Estonian government-in-exile

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Estonian government-in-exile

Eesti Vabariigi valitsus eksiilis
1944–1992
Locator map of Estonia.svg
Location of Estonia
Status Government-in-exile
Capital Tallinn
Government Transitional government
Prime Minister in duties of the President/Acting Prime Minister  
 1945–1963
August Rei
 1990–1992
Heinrich Mark
Historical era Cold War
 The National Committee of the Republic of Estonia proclaimed itself the supreme power of the Republic of Estonia
1 August 1944
 Independence of Estonia recognized by the State Council of the Soviet Union
6 September 1991
  Lennart Meri sworn in as the President of Estonia
6 October 1992
ISO 3166 code EE

The Estonian government-in-exile [1] was the formally declared governmental authority of the Republic of Estonia in exile, existing from 1944 until the reestablishment of Estonian sovereignty over Estonian territory in 1991–92. It traced its legitimacy through constitutional succession to the last Estonian government in power prior to the Soviet invasion of 1940. During its existence, it was the internationally recognized government of Estonia.

Soviet occupation of the Baltic states (1940)

The Soviet occupation of the Baltic states covers the period from the Soviet–Baltic mutual assistance pacts in 1939, to their invasion and annexation in 1940, to the mass deportations of 1941.

Contents

Background

The USSR illegally annexed Estonia on June 14, 1940. Soviet authorities arrested President Konstantin Päts and deported him to the USSR where he died in prison in 1956. Many members of the current and past governments were deported or executed, including eight former heads of state and 38 ministers. Those who survived went underground.

President of Estonia position

The President of the Republic of Estonia is the head of state of the Republic of Estonia. The current President is Kersti Kaljulaid, elected by Parliament on 3 October 2016, becoming the first woman and youngest person ever who holds the position.

Konstantin Päts Estonian politician

Konstantin Päts was the most influential politician of interwar Estonia, and served five times as the country's head of government. He was one of the first Estonians to become active in politics and started an almost 40-year political rivalry with Jaan Tõnisson, first through journalism with his newspaper Teataja, later through politics. He was condemned to death during the 1905 Revolution, but managed to flee first to Switzerland, then to Finland, where he continued his literary work. He returned to Estonia, but had to spend time in prison in 1910–1911.

Jüri Uluots was the last constitutional prime minister at the time of Soviet occupation. With the loss of Päts, Uluots, as the head of the Estonian government in accordance with Section 46 the Estonian Constitution (Riigi Teataja 03.09.1937 No. 71 Art 590), which specified that in the case that the President vacated the office or was otherwise unable to execute his duties, those duties were to be assumed by the Prime Minister, who carries duties of the Prime Minister to the Acting Prime Minister, became acting head of State.

Jüri Uluots Estonian prime minister

Jüri Uluots was an Estonian prime minister, journalist, prominent attorney and distinguished Professor and Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Tartu.

Uluots attempted to appoint a new Estonian government in July 1941, at the beginning of the German occupation, but German authorities refused to recognize Estonia as a sovereign state.

History

National Committee under occupation by Nazi Germany

The National Committee of the Republic of Estonia was formed from individuals engaged in the Estonian government during the German occupation of Estonia. The Committee was led initially, from March 23, 1944, by Kaarel Liidak, then, from August 15 or 16, by Otto Tief. The Committee proclaimed itself the supreme power of the Republic of Estonia on August 1, 1944.

National Committee of the Republic of Estonia

The National Committee of the Republic of Estonia was a self-styled resistance movement in German-occupied Estonia in March 1944. By April 1944 a large number of the committee members were arrested by the German security agencies.

German occupation of Estonia during World War II

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.

Otto Tief Prime Minister of Estonia

Otto Tief was an Estonian politician, military commander, and a lawyer.

