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History exhibition about the contradictions between propaganda glorifying the Red Army as the Liberator and real life in Estonia during 1944-1945.

THE ‘LIBERATOR’ ARRIVED...

ENTER

The exhibition has been compiled by the Estonian Institute of Historical Memoryin cooperation with the National Library of Estonia.

The content has been published unchanged. People and places have been identified andtyping errors have been corrected. Square brackets in the text enclose editors’ explanations.

‘The disaster that befell this area with the entry of the Soviet forces has no parallel in modern European experience. There were considerable sections of it where, to judge by all existing evidence, scarcely a man, woman or child of the indigenous population was left alive after the initial passage of Soviet forces ... The Russians ... swept the native population clean in a manner that had no parallel since the day of the Asiatic hordes.’

Thus spoke U.S. diplomat George Kennan when describing Soviet army’s advancement in 1944 and 1945 in Eastern Europe.

Neither Germany nor the USSR recognised the Hague Convention on the Laws and Customs of War on Land in mutual war. Consequently, civilians in the eastern front were not protected by any binding international agreement between the opposing sides. Millions fell victim to genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes that stemmed from the regimes’ ideology or escalation of violence.

In the USSR and especially in the Red Army, hatred towards the German occupiers was cultivated during the whole course of the war. No method was deemed inappropriate against the enemy. In 1944–1945, numerous Eastern European civilians fell victim to this wrath.

Time of publication: 1940

Young Soviet Estonian workers, peasants and intelligentsia!Let us crush the fascist bands of robbers!Death to bandits!

Time of publication: 1941

A wave of lootings, robberies, murders and rapes by the Red Army mainly hit German areas. However, other ‘liberated’ regions were not left untouched either. The distinction between the enemy and ‘one’s own’ was quite vague. The violence and looting also hit areas, annexed in 1939–1940, the USSR considered its ‘own’, including Estonia.

Eastern Europe had been liberated from the German occupation. One dictatorship replaced another for nearly half a century. Back then, considerable amount of public space was filled with pervasive propaganda, which emphasised the major role of “Red Army Liberators” in defeating Nazism.

Let’s stop the fascist barbarians from treading on Soviet soil! We shall deal a crushing blow to destroy the fascist snakes!

...were usually at odds.

This exhibition reflects the controversy between the propaganda and reality, by using propaganda posters in parallel with on-the-ground reports, such as statements, complaints and letters by the Estonian SSR’s party, executive and local authorities, as well as summaries by Soviet security institutions on manifestations of banditry from 1944 and 1945 (preserved in Estonian National Archives).

The propaganda

and

reality

...were usually at odds.

The propaganda

and

reality

This exhibition reflects the controversy between the propaganda and reality, by using propaganda posters in parallel with on-the-ground reports, such as statements, complaints and letters by the Estonian SSR’s party, executive and local authorities, as well as summaries by Soviet security institutions on manifestations of banditry from 1944 and 1945 (preserved in Estonian National Archives).

Time of publication: 1941

‘Oath of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army’

AN OATH TO BE dignified AND honest

Time of publication: 1941

‘Oath of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army’

AN OATH TO BE DIGNIFIED AND HONEST

I, a citizen of the Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics, entering into the ranks of the Red Army of the Workers and Peasants', take this oath and solemnly promise to be an honest, brave, disciplined and vigilant fighter, staunchly to protect military and state secrets, and unquestioningly to obey all military regulations and orders of commanders, commissars and superiors. I promise conscientiously to study military affairs, in every way to protect military and people’s property, and to my last breath to be faithful to the People, the Soviet Motherland, and the Workers-Peasants' Government. I am always prepared on order of the Workers and Peasants Government to rise to the defence of my Motherland, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics; and as a fighting man of the Red Army of Workers and Peasants', I promise to defend it bravely, skilfully, with dignity and honour, sparing neither my blood nor my life itself for the achievement of total victory over our enemies. If by evil intent I should violate this, my solemn oath, then let the severe punishment of Soviet law and the total hatred and contempt of the working classes befall me.

DISARRAY

Report by the Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Soviet of Workers’ Deputies of (county government) Virumaa County M.Lepik to the Chairman of the ESSR Council of People’s Commissars (ESSR government) Arnold Veimer

‘Some members of the Red Army feel as if they’re on enemy territory. People are under the impression that the Soviet administration is indifferent towards the disorder.’

