Category Archives: Estonia

On the Masculinity Crisis in the Literary Works of A. H. Tammsaare: The Master of Kõrboja (1922)

Mirjam Hinrikus (Under-Tuglas Centre for Literary Research, Estonia)

In  his essay „Literary Style“ (1912), critic Friedebert Tuglas (1886-1971), a leading figure in the Young Estonia movement, made the following claim about modernity and Estonian life: „the city, a new tempo of life, and a new psychology…have not neglected to make their appearance here “. Tuglas summarizes these three factors as „the intellectual urbanization of the country“. The writer who most deeply articulated the dynamics behind this statement was A. H. Tammsaare (1878-1940). A crucial thematic line both in Tammsaare´s short novel The Master of Kõrboja (Kõrboja peremees, 1922), and the first and last volumes of his epic novel Truth and Justice (Tõde ja õigus) was the penetration of  technology, capitalism and urban mentality into the countryside, with the resultant profound alienation of humans from nature and agrarian society more generally.  These problems are, in turn, fraught with shifts in gender relations, specifically, a crisis in masculinity.

Anna, the  female protagonist of Tammsaare`s short novel The Master of Kõrboja, is an emancipated woman whose behaviour is marked by both the new tempo of life and urban „nervousness“, features perceived as are alien in the rural village to which she returns as the unmarried sole heir of the prosperous Kõrboja farm.  Her chosen, Villu, heir of the Katku farm,  is disabled due to an accident. Villu`s masculinity is constructed according to the gender expectations of the rural society, but it falls short of the full measure of physical health; the crisis of Villu`s masculinity leads eventually to his suicide. This paper will analyze the disintegration of representations of gender in the novel.

Estonia´s Economic Development and the Role of External Anchors

Rünno Lumiste (University of Technology, Estonia);  Robert Pefferly (Estonian Business School), and Alari Purju (University of Technology, Estonia)

Estonia is a former socialist economy which introduced comprehensive structural and institutional reforms. The country´s transition to market economy has been enhanced by integration with the European Union (EU), which was very important in institutional evolution. The research in this paper concerns the role of external anchors upon economic development. The external anchors in this context are the mandates that reflect the values, objectives and aims of socioeconomic alliance. The EU membership is considered as one important anchor and the fulfillment of a wide set of indicators for this membership framed Estonia´s economy and political system. Estonia is still a middle-income country and for future development and reduction of the income gap vis-à-vis high-income countries, further structural changes are necessary. Information and communication technologies (ICT) and new services associated with this sector could be one source of growth. This introduces a wider question: could values related to ICT and information based innovation create external anchors? Does creating a positive image and providing support for ICT applications yield measurable development in the sector and help further the role of ITC in society? The development of Skype and its applications is one candidate for this role. New ICT tools have influenced the preferences of the younger generation regarding societal behavior and working habits and tools. The development patterns of these changes, EU integration in the past and possible ICT penetration into society in the future are discussed using methods of evolutionary economics which combines historical ingredients with the impact of external anchors as catalysts.

Keyword: Runno

Masculinity in Estonian Public Discourse: Perpetual Crisis?

Raili Marling (Tartu University)

Masculinity seems to be in a state of perpetual crisis in the Western world today, including in Estonia, where the ‘threats’ to ‘true masculinity’ are believed to be both external (e.g., EU legislation) and internal (e.g., Estonian women). The present-day media hype effaces the fact that masculinity crisis as a discourse has been prevalent in the West at least since the late 19th century and has been almost inexorably linked to modernization. Building on the work of Bederman (1995) and Forth (2008) the paper will, first, outline the associations between masculinity, the nation and modernity and, second, transpose the discourses into present-day Estonia to test their viability in the post-industrial context. Although theoretical in its intent, the paper will be illustrated with case studies (editorials from the Postimees, the film Kirjad inglile (Letters to the Angel)). The core problem investigated is the contradiction between the reality of male power and the discourse of male weakness and, more broadly, the function of the masculinity crisis in gender order.

