Saaremaa Muuseum. Kaheaastaraamat 1997–1998. Kuressaare, 1999, 324 pp.

Saaremaa Muuseumi kaheaastaraamat 1997-1998Marika Mägi – Tuulingumäe tarand-grave at Tõnija

In 1995–1997, archaeological excavations under the guidance of archaeologist M. Mägi, took place at Tuulingumäe tarand-grave “Windmill Hill”, which is located near Valjala at Tõnija village. The excavations were financed by the Saaremaa Museum, Valjala Commune Government, the Estonian Institute of History, the State Board of  Antiquities and the fund “Estonian Archaeology” organized by Gordon and Mary Snow in England. The finds of the excavations were deposited in the Saaremaa Museum.

A tarand grave (the area of the digging 139 m²) consisting of four tarands was unearthed. The size of the tarands was 6 × 2 m on average, they were oriented from south-east to north-west. Tarands III and IV were the oldest, Tarands I and II were built after them. Plenty of human bones and grave goods were found in Tarand II, some of them valuable imports from the south-eastern coast of the Baltic Sea dating to the 4th and 5th century. Under Tarand I which contained almost no finds an earlier grave from the turn of the era was found. Tarand IV contained animal bones and potsherds but only a few human bones were found. Some funerals could be dated as late as the 7th and 8th centuries.

Although most of the human bones found in the grave were not burned, the archaeologists could not find any skeletons in the correct anatomical order: various finds, human and animal bones were scattered throughout the stones used to make the graves. Each skeleton was represented by selected parts only. Almost all the burnt human remains came from skulls. In the opinion of archaeologists and osteologists secondary funerals could have taken place here. All in all, the bones of 32 people could be differentiated, both men and women, most of them having died between the ages 18 to 35. Nearly one-third of the buried were children. Research of bone material allowed conclusions to be drawn about the diseases and health situation of the buried (i. e. lack of iron in the organisms, thinness of bones, osteoma, occurrence of caries, and bone fractures). The main source of food for the inhabitants was grain, but domestic animals were also grown: pigs, oxen, sheep, and goats; they also hunted and fished. As for the remains of domestic animals, it is interesting to note that the oldest known bones of a cat in Estonia were found there as well.

The people buried in Tuulingumäe apparently lived in a big farm situated nearby. Until the end of the Viking Age, they had a remarkable position in the neighbourhood. In the 12th century a new centre was developing in Valjala; therefore we can presume that the influence of this locally important family lessened in this period. Scarce written data and occasional finds testify to the continuation of settlement in the surroundings of Tuulingumäe.


Piia Pedakmäe – Witchcraft in Saaremaa during the Danish Age

The high time for witchcraft trials in Estonia occurred in the second quarter of the 17th century. There is not much data about their occurrence in Saaremaa as the court archives of that time have not been preserved. The author of the article, M. A. candidate in the history department at Tartu University P. Pedakmäe, has found interesting documents from the Danish State Archives that give evidence about the existence of “witches” in Saaremaa during the Danish Age (1559–1645). These documents concern the proceedings that took place in the Danish Royal Supreme Court in 1639. The Lohmann brothers from Kuressaare lodged a complaint against Lord Lieutenant Anders Bille, who was said to have unfairly accused and punished their mother Reimerske of witchery. In the court protocol one can find data about other witches of Saaremaa, too. Interestingly, these facts are about men. In Europe at the time, witchcraft was mostly considered a woman’s crime, but in Estonia, Iceland and eastern Finland men were often considered to be witches. As in other places, healers in Saaremaa who used folksy methods were above all suspected of  witchcraft. It arouses attention that in Reimerske court case water ordeal has never been mentioned. In other parts of Estonia the test was a wide-spread method to ascertain witches.

The author agrees with the statement of English scientists, who are cited in the article, that the high time of witchhunting has been connected with the effort of the Church to completely Christianize society. It is also connected with the beginning of the transition from closely integrated village communities to individualized society. Psychologically, the reason for accusing somebody of witchcraft was mainly the projection of the accuser’s own guilt on the “witch”.


Harry Tuulik – Mihkli farm and its inhabitants through the centuries

Forty years ago, the largest branch of the Saaremaa Museum – the Mihkli farm museum, was founded. The farm itself is about 300 years old. In his article engineer H. Tuulik, whose grandfather was born there, gives a review of the formation of the Mihkli farm, its development, and the inhabitants from eight generations. Much of the author’s information came from archives.

