Jägala, 30 km (19 mi) from Tallinn. Mere put Aleksander Laak in charge of the camp; Ralf Gerrets was appointed his deputy. On September 5, 1942, a train with approximately 1,500 Czechoslovak citizens arrived at the Raasiku railway station. Mere, Laak and Gerrets personally selected who of them should be executed and who should be moved to the Jägala death camp. More than 1,000 people, mostly children, the old, and the infirm, were transported to a wasteland at Kalevi-Liiva, where they were monstrously executed in a special pit. In mid-September, the second troop train with 1,500 prisoners arrived at the railway station from Germany. Mere, Laak, and Gerrets selected another thousand victims, who were then condemned by them to extermination. This group of prisoners, which included nursing women and their new-born babies, were transported to Kalevi-Liiva where they were killed.
In March 1943, the personnel of the Kalevi-Liiva camp executed about fifty Gypsies, half of whom were under 5 years of age. Also were executed 60 Gypsy children of school age...
A few witnesses pointed out Heinrich Bergmann as the key figure behind the extermination of Estonian Roma people.
The Germans recruited tens of thousands of native Estonians into the Waffen SS and the Wehrmacht. Formations of note in such forces were the Estonian Legion, the 3rd Estonian SS Volunteer Brigade, and the 20th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS (1st Estonian) among others.
Units of the Eesti Omakaitse (Estonian Home Guard; approximately 1000 to 1200 men) were directly involved in criminal acts, taking part in the round-up of 200 Roma people and 950 Jews. Units of Estonian Auxiliary Police participated in the extermination of Jews in the Pskov region of Russia and provided guards for concentration camps for Jews and Soviet POWs in Jägala, Vaivara, Klooga, and Lagedi.
The final acts of liquidating the camps, such as Klooga, which involved the mass-shooting of roughly 2,000 prisoners, were carried out by German units belonging to the Schutzmannschaftsbataillon of the KdS. Survivors report that, during these last days before liberation, when Jewish slave labourers were visible, the Estonian population in part attempted to help the Jews by providing food and other types of assistance."
Four Estonians deemed most responsible for the murders at Kalevi-Liiva were accused at the war crimes trials in 1961. Two were later executed, while the Soviet occupation authorities were unable to press charges against the other two due to the fact that they lived in exile. There have been 7 known ethnic Estonians (Ralf Gerrets, Ain-Ervin Mere, Jaan Viik, Juhan Jüriste, Karl Linnas, Aleksander Laak and Ervin Viks) who have faced trials for crimes against humanity committed during the Nazi occupation in Estonia. The accused were charged with murdering up to 5,000 German and Czechoslovakian Jews and Romani people near the Kalevi-Liiva concentration camp in 1942–1943. Ain-Ervin Mere, commander of the Estonian Security Police (Group B of the Sicherheitspolizei) under the Estonian Self-Administration, was tried in absentia. Before the trial, Mere had been an active member of the Estonian community in England, contributing to Estonian language publications. At the time of the trial, however, he was being held in custody in England, having been accused of murder. He was never deported and died a free man in England in 1969. Ralf Gerrets, the deputy commandant at the Jägala camp. Jaan Viik, (Jan Wijk, Ian Viik), a guard at the Jägala labor camp, out of the hundreds of Estonian camp guards and police, was singled out for prosecution due to his particular brutality. Withesses testified that he would throw small children into the air and shoot them. He did not deny the charge. A fourth accused, camp commandant Aleksander Laak (Alexander Laak), was discovered living in Canada, but committed suicide before he could be brought to trial.
Soviet-era Estonian era sources estimate the total number of Soviet citizens and foreigners to be murdered in Nazi-occupied Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic to be 125,000. The bulk of this number consists Jews from Central and Western Europe and Soviet prisoners-of-war killed or starved to death in prisoner-of-war camps on Estonian territory. The Estonian History Commission estimates the total number of victims to be roughly 35,000, consisting of the following groups:
The number of Estonian Jews killed is less than 1,000; the German Holocaust perpetrators Martin Sandberger and Walter Stahlecker cite the numbers 921 and 963 respectively. In 1994 Evgenia Goorin-Loov calculated the exact number to be 929.
