pageok
pageok
pageok
Estonia and the Legacy of Soviet "Liberation":

Fellow Russian immigrant Cathy Young has an excellent column on the controversy over Estonia's decision to move a monument to the Soviet "Liberators of Tallin" to a less prominent location in the nation's capital. The statue commemorated the Soviet army for "liberating" Estonia from the Germans in 1944. As Young points out, Estonians rightly regard the Soviet conquest and annexation of their country as a "brutal occupation" rather than as "liberation." She also notes that the current Russian government has cynically used this incident to try to whitewash the wrongs of communism and whip up nationalist sentiment in Russia. Russian President and former KGB Colonel Vladimir Putin, of course, claims that the collapse of communism was "the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century."

However, perhaps due to space constraints, Young does not mention the full scope of Soviet crimes in Estonia, and therefore does not fully explain why the Estonians viewed the presence of a monument to the Red Army in the center of their capital as "an insult." Along with Latvia, Lithuania, and eastern Poland, Estonia was annexed by the USSR in 1940 pursuant to the Nazi-Soviet Pact of August 1939, which carved up much of Eastern Europe between the USSR and the Nazis. During the period of Soviet rule in Estonia, some 30,000 Estonians were executed by the Soviet authorities or died in detention for "political offenses." 80,000 were imprisoned or deported to Gulag slave labor camps for such "crimes." Most - but not all - of these atrocities were carried out in the first few years of Soviet rule (1940-41, 1944-51). I have not counted the thousands of Estonians killed or imprisoned for taking part in armed resistance to Soviet rule, though in truth the Soviets had no right to kill these people either; I have also discounted thousands forcibly conscripted into the Soviet military, many of whom died in service; and 21,000 Baltic Germans forcibly deported to Germany in accordance with various Nazi-Soviet agreements. For a detailed breakdown of the data from which these figures are taken, see here.

To put these figures in perspective, it is important to note that the total population of Estonia in 1939 was only about 1.1 million. The 30,000 Estonians killed by the Soviet authorities for political reasons amount to almost 3 percent of the population. Some 10% of all Estonians were either killed or imprisoned. A comparable proportional population loss for the United States today would leave some 9 million dead and another 20 million imprisoned or deported out of our population of 300 million.

In and of itself, the controversy over the Tallin monument is unimportant. But it does provide a disturbing indication of Putin's efforts to whitewash the Soviet past. On the positive side of the ledger, it is a good opportunity to educate ourselves about at least a few of the crimes of communism - horrors that too many remain ignorant of even today.

UPDATE: To avoid confusion, I am not denying that the Soviet military had the right to engage in combat operations in Estonia in 1944, at a time when the country was occupied by the Germans (who had seized it from the Soviets in 1941). I do, however, deny that the USSR had the right to forcibly annex Estonia in 1940 or to reannex it in 1944. And it goes without saying that, even if the USSR had a right to annex the country, it did not have the right to kill and imprison thousands of Estonians because of their political views or (in many cases) membership in the wrong social "classes."

UPDATE #2: As a commenter points out, I accidentally miscounted the number of dead and imprisoned that today's US would have to suffer in order to equal the proportional losses inflicted on Estonia by the USSR. I have now changed the figures in the post to the correct numbers.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. A Dubious Reunion for the Russian Orthodox Church:
  2. Estonia and the Legacy of Soviet "Liberation":
  3. A May Day Proposal:
Felix Sulla (mail):
Frankly, I would support Estonia if they decided to take the monument and drop it into the Baltic Sea, use it for target practice, or dress it up in a Ronald McDonald outfit. Besides the fact its their country (and therefore presumably their monument to do with as they please), it is really not controversial -- even among us lefties -- that the Soviet Union was not exactly the Mr. Rogers of Eastern Europe. They can even do it as part of a May Day celebration. ;-)
5.14.2007 6:34pm
Colin (mail):
I spent a week in Tallinn once, during a period in which I was living in St. Petersburg. Friends advised me not to speak Russian to Estonians, even though few of the Estonians we were dealing with spoke English and almost all spoke Russian, to avoid rancor and inflated prices. (I don't know whether this was good advice, but it was at least plausible to those we shared it with.)