The farm was probably set up shortly before the Great Northern War by Wicke Peter. During the next two and a half centuries 86 people lived here, out of them 64 had been born on the farm. At the beginning of the 19th century the people coming from the large Mihkli family began the construction of a couple of new farms in the neighbourhood. Most of the buildings that have been preserved were built between 1827–1876 when Laes Reht was the head of the farm. Building a dwelling-house with a chimney in the 1830-ties is remarkable. The good reputation of the farm is shown by the fact that its penultimate head Karl Reht was elected head of the Kihelkonna commune at the end of the 19th century. A big part of the preserved wooden items were made by him.

In the 1930-ties the Mihkli farm was one of the most exemplary and biggest (74,7 ha) farms in the village of Viki. Its natural development was ended up by the Soviet occupation and forced collectivization caused two of the bigger buildings to become nationalized. Jakob-Eduard Reht (1886–1969), who was the master beginning from 1934, as a foreseeing man kindly agreed to the foundation of a state museum in his farm. It was finally decided on 5 February 1959. He is believed to have said: “All farms will pass away but Mihkli remains.” One of the peculiarities of the museum is that almost all of the exposed items were made and used on the farm.


Arvi Truu – Cheese production in Saaremaa

Cattle-breeding has been a wide-spread occupation in Saaremaa beginning from the first millennium B. C. with the first written information about producing cheese dating from the years 1569–1571. Landlords were practising methods to improve the breeds of their dairy cattle in the 19th century already.

The earliest available data about industrial cheese production from the local estates was recorded in the middle of the 19th century. Cheese made on the estate of von Dellingshausen was presented at a world exhibition in London in 1851. From the last quarter of the 19th century we have facts about more than 20 cheeseries from Saaremaa, the biggest of which – common to several estates – was set up in Kuressaare. Masters came mainly from Switzerland and later Estonians learned the job.

About the turn of the century, the most famous cheese masters were Estonian J. Kuus and the Swiss E. Spring, A. Imhof, and A. Schlup whose production received plenty of prizes at exhibitions both at home and abroad. Especially well-known was Albert Schlup (1852–1930) who came to work as a master in the cheese factory of the estates in Kuressaare in the 1880-ties. He soon succeeded in becoming its owner and about 1890 he founded his own cheese factory at the end of Pikk Street. He also installed a curing facility where the cheese that was produced in his nine cheeseries all over on Saaremaa completed their final seasoning. In 1900, Schlup sent to the markets of the bigger cities in Russia about 25 tons of cheese; in 1906 he bought about 130,000 litres of milk in Saaremaa to make cheese.

After the World War I, there was great recession in cheese production in Saaremaa; the best-known cheese factory was located in former Tõlluste estate. In 1939, 6,1 tons of cheese was produced in Saaremaa; it made up only 2,3 % of the total production in Estonia. After World War II,  cheese production grew steadily: in 1945 – 9 tons, 1950 – 28 tons, 1960 – 150 tons, 1970 – 560 tons (1990 – 500 tons). In the 1960-ties and 1970-ties the main cheese makers were the diaries in Pöide, Muhu, and Valjala, but at the beginning of the 1980-ties all the production was concentrated in Valjala. The cheese masters of Saaremaa were often the first in Estonia to use technological innovations. Thanks to its high quality, up to 50 tons of Saaremaa cheese was exported to foreign states in the Soviet period already. Cheese production in Valjala is now approaching 1000 tons a year.

The author of the article, vice-director of Saaremaa Meat and Dairy Factory, is also a cheese maker by profession.


Liivi Aarma – Societies and literati as fosterers of printing in Saaremaa

The author of the article, Professor of Library Science, L. Aarma, from Tallinn Pedagogical University discusses the foundation and development of the first printing shop in Saaremaa and characterizes its activities. She shows that the need for a local printing office was caused by the increasing activities of the regional scientific societies in the first half of the 19th century. Especially important was the founding of the Society of History and Remote Antiquity Studies of Russian Baltic Provinces in 1834. About ten noblemen and men of letters from Saaremaa participated in its activities. The Learned Estonian Society was one of the founders of  the book trade in Kuressaare during 1840-ties. In 1850, H. J. Jürgens who was active as a publisher set up a bookshop here as well.

A fact not previously known in Estonian cultural history is that printer J. J. Kelchen (1818–1883) from Tallinn received permission to found a printing shop in Kuressaare in 1860. However, for some reason, he probably never started it. In fact, Christian Assafrey (1837–1874), who came from Vändra near Pärnu, became the first book printer in Saaremaa (since 1841 artist F. S. Stern’s lithography press functioned here). In 1863, he brought to Kuressaare his printing office that he had bought from J. Diesfeld  in Tallinn a year earlier. He had probably studied printing at Kelchen’s printing shop in Tallinn among the rest.