Since the reestablishment of the Estonian independence, markers were put in place for the 60th anniversary of the mass executions that were carried out at the Lagedi, Vaivara and Klooga (Kalevi-Liiva) camps in September 1944. On February 5, 1945 in Berlin, Ain Mere founded the Eesti Vabadusliit together with SS-Obersturmbannführer Harald Riipalu. He was sentenced to the capital punishment during the Holocaust trials in Soviet Estonia but was not extradited by Great Britain and died there in peace. In 2002 the Government of the Republic of Estonia decided to officially commemorate the Holocaust. In the same year, the Simon Wiesenthal Center had provided the Estonian government with information on alleged Estonian war criminals, all former members of the 36th Estonian Police Battalion. In August 2018 it was reported that the memorial at Kalevi-Liiva was defaced.
Aleksander (Alexander) Laak (1907 – 6 September 1960) was a lieutenant and the commander of the Jägala concentration camp during the German occupation of Estonia.The estimates for the number of killed at Jägala concentration camp vary widely. The Soviet investigators reached the conclusion that 2,000–3,000 were killed in Jägala and Kalevi-Liiva taken together, but the number 5,000 (as determined by the Extraordinary State Commission in 1944) was written into the verdictIn modern sources, the number 10,000 occurs. Some commentators have also given figures ranging from 100,000 (Michael Elkins, Jonathan Freedland) to 125,000 to 300,000 (Warren Kinsella), however, such figures contradict the findings of the Estonian International Commission for Investigation of Crimes Against Humanity and also the estimates of scholars who place the number of total Jewish victims for the Estonia of 1941–1944 at 8,500.Aleksander Laak was also known to have arranged drunken orgies with inmates.He emigrated to Canada after World War II, in 1948. In 1960 he was implicated in the Holocaust trials in Soviet Estonia, and exposed as living as a naturalized Canadian citizen under the name of Alex Laak in suburban Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada by the Soviet news agency TASS and Canadian journalists.Thereafter, after reading of the arrests of Jaan Viik and Ralf Gerrets for mass killings of mostly Jewish East Europeans while under Nazi occupation, and being himself identified as a mass murderer, he apparently committed suicide by hanging himself in the garage of his home at the age of 53, on 6 September 1960. 4
It has been speculated that Laak was killed by the Israeli Mossad.Israeli journalist Michael Elkins claimed that Laak was in fact confronted one day after his wife had left their house to go to the movies, by a Jewish Avenger squad that clandestinely murdered Nazis. He was according to Elkins confronted with his crimes, and their intended punishment, and he accepted their offer of being allowed to commit suicide rather than be killed. An investigation of the death was reopened in 1991.Algoth Niska
Algoth Niska (5 December 1888 – 28 May 1954) was a Finnish bootlegger, footballer and adventurer.
He was born in Viipuri in 1888 and was the youngest child. When his father died in 1903, the family moved to Helsinki, where he got interested in football. He was a member of the Finland football team which played at the 1912 Summer Olympics in Stockholm, losing 4–0 to England in the semi final.
Niska joined his first ship in 1908. When the First World War broke out, he went to navigation school and graduated the following year – thought he never got his papers. He was married twice and divorced both women. He had two children. The well-known Finnish musician Ilkka Lipsanen is his grandson.
In 1919, when Finnish prohibition came into force, he acquired a large supply of now-illegal liquor. High society in Helsinki soon found out whom they could ask for refreshments. When the supply begun to run out, he bought a boat and begun to smuggle liquor from Estonian and German ships who waited outside Finnish territorial waters. Later he also smuggled liquor from Sweden, where it was legal but tightly controlled.
Over the years he used various tricks to dodge police boats – and sometimes the bullets of their machine guns – during his trips between Turku, Helsinki, Tallinn and Stockholm and in the Åland archipelago. He never shot back. In one case he unloaded his cargo right in the heart of Helsinki while people were distracted during the visit of Gustav V of Sweden. In one stage he was sentenced for a year in prison for resisting police. He claimed to the end of his days that he was innocent.
Niska was eventually wanted both in Sweden and Finland. He was sentenced for short periods in both countries. In prison he became a model prisoner and was often released early for good behavior.
In 1932 Niska was exiled from Sweden and he spent time in Riga, Tallinn and Danzig. He spoke at least Finnish, Swedish, German and English.
