Saaremaa Muuseum. Kaheaastaraamat 2001–2002. Kuressaare, 2003, 340 pp.

Saaremaa Muuseumi kaheaastaraamat 2001-2002

Kaur Alttoa – A Few Problems of the Building History of Valjala and Kaarma Churches

This article attempts to trace the way in which some building and sculptural features reached Saaremaa in the 13th century, with the focus on the churches of Valjala and Kaarma.

Corbels with identical decorative motives in the Riga and Haapsalu Cathedrals and the church of Kaarma show that at least one of the stone carvers arrived in Saaremaa from Riga via Haapsalu. Also the tendril motif of the baptismal font refers to the craftsman’s movement along the same route. Contrary to earlier scholars the author presumes that the font was actually made for Valjala Church. Plans were made to add an extra bay to the western side of the nave to make room for it.

The choir vault of Valjala Church is eloquent. It has a decorative circle around the slightly hanging boss that is decorated with a stylised plant ornament. It is also characteristic that out of the total eight ribs the transverse ribs reach only that circle, not the boss itself. There is no doubt in the more distant origin of that motif: it originates in Westphalia, where it was represented above all in buildings connected with the so-called Lippes’ circle. Their role has been important also in the formation of Old Livonian architecture, being expressed first of all in the Riga Cathedral. Bremen was an important mediator between Westphalia and Old Livonia and so it is possible that the said vault elements ended up in Saaremaa. They too may have arrived via Riga, where vaulting of the Riga Cathedral nave should have been in progress in the mid-13th century.

It is also possible that some other building elements, such as wall pillars derived from piers of a cross-shaped ground plan, arrived in Saaremaa via Riga.

However, not the whole form repertory of the churches under review can be explained by the role of Riga as mediator. The churches of both Valjala and Kaarma have a rare element on their vaults. Namely, the vault ribs in the two churches do not spring immediately from the corbels or wall pillars but from miniature columns between them. The motif is represented in Scandinavia. The most plausible presumption seems to be that the motif reached Saaremaa from the Cistercian Abbey in Varnhem.

Holme Church near Riga also deserves attention in connection with the theme under review. While churches with a central nave and two side aisles generally dominate in Riga, then the church in Holme, like those in Oesel-Wiek, is a nave-only structure. But this is not yet decisive. It is a building without an independent choir, where the easternmost bay takes the function of the altar room. In principle the ground plan is the same as in the bishop’s churches of the Oesel-Wiek bishopric in Old Pärnu and Haapsalu. What is even more important, a large niche has been designed into the eastern wall of the churches of both Holme and Haapsalu – a motif which again springs from Westphalia. Besides, also the western towers of Holme Church as well as Saaremaa’s Kihelkonna Church are very similar, with their stairs referring to a defensive function. So it is possible there is a genetic connection between Holme Church and Oesel-Wiek churches.

In summary we can state that several motifs in 13th century ecclesiastic architecture in Saaremaa derive from Westphalia. Riga, particularly its Cathedral, was an important mediator. Some motifs arrived in Saaremaa directly from Scandinavia. But an assertion of Denmark’s and the Dominicans’ important role in the formation of Saaremaa’s ecclesiastic architecture, presented in specialist literature, is little justified at least at the present stage of research.


Krista Ivask – The Kärla Crucifix

Determination of the age and origin of the research material is a complicated issue in the treatment of early Estonian art. As pieces of which there are written sources referring to their moment and place of birth are few and far between, comparative and style-critical analysis has to be applied in most cases. Of the so-called Kärla Crucifix kept in the Saaremaa Museum there is no treatment in specialist literature until this day. This article sets forth problems connected with the little wooden crucifix.

Above all, association of the sculpture with Kärla Church should be regarded with caution, although several items currently on display in the Museum originate from there. Reflection of features of different styles makes it complicated to place the work in a concrete context of time and space.

The crucifix in question is characterised by that it is fixed to the tree by means of four nails. Such a tradition goes back to the final phase of the Romanesque period and the beginning of the 13th century when the cross was represented as a sign of triumph and Christ as a king with a crown, whereas the figure, was intended to be viewed mainly from the front. Both in terms of the treatment of physique and the general iconographical impression the so-called Kärla Crucifix stands on a different style level. It is characterised by widespread features of 13th century sculpture – contrast between the front and the back parts and the right and the left sides, accentuation of the contraposto and introduction of Christ’s human aspect.

