With the invasion of the Red Army in 1944 the Soviet occupation was re-established in Estonia. Estonia again became a Soviet socialist republic completely subordinated to Moscow and the communist party. Alongside the re-occupation of the country the repressions that had begun in 1940 continued in full swing; the war and German time had quickly increased the numbers of "anti-Soviet element" in Estonia. The first more extensive arrest operation started already at the turn of 1944-1945.
| The re-establishment of the Soviet power met strong opposition in Estonia. People did not lose hope in spite of the failure to re-establish the Republic of Estonia in the autumn of 1944. It was believed that the western countries would not allow the USSR to extend into East Europe and the occupation of Estonia would not be recognized. By the end of 1944 the batch of people hiding from the Soviet power was varied and numerous, probably amounting to twenty-thirty thousand. After the German army had left, a great number of Estonians who had served there hid themselves in the forest, and soon they were joined by those scrimshanking from the Red Army mobilization as well as the members of the former Self Defence and Defence Union, who had nothing good to expect from the Soviet power. It was them who made up the core of the post-war Estonian armed resistance movement - forest brothers. || |
Troop of forest brothers led by Ülo Altermann practising shooting
| First the people in forests hoped for a new war to break out and therefore they concentrated on providing themselves with arms and hiding themselves. However, after World War II had ended, the western countries started to make bigger and bigger concessions to the Soviet Union, which strengthened the lattter's positions on the occupied territories. The expected help failed to come and the Soviet power started extensive operations against the forest brothers' families and their collaborators. The agent network of the NKVD also expanded and raids in forests and on farms became more and more frequent. Passive resistance was not sufficient any more to survive. In 1945 the forest brothers' groups started counteractions all over Estonia. Smaller Red Army and security units as well as village soviets and executive committees in communes were attacked. In forests they judged party activists, tax collectors and other active collaborators of the hostile power. Foodstuff, clothes and money were requisitioned in the name of the Republic of Estonia from co-operative stores and state dairies. Only during the year 1945 the NKDV registered 340 attacks made by forest brothers (the so-called "manifestations of banditism"), including 126 "terror acts" and 7 "diversions". || |
Forest brother Arnold Lindermann scouting
| However, people did not succeed in forming all-Estonian unions of forest brothers, more often than not groups of six to ten men acted independently. During years they learned more about the rules of conspiracy and the tactics of guerrilla war, and in the countryside the real power was often in the hands of the forest brothers. The March deportation of 1949 became fatal for the forest brothers. Immediately after the deportation their number increased as new fugitives joined them, but the "second wave" was soon followed by a quick fall. The brutal liquidation of farm households, deportation and collectivization by force deprived the forest brothers of their supporters. By 1953 the Soviet authorities were able to suppress the active armed resistance. During this heroic fight of Estonians for their freedom about 2000 forest brothers were killed, thousands were arrested and sent to Siberian prison camps. After 1953 forest brothers became rearer and rearer, but a few individual men endured even for decades. Johannes Lillenurm, the last known forest brother, was found dead in Läänemaa county in the spring of 1980. The movement of forest brothers has been cherished in Estonian people's memory as a symbol of freedom, a period when a decision was made not to take the new occupation|| |
Jakob Ellervee on the remains of his destroyed bunker in 1955.
|KGB Cells Museum
EstoniaShow the mapOpening times:
Tuesday - Saturday 11 - 16Ticket prices:
Adults: 2 euros
Children, students and seniors: 1 euro
Family: 5 euro
Guided tour in English: 8 euros (max 25 persons)Contact:
Curator: Maris Viibur
telephone: (+372) 58 17 0587