German occupation during the WW II and an attempt to restore independence

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22. June 1941

On June 22, 1942, Germany declared war on the Soviet Union, and less than a month later, German troops reached Estonia. The Soviet Union was unable to organize any significant resistance, they used, however, scorched earth policy and death squads, that ravaged the country. This, naturally, drove the population against them even more. Several Estonian partisan groups (the forest brothers) took part in the fight against the Russians, in some cases directly collaborating with the Germans. At first, it was hoped that Germany will allow Estonia to become independent, but soon the nationalists were gravely disappointed. Germans enforced the occupation rule, and started to track down both communists and members of the national movement. In Estonia, the occupants organized the execution of Jews and other people, who were found unfitting by the Nazis.

In spring 1944, the front neared Estonia again, and threatened with a second Soviet occupation. Now, the nationalist decided to support another German mobilization, in order to keep the Red Army away from Estonia as long as possible. Preparations were made to be ready to declare independence, if the situation allowed. Under Narva, Red Army's progress was halted for several months, however, it did not change the outcome of the war - in September 1944, Russians broke through German defense lines. German troops started to fall back and at that moment Estonian nationalists tried to restore sovereignty. On September 18, government lead by Otto Tief, took power and on 20., Estonian national flag was lifted in the Tall Hermann tower. Government handed out manifestos. Unfortunately, this attempt failed, because on 22., the Red Army reached Tallinn, and soon they held all of the mainland. German troops continued fighting on Estonian islands until November, during this time thousands of Estonians fled to the West. By November 24, 1944, all of Estonia was under the occupation of the Soviet Union.


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