Christ’s loincloth is an important component of the style analysis; on the basis of its treatment we find material for comparison from among those crucifixes of the first half of the 13th century that were the most widespread in Saxony and Gotland. The crucifixes from those areas are supposedly parallel expressions of style influenced by their common geographical origin. The characteristic features, such as a lift of the loincloth above one leg, a roll-shaped transition of the girdle part into an apron and its flow into a knot on the side, symmetrical longitudinal folds and a fishtail pattern on the central axis make it possible to suppose connection with crucifixes from those areas. However, the folds of the loincloth of the Saaremaa crucifix are characterised by a less plastic and billowing, even more stylised treatment.

The biggest problems arise in analysing the treatment of the body. The Saxon and Gotland examples quoted as material for comparison are by their measurements larger-than-life triumphal arch crucifixes. The considerable projection of the back part of a large-sized Christ from the cross, as we can notice in the case of our crucifix, is problematic in the case of those works with regard to the balance of the sculpture. Parallels should be sought between the realistic treatment of the physique characterising the Saaremaa Museum crucifix with its clearly pronounced area of the ribs and protruding stomach and somewhat younger works of the second half of the 13th century. This is the current state of research. A more precise dating of the sculpture requires further study and work with comparative material.


Garel Püüa – Formation of the Archaeological Collection of Saaremaa Museum

The archaeological collection of Saaremaa Museum has been formed with several ups and downs over a period of 130 years. A basis was laid to the collection in 1865, when a Society for the Study of Saaremaa (Verein zur Kunde Oesels) was established. By the time its activities practically ceased (1914) the museum had nearly 3,000 archaeological items. That fast growth is largely thanks to one of the leaders of the society, Jean Baptiste Holzmeyer, who carried out several archaeological excavations himself.

The number of items declined in the early 1920s when about 2,500 finds were taken for conservation to the Tartu University Archaeological Cabinet, from where they were transferred in 1947 to the Academy of Sciences History Institute in Tallinn. It was a big loss to Saaremaa Museum’s archaeological collection. Talks are now in progress for return of the collection and an agreement in principle was reached in 1995. Unfortunately it has remained an agreement.

In 1935 the number of archaeological objects in the Saaremaa Museum collections was only about 350. Growth continued after World War II and despite shortage of funds excavations at some sites were carried out in cooperation with the Estonian History Institute (in 1963 at Liiva-Putla, in 1966 at the Punabe burial site in Lümanda, in 1981 at a Stone Age settlement site in Kõnnu, in 1990 at the Kahutsi stronghold in Pöide, etc.).

Most of the finds from the period after World War II are accidental. It was a rather slow and tiresome process. It appears from inventory books that Saaremaa Museum now (as of 1 January, 2002) has 4,358 items of archaeological finds and its coin collection counts 4,474 items. Hopefully the collection now kept at the History Institute will soon find its way back to Kuressaare and the number of items increases significantly. Seen in its integrity, it is one of the most interesting and versatile collections held by any Estonian museum.


Olavi Pesti – Buildings of the Kuressaare Fortress in the 18th–19th Centuries

The Fortress of Kuressaare was in a miserable state after the Northern War. All the numerous Swedish-period buildings in the territory of the fortress were either in ruins or destroyed. The Imperial Russian government started to give more serious thought to repairing and manning Baltic fortresses in the late 1730s. Surveying work of the Kuressaare Fortress in 1740 is also associated with that effort. Drawings have been made in 1747 for the construction of barracks southeast of the castle, making use of the remains of Swedish-period buildings there. A map drawn in 1762 shows two elongated barracks, both of them about 40 meters in length.

In 1781–83 Kuressaare Castle was struck off the list of Russian fortifications, but a totally new phase of development then began in the construction history of the fortress. A special engineering detachment was despatched in the fortress for the drafting and organisation of construction work. Its nearly yearly reports provide a good overview of what took place in the fortress in 1788–1834. A new stone building 100 meters long had been erected on the ruins of two earlier barracks by 1788.  Major construction work was launched in the early 1790s when the best buildings of the Castle Yard were completed. They were designed by Johann Georg Tunzelmann, a military engineer of local decent, one of the most outstanding building directors of the fortress in the period under review. A Neoclassical Commandant’s House (the present archival library), its auxiliary building (now the museum workshops) and Officers’ Quarters (the museum office) were completed in 1792. Further Officers’ Quarters (dismantled 1910) as well as a new Guard House (the present depository) were built in the following years.