7 October 1944

DISARRAY

Report by the Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Soviet of Workers’ Deputies of (county government) Virumaa County M.Lepik to the Chairman of the ESSR Council of People’s Commissars (ESSR government) Arnold Veimer

‘Some members of the Red Army feel as if they’re on enemy territory. People are under the impression that the Soviet administration is indifferent towards the disorder.’

7 October 1944

Artist: Nikolai ŽukovTime of publication: 1950

‘We fought for peoples’ peace –we shall protect it too!’

PEACE TO ALL PEOPLE

VIOLENCE

Report by the Chairman of Saaremaa County Government to ESSR government (excerpts)

‘An old man who went to stop the soldiers was nearly beaten to death by the perpetrators.’

10 January 1945

VIOLENCE

Report by the Chairman of Saaremaa County Government to ESSR government (excerpts)

‘An old man who went to stop the soldiers was nearly beaten to death by the perpetrators.’

10 January 1945

‘The future of the Estonian people is secured in the fraternal Soviet Union peoples’ family’

SECURE FUTURE

Artist: Evald OkasTime of publication: 1945

MANSLAUGHTER

Excerpts from the operative summary of the ESSR NKVD (Ministry of Internal Affairs) Anti-Bandit Combat Department, from October and November 1944

‘The farmer, who followed the thieves, was later killed by the latter near Roobu farm.’

autumn 1944

MANSLAUGHTER

Excerpts from the operative summary of the ESSR NKVD (Ministry of Internal Affairs) Anti-Bandit Combat Department, from October and November 1944

‘The farmer, who followed the thieves, was later killed by the latter near Roobu farm.’

autumn 1944

Violence against civilians amid invasions is as old as war itself. In the Second World War, both Germany and the USSR deliberately implemented violence contrary to international law. This was enhanced by the Red Army’s combat tactic that had utter disregard for human lives. A soldier wanted to make the most of each day, as any day might have been the last.

Yugoslavian communist Milovan Đilas recalled the words of Stalin: ‘Can't he understand it if a soldier who has crossed thousands of kilometres through blood and fire and death has fun with a woman or takes some trifle?’

Artist: Evald Okas; Time of publication: 1944

Long live Marshal Comrade Stalin, the ingenious general of Soviet Union’s Red Army!

RAPE

Report by the ESSR NKVD Deputy People’s Commissar Arved Kalvo, to the ESSR government (excerpt)

‘Then, while threatening with a gun, all three, one after one, raped citizen L.J, and left.’

16 April 1945

RAPE

Report by the ESSR NKVD Deputy People’s Commissar Arved Kalvo, to the ESSR government (excerpt)

‘Then, while threatening with a gun, all three, one after one, raped citizen L.J, and left.’

16 April 1945

Artists: Aleksei Viilup, Felix ValdvereEditor: Raivo Tungla;Time of publication: 1950

‘The Soviet Army protects our fortune!’

PROTECTED FORTUNE

ROBBERY

Overview of ESSR NKVD Anti-Bandit Combat Department’s activities (excerpts)

‘The intruders conducted a house-search and demanded wine and milk to be handed in...’

November 1944

ROBBERY

Overview of ESSR NKVD Anti-Bandit Combat Department’s activities (excerpts)

‘The intruders conducted a house-search and demanded wine and milk to be handed in...’

November 1944

Artist: Romulus Tiitus, Writer: Mart Raud; Time of publication: 1948

‘Before and now’

NOW THAT PEOPLE HAVE THE POWER...

Artist: Romulus Tiitus,Writer: Mart Raud;Time of publication: 1948

‘Before and now’

NOW THAT PEOPLE HAVE THE POWER...

The bourgeoisie rulers did not care for the children:She who had them, ought to feed them, it’s not the army’s business to mind the children.

Now that people have the power, daycares and nurseries look after the little ones;The state tends to mothers’ burdens, their food and health, as well as everyone.

The workers were ruled by a baton in times past;By orders of debilitating leaders, quite a few breath’d one’s last...

Now that the exploiters’ baton’s broken, the worker makes his luck.Let us seal it with a handshake; we’ll reach objectives ahead of time, make others awestruck!

For months, no work, no food, the anguish grew,May the workers feel at home in a labour office queue.

Now that work is our land’s pride and workers have a right to leisure,Vacations in the thousands, in Pärnu or on Black Sea beaches, will bring you pleasure.

