Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic

Also found in: Acronyms, Wikipedia.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic


(Eesti Nõukogude Sotsialistlik Vabariik), Estonia (Eesti).

Formed on July 21, 1940, the Estonian SSR became part of the USSR on August 6 of that year. It is situated in the northwestern European USSR, on the Baltic coast between the Gulf of Finland in the north and the Gulf of Riga in the southwest. On the east it is bounded by the RSFSR and on the south by the Latvian SSR. Area, 45,100 sq km. Population, 1,460,000 (Jan. 1, 1978). The capital is Tallinn. The republic is divided into 15 raions and has 33 cities and 26 urban-type settlements.

The Estonian SSR is a sovereign soviet socialist state of the whole people that expresses the will and interests of the workers, peasants, and intelligentsia, the working people of all the nationalities living in the republic. It is an integral part of the USSR. The present constitution was adopted on Apr. 13, 1978, by the Supreme Soviet of the Estonian SSR. The highest organ of state power is the unicameral Supreme Soviet of the Estonian SSR, whose members are elected for five-year terms by electoral districts. Between sessions of the Supreme Soviet, the highest state body is the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet. The Supreme Soviet forms the republic’s government, the Council of Ministers of the Estonian SSR. The local governing bodies in raions, cities, the city raions of Tallinn, settlements, and rural areas are the respective soviets of people’s deputies, popularly elected for 2Vi years. The Estonian SSR sends 32 deputies to the Soviet of Nationalities of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR.

The highest judicial body is the Supreme Court, whose members are elected by the republic’s Supreme Soviet for a term of five years. The Supreme Court is composed of a civil and a criminal division, meets in plenary session as well, and has a presidium. The procurator of the Estonian SSR is appointed by the procurator-general of the USSR for a term of five years.

Estonia is located in the northwestern part of the East European Plain, on the east coast of the Baltic Sea.

Coast. The republic’s 3,780-km coastline is highly indented, especially in the west and northwest. Among the largest of the many gulfs and bays are those of Tallinn, Hara, Kolga, Lahepere, Matsalu, and Pärnu. In contrast to the low-lying western shore, the northern coast is a steep scarp, called the glint (seeGLINT).

Estonia’s more than 1,500 islands and islets occupy 4,200 sq km, or 9.2 percent of the area of the republic. The largest islands—Saaremaa, Hiiumaa, Muhu, and Vormsi—make up the West Estonian, or Moonsund, Archipelago.

Topography. The republic’s surface, largely a low plain with an average elevation of about 50 m, has an overall slope from southeast to northwest. Lowlands predominate in western Estonia, on the islands of the West Estonian Archipelago, and around Lake Chudskoe (Peipsi) in the extreme east. The largest lowland, the West Estonian Lowland, contains many peat bogs. The northern and central parts of the republic constitute a rolling plain rising to 166 m in the Pandivere Upland. The highest areas are found southeast of Lake Võrtsjärv: the Otepää Upland (to 217 m) and the Haanja Upland (to 318 m); to the west of Lake Võrtsjärv rises the Sakala Upland, with a maximum elevation of 145 m. The uplands are composed chiefly of bedrock (limestone, sandstone), covered by glacial deposits of the Valdai glaciation.

Moraine deposits predominate in northern and central Estonia. Here are found eskers and drumlins elongated in the direction of glacier movement, primarily from northwest to southeast, and separated by lakes. Southern Estonia has a well-developed moraine-hill and kame topography with a large number of lakes. Ancient preglacial valleys and outwash plains are also clearly discernible in the south.

Geological structure and mineral resources. Estonia is located in the northwestern part of the Eastern European Platform, on the southern slope of the Baltic Shield and the northern slope of the Baltic Syneclise. The platform’s crystalline basement, lying at depths ranging from 110 m in the north to 600 m in the southwest, is composed of greatly dislocated Archean and Proterozoic gneisses, migmatites, schists, quartzites, and granites.

The rocks of the sedimentary cover are monoclinally bedded. Sands, siltstones, and clays up to 240 m thick were deposited during the Vendian and Cambrian. The lower part of the Ordovician beds is composed of obolus sandstone and dictyonema shale. In the Ordovician and Silurian limestones, marls, and dolomites accumulated to a thickness of about 500 m. Oil shales were deposited in the Middle Ordovician. The lower Middle Devonian beds and the lowermost parts of the Upper Devonian beds are composed of multicolored obliquely stratified sandstones interlayered with siltstones, clays, and marls. In the extreme southeast terrigenous Devonian beds are overlain by Upper Devonian limestones and dolomites.

Quaternary deposits—chiefly glacial and fluvioglacial (moraines, gravel, sands) but also marine, lacustrine, and alluvial— range in thickness from a few meters in the north to several dozen meters in the south. The maximum thickness, more than 200 m, is found in buried valleys and uplands.

The principal mineral resources are oil shale, phosphorite (industrial reserves of more than 500 million tons), building materials (limestone, dolomite, gravel, sand, clay, glass sand, and freshwater tufa), peat, sapropel, and therapeutic mud.

Climate. Intermediate between marine and continental, the republic’s climate is milder in the coastal regions and increasingly continental to the east and southeast. In Tallinn, the mean February temperature is – 5.5°C and the mean July temperature, 16.6°C. The annual precipitation ranges from 600 mm to 700 mm, with the greatest amount falling in the southeast, where uplands block the moisture-laden winds. The precipitation is heaviest in the second half of the summer. Estonia has a growing season of 165–185 days.

Rivers and lakes. Estonia has an extensive river network with 420 rivers exceeding 10 km in length. The total length of all the rivers is 31,200 km. The principal rivers are the Pärnu, Emajõgi, Narva, and Kasari. Spring high water is characteristic, and heavy rains can cause flash floods in the fall. The rivers freeze over 2–2.5 months in the west and 3–3.5 months in the east, but the ice is often unstable. Water power resources are estimated at 1.4 billion kilowatt-hours.

Of the Baltic republics, Estonia has the largest area of lakes and reservoirs. Its more than 1,000 lakes and reservoirs cover more than 2,130 sq km, or 4.8 percent of its total area. Most of the lakes are of glacial origin. The largest are Chudskoe, called Peipsi in Estonian (with Lake Pskov), Vōrtsjärv, and Suurlaht on Saaremaa Island. Lakes Chudskoe and Võrtsjärv are important for fishing and transportation.

Soil. Typical soddy calcareous soils, formed on gravelly carbonate moraine, are widespread in the north and northwest and on the islands of Saaremaa and Hiiumaa. Fertile leached calcareous soils occur in the Pandivere Upland and in the central part of the republic. Soddy podzolic soils are found in southern Estonia, where noncarbonate sandy and loamy moraines predominate. The soils are eroded in the hilly regions. Gley soils on varve clays are common in the basins of the Pärnu and Kasari rivers. Marsh and bog soils cover more than 50 percent of Estonian territory.

Flora. Situated in the subzone of mixed forests, Estonia has a forested area of 1.6 million ha (1977; 38 percent of the republic’s territory), about two-thirds of which is covered by coniferous forests of pine and spruce. Timber reserves totaled 196.1 million cu m in 1975. The largest meadow tracts are located in the northwest and on the islands. Bogs occupy about one-fifth of the republic; the largest occur in the basins of the Pärnu and Emajõgi rivers and north of Lake Chudskoe.

Fauna. The republic’s wildlife includes many species native to the taiga, broad-leaved forests, and the seacoast. Among the more common mammals are the elk, roe deer, wild boar, blue and European hares, wolf, and fox. Birds include capercaillies, hazel hens, black grouse, partridges, and orioles. Many migratory birds, chiefly geese, swans, ducks, loons, long-tailed ducks, and scoters, inhabit the coast. Commercially important fish include the Baltic herring, sprat, flounder, cod, pike-perch, and eel. The largest fish catches come from the Bay of Pärnu, the Saaremaa and Hiiumaa coastal waters, and the Gulf of Finland.

Conservation. Since adopting the Law on Nature Conservation in 1957, Estonia has acquired a dense and well-differentiated network of protected areas occupying 2.65 percent of its territory. The Lahemaa National Park, founded in 1971 and covering 644 sq km, offers a cross section of all the typical landscapes of northern Estonia. In the Viidumäe Preserve, established in the southwestern part of Saaremaa Island for the preservation of rare plants, there are mixed forests of pine, spruce, birch, and oak with juniper shrubs. The Vilsandi Preserve, encompassing the islands west of Saaremaa Island, and the Matsalu Preserve on the west coast of Estonia serve as bird sanctuaries. The Nigula Preserve along the southwestern coast of Estonia was founded for the preservation of oligotrophic bogs and forests. The plant cover of its bogs consists chiefly of sphagnum mosses, and its mixed forests of spruce and broad-leaved species are inhabited by numerous mammals and birds.

Estonia also has about 30 other protected areas: 14 landscape reserves; one geological reserve (Kaali meteorite craters on Saaremaa Island); and three botanical, nine botanical and zoological, and two ornithological reserves. Under government protection are 47 parks, three arboretums, 330 old trees, 59 species of rare and decorative plants, 186 species of animals and birds, 222 large boulders, and 37 individual natural objects, among them waterfalls, hills, coastal cliffs, karst landforms, lakes, geological outcroppings, and caves.

Natural regions. In terms of landscape, the republic may be divided into six main regions: North, West, Central, and South Estonia; the Võrtsjärv Lowland; and the Chudskoe Lowland. North Estonia encompasses the coastal lowlands and islands of the Gulf of Finland, the North Estonian Plateau, the Northeastern Estonian Plateau, and the Kõrvemaa and Alutaguse areas. West Estonia includes the West Estonian Archipelago, the West Estonian and Pärnu lowlands, and the islands in the Gulf of Riga. The Võrtsjärv Lowland and the Chudskoe Lowland constitute distinct natural regions. Central Estonia comprises the Pandivere Upland, the Central Estonian Plain, and the Vooremaa and Türi drumlin fields. South Estonia includes the southeastern part of the republic with the Sakala, Otepää, and Haanja uplands and the Väike-Emajōgi River Valley.


Varep, E., and V. Tarmisto. Estonia. Moscow, 1967.
Spravochnik po klimatu SSSR, fasc. 4: Estonskaia SSR, parts 1–5. Moscow, 1965–68.
Ader, J. K., L. R. Linnupôd, and G. K. Tikhonov. Okruzhaiushchaia sreda i ee zashchita v usloviiakh Estonskoi SSR (vodnye resursy). Tallinn, 1975.
Laasimer, L. Eesti NSV taimkate. Tallinn, 1965.
Eesti järved. Edited by A. Mäemets. Tallinn, 1968.
Eesti metsad. Edited by U. Valk and J. Eilart. Tallinn, 1974.
Eesti NSA maapõue kaitsest. Tallinn, 1976.
Estonia: Regional Studies. Tallinn, 1976.

According to the 1970 census, Estonians, numbering 948,000 persons, made up 64.7 percent of the republic’s population, which also included 409,000 Russians, 36,000 Ukrainians, 23,000 Byelorussians, Finns, and Jews, as well as other nationalities.

The average population density is 32.1 persons per sq km (1977), with the most densely settled regions found in the north. Women constitute 53.4 percent and men 46.6 percent of the population (1977). In 1976 women accounted for 53.9 percent of the republic’s 666,000 industrial and office workers, including 51.6 percent of the industrial workers, 78.5 percent of those employed in education and cultural affairs, and 85.7 percent of the public health employees. In the Soviet period industrial growth has caused a steady increase in the urban population (see Table 1).

The principal cities are Tallinn (with 415,000 inhabitants in 1977), Tartu (100,000), Kohtla-Järve (72,000), Narva (72,000) and Pärnu (50,000).

Table 1. Population of the Estonian SSR (Figures in parentheses are percentages)
 1913 (end of year)11940 (Jan. 1)11959 (Jan. 15 census)1970 (Jan. 15 census)1977(Jan. 1)
1Within present-day borders
Urban ...............177,000 (19)354,000 (34)676,000 (56)881,000 (65)995,000 (69)
Rural ...............777,000 (81)700,000 (66)521,000 (44)475,000 (35)452,000 (31)
Total ...............954,0001,054,0001,197,0001,356,0001,447,000

Primitive communal system (to the 13th century A.D.). Traces of human society on the territory of present-day Estonia date from the Mesolithic (eighth to fourth millennia B.C.). Sites inhabited by hunters and fishermen of the Kunda culture have been discovered at Pulli on the Pärnu River, near Kunda and Narva, and on the shore of Lake Võrtsjärv. Excavations of Neolithic sites (third and second millennia B.C.) have yielded pottery decorated with pit-comb designs, some of the best examples of which have come from Akali, Jägala, and Narva. In the third millennium B.C., Estonia was settled by Finno-Ugric tribes. At the end of the millennium they were joined by the presumed ancestors of the Baltic tribes, bearers of the Corded Pottery and Boat-axe cultures, who were familiar with livestock raising and farming.

Bronze came into use in the middle of the second millennium B.C., and iron was introduced in the middle of the first millennium B.C. The amalgamation of the Baltic-Finnic tribes, the Aists (Aestii) and the Livs, dates from this period. Livestock raising became the main branch of the economy, to be replaced by farming in the first centuries A.D. Fortified settlements, such as those at Asva, Iru, and Ridala, were founded from the first half of the first millennium B.C. Three groups of Estonian tribes emerged in the first half of the first millennium A.D.: a northern, southern, and western. Rich burials and treasure troves of silver articles have been found that date from the fifth, sixth, and later centuries; beginning with the ninth century, coins were often buried beside the silver articles. These finds attest to the beginning of property stratification and the disintegration of the clan social structure.

Plow farming became the basis of the economy at the end of the first millennium, and the cultivation of winter rye was introduced in the 11 th century. Weaving, smithery, and pottery developed. Land and sea trade expanded, as attested to by archaeological finds of about 16,000 Byzantine, Arab, and other coins dating from the ninth to 12th centuries. Trade centers and ports arose, notably Tallinn and Tartu (Iur’ev). Large fortified settlements, among them Otepää, Varbola, and Valjala, were founded at the beginning of the second millennium. The ancient tribes formed territorial communities, called kihelkonds, which were grouped into maakonds (land), headed by elders. As the ancient tribal groups were gradually replaced by territorial associations, the Estonian nationality began to emerge. Scandinavian sources mention Viking raids on the Estonian coast at the end of the first and the beginning of the second millennia, as well as attacks by the Estonians on the coast of Denmark and Sweden from the 11th century. In 1030, Iaroslav the Wise conquered Iur’ev (Tartu), founding a fortress there and making southeastern Estonia a dependency of Kievan Rus’ until 1061.

Feudal period (from the 13th century to the first half of the 19th century). In the early 13th century Estonia, with a population of 100,000 to 150,000, was divided into eight lands (Ugandi and Sakala in the south, Virumaa, Järvamaa, Harjumaa, and Revala in the north, and Läänemaa and Saaremaa in the west) and six kihelkonds, located in central Estonia. The formation of a state was interrupted in the early 13th century by feudal-Catholic aggression. First, the Danish king Waldemar II tried to conquer Saaremaa in 1206. Two years later, the German aggression that had begun in the Baltic region in the late 12th century spread to Estonia. From 1208 to 1212, Bishop Albert of Riga and the Order of the Knights of the Sword (Livonian Order) launched some 20 campaigns into southern and central Estonia; in 1210 the army of the order was defeated in a battle on the Ümera River. The German feudal lords conquered Sakala and Ugandi in 1215 and attacked northern Estonia the next year. The battle of Otepää in early 1217 led to the expulsion of the German aggressors, but on September 21 the German knights routed 6,000 Aists led by the elder Lembitu in a battle near Viljandi. Southern and eastern Estonia were reconquered.

Bishop Albert sought the assistance of Waldemar II, who conquered northern Estonia in 1219–20, making Tallinn his stronghold. In the general uprising that broke out in 1223 all of Estonia, excluding Tallinn, was temporarily liberated. Russian reinforcements helped the Aists in the principal fortified towns; in Tartu they were led by Prince Viachko. The Crusaders subjugated mainland Estonia in 1223–24 and Saaremaa Island in 1227. The Bishopric of Tartu (Dorpat), covering some 9,600 sq km, was established in southeastern Estonia in 1224, and the Bishopric of Saare-Läänemaa, encompassing about 7,600 sq km, was founded in western Estonia in 1228.

By the Treaty of Stenby (1238) Denmark acquired northern Estonia, an area of about 12,000 sq km, and the Livonian Order, the strongest state in the region, received Järvamaa, Sakala, Alempois, Mõhu, and Nurmekund, and part of Vaigi—altogether some 16,000 sq km. Most of the order’s possessions, totaling 55,000 sq km, were on Latvian territory; the entire Estonian and Latvian area conquered by the Crusaders .was called Livonia from the second quarter of the 13th century to 1561. Feudal manorial holdings were established on the conquered Estonian lands, somewhat more rapidly by the Danes than by the Livonian Order. The peasants were required to make payments in kind, to perform corvée (three or four days a year in the 13th century), and to render quitrent. Insurrections broke out on Saaremaa Island in 1236–41 and 1260–61, and several uprisings swept the mainland at the end of the century. The largest revolt, the Uprising of St. George’s Night, began in Harjumaa on Apr. 23, 1343, and lasted until 1345. In 1346 the Danish king Waldemar IV sold northern Estonia to the Teutonic Order, which turned the area over to the Livonian Order the next year.

From the late 14th century the development of the corvée based manor, producing grain for export, further undermined the economic and legal position of the Estonian peasants. In the late 15th century the various social groups among the peasantry—the tax-paying, free, and small peasants—began gradually to merge into a relatively homogeneous mass of serfs.

From the 13th century the centers of crafts and trade were Tallinn, Tartu, Rakvere, Narva, Viljandi, Old Pärnu, New Pärnu, Haapsalu, and Paide. By the first half of the 16th century urban dwellers, numbering 15,000 to 20,000 persons, constituted 6–8 percent of Estonia’s population (250,000). The urban artisans were organized into guilds. German burghers dominated the town councils and the merchant guilds. Tallinn, Tartu, Pärnu, and Viljandi were members of the Hanseatic League. Estonian cities played a major role in the trade between Russia and Western Europe.

The 13th, 14th, and 15th centuries were marked by internal conflict between the Livonian Order and the bishops and by wars with the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and with Novgorod and Pskov. The wars of 1480–81 and 1501–03 with Russia forced the Livonian Order to renounce its aggression in the east. The Reformation reached Estonia in 1523. Russia initiated the Livonian War (1558–83) in January 1558 and soon conquered eastern Estonia. The class struggle of the peasantry intensified, culminating in an uprising in western Estonia in 1560. The German feudal lords sought military aid from Denmark, Sweden, and Poland. In 1559 the bishop of Saare-Läänemaa sold his holdings to the Danish king Frederick II, who transferred the land to his brother, Duke Magnus. Two years later Tallinn, the knighthood of Harjumaa and Virumaa, and the nobility of Järvamaa recognized the sovereignty of the Swedish king Eric XIV. The master of the Livonian Order, G. Kettler, concluded an alliance with the Polish king Sig-ismund Augustus in 1559, becoming the latter’s vassal in 1561. The Russian victories resulted in the dissolution of the Livonian Order in 1562.

Russia conquered all of Estonia, excluding Tallinn and the islands, between 1572 and 1577, but it lost the territory in 1580–81 after a counteroffensive by Polish and Swedish forces. By the Peace Treaty of lam Zapol’skii (1582) between Russia and Poland and the Truce of Pliussa (1583) between Russia and Sweden, northern Estonia (Estland) passed to Sweden and southern Estonia to the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Saaremaa Island remained under Danish control. In southern Estonia the Polish authorities, limiting the landholdings and authority of the local German nobility, sought to establish royal folwarks (manors) and to reimpose Catholicism.

In the course of subsequent wars with the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (1600–11, 1617–29) Sweden conquered all of mainland Estonia by 1625. Saaremaa Island was ceded to Sweden in 1645. After the Russo-Swedish War of 1656–58, the Valiesar Treaty (1658) gave eastern Estonia to Russia, but the Treaty of Kardis (1661) restored the prewar frontiers. The Swedish Baltic was divided into the provinces of Estland (northern Estonia) and Livland (southern Estonia and northern Latvia). Regular state taxes were imposed on the peasants, and crown landholdings were distributed among the nobility, including Swedish noblemen. The cities of Viljandi, Rakvere, Paide, Haapsalu, and Valga also came under the authority of feudal lords. A special Baltic (Ostsee) administrative system emerged in the 1640’s to protect landlords’ privileges through local governing bodies of the nobility. Serfdom was definitively established in Livland in 1668 by the police regulations of the governor-general C. Tott, whose measures were confirmed by the king in 1671. In 1680, King Charles XI began to reclaim some of the former crown lands that had passed to the nobility. The expropriated estates were usually leased back to the nobles, but the peasant obligations ipn them were regulated by the state, a policy that brought some legal benefits to the peasants.

In the 17th century foreign trade was based on grain export, and the first manufactures (seeMANUFACTURE) were established, including a glassworks in 1628 and a paper mill in 1664. The University of Tartu was founded in 1632. A teachers’ school functioned near Tartu from 1684 to 1688, and the first village schools were organized in the 1680’s. Estonia’s first newspaper, issued in German, appeared in 1689. A great famine struck in 1695–97, causing the population to decline from 350,000 to 280,000.

In the Northern War (1700–21) Russian troops occupied eastern Estonia, including Tartu and Narva, in 1704. On Sept. 29 (Oct. 10), 1710, the Estland knighthood and Tallinn surrendered, and all of Estonia was annexed by Russia. Officially ratified by the Treaty of Nystadt (1721), Estonia’s incorporation into the Russian Empire assured it a durable peace and thereby promoted its economic and cultural development. The estate privileges of the knighthood were confirmed, and the expropriated manors were returned to the nobles. The German nobility gained control of the administration, the courts, and the police and influenced church and school affairs. Local matters were resolved at Landtags (assemblies of nobles). The population reached 350,000 by the mid-18th century and 490,000 by the 1780’s, with Germans accounting for 2–4 percent of the inhabitants.

In the second half of the 18th century the distilling of liquor from grain became an important economic activity; the distillery residue was used to fatten cattle. The expansion of commodity production in agriculture and the growth of manufacture paved the way for the rise of capitalist relations. The introduction of a poll tax caused peasant disturbances in 1783–84. From 1797 the Estonian population was obliged to provide recruits for the Russian Army. Trade with Russia, especially with St. Petersburg, increased. The first Estonian-language magazine was published in 1766–67.

In the cities, whose population rose from 5,000 in 1710 to 23,000 (5 percent of the total) in the 1770’s, the guild system and the privileges of the town councils were preserved. The customs barriers between Russia and the Baltic provinces were abolished in 1782. In 1785 all noble estates were declared to be hereditary patrimonies. The class struggle of the peasantry, which involved mass flights and disturbances, and the crisis in the corvée system impelled the government and the nobles to initiate reforms. Laws enacted in 1802 permitted peasants to own part of their movable property and to bequeath their holdings. However, the landlords retained the right to resettle peasants and in certain cases to deprive them of their plots. The rural courts that were created were controlled by the landlords. As these measures did not alleviate the crisis in the manorial economy, further agrarian reforms were promulgated: under laws passed in Estonia Province in 1816 and in Livonia Province in 1819, the peasants gained their personal freedom, but the land remained the property of the landlord and the peasants’ freedom of movement was curtailed. Moreover, the landlords retained their judicial and police power.