Assafrey’s activities as a printer fell into the period of general enlivenment of the Estonian social life. Publications in Estonian doubled in a short time, the relative importance of the secular word grew essentially. About 90 printed materials in Estonian (and roughly half in foreign languages) were printed in Assafrey’s printing shop in his lifetime, during the first years of his activities (1863–1865) nearly a sixth of all the publications in Estonian. Of great importance were the books by authors and translators from Saaremaa. The most prolific was pastor Martin Körber from Anseküla. We should also name pastors K. N. von Nolcken, A. von Sengbusch, T. and C. E. Hesse, priests N. Orlov and A. Kudrjavtsev, parish clerks P. Südda and C. W. Freundlich, schoolteachers J. B. Holzmayer, D. von Meves, A. Schönberg and others. In 1866, the first book of poems by one of the most famous Estonian poets Lydia Koidula appeared in Kuressaare. In 1865, Assafrey founded a periodical “Annoncenblatt” for advertisements and announcements, in 1875 his heirs began to print “Arensburger Wochenblatt”, the first newspaper in Saaremaa.

After Assafrey’s death, the printing shop remained in the possession of his heirs until 1885; prevailingly the publications were utility printed matter (see the bibliography added to the article).


Bruno Pao – Marine contacts between Kuressaare and Riga in the nineteenth century

The marine contacts of islanders with the Livonian administrative, economical, and intellectual centre – Riga – can be followed since the city’s foundation. The foundation of the residence of the bishop of  Oesel–Wiek was the basis for the formation of Kuressaare in the 14th century. Only 94 sea miles from Riga, it is probably connected with the wish to facilitate intercourse with the southward centres of Christianity. However, maritime trade was the main impetus to the development of shipbuilding and seafaring on the relatively detached island of Saaremaa. Through Kuressaare was exported high-grade rye and barley for malt, dried in smoke barns, and salt, metal, roof tiles, and other essential commodities were imported.

Until the beginning of the 19th century, relatively small single-masted ships with open decks steered by local kippers were used in the traffic between Kuressaare and Riga. At the beginning of the 19th century, Christoph Friedrich Schmidt (1779–1831) became the most important merchant in Kuressaare. He set up a department store oriented on trading with Riga; cut out merchants J. Jacke and H. D. Schmidt from Pärnu, who had been mediating the grain trade of Saaremaa from the middle of the 18th century; and founded a slip for ship building in the outskirts of Tori, where some ten two-masted 30–35last (1 last – about 2 tons) sailing ships with closed decks were built in the years 1810–1825. Theodor Wilhelm Grubener (1817–1885) became Schmidt’s successor in maritime trade with Riga and he continued building bigger sailing ships.

Passengers were transported between Saaremaa and Latvia on bigger boats (ferryboat, uisk), the length of which was more than 17 metres. A big uisk went to Riga from the harbour of the Muratsi estate near Kuressaare and to Kurland from the coast of the Sääre estate in Sõrve. Beginning in1856, the passenger ships on the Riga–St. Petersburg line also stopped in the roads of Kuressaare. In 1872 a passenger harbour of Loode near the town was completed. In 1873, the shipping company “Osilia” was founded in Kuressaare; in 1875 they bought a new passenger and post conveyance steamer “Konstantin” that facilitated the connection between Kuressaare and Riga for the next 36 years. When a new deeper harbour on the Roomassaare cape was completed at the end of the 19th century, the fame of Kuressaare as a resort town grew and contacts with Riga were rather spirited until World War I.

Since then nobody has managed to restore the maritime contacts to its former level.

The author of the article is a historian, publicist, and head of the Society of Maritime Culture.


Tiiu Oja – History of Kuressaare town government in the years 1879–1917

Russian law regarding the authority of towns from the 16th of June 1870 widened across the Baltic Provinces according to the ukase of the Supreme Court of Russia from the 26th of March 1877. Although the enforced town law was conservative, it still brought some changes in the government of Kuressaare. Instead of the former representatives of estates, the municipality was now elected for four years from the representatives of all taxpayers. The earlier magistrate (Rat) was left to the functions of the court until the court reformed in 1889.

