Red Army's general assault and the Battle in Porkuni

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21. September 1944

Even though Hitler did not heed the pleas put forward by the Army Group North to leave Estonia, plan to pull German troops secretly out of Estonia was launched.

When Finland was eliminated from fight against the Soviet Russia, Hitler understood the hopelessness of defending Estonia, and on September 16, 1944, finally gave the Wehrmacht his permission to pull out of Estonia.

According to the operation called "Aster", Army Group Narva was to leave Estonia via Viljandi and Pärnu, and until that was completed, German troops on Emajõgi River and Väike Emajõgi River had to hold the front. Estonians were seen as the main protectors of the leavers, because the Germans saw that Estonian soldiers fighting for their homeland will not leave Estonia anyway.

On September 14, 1944, the Red Army had initiated an assault towards Riga, and on September 17, successful assault in the direction of Tallinn began. Due to a miscalculation made by the Soviet leadership, the Reds failed to capture retreating Germans. On September 19 Valga fell, on 20, Rakvere and Kadrina.

On the same day, a battle took place in Avinurme, where the Estonian Riflemen Battalion, formed out of Estonians serving in the Red Army, fought the Estonian Border Guards, retreating from Kirvasoo. The outcome of this battle was significant in many ways, as it spread out the units that the Estonian national leadership had planned to use in the defence of Tallinn. On September 21, Russians captured Tapa, and important railway junction. On the following day, Estonian soldiers retreating from Narva clashed with the Estonian Riflemen Battalion (image displays the fallen), which was the last larger confrontation in the mainland Estonia.

Sources: Eesti ajalugu. VI, Vabadussõjast taasiseseisvumiseni. Tartu: Ilmamaa, 2005
Eesti ajaloo atlas. Tallinn: Avita, 2006                                                                                                 

 

 


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