Estonians free Tartu

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21. February 1918

Estonian units arrested the members of Tartu Executive Committee and made an attempt to capture Committee's building.

Red Latvian Riflemen freed the prisoners, eliminated Estonian guard units at Committee's building and post office and kept the evacuation route via Tartu's railway station open.

After mutual agreement, according to which the troops allowed the Bolsheviks to leave unharmed, power transferred to the Estonians on February 22; Karl Einbund (Kaarel Eenpalu) was appointed the chief of militia.
On the same day, first German troops arrived from Latvia to Southern Estonia. Advance continued, and after some confrontations with the Bolsheviks, Germans reached Tartu on February 24 (see image).
Germans were greeted on the Town Hall Square by local Baltic Germans with cheering and singing. Pre-revolution German town council was reinstated few days later.

Estonian units tried to seize power also in Võru, freeing the estate owners imprisoned in Võru prison and arresting the Executive Committee few days before the Germans arrived. The Red Guard succeeded to imprison the estate owners again. An unexpected German attack came on February 24, Red Guard and Russian soldiers were forced to withdraw after few days.

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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