The first election of Kuressaare town council took place in April 1879 and 30 members were elected. In the first meeting of the town council on 22 April 1879 former Bürgermeister Hugo von der Borg was elected a mayor. Besides the mayor, five members and a secretary belonged to the town government which was elected on 4 May 1879, court and police officials were also part of the town budget. The direct task of the town government was to manage the town’s economy, to govern town properties and capital, supervision of the trade and handicraft industries, common weal, citizens’ health care, to supply the town with foodstuffs, and maintain and supervise the town schools, hospital, poorhouse, charitable and other public institutions. The town received its income from town properties and land, from taxes assessed on real estate, trade and handicraft undertakings, and drinking establishments.

The new town law from 11 June 1892 considerably restricted the rights of the town government. The power of the governor and the commission of  the province’s town life widened  the activities of the whole municipality, the governor was given the right to substantial control. At the same time, the activities of town government became more concrete. To govern single branches of economy, executive commissions subordinating to the town government were nominated.

According to the census data in 1881, there were 3602 inhabitants in Kuressaare; almost half were Estonians – 1785, followed by Germans – 1272 and Russians – 271. There were 27 streets, 403 grounds and on them stood 452 dwelling houses and 330 outbuildings. From data obtained in1910, the territory of the town was 1346 hectares, 83 ha of which was populated. The town grew rather quickly in this period: there were 48 streets already and 5267 inhabitants (in 1913).

Industry was not remarkably developed in Kuressaare. In 1892 there were 124 handicraft businesses in town and only three bigger industrial enterprises – Wildenberg’s leather factory, a metallurgical workshop in Marienthal, and Schmidt’s steam mill. The town slaughterhouse was opened in 1896. The town government managed Lõmala estate that belonged to the town. In 1905 they began to sell its lands to peasants for perpetuity.

Kuressaare was mainly a resort town. By 1883, three mud sanatoria were established, bringing the town plenty of visitors for bathing season; they were beneficial both for the town and its inhabitants.

In 1902 the Kuressaare horse station was reorganized to town post station. Conveyance of mail to Pärnu took place three times a week. In the navigation period the conveyance of mail between Kuressaare and Riga was by the steam ship “Konstantin”. In 1907, the first telephones were installed. In 1913, the Riga Regional Direction of Post and Telegraph opened the state telephone network in town. In 1909, the town government began to deal with the electrification of Kuressaare, by 1915 the town power station was finished.

In 1917 the town government had to face the complicated problem of supplying the town with foodstuffs. By the law established on 20 March 1917, the Town Food Committee was formed. In accordance with the same law the town police was dismissed and the militia was founded. Accomodation of military men caused lots of problems to the town government and inhabitants during this period.

On 9 June 1917, the town law enacted in 1892, was replaced by a new one and a new town council and government were elected. The town government of this period practically finished its activities by the beginning of 1918.


Maret Soorsk – Summer-holiday season in old Kuressaare

The treasurer of the Saaremaa Museum gives a review of the formation, development and problems of the resort of Kuressaare in the years 1840–1940. Her article is mainly based from the journalism of that time.

The opening of the first mud sanatorium in 1840 and the foundation of the town park in 1861 initiated the formation Kuressaare as a resort. Soon the café and music pavilion “Tivoli” (pulled down in the 1920-ties) and a bandstand were built in the park. The most important centre of resort life became the Kurhaus (built in 1889) where one could find a restaurant, a reading-room, and a theatre-, concert- and dance hall. During the summers both native and foreign musicians and actors performed here, art exhibitions were organized, and films were shown. In 1922, the “Variety theatre” opened where the artists from mainland, who spent their summer in Kuressaare, performed.

Extensive expansion of the park was started in 1887, a reading-house was built there in 1898, anda tennis court was founded in 1901. An inseparable part of the summer-life were the concerts in the bandstand. A special orchestra was hired for that purpose, but in the 1920-ties a military orchestra from mainland was asked to play. Three mud sanatoria built in the second half of the 19th century and a number of boardinghouses surrounded the park.

Another centre of summer-life was the seaside, where the first bathhouses were built in the 1870-ties. In 1884, a beach coffee house was built (burnt down in 1916), a new one was built to replace it in 1929. As sailing and boating were very popular, there were three harbours on the coast of Kuressaare; the prettiest and newest of them, together with the yacht club built in 1930, belonged to the Saaremaa Sea Sport Society. During 1929–1932 the seaward part of the park was widened once more, and an unsuccessful attempt to make the artificial beach was made. In 1936, a beach building of functional style was erected where there is now a stadium.