The development of capitalism in agriculture followed the Prussian model (seeAGRARIAN QUESTION). In the second quarter of the 19th century manors began to adopt the multifield system and to introduce such new crops as potatoes and clover. Animal husbandry and the distillation of liquor continued to expand. The landlords’ oppression only intensified peasant resistance, which in the 1840’s took such forms as conversion to Orthodoxy (17 percent of the peasants in southern Estonia) and disturbances (Pühajärve, 1841). The mass peasant movement obliged the tsarist government to enact new laws in Livonia Province in 1849, in Estonia Province in 1856, and on Saaremaa Island in 1865. The new laws encouraged the transition from labor services to money rent and the sale of land to peasants. Part of the manor land was to be sold or leased only to peasants. The lingering vestiges of feudal serfdom, especially of the corvée, sparked new peasant revolts, of which the largest was the Mahtra Uprising. The industrial revolution spread to Estonia in the late 1820’s.

Premonopoly capitalism (second half of the 19th century). After 1850 the peasant movement gained momentum in Estonia, as in the rest of the Russian Empire. In response to the large-scale migration of Estonian peasants into interior Russia and to the many petitions sent from southern Estonia to the central authorities, the tsarist government introduced new bourgeois reforms: it enacted a passport statute in 1863 giving the peasants greater freedom of movement, adopted a commune law (Volost’ Law) in 1866, and abolished the corvée in 1868. Industry developed rapidly after the reforms of the 1860’s. In agriculture the corvée based manor economy was shifting to a capitalist economy, with money rent becoming the norm by the late 1860’s. The purchase of holdings from the landlords led to a proliferation of small peasant farmsteads. By the end of the century peasants had purchased 86 percent of the tenant land in southern Estonia and 50.4 percent in northern Estonia; more than 66 percent of the peasants remained landless.

In the 1860’s and the 1870’s the growth of market-oriented agriculture and the availability of a free labor force promoted the development of large-scale industry, completing the industrial revolution. As the cities grew by drawing on the rural population, the proportion of Estonians in them increased. Between 1862 and 1897 the number of urban dwellers rose from 8.8 percent to 18.4 percent of the total population. Textile manufacture, the leading branch of industry, was concentrated at the Narva (1822), Hiiu-Kärdla (1829), Sindi (1834), Tartu (1839), and Krenholm (1857) factories. Machine-building plants were built in Tallinn. Industrial development gave impetus to railroad construction. The Baltic Railroad, completed in 1870, linked the ports of Tallinn and Paldiski via Narva with St. Petersburg and the interior provinces of Russia. The Tapa-Tartu line was completed in 1876, the Tartu-Valga line in 1887, and the Valga-Võru-Pskov line in 1889. After the construction of the railroads, Tallinn became Russia’s fourth-largest port in volume of foreign trade turnover.

By 1894 there were 14,400 industrial workers, compared to 6,330 in 1860. At the end of the century the rural proletariat and the village poor constituted 72.5 percent of the total population in the countryside, where vestiges of serfdom persisted. The bourgeois reforms of the 1870’s and 1880’s, notably the urban statute of 1877, the police reform of 1888, and the court reform and reorganization of peasant institutions of 1889, promoted the development of capitalist relations in Estonia without undermining the dominance of the Baltic German nobility and the German urban bourgeoisie in the economic and political sphere.

The emergence of the Estonian nation in the second half of the 19th century coincided with the formation of a working class, a national bourgeoisie, and a national intelligentsia, as well as the development of an Estonian national culture. A national movement supported by the peasant masses arose in the 1860’s to assail the power and privileges of the German nobility. Its organizational centers were the committees of the Estonian Alexander School, the Society of Estonian Writers, the Vanemuine Choral Society, and the newspapers Eestipostimees and Sakala. The Estonian national movement soon divided into a bourgeois-clerical current, headed by J. Hurt and J. V. Jannsen, and a bourgeois-democratic current, led by C. R. Jakobson, M. Veske, and J. Köler. The latter called for the extension of the Russian bourgeois reforms of the 1860’s, 1870’s, and 1880’s to the Baltic, the compulsory sale of landlords’ land to the peasants, and the abrogation of the special Baltic administrative system.

In the 1870’s the Estonian labor movement developed in close contact with the labor movement in St. Petersburg and the other Russian industrial centers. The first major action of Estonian industrial workers was the Krenholm strike of 1872, which was followed in the 1880’s and 1890’s by strikes in Narva (1882), Kunda (1883), and other cities. Marxist circles were organized by revolutionary students and workers (see below: Communist Party of Estonia).

Imperialism and the bourgeois-democratic revolutions in Russia (late 19th century to 1917). In the late 19th century Estonia entered the stage of monopoly capitalism along with the rest of the Russian Empire. Between 1895 and 1901 the number of industrial workers rose from 14,000 to 26,000, and in 1900 enterprises with 500 or more workers employed 65 percent of all factory workers. The share of foreign capital in industry increased. By the early 20th century Estonia was one of the more developed capitalist regions of the Russian Empire. The economic crisis of 1900–03, which affected Estonia as well, struck hardest at the machine-building and metalworking industries. Despite the rapid development of industry, 65 percent of the Estonian population was engaged in agriculture in the early 20th century. In 1905 landlords owned 54.3 percent of the land in Livonia Province, peasants 34.8 percent, and the state and other proprietors 10.9 percent; the corresponding figures for Estonia Province were 73.9 percent, 23.7 percent, and 2.4 percent. Social differentiation among the peasantry proceeded at a more rapid pace.

Clandestine Social Democratic workers’ circles were founded in Tallinn in 1901–02, and Social Democratic ideas inspired the student movement in Tartu. In protest against the Jan. 9, 1905, massacre in St. Petersburg, the Tallinn Committee of the RSDLP, founded in 1904, organized a general strike in the city. About 12,000 workers took part in the strike, which lasted from January 12 to January 24. Strikes, meetings, and demonstrations were also held in Narva, Pärnu, and Tartu. Peasant unrest escalated as farm workers also went on strike. Estonia’s first political strike took place in Tallinn from April 30 to May 2. The revolutionary struggle was joined by the democratic intelligentsia and by revolutionary university and secondary school students.

In Estonia, the October All-Russian political strike of 1905 began on October 14 with a strike of railroad workers in Tallinn, Narva, and Valga and at various smaller railroad stations. On October 16 tsarist troops fired on a workers’ meeting in Tallinn, killing some 90 people and wounding more than 200. The funeral of the victims on October 20 turned into a giant demonstration involving 40,000 people. The general strike, involving 20,000 industrial and railroad workers throughout Estonia, ended on October 26. On November 3 the proletariat of Tallinn joined the political strike of the St. Petersburg workers, and later that month the Tallinn Soviet of Workers’ Deputies was elected and the first trade unions were founded (see below: Trade unions).

After the proclamation of the tsar’s Manifesto of October 17, the liberal Estonian bourgeoisie founded the Estonian People’s Party, which held progressive views similar to those of the Constitutional Democrats. On November 27 the Estonian bourgeoisie convened an all-Estonian assembly of people’s representatives in Tartu. At the urging of the Social Democrats, the revolutionary delegates to the assembly on November 27–29 called for the overthrow of autocracy and the establishment of revolutionary committees of self-government. About 50 such revolutionary committees were soon formed.

On December 10 the authorities proclaimed martial law in Tallinn and in Harju District. Thereupon workers’ detachments led by Social Democrats left Tallinn for the countryside with the aim of seizing landlords’ estates and placing them at the disposal of local committees. They were joined by farm workers. Between December 12 and December 20 more than 120 landlords’ estates were burned or ransacked, and revolutionary rule was established in the area caught up in the uprising. The armed clashes that broke out in Velise, Kabala, and other volosts (small rural districts) ended in the defeat of the workers’ and peasants’ detachments. Between December 1905 and February 1906 punitive forces executed some 300 people and subjected more than 600 others to corporal punishment.

Even when the revolution was clearly on the wane, strikes continued: some 24,000 workers struck in 1906 and more than 17,000 in 1907. On July 20, 1906, a rebellion broke out among the sailors on the cruiser Pamiat’ Azova, which was anchored near Tallinn. The position of the Bolsheviks was strengthened by the Terioki Conference of the Estonian Organizations of the RSDLP, held in February 1907.

In the ensuing years of reaction a reign of terror was unleashed by the army and police. A major economic development was the merger of banking and industrial capital. Stolypin’s agrarian reform had little impact on Estonia because communal land tenure had never taken hold there. Farmhands and bankrupt peasants emigrated to other provinces of the Russian Empire or abroad. About 200,000 people had left Estonia by 1914. The Lena Massacre in 1912 sparked protest strikes in Tallinn, Pärnu, and Tartu. Some 28,000 workers struck in 1913. In 1912–13 the Russian-Baltic, Bekker, and Noblessner shipyards, the major enterprises in Tallinn, were affected by strikes.

In World War I, when Estonia formed the rear of the Northern Front, about 100,000 Estonians were drafted into the army and war industries expanded. The Estonian bourgeoisie supported the tsarist imperialist policy and profited from the war. At the same time, food shortages, rising prices, and intensified exploitation exacerbated class antagonisms.

The February Bourgeois Democratic Revolution of 1917 reached Estonia on March 1 (14), when a general strike broke out among the Tallinn workers. The next day revolutionary workers, sailors, and soldiers seized power in Tallinn. In early March the revolution was victorious throughout Estonia. The Tallinn Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies, elected on March 3 (16), was dominated by Mensheviks and Socialist Revolutionaries (SR’s), with Bolsheviks numbering 60 deputies out of 200. In the course of the month soviets were formed in other Estonian cities and communities. As everywhere in Russia, dual power was established. On March 30 (April 12), the Russian Provisional Government enacted the statute On the Provisional Organization of Government Administration and Local Self-government in Estonia Province. Southern Estonia was united with Estonia Province, and the Estonia Provincial Council of the Land, an advisory body under the provincial commissar, became the organ of provisional self-government.

The First Conference of the North Baltic (Estonian) Organizations of the RSDLP(B) was held in Tallinn on April 16–17 (29–30). In early May the Bolsheviks organized their groupings in the soviets. They were active in the trade unions and in proletarian cultural-educational and youth organizations, and they helped form factory committees and workers’ militia detachments. In April and May associations of farm workers and committees of landless peasants were formed in many volosts. The Provisional Central Bureau of Landless Peasants was set up under the North Baltic Bureau of the RSDLP(B). About 40,000 people took part in the July 4 demonstration in Tallinn. The First Congress of Estonian Soviets, held in Tallinn on July 23–27 (August 5–9), elected the All-Estonian Executive Committee of Soviets (seeEXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OF THE SOVIETS OF ESTLANDIA). The Second Conference of the North Baltic Organizations of the RSDLP(B), convened on August 13 and 16 (26 and 29), elected the Estlandia Regional Bureau of the RSDLP(B). A conference of landless peasants held on August 13–15 (26–28) adopted the Bolshevik program. After the suppression of the Kornilov Revolt, the Bolsheviks gradually gained the ascendancy in the Estonian soviets.

The Great October Socialist Revolution and the struggle for Soviet rule (1917–19). By the middle of October 1917 all the principal soviets in Estonia had Bolshevik majorities. On October 12–14 (25–27) the Second Congress of Estonian Soviets endorsed the decision of the Central Committee of the RSDLP(B) to begin an armed uprising. On October 16 (29) a demonstration took place in Tallinn under the slogans “All power to the Soviets!” and “Down with the Provisional Government!” Bolsheviks organized Red Guards in Tallinn, Narva, and Tartu and formed combat detachments in army units and the fleet. Meeting in a joint session on October 22 (November 4), the Executive Committee of the Soviets of Estlandia and the Tallinn Soviet created the Military Revolutionary Committee of Estonia (MRC), with I. V. Rab-chinskii as chairman and V. Kingissepp as vice-chairman, to direct the armed uprising. On the evening of October 23 (November 5) the Estonian MRC, acting on instructions from the Petrograd MRC, established control over all strategic points in Tallinn. In Estonia, as in Petrograd, power passed to the soviets on October 23–25 (November 5–7). The victory of the socialist revolution in Estonia foiled A. F. Kerensky and P. N. Krasnov’s plans to send counterrevolutionary troops to Petrograd through Estonia.

By February 1918 soviets had been set up in four-fifths of the volosts, and revolutionary changes were under way. Workers’ control was established at large industrial enterprises, an eight-hour workday was introduced, some enterprises were nationalized, and more than 1,000 landlords’ estates were confiscated. On Feb. 18, 1918, German troops invaded Estonia. Despite the stubborn resistance of Red Guard detachments, they occupied the region in February and March. To prevent the German aggressors from seizing the Baltic Fleet, the heroic Ice Campaign was undertaken on V. I. Lenin’s orders; under the escort of icebreakers the ships were moved from Tallinn to Helsinki and from there to Kronstadt. The German aggressors established a reign of terror in Estonia, abolishing the laws and decrees enacted by the Soviet government and restoring the confiscated estates to the landlords.

Led by clandestine Bolshevik organizations, the working people resisted the occupation forces. There were general strikes in Tallinn on Sept. 12–14 and Nov. 9, 1918. In November a bourgeois provisional government, with K. Päts as prime minister, was formed with the cooperation of the occupation authorities. On November 19 representatives of the German government and the Estonian bourgeoisie, meeting in Riga, signed an agreement transferring power to the Provisional Government.

With the popular masses demanding the restoration of Soviet rule, the Tallinn Soviet of Workers’ Deputies appealed to the Russian proletariat for support. After the annulment of the Brest-Litovsk Treaty, Soviet Russia stepped up its aid to the Estonian working people in their struggle against the bourgeoisie and the interventionists. Estonian Red Army units were formed. On November 15 the Bureau of the Estonian Section of the RCP(B), meeting in Petrograd, formed the Provisional Revolutionary Committee of Estonia to direct the liberation of the region.

On Nov. 29, 1918, units of the Seventh Army, including Estonian regiments, liberated Narva, where the Estlandia Labor Commune (Estland Working People’s Commune) was proclaimed that same day. Power passed to the Council of the Commune, whose chairman was J. Anvelt and whose members included V. Kingissepp, R. Vakmann, A. Vallner, J. Käspert, K. Mühlberg, J. Mägi, H. Pöögelmann, O. Rästas, and M. Trakmann. The government of the RSFSR recognized the independence of Soviet Estonia in a decree signed by Lenin on Dec. 7, 1918. By January 1919 the Red Army had liberated a large part of Estonia, where the decrees of the Soviet government were again put into effect. Nevertheless, mistakes were committed in dealing with the agrarian question. The policy of establishing state farms on former landlords’ estates rather than transferring the land to the peasants had an adverse effect on the alliance between the proletariat and the laboring peasantry.

During the intervention against Soviet Russia the imperialists of the USA and Great Britain extended military and economic aid to the Estonian bourgeoisie. A British squadron arrived in Tallinn on Dec. 12, 1918, and mercenaries from Finland, Sweden, and Denmark were brought to Estonia. Opening their offensive in early January 1919, the combined forces of the Estonian bourgeois army, the interventionists, and the White Guards succeeded in forcing out the Red Army units by February. A large-scale White terror campaign followed, and the Saaremaa Uprising was crushed in February. The bourgeois dictatorship consolidated its position after elections were held to the Constituent Assembly of Estonia. On May 19, 1919, the Constituent Assembly proclaimed the formation of a bourgeois Estonian republic. On June 5 the government of the Estlandia Labor Commune discontinued its activity.

The bourgeois dictatorship (1919–40). On July 19, 1919, the Estonian Communists issued a peace manifesto and called on the working people to agitate for the conclusion of a peace treaty between Soviet Russia and bourgeois Estonia. On August 31 the First Congress of Estonian Trade Unions was disbanded for supporting the demand. After the rout of General N. N. Iudenich’s forces near Petrograd in November 1919, the bourgeois government, responding to the pressure of the masses and disregarding the opposition of the Entente, signed a peace treaty with the RSFSR on Feb. 2, 1920. Under the constitution adopted by the Constituent Assembly on June 15, the highest legislative body was to be the unicameral State Assembly, which was empowered to form the government. The Estonian government adopted a pro-British foreign policy.

Cut off from the Russian market, Estonia became a supplier of agricultural produce and raw materials to the West European powers. Although heavy industry declined, light industry continued to develop. A bourgeois land reform abolished the holdings of the Baltic German landlords, expropriating 2.35 million hectares of land. The nationalist bourgeoisie’s pro-agrarian policy resulted in the creation of more than 50,000 private peasant farms. Large kulak farms flourished at the expense of the impoverished laboring peasantry.

Discontent with the policy of the bourgeoisie mounted among the working people. Operating underground, the Estonian Communist Party and Komsomol rallied popular support for a united front of the working people. In the 1923 elections to the State Assembly the united front won 10 percent of the seats, all of them going to Communist deputies. The bourgeois government reacted to the growing strength of the labor movement with intensified repression. In January 1924 some 300 working people’s organizations were disbanded and their leading members were arrested, as were the deputies of the working people’s united front.

The economic crisis of 1923–24 precipitated a revolutionary situation in the fall of 1924. An uprising prepared and led by the Communist Party broke out in Tallinn on Dec. 1, 1924, but it was defeated. The bourgeois government continued its policy of encouraging the development of agriculture. Between 1925 and 1929 the land reform was completed, and more cooperatives were formed for supplying peasant farms and exporting agricultural produce. During the world economic crisis of 1929–33 industrial output dropped by one-third in Estonia. In the winter of 1932, when large and medium-sized industries had a work force of 28,000, about 32,000 persons were registered as unemployed. The earnings of peasant farms were cut by half. The dissatisfaction of the working people with the bourgeois system was growing, and the influence of the Communist Party was increasing.

The bourgeois parties tried to use the discontent of the masses to strengthen the power of the bourgeoisie. On March 12, 1934, the leaders of the Agrarian Party, K. Päts and J. Laidoner, staged a coup d’etat under the pretext of defending democracy and seized power, an event that marked the transition to a fascist dictatorship. The parliament was disbanded in 1934, and all political parties were banned the next year, to be replaced by the fascist party Isamaaliit (Patriotic League). In 1937 the National Assembly was convened to draw up a new constitution, and the following year K. Päts was elected president.

In the second half of the 1930’s Estonia entered fascist Germany’s sphere of influence. German concerns gained control over its shale, wood pulp, and phosphorite industries. In 1937, Germany was Estonia’s principal trading partner, the main purchaser of its raw materials and agricultural produce. As production of strategic raw materials for the German war industry expanded, the number of workers employed in Estonia’s largescale industry increased, reaching 39,000 persons in 1939. Concurrently, the social differentiation of the Estonian peasantry was clearly apparent in the growing number of kulaks and prosperous middle farmers and the rapid impoverishment of the poorer and small-middle peasants. By the late 1930’s rural proletarians and semi-proletarians, poor peasants, and straitened middle peasants constituted two-thirds of the Estonian population.

The Estonian Communists worked for the establishment of a united antifascist popular front. In 1938 the labor movement began to revive, and a democratic coalition, the United Bloc of the Working People, was formed in the State Assembly.

At the outbreak of World War II, Estonia stood in imminent danger of enslavement by fascist Germany. The Estonian working people expressed their dissatisfaction with the policy of the government, which was ready to sacrifice national independence to preserve the rule of the bourgeoisie. The Soviet government proposed a mutual assistance pact, a proposal that the Estonian government accepted under pressure from the working masses. The mutual assistance pact signed on Sept. 28, 1939, provided for the stationing of a small number of Soviet troops in Estonia. Trade agreements were also concluded. The mutual assistance pact was to ensure Estonia’s national sovereignty and to prevent it from becoming a staging area for an attack on the USSR. The working people of Estonia welcomed the treaty.

After the war began, the country’s industrial output and foreign trade declined sharply and unemployment rose. Economic difficulties and discontent with the policy of the bourgeois government, which obstructed the implementation of the pact with the USSR and whose sympathies lay with fascist Germany, precipitated a revolutionary situation in Estonia. In a note sent on June 16, 1940, the Soviet government requested that the mutual aid pact be strictly observed. To ensure the treaty’s implementation, additional Soviet Army units entered Estonia with the consent of the Estonian government. The working people welcomed the Soviet soldiers and demanded a change of government. On June 21 political workers’ demonstrations, led by the Estonian Communist Party, took place in Tallinn, Tartu, Narva, and other cities. The socialist revolution had begun. The Estonian proletariat, allied with the working peasantry and led by the Communist Party came to power through peaceful means. On June 21 the fascist government was overthrown, and a people’s government was formed under the leadership of J. Vares.

Victory of the socialist revolution of 1940; beginning of socialist construction. The people’s government embarked on a democratization of Estonia’s state apparatus and public and political life. Democratic freedoms were guaranteed to the people; the Estonian Communist Party was legalized; bourgeois political organizations were disbanded; political prisoners were released; and changes were effected in the composition of the state bureaucracy. In the July 14–15, 1940, elections to the State Council, 92.8 percent of the electorate voted for the candidates of the Working People’s League of Estonia, a united electoral coalition of the democratic strata of the population founded on the initiative of the Communist Party.

Expressing the will of the people, the State Council on July 21, 1940, proclaimed the restoration of Soviet rule and the establishment of the Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic. On July 22 it announced Estonia’s inclusion in the USSR, and on July 23 it declared the land to be the property of all the people and nationalized banks and large industry. The State Council requested the Supreme Soviet of the USSR to admit Estonia into the USSR. On Aug. 6, 1940, the Supreme Soviet of the USSR granted the request, and the Estonian SSR entered the USSR as an equal soviet socialist republic. On August 25 the State Council adopted the constitution of the Estonian SSR, proclaimed itself the provisional Supreme Soviet of the Estonian SSR (chairman of the Presidium, J. Vares), and confirmed the Council of People’s Commissars of the Estonian SSR (chairman, J. Lauristin).

Availing itself of the fraternal aid of the other Union republics, the Estonian government in 1940–41 carried out radical socialist transformations in the country’s economy and culture. The nationalization of the land, banks, large and medium-sized industries, and commercial and other capitalist enterprises ensured rapid industrial development. Industrial output increased by 63 percent in 1940, and unemployment was eliminated. The national economic plan aimed at the industrialization of the republic.

Under the land reform instituted in 1940–41 the maximum size of peasant holdings was established at 30 hectares (ha). About 400,000 ha of land were distributed among more than 50,000 landless and small peasants. Some 40,000 peasants received longterm credits, and debts from redemption payments were cancelled. The land reform, essentially completed by December 1940, changed the balance of class forces in the Estonian countryside: capitalist farmers were eliminated, the number of kulaks dropped, and the working peasantry gained ascendancy. In the spring of 1941 there were 25 machine and tractor stations, 250 horse and implement renting stations, and 109 sovkhozes. The first kolkhozes were established.

To improve the living conditions of the working people, laws were enacted raising wages, lowering taxes and apartment rents, and introducing free medical services. Large sums were allocated for social security and cultural needs. Socialist construction was interrupted by fascist Germany’s treacherous attack on the Soviet Union in June 1941.

