Estonia is a country in the northeastern side of Europe, the northernmost of the three Baltic states – the area includes some 1,500 islands and islets; the two largest of these islands, Saaremaa and Hiiumaa, are off mainland Estonia’s west coast. Estonia has been dominated by foreign powers through much of its history. In 1940 it was incorporated into the U.S.S.R. as one of its constituent republics.
So ‘n stelsel kon nie oornag plaasgevind het nie en was die teiken om soveel as moontlik te vernietig en te mense te vermoor. Veral die wat voedsel voorsien. Wat het in die ander kommunistiese (bolsjevistiese) lande aangegaan?
Hoekom is daar soveel persone na die koudste plek op aarde gestuur om uit te sterf – hoekom moes soveel ly om doodgemaak te word? Hoekom in kampe geplaas, nes ons voorgeslagte wat deur die Britte in moordkampe geplaas is.
Die siening word gehuldig dat hier meer as een volksmoord plaasgevind het (deur kommuniste). Dit word ook in ons land gedoen. Hoeveel van die supermagte was al sedert 1880 by ons Boere republieke betrokke, sowel op ons grense waar ons teen kommuniste geveg het?
History about its self-determination – independence – to rule yourself.
Estonia – Independence
Bolsheviks, Mensheviks and Socialist Revolutionaries (SR’s)
The communist movement shares common roots with other socialist movements and parties. Hans Pöögelmann translated The Communist Manifesto (1848) into Estonian in 1917. Otto Sternbeck translated volume I of Karl Marx’s Das Kapital from French in 1910 and 1914. Das Kapital was translated into Estonian in its entirety by Nigol Andresen in 1936. German was Estonia’s official language and the language of grammar school and higher education prior to 1918/1920. It was replaced by Russian starting in the 1890s. Socialist, Marxist and Bolshevik texts were also read in their original languages.
Marxism, socialism and bolshevism were working class ideologies. Industrial development began in Estonia in the latter half of the 19th century. The Kreenholm cotton mill (1857–2010) in Narva was one of the first enterprises of large-scale industry. Timber and paper mills were started up at the end of the 19th century and the outset of the 20th century. Large machinery factories and shipyards were established primarily in Tallinn.
The sinking of the Russian Baltic fleet in the Russian-Japanese War in 1905 gave additional impetus to their rapid growth, along with the building of the artillery positions and harbours of Peter the Great’s Naval Fortress before World War I, a naval defence system which was meant to protect St. Petersburg. Workers from elsewhere in the Russian Empire flooded into Estonia because there was a shortage of available human resources and skilled workers in Estonia for such large enterprises.
Socialist and Marxist ideas reached Estonia from Germany. The house painter Mihkel Martna (1860–1934) is considered the ‘father of Estonian socialism’.
In the 1880’s, he already disseminated social democratic and labour movement ideas, which he had obtained from German contacts, in Tallinn and among Estonian university students in Tartu. The Russification of the university in the 1890s brought numerous university students from Russia to Tartu, many of whom were infatuated with leftist ideas ranging to anarchism and bolshevism. Estonian and Latvian university students, most of whom were from the peasant class and the lower urban strata like their fellow students from Russia, also did not remain immune. The same goes for the workers of Tallinn and other larger towns. Socialist ideas also spread among Estonian and Latvian primary school teachers.
Bolshevism set as its objective the seizure of power through violence. It was born before the Revolution of 1905.
Bolshevik agitators operated in Estonia in the larger industrial centres in Narva and Tallinn, and among students at the University of Tartu. At the outset of the 20th century, a third faction took shape in the Russian Social Democratic Workers’ Party (RSDWP) alongside the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks, namely the federalists, whose aim was to reorganise Russia as a federal republic and to grant autonomy to minorities.
When Tsar Nikolai II issued a manifesto on 17 (31) October 1905 granting civil rights to his subjects, with the aim of reining in the revolution that had broken out in 1905, the federalists founded the first Estonian socialist party, the Eesti Sotsiaaldemokraatliku Tööliste Ühisus [Estonian Social Democratic Workers’ Association]. Estonian Bolsheviks and Mensheviks remained in the RSDWP. They founded the Estonian sub-organisation of the RSDWP in 1907. After the Bolsheviks quit the party, this sub-organisation became the predecessor of the Sotsiaaldemokraatliku Tööliste Partei [Social Democratic Workers’ Party] of independent Estonia (1917).