Once upon a time, a raptor set the price of toil.Hunger was the reward; the rest – predator’s spoil.

But now our working people know and bear in mind for generations:Thanks to Stalin and the Party, all we create belongs to our nation.

RANSACKING

Report by the Tori parish Municipal Government’s Chairman Sergei Hapayev to the Pärnu County Government’s Chairman

‘Dirt and trash is everywhere – inside the rooms and around the houses, especially in the sheds where there’s no place to set foot anymore.’

22 March 1945

RANSACKING

Report by the Tori parish Municipal Government’s Chairman Sergei Hapayev to the Pärnu County Government’s Chairman

‘Dirt and trash is everywhere – inside the rooms and around the houses, especially in the sheds where there’s no place to set foot anymore.’

22 March 1945

Terrorising the civilians had become a behavioural pattern. The Red Army did not consider looting a crime or even deplorable behaviour. It was fuelled by hostility towards the enemy and a certain understanding of justified spoils of war. Looting and ransacking often occurred by orders of the officers or under their knowledge. Generals and marshals as high as even Georgy Zhukov himself did not shy away from an opportunity to gather personal spoils of war. They had far better opportunities to do so, compared to a common soldier who carried out armed robberies to obtain civilians’ watches and chicken eggs. The military command’s attempts to fight against the depredation proved futile. The Red Army soldiers, acting on a dog-eat-dog principle, were usually left unpunished. Discipline was not tightened until long after the end of the war.

RED ARMYMARAUDERS

ESSR NKVD Anti-Bandit Combat Department’s statement on cases of banditry and looting (excerpt)

‘Sometimes, officers and unit commanders allowed such activities to occur.’

5 November 1944

ESSR NKVD Anti-Bandit Combat Department’s statement on cases of banditry and looting (excerpt)

5 November 1944

RED ARMY MARAUDERS

‘Sometimes, officers and unit commanders allowed such activities to occur.’

Artist: Lev Samoilov Time of publication: 1945

‘Soviet citizens’ rights are granted with the Great Stalinist Constitution’

CIVIL RIGHTS

Artist: Lev SamoilovTime of publication: 1945

‘Soviet citizens’ rights are granted with the Great Stalinist Constitution’

CIVIL RIGHTS

Citizens of the USSR have the right to work, that is, are guaranteed the right to employment and payment for their work in accordance with its quantity and quality.The right to work is ensured by the socialist organisation of the national economy, the steady growth of the productive forces of Soviet society, the elimination of the possibility of economic crises, and the abolition of unemployment.(USSR Constutution, § 118)

Citizens of the USSR have the right to leisure. The right to leisure is ensured by the reduction of the working day to seven hours for the overwhelming majority of the workers, the institution of annual vacations with full pay for workers and employees and the provision of a wide network of sanatoria, rest homes and clubs for the accommodation of the working people.(USSR Constutution, § 119)

Citizens of the USSR have the right to education.This right is ensured by universal, compulsory elementary education; by education, including higher education, being free of charge; by the system of state stipends for the overwhelming majority of students in the universities and colleges; by instruction in schools being conducted in the native language, and by the organisation in the factories, state farms, machine and tractor stations and collective farms of free vocational, technical and agronomic training for the working people.(USSR Constutution, § 121)

Long live the Great Stalinist Constitution!

POLLUTION

ESSR government’s Deputy Chairman Arnold Kress’s letter to the Commander of the 10th Guards Army Colonel General Mihhail Kazakov

‘The soldiers bathe in the [Ülemiste] lake by entire units, water their horses and take them into the lake, knock out fish with grenades, do their laundry and pollute the water in all manner of ways.’

30 August 1945

POLLUTION

ESSR government’s Deputy Chairman Arnold Kress’s letter to the Commander of the 10th Guards Army Colonel General Mihhail Kazakov

‘The soldiers bathe in the [Ülemiste] lake by entire units, water their horses and take them into the lake, knock out fish with grenades, do their laundry and pollute the water in all manner of ways.’

30 August 1945

LIBERATED TALLINN

Evald Okas. Vana Tallinn on jälle vaba! 1944.Eesti Kunstimuuseum

‘Old Tallinn is once again free!’

LOOTING

Report by Chairman of Keila parish government H.Rallmann to the Chairman of the ESSR government, regarding incidents between 13–19 January (excerpts)

‘Every single installed post is sawn down and burnt as firewood.’

