The beginning of the World War and Estonia

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August 1914

In July-August of 1914, first larger mobilization of men and requisition of horses began in Estonia.
By the beginning of 1917, about 100,000 men had been drafted to the Russian Army, more than 10% of those died.

During the WWI, the National Opera House "Estonia" was transformed into a navy hospital.

To several Estonian intellectuals, the war offered a "shortcut" to officership, thus, by 1917, about 2000 Estonian officers were in the service of the Russian Army. All this set a good background for the soon-to-be-free Estonia to form their own national army, after the WW had ended.
After the anti-German war had broke out, the Baltic Germans living in Estonia found themselves in a difficult situation: they had to pick their way between their loyalty to a country and the loyalty to their own personal preferences. Loyalty to the country was diminished by the repressions launched against the Germans living in Russia, which began right after the war had started.

Censorship became more strict; in the Baltic, as in a territory close to the front, majority of the power was transferred from the hands of the Baltic German local governments to that of Russian military. As the assault of the German troops began, also anti-German propaganda became more fierce, demanding for the abolishment of large land estates of the Baltic Germans. This was, however, limited to annulling the special rights the Baltic Germans had regarding hunting, fishing, markets, inns and pubs, and the production of spirits and beer.

At the same time, reforms to abolish the separate local government structure in Baltic governorates were pushed forward in the capital. German propaganda used this to its advantage, inviting people to save the Baltic Germans. After the Baltic had been occupied, German friendly rearrangements began.

Source: Eesti ajalugu. VI, Vabadussõjast taasiseseisvumiseni. Tartu: Ilmamaa, 2005
Õie Elango, Ants Ruusmann ja Karl Siilivask. Eesti maast ja rahvast: Maailmasõjast maailmasõjani. Tallinn: Olion, 1998
Eesti ajalugu: kronoloogia. Tallinn: Olion, 2007
Eesti ajaloo atlas. Tallinn: Avita, 2006.                                                                                                     
Image source: 

Image: Eesti Ajaloo Atlas, lk 98

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