The bathing committee of the town government arranged the summer holiday life, and beginning at the end of the 1920-ties the Society of Decorating Kuressaare contributed as well. During these times the most burning issue was that of the stock-growers’ cows walking in the street and upsetting the holiday-makers. The yearly number of holiday-makers usually reached 3–4 thousand before World War I, during the period of the Estonian Republic, there was less than half of them on average. While before World War I most of the far-off guests came from many places in Russia, then later on they came mainly from Latvia, Finland and Sweden.


Endel Püüa – The County Council and Government of Saaremaa in the years 1917–1940

Democratically elected local authorities – county councils and governments – were formed in Estonia at the time of the Russian Temporary Government in June – July 1917. The Temporary County Council (up to 1927 officially – Soviet) of Saaremaa was elected on August 3 in 1917; the county government, headed by its chairman Kirill Kaasik started work in the rooms of the Estonian Society of Kuressaare on August 15. The activities of the local authorities of the Russian time was discontinued because of the German occupation in October 1917.

On November 18, 1918 the delegation of the county council took over the ruling of the county from the occupying power. During the time of Estonian independence the first meeting of the county council convened on November 20, when Timotheus Grünthal was elected the new chairman. It is from this time, that the real building of  local authorities in the county started. The county goverment found rooms in the former building of the police government on Kubermangu Street (beginning in 1920 the former building of  knighthood at Lossi Str. 1); schools, welfare centres, hospital, and the like were taken over, and the departments of the goverment were engaged. The situation in Saaremaa was intensified by the delay of solving questions about land, unemployment, difficult food conditions, mobilizations, and the requisition of foodstuffs and consumer goods for the army. That led to the peasants’ uprising in February 1919.

The two-level political local authority existed in Estonia up to 1934. In the course of this time period five staffs of the county council were elected. The most influential political forces in Saaremaa were the Estonian Socialist Workers’ Party and the right-wing Farmers’ Party that dominated both in the county council and government. The work of the council was conciderably more active in the first half of the 1920-ties when on average five meetings a year were held. Later, they gathered only twice a year – at the spring meeting they decided on a budget, and at the autumn meeting, they confirmed the financial report from the previous year.

The status of county governments stabilised beginning from the third staff  of the county council (1923–1927). During the authority of the first county council (1917–1921), three governments were formed and during the second council (1921–1923), four governments were formed, but later on they remained in power from one election to another. In this period the most outstanding chairman of the county council was socialist Mihkel Neps (1890–1937), who ruled from 1923 to 1935.

In 1934 a long-term reform of local administration started. Beginning April 1, county councils were liquidated and their rights, duties and properties were conveyed to the county government formed by the last council. On 19 April 1938 the State Council passed new county laws. Thus, was formed the one-level local government and the county government became essentially a state institution in the county.

The 11-member county council consisting of commune heads was preserved but it functioned

under the leadership of the county governor who was selected by the president for six years. Hendrik Otstavel who had held the position of county governor since 1935, occupied the post.

The Soviet occupation put an end to the activities of  county councils and governments. On 25 July 1940 the commune, town and county councils were dismissed. Since January 1941 the name of county government was also lost from use, and hence replaced by executive committee.

The author of the article is director of the Saaremaa Museum.


Jaak Sammet – The conquering of Muhu Island in September 1941

The conquering of Muhu Island in September 1941 was of special importance to the German troops as it opened the possibility to drive forward into the mighty defence system of the Soviet Union on the West-Estonian islands. The Soviet defence forts were attacked on the eastern coast of Muhu from the region of Virtsu by the subdivisions of the German 61st division. In the first wave of attack stormed the 151st regiment (Commander W. Melzer). Simultaneously a landing on the northern coast of Muhu was organized from Saastna at the bay of Matsalu. Plenty of Estonians volunteered and a Finnish motorboat subdivision participated in the event. The main attention of the article is now turned to the treatment of the aforementioned lesser known facts, including the circumstances of how Finns arrived in West-Estonia. The background for the participation of Estonian volunteers in the armed fight was the fresh experience of the crimes commited by the Soviet occupation from the summer of 1940 until the summer of 1941.

At the Germans’ request, a motorboat subdivision was formed by the Finnish Navy. The old coaster steamer “Porkkala” became the main ship of the subdivision Virkki (by the name of the Commander). The subdivision crossed the Gulf of Finland to Loksa the night of 28 August 1941 – 22 motorboats and “Porkkala” with 56 men in all. As the occupation of the island in the Gulf of Finland proved to be simpler than thought, they were offered employment on the islands of West Estonia. The further activities completed by the boat subdivision of Finns and Estonians proceeded under the guidance of Corvette Captain A. Cellarius (a secret service officer who had big authority). On September 13,  51 motorboats and 13 Finnish boats, and some ferries reached Saastna; this subdivision was commanded by Leopold Loodus, Naval Lieutenant of Estonia.

