Page:EB1922 - Volume 31.djvu/30

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sheviks was broken, many lives were saved and thousands of Esthonians effected their escape from Soviet Russia. England, France and Italy, informed of the views of Esthonia, expressed in May their readiness to grant provisional recognition to the Esthonian National Council as a de facto independent body (Prize case of the ss. " Kayak," Admiralty Court of Appeal, Jan.-Feb. 1919), while the German Emperor was considering the request initiated by the Baltic nobility (April 13) for annexation by Germany. There could hardly have been a greater contrast between the two sections of the Esthonian population. The Nov. Armistice contained a clause compelling the Germans to maintain order and law in the occupied territories of Russia, while neither the Allies nor the local governments which came into being had sufficient forces available to resist the advance of the Russian red forces and the rising of the local pro-Bolshe- viks. Even then the Esthonian National Council insisted upon taking over all responsibility; on Nov. 14 the German representa- tive, the Social-Democrat deputy Winnig, resigned in their favour. On Nov. 19 an evacuation agreement was signed, which, however, had not the expected effect of leaving the Esthonians in posses- sion of the military stores, etc. All that was available for the defence of the country were two units, some 600 men strong, under Col. Weiss, of Baltic volunteers (the Baltic regiment), including 18 barons, Stackelberg in the ranks, prepared to assist in com- bating Bolshevism. At first Gen. Laidoner, later knighted by the King, had at his disposal this intrepid corps, besides 3, coo volun- teers from Finland under Gen. Wetzer, enlisted by means of a loan of 20 million mks. guaranteed by the Revel banks. The Esthonian units in process of formation were at that moment keener against the retiring Germans than against the Bolsheviks. The War against Soviet Russia (Nov. 1919 to Feb. 2 1920). The Russian red army nominally Esthonian Communists invaded Esthonia as the German troops retired. For some weeks three- fourths of Esthonia experienced the full measure of Bolshevik methods. The cruelties and massacres at Dorpat (liberated Jan. 14 1919), Narva, Vesenberg, etc., produced an anti-Bolshe- vik feeling among the Esthonian soldiery. A Finnish loan and war material from Great Britain helped to arrest the enemy's advance 30 m. from Revel, and the Bolsheviks were driven out of the country in the course of a month. But fresh forces were threatened Latvia having become Bolshevik all along the 300 m. of land frontier. With the help of the British navy, which in Dec. prevented the Bolshevik fleet from taking Revel, it again became possible in May to land forces in the rear of the enemy (Luga river) in cooperation with Russian anti-Bolshevik forces, a cooperation which tended to grow less close towards the autumn . The commanding town of Pskov was taken when an unexpected incident threatening a new German danger necessitated military operations in the direction of Riga. This town (see LATVIA) had on May 22 been liberated by a daring raid in which a decisive part was played by the Baltic Landeswehr under the command of a German, Major Fletcher, one-third of which consisted of volunteers from Germany. The advance of this force north- wards conflicted with the views of the Entente powers. The Esthonians detached troops and armoured trains to this new front. Fighting began near Venden (June 2), an armistice declared on June n was broken, and fighting continued near Rup (June 13), followed by a victorious advance towards Riga. According to the terms of the armistice of July 3, drawn up by Gen. Sir H. Gough, while the Baltic section obtained an English commander, Col. A. R. Alexander, the purely German section of the opponents had to evacuate Riga, where the Latvian Govern- ment of Ulmanis was reestablished. Esthonia received the thanks of the Lettish National Assembly for the liberation of northern Latvia, and an agreementfor mutual help the nucleus of a Baltic federation was signed on July 20. Another incident described as " a German conspiracy against Latvia " diverted the Estho- nian forces from the Bolshevik front the Bermondt affair; an arrangement made by Gen. Marsh in July for a combined ad- vance in Sept., with the help of Bermondt's Russo-German volunteer force, was cancelled at the instance of Latvia, and the Esthonians had again to assist Latvia. Meanwhile, in order to