Great Patriotic War (1941–45). Fascist German troops invaded Estonia in early July 1941, taking Tallinn on August 28 after heavy fighting. Defensive battles were fought on the mainland until September 5 and on the West Estonian Islands until December 2. The defense forces included 27 Estonian volunteer combat battalions and workers’ regiments and detachments, totaling some 10,000 men. About 60,000 Estonian citizens were evacuated to the eastern regions of the USSR. The aggressors wiped out all the gains of Soviet rule with the help of the bourgeois nationalists. Temporarily occupied Estonia was included in the Eastern Territory (Ostland) and was administered by a general commissariat. The so-called Estonian self-government, composed of Nazi lackeys, was formed, a regime of terror was established, some 20 concentration camps were set up, and more than 61,000 civilians and 64,000 prisoners of war were killed. Estonian citizens were forcibly drafted into the fascist German Army, and many people were deported for forced labor to Germany.

The Estonian population resisted the occupation forces. The Staff of the Estonian partisan movement was set up in August 1942 to direct the approximately 80 partisan detachments and groups operating in the occupied territory. The partisans destroyed ten enemy garrisons, blew up 34 bridges, burned down 19 military warehouses, and killed about 3,400 Nazis and their confederates. About 500 Estonian partisans were awarded orders and medals for their heroism and bravery. Estonian partisans also fought in Leningrad and Kalinin oblasts and in the Latvian SSR. The VIII Estonian Rifle Corps of the Soviet Army, formed in the Soviet rear in 1942, took part in the battle over Velikie Luki (1942–43) and in the liberation of Estonia. (The unit was renamed the Guards Corps in 1945.) The Soviet Army liberated Tallinn on Sept. 22, 1944, and all of Estonia by Nov. 24, 1944. More than 20,000 members of the Estonian Corps were awarded orders and medals, and the title of Hero of the Soviet Union was conferred on 12 Estonian soldiers and officers. The material damage caused by the fascist German aggressors to the national economy amounted to more than 16 billion rubles. The aggressors destroyed 45 percent of the industrial enterprises, much of the livestock, and about half of the apartment houses in Estonian cities.

Building of socialism in Estonia; the republic as a developed socialist society. Socialist reforms, interrupted by the war, were resumed in the postwar years. The main tasks were to restore the national economy and to build the foundations for socialism. The socialist reconstruction of the national economy was facilitated by the fact that Soviet Estonia, as part of the USSR, was able to rely on the strong material and technical base of the fraternal republics, to make use of their experience in building socialism, and to receive comprehensive aid, both political and material. Estonian party, soviet, and managerial personnel were trained in Soviet secondary schools, higher educational institutions, and special courses. Specialists from other Soviet republics assisted in the restoration and development of the Estonian economy. The Soviet government allocated various material resources to Estonia, sending the republic thousands of machine tools and motor vehicles, as well as raw materials, fuel, and manufactured goods.

Economic development rested on five-year national economic plans, which were an integral part of all-Union plans. The postwar rebuilding of the economy was accompanied by socialist industrialization. The oil-shale industry expanded, and gasworks based on oil shale were established. Gas pipelines were built linking Kohtla-Järve and Leningrad (1948) and Kohtla-Järve and Tallinn (1953). The output of the machine-building, textile, and electric-power industries increased, and new branches of the national economy were established. In 1946, Estonian industry reached the prewar (1940) level, and by 1950 it had exceeded that level by a factor of 3.4. Through the efforts of the working class and the fraternal help of other republics, the postwar five-year plan was successfully fulfilled, creating the material and technical basis for socialism.

On Sept. 17, 1944, the Supreme Soviet of Estonia enacted a law restoring Soviet land tenure, and by the summer of 1947 the land reform was completed. In this period the state acquired 927,000 ha of land, taken chiefly from 28,288 farms exceeding 30 ha each but also including abandoned farms and land expropriated from kulaks, collaborators of the occupation forces, and German colonists. About 26,600 peasants regained the land that they had received under the land reform of 1940–41 and lost during the occupation. Another 42,300 peasants received 417,000 ha of land. The middle peasant became the main producer in the Estonian countryside.

The land reform created the conditions for the socialist reorganization of agriculture. The first postwar kolkhozes were organized in 1947, when the Estonian Communist Party adopted a policy of collectivization. Large-scale collectivization was carried out in 1949, and by the end of the next year there were 2,213 kolkhozes uniting 118,600 holdings, or 93 percent of the republic’s farms. The kolkhozes received from the state credits, agricultural machinery, fertilizer, and other aid. The collectivization drive took place amid bitter class struggle. Kulaks, bourgeois nationalists, and former collaborators of the fascist German occupation forces, supported by imperialist intelligence agents, stepped up their opposition to Soviet rule and tried to prevent the peasants from joining the kolkhozes. They organized armed gangs, killed Soviet activists, and terrorized the population. When full collectivization had eliminated the kulaks as a class, Estonia achieved a socialist agriculture.

The victory of the socialist mode of production made possible the inclusion of Estonia’s economy in the unified complex of the USSR national economy. In January 1953 the Supreme Soviet of the Estonian SSR legislatively confirmed the building of the foundations of socialism, making appropriate changes in the republic’s constitution.

In the 1950’s and 1960’s new branches of industry were established, dozens of large enterprises were built, and old enterprises were modernized. Livestock raising became the main branch of agriculture. The living standard of the Estonian working people rose.

Socialist construction has changed the class structure of Estonian society by creating a kolkhoz peasantry, skilled national cadres of the working class, and a national people’s intelligentsia. As a result of a cultural revolution, the general education level of the population has risen, and manifestations of bourgeois and petit bourgeois ideology have been overcome. The republic’s party organizations have done outstanding work in instilling a communist world view in the broad masses of the working people. An academy of sciences has been founded, as well as new higher educational institutions, scientific and cultural-educational organizations, national theaters, libraries, and clubs. The Estonian people have created a culture that is national in form, socialist in content, and internationalist in spirit and character.

Estonia has become a mature socialist society and an industrial socialist republic with a highly developed agriculture. The Estonian people have been amalgamated into a socialist nation that is part of a new historical community, the Soviet people. Under the conditions of a fully developed socialist society, the Estonian working people have joined the other peoples of the Soviet Union in creating the material and technical basis for communism. The economic and cultural revival has been accompanied by an all-round broadening and deepening of ties with the fraternal republics of the Soviet Union. The title of Hero of Socialist Labor has been conferred on 115 working people of the republic.

In July 1965, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the restoration of Soviet rule, the Estonian SSR received the Order of Lenin for its achievements in building socialism. In December 1972 it was awarded the Order of Friendship of Peoples in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Soviet Union.


Heinrich von Lettland. Khronika Livonii. Moscow-Leningrad, 1938.
Revoliutsiia 1905–07 v Estonii: Sb. dokumentov i materialov. Tallinn, 1955.
Velikaia Oktiabr’ skaia sotsialisticheskaia revoliutsiia v Estonii: Sb. dokumentov i materialov. Tallinn, 1958.
Nastupil den’. . . Vospominaniia uchastnikov revoliutsionnykh sobytii 1940 g. v Estonii. Tallinn, 1969. (Translated from Estonian.)
Liv-, Estund Curländisches Urkundenbuch, part 1, vols. 1–12; part 2, vols. 1–3. Edited by F. G. Bunge. Reval-Riga-Leipzig-Moscow, 1853–1914.
Eesti Töörahva Kommuun: Dokumentide ja materjalide kogumik. Tallinn, 1958.
Relvaga Oktoobrirevolutsiooni kaitsel: Mälestusi Kodusöja päevilt. Tallinn, 1963.
1940 aasta sotsialistlik revolutsioon Eestis: Dokumente ja materjale. Tallinn, 1960.
Eesti rahvas Nōukogude Liidu Suures Isamaasōjas 1941–45: Dokumente ja materjale. Tallinn, 1975.


Lenin, V. I. Razvitie kapitalizma v Rossii. In Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 3.
Lenin, V. I. “Kak ne sleduet pisat’ rezoliutsii.” Ibid., vol. 15.
Lenin, V. I. “Zamechanie k rezoliutsii estonskikh sotsialdemokratov.” Ibid.
Lenin, V. I. “Ob”ektivnye dannye o sile raznykh techenii v rabochem dvizhenii.” Ibid., vol. 25.
Lenin, V. I. Tovarishcham bol’shevikam, uchastvuiushchim na oblastnom s”ezde Sovetov Severnoi oblasti, 8 (21) oktiabria 1917. (Letter.) Ibid., vol. 34.
Lenin, V. I. “Doklad o rabote VTsIK i Sovnarkoma na pervoi sessii VTsIK VII sozyva 2 fevralia 1920.” Ibid., vol. 40.
Kingissepp, V. Pod igom nezavisimosti. Tallinn, 1955.
Kingissepp, V. Bor’ba protiv inostrannykh imperialistov i ikh posobnikov: Sb. st. i listovok. Tallinn, 1956.
Istoriia Estonskoi SSR, vols. 1–3. Tallinn, 1961–74.
Käbin, J. Estoniia—proshloe, nastoiashchee. Tallinn, 1970.
Vader, A. Estonskaia Sovetskaia Sotsialisticheskaia Respublika. Moscow, 1972.
Moora, H., and H. Ligi. Khoziaistvo i obshchestvennyi stroi narodov Pribaltiki v nachale XIII v. Tallinn, 1969.
Tarvel, E. Fol’vark, pan i poddanyi. Tallinn, 1964.
Ligi, H. Feodal’nye povinnosti estonskikh krest’ian (do nachala XIX v.). Tallinn, 1968.
Rudnev, D. M. Leninskaia gazeta“Pravda” (1912–1914 gg) i rabochee dvizhenie v Estonii. Tallinn, 1962.
Kaup, E. Po leninskomu puti bor’by: Rasprostranenie leninskikh idei i bor’ba za edinstvo rabochego dvizheniia v Estonii v dooktiabr’skii period (1902–1917). Tallinn, 1970.
Klauson, V. Gody sozidaniia. Tallinn, 1976.
Taigro, Ü. Bor’ba trudiashchikhsia Estonii za Sovetskuiu vlast’ i za mir v gody grazhdanskoi voiny (1918–1920). Tallinn, 1959.
Arumäe, H. Za kulisami “Baltiiskogo soiuza.” Tallinn, 1966.
Larin, P. A. Estonskii narod v Velikoi Otechestvennoi voine 1941–1945. Tallinn, 1964.
Pullat, R. Gorodskoe naselenie Estonii s kontsa XVIII veka do 1940 goda. Tallinn, 1976.
Pullat, R. Sotsial’naia struktura Sovetskoi Estonii. Tallinn, 1976.
Saat, J., and K. Siilivask. Velikaia Oktiabr’skaia sotsialisticheskaia revoliutsiia v Estonii. Tallinn, 1977.
Sotsialisticheskie revoliutsii 1940 g. v Litve, Latvii i Estonii: Vosstanovlenie Sovetskoi vlasti. Moscow, 1978.
Maamiagi, V. Estonskie poselentsy v SSSR (1917–1940 gg.). Tallinn, 1976.
Kahk, J., H. Ligi, and E. Tarvel. Beiträge zur marxistischen Agrargeschichte Estlands der Feudalzeit. Tallinn, 1974.
Kruus, H. Eesti ajaloost XIX sajandi teisel poolel. Tallinn, 1957.
Karjahärm, T., and R. Pullat. Eesti revolutsioonitules 1905–1907. Tallinn, 1975.
Moosberg, H. 1905–07 a. revolutsioon Eestis. Tallinn, 1955.
Sotsialisliku pōllumajanduse areng Nõukogude Eestis: Artiklite kogumik. Tallinn, 1976.
Vahtre, S. Eestimaa talurahvas hingeloenduste andmeil (1782–1858). Tallinn, 1973.
Vassar, A. Uut maad otsimas. Tallinn, 1975.
Siilivask, K. Veebruarist Oktoobrini 1917. Tallinn, 1972.
Saat, J. Nõukogude võim Eestis: Okloober 1917-märts 1918. Tallinn, 1975.
Saarniit, H. Kodanlik Eesti sõjajärgse revolutsioonilise kriisi aastail (1920–1924). Tallinn, 1958.
Kuuli, O., A. Liebman, and H. Saarniit. Töörahva riigi eest. Tallinn, 1967.
Elango, Ō. Eesti kapilismi ajutise, ebakindla stabilisatsiooni aastail (1925–1929). Tallinn, 1958.
Kahk, J., E. Laasi, and A. Ruusmann. Eesti talurahvas teel sotsialismile. Tallinn, 1965.
Leninlik etapp Eesti ajalooteaduses: Historiograafilisi artikleid. Tallinn, 1970.
Käbin, J. Suur Okloober ja Eesti. Tallinn, 1975.
Revolutioon, kodusōda ja välisriikide interventsioon Eestis (1917–1920), vol. 1: Oktoobrirevolutsiooni võit ja nõukogude võimu kindlustamine: Veebruar 1917-veebruar 1918. Tallinn, 1977.

The Communist Party of Estonia is an integral part of the CPSU. Marxism and Social Democratic ideas gained a following in the 1880’s and 1890’s among revolutionary students (V. L. Shantser’s circle at the University of Tartu) and workers. M. I. Kalinin, who worked in Tallinn from 1901 to 1904, was instrumental in founding the Estonian Social Democratic organization. Under his leadership the city’s workers’ groups united in 1902 to form a Social Democratic organization headed by the Central Workers’ Circle. Lenin’s Iskra, which circulated in Estonia, played an important role in the spread of the Social Democratic movement. RSDLP groups were founded in 1903, first in Tartu and Narva and then in Pärnu and other cities. The Tallinn Committee of the RSDLP, formed in late 1904, established contact with the Foreign Bureau of the Central Committee of the RSDLP through M. M. Litvinov and with the St. Petersburg Committee of the RSDLP through A. I. Elizarova-Ul’ianova.
During the Revolution of 1905–07, Social Democratic organizations, with some 1,000 members in December 1905 and about double that number in 1907, were active throughout most of Estonia. In 1906, during the sailors’ uprising on the Pamiat’ Azova, the combat group of the Tallinn Committee of the RSDLP was represented on the cruiser by the Bolshevik A. Koptiukh, a member of the combat technical group of the Central Committee of the RSDLP. After the suppression of the uprising, the contact man with the combat group of the Central Committee of the RSDLP(B) was the Bolshevik E. Sommer, also a member of the combat group of the Tallinn Committee. A conference of the Estonian organizations of the RSDLP, held on Feb. 17–19 (Mar. 2–4), 1907, in Terioki (now Zelenogorsk), Finland, approved the draft resolutions of the Fifth Congress of the RSDLP and elected delegates to the congress. Lenin praised the conference’s resolution On the Attitude Toward the State Duma (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 15, pp. 111–12). In these years revolutionary work was conducted by H. Pöögelmann, J. Anvelt, V. Kingissepp, J. Sihver, N. Janson, and other Bolsheviks.
In the ensuing period of reaction the Estonian Bolsheviks, guided by the decisions of the Fifth Congress of the RSDLP, waged an underground struggle against Menshevik Liquidators and also worked in trade unions and other legal organizations and societies. The St. Petersburg organization of the RSDLP assisted the Estonian revolutionary Social Democrats by sending experienced organizers and propagandists to Estonia. During the next upswing in the revolutionary movement the Estonian party organizations rallied around the Bolshevik newspaper Kiir (Ray), first issued in June 1912 in Narva. Lenin called it a Pravda-like newspaper (ibid., vol. 25, p. 248). On Lenin’s instructions, G. I. Petrovskii, a member of the Central Committee of the RSDLP, held a conference in Tallinn on Mar. 22 (Apr. 4), 1914, to discuss the problem of strengthening and uniting the Estonian party organizations. At the Narva conference of June 15 (28), 1914, it was decided to create a united all-Estonian organization from which opportunists would be expelled. Concurrently, the Estonian Bolsheviks devoted much attention to the struggle against bourgeois nationalism. From the outbreak of World War I they adopted internationalist positions, conducting antiwar and revolutionary propaganda despite repressions. Party activists of those years included R. Vakmann, K. S. Eremeev, J. Käspert, K. Rimsva, O. Rästas, and H. Suuder.
The Estonian Bolsheviks emerged from the underground after the February Bourgeois Democratic Revolution of 1917. The legal Tallinn Committee of the RSDLP(B) was elected on March 19 (April 1). The First Conference of the North Baltic (Estonian) Organizations of the RSDLP(B), attended by 38 delegates representing more than 2,000 party members, was held in Tallinn on April 16–17 (29–30). The conference approved V. I. Lenin’s “April Theses” and elected a central body, the North Baltic Regional Committee of the RSDLP(B), with J. Rossfeldt as chairman and I. V. Rabchinskii as vice-chairman. The North Baltic Bureau of the RSDLP(B) was to function between plenary sessions of the committee. The Seventh (April) All-Russian Conference of the RSDLP(B) was attended by party delegates from Tallinn, Narva, and Tartu, among them G. Aisupiet, R. Vakmann, and I. V. Rabchinskii.
The newspaper Kiir, which had been closed down in July 1914, resumed publication on Mar. 18 (31), 1917, in Tallinn; the first issue of the Russian-language Bolshevik newspaper Utro pravdy (Morning of Truth) appeared on May 17 (30). Bolshevik groupings were organized in the soviets in early May. Concurrently, the Bolsheviks stepped up their activity in the trade unions and in proletarian cultural-educational, youth, and other organizations. They headed the Central Bureau of Trade Unions and the Central Council of Workers’ Leaders of Tallinn. The Provisional Central Bureau of Landless Peasants was set up under the North Baltic Bureau of the RSDLP(B).
The Estonian Bolsheviks sought to gain majorities in the soviets, unmasking the conciliatory and antipopular policy of the Socialist Revolutionaries (SR’s) and Mensheviks, and they abided by the decisions of the Sixth Congress of the RSDLP(B). The Second Conference of the North Baltic Organizations of the RSDLP(B), held on Aug. 13 and 16 (26 and 29), 1917, was attended by delegates from 23 party organizations with a total membership of about 7,000. The delegates renamed the North Baltic Committee the Estlandia Committee of the RSDLP(B) and elected the Estlandia Regional Bureau of the RSDLP(B), composed of J. Anvelt, V. Vöölmann, I. Egorov, H. Suuder, and J. Heintuk. Guided by the decisions of the conference, the Estonian Bolsheviks prepared the working people for the socialist revolution. In the August 1917 elections to municipal self-governing bodies—the city councils in Tallinn and Narva—came under Bolshevik control.
By the middle of October, the Bolsheviks had won majorities in all the main soviets and were organizing Red Guards in the major industrial centers. In Lenin’s general plan for an armed uprising, Estonia was assigned an important role as the rear of revolutionary Petrograd. On October 22 (November 4) the Military Revolutionary Committee (MRC) of Estonia (chairman Rabchinskii, vice-chairman Kingissepp) was formed under the Executive Committee of the Soviets of Estlandia. On instructions from the Petrograd MRC, the Estonian MRC established control over all of Tallinn’s strategic points on the evening of October 23 (November 5). Three days later the MRC issued the appeal To All Soldiers, Sailors, and Workers, to the Whole Population of Estonia, announcing the victory of the socialist revolution in Petrograd and the assumption of power by the soviets. Guided by the Bolsheviks, Estonia embarked on socialist transformations. By late 1917 the party organizations had about 10,000 members.
During the German occupation, which lasted from February to November 1918, the Estonian Bolsheviks continued their activity on a clandestine basis. Underground printing presses issued, in Estonian and German, leaflets and appeals to the Estonian working people and German soldiers. The first issue of the newspaper Kommunist was circulated on the eve of May Day. Meanwhile, the Estonian Bolsheviks who had taken refuge in Soviet Russia did vital political and organizational work toward the liberation of the region; in March 1918 they united to form Estonian sections of the RCP(B). On Nov. 15, 1918, the Bureau of the Estonian Sections of the RCP(B), meeting in Petrograd, created the Provisional Revolutionary Committee of Estonia. After the proclamation of the Estlandia Labor Commune (Estland Working People’s Commune) on November 29, the directing body on the commune’s territory was the Central Committee of the Estonian Sections of the RCP(B), based in Narva. In the occupied part of Estonia the working people’s resistance was led by the illegal Estlandia Central Committee of the Communist Party, elected on Nov. 16, 1918, in Tallinn. The two central committees worked in close cooperation.
Soviet rule in Estonia could not withstand the foreign intervention, which was supported by domestic counterrevolutionaries. In late May 1919 the Estlandia Central Committee of the Communist Party formed the Russian Bureau, which included Anvelt, P. Lepp, R. Nieländer, and O. Rästas. The bureau worked closely with the Executive Committee of the Comintern and with the Central Committee of the RCP(B). On July 19, 1919, the Estlandia Central Committee of the Communist Party issued the Peace Manifesto, calling on the Estonian working people to agitate for the conclusion of a peace treaty between Soviet Russia and bourgeois Estonia. The Estonian sections of the RCP(B) held a conference in Petrograd on Aug. 9–11, 1919, to elect a new central committee, which was to assist the illegal Communist organizations in Estonia.
In the period of the bourgeois dictatorship (1919–40) the Estonian party organization, which had joined the Comintern as an independent party, was outlawed. The Estonian Communists worked through such legal organizations as trade unions, associations of rural working people, and youth organizations. The influence of the Estonian Communists in the labor movement continued to grow as party membership rose from about 700 in late 1920 to 2,000 in early 1924. The Communists published the illegal newspaper Kommunist and leaflets and appeals. The First Congress of the Estonian Communist Party met secretly in Tallinn in November 1920.
In late 1921 the Central Committee of the Estonian CP, guided by the Comintern’s theses concerning a united front and mindful of the concrete situation in the country, formulated guidelines for the creation of a united front of the Estonian working people. The Estonian CP was led by J. Anvelt, R. Vakmann, V. Kingissepp, H. Pöögelmann, and O. Rästas. Among the party activists who emerged at this time were H. Allik, A. Veimer, J. Kreuks, P. Keerdo, O. Künnappuu, J. Lauristin, A. Leiner, R. Mirring, A. Resev, A. Riismann, J. Reesen, O. Sepre, J. Tomp, and J. Jürna. The defeat of the Tallinn uprising of Dec. 1, 1924, and the ensuing wave of terror, which took the lives of many party leaders, including A. Leiner, A. Riismann, and H. Heidemann, weakened the revolutionary struggle.
After the establishment of the fascist dictatorship in 1934, the Estonian CP overcame its organizational crisis and left-sectarian mistakes and changed its tactics, urging the creation of a united front of patriotic forces to struggle against the fascist dictatorship. Formed in 1938, the Illegal Bureau of the Estonian CP functioned as the party central committee until the summer of 1940. A clandestine party conference held in Tallinn on the night of Apr. 1, 1940, set the task of forming a revolutionary people’s government. Workers’ rallies and meetings, held at large plants and factories from June 17, adopted the resolutions proposed by the Estonian CP. On June 21, the day chosen by the Illegal Bureau for a large workers’ demonstration, the socialist revolution began in Estonia, and the Illegal Bureau was renamed the Central Committee of the Estonian CP.
Table 2a. Growth in membership of the Communist Party of Estonia
 MembersCandidate membersTotal
1Approximate number
November 1920 ...............7001
February 1941 ...............1,1698672,036
December 1948 ...............13,9002,88416,784
January 1958 ...............24,7982,89327,691
March 1966 ...............54,5994,49559,094
January 1976 ...............80,7673,48384,250
January 1978 ...............86,1193,72989,848
January 1980 ...............91,5773,78695,363
After the restoration of Soviet power, the Estonian CP led the working people in the building of socialism. By a decision of the Central Committee of the ACP(B), the Estonian CP became a member of the ACP(B) on Oct. 8, 1940. The Fourth Congress of the Estonian CP, held on Feb. 5–8, 1941, summed up the results of the first stage of socialist changes and established further guidelines for socialist construction. Prominent state and party officials of the period included H. Arbon, N. Karotamm, J. Lauristin, F. Okk, A. Pauk, N. Ruus, V. Sassi, and O. Cher.
During the Great Patriotic War (1941–15) the Estonian Communists headed the Estonian people’s struggle against the fascist German invaders and their bourgeois nationalist collaborators. Partisan groups and detachments were formed, and thousands of Estonian workers fought against the enemy in the ranks of the VIII Estonian Rifle Corps of the Soviet Army. Many prominent Estonian Communists, among them J. Lauristin, A. Mui, A. Pauk, J. Oinas, F. Okk, and A. Murro, died fighting the fascist German aggressors.
After the liberation of the Estonian SSR from the enemy, the Estonian CP directed the restoration of the national economy and the implementation of the socialist reforms that had been interrupted by the war. It channeled the working people’s efforts toward socialist industrialization. During the collectivization drive the party sent hundreds of Communists into the countryside to lead the kolkhoz movement and to fight the kulaks. The republic’s party organization did an outstanding job of combatting bourgeois and petit bourgeois ideology, giving the working people a communist education, creating a new and reeducating the old intelligentsia, and developing science and culture. The Central Committee of the ACP(B) and its Bureau for the Estonian SSR assisted the Estonian CP. Prominent Estonian Communists during the building of socialism included J. Käbin, A. Vader, K. Vaino, V. Väljas, K. Lebedev, and A. Müürissepp.
Table 2b. Congresses of the Communist Party of Estonia
First Congress ...............Nov. 5, 1920
Second Congress ...............Oct. 5–6, 1921
Third Congress ...............Sept. 24, 1922
Fourth Congress ...............Feb. 5–8, 1941
Fifth Congress ...............Dec. 23–25, 1948
Sixth Congress ...............April 11–14, 1951
Seventh Congress ...............Sept. 16–19, 1952
Eighth Congress ...............Feb. 11–13, 1954
Ninth Congress ...............Jan. 17–19, 1956
Tenth Congress ...............Jan. 28–30, 1958
Eleventh Congress ...............Jan. 8–9, 1959
Twelfth Congress ...............Feb. 16–17, 1960
Thirteenth Congress ...............Sept. 27–29, 1961
Fourteenth Congress ...............Jan. 7–8, 1964
Fifteenth Congress ...............Mar. 1–3, 1966
Sixteenth Congress ...............Feb. 17–19, 1971
Seventeenth Congress ...............Jan. 28–30, 1976
Eighteenth Congress ...............Jan. 28–29, 1981
Guided by the decisions of the congresses of the CPSU and the plenums of its Central Committee and by the resolutions of the congresses of the Estonian CP and the plenums of its Central Committee, the Estonian Communists have heightened and strengthened the militancy of their party organization. Led and assisted by the Central Committee of the CPSU, the Estonian CP has transformed Estonia into a developed industrial and agricultural republic with a flourishing culture and science and a high standard of living. The successes attained in the postwar decades have been made possible by the close union and friendship of the Estonian people with the peoples of the fraternal republics of the Soviet Union. Within the mature socialist society the Estonian CP is mobilizing the working people to fulfill the tasks of creating the material and technical basis for communism. As of Jan. 1, 1980, the Estonian CP had 2,645 primary party organizations.