On the night of September 14, the first landing wave consisting of 20 Estonian and 12 Finnish motorboats and 10 German attack boats (Sturmboot), about 390 men in all, left Saastna. On the northern coast of Muhu they were met by strong machine gun and mine thrower fire. The landing went ashore, however the boats with dead and wounded turned back. At about 12 o’clock the second wave left Saastna – consisting of 200 mostly Estonian volunteers from the subdivision “Erna-II” under the commandment of Estonian Major R. Hindpere. The Estonian boat group was navigated by Lieutenant Loodus. Before landing under violent fire, Ensign T.-E. Andersson, who had led the Finnish boat group, was killed. Only three Finnish boats turned back by themselves, all others were towed.

On February 14 the landing force started moving towards the inland of Muhu, encountering battles on the way. A 40-member-group of Estonian volunteers, under the command of Second Lieutenant Edvard Hurt belonged to the crew of the German 162nd regiment that started landing at Virtsu. Some Estonian volunteers were in the crew of other German subdivisions. Most of them continued their action against the Red Army, after the conquest of causeway from Muhu to Saaremaa on September 16. During most of the battles, after the initial “hot” resistance of the Red Army, the defence quickly broke up and they quickly surrendered.

The participation of the Finnish boat subdivision in the direct war activities ended with the Muhu landing. L. Loodus, who was disappointed later in the official politics of Germany, moved to Finland in 1942, where he fought against the Red Fleet on the artillery ship “Uusimaa”, as the first officer and beginning from June 1944 as the commander of the artillery ship “Karjala”.

The author of the article is the vice-director of the Estonian Maritime Museum.


Endel Prooses – The activities of the Soviet Army in Saaremaa (1944–1991)

E. Prooses, a long-time journalist got material for his article from the county archives where the documents of the secret department of the Excecutive Committee of Soviet Saaremaa have been preserved, he also relied on the memories of the local people. As Saaremaa was the westernmost defence outpost of the Soviet Empire, a significant portion of the Army’s firepower was transferred to Saaremaa for almost half a century. This article will act as a survey as to how many houses and land was at their disposal and what kind of branches of the armed forces were located here at different times.

After conquering Saaremaa in November 1944, the Red Army first left the 131st rifle division, an Air Force unit of the Baltic Sea Navy, and smaller units of the Army. Also, a borderguards unit was brought here at the end of the year and the islands were turned into a closed border zone separated from the rest of Estonia. Lots of farm lands and houses were expropriated and inhabitants were relocated to man 11 coast defence batteries, and five airfields, the construction of which had been started before the war already, nearly twenty frontier guard stations, and other military objects. In the small town of Kuressaare at least 96 buildings and numerous outbuildings were taken into their possession.

In autumn 1951, a special building division, which was to build railway lines from Kuressaare to  the coast defence batteries, was transferred to Saaremaa. More than 2500 hectares of extra land was given to the Army for that purpose. In the middle of 1955, railway building was abruptly interrupted. Almost 500 km of finished railway embankment, 250 km of which had been prepared with rails, were later converted to roads. The division also gave the civil authorities a quarter of its railway workers, the central depot, and many other buildings; both in town and in the countryside.

When the building division left, the role of infantry increased and a whole division was once again relocated to Saaremaa. Karujärve (Dejevo) became its headquarters and in the village of Viki it was given military quarters which had been originally planned for a railway junction.

The development in rocket technology brought big changes in the make-up of the Army located in Saaremaa. At the end of the 1950-ties coast defence batteries were liquidated, in 1961 the Air Force bases. On the grounds of the 165 houses that belonged to Kogula Air Force unit, Sõmera sanatorium for tuberculous patients was founded. But the return of the lands unnecessary for the Army dragged on: in 1962 the Baltic Military District had 8277 hectares of land in Saaremaa but  used less than half of it.

In 1961, the infantry division left, as well , an anti-aircraft regiment had been relocated to Saaremaa in the previous year and they also had rockets in their armament. The staff of the regiment was stationed in the former military quarters for the infantry division in Kuressaare, on Aia Street. The rocket subdivisions were positioned in four places throughout the county. In 1966, the regiment was reorganized into a brigade and an additional seven rocket subdivisions were taken there. The biggest rocket base was located in Karujärve where was also the technical subdivision. The number of frontier guard stations was reduced to eight by that time. In Kuressaare, the border guards had at their command military quarters on Pihtla Road and a staff building in the centre of the town. In addition to that, a single radio reconnaissance company and military hospital was stationed in Saaremaa and Mõntu harbour was at the disposal of the navy. In 1970 Aste airfield was proclaimed the emergency airfield for the Navy’s Air Force.