Interestingly, though, I heard from two different sources at about that time (around 2000) that the Estonian police were overwhelmingly made up of Russians who stayed after the collapse of the Soviet Union. I was told, although again I can't vouch for the truth of this, that Estonians by and large didn't mind the Russian immigrants who stayed because they had chosen an Estonian identity over a Russian one. Young's mention of the ethnically Russian group defending the monument reminded me of that; I wonder if ethnic Russians are feeling more Russian as their native country puts itself back together?

(The back-and-forth occupations in the Baltics create some difficult dynamics. It forces an outsider to try to compare villains by degrees, which is frustrating and futile. On that note, please allow me to plug the Latvian Occupation Museum. It is an excellent museum, not just for its intense and very emotional exhibits, but also for its curatorship.

For years I was impressed by the juxtaposition of the museum and a very striking nearby sculpture that I assumed was a memorial to Soviet riflemen who took Estonia back from the Nazis - in fact, when I first heard that a Baltic memorial was being removed, I thought it was that sculpture. It turns out that the sculpture in Riga is actually a Latvian memorial, though, so I feel less guilty for liking the piece.)
5.14.2007 6:36pm
The Drill SGT:
IS, a good lawyer you are. a Math major, I doubt.

The 30,000 Estonians killed by the Soviet authorities for political reasons amount to almost 3 percent of the population. Some 10% of all Estonians were either killed or imprisoned. A comparable proportional population loss for the United States today would leave 3 million dead and another 7 million imprisoned or deported out of our population of 300 million.

Make that 3 miliion dead and 30 million imprisoned.
5.14.2007 7:12pm
M (mail):
It's worth comparing the case of the Russian war memorial moved in the Moscow region to make room for an expansion of a road. The road clearly needed expansion. Some people protested but were shut down by the police. The Russian media said nothing about it and it died down. This happend at the same time as the Estonia situation but the young brown shirts of Nashi were not out demanding the removal of the head of the Moscow Oblast. It's quite clear that this is a cooked-up controversy designed for internal Russian political uses. (The inadvisability of speaking Russian in Tallinn is also over-stated, I think. When I was there in 2000 I spoke only Russian with people, not knowing any Estonian. While I doubt I sounded like a Russian to people the mere fact of speaking Russian caused no trouble at all.)
5.14.2007 7:20pm
liberty (mail) (www):
(another 27 million, you mean, so maybe the 2 was missing)
5.14.2007 7:21pm
Ilya Somin:
Make that 3 miliion dead and 30 million imprisoned.

Actually, it would be 9 million dead and 20 million imprisoned. HOwever, I will correct my mistake.
5.14.2007 7:23pm
The River Temoc (mail):
While I deplore the misadventures of Nashi, of which the protests against the Estonian Embassy in Moscow are only the latest chapter, I have some sympathy for the Russian position on this one.

It is, of course, true that Estonia exchanged one occupier for another at the end of the war. But ultimately the Soviet Union sacrificed the most to stop Nazi Germany, and we are all better off because of that. Paying tribute to soldiers who fell fighting the Nazis does not, by itself, legitimate Stalinism.

Perhaps Yelena Bonner's suggestion of changing the epitaph from "To the Soldier-Liberators" to "To the Fallen" is appropriate, but that's not what the Estonians chose to do.

There is also the question of the draconian Estonian position on the ethnic Russian minority. Elsewhere in the EU such a language policy would not be permitted. Imagine what those who oppose Turkish membership in the EU would say if Turkey implemented a comparable policy with respect to Kurdish.
5.14.2007 7:26pm
Ilya Somin:
I spent a week in Tallinn once, during a period in which I was living in St. Petersburg. Friends advised me not to speak Russian to Estonians, even though few of the Estonians we were dealing with spoke English and almost all spoke Russian, to avoid rancor and inflated prices. (I don't know whether this was good advice, but it was at least plausible to those we shared it with.)


I'm not sure it was good advice. I visited Estonia in 1995 and spoke Russian to all the Estonians I dealt with (at that time, very few people in the Baltic States knew English). I had no problems, and indeed most people were very nice to me. The same was true in Lithuania (which suffered comparable oppression under Soviet rule).

