Page:EB1922 - Volume 31.djvu/29

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.

Until 1918 the Baits were economically preponderant both in town and country. To this class belonged most of the owners of the big estates (" Baltic barons "), the commercial magnates and the chief traders and merchants in the larger towns, but great changes have since taken place. During 1897-1900 the average annual rate of increase showed a slow growth of pop., 9-3 per 1,000 in Esthonia and 8-0 in Livonia. About 300,000 Esthonians are colonists in Russia and Siberia, having emigrated chiefly because of the economic dependence of the landless agri- cultural population. Before the war the birth-rate averaged 28, the death-rate 20 per 1,000. The predominant religion is Prot- estant, with a small number of Greek Orthodox Christians.

About 74 % of the pop. is rural, 60 % being engaged in agriculture. This rural pop. was formerly divided into three main groups of which the first has been suppressed, (a) large landowners with 829 estates, (b) peasant-proprietors, a middle class (nicknamed the " grey barons ") owning 50,961 holdings, and (c) the tenants of small allot- ments and agricultural labourers forming about three-quarters of the rural pop., whom it was proposed to settle partly on the estates nationalized by the State. The economic consequences of this social dislocation were in 1921 the problem of the day, but the race and class hatred were so strong that these difficulties were disregarded.

The figures for 1919 supplied by the Ministry of Labour showed a decrease of workers engaged in industry; 271 private concerns em- ployed 15,417 workers (printing works and large business concerns are included); the Government employed 21,006 persons (on rail- ways, post and telegraphs, harbour works, timber industry). Of the private industries the more important were: cotton, 3,007 workers; yarn and wool, 2,000; flax, hemp and rope, 1,200; paper, 1,232; metal and shipbuilding, 3,700; cement and bricks, 625; tanneries, refineries and soap, 345; food production in steam mills, starch, etc. 612; chemical (matches, gas), 820. Before the war the cotton mill at Kraenholm near Narva with 600,000 spindles had 12,000 workers, in 1920 only 2,700; of capital invested, 45% was Russian, 30% English and 25% German. Want of fuel and raw material stopped work in flax spinneries, cloth works and leather factories. In 1921 the Russo-Bntish shipyard was trying to sell its floating dock; a new company was initiating the sugar industry and an English firm was promoting the mechanical treatment of flax. Foreign capital was wanted for industry as well as for the revival of agriculture. The cooperative system takes a large share in public educational work (theatres, libraries, museum, literary society). The figures for 1917 were: 99 societies of mutual credit with 42,606 shareholders; 98 cooperative supply stores with 15,052 members; 12 agricultural cooperative societies with 2,018 members; 138 cooperative milk societies. A wholesale cooperative society is preparing for large activities in timber, flax, fish, vegetables and manufactured goods. Before the war Esthonia and northern Livonia were almost self-supporting in regard to foodstuffs. Wheat for the towns and sugar were supplied from Russia, while dairy products, pigs, potatoes (spirits) were exported. It is impossible to estimate separately the losses from war, revolution, military occupation and the suppression of the large estates. The figures available are conflicting. Statistics published by the Ministry of Agriculture showed that the area of arable land and agricultural production in 1920 were approximately the same as in 1916, while critics advanced totally different figures, and professional circles and influential parties like the Maaliit, formerly led by K. Paetz, complained of the ruinous influence of socialistic doctrines on economic policy. As in the other border-states, the large number of government officials and their corrupt methods were subjects of frequent discussion in the daily press. There seemed no doubt that the productive capacity of the country had been at least temporarily reduced.

Natural Resource}. The republic in 1921 owned 1,170,000 ac. of coniferous woods and 650,000 ac. of leafy or mixed woods. Over 90 % of this area, forming 79-2 % of the large estates, was nationalized with the latter and is managed by the State., Together with the concessions in Russia granted by the Peace Treaty these are expected to rank as assets. Extensive deforesting in the course of the war for fuel and for military purposes made serious inroads upon the forest area. The local need of fuel has rendered exportation on a large scale impossible. Concessions of combustible shale to a British- Belgian company were in prospect in 1921. There is a cement factory at Port Kunda. Near Izborsk are concessions of plaster of Paris and at Suurup of limestone. Peat occurs in the Yupre district. The Narova rapids are expected to develop 600,000 H.P. By Art. 33 of the Land Act of Oct. 10 1919 all natural resources of the soil are property of the republic.