Ocherki istorii Kommunisticheskoi partii Estonii, parts 1–3. Tallinn, 1961–70.
Pankseev, A. K. Na osnove leninskikh organizatsionnykh printsipov. Tallinn, 1967.
[Kaup, E.] Po leninskomu puti bor’by: Rasprostranenie leninskikh idei i bor’ba za edinstvo rabochego dvizheniia v Estonii v dooktiabr’skii period (1902–1917). Tallinn, 1970. (Translated from Estonian.)
Lebbin, H. A. KPE v bor’be protiv reformistskoi deiatel’nosti melkoburzhuaznykh partii. Tallinn, 1972.

The Lenin Communist Youth League of Estonia is an integral part of the All-Union Komsomol. The first Social Democratic youth organization, the Tallinn Social Democratic Youth Club, was founded on May 19 (June 1), 1917, on Bolshevik initiative. After the October Revolution similar organizations were established in Narva, Haapsalu, Kunda, and elsewhere. The First All-Estonian Congress of Social Democratic Youth Organizations, held in Tallinn on Feb. 17–18, 1918, resolved to found a united youth organization to be called the North Baltic Communist Youth League. The German occupation of Estonia put an end to the league’s activity. A number of its militants died fighting the aggressors, and many of its members withdrew with the Red Army units to Soviet Russia, where they fought at the fronts of the Civil War (1918–20).
In bourgeois Estonia the Komsomol organizations operated illegally. The All-Estonian League of Young Proletarians (chairman A. Sommerling) was founded in Tallinn on Dec. 5, 1920, as a section of the Communist Youth International (CYI). In order to enlist large numbers of young people in the revolutionary cause, the league was obliged to register as a legal organization. By March 1921 its 12 local organizations had more than 1,000 members. The next month the league was outlawed by the bourgeois authorities, but the militants who escaped arrest continued their activity. The outlawed league became the nucleus of an illegal Komsomol formed under the guidance of the Communist Party. On Oct. 17, 1921, the Politburo of the Central Committee of the Estonian CP decided to found a new league and to call it the Komsomol of Estonia. The first issue of the newspaper Noor proletaarlane (Young Proletarian), the press organ of the Provisional Central Bureau of the Komsomol of Estonia, appeared on Dec. 1, 1921. The First Congress of the Estonian Komsomol, held on Sept. 3, 1922, at the Vôisilma farmstead in Peningi District, elected a central committee (secretary J. Kreuks) and sent greetings to V. I. Lenin and the CYI.
The Estonian Komsomol was represented on the Executive Committee of the CYI and maintained contact with the All-Union Lenin Communist Youth League. The Bureau for the Baltic Countries under the Central Committee of the CYI, set up at the urging of the Latvian Komsomol, coordinated the activity of the Komsomols of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia. The Fourth Congress.of the CYI, convened in June 1924, took note of the Estonian Komsomol’s work in the legal youth commissions affiliated with trade unions. Estonian Komsomol members took part in the Tallinn uprising of Dec. 1, 1924. The uprising and the ensuing repressions took the lives of a number of Komsomol leaders, among them A. Sommerling, J. Kreuks, O. Piir, R. Pälson, and J. Kuuskman. Nevertheless, Estonian Komsomol members continued to work in such legal youth organizations as the All-Estonian Association of Young Workers (1927–28), the youth sections of the Estonian Workers’ Party (1928–30), the Estonian Young Workers’ Union (1932–34), and the youth sections of trade unions and sports societies. The reign of terror that followed the fascist coup of 1934 decimated the ranks of the Estonian Komsomol and made legal forms of activity impossible. Driven underground, the Estonian CP sought to unite the communist and socialist youth movements on an antifascist platform.
An organizational center of the Estonian Komsomol was set up after the restoration of Soviet power in Estonia in 1940; it included E. Tarkpea, J. Telman, and K. Raesaar. The first issue of the press organ of the Estonian Komsomol, the newspaper Noorte hääl (Voice of Youth), came out on Sept. 18, 1940; the magazines Noor leninlane (Young Leninist) and Pioneer (Pioneer) began publication in early 1941. The Estonian Komsomol was admitted into the All-Union Lenin Communist Youth League on Oct. 18, 1940. By June 1941 it had about 10,000 members and 719 primary organizations.
In the Great Patriotic War (1941–45) many Estonian Komsomol members voluntarily joined the Red Army and various combat battalions. Some 10,000 of them served in Estonian national units, and more than 800 fought in partisan brigades and groups. During the occupation illegal Komsomol organizations operated in Tallinn, in Narva, and in Vörumaa and Petserimaa districts. Among those who perished in the struggle against the aggressors were E. O. Cher, first secretary of the Central Committee of the Estonian Komsomol, the Central Committee secretaries M. Ork and V. Petrovykh, and the secretary of the Tallinn City Committee of the Estonian Komsomol, V. Piirsoo. The title of Hero of the Soviet Union was conferred on many Estonian Komsomol members and soldiers serving in Estonian national units, including J. Kunder, N. Matyashin, A. Meri, A. Repson, and the woman scout L. Kullman.
After the liberation, the Estonian Komsomol, led by the Estonian CP, took part in the restoration and further development of the republic’s socialist economy and culture. Responding to an appeal from the Communist Party, members of the Estonian Komsomol joined young people from other parts of the Soviet Union in building mines in the Donets Coal Basin, developing virgin lands in Kazakhstan, working on AU-Union Komsomol shock-work projects, and taking charge of the construction or reconstruction of several of the republic’s large industrial enterprises.
Table 3. Congresses and membership of the Komsomol of Estonia
 DateKomsomol membership
First Congress ...............Sept. 3, 1922286
Second Congress ...............May 5–7, 194611,788
Third Congress ...............June 7–19, 194820,307
Fourth Congress ...............Jan. 17–18, 194924,563
Fifth Congress ...............May 25–27, 195148,671
Sixth Congress ...............Dec. 24–26, 195260,391
Seventh Congress ...............Jan. 14–15, 195466,406
Eighth Congress ...............Dec. 24–25, 195561,373
Ninth Congress ...............March 5–6, 195860,404
Tenth Congress ...............Jan. 28–29, 196067,133
Eleventh Congress ...............Jan. 25–26, 196280,548
Twelfth Congress ...............Dec. 24–25, 196398,817
Thirteenth Congress ...............Feb. 11–12, 1966107,913
Fourteenth Congress ...............Feb. 28–29, 1968104,616
Fifteenth Congress ...............Feb. 26–27, 1970107,997
Sixteenth Congress ...............March 15–16, 1972119,197
Seventeenth Congress ...............Feb. 14–15, 1974128,041
Eighteenth Congress ...............Feb. 16–17, 1978154,035
Under the conditions of a mature socialist society, Estonian Komsomol members are proposing important undertakings and patriotic innovations. They are marching in the vanguard of the socialist competition for the ahead-of-schedule fulfillment of production plans, and they are participating in the drive to raise production efficiency through accelerated technical progress and increased labor productivity, to improve the quality of the goods produced, and to achieve a more rational utilization of production capacities and labor and material resources. Under Komsomol leadership, construction brigades composed of students from the republic’s higher educational institutions are working on a wide range of projects in various parts of the country. The Komsomol has awarded prizes in literature, art, music, and journalism since 1968 and in science, technology, and architecture since 1974.
The Estonian Komsomol constantly provides new members for the Communist Party: in 1977, Komsomol members accounted for 70.4 percent of those admitted into the CPSU in the republic. As of Jan. 1, 1980, the Estonian Komsomol had more than 162,202 members and 2,581 primary organizations. Under the leadership of the Estonian CP, Komsomol members are creating the material and technical basis for communism and are educating the younger generation in the spirit of communism.


Ocherki istorii Leninskogo Kommunisticheskogo Soiuza Molodezhy Estonii: KonetsXIX v.-iun’ 1941 g, part 1. Tallinn, 1976.
Meie komsomol: Artikleid ELKNU ajaloost. Edited by K. Siilivask. Tallinn, 1968.
50 aastat Eesti komsomoli. Tallinn 1972.

Estonian trade unions are an integral part of the trade unions of the USSR. The first trade unions in Estonia were organized during the Revolution of 1905–07. Eleven trade unions were founded in 1905, the largest of them among metal and railroad workers, and the next year the Central Bureau of Trade Unions was elected. In March 1910 the police disbanded eight out of the ten trade unions operating in Tallinn; at the end of 1916 all trade unions were banned. After the February Revolution of 1917 the Estonian trade union movement revived on a mass scale. By the summer of 1917 there were 21 trade unions in Tallinn (with more than 19,000 members), eight in Tartu, and five in Narva; moreover, about 100 agricultural trade unions were active in the countryside. The trade unions, whose members endorsed the Bolshevik program, played an important role in the October Revolution of 1917 and in the victory of Soviet power in Estonia, and they helped implement the first socialist reforms. The Central Council of Estonian Trade Unions was founded in November 1917.
The trade unions were outlawed during the German occupation, which lasted from February to November 1918. In bourgeois Estonia, Communists took the initiative in convening the First Congress of Estonian Trade Unions on Aug. 30, 1919. Of the 417 delegates to the congress, representing some 40,000 organized workers, 379 were Communists or their sympathizers. The delegates demanded that the bourgeois government conclude a peace treaty with Soviet Russia and expel from the country the agent provocateurs of the British military mission. On August 31 the authorities dispersed the congress; 102 delegates were arrested and 25 were brutally murdered (seeIZBORSK TRAGEDY). Speaking in Moscow on Sept. 3, 1919, Lenin praised the courage of the Estonian proletariat: “Little Estonia, at her nonparty trade union conference, gave powerful Britain a proper answer— Britain that had menaced us with an alliance of fourteen powers” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 39, p. 180).
In 1921–22 the Estonian trade unions worked for the formation of a working people’s united front. The Second Congress of Estonian Trade Unions, which met in November 1922, accepted the platform of the united front and resolved to join the Red International of Trade Unions. The congress was attended by delegates from 121 trade unions with a membership of about 20,000. In early 1924 the authorities arrested the leaders and activists of the revolutionary trade unions; in November the chairman of the Central Council of Trade Unions, J. Tomp, was executed. Brutal repressions followed the suppression of the Tallinn uprising of Dec. 1, 1924. Many Estonian trade union leaders perished or were jailed, and most of the trade union organizations were disbanded.
From 1927 there were two trade union centers: the reformist Central Union and the revolutionary Central Council of Trade Unions of Tallinn. The latter, reorganized in 1929 as the Central Council of Estonian Trade Unions, worked closely with the Estonian Communist Party. The fascist coup of 1934 was followed by the imposition of police control over the trade unions. As a result of the repressions of the authorities and the conciliatory policy of the reformists the number of trade unions dwindled. Although it was operating underground, the Estonian CP’s tactic of creating an antifascist front enhanced its influence in the trade union organizations, especially in 1938–39. By the spring of 1940 trade union membership had more than doubled, reaching 19,000.
The trade unions proved loyal assistants of the Estonian CP in the preparation and implementation of the socialist revolution of 1940. They conducted organizational and agitation work in the elections to the State Council that adopted the declaration calling for Estonia’s inclusion in the USSR. The trade unions took part in nationalizing industries and banks, in implementing the land reform, and in organizing the Soviet state apparatus. Some 2,000 trade union members were appointed to high government and managerial posts. The Estonian trade unions joined those of the USSR in 1940. The next year they united 185,000 industrial and office workers, or 85–90 percent of the nonagricultural work force.
Since the war the trade unions, guided by the Estonian CP, have taken part in the restoration and further development of the republic’s socialist economy and culture. They have worked for improvements in the management of production, for the fulfillment of production plans, and for a communist attitude toward labor. Acting jointly with enterprise managers, the trade unions organize socialist competition among industrial and office workers. They are concerned with improving the working and living conditions of industrial, office, and kolkhoz workers, and they exercise government and public supervision over worker protection and the observance of labor legislation.
Trade union activity is directed by the Estonian Republic Council of Trade Unions. Seventeen trade union congresses had been convened by 1978. As of January 1978, the Estonian trade unions had 19 branch republic committees and some 4,000 primary organizations with more than 700,000 members. They operated 133 houses and palaces of culture, 824 Red Corners, 54 libraries, 5,193 amateur art groups, 136 departments of people’s universities, seven tourist camps, 40 Pioneer camps, 11 stadiums, 70 gymnasiums, and seven swimming pools.


Kuuli, O., A. Liebman, and H. Saarniit. Töörahva riigi eest: Eesti ametiühingute võitlusest aastatel 1918–1940. Tallinn, 1967.
50 aastat Eesti ametiühingute I kongressist. [Collection of articles.] Tallinn, 1970.
Table 4. Growth of gross industrial output by sector (1960 = 100%)
All industry ...............160242362
Electric power ...............3886571,071
Fuel ...............166238370
Chemicals ...............165244353
Machine building and metalworking ...............215383694
Lumber, wood products, and pulp and paper ...............136181245
Building materials ...............185278409
Light industry ...............130191241
Food ...............150215320

General characteristics. Estonia is an industrial republic with a mechanized agriculture. Significant shifts have occurred in the sectorial structure of the economy during industrial development. An inseparable part of the national economic complex of the USSR, the economy of the Estonian SSR is developing within a system of territorial division of labor with the other Union republics.
Estonia is a key region for the extraction and processing of oil shale and a major producer of electricity. Other flourishing industries include machine building, chemicals, timber, pulp and paper, textiles, and food processing. The republic’s agriculture specializes in beef and dairy cattle raising and hog raising for bacon.
As an organic part of the economic complex of the USSR, Estonia has been expanding its economic ties with the other republics. The Baltic and Estonian state regional power plants, the Maardu Chemical Plant, large underground and open-pit mines, a shale-processing combine, and other industrial facilities have been built with assistance from the fraternal Soviet republics. The other Union republics supply Estonia with petroleum, metal, timber, cotton, wool, and leather, as well as industrial equipment, agricultural machinery, and vehicles.
Industry. Estonian industry is developing on the basis of local natural resources, primarily mineral resources but also forest and marine resources and high-quality agricultural raw material. A considerable part of the raw material is imported in such industries as machine building and textile and knitwear manufacture.
Between 1940 and 1977 the gross industrial output rose 43 times, with the greatest growth achieved in the production of electricity and thermal energy and in machine building and metalworking. Table 4 shows the growth rate in the total volume of output of various industrial sectors.
Among the Baltic republics, Estonia is noted for its fuel and energy resources and its high-grade phosphorite reserves. The only mining region in the Baltic republics is the oil-shale area in northeastern Estonia, where the shale provides the basis for an important chemical industry. Shale ash is used to produce such mineral building materials as cement, wall panels, and mineral wool.
Between 1946 and 1974 several large enterprises were built: the V. I. Lenin Oil-shale Processing Combine in Kohtla-Järve (with a nitrogen fertilizer plant), large underground and open-pit shale mines, notably the October and Narva open-pit mines and the Estonia shaft mine, and the large peat-briquette plant at Oru.
In 1976, Estonia produced about 12,900 kilowatt-hours of electricity per capita. The two most important power plants, the Baltic and Estonian state regional power plants, are the foundation of the Estonian power grid, which is part of the Integrated Power Grid of the Northwest.
Machine building and metalworking together constitute one of the chief industrial sectors. Electrical and radio engineering and instrument-making are highly developed; the largest enterprises are the Volta Electric Motor Plant, the M. I. Kalinin Electrical Equipment Plant, the Eesti Kaabel Plant (cables), and the RET Radio Engineering Production Association. Of all-Union importance are the machine-building industries that produce ultrasonic equipment, complex electrical-engineering instruments, monitoring and measuring devices, and electric motors. The republic also manufactures petroleum and food-processing equipment and excavators. Tallinn and Tartu are the main machine-building centers.
The chemical industry has essentially been established in the years of Soviet power. Its chief sectors produce oil-shale chemicals, mineral fertilizers, household chemicals, and pharmaceuticals. The leading products are sulfuric acid, phosphate and nitrogen fertilizers, benzene, formalin, carbamide resins, antiseptics, and detergents. The most important enterprises are the V. I. Lenin Oil-shale Processing Combine, the Kiviôli Oil-shale Chemical Plant, and the Maardu Chemical Plant.
More than a fourth of the timber needed by the woodworking and pulp and paper industry is imported from the northwestern regions of the USSR. Major wood products include furniture and skis, destined for the national market, and various musical instruments,
Table 5. Output of leading industrial products
2Industrial production
Electricity (kW-hr) ...............190,000,000435,000,00011,574,800,00018,610,900,000
Peat briquettes and semibriquettes (tons) ...............33,00055,000299,000340,000
Excavators (units) ...............1,6882,221
Petroleum equipment (tons) ...............4,20010,80024,800
Mineral fertilizers, in standard units (tons) ...............78,0001,325,5001,400,400
Paper (tons) ...............21,60037,700105,000103,000
Fabrics, all types (meters) ...............27,700,00032,400,000233,600,000213,300,0001
Knit underwear (items) ...............1,300,0001,700,00013,700,00011,000,000
Knit outerwear (items) ...............200,000400,0004,700,0005,300,000
Leather footwear (pairs) ...............600,0001,200,0006,900,0005,800,000
Canned goods (standard cans) ...............3,600,0009,500,000151,300,000277,200,000
Meat, including first-category by-products (tons)2 ...............16,7008,80098,600137,300
Animal fats (tons)2 ...............13,2009,50021,60030,800
Fish and marine mammals (tons) ...............22,80026,400291,200482,000
including pianos. The building-materials industry manufactures chiefly cement, silicate bricks, prefabricated reinforced-concrete structural members, mineral wool and articles made from it, and roofing slate. Its largest enterprises are the Punane
Table 6. Sown area (hectares)
Total cropland ...............918,000813,000762,000798,000950,000
Grain crops ...............572,000453,000273,000341,000438,000
rye ...............148,000111,00087,00045,00018,000
wheat ...............70,00061,00039,00022,00049,000
barley ...............208,500291,000
Fiber flax ...............26,00017,0009,0003,0006,000
Potatoes ...............83,00097,000100,00079,00076,000
Vegetables ...............2,0007,0007,0006,0005,000
Feed crops ...............235,000234,000374,000368,000425,000
perennial and annual grasses ...............224,000207,000308,000314,000387,000
Kunda Cement Plant in Kunda, the Tallinn and Tartu housing-construction combines, and the Silikaat Production Association.
The leading light industry enterprises are the Krenholm Manufactory in Narva, the Baltic Manufactory in Tallinn (both cotton textile combines), the cloth factory in Sindi, the Marat Knitwear Factory, and the Punane Koit Textile Factory. There are also garment and footwear factories. Estonian applied art goods made from leather, metal, and textiles, as well as knitted articles, are highly esteemed in the USSR and abroad.
The leading sector of the food industry is fishing, followed by meat-packing and the processing of dairy products. The overall output of the food industry increased by a factor of 3.2 between 1961 and 1977; in the fishing industry alone the output increased by a factor of 4.8. The largest food enterprises are concentrated in Tallinn, Tartu, Vöhma, Pärnu, and Kohtla-Järve. Tallinn has a fishing port especially equipped to serve the deep-sea fishing fleet. More than three-fifths of the fish catch comes from the high seas. Table 5 shows the growth in the output of major industrial products.
Agriculture. In the years of Soviet power Estonian agriculture has become a highly mechanized, intensive sector of the economy. Large and medium-sized mechanized complexes have been built for the production of milk and pork, and egg production has
Table 7. Gross harvest of crops1
1 All types of farms
Grain crops ...............655,000522,000363,000726,0001,243,000
rye ...............191,000133,000114,00086,00035,000
wheat ...............81,00071,00045,00046,000138,000
Potatoes ...............1,223,0001,140,0001,303,0001,414,0001,156,000
Vegetables ...............23,00093,000144,000138,00091,000
been placed entirely on an industrial basis. Thanks to large capital investments and to mechanization, electrification, and the introduction of scientific methods, annual labor productivity has risen five times compared to the prewar level and hourly labor productivity has increased six times. Between 1940 and 1977 the gross agricultural output increased by a factor of 1.8.
In 1977 the republic had 154 kolkhozes, including eight fishing kolkhozes, and 163 sovkhozes, 18 of which were farms run by research institutions. Estonia ranks high among the Union republics in level of farm mechanization and use of mineral fertilizers. In 1977 the republic’s farms had at their disposal 20,000 tractors and 3,400 grain-harvesting combines. As a result of large-scale reclamation projects, 593,400 hectares (ha) were drained by 1976.
In 1976 agricultural land covered 1.6 million ha, or 32.6 percent of the republic’s land area. This included about 1 million ha of arable land, 300,000 ha of hayfields, and 250,000 ha of pastures. Taking into account all types of farms, 46.1 percent of the sown area was planted to grain in 1977, 8.5 percent to potatoes and vegetables, 0.6 percent to flax, and 44.7 percent to feed crops. Table 6 shows the structure of the sown area.
The yield of all crops has increased in Soviet times; in 1977 the grain yield was 28.4 quintals per ha, compared to 11.5 quintals in 1940. The use of mineral fertilizers increased by a factor of 2.2 between 1965 and 1977. See Table 7 for the gross harvest of major crops. Crop farming essentially serves animal husbandry, with most of its output destined for livestock feed. Potatoes, vegetables, and flax are widely cultivated in southern Estonia, and fruit growing is flourishing in the southern and central regions.
The leading sectors of animal husbandry are beef and dairy cattle raising and hog breeding for bacon. Animal husbandry accounts for about 70 percent of the agricultural output (1976). Poultry raising, fur farming, and beekeeping have also been developed. Tables 8 and 9 show the size of the livestock herd and the output of major livestock products.
The increase in livestock productivity is partly the result of improved breeding. The Estonian breeds of cattle and hogs, developed over long periods of time, are well adapted to local conditions. See Table 10 for the changes in state purchases of crops and livestock products.
Table 8. Number of livestock1
1As of January 1
Cattle ...............528,400462,000692,400829,700
cows ...............401,800283,600308,700326,000
Hogs ...............319,200297,000688,000956,000
Sheep ...............325,300274,400165,300151,000
Transportation. The republic has 954 km of general-use rail lines (1977), of which 101 km have been electrified. Of the 27,000 km of vehicular roads, 24,100 km are paved. The cargo turnover of the chief seaport, Tallinn, has increased more than ten times in the postwar years. In 1965 an international passenger ferry line was opened between Tallinn and Helsinki. The port of Pärnu serves primarily the fishing fleet. Air routes connect the republic with all the major centers of the USSR.
Economic regions. The Northwestern Region, the most economically developed part of Estonia, is rich in phosphorite, limestone, and Cambrian blue clay. A large share of the republic’s manufacturing industry is located in the region. Whereas the machine-building and metalworking industries depend on imported raw materials, the chemical, pulp and paper, food-processing, and building-materials industries use local raw materials. Most of the region’s farms are located on the outskirts of urban centers. Besides Tallinn, a major industrial city, urban centers include the towns of Keila and Haapsalu and the urban-type settlements of Maardu, Kehra, Loksa, and Järvakandi.
The Northeastern Region, lying between Rakvere and Narva, is rich in mineral resources, including oil shale, phosphorite, Cambrian blue clay, and limestone. The principal industrial sectors produce electric power, oil-shale chemicals, textiles, and building materials. The region is the republic’s main energy base. Farming is oriented toward supplying nearby urban centers. The most important industrial centers are Kohtla-Järve, Narva, Kiviõli, Rakvere, Kunda, and Tapa.
Table 9. Output of principal livestock products
Meat (slaughtered weight, tons) ...............72,000100,000136,000184,000
Milk (tons) ...............782,000857,0001,025,0001,215,000
Eggs (units) ...............134,000,000236,000,000359,000,000456,000,000
The Southeastern Region is both an agricultural and an industrial region whose main industries are engaged in processing agricultural raw materials and timber. Other flourishing industries include instrument-making, food processing, light industry, and the
Table 10. State purchases of agricultural products1 (tons)
1AII types of farms
Grain crops ...............77,5001,30096,300142,000128,000
Potatoes ...............50,60088,300165,400242,000247,000
Livestock and poultry (liveweight) ...............14,50094,400158,800208,000240,000
Milk and milk products ...............162,600556,000839,0001,081,0001,140,000
Eggs (units) ...............12,600,00044,900,000196,500,000279,000,000308,000,000
production of building materials. Agriculture is dominated by dairy farming, hog raising, and the cultivation of industrial crops. The chief industrial centers are Tartu, Võru, and Valga.
The Southwestern Region, located in the Pärnu basin in the southwestern part of the republic, is also an industrial and agricultural region. It has abundant peat and timber resources, as well as clay and limestone. Large deposits of therapeutic mud are found in the coastal inlets. The chief industrial sectors are logging and woodworking, fishing, textile manufacture, and peat extraction. Agriculture is oriented toward dairy and beef cattle raising, although flax growing is also developing. In the coastal regions agriculture is combined with fishing and resort management. The most important industrial centers are Pärnu and Viljandi.
The economy of the West Estonian Archipelago rests on agriculture and fishing. The principal industrial sectors are fishing, dairying, meat-packing, and the production of building materials. Agriculture is combined with fishing. The most important industrial centers are Kingisepp on Saaremaa Island and Kärdla on Hiiumaa Island.
Standard of living. The years of Soviet power have seen an impressive rise in the living standard of the population. While the national income almost tripled between 1960 and 1976, payments and benefits from social consumption funds increased almost 3.5 times, reaching 476 rubles per capita in 1976. In industry the monetary income of workers and office employees rose from 92.6 rubles in 1960 to 185.9 rubles in 1976; in construction, from 94.1 rubles to 203.6 rubles; and in agriculture, from 62.8 rubles to 179.4 rubles. The average monthly earnings of kolkhoz members, including bonuses, increased by a factor of 2.7 between 1965 and 1977, amounting to 184 rubles in 1976. Some 304,000 persons were receiving pensions in 1976.
The retail trade has grown significantly as a result of the increase in personal monetary income. Per capita retail trade sales increased 7.9 times between 1941 and 1977, reaching 1,287 rubles in 1977. Workers’ deposits in savings banks rose from 5.9 million rubles in 1950 to 948.5 million rubles in 1977. Since the war 15.4 million sq m of new housing have been built in cities and rural areas. All of the republic’s cities and urban-type settlements are supplied with natural gas.