There are indeed real tensions between ethnic Estonians and the country's Russian minority, and the Estonian government has not always been fair in its treatment of the latter. But most Estonians do not seem to be nearly as anti-Russian as one might expect.
5.14.2007 7:28pm
Vovan:

Frankly, I would support Estonia if they decided to take the monument and drop it into the Baltic Sea, use it for target practice, or dress it up in a Ronald McDonald outfit. Besides the fact its their country (and therefore presumably their monument to do with as they please)


Err, 20% of Estonian population is made-up of ethnic Russians for whom the memorial meant very very much, and of course most of whom are disfranchised, since learning Estonian is not an easy thing to do when you are over 50.


However, perhaps due to space constraints, Young does not mention the full scope of Soviet crimes in Estonia, and therefore does not fully explain why the Estonians viewed the presence of a monument to the Red Army in the center of their capital as "an insult."


Err, and she of course does not have to mention why Estonians put up with nice places like that - that the German brothers build, and why the Soviet apologists at the Wiesenthal center continue to discount the Soviet occupation
5.14.2007 7:28pm
Colin (mail):
M, Ilya, thank you. I wish now I had taken the time to speak to more Estonians (although the fact that I didn't had more to do with time concerns than language concerns). All of the Baltic nations are fascinating, but Estonia was especially beautiful and interesting.
5.14.2007 7:37pm
Felix Sulla (mail):
Vovan:

Err, 20% of Estonian population is made-up of ethnic Russians for whom the memorial meant very very much, and of course most of whom are disfranchised, since learning Estonian is not an easy thing to do when you are over 50.
Fair enough, but this does not convert Estonia into a de facto Russia. The Estonians have a right to assert an Estonian identity, and to (for the most part) not be really happy about what the Soviets did there. I've no doubt some portion of the population wants the monument left where it is: there would hardly be much of a controversy if that weren't the case. I doubt very much the monument means all that much to every single ethnic Russian in Estonia...in fact I doubt more than a vocal minority of them give a damn. At the end of the day though, I can see how a sizable majority of people in Estonia might not want to continue to honor the Red Army in such a conspicuous fashion.
5.14.2007 8:01pm
Jueri (mail):
There are plenty of atrocities to go around, no shortage, perpetrated by both sides. To be sure there are real Nazi's and real Commies, still. In fact the basis of these two ideologies seem to be in an eternal struggle, reappearing under different manifestations in a periodic fashion.

Other statues defaced and fought over before this incident. For instance, the Lihula monument.
http://www.answers.com/topic/monument-of-lihula


When my father returned to Estonia in 1992 and visited the camp in Viljandi where he was imprisoned by Estonian Nazis he noticed the monument to the deaths. A memorial was erected in that field. It was an obelisk with metal plaques honoring the sixteen thousand prisoners, who had died here as victims of fascist terror in 1941. When he revisited that site once more in 1996, the obelisk was still standing, but was vandalized. The plaques commemorating the victims and explaining the meaning of the obelisk were gone. He was imprisoned and almost murdered there because a childhood 'friend' had witnessed against him, he had sung a Russian song in his youth.
My family has been in Estonia for generations, yet my cousin could not teach there, she had her veterinarians doctorate from St.Petersburg, yet other Estonians who also had their degrees from St. Petersburg were allowed.

For two views I'd recommend these articles:
Firstly http://www.israelshamir.net/English/Eng17.htm

And this response by Vaga, scroll down
http://www.israelshamir.net/Contributors/response.htm

Both make good points, however both are tinted with apologies for whichever stance they take. Mr Vaga is correct when he says ... "when there is a conflict of interests between two nations or two ethnic groups, the members of both group are biased when describing the matter." And while perhaps agreeing with some of Vaga's conclusions I'm not quite sure about how he got there.

The Estonians had approximately 20 years of so called independence. It was always Swedes, Germans or Russians. Occasionally Danes. Now the EU and NATO, do they think this is independence?

Time for everyone to repent! The Jews, the Japanese, the Chinese, the Russians, the Americans, The Estonians etc. I think the Germans have already done quite enough, even to the point of masochism.

Well, all people under all armies, everywhere who fought for freedom, even if duped and misguided can be honored, though personally I prefer monuments to those who are simply seeds caught between the millstones. They are of course not mutually exclusive.

The proposal by Dmitri Klenski that Instead of transferring the Alyosha to put up a statue of an Estonian soldier fighting on the other side would at least cause people to do a double take and maybe peer into deeper realities.
5.14.2007 8:27pm
ys:

I doubt very much the monument means all that much to every single ethnic Russian in Estonia...in fact I doubt more than a vocal minority of them give a damn.