divide their enemies, the Soviet Government offered peace to Esthonia. The North-Western Government retorted by recog- nizing Esthonia's independence (Aug. u). A sum of $50,000,000 was advanced by the United States (Aug. 15), Russian vessels were sunk by the English in the Kronstadt harbour, and the Estho- nians continued to assist though half-heartedly the ineffective offensive against Petrograd in Oct. After Sept. 12, in accordance with a vote of the Constituent Assembly, the Esthonians pre- pared the ground in Latvia, Lithuania and Finland for peace negotiations with Russia. (The Dorpat Conferences, Sept. 29- Oct. i, and Nov. 9, further developed the idea of a Baltic federa- tion.) On Nov. 20 Gen. Yudenich handed over the command to Gen. Laidoner, and on Nov. 26 terminated his military operations. The Soviet army was stopped at Narva (Nov. 22) and the Russian white army sought refuge in Esthonia. On Dec. i peace pourparlers were resumed. On Dec. 4 hostages were exchanged as provided in the armistice signed at Dorpat (Dec. 3). After extensive negotiations (Krassin, later Joffe, for the Soviet Power, J. Poska for Esthonia) a treaty of peace was signed on Feb. 2 1920, and approved by the London declaration of Feb. 24. The chief stipulations of this treaty provided for the suppression of all armed vessels on the Peipus lake; Russia declared herself pre- pared to join in any future recognition of the international neutrality of Esthonia; foreign troops were to be demobilized (Russian white army); Russian State property devolved to Esthonia, Russia to pay 15,000,000 gold rubles (about 1,500,- ooo) while Esthonia was not to be held responsible for Russia's debts (this was counter to the French point of view) ; Russia was to return all property removed from Esthonia; Esthonia to have the preferential right to build a railway from Revel to Moscow; a timber concession for 2,600,000 ac.; a favoured-nation clause and the fixing of a strategic frontier and ethnographic boundaries in the Pechora district were included. Russia obtained the con- cession that transit freights should in no case exceed the local charges and that no import and transit duties should be levied by Esthonia; further she obtained preferential rights' to the electric power from the Narova waterfalls. Russia, anxious to extend her outlet towards the West, offered similar advantages to Latvia, Lithuania, Finland, the Ukraine, Georgia and Poland, thus creating a new situation in Eastern Europe. Esthonia was the first to become the continental market of exchange for the trade between Western Europe and Russia (under Gukovsky, chief of the Soviet trade delegation at Revel, which became a centre of speculation).

Esthonian policy before and after the peace was in close touch with Great Britain (missions of Gen. Gough, Gen. Talent, Col. Percy Gordon) and the United States (Col. Green, Prof. Morri- son) . Esthonia received from these countries respectively military, financial and medical aid (e.g. against typhoid imported by Russian refugees), as well as moral support in consolidating her independence and in coping with the preponderance of the gentry, the pro-German or pro-Russian reactionary barons. The prob- lem involved in the land question deserves special attention, being typical of the changes initiated in all the border states (Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Rumanian Bessarabia and Georgia), which adopted the system of appropriation by the State of all large agricultural estates without adequate compensation, the management of forests by the State, and the sub-division of arable land into small holdings (decrees of Dec. 17 and Feb. 28 1918, the Land Act of Oct. 10 1919). A Constituent Assembly was convened after the liberation of the territory on April 28.

The 120 members were divided into three leading parties: (a) Democrats or Peasant party, a bourgeois party leader Paetz; (i) Labour party, socialists leader Strandmann, later prime minister, promoter of the agrarian reform; (c) Moderate Social Democrats and Social Revolutionaries. A provisional constitutional charter was framed on June 6 1919 and definitely adopted in an amended form on June 15 1920 (translated into English, Baltic Review, L., vol. i., Nos. 2 and 3). The power of the State was declared to be "in the hands of the people" ; Esthonian was to be the official language. Every Esthonian citizen was given the right to determine his own nationality, the members of minority nationalities being entitled to form corresponding autonomous institutions; where the majority of the inhabitants were not Esthonians the local language was