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Arnold Meri in the Red Army
|Born||1 July 1919|
|Died||27 March 2009 89) (aged|
|Years of service||1940–1945|
|Battles/wars||World War II|
Arnold Meri (1 July 1919 – 27 March 2009) was a Soviet Red Army veteran of World War II and Hero of the Soviet Unionwho was charged with genocide for his role in the deportation of Estonians to the inhospitable regions of the USSR. He was the cousin of former President of Estonia, Lennart Meri. At the time of his death, Meri was an honorary chairman of the Estonian Anti-Fascist Committee.
The Soviet Union, officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), was a socialist state in Eurasia that existed from 30 December 1922 to 26 December 1991. Nominally a union of multiple national Soviet republics, its government and economy were highly centralized. The country was a one-party state, governed by the Communist Party with Moscow as its capital in its largest republic, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. Other major urban centres were Leningrad, Kiev, Minsk, Alma-Ata, and Novosibirsk.
The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army, frequently shortened to Red Army was the army and the air force of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, and, after 1922, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The army was established immediately after the 1917 October Revolution. The Bolsheviks raised an army to oppose the military confederations of their adversaries during the Russian Civil War. Beginning in February 1946, the Red Army, along with the Soviet Navy, embodied the main component of the Soviet Armed Forces; taking the official name of "Soviet Army", until its dissolution in December 1991.
World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.
In 1926 Meri's family emigrated to Yugoslavia where the young Arnold was baptised into the Russian Orthodox church. He completed Russian primary school in Skopje and the Russian-Serbian Gymnasium in Belgrade in 1938. After returning to Estonia Meri was soon drafted into the Estonian Army. After the Soviet occupation in 1940, he was elected to the City Komsomol Committee in Tallinn and was instructed to create a Komsomol organization in his Estonian army unit. After the absorption of his unit into the Red Army 22nd Estonian Territorial Rifle Corps, he was appointed a deputy political officer in 415th Radio Battalion.
The Kingdom of Yugoslavia was a state in Southeast Europe and Central Europe that existed from 1929 until 1941, during the interwar period and beginning of World War II.
Skopje is the capital and largest city of North Macedonia. It is the country's political, cultural, economic, and academic center.
Belgrade is the capital and largest city of Serbia. It is located at the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers, where the Pannonian Plain meets the Balkans. The urban area of the City of Belgrade has a population of 1.23 million, while nearly 1.7 million people live within its administrative limits.
Meri voluntarily joined the Red Army in 1940 while the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact was still in force. After Nazi Germany attacked in June 1941, he was wounded in battle while serving as a platoon commander in north-west Russia in 1941. In August 1941 he was awarded a Gold Star of the Hero of the Soviet Union for organizing the defense of the headquarters of the 22nd Estonian Territorial Rifle Corps when the German army broke through the lines near Dno in July 1941. In reality the defense was commanded by captain Georg Loog,but he was not deemed to be suitable for the decoration, as he was not a member of the Communist Party and had been an officer of the Estonian Army. Meri was specifically commended for remaining on the battlefield despite being wounded four times. Meri retired from the Red Army as a colonel. The building that housed the headquarters of the 22nd Estonian Rifle Corps in July 1941 is currently occupied by a secondary school. In 2008 the school was renamed in honour of Arnold Meri.
The Gold Star medal is a special insignia that identifies recipients of the title "Hero" in the Soviet Union and some of its allies, and several post-Soviet states.
The title Hero of the Soviet Union was the highest distinction in the Soviet Union, awarded personally or collectively for heroic feats in service to the Soviet state and society.
Dno is a town and the administrative center of Dnovsky District in Pskov Oblast, Russia, located at the intersection of the Pskov–Bologoye and St. Petersburg–Kiev railways, 113 kilometers (70 mi) east of Pskov, the administrative center of the oblast. Population: 9,061 (2010 Census); 10,049 (2002 Census); 12,406 (1989 Census).
From 1945 to 1949 he served as the secretary of the central committee of Komsomol in Estonia. In 1948 he was awarded the highest Soviet order, the Order of Lenin. Meri's opinion on the Estonian part in World War II:
The All-Union Leninist Young Communist League, usually known as Komsomol, was a political youth organization in the Soviet Union. It is sometimes described as the youth division of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU), although it was officially independent and referred to as "the helper and the reserve of the CPSU".
The Order of Lenin, named after the leader of the Russian October Revolution, was established by the Central Executive Committee on April 6, 1930. The order was the highest civilian decoration bestowed by the Soviet Union. The order was awarded to:
|“||Estonia's participation in World War II was inevitable and only a fool could have believed otherwise. ... Every Estonian had only one decision to make: whose side to take in that bloody fight—the Nazis' or the anti-Hitler coalition's.||”|
He was stripped of his honours in 1951, but was rehabilitated in 1956.