I don't have statistics, but rather some anecdotal evidence that this is true. I happen to work with former Estonian nationals who are ethnic Russians (and this is in the good old Soviet sense of ethnic purity, e.g., they are not Russian-speaking Jews from Estonia). At the same time, they moved to Estonia well after the post-WWII annexation, i.e., they are not Estonian born or descendants of pre-war citizens. Both they and their relatives who chose to stay permanently in Estonia have very low opinion of the perpetrators of the riots as well as their supporters across the border. For another group of my acquaintances who are descendants or Russian-speaking pre-war Estonian residents, this opinion holds true as well. Some of the latter are Jewish, which shows that there is no contradiction in abhorrence of both wings of genocidal totalitarians.
5.14.2007 8:31pm
Enoch:
Estonians viewed the presence of a monument to the Red Army in the center of their capital as "an insult."

So how should the Germans feel about the Soviet war memorial in Berlin?
5.14.2007 8:38pm
Lonely Capitalist (mail):
Imagine what those who oppose Turkish membership in the EU would say if Turkey implemented a comparable policy with respect to Kurdish.

But the Kurds were not sent into Turkey as an occupying force to dillute the population. Russians were encouraged to move to the Baltic countries to strengthen Soviet control of the region.
5.14.2007 8:43pm
Lonely Capitalist (mail):
A friend from Latvia (next to Estonia for the geographically challenged) said that when the Soviets took over there anyone who owned a business or had a college degree or owned over 48 acres was sent to Siberia. Luckily her grandparents owned just 48 acres.
5.14.2007 8:51pm
Jueri (mail):
YS, my young son is currently in the area, and says much the same. I do not think this is as severe as we read. He encountered mild anti-Russian feelings at the border but voided those when he told them in perfect "Texan" to "get over yourself."

He says: "Mr. Shamir is blowing the situation out of proportion. However, it is no secret that Ansip is an idiot and most will be elected out of office soon. The Russian Estonians who were born in 1991 are about to turn 18 and that means a large influx of Estonian Russians into the voting booths."

I suspect there is a large amount of agenda driven gaming going on, oh and NATO war games in the Baltic as we speak, but the emotional roots on both sides are certainly there, and they are mostly (IMO) legitimate.

This link may be of use.
http://www.historycommission.ee/temp/conclusions.htm
5.14.2007 8:52pm
Jueri (mail):

friend from Latvia (next to Estonia for the geographically challenged) said that when the Soviets took over there anyone who owned a business or had a college degree or owned over 48 acres was sent to Siberia. Luckily her grandparents owned just 48 acres.

Very lucky indeed. My family fled to Poland.
5.14.2007 8:55pm
Jueri (mail):
I meant to add ... My family fled to Poland.... after the Revolution.
5.14.2007 8:58pm
John Anderson:
Er, nit-picking: "Fellow Russian immigrant" should be "Fellow Russian emigrant" or "Fellow immigrant from Russia". Or some such. Unless you are both returning, which I doubt (excluding visits).
5.14.2007 9:19pm
Ilya Somin:

However, perhaps due to space constraints, Young does not mention the full scope of Soviet crimes in Estonia, and therefore does not fully explain why the Estonians viewed the presence of a monument to the Red Army in the center of their capital as "an insult."





Err, and she of course does not have to mention why Estonians put up with nice places like that - that the German brothers build, and why the Soviet apologists at the Wiesenthal center continue to discount the Soviet occupation


The Estonians had no ability to prevent the Germans from undertaking the Holocaust, including building concentration camps in Estonia. True, some Estonians collaborated with the Nazis; but so too did a large number of Russians and people belonging to other ethnic groups. It does not in any way create collective guilt for the Estonians or exonerate the Soviets. As for the Wiesenthal Center, they are not right about everything, and in the case they have gone very wrong. But at least, unlike Soviet apologists such as Vovan, the WC statement "unequivocally condemns the crimes committed against Estonians of all faiths and nationalities under Soviet rule."
5.14.2007 9:42pm
Ilya Somin:
20% of Estonian population is made-up of ethnic Russians for whom the memorial meant very very much, and of course most of whom are disfranchised, since learning Estonian is not an easy thing to do when you are over 50.