Narodnoe khoziaistvo Estonskoi SSR: Stat, ezhegodnik 1976. Tallinn, 1977.
Varep, E., and V. Tarmisto. Estoniia. Moscow, 1967.
Pribaltiiskii ekonomicheskii raion. Moscow, 1970.
Nõukogude Eesti. Tallinn, 1975.


Medicine and public health. In 1977 the birthrate was 15.1 and the mortality rate 11.7 per 1,000 population, compared to 16.1 and 17 in 1940. The leading causes of death are cardiovascular diseases and malignant neoplasms.

In bourgeois Estonia acute intestinal infections, tuberculosis, and children’s and other contagious diseases were common. Since the restoration of Soviet power, diphtheria, poliomyelitis, malaria, and trachoma have been virtually eradicated. Moreover, the incidence of tuberculosis and children’s infections has declined sharply; for instance, the incidence of whooping cough decreased almost 90 times between 1958 and 1977.

In 1976 there were 160 hospitals with 16,000 beds, or 11.3 beds per 1,000 population, compared to 58 hospitals with 5,100 beds, or 4.8 beds per 1,000 population, in 1940. Outpatient care was provided by 241 outpatient clinics and polyclinics and 21 dispensaries; women and children were served by 58 consultation clinics and 88 pediatrie polyclinics and outpatient clinics. A network of public health counterepidemic institutions has been established, including 23 epidemiologic stations and one disinfection station. There were 215 pharmacies and 281 pharmacy stations on Jan. 1, 1978. In 1976 the republic’s medical treatment and prevention institutions employed 5,500 physicians, or one for every 264 inhabitants, and 14,800 secondary medical personnel. In 1940 the republic had 1,100 physicians, or one for every 1,000 inhabitants, and 1,500 secondary medical personnel.

Medical personnel are trained at the medical department of the University of Tartu and at three medical schools, located in Tallinn, Tartu, and Kohtla-Järve. Medical research is conducted by the university medical department, by a research institute of experimental and clinical medicine, by a research institute of epidemiology, microbiology, and hygiene, and by a metallo-osteosynthesis research laboratory, which operates a clinic. The journal Nōukogude Eesti tervishoid (Public Health of Soviet Estonia) has been published since 1958.

The largest health resorts are the climatic and pelotherapy resort of Pärnu, the pelotherapy resort of Haapsalu, and the climatic resort of Narva-Jõesuu. Haapsalu, Saaremaa Island, and Värska have reserves of therapeutic mud and mineral waters. There are 18 sanatoriums with 3,100 beds and four houses of rest with accommodations for 1,100 persons.

Expenditures for public health and physical culture amounted to 70.1 million rubles in 1976, compared to 5.5 million rubles in 1945.


Physical culture, sports, and tourism. In 1976 the republic had some 1,600 physical-culture associations with more than 460,000 members. Sports facilities included 16 stadiums, 116 soccer fields, about 400 gymnasiums, 25 swimming pools, and 467 basketball and volleyball courts. Some 20,000 pupils were enrolled in 58 children’s and young people’s sports schools, including 12 specialized ones. The Kalev voluntary sports society, founded in 1944, has 177,100 members, and the Jõud (strength) sports society, established in 1946, unites 96,600 rural athletes and gymnasts.

In the Soviet period the republic has produced some 3,000 masters of sports, about 90 international-class masters of sports, and 20 honored masters of sports. In 1977 more than 159,000 people fulfilled the requirements of the Ready for Labor and Defense program. Between 1944 and 1977 some 800 athletes won USSR championships; 99 won European championships; and 32 won world championships. During this time Estonia also produced six Olympic champions and 21 winners of silver or bronze Olympic medals. In 1977, 22 persons held the title of Honored Coach of the USSR and 85, the title of Honored Coach of the Estonian SSR.

Estonia has seven all-Union and ten republic tourist itineraries. The most popular tourist attractions are Tallinn, Tartu, Pärnu, Võru, Nelijärve, and Otepää; the Narva, Emajõgi, and Pirita rivers; and Lakes Chudskoe, Kubja, and Võrtsjärv. Hiking, skiing, and boating are popular, as are touring by bicycle, motorcycle, and automobile. In 1976 there were some 20 tourist facilities of various kinds, about 16 tourist clubs, and six excursion bureaus. In 1977 the republic was visited by about 1 million tourists, including about 133,000 foreign tourists from 41 countries.

Veterinary services. Planned preventive, antiepizootic, and hygienic measures have eradicated infectious diseases of horses and sheep, brucellosis of farm animals, cattle tuberculosis and ringworm, hog cholera, mange, fowl tuberculosis and plague, and other contagious animal diseases. No cases of foot-and-mouth disease were recorded from 1961 to 1977. The incidence of colibacillosis, salmonellosis, and helminthiases has been reduced. Swine erysipelas, infectious atrophie rhinitis of swine, and hypo-dermosis of cattle occur only in isolated cases. Endemic transmissible diseases and several other endemic infectious and parasitic diseases have survived in places. Malignant catarrhal fever, anthrax (sporadic cases), and rabies, chiefly among wild animals, are also recorded. Leukosis continues to present a problem.

In 1977 there were about 800 veterinarians and 500 veterinary feldshers, of whom about 500 veterinarians and 300 feldshers worked on sovkhozes and kolkhozes. The State Veterinary Service operates 137 veterinary institutions (1977), including 15 regional disease-control stations, 44 district veterinary hospitals, 42 veterinary sections, seven veterinary centers, two urban veterinary stations, 18 meat-dairy and food control stations, one republic veterinary laboratory, and four interregional and three regional veterinary laboratories. Veterinarians are trained at the veterinary department of the Estonian Agricultural Academy in Tartu and feldshers, at the Väimela Sovkhoz-Technicum near Vōru.

Veterinary services are administered on the republic level by the Veterinary Board of the republic’s Ministry of Agriculture and on the regional level by the disease-control stations. Veterinary research is conducted at the Estonian Scientific Research Institute of Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Medicine in Tartu and at the veterinary department of the Estonian Agricultural Academy.


The first schools on the territory of present-day Estonia were cathedral and monastery schools, established in the 13th and 14th centuries. Latin schools were founded in the major cities in the 15th and 16th centuries, and urban primary schools, in which German was the language of instruction, were opened in the 16th century. A Jesuit Gymnasium, which probably admitted Estonian students, operated in Tartu from 1583 to 1625; five years later another Gymnasium was founded that became the nucleus of the University of Tartu. Tallinn acquired a Gymnasium in 1631. B. G. Forselius’ teacher-training seminary near Tartu was attended by 160 Estonians between 1684 and 1688. The first efforts to introduce schooling in the countryside date from the 15th century, and by the 17th century a number of parishes maintained schools for peasant children.

After its incorporation into Russia in 1710, Estonia’s intellectual life was gradually drawn into the mainstream of the Russian state. Inasmuch as education and culture were perceived as the privilege of the ruling classes, the network of schools developed slowly. Only after the school edict of 1765 did the number of rural schools begin to increase, and the statute of 1786 led to the founding of four urban public schools in which German was the language of instruction. The Tartu School District was formed in 1803. The next year 11 district schools and 13 parish schools were opened in various district capitals and the Baltic Port; a Gymnasium, with classes conducted in German, was founded in Tartu. A veterinary secondary school was opened in Tartu in 1848, becoming an institute in 1873.

The laws abolishing serfdom in Estland (1816) and Livland (1819) also provided for the opening of three-year volost (small rural district) schools and two-year parish schools; however, such schools were not established on a large scale until the second half of the century. In the 1880’s the Lutheran Church operated 1,228 volost and 76 parish schools with about 44,000 pupils, and the Orthodox church maintained 92 parish and 223 volost schools with 10,500 pupils. By 1897, 91.2 percent of the population was literate.

In conjunction with the development of capitalism the number of secondary schools also increased between 1860 and 1880. Realschulen were founded in Tartu (1880), Tallinn (1881), and other cities. The first boys’ Gymnasium to enroll mainly Estonians was founded by H. Treffner in Tartu in 1883. Teachers’ seminaries were established in Tartu (1828) and on the manors of Ataste (1837), Jädivere (1845), and Kuuda (1854). By 1887 there were 27 secondary schools attended by about 4,500 students, mainly children of the privileged classes. The tsarist school reforms of the late 1880’s and early 1890’s weakened the Baltic nobility’s control over education. Primary, secondary, and higher schools were reorganized in accordance with Russian statutes, and Russian became the language of instruction.

During the Revolution of 1905–07, the working people’s struggle against national oppression and their agitation for a democratization of the schools, including the use of Estonian as the language of instruction, led to an increase in the number of primary, secondary, and vocational schools in which courses were taught in the native language. According to the 1911 census Estonia had 1,646 primary schools with an enrollment of 74,800 pupils. In the 1916—17 school year there were 37 secondary schools of various types with 13,000 students and 32 vocational schools with about 3,400 students. In 1915 some 2,800 students were enrolled at the University of Tartu and another 341 were attending the Tartu Veterinary Institute. In addition, Tartu offered private university courses and advanced courses for women.

After the October Revolution of 1917 and the establishment of Soviet power in Estonia, measures were taken to democratize education: the school was separated from the church, the mother tongue was designated as the language of instruction, and people’s universities and adult evening courses were founded in Tallinn and Tartu. In bourgeois Estonia (1919–40) the government used the schools to strengthen its political power and to disseminate bourgeois ideology. In 1920 a law was enacted establishing compulsory primary education for children between the ages of eight and 16 years (14 years from 1934). But since the law was not enforced, many school-age children did not finish primary school, and 7.4 percent (according to the 1934 census) did not attend school at all. Secondary and higher schools charged tuition.

The bourgeois school system included six-year primary schools, five-year Progymnasiums, and three-year Gymnasiums and Realschulen. In the 1939–40 school year there were 43 Progymnasiums, 37 Realschulen, and 45 Gymnasiums with a total enrollment of 16,600 students; 177 vocational and specialized secondary schools with 13,000 students; and seven higher educational institutions with 4,500 students. The 1934 census showed that 52.6 percent of the population had completed primary school and that another 26.2 percent had received some primary education.

After the restoration of Soviet power in Estonia in July 1940, the development of public education took a new direction. All schools were placed under government control, education was made free for working people’s children, radical changes were introduced into the curriculum, and a shift to compulsory seven-year education was initiated. The creation of the new system of education was interrupted by the fascist German occupation of 1941–44.

After the liberation of Estonia, the government set about restoring the Soviet school system. Compulsory seven-year education was standard until 1960–61, when compulsory eight-year education was introduced. A shift to universal secondary education began in 1966.

The network of preschools has expanded considerably; by 1979 the republic’s preschools were attended by 83,000 children. In the 1979–80 school year there were 602 general-education schools with 200,000 students, 34 vocational-technical schools with about 13,500 students, and 37 specialized secondary schools with 24,500 students. The number of extracurricular institutions has also increased. In 1978 they included 19 palaces and houses of Pioneers, two stations for young technologists, three stations for young naturalists, 57 children’s and youth sports schools, and one republic club for young sailors.

In the 1979–80 academic year there were six higher educational institutions with a total enrollment of about 25,400: the University of Tartu, the Tallinn Polytechnical Institute, the E. Vilde Tallinn Pedagogical Institute, the Estonian Agricultural Academy in Tartu, the State Institute of Art in Tallinn, and the Tallinn Conservatory. At the end of 1979, the republic’s 700 public libraries had holdings of more than 12,000,000 books and magazines. The largest libraries are the F. R. Kreutzwald State Library of the Estonian SSR in Tallinn (seeLIBRARIES OF THE UNION REPUBLICS), the Scientific Library of the University of Tartu, the Scientific Library of the Academy of Sciences of the Estonian SSR in Tallinn, and the Republic Scientific and Technological Library of the Estonian SSR in Tallinn. Of the republic’s 56 museums, the most important are Tartu’s State Ethnographic Museum, Art Museum, and Zoology Museum and Tallinn’s Art Museum, State Historical Museum of the Estonian SSR (with two branches), Estonian State Open Air Museum of Folk Architecture and Life, State Nature Museum of the Estonian SSR, and State Marine Museum. Museums of local lore have been established in Pärnu, Rakvere, Kingisepp, and other cities. There are nine theaters and 500 clubs.


Amateur arts. The proliferation of amateur arts groups, chiefly choral and drama groups and brass bands, dates from the second half of the 19th century. The first workers’ choruses and orchestras, notably the Valvaja and Pandorin societies, arose before the October Revolution. In 1976 the republic’s 6,269 amateur arts groups, sponsored by the Ministry of Culture and trade unions, had a membership of about 79,000. They included 383 choral, 1,630 music, 513 drama, 771 dance, and 187 visual and applied-art circles. The most highly developed genres are choral singing and folk dancing. In 1976 amateur artists gave some 1,500 concerts and other performances.


Natural and technical sciences. BEFORE 1919. The first scientific research in Estonia was conducted by instructors at the Academia Gustaviana, which functioned, with brief interruptions, from 1632 to 1710. Systematic scientific research began with the founding of the University of Dorpat in 1802 (seeTARTU, UNIVERSITY OF). The university established a botanical garden (1803) and an astronomical observatory, where the first observations were made in 1805 and new equipment was added in 1808–10.

The university became a major scientific center as early as the first half of the 19th century. V. Ia. Struve, the director of the observatory from 1818 to 1839, won international recognition for his work in astronomy. Other major contributions to astronomy included J. H. von Mädler’s studies of stellar dynamics and E. Hartwig’s work on variable stars. In mathematics, M. Bartels did important work in geometry, C. E. Senff, F. Minding, and K. Peterson in differential geometry, and T. Molien in algebra. Significant research was also done by the physicists G. F. Parrot and M. H. Jacobi and by the chemists K. Claus and C. E. H. Schmidt.

Important discoveries were made at the university’s medical faculty, where K. Burdach founded a major school of physiology and K. E. Baer, the founder of embryology, completed his first scientific project. (Baer also worked in Estonia toward the end of his life.) The work of R. Buchheim, the founder of experimental pharmacology, and of the anatomist A. Rauber was widely acclaimed. The eminent surgeon N. I. Pirogov was a professor at the university from 1836 to 1840. Botanical research was advanced by C. F. von Ledebour, A. von Bunge, and the latter’s student E. Russow.

The opportunities for scientific work expanded after 1850. A meteorological observatory was established at the university in 1876, and a scientific society, founded in Dorpat in 1873, became affiliated with the university in 1878. The university’s leading scientists in the second half of the 19th and early 20th centuries included the mathematician G. V. Kolosov, the physicists A. I. Sadovskii and G. V. Levitskii, the chemists G. H. Tammann and N. L. Kondakov, the radiochemist V. A. Borodovskii, the botanist N. I. Kuznetsov, the biologist A. N. Severtsov, the physiologist A. Schmidt, and the surgeons E. Bergmann, and M. F. W. Zoege von Manteuffel. The physician N.I. Lunin did pioneering work on vifamins. The eminent neurosurgeon N. N. Burdenko graduated from and later taught at the university. C. C. A. Grewingk, F. Schmidt, F. Iu. Levinson-Lessing, and N. I. Andrusov initiated geological research.

Advances in agricultural science were made at the Tartu Veterinary Institute, where W. Gutmann performed tuberculin tests on cattle and O.I. Kalning obtained mallein (1891). In the early 20th century specialists attached to the Main Geological Committee of Russia began studying the Estonian oil-shale deposits.

In the first half of the 19th century the Estonian-born navigators I. F. Kruzenshtern, O. E. Kotsebu, F. F. Bellingshausen, and F. P. Litke headed Russian round-the-world expeditions. The work of the naturalist and traveler A. F. Middendorf won wide recognition. More than 70 graduates of the University of Tartu were elected to the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences.

The October Revolution of 1917 opened up rich prospects for the development of Estonian science. However, the Civil War and foreign military intervention of 1919–20 brought scientific activity virtually to a standstill.

BOURGEOIS ESTONIA. From 1919 to 1940 most of the country’s scientific work was conducted at the University of Tartu, which found itself in severe financial difficulties. In 1922, E. Öpik determined the distance to the Andromeda nebula and formulated a hypothesis about the extragalactic nature of spiral nebulas. J. Sarv and J. Nuut worked on basic principles of mathematics; J. Vilip, a former associate of B. B. Golitsyn, developed new types of highly sensitive seismographs; and H. Bekker, A. Öpik, and A. Luha did research in stratigraphy and paleontology. The botanist T. Lippmaa developed a new approach to the study of plant communities. L. Puusepp, who studied under V. M. Bekhterev, obtained significant results in neurosurgery and neuropathology, and V. Vadi made an important contribution to internal medicine. The bacteriologist K. Schlossmann conducted studies in immunology and microbiological diagnostics. P. Kogerman founded the first Estonian laboratory for the study of oil-shale chemistry and technology. The laboratory’s work was continued by the Tallinn Technical Institute (founded 1936), where O. Maddison did important work in engineering mechanics. The plant breeders J. Aamisepp and M. Pill developed new varieties of potatoes and grain.