Failure to reestablish independence

Juri Uluots Juri Uluots.jpg
Jüri Uluots

In June 1942 political leaders of Estonia who had survived Soviet repressions held a meeting hidden from the occupying powers in Estonia where the formation of an underground Estonian government and the options for preserving continuity of the republic were discussed. [2] On January 6, 1943, a meeting was held at the Estonian foreign delegation in Stockholm. In order to preserve the legal continuation of the Republic of Estonia, it was decided that the last constitutional prime minister, Jüri Uluots, had to continue to fulfill his responsibilities as prime minister. [2] On April 20, 1944, the Electoral Committee of the Republic of Estonia (Vabariigi Presidendi Asetäitja Valimiskogu, the institution specified in the Constitution for electing the Acting President of the Republic) held a clandestine meeting in Tallinn. The participants included:

Stockholm Capital city in Södermanland and Uppland, Sweden

Stockholm is the capital of Sweden and the most populous urban area in the Nordic countries; 960,031 people live in the municipality, approximately 1.5 million in the urban area, and 2.3 million in the metropolitan area. The city stretches across fourteen islands where Lake Mälaren flows into the Baltic Sea. Just outside the city and along the coast is the island chain of the Stockholm archipelago. The area has been settled since the Stone Age, in the 6th millennium BC, and was founded as a city in 1252 by Swedish statesman Birger Jarl. It is also the capital of Stockholm County.

Mihkel Klaassen was a justice of the Supreme Court of Estonia since 1924.

The Supreme Court of Estonia is the court of last resort in Estonia. It is both a court of cassation and a constitutional court. The courthouse is in Tartu.

The Committee determined that the Soviet-era appointment of Johannes Vares as Prime Minister by Konstantin Päts had been illegal and that Uluots had assumed the President's duties from June 21, 1940, onwards. [3] On June 21, 1944, Jüri Uluots appointed Otto Tief as deputy prime minister. On September 18, 1944, Uluots, suffering from cancer, named Otto Tief the Acting Prime Minister and appointed a Government which consisted of 11 members. On September 20, 1944, Uluots, in failing health, departed for Sweden. Tief assumed office in accordance with the constitution and took the opportunity with the departure of the Germans to declare the legitimate Estonian government restored. Most of members of this government left from Tallinn on September 21 and Tief on September 22. As reported by the Royal Institute of International Affairs: on September 21 the Estonian national government was proclaimed, Estonian forces seized the government buildings in Toompea and ordered the German forces to leave. [4] The flag of Germany was replaced with the Estonian tricolour in the Pikk Hermann flag tower. Tief's government, however, failed to keep control, as Estonian military units led by Johan Pitka clashed with both Germans and Soviets. On September 22 the Soviets took control of Tallinn and took the Estonian flag down.

Flight ahead of Soviet forces

The Tief government fled Tallinn. The last meeting was held in Põgari village on September 22. However, the boat which was to rendezvous to evacuate them across the Baltic developed engine trouble and failed to arrive in time. Most of the members and officials, including Tief, were caught, jailed, deported, or executed by the advancing Soviets. Tief managed to survive a decade in Siberia and died back in Estonia in 1976. Only Kaarel Liidak, Minister of Agriculture, died in hiding on January 16, 1945.

Official declaration

After Uluots died on January 9, 1945, August Rei, as the most senior surviving member of the government, assumed the role of acting head of state. Rei was supported by the surviving members of the Tief government in Sweden. Rei was the last Estonian envoy in Moscow before the Soviet annexation and had managed to escape from Moscow through Riga to Stockholm in June 1940. [5]

Rei declared an official Estonian government in exile on January 12, 1953, in Oslo, Norway. [6] (Oslo, not Stockholm, was chosen because Norway did not have bans on such political activity, while Sweden had.)