At the time of the Bolshevik coup in November of 1917 in Russia and Estonia, support for the Bolsheviks was at nearly 40% in Estonia. The Bolshevik Military Revolutionary Committee took over power at the time of the coup from Guberniya Commissar Poska, but the democratically elected deputies of the Provisional Provincial Assembly, members of bourgeois, nationalist and several left-wing parties, declared the Assembly to be the supreme authority in Estonia on 15 (28) November 1917. The Bolsheviks disbanded the Provisional Provincial Assembly on the same day.
Estonia declared itself independent on 24 February 1918. German forces occupied Tallinn the next day. Germany did not recognise Estonia’s independence. The Bolsheviks fled to Russia. After the November Revolution of 1918 in Germany and the end of the German occupation, Estonia’s Provisional Government took power into its own hands. The Red Army launched an offensive to recapture the lands of the former Russian Empire and to start the worldwide revolution. This meant the War of Independence for Estonia.
The elite of Estonian society fell victim to communist terror, starting with politicians, state officials, military officers and police officers, and extending to businessmen, owners of farms, intellectuals and public figures. Members of Russian White Guard organisations living in Estonia and Polish citizens who came to Estonia in 1939–1940 were also among the first to be arrested.
Over 6,000 people were imprisoned in Estonia from June of 1940 to the autumn of 1941 and sent to GULAG prison camps in Russia in the spring and summer of 1941. Approximately 400 people were executed locally. Another 10,000 people were deported to Russia on 14 June 1941. The heads of families were already segregated from these people at the railway stations and sent to the GULAG. Women, children and the elderly were sent into forced banishment.
The first death sentences were delivered at the end of 1940 and they started being carried out at the outset of 1941. Most of those who were sent to the GULAG in 1941 were executed or died in prison camp. There were more survivors of forced banishment. Approximately another 2,000 people were murdered or fell victim to acts of warfare from July to October of 1941.
Germany occupied Estonia in 1941. An estimated 8,000 Estonian citizens and residents were murdered in Estonia during the German occupation, including all 1,000 Jews who remained in Estonia and over 300 gypsies. Three quarters of the victims were Estonian, the vast majority of whom were accused of belonging to the Communist Party or NKVD destruction battalions, holding communist views, collaborating with the Soviet secret police, or participating in deportation operations. Thousands of people were imprisoned and some of them were sent to concentration camps in Germany.
Approximately 70,000 people fled from Estonia ahead of the advancing Red Army in the autumn of 1944.
Most of them were sent to GULAG camps in Russia and Kazakhstan. Additionally, 407 Germans were deported to Siberia in 1945 together with the members of their families, nearly 21,000 people primarily from the countryside were deported in 1949, 282 Jehovah’s Witnesses were deported in 1951, and many others. It is not known how many farm owners were imprisoned for not fulfilling quotas that were beyond their capacity to meet. They served their sentences mostly in Estonian prisons and prison camps.
The mining of oil shale and the production of oil that had been rapidly developed during the German occupation in Northeastern Estonia was continued in the latter half of the 1940s. The beginning of the nuclear arms race provided a new impetus for this. Dictyonema shale, which is found together with oil shale deposits, contains small amounts of uranium. The Soviet Union had no uranium deposits after World War II and a uranium enrichment plant was built at Sillamäe to enrich the uranium extracted from the dictyonema shale.
The Soviet Union soon gained control of uranium deposits with a richer ore content and mining at Sillamäe was discontinued. Estonian oil shale was used initially for extracting oil shale gas, which started being used to heat Leningrad (the pipeline was completed in 1948), and also Tallinn in 1953.
‘Communism equals Soviet power plus electrification,’ is a sentence that is ascribed to Lenin. The Estonian SSR also started being rapidly electrified. Estonia became part of the energy networks of Northwestern Russia. Two large oil shale burning electric power stations were built here, Balti SEJ (1959) and Eesti SEJ (1969).