Three Visualization Waves in Estonian Newspapers: Past, Present and Future

Roosmarii Kurvits (University of Tartu)

In my presentation I will review how the degree and the role of visuality have changed and are changing in Estonian newspapers and analyze the reasons for the changes. The visuality is understood as the use of line-art illustrations and photographs. In the 19th century, the visuality of Estonian newspapers constantly decreased; in the 20th century the visuality increased. The rise has not been continuous. The degree of visuality has developed in three “leaps”: in the second half of the 1920s, in the second half of the 1950s and during the 1990s–2000s. Until the 1990s, the role of visuals was to illustrate the verbal content. Then they became information mediators and thereafter, the determinants of verbal content. I argue that the increasing visualization and changes in the role of visuals are caused by the competition between different media. Every new medium that appears in the news market (radio, TV, online) is a competitor to newspapers and in response to increased competition Estonian newspapers abruptly increased their visuality. In recent years, the degree of visuality has stabilized. I argue that the visuality has currently reached the maximum level; it is impossible to increase the visuality in the future without decreasing the verbal content of Estonian newspapers below a reasonable minimum.

County-Level Operative Groups and the Occupation of Estonia of 1944

Ardi Sillaberg (University of Tartu)

The second occupation of Estonia by the Soviet Union during World War II took place from February to November 1944.  To restart and control the re-sovietization of the conquered territory behind the Red Army, Soviet leaders decided to send into German-occupied Estonia operative groups of security forces and civil servants, including institutions of the Estonian Communist Party (ECP).

In the fall of 1943 Moscow gave orders to the projected leaders of the Soviet Republics of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania to prepare a conjoined project for a new Soviet county-level administrative structure.  Shortly thereafter, orders came to begin assembling staff for county-level institutions—both party and executive committees—into operative groups.   There were separate operative groups for Tallinn and Narva as these were considered to be the most important cities in Estonia.  There also were separate operative groups for both the NKVD (Internal Affairs forces) and NKGB (state security forces).

Most of the operative groups began their activities in early March 1944, but in April 1944 the ECP Central Committee gave orders to postpone active preparations for return to Estonia.  In June the Central Committee concluded that only half of the personnel had been gathered for future Soviet institutions and that most had little to no qualifications.  From that point on, the only requirement for positions in the ESSR was knowledge of Estonian.  During the following months, quantity of future ESSR workers prevailed over quality, and this became the primary obstacle during the fall of 1944 when the re-sovietization of Estonia began.

Stalinist-Era Policies of Repression and Mass Arrests in the Baltic Countries, 1944-1945: The Case of Estonia

Meelis Saueauk (University of Tartu)

Mass arrests were an integral part of the sovietization of the Baltic region.  With the re-occupation of the Baltic countries by the Red Army in 1944, mass arrests were carried out in 1944 and 1945 by units from the organs of Soviet state security—the NKVD (People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs), the NKGB (People’s Commissariat for State Security), and SMERSH (the Red Army’s counter-intelligence agency).  These arrests were the most numerous in the Baltic region during the entire period of Soviet rule.  This paper discusses these arrests, focusing on those in Estonia.

Arrests in the Baltic were also carried out by sub-units of the NKVD and NKGB that existed only formally under the jurisdiction of the Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian Soviet Socialists Republics, formed behind the lines in the USSR during the war.  These units were manned in part by Estonians, Latvians, and Lithuanians.

According to instructions from Moscow, supporters of independence in the Baltic region were slated for arrest; these were to be branded as “bourgeois nationalists” and collaborators with the Germans.  This effort was given to local Communist Party organization.  There was no meaningful control over the extent of the arrests due to the fact that so many offices were authorized to carry them out.  Consequently, it is difficult to determine with precision how many people were arrested; the surest method for a careful investigation of the arrests is to research each individual case and determine the fate of the person involved, despite the time and effort this requires.

Estonian “June Communists” and Western European Fellow Travelers

Jaak Valge (Tallinn University)

Among the ministers of the Estonian pseudo-government that rose to power in June 1940, there were no prison-hardened old underground communists.  Like the pseudo-governments in the other Baltic countries, this Soviet-sponsored government has been called a “literary”-type government; since among the ministers there were a number intellectuals, the name is apposite.