Progressive Estonian scientists did not lose touch with Soviet science. The biologist A. Audova emigrated to the USSR in 1932 to escape political persecution. In the 1920’s and 1930’s many Estonian scientists worked in scientific centers in Moscow, Leningrad, and other cities, among them J. Eichfeld, who studied problems of farming in the north, and the hydrologist A. Velner, who helped develop the GOELRO plan.

SOVIET ESTONIA. The restoration of Soviet power in 1940 opened a new phase in the development of Estonian science. However, the emergence of Soviet Estonian science was interrupted by the fascist invaders, who plundered laboratories, archives, and libraries and destroyed or damaged buildings.

Work on restoring the republic’s scientific and higher educational institutions began immediately after the liberation of Estonia by the Soviet Army. The Industrial Scientific Research Institute of the Estonian SSR was founded in Moscow as early as 1944. The Academy of Sciences of the Estonian SSR, founded in 1946, was charged with consolidating the republic’s scientific forces and organizing research. Institutes of geology, chemistry, thermophysics and electrophysics, physics and astronomy, and zoology and botany were established under the academy in 1947. The University of Tartu and the Tallinn Polytechnical Institute resumed their scientific work. The Estonian Agricultural Academy was founded in 1951.

Several Estonian scientists returned from the Soviet Union, among them the botanist and plant breeder J. Eichfeld, the engineer A. Heil, and the physicist F. Klement, who in the 1950’s directed work on the luminescence of crystals at the Institute of Physics and Astronomy and at the University of Tartu. The foundations of Soviet Estonian science were laid by such distinguished prewar scientists as Kogerman, Luha, and Maddison, the mathematicians Nuut and A. Humal, the physicists H. Keres and A. Altma, the biologist A. Vaga, and the plant breeders Aamisepp and Pill. Much of the research of the early postwar years was of an applied nature as Estonian scientists bent their efforts toward providing the scientific basis for the revival of industry, agriculture, and forestry and for land development and reclamation. An institute of experimental biology was set up under the Academy of Sciences (1957), and several research institutes were established by government agencies, among them the Institute of Experimental and Clinical Medicine (1958), the Oil Shale Research Institute in Kohtla-Järve (1958), and the Building Research Institute (1956).

The emergence of national scientific cadres and improvements in research facilities have enabled Estonian scientists to tackle a number of major scientific problems. Scientists from other Union republics and the Academy of Sciences of the USSR have assisted in the organization of scientific work, whose scope has broadened to keep pace with the modern scientific and technological revolution. The USSR’s first institute of cybernetics was set up under the Academy of Sciences of the Estonian SSR in 1960, and the Tartu Astrophysical Observatory was founded in 1964. In 1973 the Institute of Physics and Astronomy in Tartu was divided into the Institute of Physics and the Institute of Astrophysics and Atmospheric Physics. The special-problems laboratories of higher educational institutions have carried out numerous research projects. The republic’s entire scientific community participated in the preparation of the eight-volume Estonian Soviet Encyclopedia (1968–76).


Physics. Estonian physicists are conducting theoretical and experimental studies of the optical properties of crystals activated by impurities and of complex molecules frozen in solid matrices. K. Rebane and V. Hizhnyakov have formulated a theory of secondary luminescence that combines luminescence, light scattering, and hot luminescence. Elementary excitations and their interaction with defects in ionic crystals are being studied by C. Lushchik (Lustsik), M. Elango, and G. Liidja, and the properties of molecular and quasi-molecular centers of luminescence are being investigated by L. Rebane and P. Saari. Research on semiconductor heterostructures is under way. A theory of phase transitions in ferroelectrics is being developed by N. Kristoffel and P. Konsin. Methods of nuclear magnetic resonance are being applied to the study of solids and to the determination of the structure of organic compounds, including albumins and peptides (E. Lippmaa). Research on the theory of elementary particles and on the theory of relativity is being conducted by H. Keres and H. Ōiglane. A new method of computing multilayer optical coatings has been proposed by P. Kard.

Astronomy. The evolution and structure of galaxies and metagalaxies are being studied by G. Kusmin and J. Einasto. A. Kipper’s work on two-photon processes in cosmic nebulas and on the magnetic hydrodynamics in the plasma surrounding stars has been widely acclaimed. Considerable attention has been devoted to problems of cosmology (G. Naan), relativistic astrophysics, and the relation between cosmology and microphysics (A. Sapar). In atmospheric physics, the nature and properties of noctilucent clouds are being studied by C. Villmann, and the radiation conditions of the atmosphere and of the earth’s surface are the subject of research by J. Ross and O. Avaste. Estonian geodesists, notably G. Zhelnin, have developed and introduced a method of precise hydrostatic leveling.

Mathematics and mechanics. Research on the summation of divergent series, begun by G. Kangro, is flourishing at the University of Tartu. Operator equations are being studied by G. Vainikko, and problems of differential geometry and modern algebra are being examined by Ü. Lumiste. Automatic programming systems developed by B. Tamm and E. Tõugu are widely used. Important research fields in mechanics include the stability and dynamics of shells (N. Alumäe), the determination of the properties of bodies by acoustic echo signals (U. Nigul), photoelasticity (H. Aben), and the plastic deformation of plates and shells (Û. Lepik). In construction mechanics, simulation research has been conducted on reinforced-concrete shells, and engineering methods for their strength analysis have been proposed by H. Laul.

Chemistry and chemical engineering. Using correlation equations, V. Palm has developed a quantitative theory of the reactivity of organic compounds. The kinetics of electronic processes and the surface state of solid electrodes are being studied by V. Past and U. V. Palm. Techniques have been devised for synthesizing terpenoids and juvenoids (K. Lääts), new surface-active agents (S. Faingold), and some classes of biologically active compounds by (Ü. Lille). Chromatographie and spectral techniques and apparatus for studying the physical and chemical properties of organic compounds are being perfected by O. Eisen. The spatial and electronic structure of complex organic molecules is being studied by E. Lippmaa. The origin and composition of the organic part of oil shale and the thermal decomposition of oil shale have been studied by H. Raudsepp, A. Aarna, and A. Fomina. The group and chemical composition of liquid shale-refinery products has been determined by O. Eisen. Methods of obtaining benzoic acid, water-resistant glue resins, and other products by processing shale resins and phenols have been developed by A. Aarna. Technological processes of obtaining phosphate fertilizers and feed phosphates are being worked out by M. Veiderma.

Geology and geography. Estonian geologists have worked out the stratigraphy of deposits widely found in Estonia and have compiled geological maps of the crystalline foundation and lithofacies, as well as paleogeographic maps of the Cambrian, Ordovician, and Silurian. The principles of the Quarternary development of the territory of Estonia have been established for the first time (K. Orviku), particularly with reference to glaciation processes (A. Raukas). The main features of the formation and zonality of underground waters have been ascertained by A. Verte. Another major research field is landscape science.

Biological sciences. The republic’s flora and fauna have been thoroughly studied. The scientific principles underlying the rational use of flora and fauna and problems of ecology are being investigated by H. Haberman and E. Kumari. Research is being conducted in lichenology by H. Trass and in mycology by E. Parmasto. The geobotanical regionalization of Estonia has been carried out, and the publication of the 11-volume Flora of the Estonian SSR is nearing completion. Research efforts are directed toward the forecasting of long-range changes in the environment of the Baltic Sea. Problems of hydrochemistry are being studied by H. Simm. A biological typology of the republic’s lakes has been worked out. K. Paaver is investigating population morphology. Important work is being done on problems of photosynthesis and molecular biology.

Medicine. Much attention has been given to the physiology, pathology, and surgery of the cardiovascular system; the leading researcher in this field is E. Tünder. Important results have been obtained in the study of higher nervous activity and in medical psychology, psychiatry, and psychopharmacology (J. Saarma). Neurosurgery, a well-established branch of Estonian medicine, has been advanced by E. Raudam. Many medical studies have dealt with occupational hygiene and diseases in the oil-shale industry (P. Bogovsky). Research in medical microbiology and protozoology is being done by J. Teras, and the physiological and structural principles of the functioning of muscle tissues and visceral systems are being studied by I. Sibul.

Agricultural sciences. A great deal of research is devoted to soil science and agricultural chemistry. The analysis of soils in farming regions, begun by O. Hallik, has been completed, and maps reflecting fertilizer needs have been compiled. Problems relating to the reclamation of swampy land and the planting of pastures are being studied by R. Toomre. The selective breeding of agricultural and ornamental plants continues to be a major research field dominated by the work of J. Eichfeld. Much work has been done on cattle breeding, and the technology of animal husbandry on large farms has been advanced by A. Mölder. Research is also being conducted in veterinary medicine, in agricultural and veterinary microbiology, pathology, and virology, and on the genetic principles of agricultural plant breeding. Scientists are developing biological methods of pest control and studying ways of raising the productivity of forests.

Technical sciences. Research is under way on problems of thermophysics and the combustion of fuels with a high ash content. The theoretical basis for the design and construction of powerful boilers for burning oil shale has been developed by I. Öpik. Electromagnetic pumps for smelted metal have been designed. Research fields in construction physics include construction acoustics, the heat resistance of buildings, and soil mechanics (L. Jiirgenson). Methods for optimalizing the operation of large power systems have been proposed. New construction materials and the techniques of producing them, including shale-ash portland cement, are being developed by V. Kikas. Estonian engineers have designed power semiconductor devices with heightened technical parameters, new types of analytical gas chromatographs, double vacuum monochromators for ultraviolet radiation (V. Tiit), spectral instruments for geophysical space research (C. Villmann, U. Veismann), and generators of ions and aerosols for medical purposes (J. Reinet). Problem-oriented minicomputers are being developed.


Social sciences, BEFORE 1919. The earliest examples of Baltic German historical writing in Estonia are the Livonian Chronicle, compiled between 1224 and 1227, and the Livländische Reimchronik, which continues the narrative down to the end of the 13th century. The authors of these chronicles, as well as of those compiled in the 14th and 15th centuries, expressed the ideology of the German feudal elite, justifying the Baltic conquests by the need to propagate Christianity and defending the class privileges of the German nobility. The 16th-century Chronicle of the Livonian Province by B. Russow, a pastor of Estonian descent, contained the first, albeit timid, criticism of the German nobility and serfdom. The early world outlook of the Estonian people and their moral and aesthetic views found expression in folklore.

The study of the Estonian language began in the 17th and 18th centuries; a large body of linguistic and ethnographic material was collected by A. W. Hupel in the latter half of the 18th century. The rise of professional philosophy and systematic legal studies was associated with the founding of the Academia Gustaviana in 1632. The attack on Scholasticism that J. Skytte launched at the academy was resisted by its theologians, and the academy’s first professor of logic and ethics, M. Savonius, was dismissed in 1650 for defending P. Ramus’ humanist doctrine. B. G. Forselius did pioneering work in public education. At the end of the 18th century the educators G. Jannau, G. Merkel, and J. C. Petri assailed serfdom and took a favorable view of the union of Estland and Livland with Russia.

The studies of the history of Russian law by J. P. G. von Ewers, rector of the University of Tartu, were widely acclaimed. Several works on civil law and procedure were published by F. G. von Bunge and on international law by V. Grabar, who taught at the University of Tartu from 1893 to 1917. Most of the works written by Baltic German historians in the 19th and early 20th centuries, notably those by A. Tobien, were anti-Russian, preached Kulturträger ideas, and ignored the historical role of the Estonian people. The founding of the University of Tartu in 1802 and of the Estonian Learned Society in 1838 promoted the development of the social sciences. The first works on economics date from the first half of the 19th century. A number of Russian scholars studied the history of the Baltic, including Estonia. One such historian, N. N. Kharuzin, stressed the importance of the native ethnic groups of Estonia and showed their ties with the peoples inhabiting Russia.

The most complete compilation of Estonian words was to be found in F. J. Wiedemann’s Estonian-German dictionary, published in 1869. J. Hurt and M. J. Eisen collected and studied Estonian folklore. J. Baudouin de Courtenay, one of the forerunners of modern phonology, worked at the University of Tartu from 1883 to 1893.

In the early decades of the 19th century philosophy was taught in the spirit of Kantianism (G. B. Jäsche). The physicist G. F. Parrot, the first rector of the University of Tartu, combined Kantianism with scientific materialism. J. K. S. Morgenstern’s works on aesthetics contained Enlightenment ideas. Antifeudal and anticlerical views were expressed in the works of the first Estonian democratic educators, F. R. Faehlmann and F. R. Kreutzwald, and in the poems of K. J. Peterson. C. R. Jakobson, a leader of the Estonian national movement, advocated atheism and materialism.

The influence of materialist ideas, expounded by scientists working in Tartu, grew stronger after 1850. The materialist outlook clashed with the philosophy of personalism preached by G. Teichmüller. Marxist ideas spread to Estonia in the 1890’s. The revolutionary Russian workers and students who had been exiled to Estonia from St. Petersburg and other Russian cities played a major role in the dissemination of these ideas among the progressive strata of Estonian society. At the turn of the century the natural sciences were taught from a materialist perspective by the university professors A. N. Severtsov, A. I. Sadovskii, and F. Iu. Levinson-Lessing, whose works influenced the Estonian democratic intelligentsia.

Estonian bourgeois historiography, one of whose first exponents was the pastor V. Reiman, originated in the late 19th century. Within a short time two trends had emerged in Estonian historiography: a bourgeois-clerical trend, represented by J. Hurt and J. Jannsen, who essentially adopted the views of the Baltic German historians, and a bourgeois-democratic trend, represented by Jakobson, the linguist M. Veske, and the painter J. Köler, who called for the extension of Russian bourgeois reforms to the Baltic and the abolition of the special Ostsee administrative system.

With the growth of the labor movement and the dissemination of Marxist ideas in the early 20th century, the first Marxist works on the history of the region were produced by H. Pöögelmann, V. Kingissepp, and J. Anvelt. The first two decades of the 20th century saw the growing influence of Marxist economic theory. On fundamental issues the views of the Estonian Marxists coincided with the economic platform of the Russian Bolsheviks.

Basic principles of experimental psychology were developed in the late 19th century by the psychiatrist E. Kraepelin. The psychologist R. Kallas studied problems of memory.

BOURGEOIS ESTONIA. Marxist-Leninist ideas remained alive in the consciousness of the Estonian working masses during the bourgeois dictatorship. Continuing its struggle underground, the Estonian Communist Party rallied the country’s democratic forces, organized the study and publication of Marxist literature, and led the struggle against bourgeois ideology. V. Kingissepp’s works unmasked the antipopular nature of the policy pursued by the Estonian bourgeoisie. Meanwhile, in the USSR a commission was formed to work on the history of the Estonian Communist Party, social science works were published in Estonian, and Marxist historiography was further developed by the Soviet Estonian historians and revolutionaries J. Anvelt, A. Jea, A. Lukin, J. Palvadre, H. Pöögelmann, J. Reesen, O. Rästas, and H. Tummeltau.

The leading trends in bourgeois philosophy were neorealism, expounded by W. Freymann, and personalism, developed by E. Tennmann. Positivism was espoused by the psychologist and philosopher K. Ramul, who founded a methodological school of psychological experimentation. The philosophy of A. Koort evolved toward materialism. The growing fascism of the 1930’s was denounced by the progressive intelligentsia, including the writers E. Vilde, J. Vares-Barbarus, and A. H. Tammsaare and a number of scholars and public figures.

After the establishment of a fascist dictatorship in Estonia, historical scholarship was dominated by conservative and moderate bourgeois historians who followed in the footsteps of Russian and German bourgeois historiography. In propagating nationalist ideas these historians devoted much attention to the history of Estonia prior to the 13th century, which they regarded as the era of “ancient state sovereignty” and which they compared to the 19th-century era of “national awakening.” Ignoring social and economic factors and denying the role of the class struggle in the development of society, the ideologists of the Estonian bourgeoisie claimed that the national movement was the chief moving force of the historical process. Moreover, they zealously recounted the counterrevolutionary struggle against Soviet power and the participation of the bourgeoisie in the anti-Soviet intervention.

Progressive Estonian historians, who subsequently adopted Soviet views, published a number of valuable works. In his study of the Iron Age in Latvia, H. Moora devoted considerable attention to the history of Estonia and gave a survey of Estonian archaeology. H. Kruus studied popular movements of the 19th century and the history of the Livonian War (1558–83).

From 1919 to 1940 bourgeois economists generally confined themselves to treatises on government economic policy. In works that were extremely hostile to the Soviet Union they justified the subjugation of the Estonian economy to foreign capital. The concept of the corporative state gained currency in Estonia in the 1930’s. Among the more noteworthy works produced between 1919 and 1940 were those of A. Kliimann on the theory of law and administrative law, E. Ilus on civil law, J. Vaabel on financial law, and H. Kadari on criminal law. These scholars continued their research in Soviet Estonia.

The linguists J. V. Veski and J. Aavik had a considerable influence on the development of the Estonian literary language. A. Saareste was known for his studies of dialects. The collection of folklore and ethnographic material continued, although scholarly interpretations of such material were often tendentious.

SINCE 1940. The task of producing works in the social sciences, begun in 1940 and interrupted by the Great Patriotic War (1941–45), was resumed after the war.

Philosophy. The restoration of Soviet power in Estonia opened the way for the extensive propagation and elaboration of Marxist-Leninist philosophy. A. Uibo emerged as a prominent propagandist and statesman, and A. Koort embraced Marxism. Philosophy subdepartments were soon established at the republic’s higher educational institutions, and philosophy and sociology sectors were founded at the Academy of Sciences of the Estonian SSR in the 1960’s and 1970’s. G. Naan’s works stimulated a fruitful discussion of philosophical questions relating to the theory of relativity. Important work has also been done on problems of epistemology (J. Rebane), the methodology of the natural sciences (L. Valt, P. Kard), the theory of social revolutions (R. Blum-Russak), and aesthetics (L. Stolovich). Research is being conducted in educational (H. Liimets) and applied psychology. M. Titma has studied the social and vocational goals of young people, and J. Kahk has dealt with the social structure of the fully developed socialist society and with the internationalization of its culture. Other scholars are studying problems of mass communications.


History. Research in Estonian history is flourishing at the Institute of History of the Academy of Sciences of the Estonian SSR, at the Institute of Party History under the Central Committee of the Estonian Communist Party (founded 1946), and in the history subdepartments of the University of Tartu and other higher schools. The publication in Estonian of the fourth edition of Lenin’s works and the major works of Marx and Engels was of prime importance for the development of Estonian historical scholarship. Marxist research on various periods of Estonian history is summed up in the collaborative three-volume History of the Estonian SSR (Estonian edition, 1955–71; Russian edition, 1961–74), edited by G. Naan, A. Vassar, J. Saat, and V. Maamägi. The historical experience of the Estonian CP is analyzed in Studies in the History of the Communist Party of Estonia (books 1–3, Estonian edition, 1961–72; Russian edition, 1961–70), edited by A. Liebman, A. Panksejev, and M. Pesti.

Comprehensive works on the ethnic history of the Estonian and other Baltic peoples have been produced by H. Moora and his associates. The early history of Estonia has been described by M. Schmiedehelm, L. Jaanits, and J. Selirand. Studies of the history of feudalism have focused on the development of the corvée economy (H. Ligi), on feudal land tenure (E. Tarvel), and on historical demography (S. Vahtre and H. Palli). J. Kahk’s monographs analyze the disintegration of feudalism and serfdom and the class struggle of the Estonian peasantry. H. Kruus and E. Jansen have studied the national movement of the second half of the 19th century. The migration movement of the Estonian peasants has been elucidated by A. Vassar for the years 1830 to 1863 and by V. Maamägi for the subsequent period.

Estonian historians have given special attention to the revolutionary experience of the Estonian proletariat and to socialist and communist construction in the republic. A number of works have dealt with the dissemination of Leninist ideas and the struggle to unite the labor movement in Estonia between 1902 and 1917. H. Moosberg is the leading authority on the Revolution of 1905–07. The history of the October Revolution of 1917 in Estonia has been comprehensively treated in joint works and monographs written by J. Saat and K. Siilivask. The class struggle during the Civil War has been studied by Ü. Taigro and during the bourgeois dictatorship by A. Lebbin and O. Kuuli. The relations between the USSR and Estonia in the 1920’s have been elucidated by A. Koop. The statesman L. Lentsman served as the editor in chief of the collaborative monograph The Estonian People in the Great Patriotic War of the Soviet Union (vols. 1–2, 1971–77; Russian edition, vol. 1, 1973). The studies in urban history of R. Pullat and his associates have culminated in the publication of a two-volume history of Tallinn (1969–76). Another major collaborative work is the two-volume History of Estonian Art (1970–76), edited by I. Solomykova.

Extensive archaeological work in the republic led to the discovery in 1969 of the first prehistoric fields in the forest zone of Eastern Europe. Ethnographers at the Institute of History of the Academy of Sciences are participating in the compilation of the Ethnographic Atlas of the USSR. Since 1958 local lore studies have been coordinated by the Commission for the Study of Local Lore under the Academy of Sciences. Historical material is published in Izvestiia Akademii nauk Estonskoi SSR: Seriia ob-shchestvennykh nauk (Proceedings of the Academy of Sciences of the Estonian SSR: Social Science Series) and Uchenye zapiski Tartuskogo gosudarstvennogo universiteta (Transactions of Tartu State University). Other institutions engaged in the dissemination of historical knowledge and the study of history are the State Historical Museum in Tallinn (founded 1940), the State Ethnographic Museum in Tartu (1909), and the Estonian State Open Air Museum of Folk Architecture and Life in Tallinn (1964).


Economics. In 1940 the first theoretical and practical studies of problems of socialist construction were undertaken in the republic, and political economy was introduced into the curriculum of higher educational institutions. From 1948 graduate programs for the training of economists were established by the Academy of Sciences of the Estonian SSR and by the republic’s institutions of higher learning. The Academy of Social Sciences under the Central Committee of the CPSU has extended valuable assistance in the training of economic theoreticians.

Estonian economists have studied problems relating to socialist industrialization (A. Veimer) and to the collectivization of agriculture and development of new agrarian relations (R. Antons, N. Busulukov). O. Sepre has shown the reactionary nature of the economic policy of the Estonian bourgeoisie. Economic methods of raising the quality of industrial output have been investigated by A. Köörna and H. Metsa, and problems of regional economics and the territorial organization of production have been studied by V. Tarmisto. Much attention is devoted to the economic aspects of rational land use (M. Bronshtein) and environmental protection. Research is under way on the application of mathematical methods in optimal industrial planning (I. Kaganovich), on decomposition analysis (Ü. Ennuste), and on the use of the index method in economic analysis (U. Mereste). Problems relating to national economic planning have been studied by E. Kull, the theory of management by R. Üksvärav, and the economic efficiency of agriculture by E. Vint.

The republic’s economics centers are the Institute of Economics of the Academy of Sciences of the Estonian SSR (founded 1946), the Estonian Division of the Central Economic Mathematical Institute of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR (1955), the Estonian Scientific Research Institute of Scientific and Technical Information and Technical and Economic Research (1968), and the economics departments and subdepartments of higher educational institutions.

Law. Research in Soviet jurisprudence is conducted at the law department of the University of Tartu and by legal scholars affiliated with the Academy of Sciences of the Estonian SSR, where the law section has been part of the Institute of Economics since 1956. The jurist J. Vaabel has done important work in financial law, and P. Vihalem has critically examined the politics and legal relations in bourgeois Estonia. Studies in international law include those of A. Uustal on the legal regulation of territorial waters. I. Rebane and Iu. M. Livshits are noted for their work in criminal law, B. Levin for his research in constitutional law and the history of the state and law, and V. Kelder for her studies of kolkhoz law. Other research fields include labor and civil law, the legal aspects of technological progress and environmental protection, criminology, and the use of computers in storing and processing legal information. Estonian jurists have taken part in drawing up the republic’s legal codes, have published annotated editions of the codes, and have helped draft the new Estonian constitution.

