Otto Tief

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Otto Tief
Otto Tief.jpg
Born(1889-08-14)14 August 1889
Died5 March 1976(1976-03-05) (aged 86)
Ahja, Põlva District, Estonia
Nationality Estonia
Prime Minister

Otto Tief (14 August [ O.S. 2 August] 1889 [1] 5 March 1976) was an Estonian politician, military commander (during the Estonian War of Independence), and a lawyer.

Old Style and New Style dates 16th-century changes in calendar conventions

Old Style (O.S.) and New Style (N.S.) are terms sometimes used with dates to indicate that the calendar convention used at the time described is different from that in use at the time the document was being written. There were two calendar changes in Great Britain and its colonies, which may sometimes complicate matters: the first was to change the start of the year from Lady Day to 1 January; the second was to discard the Julian calendar in favour of the Gregorian calendar. Closely related is the custom of dual dating, where writers gave two consecutive years to reflect differences in the starting date of the year, or to include both the Julian and Gregorian dates.

Estonia Republic in Northern Europe

Estonia, officially the Republic of Estonia, is a country in Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by the Gulf of Finland with Finland on the other side, to the west by the Baltic Sea with Sweden on the other side, to the south by Latvia (343 km), and to the east by Lake Peipus and Russia (338.6 km). The territory of Estonia consists of a mainland and 2,222 islands in the Baltic Sea, covering a total area of 45,227 km2 (17,462 sq mi), water 2,839 km2 (1,096 sq mi), land area 42,388 km2 (16,366 sq mi), and is influenced by a humid continental climate. The official language of the country, Estonian, is the second-most-spoken Finnic language.

Estonian War of Independence war between Estonia and Soviet Russia in 1918–1920

The Estonian War of Independence, also known as the Estonian Liberation War, was a defensive campaign of the Estonian Army and its allies, most notably the White Russian Northwestern Army, Latvia, and the United Kingdom, against the Soviet Western Front offensive and the aggression of the Baltische Landeswehr. It was fought in connection with the Russian Civil War during 1918–1920. The campaign was the struggle of Estonia for its sovereignty in the aftermath of World War I. It resulted in a victory for the newly established state and was concluded in the Treaty of Tartu.


He was the Acting Prime Minister of the last government of Estonia [2] [3] before the Soviet troops occupied Estonia in the Second World War in September 1944. Due to his commitment to his country, Otto Tief is regarded by many of his fellow countrymen as a symbol of national resistance.

Prime Minister of Estonia Head of government of the Republic of Estonia

The Prime Minister of Estonia is the head of government of the Republic of Estonia. The prime minister is nominated by the President after appropriate consultations with the parliamentary factions and confirmed by the Parliament. In case of disagreement, the Parliament can reject the President's nomination and choose their own candidate. In practice, since the Prime Minister must maintain the confidence of Parliament in order to remain in office, he is usually the leader of the senior partner in the governing coalition. The current Prime Minister is Jüri Ratas of the Centre Party.

Government of Estonia government of the country Estonia

The Government of the Republic of Estonia is the cabinet of Estonia. Under the Constitution, it exercises executive power pursuant to the Constitution and laws of Estonia.

Red Army Soviet army and air force from 1917–1946

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. The former official name Red Army continued to be used as a nickname by both sides throughout the Cold War.

Education and career

Lieutenant Otto Tief in the Estonian Army during the Estonian War of Independence, 1919. Lt Otto Tief 1919.jpg
Lieutenant Otto Tief in the Estonian Army during the Estonian War of Independence, 1919.

Tief studied law in St Petersburg between 1910 and 1916. During the Estonian War of Independence, Tief was a commander in the Kalevlaste Maleva battalion formed in 1918 by members of the Kalev sports society. Following the war, he graduated in law from Tartu University in 1921. He served as legal counsel to the Estonian Land Bank and also worked in private practice as a lawyer. Tief was elected to the third Riigikogu in 1926 and served as the Minister of Social Affairs from 1926 to 1927. In 1928 he was the Minister of Justice. In 1932 he was elected to the fifth Riigikogu.

Kalev Infantry Battalion

The Kalev Infantry Battalion is an infantry battalion of the Estonian Land Forces. It is a part of the 1st Infantry Brigade and its primary task is to train conscription-based mechanized infantry units. The battalion has been previously known as the Kalevlaste Maleva and as the Kalev Single Infantry Battalion. The battalion is currently based at Paldiski and is commanded by Major Ain Tiidrus.

Estonian Sports Association Kalev is a sports association in Estonia, founded in 1901. A 6 kroon, 50 senti postage stamp was issued to celebrate its centenary in 2001.