As a result, the years of 1786–96 saw a boom of the redevelopment of the Kuressaare Fortress and consistent and busy construction work was carried out there. It was in that period that the eight biggest buildings in the whole history of the fortress under the Russian rule were completed. Half of the buildings put up then still serve us today. New entrance bridges and a jetty were built in the middle of the period. In the first decade of the next century the main attention was paid to improving the bastions and ravelins and mainly technical structures and auxiliary buildings were erected. In 1820 several of the buildings fell out of use and some of them were dismantled.

In connection with changes in the strategic situation the Kuressaare Fortress was liquidated on 22 January 1834, and the cannon and other military equipment was removed to the Bomarsund Fortress on Åland Island.


Harry Tuulik – Genealogy of the Composer Peeter Süda

The life and work of the most outstanding Saaremaa-born composer and organist, Peeter Süda (1883–1920), has been quite thoroughly studied. In 1984, Peeter Süda, a book compiled by Ivalo Randalu, was published in Tallinn. But until today there was no genealogical study of his more distant ancestors. Such a genealogy has now been drawn up by the amateur genealogist Harry Tuulik on the basis of archival documents.

The researcher has tracked down the composer’s ancestors since the mid-17th century, paying the main attention to the father’s line. The original home of the family was the isolated Tammiku Farm in the midst of forests in the Kihelkonna Parish (the present Lümanda Commune) in western Saaremaa. The first mention of the farm is in a 1645 entry in a vakus book, a register of holdings and the taxes imposed on them. The farm, which the composer’s father, Mihkel Süda, bought in perpetuity in 1883, remained in the family’s possession until 2000. Although the members of the family had quite a wide circle of contacts, all the sons of Tammiku Farm married girls from within the borders of the present Lümanda Commune.

It appears from the article that Peter Süda’s extraordinary musical talent apparently had genetic makings. There were many persons with great spiritual and musical talents among them, including life-long teachers and valued musicians. Parish clerk and schoolmaster Peeter Süd(d)a (1830–93), a namesake of the composer and a brother of his grandfather, was an  outstanding cultural figure, choir conductor and man of letters. Also the composer’s premature death due to cardiac deficiency may have been genetically caused. Also most Peeter Süda’s ancestors of the father’s line had died in their early middle age, probably due to heart trouble. It is an irony of fate that the name of the family, Süda, translates as Heart…


Toivo Meikar & Heldur Sander –  District Forest Officers of the Wardenburg Family on Saaremaa Island

This article deals with the Wardenburg family, of Danish descent, who for about 70 years headed the management of state forests and, to a large extent, private forests on Saaremaa Island (West Estonia). The then Saaremaa branch of the Wardenburg family tree stemmed from Ludwig von Wardenburg (1811–1886), who after resettling in Russia in 1839 furthered his education in forestry. He was recruited to public service in 1841 as assistant district forest officer on Saaremaa Island. In 1845, he became officer of the Kuressaare forest district (total area approximately 11,000 ha), which at that time was one of the best-managed forest districts in the Baltic provinces. He worked at that forest district until 1869. While there, he implemented a new forest management system and continued forest plantation works. During his term of office, forest drainage was launched in a more systematic manner there. Forest utilisation was based on the prescribed yield. Tending felling was performed to a modest extent yet systematically.

These works were carried on by Ludwig’s son, Eugen von Wardenburg (1843–1920), who succeeded his father in the office in 1869. Under the son, the Kuressaare forest district developed into the forest seed-supplying centre for the state forest districts of the Baltic provinces. Eugen von Wardenburg was the only district forest officer in the Livonian Province to be vested with the right to train assistant district forest officers; this happened in 1892. The future district forest officers were to take the respective examinations at the Lissino School of Forestry after successfully completing 2–3-year training courses. The courses conducted at the so-called Kuressaare School of Forestry until 1914 turned out at least 25 ethnic Estonian forest officials, most of whom came from Saaremaa Island. In the later Republic of Estonia, a number of them were employed as district forest officers as well as leading officers of the State Forest Office. Besides his professional functions, Eugen von Wardenburg was also engaged in modernising the system of forestry concerning Saaremaa’s private forests and in the direct management of several landed gentry forests. He was dismissed from the post of district forest officer upon the outbreak of World War I and succeeded by a graduate of the local school of forestry.

Two of Eugen von Wardenburg’s sons followed in their father’s footsteps by also pursuing a forest official’s career. Herbert von Wardenburg was actively engaged in private forest management on Saaremaa Island in the late 19th century. Later, he was employed in South Estonia as head forester of several landed gentry estates. Kurt von Wardenburg chose Russia as his area of operation.