Actually, Estonia (along with Latvia) dropped the requirement that ethnic Russians learn the local language in order to get citizenship in 2004, as a condition of joining the European Union. So even those Russian Estonians who don't speak the language are no longer "disfranchised." Frankly, however, I'm far from certain that the Latvians and Estonians should be too much condemned for imposing the requirement in the first place.
5.14.2007 10:00pm
Jueri :
I wonder how many people who are upset about this actually support the atrocities which either side cites.
I'd guess almost none. I'd bet on it.

In the US do the Confederates support the Andersonville camps? No, but they will get quite upset when you make the Confederate flag illegal.

So what is the real issue here? We need a psychohistorian therapist.
5.14.2007 10:35pm
Felix Sulla (mail):

In the US do the Confederates support the Andersonville camps? No, but they will get quite upset when you make the Confederate flag illegal.

I assume this argument is directed to US southerners, so let me say (mostly from personal experience) that a sizable number of southerners (among which I include myself) don't care for the various incarnations of Confederate memorabilia one way or another. However, there is a very vocal subset of the population here who care very much, and I suspect you will find similar populations/issues in many if not most countries in the world. Let's not make the mistake of assuming volume denotes either persuasiveness or consensus.

I would be truly remiss in my southernness if I did not point out, however, that Andersonville was not a "policy" or else intended as some sort of punishment to inflict on hapless northerners who fell into the evil grip of the Confederate state. Prisoner of war camps on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line were quite as horrible, or so I have read in fairly neutral sources.
5.14.2007 10:58pm
Vovan:

Actually, Estonia (along with Latvia) dropped the requirement that ethnic Russians learn the local language in order to get citizenship in 2004, as a condition of joining the European Union. So even those Russian Estonians who don't speak the language are no longer "disfranchised." Frankly, however, I'm far from certain that the Latvians and Estonians should be too much condemned for imposing the requirement in the first place.


I mean honestly, googling is easy...

Estonian Citizenship Application


In order to apply for Estonian citizenship you have to pass an exam on your knowledge of the Constitution and the Citizenship Act of the Republic of Estonia, as well as an exam on your knowledge of the Estonian language.

And calling me a Soviet Apologist, is just as accurate as calling you a fascist apologist, and just as productive...
5.14.2007 11:57pm
Vovan:

The Estonians had no ability to prevent the Germans from undertaking the Holocaust, including building concentration camps in Estonia. True, some Estonians collaborated with the Nazis; but so too did a large number of Russians and people belonging to other ethnic groups. It does not in any way create collective guilt for the Estonians or exonerate the Soviets.


I mean, wow - Somin, here is the Pro-Soviet JPost on the "lack of ability" - (There was no anti-Nazi underground or resistance movement of any kind in Estonia.) It's not about ability, its about will or rather lack thereof. Lithuania and Latvia had underground resistance movements that fought against the Soviets AND the Nazis - the Estonians did not. The only resistance movements in Estonia were sent there by the Kremlin.
5.15.2007 12:30am
Jueri :
Well, it was meant as a parallel not an argument... yet. LOL.

Vovan, yes, thank you, I meant southerners, although among some of the fringe perhaps confederates still applies? I'm a little further west so I see other flags and memories. Oddly enough the flag the Texans seem sensitive about it the one that flew over the Alamo, featuring the date of the Mexican Constitution and Mexican colors. Oh the irony, or not, not among some Texans.

I'm not entirely familiar with the story of Andersonville, I suppose I could point out Sherman's march to the sea as a northern atrocity though to be honest I haven't done my homework on that either. Undoubtedly there are going to be nuances.

Can you explain why some southerners feel the confederate flag symbolizes something other than slavery?


You have a formula: a "ring of resentment." Does it refer to a ring of
mutual resentment that impedes an objective view of a situation?

A ring is where it is difficult to find the beginning and the end. A ring,
in the sense that it is a closed-circuit line, making research difficult,
obscuring the origin of a dispute and its subsequent course.

http://english.mn.ru/english/issue.php?2002-51-9

Regarding my father, who was not a Jew, (though he apparently he must have saved one of the "10 Jewish survivors") family history indicates that the Estonians were as much a threat to him as were the Bolsheviks or the Nazis. There were no 'good' sides.

