Freedom fighters appeal for help, evaluation of WWII events

  • 2004-08-05
  • Staff and wire reports
TALLINN - Members of an Estonian division that fought on the German side in World War II said they would demand a political evaluation of 1939-1944 events from Parliament and government protection against accusations leveled at them.

"We demand that our elected representatives in Parliament give on behalf of the Estonian state a political evaluation of World War II events in Estonia in the years 1939-1944," a statement adopted by a convention of the 20th Estonian Grenadiers Division on July 31 said.
Noting that the Russian government and some Jewish organizations have accused Estonians who fought against the advancing Soviet troops of pro-Nazism and fascism, former fighters of the division seek the state's protection against groundless accusations and insults.
The document expresses support for a statement adopted at the July 6 meeting of freedom fighters, which called on Parliament to introduce a national status of freedom fighter that would be assigned - even posthumously - to those who participated in the resistance to Soviet occupation as Forest Brothers, who took part in the battles of 1941, in the defensive battles of 1944 and in the postwar resistance.
The document also calls upon lawmakers to back the initiative to condemn the totalitarian communist regime in the European Parliament.
The statement says that soldiers of the Estonian division, who went to battle 60 years ago alongside German troops to repel the aggression of the Red Army against Estonia, never fought for the interests of Hitler's Germany or recognized the Nazi ideology of the German occupying authorities.
"The only objective of our fight was to avert a repeat in Estonia of the terrors of the totalitarian communist regime of the 1939-1944 period and create the necessary preconditions for de facto restoration of the Estonian state that had been in existence de jure," the document reads.
"Current attempts to label Estonian freedom fighters fascists are a feeble attempt on the part of the legal successor of the Soviet Union to whitewash its part in committing war crimes and crimes against humanity by confusing the issue," the statement said.
The Red Army reached the Narva River on the heels of the retreating German troops in January 1944. When general mobilization was announced in Estonia at the start of the year, many responded in the hope that the country's independence could be restored by taking advantage of the clash of the two great powers.
In July and August of that year the bloodiest battles in Estonian history were fought in the Sinimaed area near Narva, in which Estonian and German troops, side by side with Danish, Norwegian, Dutch, Walloon and Flemish units, fought against the advancing Soviet army.
On Sept. 18 an attempt was made to form an independent government in Tallinn, but the Red Army captured the city three days later and then the entire mainland by Sept. 24.
The resistance in the western islands lasted till Nov. 24.
Russia's Duma (parliament) and several politicians, officials and organizations have repeatedly accused Estonia of attempts to glorify Nazism.