Ellen Värv – How Country Women on Saaremaa Island were Dressed in the 19th Century

The existence of a number of mediators, contacts with neighbouring cultures and other social strata helped women in Saaremaa create a peculiar clothing style, which was remarkably different from that of all the other regions of Estonia. In almost each parish there were some variations in clothing. Mustjala and Sõrve were the regions especially noteworthy for their peculiar clothing style. In East Saaremaa (the parishes of Pöide, Jaani, Karja, Valjala, and partly also Püha) clothing was quite uniform when compared to the western part of the island. Due to the influence of the nearby town of Kuressaare, women from the Kaarma and Kärla Parishes took over quite a few newer elements of urban fashion earlier than anywhere else.

Differences between parishes did not manifest themselves in workwear, but they were quite obvious in festive attire. Embroidered shirt bodies, smocked (i. e., folded into pleats under hot loaves of bread) skirts and bodices were characteristic of the area. Girls who had passed Confirmation also wore aprons. Shoes were worn here already beginning from the 17th century. Saare women’s headdresses, especially their winter caps called sariküll with horn-like decorations along the brim, as well as trapezium-shaped or rectangular coifs on a hard base were very peculiar as well.


Tormis Jakovlev – Windfall Brought by the West Wind

Haakrik is an Estonian dialectal word referring to jetsam, things cast ashore by the waves that are of value for the finder. Jetsam was abundant in the age of sailing ships. Ships were clumsier then, navigation was more primitive and disasters frequent. Coffee, sugar, nuts, alcohol, citrus fruit, all kind of expensive foods etc. has been mentioned as the cargo of wrecked ships. The law prohibited the local people to pick up things from the beach. The local power and the border guard jealously watched this would not happen. But as always, you cannot keep track of everything and something found its way also into local farmers’ storerooms.

The Soviet border guard closed the whole coastline as of 1946 – the “iron curtain” had fallen. Foreign alcohol bottles, often of peculiar shapes, colourful carrier bags and plastic things then became coveted objects people picked up from beaches. Timber carriage, which increased in the 1980s, began to cast all kind of boards and planks on our shores. There’s many a man who built a house with them or improved his financial status by selling them.

Today as before, looking for jetsam after a major westerly storm continues to be an exciting activity for the coastal people.


Juhan Peegel – A Town of Several Beginnings

Academician Juhan Peegel, a folklore and press scholar, a man born in Saaremaa in 1919, opens his memoirs with a meditation about the meaning of Kuressaare in Estonia’s cultural history. He continues, “Kuressaare has twice been of pivotal importance in my life. Here I received a good secondary education in the Saaremaa Mixed Gymnasium (in 1933–38) and a firm intention of continuing studies at the Tartu University Faculty of Philosophy after my military service.” The level of studies was high and extensive humanitarian activity on his own initiative laid a basis to Juhan Peegel’s development into a prominent scholar. The author’s particular favourite was the school literary circle and its manuscript magazine. Eager participation in the boy-scout movement helped form his patriotic worldview. After completing the secondary school course Juhan Peegel worked for more than a year in the editorial office of the county paper Meie Maa, which is published until today. That was where his development into Estonia’s most authoritative press specialist began. “So, Kuressaare has really been the town of the beginning of roads in my life,” the author sums up his memoirs.


Bruno Pao – Two Hiiumaa-born People of Kuressaare

Although Estonia’s two largest islands, Saaremaa and Hiiumaa, are only situated within 6 kilometres from each other, relations between the islands were not particularly close a century ago. Besides, the islands belonged to different Russian provinces. People from Hiiumaa came to Saaremaa to sell wooden vessels and to buy piglets, and Saaremaa brides were highly appreciated among Hiiumaa young men. After a maritime school was opened in Kuressaare in 1891, quite a few young men from the neighbouring island came to study there. As there was very little arable land in Hiiumaa, many a Hiiumaa man bought a farm on Saaremaa. Some Hiiumaa people have left deep footprints in Saaremaa‘s history. The essay by the historian Bruno Pao regards the fate of two such families.

The Kahus rented a farm in northern Saaremaa in the 1880s. The eldest son, Johannes Kahu (1871–1925), became a prominent businessman in Saaremaa in his time. Before World War One he was active as shipowner and skipper, and later established a big shop and sawmill in Kuressaare. The textile mill founded by Johannes Kahu became one of the most up-to-date and biggest industrial enterprises in Saaremaa and was further developed by his sons. AS J Kahu and Co played a major role in enlivening Kuressaare’s economy and the creation of jobs.