In 1938, prior to World War II, Niska begun to smuggle something else — Jewish refugees from Germany to the relative neutrality of Finland. His own estimate was 151 Jews. He used stolen and forged passports and various devious plots to get Jews from Germany through the Netherlands and Estonia. Reportedly he sometimes refused payment. When his network was exposed in 1939, he fled to Estonia and found that the Soviet Union had occupied the country. According to his own story, he fled back to Finland in a rowboat.
Niska fought in Laatokka during the Winter War. There is no clear knowledge of what he did during the Continuation War.
In the mid-1940s Niska tried to finance the building of a new boat by giving interviews about his life – he needed the money and knew he could afford to ask. In 1951 Niska went through surgery in Antwerpen but did not pay the bill – he was in serious debt in that time. In 1953 he was diagnosed with brain tumor and lost his speech and power of movement. He died on 28 May 1954.Einsatzgruppen
Einsatzgruppen (German: [ˈʔaɪnzatsˌɡʁʊpn̩], "task forces" or "deployment groups") were Schutzstaffel (SS) paramilitary death squads of Nazi Germany that were responsible for mass killings, primarily by shooting, during World War II (1939–45) in German-occupied Europe. The Einsatzgruppen were involved in the murder of much of the intelligentsia, including members of the priesthood, and cultural elite of Poland, and had an integral role in the implementation of the so-called "Final Solution to the Jewish Question" (Die Endlösung der Judenfrage) in territories conquered by Nazi Germany. Almost all of the people they killed were civilians, beginning with the intelligentsia and swiftly progressing to Soviet political commissars, Jews, and Romani people as well as actual or alleged partisans throughout Eastern Europe.
Under the direction of Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler and the supervision of SS-Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich, the Einsatzgruppen operated in territories occupied by the Wehrmacht (German armed forces) following the invasion of Poland in September 1939 and the invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941. The Einsatzgruppen worked hand-in-hand with the Order Police battalions on the Eastern Front to carry out operations ranging from the murder of a few people to operations which lasted over two or more days, such as the massacre at Babi Yar with 33,771 Jews killed in two days, and the Rumbula massacre (with about 25,000 killed in two days of shooting). As ordered by Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, the Wehrmacht cooperated with the Einsatzgruppen and provided logistical support for their operations. Historian Raul Hilberg estimates that between 1941 and 1945 the Einsatzgruppen and related auxiliary troops killed more than two million people, including 1.3 million of the 5.5 to 6 million Jews murdered during the Holocaust.
After the close of World War II, 24 senior leaders of the Einsatzgruppen were prosecuted in the Einsatzgruppen trial in 1947–48, charged with crimes against humanity and war crimes. Fourteen death sentences and two life sentences were handed out. Four additional Einsatzgruppe leaders were later tried and executed by other nations.Einsatzgruppen reports
The Einsatzgruppen Operational Situation Reports (OSRs), or ERM for the German: Die Ereignismeldung UdSSR (plural: Ereignismeldungen), were dispatches of the Nazi death squads (Einsatzgruppen), which documented the progress of the Holocaust behind the German-Soviet frontier in the course of Operation Barbarossa, during World War II. The extant reports were sent between June 1941 and April 1942 to the Chief of the Security Police and the SD (German: Chef des Sicherheitspolizei und SD) in Berlin, from the occupied eastern territories including modern-day Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, Russia, Moldova, and the Baltic Countries. During the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials the originals were grouped according to year and month and catalogued using a consecutive numbering system, as listed in the below table. The original photostats are held at the National Archives in Washington D.C..Einsatzkommando
During World War II, the Nazi German Einsatzkommandos were a sub-group of five Einsatzgruppen mobile killing squads (term used by Holocaust historians) – up to 3,000 men total – usually composed of 500–1,000 functionaries of the SS and Gestapo, whose mission was to exterminate Jews, Polish intellectuals, Romani, homosexuals, communists and the NKVD collaborators in the captured territories often far behind the advancing German front. After the outbreak of war with the Soviet Union with Operation Barbarossa, the Red Army began to retreat so rapidly that the large Einsatzgruppen had to be split into dozens of smaller commandos (Einsatzkommandos), responsible for systematically killing Jews and, among others, alleged Soviet partisans behind the Wehrmacht lines. After the war several Einsatzkommando officers were tried, in the Einsatzgruppen trial, convicted of war crimes and hanged.