January 1945

LOOTING

Report by Chairman of Keila parish government H.Rallmann to the Chairman of the ESSR government, regarding incidents between 13–19 January (excerpts)

‘Every single installed post is sawn down and burnt as firewood.’

January 1945

Red Army’s arrival in 1944 was not greeted with flowers and song anywhere in Estonia, with the exception of performances held by propaganda agencies. People knew that a new occupying regime had arrived. For the reinstated Communist Party and other institutions of the Soviet regime, problems doubled due to Red Army soldiers’ and officers’ unlawfulness. They had to put a stop to the lootings and violence while explaining to the people that a ‘liberator’ had arrived. The local party and Soviet institutions and state security departments reported soon enough of people making comparisons between the activities of the ‘liberator’ and the defeated Germans. Estonians concluded that they had jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire.

Artists: Solomon Boim, Juri NeprintsevTime of publication: 1945

Long live our freed Soviet Estonia!

EVICTION

M. Tender’s statement to the Chairman of the ESSR government Arnold Veimer

5 October 1945

EVICTION

M. Tender’s statement to the Chairman of the ESSR government Arnold Veimer

5 October 1945

Artist: Viktor KoretskiTime of publication: 1949

‘The Soviet Army protects our fortune!’

SENSE OF SECURITY

Propagandists and agitators complained about the difficulty of explaining to Red Army soldiers and officers that Estonia is not a hostile territory, but a Soviet Republic liberated from German occupation. ESSR communists’ reports and letters, some of which reached Moscow, described a wave of (war)crimes that accompanied Red Army’s advancement in great detail, including murders, rapes, robberies, thefts, drunken disturbances, disorder etc. Civilians as well as public buildings fell victim to daily violence, looting, misappropriation and property damage. Lack of discipline in the Red Army was not the sole cause of said incidents. Unruliness was widespread among military units and –institutions. They often acted by orders of their superiors or under their knowledge. Inhabitants and institutions were evicted from apartments in order to house officers or to make room for Red Army agencies. Illegal duties to provide conveyance were imposed on owners of carriages and vehicles. Fish poaching (also by means of explosives) and devastation of forests and parks etc. was widespread.

LOOTING OF MUNICIPAL OFFICES

Explanatary Note by Elmar Uuet, the Secretary of Kõue rural municipality

‘...they disassembled and tore up all the books.’

2 October 1944

LOOTING OF MUNICIPAL OFFICES

Explanatary Note by Elmar Uuet, the Secretary of Kõue rural municipality

‘...they disassembled and tore up all the books.’

2 October 1944

TIMBER THEFT

Report by the ESSR Ministry of Timber and Wood Processing Industry to the Chairman of the ESSR government Arnold Veimer and to the leader of the ESSR Communist Party Nikolai Karotamm (excerpt)

5 April 1945

TIMBER THEFT

Report by the ESSR Ministry of Timber and Wood Processing Industry to the Chairman of the ESSR government Arnold Veimer and to the leader of the ESSR Communist Party Nikolai Karotamm (excerpt)

5 April 1945

LONG LIVETHE RED ARMY

‘Long live our powerful Red Army!’

Time of publication: 1946

FISH POACHING

Report by Fishery Inspector K.Tafel to the Main Directorate of the Fishing Industry

‘...in the estuary, lots of dead fish can be seen on the water surface, floating towards the sea.’

14 April 1945

FISH POACHING

Report by Fishery Inspector K.Tafel to the Main Directorate of the Fishing Industry

‘...in the estuary, lots of dead fish can be seen on the water surface, floating towards the sea.’

14 April 1945

The correspondence between local and military authorities demonstrates an utter incapability of putting a stop to the looting – the former lacked the power and the latter were unwilling to end it. It is known that the culprits of only a small number of cases were punished. The troops usually justified the activities of their subordinates or claimed that local ‘bandits’ were behind the pillaging.

IMPUNITY

Statement by Nikolai Karotamm, the 1st Secretary of the Central Committee of the Estonian branch of the Communist (Bolshevist) Party of the USSR, at the meeting of the Bureau of the Central Committee (excerpt)

‘...how can it be that I’m on trial because of an Estonian?’

6 September 1945

IMPUNITY

Statement by Nikolai Karotamm, the 1st Secretary of the Central Committee of the Estonian branch of the Communist (Bolshevist) Party of the USSR, at the meeting of the Bureau of the Central Committee (excerpt)

‘...how can it be that I’m on trial because of an Estonian?’