Riigikogu parliament of Estonia

The Riigikogu is the unicameral parliament of Estonia. All important state-related questions pass through the Riigikogu. In addition to approving legislation, the Riigikogu appoints high officials, including the Prime Minister and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and elects the President. The Riigikogu also ratifies significant foreign treaties that impose military and proprietary obligations, bring about changes in law, etc.; approves the budget presented by the government as law and monitors the executive power.

Otto Tief's Government of 1944

The 18 September 1944 appointed Government of Estonia in Riigi Teataja RiigiTeataja20091944.jpg
The 18 September 1944 appointed Government of Estonia in Riigi Teataja

During the turbulent days in September 1944, between the retreat of the German occupation forces in Estonia and the onslaught of the Red Army, the acting President of the Republic of Estonia Jüri Uluots appointed Otto Tief as a Prime Minister and asked him to form a government in 18 September 1944. Tief then published a proclamation, re-establishing the independence of the Republic of Estonia on the basis of legal continuity, and attempted to organise the defence of Tallinn against the invading Red Army, which pushed into the capital on 22 September 1944.

Nazi Germany The German state from 1933 to 1945, under the dictatorship of Adolf Hitler

Nazi Germany is the common English name for Germany between 1933 and 1945, when Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party (NSDAP) controlled the country through a dictatorship. Under Hitler's rule, Germany was transformed into a totalitarian state where nearly all aspects of life were controlled by the government. The official name of the state was Deutsches Reich until 1943 and Großdeutsches Reich from 1943 to 1945. Nazi Germany is also known as the Third Reich, meaning "Third Realm" or "Third Empire", the first two being the Holy Roman Empire (800–1806) and the German Empire (1871–1918). The Nazi regime ended after the Allies defeated Germany in May 1945, ending World War II in Europe.

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.

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.

Members of the Tief's government:

Arnold Susi was a lawyer and the Minister of Education in the Estonian government of Otto Tief established on 18 September 1944 during WWII.

August Rei VR III/1 was an Estonian Social Democratic politician.

Johannes Sikkar was the first head of the Estonian government in exile as Acting Prime Minister.


Otto Tief was arrested by the Soviet authorities on 10. October 1944. In 1945 he was sentenced to ten years of imprisonment in the Siberian Gulag. Returning to Estonia in 1956, he was forced to leave for Ukraine until 1965, when he was permitted to return to the Baltic region to live just beyond the Estonian border in Latvia. When Otto Tief died on 5 March 1976, the Soviet security services would not allow his burial in the national cemetery in Tallinn. When Estonia regained independence in 1991, he was reinterred there in 1993, in the presence of a large number of people who came to remember and honour him.

The People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs, abbreviated NKVD, was the interior ministry of the Soviet Union.

Gulag government agency in charge of the Soviet forced labor camp system

The Gulag was the government agency in charge of the Soviet forced-labour camp-system that was set up under Vladimir Lenin and reached its peak during Joseph Stalin's rule from the 1930s to the early 1950s. English-language speakers also use the word gulag to refer to any forced-labor camp in the Soviet Union, including camps which existed in post-Stalin times. The camps housed a wide range of convicts, from petty criminals to political prisoners. Large numbers were convicted by simplified procedures, such as by NKVD troikas or by other instruments of extrajudicial punishment. The Gulag is recognized by many as a major instrument of political repression in the Soviet Union.

Ukraine Sovereign state in Eastern Europe

Ukraine, sometimes called the Ukraine, is a country in Eastern Europe. Excluding Crimea, Ukraine has a population of about 42.5 million, making it the 32nd most populous country in the world. Its capital and largest city is Kiev. Ukrainian is the official language and its alphabet is Cyrillic. The dominant religions in the country are Eastern Orthodoxy and Greek Catholicism. Ukraine is currently in a territorial dispute with Russia over the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia annexed in 2014. Including Crimea, Ukraine has an area of 603,628 km2 (233,062 sq mi), making it the largest country entirely within Europe and the 46th largest country in the world.

Tief's symbolic significance

Tief held power for only a brief period of time (18.-22. September 1944), and his efforts were rapidly undone by the invading Red Army. However, Tief's actions have immense symbolic and legal significance, as his proclaiming of the restoration of the Republic of Estonia, as well as the accompanying raising of the Estonian flag atop the tower of Pikk Hermann high above Tallinn at the seat of power in the Toompea quarter negates Soviet historiography's claims, according to which the invasion of Estonia by the Red Army in September 1944 constituted "the liberation of Estonia". [4] [5] Although the attempt to restore Estonian independence in September 1944 did not succeed, the Otto Tief Government proved to be an integral and indispensable part of the de jure continuity of the Republic of Estonia, upon which the current state rests.