Linguistics. Traditional research fields in linguistics, such as Finno-Ugric studies, have gained breadth and depth through the use of Marxist-Leninist methodology. The Estonian school of Finno-Ugric studies is headed by P. Ariste, who is also the editor in chief of the journal Sovetskoe finno-urgrovedenia (Soviet Finno-Ugric Studies), published in Estonia since 1965. A. Kask is the leading authority on the history and dialectology of Estonian.

Of the new approaches to the study of the social sciences, especially noteworthy is Y. Lotman’s work on structural poetics and the semiotics of culture.

Scientific institutions. In 1976 some 6,000 persons were engaged in scientific research in the Estonian SSR, compared to about 544 in 1940. The republic’s scientific personnel includes 43 academicians and corresponding members of the Academy of Sciences of the Estonian SSR, 250 doctors of sciences, and more than 2,300 candidates of sciences.

The leading scientific center, the Academy of Sciences of the Estonian SSR, comprises three divisions and 13 research institutions (1976). The academy’s research ship, the Aiudag, conducts comprehensive studies of the Baltic Sea. A great deal of research is done in the special-problems laboratories and subdepartments of the University of Tartu, the Estonian Agricultural Academy, the Tallinn Polytechnical Institute, and other higher educational institutions, as well as in the 12 institutes run by Union and republic government agencies.

Estonian scientific institutions work in close cooperation with institutes of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR and with various research organizations in other Union republics. Since the 1970’s the most important research projects have been conducted as part of all-Union scientific and engineering programs.

Estonia’s strongest scientific ties are with the socialist countries, Finland (linguistics and ethnography), and the USA (astrophysics).



Maamägi, V. “Istoricheskaia nauka v Estonskoi SSR (1940–1965 gg.).” In Torzhestvennoe sobranie Akademii nauk Estonskoi SSR 16 iunia 1965 g. Tallinn, 1966.
Veimer, A., and V. Maamägi. “Nauka Sovetskoi Estonii.” In Lenin i sovremennaia nauka, vol. 2. Moscow, 1970.
Leninskii etap v estonskoi istoricheskoi nauke: Sb. st. po istoriografii. Tallinn, 1970.
Kahk, J. “Estoniia.” In Razvitie sovetskoi istoricheskoi nauki, 1917–1974. Moscow, 1975.

The first printed books in Estonian, a Lutheran Communion liturgy (1525) and a catechism (1535) by S. Wanradt and J. Koell, were produced in Germany. The first Estonian printing shops, founded in Tartu in 1631 and in Tallinn in 1633, issued prayer books, mainly in Latin and German. In all, some 40 Estonian-language books have survived from the 17th century. In the 18th century, with the spread of literacy among the population, almanacs became popular. By the end of the century secular literary works in Estonian were being published.

In the 19th century Estonian men of letters and educators produced a substantial body of popular science works in the native language. The publication of the national epic Kalevipoeg (1857–61) was an important event. Of the 7,000 titles of books and pamphlets published in the 19th century, about 90 percent date from the second half of the century. The subject matter of books changed markedly in the 1870’s and 1880’s, when printing houses began to issue predominantly Estonian-language secular works: textbooks, calendars, popular science books, and works of belles lettres. A large number of scholarly works were issued in Russian and other languages.

The first newspaper to be published in Estonia was the German-language Revalsche Post-Zeitung (Reval Newspaper), issued from 1689 to 1710. Estonian-language journalism dates from 1766, the year that the weekly magazine Lühhike Öppetus (Brief Information) began publication at Põltsamaa; 41 issues appeared in 1766–67. Estonian-language newspapers were published for brief periods in 1806 and from 1821 to 1825, but the first regularly issued newspaper, Perno Postimees (Pärnu Courier), was not founded until 1857. The antifeudal struggle found a voice in the newspaper Sakala, published from 1878 to 1882 by C. R. Jakobson, the leader of the radical wing of the national movement. The first Estonian daily was Postimees (Courier), founded in Tartu in 1891.

The revolutionary Estonian workers’ press, which arose in the early years of the 20th century in the form of leaflets and proclamations, flourished during the Revolution of 1905–07, when the newspapers Edasi (Forward, 1905) and Tööline (The Worker, 1907) were published in St. Petersburg and the newspaper Sotsiaal-Demokraat (Social Democrat, 1906–07) was issued in Tallinn. Marxist-oriented magazines and miscellanies also appeared. An Estonian translation of Marx’ Wage Labor and Capital was published in St. Petersburg in 1906. In the ensuing years of reaction the trade union magazine Töö (Labor, 1908–09) was published legally in Estonia, and several Estonian workers’ newspapers and periodicals were issued abroad, notably the newspaper Uus Ilm (New World), founded in New York in 1909 and published to this day. The Estonian writer J. Lilienbach was a prominent publisher of revolutionary literature; in 1910 his publishing house Mõte (Thought) began to issue serially Marx’ Das Kapital.

The leading Bolshevik press organ in Estonia was the newspaper Kiir (Ray), published in Narva under various names between June 1912 and July 1914. The newspaper reprinted several of Lenin’s Pravda articles. There were five Bolshevik newspapers in Estonia at the time of the October Revolution of 1917, and their number increased after the victory of the socialist revolution. The first Soviet Estonian publishing agency, the publishing department of the Estlandia Labor Commune, was founded in 1918 and issued its first publications the next year in Petrograd. The Telegraph Agency of the Estlandia Labor Commune, organized in 1918, was renamed the Estonian Telegraph Agency (ETA) in 1920.

After the establishment of bourgeois rule in Estonia the Estonian revolutionary press continued to develop in Soviet Russia, where about 1,100 books and pamphlets were published between 1918 and 1940 and where about 40 Estonian-language newspapers and magazines were issued at various times. Estonian-language books were published by the Leningrad-based Estonian Publishing Association (1922–26) and Külvaja (Sower) Publishing House (1922–34). The leading Soviet Estonian periodicals were the newspaper Edasi (Forward, 1917–37) and the magazine Klassivõitlus (Class Struggle, 1919–36). Some of the works published in the Soviet Union circulated clandestinely in bourgeois Estonia.

The Bolshevik publications that were issued in Estonia, including Kommunist (1918–41), the organ of the Communist Party, were printed by underground presses. The legal workers’ press was subjected to constant repressions. Bourgeois Estonia’s book industry consisted of a plethora of small competing enterprises (more than 70 publishing houses and about 100 printing houses in 1940) issuing expensive books in small editions. In addition to translations of world literary classics, textbooks, and scholarly and reference works such as the Estonian Encyclopedia (1932–37), Estonian publishing houses issued numerous inferior money-making publications. A total of about 24,000 titles of books and pamphlets were published during the years of bourgeois rule (1919–40). The most widely circulating bourgeois newspapers were Päevaleht (Daily Newspaper, 1905–40) and Vaba Maa (Free Land, 1918–38); after the fascist coup in 1934, Uus Eesti (New Estonia, 1935–40) became the semiofficial newspaper.

The restoration of Soviet power in Estonia in 1940 was followed by the establishment of the State Publishing Association, combining five specialized publishing houses, and the Main Printing Office. In all, 850 titles of books, totaling 6 million copies, were published in 1940–41. Alongside Kommunist there appeared new republic newspapers, among them Rahva Hääl (Voice of the People), the Russian-language Sovetskaia Estoniia (Soviet Estonia), and Talurahva Hääl (Voice of the Peasantry). Altogether 20 newspapers, 36 magazines, and other periodicals were published in 1940–41. During the Great Patriotic War (1941—45) the newspaper Rahva Hääl was published in the Soviet rear; its regular and special issues, as well as the partisan newspaper Tasuja (Avenger), circulated in fascist-occupied Estonia. The political departments of the 7th and 249th Estonian rifle divisions published frontline newspapers. About 250 Estonian-language books and pamphlets were published in Moscow, Leningrad, and other cities from 1942 to 1944.

After the war the republic’s printing facilities were rebuilt and modernized, and its printing houses were enlarged. There were five book printing houses in 1977. The printing plant of the Newspaper and Magazine Publishing House of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Estonian SSR went into operation in 1971. The sharp rise in the number of books and periodicals issued has been accompanied by an improvement in the quality of the printed output, 50 percent of which is produced by the offset technique.

In 1979 the republic’s publishing houses, of which the largest are Eesti Raamat (Estonian Book), Valgus (Light), Kunst (Art), and Perioodika (Periodicals), published 2,012 titles of books and pamphlets (about 1,300 of them in Estonian) totaling 17.2 million copies (including more than 13.3 million copies in Estonian). The publication of the eight-volume Estonian Soviet Encyclopedia was completed in 1979. That year the republic’s 42 newspapers had a combined singleissue circulation of 1,777,000 copies and an annual circulation of 249 million copies.

The republic’s leading Estonian-language newspapers are Rahva Hääl (Voice of the People, since 1940), Noorte Häät (Voice of Youth, since 1940), Säde (Spark, since 1946), Sirp ja Vasar (Hammer and Sickle, since 1940), Nõukogude Ōpetaja (Soviet Teacher, since 1940), Spordileht (Sports News, since 1958), and Kodumaa (Native Land, since 1958). The Russian-language republic newspapers are Sovetskaia Estoniia (Soviet Estonia, since 1940) and Molodezh’ Estonii (Youth of Estonia, since 1950).

In 1979 the republic’s 105 magazines, including party, sociopolitical, literary, scholarly, popular science, youth, women’s, and children’s magazines, had an annual circulation exceeding 27.1 million copies. The most widely read magazines are Eesti Kommunist (Estonian Communist, since 1945; Russian-language edition since 1951), Keel ja Kirjandus (Language and Literature, since 1958), Looming (Creativity, since 1923), Sotsialistlik Pöllu-majandus (Socialist Agriculture, since 1946), Tehnika ja Tootmine (Technology and Production, since 1957), Nõukogude Naine (Soviet Woman, since 1945), Noorus (Youth, since 1946), läheke (Little Star, since 1960), and Horisont (Horizon, since 1967).

Regular radio broadcasting was inaugurated in 1926. Since 1970 three programs, in Estonian and Russian, have been broadcast simultaneously for 32.5 hours a day, including five hours of stereo broadcasts. Foreign broadcasts are made in Estonian, Finnish, and Swedish. Television broadcasting, begun in Tallinn in 1955 in Estonian and Russian, has been conducted over three channels since 1968. In addition to republic broadcasts, on the air eight hours a day, television viewers receive programs relayed from Moscow and Leningrad, as well as Intervision and Eurovision programs.


Statistika pechati Estonskoi SSR 1976. Tallinn, 1977. (In Estonian and Russian.)
Peegel, J. Eesti ajakirjanduse algus. Tallinn, 1966.
Laul, E. Eesti töölisajakirjanduse ajaloost. Tallinn, 1962.
Miller, V. Minevikust tulevikku. Tallinn, 1972.
Trikkel, I. Ringhääting eile ja täna. Tallinn, 1977.


The enslavement of the Estonian lands in the 13th century by German and then Danish feudal lords long impeded the development of a literary language, a literature, and a national intelligentsia. Down to the 19th century the spiritual life of the Estonian people found expression in a rich tradition of folk songs, fairy tales, proverbs, sayings, and riddles. In the first half of the 16th century, during the Reformation, the Lutheran clergy began publishing church books in the languages of the Baltic peoples; the first such book, written in Estonian, Latvian, and Livonian, was printed in 1525. Religious literature, both canonical works and newer Pietist narrative books, held sway in the Estonian lands until the mid-19th century. The first Estonian-language calendar was published in 1731, and the end of the century saw the appearance of the first secular didactic works in Estonian.

The annexation of the Estonian lands by Russia in the early 18th century gave the Estonian people an opportunity for peaceful development. Estonian belles lettres emerged in the mid-19th century, on the eve of the Estonian national revival. The first important man of letters was the democratic educator F. R. Faehlmann (1798–1850), who kindled public interest in Estonian folklore. Faehlmann’s successor and the central literary and public figure of the entire epoch was F. R. Kreutzwald (1803–82), whose epic Kalevipoeg (1857–61) draws heavily on folklore. The linguist J. Hurt (1839–1905) played a major role in organizing the collection of folklore.

The newspaper Sakala (1878–82), founded by C. R. Jakobson (1841–82), championed active social struggle. The Society of Estonian Writers, which Jakobson headed in 1881–82, became the center of literary, linguistic, and folklore studies. Artistically mature poetry on patriotic and antifeudal themes was written by L. Koidula (1843–86), best known for her verse collection The Nightingale of the Emajõgi (1867) and also credited with founding Estonian dramaturgy. The most famous of the antifeudal historical novellas written in the period of national awakening was The Avenger (1880) by E. Bornhöhe (1862–1923).

In the 1890’s Estonian literature evolved toward critical realism. Conventionally called postromantic, the literature of this period blended elements of romanticism and realism, as illustrated by the poems of J. Tamm (1861–1907), the early poetry of K. E. Sööt (1862–1950) and A. Haava (1864–1957), and the prose of J. Liiv (1864–1913). Intensified social antagonisms in the late 19th century, livelier contacts with German, Russian, French, and Scandinavian realist literature, and the prerevolutionary ferment and Revolution of 1905–07 promoted the rapid development of Estonian literature. Two novels by E. Vilde (1865–1933)— In a Harsh Land (1896) and Iron Hands (1898)—laid the foundation for Estonian critical realism and the novel genre. His historical trilogy about the struggle of the Estonian peasantry against the landlords, comprising The War at Mahtra (1902), The Envoys From Anija (1903), and The Prophet Maltsvet (1905–08), reflected literature’s close ties with the revolutionary struggle of the Estonian popular masses. E. Peterson-Särgava (1868–1958) won acclaim for his exposé short stories Ulcers (vols. 1–3, 1899–1901).

Arising during the Revolution of 1905–07, Estonian proletarian literature reached a high level in the poetry and publicist writings of H. Pöögelmann (1875–1938). A lofty revolutionary romanticism infused the poetry of G. Suits (1883–1956) and the prose of F. Tuglas (1886–1971), the cofounders of the literary group Noor-Eesti (Young Estonia, 1905–15), which aspired to raise aesthetic standards and to promote international literary contacts.

After the suppression of the Revolution of 1905–07, the tendency toward neoromanticism and impressionism was paralleled by a strengthening of critical realism in all genres. Among the finest achievements of this period are Tuglas’ short-story collection The Hourglass (1913), the highly dramatic plays of A. Kitzberg (1855–1927), of which the most famous is The Werewolf (1912), and Vilde’s dramatic novella The Inscrutable Mystery (1912) and his comedy The House Spirit (1913). Depth of feeling distinguished the realistic poetry of J. Liiv (Poems, 1909–10).

Although all Estonian writers welcomed the overthrow of tsarism in February 1917, they were sharply divided over the October Revolution and the establishment of Soviet power in Estonia. Consistently revolutionary positions were adopted by the proletarian writers and publicists Eessaare Aadu (J. Anvelt, 1884–1937), V. Kingissepp (1888–1922), and Pöögelmann. Several well-known writers, among them Vilde and Suits, came under the influence of petit bourgeois parties.

The civil war in Estonia ended with the establishment of a bourgeois government in 1919. In the first years of bourgeois rule consistently revolutionary works appeared only in the workers’ press. Later they could be published only in the USSR, where Estonian revolutionary writers rallied around the Estonian magazines being issued in Leningrad and around the Kiilvaja (Sower) Publishing House, founded in Leningrad in 1923. The novel Overthrowers, written by J. Madarik (J. Lauristin, 1899–1941) in an Estonian prison, was published in Leningrad in 1929.

From the outset an opposition trend manifested itself in the literature of bourgeois Estonia, which was also strongly influenced by the aesthetics of German expressionism. Poems called songs of the time were written by J. Kärner (1891–1958), M. Under, A. Alle (1890–1952), J. Barbaras (Vares, 1890–1946), Suits, J. Semper (1892–1970), and H. Visnapuu (1890–1951). In prose, neoromanticism, impressionism, and symbolism increasingly yielded to realism, as exemplified in the works of A. H. Tamms-aare (1878–1940) and M. Metsanurk (1870–1957). The Union of Estonian Writers, founded in 1922, began issuing the magazine Looming (Creativity) in 1923.

In the poetry of the mid-1920’s the theme of social inequality dominated the verse of Barbarus, Alle, Semper, and Under. Prose writers realistically portrayed the hard lot of the inhabitants of working-class suburbs, a theme masterfully treated in the novellas of O. Luts (1887–1953). P. Vallak (1893–1959) began his literary career with grotesque novellas about the life of “little people.” A concern with social problems and keen insight into human nature mark the finest novels of the second half of the 1920’s, among them Tammsaare’s five-volume epic Truth and Justice (1926–33) and Metsanurk’s novel Red Wind (1928). Two newcomers on the literary scene produced novels depicting the worker milieu: A. Jakobson (1904–63) in Settlement of Poor Sinners (1927) and R. Sirge (1904–70) in Peace! Bread! Land! (1929).

The plays of H. Raudsepp (1883–1952) enjoyed great popularity. The leading writer of young people’s literature was J. Parijõgi (1892–1941). The suffering of the popular masses evoked a strong note of social protest in the novels of Tammsaare and Jakobson and the poetry of Kärner, Barbarus, and J. Siitiste (1899–1945). In the late 1920’s and early 1930’s Barbarus, Vilde, Semper, Suits, Siitiste, Tammsaare, and N. Andresen (born 1899) produced publicist works denouncing fascism and its local agents.

After the coup of 1934 and the establishment of a fascist regime in Estonia, the bourgeoisie, hiding behind “national” slogans, tried to use literature to further its class interests. However, only a few writers, among them Kivikas, Visnapuu, and Gailit, were willing to fulfill the class demands of the bourgeoisie.

The novel remained the dominant prose genre in the 1930’s, its preeminence assured by the realist works of Jakobson, Sirge, A. Hint (born 1910), M. Raud (born 1903), and K. Ristikivi (1912–77). Concurrently, Estonian poetry was being molded by the realist poets Barbarus, Kärner, Semper, Siitiste, and Alle. Of the younger poets, B. Alver (born 1906) and K. Merilaas (born 1914) produced polished realist verse. The late 1930’s saw the appearance of such new types of works as Tammsaare’s novel The New Demon From Hell (1939) and the psychological drama The Iron Home (1938) by E. Tammlaan (1904–45).

The restoration of Soviet power in 1940 marked a new era in the development of Estonian literature. Democratic writers such as Barbarus, Semper, Kärner, Sütiste, Alle, and E. Hiir (born 1900) became socialists. H. Angervaks (E. Päll, born 1903) and F. Kotta (1910–63) continued to write poetry in Soviet Estonia. In the Great Patriotic War (1941–15) writers joined the struggle against German fascism; many were evacuated to the Soviet rear, where they continued their creative activity. The leading genre in Soviet Estonian literature was the antifascist patriotic lyric, written by Barbarus, Semper, Kärner, Raud, Hiir, Aile, P. Rummo (born 1909), A. Kaal (born 1911), and the fledgling poets D. Vaarandi (born 1916), R. Parve (born 1919), and J. Smuul (1922–71).

The writers of integrity who remained in occupied Estonia were persecuted; Tammlaan and J. Ruven (1902–42) perished at the hands of the aggressors. Siitiste’s poetry cycle Sultry Days (published 1945) described the tribulations of a man suffocating under the oppression of the aggressors but not broken spiritually. The writers who had served the fascist dictatorship in bourgeois Estonia and had supported the German aggressors fled abroad after the war.

After the war the republic’s creative forces were consolidated on the basis of socialist realism, and new themes appeared in Soviet Estonian literature. Dramaturgy reached a high level in the second half of the 1940’s in Jakobson’s dramatic novellas Life in a Citadel and Struggle Without a Frontline (both 1946) and Semper’s and Hint’s plays. Prose writers dealt with man’s ideological and moral maturation in time of war (E. Männik, 1906–66) and with the awakening of antifascist protest during the occupation (O. Tooming, born 1914). The postwar changes in the Estonian countryside were depicted in the novella Light in Koordi (1948) by H. Leberecht (1910–60), in the novellas and short stories of Sirge and E. Krusten (born 1900), and in the essays and publicist writings of Smuul, E. Rannet (born 1911), and A. Saar (born 1920). Civic lyrics and epic poems were written by Vaarandi, Raud, and Smuul.

Tendencies that signaled a new phase in the development of Soviet Estonian literature appeared in the early 1950’s in Smuul’s lyrical publicist work Letters From the Village of Sögedate (1955). The finest novels of the time dealt with the history of the revolution: Hint’s tetralogy The Windy Coast (1951–66), Krusten’s two-part novel The Hearts of the Young (1954–56), Sirge’s novel The Land and the People (1956), Semper’s Red Carnations (1955), and Leberecht’s The Palaces of the Vassars (1960). These novels re-create the panorama of the Estonian people’s movement from the class struggle of the early 20th century, through the revolutions of 1905–07 and 1917, to the victory of the socialist revolution in Estonia.

New themes and genres have been introduced since the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. Smuul’s lyrical publicist Ice Book (1959) was widely read throughout the Soviet Union. Estonian writers have produced psychological and publicist novels, short novels, historical and biographical novels, and various forms of “small” prose. The Great Patriotic War is the subject of many outstanding novels: The Second “I” of Enn Kalm (1960), In the Heat of Summer (1966), One Night (1972), and Raindrops (1976) by P. Kuusberg (born 1916), Village Without Men (1962) by L. Promet (born 1922), The Story of Emajõgi (1960) by L. Vaher (born 1912), Tossed About in the War (1974) by Ü. Tuulik (born 1940), And a Hundred Deaths (1978) by V. Beekman (born 1929). The postwar class struggle has been depicted by V. Gross (born 1922) and V. Ilus (born 1929). Rannet’s novel Stones and Bread (1972) portrays life in the Estonian countryside in the 1950’s.

The young prose writers who began their careers in the 1960’s, notably M. Unt (born 1944), E. Vetemaa (born 1936), M. Traat (born 1936), and A. Beekman (born 1933), are exploring contemporary moral issues and experimenting with artistic form. J. Kross (born 1920) has won acclaim for his historical and biographical novel Between Three Plagues (1970–75) and his historical novellas about cultural figures of the past. The literary essay, another flourishing genre, is best represented by the books of L. Meri (born 1929) and the small prose of Kuusberg, Promet, and A. Valton (born 1935).

The range of poetry has been broadened by the outstanding lyric poets Vaarandi, Semper, A. Sang (1914–69), Alver, V. Beekman, Kross, A. Kaalep (born 1926), and E. Niit (born 1928), as well as the satirist U. Laht (born 1924). The young poets who made their debut in the 1960’s and 1970’s, among them P.-E. Rummo (born 1942), Traat, A. Siig (born 1938), R. Rimmel (born 1937), V. Luik (born 1946), and J. Kaplinski (born 1941), have focused on contemporary philosophical and moral issues.