Here is a pretty good BBC article:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6637895.stm

There are incredible turns of events, jaw dropping ironies and tragic hypocrisies. And, the story can change dramatically, for instance, if Viktor Suvorov's "Icebreaker" theory proves out.
http://tinyurl.com/2b76t5


"The only history that matters is biography"
-- Pyotr Todorovsky


At the risk of sounding silly, I think the idea of a public airing of all this would be most helpful for the Russians and Estonians, though I also think the PTB as well as overwrought nationalists find the temptation to game it irresistible.

As for the geopolitical situation the Estonians find themselves in I think Shamir's Finland idea makes a world of sense, it was called "Finlandization". In fact, Finland's language is close to Estonian perhaps they should compare notes.
5.15.2007 2:28am
Ilya Somin:
Estonian Citizenship Application

In order to apply for Estonian citizenship you have to pass an exam on your knowledge of the Constitution and the Citizenship Act of the Republic of Estonia, as well as an exam on your knowledge of the Estonian language.


The application you linked is for ALIENS, not residents. More than half of Russians already living in Estonia already have citizenship, and according to the Financial Times, some 40% of the remainder have chosen Russian citizenship instead. It is, however, true that a residual language requirement does exist, one that however is fairly minimal (similar to the US requirement for legal immigrants). I regret my error on this point in the earlier comment.

Finally, I do not see the great evil of requiring applicants for citizenship to learn the national language. THe US requires it, as do most other nations in their naturalization procedures.
5.15.2007 2:40am
Ilya Somin:

The Estonians had no ability to prevent the Germans from undertaking the Holocaust, including building concentration camps in Estonia. True, some Estonians collaborated with the Nazis; but so too did a large number of Russians and people belonging to other ethnic groups. It does not in any way create collective guilt for the Estonians or exonerate the Soviets.





I mean, wow - Somin, here is the Pro-Soviet JPost on the "lack of ability" - (There was no anti-Nazi underground or resistance movement of any kind in Estonia.) It's not about ability, its about will or rather lack thereof. Lithuania and Latvia had underground resistance movements that fought against the Soviets AND the Nazis - the Estonians did not. The only resistance movements in Estonia were sent there by the Kremlin.

None of this in any way contradicts my claims that 1) the Estonians had no ability to prevent the Nazis from carrying out the Holocaust in Estonia, or 2) that they do not bear collective guilt for the actions of Estonian collaborators. Even Eastern European nations with large resistance movements, such as Poland, still had most of their Jewish populations exterminated.

As for the supposed complete lack of a resistance movement, I am skeptical of Jerusalem Post's unsupported one-line statement on this point. For a contrary view, see, e.g., here.
Most likely, only a few Estonians actively resisted the Germans, but the same was true in most occupied nations, due to the high risk of being a resistance fighter.

Given the low probability of success for any such resistance movement and the reality that the only alternative to German rule was reoccupation by the Soviet Union, I can well understand if most Estonians chose not to risk their lives merely to exchange one foreign totalitarian occupier for another one. Even if the J-Post is right, however, it in no way invalidates my arguments, since I never suggested that Estonia had a significant resistance movement.
5.15.2007 2:50am
Ilya Somin:
And calling me a Soviet Apologist, is just as accurate as calling you a fascist apologist, and just as productive...

Vovan,

Perhaps it is not productive, but it is certainly accurate. You regularly post in defense of the communists and their legacy and try to minimize or deny the existence of their crimes. I, on the other hand, have never said anything positive about the crimes of the Nazis or any other group that can reasonably be defined as "fascist."
5.15.2007 2:52am
Harry Eagar (mail):
My daughter-in-law, whose grandfather lived through that period in Estonia, tells me he told her that to stay alive people did things they would rather not have to justify.

If the Estonians were going to wait on somebody other than the Russians to expel the Germans, they were going to have to wait a lot longer.

But you're not going to get on the best-seller list with a book entitled 'When bad people do good things,' are you?
5.15.2007 3:18am
Jueri :

But you're not going to get on the best-seller list with a book entitled 'When bad people do good things,' are you?


Oh, I predict a runaway best seller!
5.15.2007 3:54am
David M. Nieporent (www):
As for the supposed complete lack of a resistance movement, I am skeptical of Jerusalem Post's unsupported one-line statement on this point.
Contrary to Vovan's claim, that is not the statement of the Jerusalem Post at all, Ilya. That appears to be what American papers would call an Op/Ed; it's written by an "Efraim Zuroff."