However, another group of Estonian politicians believed a president should be elected through some representative body. This group was led by Alfred Maurer, who had been second deputy chairman of the National Council of Estonia prior to 1940. Maurer was elected Acting President of the Republic (Vabariigi Presidendi Asetäitja) in exile on March 3, 1953, in Augustdorf, Germany. While Maurer's lineage had more support among the exile community, he never appointed any new government (stating that Tief's government is still in office and there is no need for a new government) and this line became extinct upon Maurer's death a year-and-a-half later, on September 20, 1954. This left the Rei government as the sole contestant to legitimacy.

The position of acting head of government continued to be assumed by succession following Rei's death in 1963. From 1953 to 1992, five governments in exile were formed.

Diplomacy

Of the three Baltic states, only Estonia established a formal government in exile. In the cases of Latvia and Lithuania, sovereign authority had been vested in their diplomatic legations. Even with regard to Estonia, the legations were the primary instrument for the conduct of diplomacy and for administering the daily matters of state (such as issuing passports). Estonia's primary legation was the consulate in New York City.

Under the United States Stimson Doctrine, the legitimacy of the Soviet occupation of Baltic states was never recognized. As primary diplomatic authority was exercised by the Estonian consulate in New York City, [7] the government in exile's role from Oslo was, to a great degree, symbolic in nature. The Estonian consulate in Ireland was in legal proceedings. Estonian ships were instructed to go to a Soviet port. Three Estonian ships ( Otto, Piret, and Mall) and two from Latvia (Rāmava and Everoja) chose a neutral port in Ireland instead. Ivan Maisky, the Soviet Union's ambassador to the United Kingdom, applied to the High Court in Dublin for possession of the ships. Their owners could not be contacted. John McEvoy honorary consul of Estonia successfully opposed the action. [8] This was recalled by Toomas Hendrik Ilves, President of Estonia. [9]

However, the Estonian government in exile did serve to carry the continuity of the Estonian state forward. The last prime minister in the duties of the president, Heinrich Mark, ended the work of the government in exile when he handed over his credentials to the incoming President Lennart Meri on October 8, 1992. Meri issued a statement thanking the Estonian government in exile for being the keepers of the legal continuity of the Estonian state.

List of Acting Prime Ministers

This is the list of the Acting Prime Ministers (peaministri asetäitjad) of the Estonian government-in-exile:

See also

Notes

  1. Historical Dictionary of Estonia, 2004, p. 332 ISBN   0-8108-4904-6
  2. 1 2 Chronology Archived June 9, 2007, at the Wayback Machine at the EIHC
  3. L. Mälksoo, Professor Uluots, the Estonian Government in Exile and the Continuity of the Republic of Estonia in International Law, Nordic Journal of International Law, Volume 69, Number 3 / March, 2000
  4. By Royal Institute of International Affairs. Information Dept. Published 1945
  5. Diplomats Without a Country by James T. McHugh, James S. Pacy, 2001, p. 183 ISBN   0-313-31878-6
  6. Plaque unveiled in Oslo to remember Estonia's exiled government
  7. Kempster, Norman (31 October 1988). "Annexed Baltic States: Envoys Hold On to Lonely U.S. Postings". Los Angeles Times.
  8. "Eire High Court: Zarine v. Owners, etc. S. S. Ramava, McEvoy & Ors. v. Owners, etc. S. S. Otto, McEvoy and Veldi v. Owners, etc. S. S. Piret and S. S. Mall, Eckert & Co. v. Owners, etc. S. S. Everoja". The American Journal of International Law. American Society of International Law. 36 (3 (july. 1942)): 490–504. July 1942. doi:10.2307/2192676. JSTOR   2192676. (Subscription required (help)).
  9. "President of the Republic at the State Dinner hosted by President T. E. Mary McAleese and Dr. Martin McAleese". President.ee. 14 April 2008. Retrieved 13 December 2015.
    "... we are thankful that Ireland never recognised the illegal annexation of Estonia by the Soviet Union after the Second World War. We will never forget John McEvoy, Estonia’s honorary consul in Dublin from 1938 to 1960. Among other things, one of his good deeds was helping to protect the interests of the Estonian shipowners ..."

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References