Germans abandon mainland Estonia

to map

16. September 1944

On September 4, Finland decided to open peace negotiations with Soviet Union, and Germany had no reason to hold on to Estonia any longer. As soldiers and equipment were desperately needed elsewhere, it was decided to leave Estonia. On September 16, Hitler confirmed the plan called "Aster", with which German forces were pulled out of Estonia.

Different Estonian units were to cover their withdrawal, who suffered great losses while trying to halt the advance the Red Army. Among other things, bloody fratricide took place, as Estonian Red Riflemen Battalion was brought along to conquer Estonia.

Western Estonia was in a total chaos on September 24-25, as no one was able properly establish their rule. After the Germans had left, an unsuccessful attempt was made to restore Estonia's independence.

On September 22, Otto Tief's government was appointed, which tried to organize the defence in the capital city, unfortunately the Soviet power was preponderant. Nonetheless, advance of the Soviet forces was somewhat halted, allowing about 70,000 Estonians to flee to the West. Most of them went to Sweden or Germany.

The Red Army had conquered all of mainland Estonia by September 25, but the German occupation was not yet over: they still held the islands in Western-Estonia.


Source: Eesti ajalugu. VI: Vabadussõjast taasiseseisvumiseni. Lk-d 196-227.

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