And if you read to the end, you get the descriptor: "Dr. Efraim Zuroff is the director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Israel."
5.15.2007 4:48am
Kaarel from EE:
here's a 5-pence from an ethnic Estonian:
Err, 20% of Estonian population is made-up of ethnic Russians

a) the actual number is a bit more than 25%.
b) usually Estonians don't mind being addressed in Russian - if they can speak the language. Younger Estonians are not very good at it - I'm 24 and can barely mumble few words. Almost everybody is fluent in English around here, though, so it's best to start with that.
c) what Estonians usually DO mind is when red flags are being waved in our capital and our "so-called independence" is snubbed by Russian revanchists.
d) imho being in EU and NATO beats being in Soviet Union any time
e) the Naschists seem to think otherwise, though:
http://publicoffender.livejournal.com/755.html
I suggest reading that marvellous brochure, then you westerners might have a bit better understanding why Eastern Europeans are a bit nervous about developments in Russia.
5.15.2007 7:27am
Felix Sulla (mail):
Jueri:

Vovan, yes, thank you, I meant southerners, although among some of the fringe perhaps confederates still applies? I'm a little further west so I see other flags and memories. Oddly enough the flag the Texans seem sensitive about it the one that flew over the Alamo, featuring the date of the Mexican Constitution and Mexican colors. Oh the irony, or not, not among some Texans.

I'm not entirely familiar with the story of Andersonville, I suppose I could point out Sherman's march to the sea as a northern atrocity though to be honest I haven't done my homework on that either. Undoubtedly there are going to be nuances.

Can you explain why some southerners feel the confederate flag symbolizes something other than slavery?
Well, I think you meant to address these to me and not Vovan. ;-)

As for fringe, well, you have crazy people everywhere. Even with that being said, I would say there are very very few people who would actually refer to themselves in all seriousness as "Confederates" in this day and age. In fact, southerners tend to be more vocally patriotic across all walks of life and political belief, I have generally found, than people in other sections of the country. This is not to say there is not some lingering resentment of "Yankees" (much of it casual and not entirely serious these days) as well as great interest in and nostalgia for the Confederacy. But as for self-described serious Confederates? Easily a small fraction of a percent of the population.

Andersonville is interesting, so I would recommend you read up on it. To put it briefly: POW camps in both the North and the South were overcrowded, unsanitary, and undersupplied throughout the war. Andersonville was perhaps the worst single camp, though probably only in terms of sheer numbers interned there. Particularly as the war entered its late stages, the Confederacy could not adequately supply even its own forces, let alone thousands of POWs, and so some pretty horrible things happened. Again, this was not the result of a "policy" or else a decision to maltreat the POWs: it was basically lack of resources combined with a level of incompetence. (Incompetence mirrored in the running of Northern prison camps, I might add.)

As for the Confederate flag, well, my personal opinion is that it is one of those symbols that has become so loaded with negative historical baggage that it is effectively not worth defending. A lot of people feel differently in these parts, and many of them no doubt genuinely feel it is a part of their heritage and not a symbol of racism.
5.15.2007 10:58am
ys:

e) the Naschists seem to think otherwise, though:
http://publicoffender.livejournal.com/755.html
I suggest reading that marvellous brochure, then you westerners might have a bit better understanding why Eastern Europeans are a bit nervous about developments in Russia.

This is pretty horrible. I suspect that not every westerner would understand how closely this is patterned on the old brochures for the Komsomol (Young Communist League), in particular the constant reference to the all-powerful benevolent leader. Worth noting is the dark irony of using the expression "limited contingent" of the invading NATO forces (which the brochure says will happen unless everybody obeys Putin). This expression was used by the Brezhnev regime to describe the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan (the emphasis at that time being on "limited" to show that it was not a war).
5.15.2007 12:21pm
Jueri :
Yes Felix, I meant to address you, there is no way to edit the posts.

About the confederate flag, let them fly it, and they do, or have, on their state houses along with the stars and stripes, but for me personally I don't care that much either way. Maybe the majority of Russian and Estonians feel the same.

It's my understanding that the Civil War is seen as a battle between state's rights and Federalism rather than all about slavery.

Perhaps part of the "When Bad People do Good Things" book?
5.15.2007 2:16pm
Felix Sulla (mail):

About the confederate flag, let them fly it, and they do, or have, on their state houses along with the stars and stripes, but for me personally I don't care that much either way. Maybe the majority of Russian and Estonians feel the same.