Rehabilitation was a term used in the context of the former Soviet Union, and the Post-Soviet states. Beginning after the death of Stalin in 1953, the government undertook the political and social restoration, or political rehabilitation, of persons who had been repressed and criminally prosecuted without due basis. It restored the person to the state of acquittal. In many cases, rehabilitation was posthumous, as thousands of victims had been executed or died in labor camps.
In 2003, the Estonia Security Police investigated Meri for participating in the deportations of Estonians in Hiiumaa in 1949. [ citation needed ]. According to the Prosecutor’s Office, most of the deportees were women and children, and 43 subsequently died[ citation needed ]. Meri had acknowledged taking part in the deportations, but denied responsibility. According to the BBC, Estonia's claims that genocide took place is not widely accepted.In August 2007, the Estonian Western Circuit Prosecutor’s Office formally charged Arnold Meri with genocide, for his admitted role in organising the deportation of 251 Estonian civilians from the island of Hiiumaa to the Novosibirsk region of Siberia
Soviet deportations from Estonia were a series of mass deportations by the Soviet Union from Estonia in 1941 and 1945–1951.
Hiiumaa Finnish: Hiidenmaa) is the second largest island in Estonia, with an area of 989 km2. It is in the Baltic Sea, north of the island of Saaremaa, part of the West Estonian archipelago. Its largest town is Kärdla. Along with several smaller neighboring islands, the island makes up Hiiu County; one of the 15 counties of Estonia.
Genocide is intentional action to destroy a people in whole or in part. The hybrid word "genocide" is a combination of the Greek word γένος and the Latin suffix -caedo. The United Nations Genocide Convention, which was established in 1948, defines genocide as "acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group".
On 20 May 2008 the trial against Meri began. Meri pleaded not guilty.In his defense, Meri maintained that he was appointed to monitor the compliance of the process with then-current laws and to ensure that the punitive actions were limited to the individuals specifically listed by security services. Meri claimed that he was unable to control the abuses of the local authorities and withdrew from the process. For this decision he himself was prosecuted, stripped of his military honors and expelled from the Communist Party in 1949. Meri maintained that he was targeted by the current Estonian authorities in retaliation for his anti-fascist activities and harsh critique of the Estonian government.
In May 2008, the Russian Duma wrote to the European parliament with a call to stop what they called a "shameful trial". The adopted statement in part read "The trial is a purely political order to revise the results of WWII and to discredit the efforts of the anti-Hitler coalition to save mankind from the fascist plague".On 2 April 2009, the European Parliament passed a resolution condemning deportation as a crime against humanity.
Arnold Meri died in his sleep on 27 March 2009 at the age of 89.This automatically halted Meri's trial.
The President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev posthumously awarded Meri with the Order of Honour within hours after Meri's death.In a telegram to Meri's widow, Yekaterina, Medvedev wrote "Arnold Meri was an exceptional and courageous figure, who devoted his entire life to the ideals of justice, freedom and humanism. Decorated with the Hero of the Soviet Union for his feats on the battlefields of the Great Patriotic War, he fought Nazism to the end of his days, and actively resisted attempts to rewrite history and whitewash those responsible for the twentieth century’s greatest tragedy, and their accomplices."
Meri was interred on 1 April 2009 in the Liiva cemeteryon the outskirts of Tallinn in a funeral which was attended by several hundred people.
Lennart Georg Meri was an Estonian statesman, writer, and film director. He served as the second President of Estonia from 1992 to 2001. Meri was among the leaders of the movement to restore Estonian independence from the Soviet Union.
This is a sub-article to Battle of Narva.
The Battle of Narva was a military campaign between the German Army Detachment "Narwa" and the Soviet Leningrad Front fought for possession of the strategically important Narva Isthmus on 2 February – 10 August 1944 during World War II.
This is a sub-article to Battle of Narva (1944).
Johan Laidoner was an Estonian general and statesman. He served as Commander‑in‑Chief of the Estonian Armed Forces during the Estonian War of Independence and was among the most influential people in Estonian history between the world wars.
After Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, Army Group North reached Estonia in July. Initially the Germans were perceived by most Estonians as liberators from the USSR and its repressions, having arrived only a week after the first mass deportations from the Baltic States. Although hopes were raised for the restoration of the country's independence, it was soon realized that they were but another occupying power. The Germans pillaged the country for their war effort and unleashed The Holocaust in Estonia during which they and their collaborators murdered tens of thousands of people. For the duration of the occupation, Estonia was incorporated into the German province of Ostland.