The reason often posited why these individuals began working for Moscow seems at the first glance logical and persuasive: the authoritarian regime that emerged before the loss of the independence in Estonia and other Baltic countries rejected the intelligentsia.  However, further research reveals this was not the main reason.   An additional suggested reason that the left intelligentsia was willing to begin serving Soviet power in the summer of 1940 is their desire to soften the process of sovietization of Estonia.  This theory, however, is not supported by the evidence.

This presentation analyzes the views of the left intelligentsia in the 1920s and 1930s and their motives in 1940.  What brought such a large proportion of the left intelligentsia to serve Moscow in 1940?  What was the appeal of Soviet communism?  Did their views and actions differ from those of their Western European fellow travelers, and if so, how?  Is there reason to think that had the Soviet Union had occupied a Western European country, many of their local left intelligentsia would have also been willing to serve the occupying power?

Friends in the North? Finnish and Estonian Defense Capability in the Reports of Polish Military Attachés in Helsinki and Tallinn/Riga, 1919-1939

Piotr Wawrzeniuk (Södertörn University, Sweden)

On the eve of World War I, Finland, Estonia, and Poland were among the new states that appeared out of the fallen empires of the Romanovs,  Hohenzollerns and Habsburgs.  Using source material from Polish archives, this presentation follows the quest for security among these three states through the eyes of Polish military attachés.  Polish military analyzers held a wide view of security that ranged from state domestic politics and economy to purely military matters.  The material provides valuable insights into Polish perceptions of Finland and Estonia during the interwar period.

This paper follows the failed attempts to form a military alliance among the so-called “border states” situated between the Soviet Union and Germany.  It then analyzes the Polish evaluations of Finland and Estonia in light of their anti-Soviet fears.  Although there was no military cooperation reminiscent of a military alliance, the military elites strived to create insights into one another’s work, and there was ongoing exchange of intelligence.  While the military circles of the three countries retained a considerable degree of mutual understanding, the gap and distrust between politicians remained wide.  In a world viewed as increasingly hostile by the small states, even the slightest expressions of goodwill and understanding were evaluated in detail from the perspective of one’s own security.

Security in the Baltic: Swedish Military Assessments of Finland, Estonia and Poland in the Interwar Period, 1920–1939

Fredrik Eriksson (Södertörn University, Sweden)

This paper focuses on how Swedish military attachés assessed Finland, Estonia and Poland during the interwar Period.  The aim is to explain how the attachés described their respective assigned countries concerning military structure and development, political development and stability, and the role each state played in the Swedish understanding of security in the Baltic.  Based on Swedish material, the paper will address the role each state had in the security policy of the region.  Although Sweden was neutral, its neighbors all played vital roles in a regional security system.  In terms of theory, the paper relies on belief systems in explaining the foundations for Swedish military assessments of these border-states.  In general, the situation after World War I was seen in positive terms as Sweden was protected from Russia by a shield of border-states.  At the same time, these states’ political systems were judged as unstable, which entailed the expectation of additional incoming information, for example from attachés.  The role of the military attaché as an observer of the political and military stability of the new states was crucial.  The information provided by the attachés was used in the Defense Commissions of the 1930s.  At the same time, the material they collection gives insight into the daily routines of military attachés concerning contacts and judging information.

Werner Hasselblatt on Cultural Autonomy: A Forgotten Manuscript

Jörg Hackmann (University of Szczecin, Poland)

During the years Werner Hasselblatt spent in Estonia, while pushing the well known project of cultural autonomy for Estonia’s national minorities he was also working on an accompanying book project.  It would seem that the manuscript remained unfinished in Estonia, and Hasselblatt headed for Berlin in 1931 to take up new responsibilities in Germany as secretary of the association of German national groups in Europe.  The manuscript was rediscovered only in the 1990s.  Although the text was far from finished, it offers an opportunity to examine Hasselblatt’s notion of cultural autonomy first against the background of Baltic German politics in Estonia, and second with regard to Hasselblatt’s own shift towards Nazi minority and nationality politics after 1933.  This paper gives a critical assessment of the manuscript and of the Baltic German discourse on cultural autonomy.

Keyword: Jorg