6 September 1945

FEAR OF REVENGE

Letter from writer Aadu Hint, Member of the Supreme Soviet of the ESSR, to the Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the ESSR Johannes Vares, to the Party Leader of the ESSR Nikolai Karotamm, to Chairman of the ESSR government Arnold Veimer and to the rector of Tartu State University Alfred Koort (excerpts)

‘… some affected locals do not wish to inform the officials of said incidents out of a fear of the soldiers’ revenge.’

17 July 1945

FEAR OF REVENGE

Letter from writer Aadu Hint, Member of the Supreme Soviet of the ESSR, to the Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the ESSR Johannes Vares, to the Party Leader of the ESSR Nikolai Karotamm, to Chairman of the ESSR government Arnold Veimer and to the rector of Tartu State University Alfred Koort (excerpts)

‘… some affected locals do not wish to inform the officials of said incidents out of a fear of the soldiers’ revenge.’

17 July 1945

The correspondence indicates that an insignificant portion of looting and violence by the Red Army went on record, especially (but not only) in the autumn and winter of 1944. Most of the victims saw no point in protesting, or there was no one to complain to, or they were simply scared. The Red Army robbers and looters were armed and their superiors either denied the incidents or threatened victims who complained.

It was clear that complaints to the local party and Soviet institutions were inconsequential, as they had no real power. Acts of violence by Soviet soldiers and lawlessness of military units continued to a greater or lesser extent until the restoration of Estonia's independence in the beginning of 1990s.

Curator:Peeter Kaasik

Drawings: Karl-Erik Talvet

Editors: Toomas Hiio, Meelis Maripuu, Eli Pilve

Translations: Elmar Gams, Marju Meschin

Design: Anni Vakkum, Franka Vakkum

Posters: Art Museum of Estonia,National Library of Estonia,Tartu Art Museum

THE ‘LIBERATOR’ ARRIVED

Estonian Institute of Historical MemoryFoundationTõnismägi 8, 10119, Tallinn info@mnemosyne.ee

http://mnemosyne.ee/

To the beginning

Deputy Prosecutor of ESSR Comrade Udrits wrote to me saying that when the tribunal convicted a Red Army soldier, the latter declared: ‘How is it that I’m on trial because of an Estonian?’ This is perhaps an individual case, but it’s also quite typical. In private conversation, one of the leading officials on censorship stated that we will eradicate the Estonian people because of the acts of banditry. In some ways, this reflects the state of mind of individual military men and it must come to an end. We will put a stop to this and so should you. Forming an outpost of the USSR in Estonia, so that Estonia really is a fort it is assumed to be, is our Party’s common concern.

The county is still in disarray. [...] Squads of people are hiding themselves in the forest, such as former prisoners of war and various other armed persons. They are lurking in the woods and in the surrounding area. Often, Red Army soldiers are joined by the former prisoners of war.Farms are plundered. People are ordered to wait while their house is ravaged. According to the Chairman of the Executive Committee of Rakvere rural municipality, it is now almost impossible to find a farm untouched by such squads.A few days ago, as reported by the municipality’s Chairman of the Executive Committee, a local resident was shot by the pillagers. Similar reports arrive from other municipalities daily.

Comrade Veimer, many complaints have been made about the Red Army soldiers in this matter. Some members of the Red Army feel as if they’re on enemy territory. People are under the impression that the Soviet administration is indifferent towards the disorder. The municipalities’ Executive Committees have no power to resist armed force.

I hereby announce that the improper incidents against local inhabitants, caused by the troops or by persons dressed in military uniforms, are yet to stop in Saaremaa.

Many incidents may not go public as some affected locals do not wish to inform the officials of said incidents out of a fear of the soldiers’ revenge.

The local community is understandably not so interested in punishing liable individuals; rather, they wish to recover their misappropriated possessions, receive compensation for damages caused and restore a sense of safety for one’s person, property and home.

On 18 November 1944, a local farmer Eduard ESNA, son of Tõnu, was killed in Järvamaa County, Lehtse rural municipality, Peetre farm. The murder was committed during daytime under the following circumstances: four armed unidentified persons came to the farm to conduct a house-search and to confiscate possible weapons.No weapons were found. The unidentified persons took food and wine and left in the direction of the town Tapa. Eduard ESNA (farmhand) who followed the thieves was later killed by the latter near Roobu farm.