As a military term, the German Einsatzkommando (Operational Command) is roughly equivalent to the English task force and is still in use for German paramilitary organizations, such as SEK and Einsatzkommando Cobra.Estonia in World War II
Before the outbreak of the Second World War, Germany and the Soviet Union signed the German-Soviet Nonaggression Pact, concerning the partition and disposition of sovereign states, including Estonia, and in particular its Secret Additional Protocol of August 1939.The Republic of Estonia declared neutrality in the war but fell under the Soviet sphere of influence due to the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact and was occupied by the Soviet Union in 1940. Mass political arrests, deportations, and executions followed. In the Summer War during the German Operation Barbarossa in 1941, the pro-independence Forest Brothers captured South Estonia from the NKVD and the 8th Army before the arrival of the German 18th Army. At the same time, Soviet paramilitary destruction battalions carried out punitive operations, including looting and killing, based on the tactics of scorched earth proclaimed by Joseph Stalin. Estonia was occupied by Germany and incorporated into Reichskommissariat Ostland.
In 1941, Estonians were conscripted into the 8th Estonian Rifle Corps and in 1941–1944 to the Nazi German forces. Men who avoided these mobilisations fled to Finland to be formed into the Finnish Infantry Regiment 200. About 40% of the Estonian pre-war fleet was requisitioned by British authorities and used in Atlantic convoys. Approximately 1000 Estonian sailors served in the British Merchant Navy, 200 of them as officers. A small number of Estonians served in the Royal Air Force, in the British Army and in the U.S. Army.From February to September 1944, the German army detachment "Narwa" held back the Soviet Estonian Operation. After breaching the defence of II Army Corps across the Emajõgi river and clashing with the pro-independence Estonian troops, Soviet forces reoccupied mainland Estonia in September 1944. After the war, Estonia remained incorporated into the Soviet Union as the Estonian SSR until 1991, although the Atlantic Charter stated that no territorial arrangements would be made.
World War II losses in Estonia, estimated at around 25% of the population, were among the highest proportion in Europe. War and occupation deaths listed in the current reports total at 81,000. These include deaths in Soviet deportations in 1941, Soviet executions, German deportations, and victims of the Holocaust in Estonia.Estonian International Commission for Investigation of Crimes Against Humanity
The Estonian International Commission for Investigation of Crimes Against Humanity (Estonian: Inimsusevastaste Kuritegude Uurimise Eesti Rahvusvaheline Komisjon; also known as the History Commission or Max Jakobson Commission) was the commission established by President of Estonia Lennart Meri in October 1998 to investigate crimes against humanity committed in Estonia or against its citizens during the Soviet and German occupation, such as Soviet deportations from Estonia and the Holocaust in Estonia.
It held its first session in Tallinn in January 1999. To promote independent inquiry and avoid conflict of interest, there were no Estonian citizens among its members. Finnish diplomat Max Jakobson was appointed chairman of the commission.
Research of the Commission has been relied on by the European Court of Human Rights, for example in its decision to not grant certiorari to review a complaint by August Kolk and Pyotr Kislyy, who had been convicted of crimes against humanity due to their roles in the Soviet deportations from Estonia.The Commission fulfilled its purpose by 2007 and was succeeded by the Estonian Institute of Historical Memory.Estonian Security Police and SD
The Estonian Security Police and SD (German: Sicherheitspolizei und SD Estland, Estonian: Eesti Julgeolekupolitsei ja SD), or Sipo, was a security police force created by the Germans in 1942 that integrated both Germans and Estonians within a unique structure mirroring the German Sicherheitspolizei.Following the German occupation in 1941, the German Army created police Prefekts based upon the old Estonian police model. In 1942 a new Sicherheitspolizei structure was installed. The new Sipo force was designed by Martin Sandberger, leader of Einsatzkommando 1a. It was a unique joint structure that consisted of a German component called "Group A" with departments A-I to A-V and an Estonian component called "Group B" with corresponding departments. The Estonian Sipo wore the same uniforms as their German counterparts, and attended Sipo schools in the Reich.Generalplan Ost