The departure of the Russian troops from Saaremaa started in the summer of 1992. By the end of the year all the borderguards – about 1000 men were gone. The last objects of the anti-aircraft brigade were given to the Estonian Republic on 29 October 1993. Now only diverse pollution and a number of ugly houses left behind remind us of the occupational forces in Saaremaa.


Tormis Jakovlev – Soviet Army in Western Saaremaa and its relations with the local people

This article by ethnologist T. Jakovlev, head of the Mihkli Farm Museum is a good supplement to the previous article. The author mainly uses the memories of local people based on their relations with the occupational forces; geographically they lived in Western Saaremaa.

Occupation heavily touched those countrypeople whose homes remained on the land with the so-called “special defence purpose” and who were forced to leave, some getting no compensation to set up a new home. The economic condition of fishermen steadily worsened because the few boats preserved after the war were kept in firmly guarded harbours and strict orders were established for their usage.

Still, the relations of most of the local people with the members of the foreign army were rather friendly or at least neutral. They went to each other’s parties, local people could buy goods in short supply from military shops and stores, and the army helped them with transport. Some acquaintances ended in marriage and the demobilized military men remained to live in Saaremaa. West-islanders remember two sharp conflicts – murders committed by military men, one being connected with jealousy and the other with robbery.

The concentration of military men in peacetime was highest in the first half of the 1950-ties when a railway net with defence purpose was built here. The main grounds of the building division was located in the village of Viki near Kihelkonna. As these builders were poorly educated, undisciplined, and many of the regular soldiers who came from the southern republics couldn’t even speak Russian, the people became afraid of them. They got along better with infantrymen and men from the rocket base, but the best relations were with the borderguards who were the most educated. Contact with the latter was the closest because their task was to ascertain the mentality of the local people.

The discourse between officers and local political and economical leaders was quite frequent. Soldiers were often used as civil labour, too. The desire to receive mutual benefits connected both  the common people and the civil superiors with the military men. Corruption that spread in the army was very useful for the local inhabitants as a source of cheap goods and services.

It seems that the majority of western islanders usually did not think of the foreign troops as occupants, they were taken for a phenomenon “that simply is”. They were treated more with humour than anger.


Raul Salumäe – Search for German war graves from the islanders’ point of view

Because of the prevailing situation in the post-war Soviet Union it was not possible to take care of the burial places of the military men fallen on the German side in World War II. In the course of political changes that led to the collapse of the Communist Empire, it was time to put the soldiers’ graves in order. In Saaremaa we made this move only in 1991.

The search, putting in order and reburying of German war graves was organized directly by the German War Graves League (Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge, henceforth VDK). In Saaremaa local people could not form a centre to fully coordinate this work, nonetheless, branches of both state and local authorities helped the VDK, as well as different social organizations.

The information about the burial places of the fallen in the battles on Saaremaa in 1944 was obtained by gathering oral data from the local people. Based on the acquired information, these burial places were marked in the summers of 1992–1997 by the participants of Estonian–German youth camps organized by the VDK. In 1996, the German military graveyard at Kudjape near Kuressaare, four fifths of which has been preserved, was again brought into order and consecrated. The same year the mortal remains of 261 military men, found and dug out from different parts of Saaremaa were reburied there.

By the autumn of 1996, the VDK had achieved most of the goals they had set in Saaremaa. Besides taking care of the Kudjape military men graveyard there are two more trenchant problems on the agenda: erecting gravestones to the military reburied there and putting in order the burial place on Sõrve peninsula.

The experience the local people received from communicating with the VDK has given them noteworthy experiences regarding cemetery culture. The conciliatory message conveyed while searching for and putting into order the graves of the military men overgrown with grass has undoubtly helped avoid vandalism to the graves from the opposite side – the graves of the military men fallen for the Soviet Union. Contact with the problems of war cemeteries of foreign countries has been an inducement for Estonians to deal with searching for and putting into order the burial places of the sons of their own nation who died in military action.