Andrus Veskis  (1856–1939), a Hiiumaa-born seaman and farmer, bought a farm in Saaremaa in 1909. His three sons and two daughters were enterprising people who still have descendants in Saaremaa today and several of them have become widely known with their good work. A grandson of Andrus Veskis, the well-known writer Ahto Levi, lives in Moscow. Bruno Pao’s paper on that family was drawn up on the basis of family research by another grandson of Andrus Vesksis, civil engineer Jalmar Veskis (b. 1928).


Urve Kirss – Rudolf Kriisa – a Painter Forgotten and Rediscovered

Rudolf Kriisa was born on 25 November 1906 in a famous organ-builders’ family in the Võru County in southern Estonia. In 1929–25 he studied at the Tartu Higher Art School Pallas, and then worked as organ-builder and freelance painter. Since 1938 he took part in Estonian-wide art contests where his paintings were well received. Rudolf Kriisa, who mainly practised portrait and marine painting, has not left a very big artistic legacy. In the last days of World War II battles on Estonian soil, the occupation authorities caught the artist while in hiding in Saaremaa and sent him to the front in the German uniform. Soon Kriisa together with his comrades fell prisoner to the Soviets and died in September 1944 as a result of exhaustion and frostbite in Hanila in Western Estonia. His grave has never been found and his work, although of a rather high artistic level, was forgotten.

Rudolf Kriisa was rediscovered by the author of this paper, teacher and culture historian Urve Kirss. Since 1987, she began collecting data about Kriisa’s life, activity and work, which had close connections with Saaremaa. The artist’s brother served on the island as a pastor; in 1934 he married a Saaremaa girl, Hermine Ader, and later lived every summer on the island. Urve Kirss managed to collect a lot of memoirs about Rudolf Kriisa and to discover a number of his forgotten paintings. In 1989 the artist’s first one-man show was put on in the Saaremaa Museum; and in 2001–02 an exhibition, Forgotten Pallas Students, Rudolf Kriisa, was on display in Tartu, Võru and Tallinn.


Vassili Auväärt – How Folk Songs were collected on Muhu Island

The journalist Vassili Auväärt recounts the story of an unprecedented folklore collection action on the 200 sq km island of Muhu in summer 1944. What makes the campaign extraordinary is that it took place during World War II when the front was already approaching the island. Organiser of the action was a local businessman, central heating systems builder Vassili Kolk (1899–1960) who was an enthusiastic local studies enthusiast besides. He set his aim at involving farms from all the 67 villages on the island in his action. It was rather difficult to explain to the people the importance of folklore collection in the complicated wartime conditions. Yet the action was a success. Kolk hired a large network of collectors to write down and copy the folk songs.

In the period from 11 June to 16 July 1944 Kolk managed to put down 1,571 folk song texts, some of which were immediately sent by mail to the Estonian Folklore Archives in Tartu. It took him until summer 1951 to organise the folk song collection and to copy them in triplicate. Then his packed the lot into three different boxes. Nearly half a century later one copy of the song collection arrived in the Muhu Museum and another one in the Estonian Literature Museum.


Kurt Vetter – We were not Heroes. Memoirs from the Front from Autumn 1944 in Muhu and Saaremaa

Kurt Vetter (born in 1923 in Treuenbrietzen, Brandenburg), took part in defence battles against advancing Soviet troops as senior corporal  (Obergefreiter) in Company Two of Battalion One in the 67th Grenadier Regiment of the 23rd Infantry Division. In the memoirs put down in the winter of 2000–01 he looks back at the battles from the point of view of a rank-and-file soldier without any embellishment.

In the second half of September Kurt Vetter’s unit was on a defence position on the eastern coast of Muhu Island. They soon had to retreat before an overwhelming Soviet landing on 29 September. It was impossible for them to get to Saaremaa, as the causeway to the island had already been blasted. Fortunately they found a broken boat, which took them to the Kõinastu Islet and local fishermen brought them from there to Saaremaa. Until 5 October the unit stood defending the Little Strait Causeway in northeastern Saaremaa. Tough retreat battles with a high number of victims all through Saaremaa followed, and Kurt Vetter stayed with the unit until he was wounded on Sõrve Peninsula on 19 November.