The Generalplan Ost (German pronunciation: [ɡenəˈʁaːlˌplaːn ˈɔst]; English: Master Plan for the East), abbreviated as GPO, was the Nazi German government's plan for the genocide and ethnic cleansing on a vast scale, and colonization of Central and Eastern Europe by Germans. It was to be undertaken in territories occupied by Germany during World War II. The plan was partially realized during the war, resulting indirectly and directly in millions of deaths of ethnic Slavs starvation, disease, or extermination through labor. But its full implementation was not considered practicable during the major military operations, and was prevented by Germany's defeat.The plan entailed the enslavement, forced displacement, and mass murder of the Slavic peoples (and substantial parts of the Baltic peoples, especially Lithuanians and Latgalians) in Europe along with planned destruction of their nations, whom the 'Aryan' Nazis viewed as racially inferior. The program operational guidelines were based on the policy of Lebensraum designed by Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party in fulfilment of the Drang nach Osten (drive to the East) ideology of German expansionism. As such, it was intended to be a part of the New Order in Europe.The master plan was a work in progress. There are four known versions of it, developed as time went on. After the invasion of Poland, the original blueprint for Generalplan Ost (GPO) was discussed by the RKFDV in mid-1940 during the Nazi–Soviet population transfers. The second known version of GPO was procured by the RSHA from Erhard Wetzel in April 1942. The third version was officially dated June 1942. The final settlement master plan for the East came in from the RKFDV on October 29, 1942. However, after the German defeat at Stalingrad planning of the colonization in the East was suspended, and the program was gradually abandoned.German occupation of Estonia during World War II
After Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, Army Group North reached Estonia in July. Initially the Germans were perceived by most Estonians as liberators from the USSR and its repressions, having arrived only a week after the first mass deportations from the Baltic States. Although hopes were raised for the restoration of the country's independence, it was soon realized that they were but another occupying power. The Germans pillaged the country for their war effort and unleashed The Holocaust in Estonia during which they and their collaborators murdered tens of thousands of people (including ethnic Estonians, Estonian Jews, Estonian Gypsies, Estonian Russians, Soviet prisoners of war, Jews from other countries and others). For the duration of the occupation, Estonia was incorporated into the German province of Ostland.History of Estonia
The history of Estonia forms a part of the history of Europe. Humans settled in the region of Estonia near the end of the last glacial era, beginning from around 8500 BC. Before German crusaders invaded in the early 13th century, proto-Estonians of ancient Estonia worshipped spirits of nature. Starting with the Northern Crusades in the Middle Ages, Estonia became a battleground for centuries where Denmark, Germany, Russia, Sweden and Poland fought their many wars over controlling the important geographical position of the country as a gateway between East and West.After Danes and Germans conquered the area in 1227, Estonia was ruled initially by Denmark in the north, by the Livonian Order, an autonomous part of the Monastic state of the Teutonic Knights and by Baltic German ecclesiastical states of the Holy Roman Empire. From 1418 to 1562 the whole of Estonia formed part of the Livonian Confederation. After the Livonian War of 1558-1583, Estonia became part of the Swedish Empire until 1710/1721, when Sweden ceded it to Russia as a result of the Great Northern War of 1700-1721. Throughout this period the Baltic-German nobility enjoyed autonomy, and German served as the language of administration and education.
The Estophile Enlightenment Period (1750–1840) led to the Estonian national awakening in the middle of the 19th century. In the aftermath of World War I (1914-1918) and the Russian revolutions of 1917, Estonians declared their independence in February 1918. The Estonian War of Independence (1918-1920) ensued on two fronts: the newly proclaimed state fought against Bolshevist Russia to the east and against the Baltic German forces (the Baltische Landeswehr) to the south. The Tartu Peace Treaty (February 1920) marked the end of fighting and recognised Estonian independence in perpetuity.