In February 2007, the Riigikogu decided to commemorate the actions of Tief's government by proclaiming 22 September to be the annual "Day of Resistance". 22 September 1944 is the day, several days after the departure of Nazi Germany's occupying forces, that the invading Red Army took over the administrative centre of Tallinn, tore down the Estonian national flag and replaced it with the Red Banner, the symbol of Soviet occupation. [6]

Related Research Articles

The history of Estonia forms a part of the history of Europe. Humans settled in the region of Estonia near the end of the last glacial era, beginning from around 8500 BC. Before German crusaders invaded in the early 13th century, proto-Estonians of ancient Estonia worshipped spirits of nature. Starting with the Northern Crusades in the Middle Ages, Estonia became a battleground for centuries where Denmark, Germany, Russia, Sweden and Poland fought their many wars over controlling the important geographical position of the country as a gateway between East and West.

Otto August Strandman was an Estonian politician, who served as Prime Minister (1919) and State Elder of Estonia (1929–1931). He was one of the leaders of the centre-left Estonian Labour Party, that saw its biggest support after the 1919 and 1920 elections. Strandman was a key figure in composing the radical land reform law and the 1920 Constitution. He also served as Minister of Agriculture (1918–1919), Minister of Justice, Minister of Finance (1924), Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of War (1919). While he was in the office of Minister of Finance, he stabilized the economy and managed to avoid hyperinflation. Strandman was also the speaker of both the Estonian Provincial Assembly (1917–1918) and Riigikogu (1921). He was a diplomat, serving as an envoy in Warsaw (1927–1929), when he made contacts with Polish politicians, and in Paris (1933–1939). During the Soviet Occupation in 1941, Strandman was ordered to show up to the NKVD headquarters. Already knowing about his fate, he committed suicide in his home in Kadrina.

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.

Andrus Ansip Estonian chemist and politician

Andrus Ansip is an Estonian politician, a member of the European Parliament, the former European Commissioner for Digital Single Market and Vice President of the European Commission, in office since 2014. Previously, he was Prime Minister of Estonia from 2005 to 2014 and chairman of the liberal Estonian Reform Party from 2004 to 2014.

Jaan Tõnisson Prime minister of Estonia

Jaan Tõnisson was an Estonian statesman, serving as the Prime Minister of Estonia twice during 1919 to 1920, as State Elder from 1927 to 1928 and in 1933, and as Foreign Minister of Estonia from 1931 to 1932.

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Kaarel Eenpalu was an Estonian journalist, politician and head of state, who served as 7th Prime Minister of Estonia.

The Estonian resistance movement was an underground movement to resist the occupation of Estonia by Nazi Germany, 1941–1944 during World War II. Due to the unusually benign measures implemented in Estonia by the German occupation authorities, especially in contrast to the preceding harsh Soviet occupation of Estonia (1940–1941), the movement was slower to develop effective tactics on a wide scale than in other occupied countries.

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.

Estonia–Russia relations Diplomatic relations between the Republic of Estonia and Russia

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.

Estonian government-in-exile

The Estonian government-in-exile 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.

Estonia in World War II

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.

Bronze Night controversy and riots in Estonia surrounding the 2007 relocation of the Bronze Soldier of Tallinn

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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.

Estonia–Sweden relations Diplomatic relations between the Republic of Estonia and the Kingdom of Sweden

Estonia–Sweden relations are foreign relations between Estonia and Sweden. Estonia was wholly or partially under Swedish rule between 1561 and 1721.

Soviet occupation of the Baltic states (1944)

The Soviet Union occupied most of the territory of the Baltic states in its 1944 Baltic Offensive during World War II. The Red Army regained control over the three Baltic capitals and encircled retreating Wehrmacht and Latvian forces in the Courland Pocket where they held out until the final German surrender at the end of the war. The German forces were deported and the leaders of Latvian collaborating forces were executed as traitors. After the war, the Soviet Union reestablished control over the Baltic territories in line with its forcible annexations as communist republics in 1940.

Jaan Maide

Jaan Maide, VR II/3 was a senior Estonian Army officer who fought in World War I, the Estonian War of Independence and World War II. He was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Estonian Military by Otto Tief's government in 1944.

Ülo Nugis Estonian politician

Ülo Nugis was an Estonian politician and economist. As Speaker of the Supreme Council of Estonia on 20 August 1991, he presided over the Supreme Council's historic session when it voted for the restoration of Estonia’s national independence from the Soviet Union.


  1. "Otto Tiefi sünd". Histrodamus.
  2. The Otto Tief government and the fall of Tallinn Archived 21 August 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  3. 22 September 1944: From one occupation to another Archived 27 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  4. Postimees 18 September 2007: Ilves: Tiefi valitsus rikkus jutud Tallinna vabastamisest
  5. The Baltic Times 19 September 2007: 'No difference' between Nazis and Soviets – Ilves
  6. Postimees/ETV24 22 September 2007: Eesti tähistab esmakordselt vastupanuvõitlemise päeva Archived 25 January 2008 at the Wayback Machine