Kurt Vetter’s battalion lost about 1,600 soldiers during six weeks of battles on the Sõrve Peninsula alone, a quarter of them as dead. Besides describing battle episodes the memoirs paint a vivid picture of the moods prevailing among the rank-an file, of the intermingling of the desire to survive with hopelessness. Kurt Vetter dedicates his article to the memory of his fallen comrades. “May their fate be a warning the living that a meaningful and happy existence is only possible in a world where there is peaceful cooperation between peoples.”


Garel Püüa – Resistance on Saaremaa after World War II

In 1941 as well as in 1944–53 thousands of Estonians went into hiding from Soviet occupation authorities, and most of them were also engaged in an armed struggle against them. The reason for it was the occupation and forcible annexation of Estonia as well as massive repressions against Estonian citizens – their arrest, deportation to Siberia, conscription to the Red Army, compulsory collectivisation etc. As most of the people found refuge in the woods, they are generally referred to as Forest Brothers, while in Soviet sources they have been called bandits, terrorists or illegals. In the years after the war there were about 15,000 Forest Brothers in Estonia taking part in the armed resistance struggle.

The article is the first attempt to give a closer overview of resistance in Saaremaa in 1944–53. It is mainly based on documents from the archives of the Soviet security service and the Communist Party as well as on people’s reminiscences and materials published in the press. It is impossible to establish the exact number of the Forest Brothers, but we know that at least 500 Forest Brothers and their supporters were killed or arrested, or were legalised or hired as agents of the security service in Saare County in those years. By far not all of them were involved in armed conflicts, but were simply in hiding from the authorities, so-called illegals. Besides patriots, there were also people who had gone into the hiding because of criminal reasons among Forest Brothers. Groups of armed fighters were relatively small in Saaremaa, consisting of three to eight members.

Persistence of the Forest Brothers over such a long time on an island separated from the mainland was possible thanks to wide support by the local people as well as the clumsiness and cowardice of the security service and the militia. The main methods of fighting were attacks against members of Soviet power structures, their informers and other representatives of power, as well as robbery of shops, village Soviet buildings and collaborationists’ households. Forest Brothers also distributed anti-Soviet leaflets.

A large part of the article is devoted to Elmar Ilp (1919–50), one of the most legendary Forest Brothers in Estonia, who launched into active fighting in the autumn of 1945. As the composition of his band changed very fast, we can even say that all Forest Brothers involved in active armed struggle on Saaremaa were more or less closely connected with Ilp at one time or another. Security bodies ascribed to his band more than forty “acts of terror”. Because of Ilp’s fame acts were sometimes attributed to him that he had had nothing to do with. It is impossible to give a clear assessment of Elmar Ilp’s and his closest associates’ actions. Although it was dominated by political freedom fighting, it also contained criminal elements and unjustified brutality.

The security forces in Saaremaa focused on catching Ilp’s small band as of summer 1948. For that purpose, a special operative group was brought to assist them from Tallinn. Simultaneously, the security service widened its network of agents, resumed to the use of killer agents and increased pressure on those who helped Forest Brothers. Ilp’s next camp was discovered half-accidentally only on 12 August 1950. In the unequal battle that followed he was killed along with two companions. In the same year a hundred Forest Brothers and their assistants were arrested that year, and thirteen more in 1951. This practically ended the armed resistance on Saaremaa. The last Forest Brother known to have fallen through the hand of a killer agent in May 1953 was Aleksander Tuuling, but the last illegal, Jüri Keskküla was only caught in March 1964.


Andrei Tasane’s Reports to Justice Minister Aleksander Jõeäär

The 1948 reports by Andrei Tasane (1896–1979), a farmer of the Pihtla Commune of Saaremaa, to the Estonian SSR Minister of Justice Aleksander Jõeäär (1890–1959) is a characteristic document of the period. On the one hand it reflects the situation in Saaremaa villages in the late 1940s, and on the other hand the bastardly psychology of a satellite of the occupation authorities. Tasane’s so-called “class hatred” is closely intertwined with personal material interests. He reports on anyone he thinks has any “guilt” against the Soviet authorities, and even suggests possible ways of punishment. Worse than that, although he describes himself as a “local security intelligence agent”, he dares express dissatisfaction in what he says is his bosses’ passiveness. The informer’s particular anger is levelled at the Forest Brothers and their supporters, who were numerous in Saaremaa in the late 1940s. As a reward, the informer demands concrete material assistance from the authorities.

The justice minister forwarded the reports to First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Estonia, Nikolai Karotamm, and it brought tragic consequences to many Saaremaa people. Tasane’s own fate was miserable too: working as a militiaman in Kuressaare in later years he was killed by his own son in an alcoholic delirium in 1979.