In 1940, in the wake of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact of 1939, the Soviet Union occupied Estonia and (according to e.g. the US, the EU, and the European Court of Human Rights) illegally annexed the country. In the course of Operation Barbarossa, Nazi Germany occupied Estonia in 1941; later in World War II the Soviet Union reoccupied it (1944). Estonia regained independence in 1991 in the course of the dissolution of the Soviet Union and joined the European Union and NATO in 2004.Jägala concentration camp
Jägala concentration camp was a labour camp of the Estonian Security Police and SD during the German occupation of Estonia during World War II. The camp was established in August 1942 on a former artillery range of the Estonian Army near the village of Jägala, Estonia. It existed from August 1942 to August 1943. Aleksander Laak, an Estonian was appointed by SS-Sturmbannführer Ain-Ervin Mere of Group B of the Estonian Security Police to command the camp with Ralf Gerrets as assistant.Officially Jägala was a "labour education camp" or "Arbeitserziehungslager" for forced forestry and field workers. The camp housed Jews deported to Estonia from other countries, including Lithuania, Czechoslovakia, Germany and Poland. About 3,000 Jews who were not selected for work at their arrival at Raasiku railway station were taken directly from the station and shot at the nearby Kalevi-Liiva extermination site.The camp never held more than 200 prisoners and had a short life span of several months. In November 1942 it was reported that the camp held 53 men and 150 women. Most of the prisoners were eventually transferred to Tallinn Central Prison starting with about half of the prisoners moved in December 1942 and the rest in June and July. By August 1943 the camp was closed and most of the remaining inmates were shot. Several sick prisoners were shot at the Jägala camp while about 15 hospitalised prisoners were sent to Kalevi-Liiva to be executed, Laak also killed three women, one of them his sex slave; the camp was then dismantled by September 1943.The estimates for the number of killed at Jägala concentration camp vary. Soviet investigators concluded that 2,000-3,000 were killed in Jägala and Kalevi-Liiva taken together, but the number 5,000 (as determined by the Extraordinary State Commission in 1944) was written into the verdict.In modern sources, the number 10,000 occurs. However, Estonian International Commission for Investigation of Crimes Against Humanity and estimates of scholars place the number of total Jewish victims in Estonia during 1941-1944 around 8,500.Kalevi-Liiva
Kalevi-Liiva are sand dunes in Jõelähtme Parish in Harju County, Estonia. The site is located near the Baltic coast, north of the Jägala village and the former Jägala concentration camp. It is best known as the execution site of at least 6,000 Jewish and Roma Holocaust victims.Massacre of Uus Street
The massacre of Uus street was committed by German forces and local collaborators on 30 August 1941 in Tallinn.
German forces occupied Tallinn on 28 August 1941 after the Soviet evacuation of Tallinn. The German occupation forces included a local Omakaitse militia. Einsatzgruppe A commanded by Franz Walter Stahlecker closely followed the German front units, actively recruiting local nationalists and antisemitic groups to instigate pogroms against the local Jewish population.In Tallinn, many Jews lived in the vicinity of the Uus street, located in Vanalinn. Several Jewish shopowners had their businesses on the street. On the night before 30 August, the area was targeted by a Omakaitse unit under the command of Karl Talpak. Militiamen arrived to the street with torches and burned down several shops owned by the Jews. The Jewish residents were taken out to the street and left waiting for the arrival of the Einsatzgruppe that had orders to execute them.According to the testimony of local Estonian resident Martin Aidnik, the victims were ordered to undress and some who resisted were beaten to death:
There were armed men standing on the sidewalks on both sides of the street, the Jews - mostly women and children - in the center. An older man who I knew to be Simeon Sorokin, a glass merchant from the Uus street, refused to get naked and I saw a militiaman beat him with a gun until he was clearly dead. Then, two trucks with German soldiers arrived.
According to most evidence, the Einsatzgruppe murdered 83 Jewish victims by machine-gun fire on the Uus street. They were later buried in an unmarked grave outside the city.Later, commander of the German commando reported to Stahlecker:
The removal of the Jewish population [in Tallinn] has been swift and easy thanks to the action taken by a Sonderkommando on 29 and 30 August. There has been no noticeable resistance from the Jews who were led to believe that they will be resettled.
The massacre was followed by taking the remainder of the Jewish population in Tallinn to several concentration camps in Estonia such as the Jägala concentration camp, where they were killed toward the end of the year 1941.Omakaitse
The Omakaitse ('home guard') was a militia organisation in Estonia. It was founded in 1917 following the Russian Revolution. On the eve of the Occupation of Estonia by the German Empire the Omakaitse units took over major towns in the country allowing the Salvation Committee of the Estonian Provincial Assembly to proclaim the independence of Estonia. After the German Occupation the Omakaitse became outlawed.
