Estonian islands are occupied

to map

02. October 1944

After mainland Estonia had been lost, the German military leadership decided to hold on to the islands in Western Estonia as long as possible, to buy time for the building of the bridgehead in Courland.

On September 29-30, Estonian Riflemen launched a descent onto Muhu Island; the Germans barely managed to blow up the dam in Väike Väin Strait.

On October 2, Russians attacked Hiiumaa Island; Germans evacuated to Saaremaa on the following day.

Estonian Riflemen crossed the Väike Väin Strait and reached Saaremaa, another Soviet unit from Hiiumaa joined their assault. The Germans were unable to properly defend such a long front, and pulled back to Sõrve peninsula.

On October 7, Estonian Riflemen captured Kuressaare without any significant resistance. In the night, bloody battle was fought near Tehumardi, where both sides lost many men (see image).

To take Sõrve peninsula, the Red Army rallied a larger force, and the attack began on October 10. After some retreat, the defence line stopped. Second assault in the second half of October also failed, and due to heavy losses, all kind of advance was stopped for about a month. Battles resumed after November 18, Red Army put all its hope on their new artillery. Advance was slow, and many soldiers died. Soon, the Germans decided to evacuate from Sõrve peninsula, despite Hitler's order. On the night of November 23, with the help and defence of the German Navy, 4700 Germans left Sõrve and moved to Vindav.
All of Estonia fell to the Russians and all warfare stopped. With this, 50-year long Soviet occupation began in Estonia.

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

Image sources: http://paber.ekspress.ee/fotodb/76E7490EAB3F227EC2256F2600390AB8/$file/tn_ehumardi.jpg


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