Bolshevik repressions of the Baltic Germans in Estonia

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28. January 1918

Already in November 1917, German Ministry of Foreign Affairs and intelligence organizations had began to push the Noble Corporations of Estonia and Livonia to support the union of the Baltic States and Germany.

On November 30 (December 13), 1917, the Noble Corporation of Estonia secretly passed the decision of separation from Russia, and asked Germany to take Estonia "under its wing". On December 17 (30), the Noble Corporation of Livonia passed similar decision in Riga.

This decision was to remain secret until German forces had arrived in Estonia, yet, through Swedish diplomats, this information was leaked to Moscow. There was not enough time to inform the board of the Noble Corporation of Estonia, and they were arrested on January 15 (28), 1918. The conflict escalated, when three German agents were captured near Haapsalu, who carried petitions of the Baltic-German nobility and pastors, pleading the German forces to capture Estonia as quickly as possible.

The Executive Committee of the Estonian Soviet treated all this as a conspiracy of Baltic nobility and the Estonian bourgeoisie against the Soviet power, and declared martial law in all Estonian cities on January 28 (February 10), 1918. Also, all of the nobility was declared outlaw. All noble men, older than 17 years, and women, older than 20, were to be arrested, sent to concentration camps and eventually deported to Siberia.

All together, about 800 estate owners were arrested and sent from Tallinn to the governorate of Yeniseysk. All the women that had been arrested, were released in Tallinn. The repressions towards the Baltic-Germans gave Germany even better reason to attack the unoccupied Baltic region, after the end of the truce. This begun in the second half of 1918. Declaration of the martial law halted the elections of Estonia Provisional Government, which was to take place in Tartu and Narva on January 27-28 (February 9-10). Estonian Provisional Government was unable to meet until 1919, after a new round of elections.

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.

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