Agriculture was rapidly collectivised starting in 1949 after the deportation carried out in March. The land, livestock and agricultural equipment of individual farms were combined into kolkhozes (collective farms). Kolkhozes initially struggled – the reason for this was the shock of the recent deportation, the unwillingness of the farmers who were forcibly incorporated into kolkhozes to go along with the new system, the rigid planned economy, which did not take local weather conditions and features of nature into consideration, and incompetent management. People with no experience in agriculture, but who had earned the party’s trust, were often appointed as kolkhoz chairmen.
Collective farms quickly disintegrated at the end of the 1980s and the outset of the 1990s. Land was returned to its pre-war owners or their heirs. The Estonia of small farms was nevertheless not restored: starting in the latter half of the 1990s, modern large-scale farming was built up with numerous different forms of ownership.
Estonian, the official language of the country, is a member of the Finno-Ugric branch of the Uralic language family. More than two-thirds of the populace speak Estonian as a first language; about an additional one-fourth speak Russian as their first language (mostly in the northeast), though few Estonians over age 60 or under age 20 speak the language.
Estonia remained a Soviet republic until 1991, when, along with the other Baltic states, it declared its independence.
The Soviet Union recognized independence for Estonia and the other Baltic states on September 6, 1991, and United Nations membership followed shortly thereafter. Estonia set about transforming its government into a parliamentary democracy and reorienting its economy toward market capitalism. It ought integration with greater Europe and in 2004 joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Union (EU).
With one of the highest startups per capita rate and an economically active population oriented to entrepreneurship and disruption, it is no wonder that Estonia’s capital – Tallinn – has been dubbed the European Silicon Valley. The first big name in Estonian tech is largely credited as Skype which – in 2005 – sold for $2.6 billion to eBay. 15 years later and more than 1,000 startups have chosen to set up base in Estonia, with the Government’s innovative policies and education initiatives making it more attractive than Silicon Valley’s crowded ecosystem.
Estonia may only have a relatively small population of 1.3 million, but it has become Europe’s newest education powerhouse, climbing its way to the top of the Programme for International Student Assessment list. Not only do Estonian students outperform their global counterparts, their access to quality education does not depend on socio economic status.
Estonia is a pioneering country in many fields, some might even call it the Silicon Valley of Europe. Companies like Skype and TransferWise were both created here. This is surprising given that just 30 years ago, this country was part of the Soviet Unión!
During Estonia’s tenure as a Soviet republic, its agriculture was collectivized. Instead of some 120,000 small peasant farms that existed in 1945, there were by the 1990s about 190 collectivized farms and more than 120 state farms.
Decollectivization became a government goal in the post-Soviet period, and privatization proceeded quickly. Within the first year, Estonia had twice as many private farmers as either Latvia or Lithuania.
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Initially, after occupying the Republic of Estonia in 1940, the Soviets tried to gain support from the poorer strata of rural society by conducting land reform. They divided the farmland over 30 ha (later over 20 ha) among the so-called new settlers. This continued after the disruption caused by the German occupation (1941-1944).
It was initially confirmed that the system of individual farms would be maintained, and the farmers were given special rights, granting them permanent use of the land. Still, the majority of peasants remained hostile towards the regime because of high procurement norms and agricultural taxes, while the forced-delivery crops received a price which was too small even to cover production costs. Some of those fixed prices were, in fact, less than five percent of the level of the late 1930s.
All peasants, including those who had received land from the Soviet authorities, were exploited by the state and faced a severe decline in their real incomes. However, the state was not satisfied with the amount of forced-delivery crops it could extract from the peasantry in the newly acquired territories.
In 1947, preparations for collectivization included a more than threefold increase in agricultural taxes, destruction of the kulak (better-off peasants) class and the opening of model kolkhozes. Kulaks had to pay taxes in the amount of two or three times the average annual wages in industry. Two years of protest and appeals started, largely to no avail. Kulaks were deported along with ‘nationalists’ or ‘collaborators’ in March 1949. On the whole, the majority of the rural population did not voluntarily join the model collective farms.
In January 1949, Stalin decided to organize a mass deportation in the western borderlands of the USSR, to prepare for collectivization, cleanse the countryside and weaken resistance. More than 20,000 persons were deported from Estonia alone in March 1949.
Shortly afterwards, in meetings all over the countryside, the establishment of kolkhozes was announced and the majority of the peasants joined ‘voluntarily’, fearing that they would be deported if they did not sign up. While the regime justified collective farming as achieving economies of scale and modernization, actually output, productivity, and the level of mechanization declined in Estonian agriculture, especially after 1951.