R. Salumäe is a reseacher at the Saaremaa Museum and chairman of the Heritage Society of Saaremaa.


Anti Toplaan – Harri Haamer. From Saaremaa to mainland

The article of A. Toplaan, the pastor of the Kuressaare and Püha congregations of the Lutheran Church, is a summary of his diploma work from the Institute of Theology. It describes the life and work of Harri Haamer (1906–1987), one of the most well-known and loved pastors in Estonia in the 20th century. Compiling the article, A. Toplaan has used, besides literature, lots of recollections and archival documents which have not been published yet.

H. Haamer comes from a civil servant’s family; his elder brother Eugen became an architect and younger brother Erik a painter. The lively boy had no difficulties with his studies, but his teachers were not satisfied with his behaviour, and he was threatened with expulsion from school. The scout movement that H. Haamer remained bound with until his death brought a big change in his life. Having finished Saaremaa Gymnasium in 1924 he entered the theological school of Tartu University. When he graduated in 1929, Haamer was convinced that a clerical office was a fortunate choice for him.

After having worked half a year as the first youth work secretary of the Estonian Lutheran Church, Haamer was appointed a clergyman of Püha congregation on his home island in August 1929. During the four years he worked there, the size of the congregation increased substantially, the economical situation improved, a number of youth societies were formed, and religious enlightment extended even to the most distant villages. At the same time Haamer continued his activities as the leading scoutmaster of Saaremaa (he was elected the leader of Kuressaare scout patrol in 1922 already). As a result of that, the movement widened all over Saaremaa.

At the end of 1933 H. Haamer became the clergyman of the St. Paul’s congregation in Tartu which was one of the biggest in Estonia. Here he was also a popular pastor, achieved good results as an energetic clergyman, and was good at public work. Besides his main work he published a number of sacred and children’s books. In 1934 H. Haamer got married to Maimu Maramaa; Eenok Haamer, the eldest of the three children born in the family is known as a famous churchman and theologian.

In autumn 1944 Haamer energetically started to lead the reconstruction of St. Paul’s church which was destroyed in World War II. The Soviet authorities did not like this or his active work among young people, therefore, was arrested in February 1948. H. Haamer had to spend seven and a half years in prison camps, mainly in Kolyma. After being released he was not allowed to work in bigger towns and beginning in 1955 up to the end of his life he worked as a clergyman of a small rural congregation in Tarvastu. During the years 1962–1970 Haamer was simultaneously the lecturer of the Institute of Theology and he compiled a number of theological researches, but under pressure from the KGB, he was forced to leave this job.

Harri Haamer’s life and activities can be characterized by exceptional strength of mind and soul, coincidence of his words and deeds, exclusion of compromises. In his religious views we can feel the pietistical background and the influence of the United Brethern (traditionally strong in Saaremaa). He was also a firm opponent of religious rationalism.

Harri Haamer’s funeral in Tarvastu on 14 August 1987 spontaneously developed into a national demonstration with several thousands of participants. One old scout laid a wreath with a blue-black-white ribbon on the grave – it was the first time in post-war Estonia when our national colours were brought out publicly…


Traugott Hahn – Memories of my life

Eliaser Traugott Hahn (1848 Komancha in South-Africa – 1939 Burgdorf, Hannover) was a Lutheran pastor, born in a missionary family, he got his general education in Germany and theological higher education in Tartu University, from which he graduated in 1870. In 1872 he married Rosalie Paling who came from Central Estonia near Põltsamaa. E. T. Hahn’s first place of work as a pastor was with the Valjala church in central Saaremaa where he stayed for two and a half years (1872–1874). Later he worked until 1886 as a clergyman in Rõuge in south Estonia and after that as a pastor at St. Olaf’s church in Tallinn.In November 1918 Hahn went to Germany where he died at the age of 90.

In 1905 E. T. Hahn began to write his memories which were published in 1922. This is a summary of the chapters about his years in Valjala. This part has been translated from the second edition of the book –  “Lebenserinnerungen” (Stuttgart 1940), this summary is complimented with a couple of paragraphs from the first edition (printed in italics). Although Hahn was a Baltic-German he had spent his childhood and youth away from the Baltic countries. So he was in the position of someone looking on from a distance and many things that could seem natural to local people attracted his attention. He wrote very detailed descriptions of the circumstances, of his time in Saaremaa, with considerable historical exactness, and some expressions of the former way of thinking and mentality have been added for explanation.

What is especially interesting is the description of relations with the United Brethern (Herrnhuter) and the characterization of their leaders who were in strong positions in the Valjala parish. He has described colourfully and with deep feeling of piety several colleagues, the local common people, and the peculiarity of the agricultural conditions, traffic and school conditions. His meditations of his job are absorbing; about how a clergyman should approach a fellow being to understand his soul.