The Estonian Defence League was dissolved in 1940 after the Soviet occupation of Estonia.The Omakaitse was reestablished during the German Operation Barbarossa in 1941 by the Forest brothers who took control of the country before the German troops arrived allowing Jüri Uluots establish a co-ordinating council in Tartu to proclaim the provisional government of Estonia. The Germans disbanded the provisional government but allowed the armed units in the Omakaitse after Estonia became a part of the German-occupied Reichskommissariat Ostland. During World War II Omakaitse existed from 3 July 1941 – 17 September 1944 at the Eastern Front (World War II).Sonderaktion 1005
The Sonderaktion 1005 (English: Special Action 1005), also called Aktion 1005, or Enterdungsaktion (English: Exhumation Action) began in May 1942 during World War II to hide any evidence that people had been murdered by Germany in Aktion Reinhard in German-occupied Poland. The operation, which was conducted in strict secrecy from 1942–1944, used prisoners to exhume mass graves and burn the bodies. These work groups were officially called Leichenkommandos ("corpse units") and were all part of Sonderkommando 1005; inmates were often put in chains in order to prevent escape.
In May 1943, the operation moved into occupied territories in Eastern and Central Europe to destroy evidence of the Final Solution. Sonderaktion 1005 was used to conceal the evidence of massacres committed by SS-Einsatzgruppen Nazi death squads that had massacred millions of people including 1.3 million Jews according to Historian Raul Hilberg, as well as Roma and local civilians. The Aktion was overseen by selected squads from the Sicherheitsdienst and Ordnungspolizei.The Holocaust in the USSR
The Holocaust in the Soviet Union (USSR) refers to the German persecution of Jews, Roma and homosexuals as part of The Holocaust in World War II.
It may refer to:
The Holocaust in Russia
The Holocaust in Belarus
The Holocaust in UkraineIt may also refer to The Holocaust in the Baltic states, annexed by the Soviet Union before the war:
The Holocaust in Latvia
The Holocaust in Lithuania
The Holocaust in EstoniaWar crimes trials in Soviet Estonia
A number of War crimes trials were held in the 1960s in Soviet Estonia. The best-known trial was brought in 1961, by the local Soviet authorities against Estonian collaborators who had participated in the execution of the Holocaust during the German occupation (1941–1944). The accused were charged with murdering up to 5000 German and Czechoslovakian Jews and Romani people near the Kalevi-Liiva concentration camp in 1942–1943. The public trial by the Supreme Court of the Estonian SSR was held in the auditorium of the Navy Officers Club in Tallinn and attended by a mass audience. All three defendants were convicted and sentenced to death, then two of them were executed shortly after. The third defendant, Ain-Ervin Mere was tried in absentia and was not available for execution.
A second trial was held in Tartu in 1962. The accused Estonia collaborators were charged with killing Soviet citizens and were sentenced to death in absentia. The trial verdict and testimony were inadvertently published in the magazine Sotsialisticheskaya zakonnost ('Socialist Legality') before the trial began.Zelig Kalmanovich
Zelig Hirsch Kalmanovich (Latvian: Zēligs Hiršs Kalmanovičs) (1885–1944) was a Litvak Jewish philologist, translator, historian, and community archivist of the early 20th century. He was a renowned scholar of Yiddish. In 1929 he settled in Vilnius where he became an early director of YIVO.
He was incarcerated in the Vilna Ghetto where he became an observant Jew. During his time in the ghetto, Kalmanovich kept a secret diary which is one of the few primary sources recording day-to-day life. His diary stressed the efforts of the community to retain their humanity in the face of oppression. For example, on October 11, 1942, he wrote the following entry in his diary: On Simhat Torah eve at the invitation of the rabbi, I went for services in a house that had formerly been a synagogue and was now a music school ... I said a few words: 'Our song and dance are a form of worship. Our rejoicing is due to Him who decrees life and death. Here in the midst of this small congregation, in the poor and ruined synagogue, we are united with the whole house of Israel, not only with those who are here today ... And you in your rejoicing, atone for the sins of a generation that is perishing. I know that the Jewish people will live ... And every day the Holy One, blessed be He, in His mercy gives us a gift which we accept with joy and give thanks to His holy name.
During the Nazi occupation, he was forced to work at the YIVO offices under Nazi supervision, sorting through the pillaged contents of Vilna's libraries and preparing selected volumes for shipment to Germany. He was sent to the Vaivara concentration camp in Estonia, where he died in 1944.
The Holocaust in Estonia
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|War crimes investigations and trials|
|Righteous Among the Nations|
The Holocaust in Europe
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