Except Baltic Port, which is to be declared a free port, all Estho- nian seaports are icebound for some time of the year. The port of Revel (Tallinn) depth 23-30 ft., length of quay 10,904 ft., capacity of tonnage 55,000, warehouse area 1,333,005 sq. ft. is the most important. The total quay length of the Esthonian harbours (Revel, Pernau, Narva, Port Baltic, Hapsal, Arensburg, Kunda, Loksa, Rohukula) is about 30,000 ft., and shipping of a total ton- nage of 145,000 can be berthed. Special harbour dues, 4d. per each

gross registered ton. For the first half of 1920 the shipping which entered Revel was 709 Esthonian ships, net tonnage 27,886; 29 German, net tonnage 18,653; 107 Finnish, 16,860 tons; 47 Swedish, 10,001 tons; Danish, 6,882 tons; 2 American, 5,055 tons; I French, 1,190 tons; British none. Total shipping 948 with 91,524 net ton- nage. In 1913 590 steamships entered Revel with a tonnage of 477.154- Of these 192 were German, 149,362 tons; 132 Russian, 91,361 tons; 70 British, 78,138 tons.

Imports and exports for 1920 amounted, according to the Govern- ment returns, 103,912,394 and 7,675,508 tons respectively; the total value for the second half of 1920 in Esthonian marks (based upon the rate of exchange i = 270) was 703 millions for the imports, 738 millions for the exports and 961 millions for goods in transit. Never- theless Esthonia suffered from an adverse exchange. In March 1920 i =350, in May 1920 = 240, in May 1921 =1,075.. Imported goods were beyond the purchasing power of the population. The prosperity of the Baltic states is based chiefly on internal trade and foreign trade with Russia. For 1920 Esthonia received from Great Britain coal, petroleum, cotton and sugar, 1,142,759 tons, exporting to her 3,531,362 tons of timber, paper, pulp, etc. Germany exported to Esthonia 1,298,670 tons of salt, iron goods, and fertilizers, and re- ceived 275,905 tons of potatoes. Imports from other countries were miscellaneous and of minor importance. Esthonia exported in 1920 potatoes, spirits, timber, pulp, paper, flax, bricks and cement, and imported flour, sugar, herrings, salted fish, salt, leather, wool, cotton, iron, agricultural machinery, coal, petrol, fertilizers.

After the German occupation, when the Russian frontier was closed, the factories worked with a minimum production, having no markets ; stocks of raw material became short and all factories were cut off from their financial bases because the Revel banks, which were obliged to keep nearly all their deposits in Russia, were prac- tically bankrupt. With the financial help of the German military authorities, the factories worked for Germany and the Ukraine, but most goods were put into stock. The first provisional Government did much to promote industry; later, however, the Central Profes- sional Union of Workers exercised a deleterious influence.

Origin of the Esthonian Republic. The declaration of inde- pendence of May 19 1919 stated that " no material improve- ment had been effected by the Russian revolution in 1917," that later " Esthonia was sacrificed to Germany under the Brest-Litovsk Treaty"; that in Nov. 1918 "the Soviet ar- mies attacked her, bringing in their train more suffering and misery"; and that "in consideration of this the Esthonian nation was under no obligation to respect the union with Russia." After the fall of Tsardom the Esthonians feared anarchy more than Russification, but after the defeat of Russia it was German preponderance which they chiefly dreaded. They were thus Virtually compelled to declare for independence. On April 12 1917 the Russian provisional Government accorded the enlarged Esthonian province a representative body (Diet, " Maapaen " or " Maanoukogu ") and the right to recall all their nationals from the Russian colours with a view to the formation of a na- tional defence force. On July i and Nov. 1 5 1 9 1 8 the Diet declared its independence and rejected the proffered aid of Germany. With the exception of their Bolshevik section, all Esthonian political parties under the leadership of K. Paetz and others based their policy on the defeat of Germany, although that coun- try's power was still unbroken. The Balto-Saxons, on the con- trary, especially the majority of the gentry, released from the allegiance to the throne, which to most of them meant the Russian State, decided to turn to Germany for help. Their disbelief in the creative power of the Esthonian people at that moment was all the more to be excused, seeing that the capital was under the rule of Esthonian Bolsheviks, whose leader, Anwelt, was openly preparing a reign of red terror. The marshal of the nobility, Baron Dellingshausen, oa Jan. 28 1918 invited the Germans to occupy Esthonia; they took Revel on Feb. 25. Over a hundred hostages were taken by the retiring Bolsheviks; of these Dellings- hausen was to be tried in Petrograd, whilst the majority were transported under ghastly conditions to Siberia; through the intervention of Germany they were, however, repatriated. On Feb. 24 an Esthonian provisional Government was formed (Paetz, Wilms, Poska, Larko, Kukk and others) and an indepen- dent republic proclaimed. Germany did not recognize tliis Government, but established a regime of military occupation under which the Baits were made dominant; this lasted over eight months. The German occupation widened the gulf be- tween class and race and postponed the formation of an Estho- nian force hostile to Germany. Still the power of the local Bol-