The Bronze Soldier is the informal name of a controversial Soviet World War II war memorial in Tallinn, Estonia, built at the site of several war graves, which were relocated to the nearby Tallinn Military Cemetery in 2007. It was originally named "Monument to the Liberators of Tallinn", was later titled to its current official name "Monument to the Fallen in the Second World War", and is sometimes called Alyosha, or Tõnismäe monument after its old location. The memorial was unveiled on 22 September 1947, three years after the Red Army reached Tallinn on 22 September 1944 during World War II.
Estonia–Russia relations refers to bilateral foreign relations between Estonia and Russia. Diplomatic relations between the Republic of Estonia and the Russian SFSR were established on 2 February 1920, when Bolshevist Russia recognized de jure the independence of the Republic of Estonia, and renounced in perpetuity all rights to the territory of Estonia, via the Treaty of Tartu (Russian–Estonian). At the time, the Bolsheviks had just gained control of the majority of Russian territory, and their government's legitimacy was being hotly contested by Western powers and the Russian White movement.
A number of War crimes trials were held in the 1960s in Soviet Estonia. The best-known trial was brought in 1961, by the local Soviet authorities against Estonian collaborators who had participated in the execution of the Holocaust during the German occupation (1941–1944). The accused were charged with murdering up to 5000 German and Czechoslovakian Jews and Romani people near the Kalevi-Liiva concentration camp in 1942–1943. The public trial by the Supreme Court of the Estonian SSR was held in the auditorium of the Navy Officers Club in Tallinn and attended by a mass audience. All three defendants were convicted and sentenced to death, then two of them were executed shortly after. The third defendant, Ain-Ervin Mere was tried in absentia and was not available for execution.
The Holocaust in Estonia refers to the Nazi crimes during the occupation of Estonia by Nazi Germany. Prior to the war, there were approximately 4,300 Estonian Jews. After the Soviet 1940 occupation about 10% of the Jewish population was deported to Siberia, along with other Estonians. About 75% of Estonian Jews, aware of the fate that awaited them from Nazi Germany, escaped to the Soviet Union; virtually all of those who remained were killed by Einsatzgruppe A and local collaborators before the end of 1941. Roma people of Estonia were also murdered and enslaved by the Nazi occupiers and their collaborators. The Nazis and their allies also killed around 6,000 ethnic Estonians and 1,000 ethnic Russians who were accused of being communist sympathizers or the relatives of communist sympathizers. In addition around 25,000 Soviet prisoners-of-war and Jews from other parts of Europe were killed in Estonia during the German occupation.
The Estonian International Commission for Investigation of Crimes Against Humanity was the commission established by President of Estonia Lennart Meri in October 1998 to investigate crimes against humanity committed in Estonia or against its citizens during the Soviet and German occupation, such as Soviet deportations from Estonia and the Holocaust in Estonia.
Before the outbreak of the Second World War, Germany and the Soviet Union signed the German-Soviet Nonaggression Pact, concerning the partition and disposition of sovereign states, including Estonia, and in particular its Secret Additional Protocol of August 1939.
The 7th Rifle Division was an infantry division of the Soviet Union's Red Army, formed twice.
Operation Priboi was the code name for the Soviet mass deportation from the Baltic states on 25–28 March 1949. The action is also known as the March deportation by Baltic historians. More than 90,000 Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians, labeled as enemies of the people, were deported to forced settlements in inhospitable areas of the Soviet Union. Over 70% of the deportees were women, and children under the age of 16.
The Moonsund Landing Operation, also known as the Moonzund landing operation, was an amphibious operation and offensive by the Red Army during World War II, taking place in late 1944. It was part of the Baltic Offensive, and was designed to clear German forces of Army Group North from the islands in East Baltic Sea, the West Estonian archipelago. The attacking forces were from the 8th Army of the Leningrad Front.
The Tallinn Offensive was a strategic offensive by the Red Army's 2nd Shock and 8th Armies and the Baltic Fleet against the German Army Detachment Narwa and Estonian units in mainland Estonia on the Eastern Front of World War II on 17–26 September 1944. Its German counterpart was the abandonment of the Estonian territory in a retreat codenamed Operation Aster.
The 8th Estonian Rifle Corps was a formation in the Soviet Army, created on 6 November 1942, during World War II.
The Narva Offensive was an operation conducted by the Soviet Leningrad Front. It was aimed at the conquest of the Narva Isthmus from the German army detachment "Narwa". At the time of the operation, Joseph Stalin, the supreme commander of the Soviet Armed Forces, was personally interested in taking Estonia, viewing it as a precondition to forcing Finland out of the war.
Jägala concentration camp was a labour camp of the Estonian Security Police and SD during the German occupation of Estonia during World War II. The camp was established in August 1942 on a former artillery range of the Estonian Army near the village of Jägala, Estonia. It existed from August 1942 to August 1943. Aleksander Laak, an Estonian was appointed by SS-Sturmbannführer Ain-Ervin Mere of Group B of the Estonian Security Police to command the camp with Ralf Gerrets as assistant.
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