On 19 November 1944, parish Executive Committee Councilman PIIR was shot dead with an automatic rifle in Pootsi Manor, Pärnumaa County. A member of a destruction battalion was injured during the incident. The murderer, senior sergeant GERASIMOV of the 39th single battalion, was arrested.

On the night of 19 November 1944, a group of unknown armed persons in Red Army uniforms broke into citizen VILJAMAA’s house in Keila rural municipality, Tuula village. Various foodstuffs and grain were taken from the garner.All stolen goods were loaded on a biaxial military cart and the thieves fled. During the robbery, citizen LIMMER was shot from an automatic rifle which resulted in grave injuries. She later died in hospital.

1. On the night of 23 September 1944, three men in military uniforms, one of them armed with an automatic rifle, broke in to citizen L.J’s (b. 1920) apartment no. 4A at 8 FALKPARGI St, after opening a window by way of an unfastened transom. The soldiers searched the apartment and having found some bottles of vodka proceeded to finish them. Then, while threatening with a gun, all three, one after one, raped citizen L.J, and left. On the evening of 29 October 1944, one of the rapists reappeared in citizen L.J’s apartment with the same purpose. He was arrested and his identity was established. He turned out to be a driver of the 718th light artillery regiment, 2nd battery, by the name of Ivan NAIDYONOV (b. 1912), son of Grigori.

5. On 28 November 1944, 80-year-old Helena Pruul was killed by soldiers in Muhu parish, Lalli village. Prior to the incident in question, the farm had been robbed five times.6. Before New Year’s Day, soldiers in Kuressaare killed clocksmith Täht’s wife and gravely injured clocksmith Täht. All clocks in the clocksmith’s workshop were stolen.7. On 28 November 1944, an 18-year-old woman was raped and killed at Pähkla Rd in Kuressaare (NKVD chief has the investigation file). An old man who went to stop the soldiers was nearly beaten to death by the latter.8. Kuressaare Post Office worker Aleksander Vahstein was shot by a senior lieutenant with the aim of stealing a watch. The shot penetrated Vahstein’s hip.

Pärnumaa County’s NKVD Department has received over 70 statements from local citizens concerning Red Army troops and individual military men who have confiscated horses, cows, means of transport, and personal belongings without leaving any documents that verify the requisition.The following examples illustrate that such cases occur in other Estonian counties as well:On 9 October 1944, an unknown soldier tried to violently break in to Jõe farm in Iru rural municipality. He shot the door several times and broke a window. The militsiya arrived on the scene and prevented further rampage. The unknown person left.

On 6 November 1944, three unknown persons dressed in Red Army uniforms arrived in Tuhala farm. They told the farm owner that the reason for their visit was to arrest his son. They organised a search, took along some household items, including a goose, a duck and some chickens, and disappeared. On 7 November 1944, a GAZ-type truck arrived in Esko farm in Harju County with five unknown persons in Red Army uniforms. The intruders claimed to conduct a house-search to uncover weapons and demanded wine and milk to be handed in. They broke into the garner and took a fur coat, some shoes, a barrel of butter and a box of eggs.

Soldiers carried out illegal activities, searches and looting while Red Army units and subunits advanced to the front. Sometimes, officers and unit commanders allowed such activities to occur.Some examples of the incidents that took place:1. On 17 October 1944, a truck with five armed soldiers arrived in Loo farm, Harju County, and took five sheep without any authorisation.

2. The Virumaa County NKVD department received reports about a truck with five soldiers in Rakvere rural municipality, led by a senior lieutenant and a colonel. The latter illegally collect farmers’ food and valuables at gunpoint, and transport the misappropriated items by car.On 28 October 1944 in Rakvere, a militsiya circuit commissioner noticed truck no. 3-10-76, which was loaded with sheep, boots, and various types of tableware. Despite the measures taken, the car was not found in the town.

The situation has become very difficult due to thefts and unauthorised possession of foodstuffs and fodder by certain Red Army troops. It’s been several months since the battle period ended. Although safety should be granted to every Soviet citizen, lawlessness is on the rise, not in decline. Such actions by certain Red Army troops have caused the citizens to mistrust the Red Army. The citizens dare not even leave home for mandatory work because upon return, one might find their home burgled.