During the 1950s, masses of farm animals would starve to death in late winter or early spring because of a lack of fodder. Overall agricultural production declined to less than half of the pre-war level and, for many peasant families, the years after the collectivization were the poorest in their lives.
Agriculture is the foundation of Estonia’s significant food-processing industry. Principal crops include potatoes, barley, and hay. Livestock farming, notably of cattle and pigs, is also important.
Current control system was established in 2001. Until then the private bodies were implementing the inspection and certification both according to the private and state standards under state supervision. From 2001 there are only state authorities implementing inspection and certification. Producers are inspected and certified by the Estonian Plant Production Inspectorate, processors by the Estonian Veterinary and Food Inspectorate and caterers by the Health Protection Inspectorate. Farms are inspected by the inspectors of the PPI local bureaus. Every farm is inspected at least once per year. In 2004 in total 1490 inspection reports were made. Farmers have to pay state fee for the inspection every year. Farms up to 10 ha have to pay ca 13 EUR, every additional ha adds to this sum ca 0.32 EUR. If one farm has both organically and conventionally managed land, it has to pay also for conventional land. The upper limit of the fee is 8000 EEK (ca 511 EUR).
The organic farming movement in Estonia started with the establishment of the Estonian Biodynamic Association (EBA) in 1989. EBA developed the first Estonian standards for organic farming based on IFOAM standards and started also to inspect the farms. The foreign experts helped in advisory and inspection work. During the mid-1990s, development slowed. The growth started again in 1997/1998, when state started to pay attention to the organic farming sector.
In 1997 the “Organic Farming Act” came into force, and in 1998 the state label “Mahemärk” was introduced in compliance with this act. Since the beginning of 1999 the organic farming has developed rather rapidly: while in 1999 there were 89 organic farms or farms in conversion and around 4000 hectares of organically managed land, then after five years, in 2004 the number of organic farms has risen up to 810 and the acreage up to 46 016 ha (incl. under conversion area).
According to organic area targets approved by the Estonian government , it will be possible to grow or harvest organic products on at least 51 percent of Estonia’s land area in 2021.
“So large a share of organic farmland in total agricultural land, and also a large share of ecologically and sustainably managed forestland in the country’s total land area are Estonia’s advantages,” Minister of Rural Affairs Tarmo Tamm (Centre) said in a press release. According to Tamm, these indicators help establish Estonia’s image as an organic country as well as raise awareness about Estonia, thereby contributing to the export of organic products and services.
Approximately 200,000 hectares of farmland was organically farmed in Estonia in 2017, acounting for nearly one fifth of the country’s total agricultural land. Almost two million hectares of forestland, meanwhile, was being managed in a manner qualifying it to be registered as organic foraging range in the future. Approximately 260,000 hectares of organic foraging areas have already been registered.
Estonia’s interim goal for 2021 is to increase these totals to 250,000 hectares of organically farmed farmland and two million hectares of forestland qualifying for registration as organic foraging ranges. These targets were set out jointly by the Ministry of Rural Affairs, the Ministry of the Environment, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, and the advisory chamber on organic economy.
The goal of the organic economy program is to make organic economy a significant area of the economy and exports, increase the export of products with value-added by Estonian businesses as well as create the preconditions for the creation of new jobs.
In Estonia, organic land has expanded more than ten-fold since 2000, but processing and marketing has not kept up with this growth. It is, however, expected, that the Estonian Organic Farming Action Plan 2007–2013 and the Estonian Rural Development Plan 2007–2013 will contribute to the expansion of the organic sector in Estonia.
Organic production has grown rapidly in the past years, one of the reasons being the financial support given per organic hectare since the year 2000. By 2011, organic land (134’057 hectares) was about 14 percent of all agricultural land in use, with 1431 organic producers. In addition, 1040 ha natural areas were certified. The average size of farms is 94 hectares. Six of Estonia’s largest organic farms have over 1000 hectares of land.
After five years of preparation, 35,000 choral singers in their regional folk dress on stage together, singing songs of love for the homeland, and when the audience joins in, it is a surround sound bath of nearly 100,000 voices. Photos: https://flic.kr/p/2guUPyx