Revival of the national enlightenment; the 1905 Revolution and WW I


During the final decades of the XIX century, Estonian national movement revived again. In Tartu, what is called "the Tartu renaissance" happened, lead by the new generation of nationalists, Villem Reinman and Jaan Tõnisson. "Postimees" started to lead the national bandwagon, writing about problems that were related to the Estonians. In 1901, daily newspaper "Teataja" started to appear in print in Tallinn, edited by Konstantin Päts. This newspaper wrote about economic and political fight and was, economy-wise, much more radical than "Postimees". The paper brought together several social democrats. Due to this, circles around the two newspapers clashed, however, not too seriously.

In the beginning of the XX century, the circles of Russian Social Democratic Labor Party appeared in almost all of the larger Estonian cities. Most noteworthy Estonian socialist was Mihkel Martna.

In 1905, after loosing to Japan, a revolution broke out in Russia. In Estonia, it was first taken up by workers and students of the University of Tartu. Even though the revolution was lead by the socialists, soon it involved the nationalist circles and underneath the blue black and white flags, several protest were held.

The bloodshed on October 16 in Tallinn and the October Manifesto: before this, factories stopped working, businesses and manufactures were shut down - Estonian workers joined the Russian strike. Revolutionary songs were sung, meetings were held. Troops, that had arrived, opened fire against the crows. That resulted in 94 people dead and more than 200 wounded. But, already on the next day, the czar signed the manifesto, allowing the assembly of a representative body - the State Duma, and ensured civil rights to the citizens.

In Estonia, hopes rose high and in November, a representative congress gathered in Tartu, splitting into moderate and radical sides. The moderate side believed, that changes can come about peacefully, in the form of the October Manifesto; the radical side demanded for the continuation of the revolution, and the announcement of the republic. In addition, Tallinn's socialists started to burn down land estates; in several rural areas, this resulted in Death Squads, that started to act in the beginning of 1906. These squads executed people without court conviction, in some places, people were accused of attempts of establishing the Estonian Republic.

Estonians participated in the State Duma elections in 1906, yet soon it became apparent that the Duma does not have a significant influence. This brought about a major disappointment in politics. At the same time, people continued to organize national activities in Estonia; important work was done by educational associations, promoting the education in Estonian language.

The Fist World War: Estonians did not probably enthuse over the war that broke out in 1914, as fighting for "the religion, the czar and mother Russia" was not a very attractive idea, neither was the possible outcome of the war: either the victory of Germany or Russia. Nonetheless, Estonians were noted for their bravery, and were promoted to high places. All together, about 100,000 Estonians participated in the War. During the war years, the national movement brisked up again.

Source: M.Laur, A. Pajur, T. Tannberg "Eesti ajalugu II" Tallinn 1995 "Avita"