Well, I personally subscribe to the broadest possible vision of the First Amendment, so I think it is definitely anyone's right to fly that flag if they so choose. As I said, personally I think it is better relegated to a museum somewhere and left at that, but people of good faith disagree on this point.

It's my understanding that the Civil War is seen as a battle between state's rights and Federalism rather than all about slavery.
Well, that all depends on who is doing the "seeing." It can certainly be cast as a simple states' rights/federalism dynamic. Incorrectly, in my view. But that is definitely a long long debate that is best held elsewhere. ;-)
5.15.2007 3:13pm
Felix Sulla (mail):

This is pretty horrible. I suspect that not every westerner would understand how closely this is patterned on the old brochures for the Komsomol (Young Communist League), in particular the constant reference to the all-powerful benevolent leader.
Wow, that was indeed quite sobering. The sad thing is that you are right...a lot of westerners not only would not understand it, they might even approve of it were it edited only slightly. (Names, places. etc.)

Still, Dubya looked into Putin's soul and liked what he saw, so everything must be alright, right?
5.15.2007 3:27pm
Gordo:
My family's story:

My mother was born in Estonia in 1927. My grandfather was an ethnic German whose ancestors had emigrated from Germany to Pskov in the early 19th century. He left Pskov at the time of the revolution and fought with the Estonian forces for independence against the Reds. Her Mother was an ethnic Russian, born in Riga, Latvia.

In early 1939 my Grandfather's brothers and sisters voluntarily left Estonia for Germany, based upon Hitler's call for all ethnic Germans to return to the Fatherland. The armies of Stalin at the border were probably a more compelling factor. (Unless you were Jewish, Hitler was definitely the lesser evil for Estonians) My grandfather, who loved his adopted homeland, decided to stay with his family and take his chances.

He turned out to be wrong. The Russians occupied Estonia in late 1939 and annexed it in 1940. Lithuanian relatives of my mother were immediately deported to Siberia. My Great-grandfather, who owned an apartment house in Tallinn (at age 80) had it confiscated and was going to be charged double rent as an ex-capitalist. He moved in with my mother's family. My Grandfather then applied to emigrate to Germany, during this period of the non-agression pact. In March, 1941, my mother's family left Estonia on a ship for Germany. My grandfather cried as the boat left, for his adopted homeland. The family was very lucky that the Soviets did not discover my grandfather's past in time.

To speed things up a bit, in 1951 my mother and her immediate family emigrated as "stateless persons" to the United States, because my grandfather believed that "Germany had no future." He was a fine man, but his political judgments were definitely erroneous.

The return of independence to the Baltic nations and their reintegration into Europe is, for me, one of the most stirring and wonderful episodes in the collapse of the Soviet-Communist monster at the end of the 20th century. The fury of Estonians toward the Russian immigrants after 1940 is understandable, if perhaps misguided and definitely undiplomatic.
5.15.2007 6:09pm
Kaarel from EE:
The fury of Estonians toward the Russian immigrants

I wouldn't use that word. The Estonian ambassador to Moscow, the same woman that was assaulted by Putinjugend couple of weeks ago, is in fact an ethnic Russian without a drop of Estonian blood in her veins. Right now she is the most respected diplomat for Estonians. Luckily for her, her mother felt that you should pay respect to the country where you live (ie learn the language and do not act like locals were Untermensch) while not forgetting your own culture. Our President's grandmother was also Russian, the new culture minister is half Russian.
Let's put it that way - we have nothing against Russians, we love their literature and cuisine. But we do hate Soviets. There's a world of difference.

learning Estonian is not an easy thing to do when you are over 50.

Those people think like Soviets. This 50 year-old person was 34 in 1991 - and a lot younger when he/she moved to Estonia. That's what I call colonist attitude. You don't have to respect the aborigenes, but, hey, bad news - they're in power now.
5.16.2007 5:15am
Urmo (mail):
When you are weighing two evils (soviets and nazis) in the context of Estonia and 1940 you tend to forget many factors contributing to estonian pro-germany positions at those times.

I suggest you examine the history of first estonian republic and its relations (or should I call it non-relations) with russia and involment of baltic germans during the pre-soviet Russian occupation.
5.19.2007 5:00pm