Currently, the electrification of the Ohtu settlement and villages is underway. However, according to the overseer comrade KIVIRAND, the work hardly progresses. Every single installed post is sawn down and burnt as firewood. Comrade Kivirand noticed some Red Army soldiers and followed them to discover that a high-voltage line post was taken to a Red Army field kitchen in Keila. He asked for an explanation and was told that the post has already been sawn and there’s nothing else to do with it. The Militsiya is incapable of solving said malfeasances.

On 7th and 14th April (this year) during an inspection near Pirita River (near Tallinn) I witnessed soldiers in three boats rowing on Pirita River. They came from the direction of Scheel summerhouse and were heading towards the former Kalavee pool, while throwing approximately 20 explosives into the river. Another four soldiers stood by the river, downstream from the bridge at Kose. They threw five explosives in the river and gathered the dead and injured fish from the water. Upstream of the bridge at Kose, I saw three soldiers by the so-called “Päts’s Puddle” who discharged 25 shots from an infantry rifle into the river and harvested the knocked out fish that had emerged to the surface.

On 22 September 1944, Red Army troops passed the Kõue parish house near my home: first tanks, then trucks and later horse carts. Most of the horses and carts stayed in the nearby Raava village, close to Kõue parish house. When the first cars appeared, Red Army soldiers came into my apartment and took my radio(ARE Masurka) and my mobilised brother’s (who has yet to return from the Soviet Union) radio receiver.

The forces looted and destroyed the parish council’s records and archives during their stay in the parish house. They disassembled and tore up all the books. Books and dossiers can still be found scattered around in forests 2 km away. All in all, the Red Army’s behaviour in the village left a bad impression.

On the night of 2 October 1945, three soldiers forced themselves into my apartment in Tallinn-Nõmme, at the address 14-1 Kurni St. One of them called himself the „уполномоченый команданта Рябцева” [commissioner of Commandant Ryabchev]. He picked open my doors and had my things moved to the hallway. They placed an armed guard by the door to make sure I won’t get back in. A Russian family was placed in my apartment on the next day. On 4 October at 11 am, a soldier, who called himself “commissioner”, was giving out propuskies [permits] in the military headquarters at 1 Kodu St in Nõmme district, as the other was working with the officers at 16 Kurni St. I request your help in reclaiming my apartment and bringing the culprits to justice.

I hereby report that Red Army units no. 42180, 55793 and 27896 that stopped in Tori and left for a new location on 17–31 March (current year) took away all locals’ furnishings and household supplies that they had been using despite the representatives of the Pärnumaa County Executive Committee being present. Some of the houses have become completely uninhabitable. Door handles have disappeared, some doorboards have been kicked in, most of the windows as well as frames have been removed, furnace doors are missing etc. The walls are dirty, plaster is crumbling and wallpaper has been torn off.

I had all exterior doors hammered up and locked to save the items left behind in houses which the troops abandoned on the first day. However, the doors have been kicked down; furniture and other items have still been removed. Dirt [ordure]and trash is everywhere – inside the rooms and around the houses, especially in the sheds where there’s no place to set foot anymore. Fences and planks have been knocked down and partially burned. Furthermore, all pulpwood that was not burnt on site has been taken from the log yard of the [Tallinn] Cellulose Factory (named after Viktor Kingissepp).

According to Tallinn City Government’s Housing Department, soldiers from the units deployed around Lake Ülemiste repeatedly violate the lake’s sanitation standards set by the Sanitation Inspection for protection of the lake that supplies water to the entire city of Tallinn. The violations take place at this very moment, despite the Sanitation Inspection’s warnings. The soldiers bathe in the lake by entire units, water their horses and take them into the lake, knock out fish with grenades, do their laundry and pollute the water in all manner of ways.

In order to avoid an outbreak of all kinds of infectious diseases due to contaminated water, caused by the violation of sanitation standards, the ESSR government asks you to order the units under your command that are currently deployed in the Lake Ülemiste area to stop the aforementioned activities in the lake.

I report that unauthorised logging as well as unlicensed usage and transport of lumber by military units and individual military men are relentless. Forests near towns particularly suffer due to such actions. No exceptions are made for parks and protected forests – they are logged in enormous quantities in the areas of Viimsi and Pirita-Kloostrimetsa near Tallinn. The Forestry Office is incapable of stopping this as the soldiers do not take orders given by the Forestry Office into consideration. Any attempt by the officials to stop the soldiers results in threats of dismissal, arrest or death. Thus, writing off the lost quantities of timber is all the Forestry Office can do.