Since the 1950’s Estonian playwrights have produced a number of fine sociopsychological plays exploring contemporary moral and ethical problems. They include Jakobson’s The Old Oak (1954), Rannet’s Conscience (1956), The Prodigal Son (1958), and The Criminal Tango (1968), and Smuul’s Lea (1959), The Colonel’s Widow (1966), and Jõnn of the Island of Kihnu (1964). Fine plays have also been written by A. Liives (born 1929), Vetemaa, Unt, and Juri Tuulik (born 1940). The leading writers of children’s literature are V. Beekman, Parve, B. Kabur (born 1917), S. Rannamaa (born 1918), H. Pukk (born 1920), E. Raud (born 1928), and E. Niit.

Estonian literary scholars are working on the five-volume History of Estonian Literature (vols. 1–3, 1965–69). The eminent prewar critics Tuglas, A. Annist (1899–1972), and O. Urgart (1900–53) continued their work in Soviet times. Soviet Estonian literary scholarship has been advanced by A. Vinkel (born 1918), V. Alttoa (1898–1975), R. Põldmäe (born 1908), E. Sõgel (born 1922), H. Puhvel (born 1926), E. Nirk (born 1925), H. Peep (born 1931), E. Siirak (born 1911), O. Jõgi (born 1919), and H.Siimisker (born 1924).

The Soviet period has been marked by an intensive development of literary relations. Estonian translations are available of 1,300 works of classical and Soviet Russian literature, as well as 500 literary works of other peoples of the USSR. More than 550 Estonian works have been translated into Russian.

The Organizational Committee of the Estonian Soviet Writers’ Union was founded in 1940. The First Congress of the Writers’ Union of the Estonian SSR was held in 1943, the Second Congress in 1946, the Third Congress in 1954, the Fourth Congress in 1958, the Fifth Congress in 1966, the Sixth Congress in 1971, and the Seventh Congress in 1976.


Ocherk istorii estonskoi sovetskoi literatury. Moscow, 1971.
Eesti kirjanduse biograafiline leksikon. Tallinn, 1975.


Architecture. The oldest structures on Estonian soil, called piistkoda, date from the third and second millennia B.C. The inhabitants of the first millennium B.C. built fortified settlements (Asva, Iru, Ridala) and had above ground burials (stone cists). At the beginning of the first millennium A.D. villages of log huts appeared. A large number of strongholds, surrounded by moats, earthen walls, and palisades, were founded in the second half of the first millennium. In the 11th and 12th centuries the Estonians built large strongholds (Valjala, Varbola) and the first urban settlements (Tallinn, Tartu, Otepää.) The stone cists developed into barrows enclosed by stone fences.

In the first quarter of the 13th century the invasion of the Germans and Danes, who established an impressive system of fortresses, brought about profound changes in architecture. German and Scandinavian builders introduced new construction materials, such as brick, limestone, and glass, and building techniques typical of the Romanesque style, including the use of arches, vaults, and lime mortar in masonry. The main type of building was the church, also used for defense. Late Romanesque motifs are discernible in the 13th-century church in Valjala. From the mid-13th century they were combined with early Gothic forms, such as lancet arches and goblet-shaped capitals.

Independent schools of architecture arose in the 13th and 14th centuries. In western Estonia and on the islands the churches were generally single-aisled, lacked towers, and had high ribbed vaults, narrow windows, plastically accentuated portals, and sculptural ornamentation. Outstanding examples include the churches in Valjala, Muhu, and Kaarma on Saaremaa Island and in Haapsalu. In central Estonia there was a predilection for three-aisled towered hall churches with ribless “dome” vaults and round piers crowned by carved capitals, as illustrated by the churches in Ambla (third quarter of the 13th century) and in Koeru and Türi (late 13th and first half of the 14th centuries). In southern Estonia three-aisled brick hall churches were built without towers; they were decorated with blind niches and had cruciform piers and ribbed vaults. The finest examples of this style are the churches in Nõo (late 13th century) and Põlva (late 15th century). The largest Gothic structure in Estonia, the basilican St. Peter and St. Paul Cathedral in Tartu (13th to 15th centuries), has a hall-type choir and a two-tower facade. Another noteworthy Gothic edifice is the Jaani (St. John’s) Church in Tartu, built in the 14th century.

The architecture of Tallinn became the model for the late Gothic architecture of northern Estonia. The city’s finest Gothic churches are the Cathedral and the Pühavaimu, Oleviste, and Niguliste churches, built between the 13th and 16th centuries. Gothic civil architecture is best represented by the Town Hall (1404), the Oleviste Guildhall (15th century), and the Great Guildhall (15th century). Cloistral ensembles include the Dominican Katariina Monastery (St. Catherine, 13th to 16th centuries), the Mikhli Monastery (St. Michael, 13th to 16th centuries), and the Pirita Convent (St. Bridget, 15th and 16th centuries). The Tallinn burgher’s house typically had a living area two stories high (diele), and its main facade was embellished with a carved portal and anteport. In the 14th century Tallinn’s builders worked throughout northern Estonia; among the best examples of their work are the churches at Keila and Kose in Harju District and at Lüganuse and Jõhvi in Viru District. In the 15th century churches with one or two aisles were erected in northwestern Estonia, and three-aisled hall churches with towers were constructed in northeastern Estonia (Haljala, Viru-Jaagupi, Väike-Maarja).

More than 50 stone castles of various types were built in Estonia in the Gothic period. Some had an irregular ground plan adapted to the terrain (Otepää, Lihula), and others had a regular layout (Tallinn, Haapsalu, and Põltsamaa). Donjons suitable for permanent residence were also built, for example, those at Paide, Pöide, and Vastseliina. The Teutonic order began building Konventshäuser in the last quarter of the 13th century. Such monastery-castles were built in the 13th and 14th centuries in Viljandi and Pärnu, in the second half of the 14th century in Tallinn, Rakvere, Narva, and Kuressaare, and in the 15th century in Põltsamaa. With the development of firearms some of the castles were transformed into vast camps (Paide, Vastseliina, and Haapsalu). In rural areas, monasteries (Kärkna, Padise) and some churches (Valjala, Kihelkonna, Nõo, Laiuse, Jõhvi, Märjamaa, Püha) were built as fortresses. Six cities were protected by stone walls and fortified gates: Tallinn, Tartu, Narva, Pärnu, Viljandi, and Haapsalu.

In the first quarter of the 16th century Renaissance tendencies appeared alongside the Gothic ones, mainly in ornamentation and architectural decoration. In Tallinn, Renaissance influences are apparent in the weigh house (1554), the house of the Fraternity of the Black Heads, and the spire of the Town Hall (architect A. Graff, 1627). Renaissance features were also incorporated into residential architecture in Narva.

The baroque style, spreading to Estonia about 1640, is best exemplified in the Narva Town Hall (1668–71, architect J. Teuffel) and the Tallinn Gate in Pärnu (1690). Bastions became important compositional accents in such cities as Tallinn, Narva, Tartu, and Pärnu. After Estonia’s unification with Russia in the 18th century, its architecture developed in close interaction with Russian styles. Tallinn acquired the Kadriorg palace and park (1718–25, architect N. Michetti) and the building of the provincial administration (1767–73, architect J. Schultz). Fine examples of 18th century manor architecture may be seen at Palmse, Sagadi, and Hiiu-Suuremõisa. The Põltsamaa Castle was rebuilt as a palace in 1772–74, its interior designed by J. M. Graff. Both hall churches and cruciform domed churches were constructed; outstanding examples include the Church of St. Elizabeth (1744–47, architect J. H. Güterbock) and the Orthodox Church of St. Catherine (1764–68, architect P. Egorov) in Pärnu.

The early classical style that evolved in the late 18th century retained elements of the baroque (Tartu Town Hall, 1782–89, architect J. H. Walther). In the 19th century “model” facade designs were introduced under the influence of St. Petersburg architecture. Such designs were extensively used in the residential and public buildings of Tartu, notably the market arcade (1816–21, destroyed). The main building of the University of Tartu was designed by the architect J. W. Krause. In the early 19th century country palaces with landscaped parks were built in northern Estonia; among the most impressive are those at Hõreda, Kolga, and Riisipere.

Large industrial complexes with workers’ settlements, such as the Krenholm Manufactory in Narva, arose in Estonian cities in the second half of the 19th and the early 20th centuries. An eclectic approach prevailed in the architecture of residential and public buildings; especially noteworthy is the eclectic style of the Kaarli (St. Charles) Church in Tallinn (1862–70), designed by R. Bernhard and O. Hippius.

A national romantic style, stimulated by art nouveau, was widely adopted in building theaters, clubs (Estonian Student Society in Tartu, 1902, architect G. Hellat), schools, and apartment and town houses (apartment house on Viru Street in Tallinn, 1913, architects K. Burman and A. Perna). In the 1920’s and 1930’s functionalist public and residential buildings were built by E. Habermann, H. Johanson, A. Matteus, E. Kuusik, O. Siin-maa, and A. Soans; the same approach marked the rural schools and farmsteads designed by A. Volberg and E. Nõva.

A distinctive type of house, the “dwelling barn,” developed on peasant farmsteads in the 11th and 12th centuries. It was a log building combining a living area (rehetuba) and a threshing floor (rehealune); the low, massive, oblong structure was topped by a high straw or reed roof.

After the restoration of Soviet power in 1940 and the expulsion of the fascist invaders in 1944, general plans were drawn up and cities were rebuilt and rapidly enlarged. Large-scale restoration was undertaken in Tallinn, Narva, and Kingissepa, and Kohtla-Järve was built anew.

Modern principles of urban planning have been adopted since the mid-1950’s in drawing up general plans for Tallinn and other cities. Numerous public and residential buildings have been constructed according to standard designs using prefabricated structural members. Large residential complexes offering a wide range of cultural and consumer services have been built, their layout combining free and regular design. Examples include the Tallinn districts of Mustamäe (begun 1961, architects V. Tippel and T. Kallas), Väike-Õismäe (begun 1972, architects M. Port and M. Meelak), and Lasnamäe (begun 1977, architects M. Port, M. Meelak, and V. Herkel); the Anne district in Tartu; and the Paala district in Viljandi. Villages have acquired a new look since the 1970’s that owes much to the rational layout of residential complexes consisting of well-appointed homes and to the construction of public and large production buildings. Among such new rural settlements are Vinni, Saku, and Kurtna, designed by the architects V. Herkel, B. Mirov, and V. Pormeister.

Innovative principles of design were developed in building the Open Air Song Stage in Tallinn (1960), the work of the architects A. Kotli, H. Sepmann, H. Sepp, and U. Tölpus, the engineer E. Paalmann, and the acoustician H. Oruvee. Original architectural solutions and distinctive ornamentation mark a number of public buildings constructed in the 1960’s and 1970’s: the Tallinn Polytechnical Institute (1962–69, architects H. Sepmann and U. Tölpus) and its gymnasium (1975, R. Karp); the Viru Hotel in Tallinn (1972, architects M. Port and H. Sepmann), its interior designed by V. Asi and V. Tamm; the Vanemuine Theater in Tartu (1967, architects A. Volberg and P. Tarvas), and the House of Culture in Haapsalu (1975, architect, A. Eigi). The sailing center of the 1980 Olympics at Pirita near Tallinn was designed by the architects K. Looveer, H. Sepmann, and P. Jänes.

The new public buildings being erected in rural areas are notable for the plasticity of their volumetric and spatial composition, which harmonizes with the natural setting. Examples include the administrative building of the poultry-raising station in Kurtna (1966, V. Pormeister), the main building of the sovkhoz technicum in Jäneda (1974, architect V. Pormeister), the inter-kolkhoz construction offices in Pärnu (1974, architect J. Jaama, engineer A. Ringo) and in Rapla (1976, architect T. Rein), the administrative building of the Linda Kolkhoz in Võru Raion (1972, architect T. Rein), and the administrative building of the S. M. Kirov Fishing Kolkhoz (1974, architect R. Hansberg).

Art. The oldest artistic relics found on Estonian territory— figurines, clay ware, pottery decorated with pit-comb designs, and bone objects—date from the third and second millennia B.C. Metal ornaments came into use in the first millennium B.C.; their decorative motifs included circles, triangles, crosses, and crescents. Subsequently such ornaments as horseshoe-shaped fibulae and neck chains were fashioned.

Late Romanesque floral ornamentation, dating from the first half of the 13th century, adorns the capitals in the church of the Haapsalu castle and the font of the church in Valjala. Gothic decoration from the mid-13th century has survived in the Livonian Order’s castle in Viljandi, in the choir of the Cathedral in Tallinn, and in the churches in Karja and Pöide. The remarkable Gothic sculptural decoration of the 14th-century Jaani Church in Tartu—large terracotta figures on the pseudotriforium, interior western wall, and triumphal arch and friezes depicting human heads—forms an integral part of the church’s architectural composition and reflects the distant influence of the French High Gothic.

Late Gothic stone carving, essentially restricted to Tallinn, is best represented by the reliefs on the portal of the church of the Katariina Monastery (late 14th century) and the capitals of the Great Guildhall (1410). Wood sculpture was produced chiefly by masters from Lübeck and the Netherlands. Outstanding examples include the Madonna of the church at Kaarma (about 1280), the main altarpiece of the Niguliste Church (sculpture by J. Stenrat; painting by H. Rode, 1481), the main altarpiece of the Pühavaimu Church (B. Notke, 1483), and the side panels of the magistrate’s bench in the Tallinn Town Hall (c. 1370). The leading applied arts were jewelry-making (H. Ryssenberg the Elder, 15th century) and metal casting.

Much of the stone carving of the 16th and 17th centuries was memorial sculpture, best exemplified in the tomb of Pontus De la Gardie in the Cathedral in Tallinn (1589–95, sculptor A. Passer). From the 16th to the 18th centuries wood carving and wood sculpture, developed mainly by local artists, flourished in the decoration of furniture, altars, and pulpits. The most famous wood carvers were C. Ackermann, B. Geistmann, I. Zarudnyi, E. Thiele, L. Heissman, and T. Heintze in Tallinn and B. Raschky on Saaremaa Island. The most important anonymous works are the pulpits of the Rannu Church (mid-16th century), the pulpit of the Pühavaimu Church in Tallinn (1597), and the epitaphs of the Buxhoevdens in the Kärla Church (1591). Artistic metalworking reached a high level, and artistic glasswork and faience-making developed.

The earliest examples of painting are the fragments of wall paintings in the churches at Valjala, Muhu, Kaarma, Ridala, and Karja, dating from the 13th and 14th centuries. The most impressive 15th-century works are the paintings adorning the altarpiece panels of the Niguliste and Pühavaimu churches and a large fragment of B. Notke’s Dance of Death (late 15th century), now kept in the Art Museum of the Estonian SSR in Tallinn. The famous painter Michel Sittow (c. 1469–1525) worked in Tallinn in the first quarter of the 16th century. A painted epitaph of the Black Heads was executed by L. Glandorf in 1561.

Pictorial art developed rapidly in the early 19th century, when a drawing school was founded at the University of Tartu (1803) under the direction of the graphic artist K. A. Senff. The school gave impetus to the development of landscape and portrait art, essentially in the classical style, but modified by romantic elements in the 1820’s and 1830’s. Among the best works of this period are G. F. Schlater’s series of cityscapes, T. Gehlhaar’s scenes from folk life, A. Pezold’s genre portraits of peasants, and K. von Kügelgen’s landscapes. The famous Russian monument sculptor V. I. Demut-Malinovskii provided the design for the tomb of M. B. Barclay de Tolly at Jõgeveste (1823).

A national realist school of art was founded in the second half of the 19th century by the painter J. Köler, a professor at the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts, the painter P. Raud, and the sculptors A. Weizenberg and A. Adamson. Realism was further developed in the early 20th century by the painters A. Laikmaa, K. Mägi, and N. Triik, the sculptor J. Koort, and the graphic artist K. Raud.

In the first decades of the 20th century Estonian artistic life, evolving under the influence of Russia and Western Europe, was marked by a desire to establish an independent system of art education, efforts to organize national art societies and exhibitions, and an interest in folk art. Political satire flourished in graphic art during the Revolution of 1905–07. In the 1920’s the Pallas Art School in Tartu played a major role in the development of Estonian art. Many artists drew inspiration from such Western European trends as futurism (A. Vabbe), expressionism (the painters P. Aren and K. Mägi, the graphic artist E. Viiralt, and the sculptor A. Starkopf) and constructivism (A. Akberg, J. Vahtra, and M. Laarman).

The dominant style of the 1930’s was realism, cultivated by the painters A. Johani, N. Kummits, K. Liimand, and E. Haamer, the sculptors J. Koort, and the graphic artists A. Bach-Liimand and H. Mugasto. The paintings of Adamson-Eric, P. Burman, and A. Vardi show an affinity with impressionism.

The restoration of Soviet power in Estonia in 1940 opened the way for the development of art on the basis of socialist realism. During the Great Patriotic War (1941–5) a group of Estonian artists whose work reflected the patriotic fervor of the war years founded the Estonian Artists’ Union in Yaroslavl in 1943. The republic’s liberation from the fascist occupation in 1944 was followed by a consolidation of its creative forces and a restructuring of its artistic life. The triumph of socialist realism in the second half of the 1940’s and the early 1950’s is apparent in the thematic paintings of V. Karrus, I. Kimm, V. Loik, and E. Okas and the canvases of J. Võerahansu, R. Sagrits, R. Uutmaa, and A. Jansen.

There have been impressive achievements in postwar graphic art. In the late 1940’s and early 1950’s Estonian graphic artists excelled in creating portraits (E. Einmann), genre scenes (E. Okas, A. Hoidre), and landscapes (G. Reindorff). The 1960’s and 1970’s saw the appearance of a number of gifted graphic artists employing a variety of techniques and styles. Printmaking, the leading form of graphic art, is represented by A. Bach-Liimand, R. Kaljo, A. Keerend, A. Kütt, H. Laretei, V. Tolli, P. Ulas, H. Eelma, and I. Torn. The foremost book illustrators are H. Kersna, P. Luhtein, and V. Toots. Satirical graphic art is produced by H. Valk, E. Valter, and J. Jensen.

Estonian easel and monumental painting of the 1960’s and 1970’s exhibits a multiplicity of styles and genres, as illustrated by the works of A. Vardi, E. Kits, N. Kormashov, L. Mikko, V. Ohakas, E. Põldroos, and O. Subbi. In sculpture, outstanding portraits, historical compositions, and monuments have been produced by E. Roos, F. Sannamees, A. Starkopf, and J. Soans. Memorial ensembles are created by the architect A. Murdmaa and the sculptor M. Varik.

Decorative applied art is developing the traditions of folk art. Artistic leatherworking is represented by Adamson-Eric and A. Reindorff, textile and rug weaving by M. Adamson, E. Reemets, H. Hansen, and L. Erm, metalworking by E. Kurrel, H. Raadik, S. Raunam, and M. Reek, glasswork by M. Roosma and S. Raudvee, and ceramics by H. Kuma, E. Piipuu, S. Sõmer, and L. Kormashova. The interior decoration of public buildings has reached a high level in the work of B. Tomberg, M. Summatavet, andT. Gans.


Läti, H., and E. Mägi. Realisticheskoe iskusstvo v Estonii. Tallinn, 1956.
Bernstein, B., and L. Gens. Izobrazitel’noe iskusstvo Estonskoi SSR. Moscow, 1957.
Vaga, V. Problema prostranstvennoi formy v srednevekovoi arkhitekture Latvii i Estonii. Tartu, 1960.
Kuma, H. Prikladnoe iskusstvo Sovetskoi Estonii i ego mastera. Leningrad-Moscow, 1962.
Bernstein, B. Estonskaia grafika. Moscow, 1970.
Raam, V. Arkhitekturnye pamiatniki Estonii. Leningrad, 1974.
Karling, S. Holzschnitzerei und Tischlerkunst der Renaissance und des Barocks in Estland. Dorpat, 1943.
[Kuma, H.] Eesti NSV tarbekunst. Tallinn, 1955. (In Estonian and Russian.)
Läti, H. Eesti graafika. Tallinn, 1963. (In Estonian, Russian, German, and English.)
Arman, H. Eesti arhitektuuri ajalugu. Tallinn, 1965.
Soonpää, L. Eesti skulptuur. Tallinn, 1967.
Loodus, R. Eesti raamatugraafika. Tallinn, 1968.
Solomõkova, I. [Articles] In Eesti kunsti ajalugu, vols. 1 (parts 1–2), 2. Tallinn, 1970–77.
Vaga, V. Kunst Tartus: XIX sajandil. Tallinn, 1971.
Solomõkova, I. Eesti NSV Kunst. Leningrad, 1972. (In Estonian, Russian, and English.)
Kirme, E. Eesti nahkehistöö. Tallinn, 1973.
Loodus, R. Nõukogude Eesti raamatugraafika. Tallinn, 1976.
Raam, V. Gooti puuskulptuur Eestis. Tallinn, 1976. (In Estonian, Russian, English, and German.)
Vaga, V. Kunst Tallinnas XIX sajandil. Tallinn, 1976.
Nurk, T. Kōrgem Kunstikool “Pallas,” 1919–1940. Tallinn, 1977.


The oldest Estonian folk melodies are runic in form (seeRUNES). Besides work songs, calendar ritual songs, wedding songs, and lullabies, there are nonceremonial lyric songs and some lyric-epic songs. Although most melodies are not connected with specific texts, they exhibit some genre traits and local variations. The songs of southern Estonia have an affinity with Latvian and Lithuanian music. In northern Estonian songs the final notes of lines or half-lines are prolonged. The runic songs, usually performed by a leader and a chorus, are predominantly monophonie, although two-part singing, based on a drone, is encountered in southern Estonia. A distinctive polyphony developed in the Setu region (southeastern Estonia) in which the main lower voice (torrõ), performed by the chorus, is accompanied by the upper “ringing” voice (killõ) of the soloist.

Rhymed and stanzaic folk songs developed in the 19th century under the influence of the instrumental folk music and songs of neighboring peoples (Germans, Latvians, Russians, Finns, and Swedes) and German and Estonian professional music. They include nonritual lyrics, lyric-epic songs of social protest, ballads, and revolutionary, soldiers’, humorous, round-dance, and dance songs. Such songs generally consist of double couplets, have a wide melodic range, and are based on major and minor modes. In addition to these songs, there flourished homophonic part-song (two voice-parts) and singing to the accompaniment of folk instruments.

Folk instruments include the Jew’s harp; a variety of pipes akin to the Russian sopel’, svirel’, dudka, and zhaleika; the shepherd’s horn and rozhok; the bagpipe; the kannel, a plucked instrument resembling the Russian gusli; and the gong. The violin was introduced in the 18th century and was widely played in the 19th century; the accordion became popular in the late 19th century. Famous performers of runic songs have included Epp Vasar, Mai Kravtsov, Liis Alas, Miko Ode, Hilana Taarka, and Anne Vabarna; virtuoso players have included Juhan Maaker (bagpipe), Erni Kasesalu (kannel), and Karl Kikas (accordion).

Estonian folk melodies were first published in 1632 by F. Menius. The rise of Estonian folklore studies in the 19th century was associated with the activity of democratic educators, notably F. Faehlmann and F. R. Kreutzwald, and with the first song festivals. The collection of folklore, including folk music, was part of the national movement directed against the German feudal lords. K. A. Hermann and M. Härma were among the first Estonian composers to write down folk music. The systematic collection of folk music was initiated in 1904 by a student society at the University of Tartu directed by O. Kallas. The singer A. Tamm was among the first to popularize Estonian folk music. Other collectors and popularizers of folk music were J. Aavik, A. O. Väisanen, A. Kiiss, C. Kreek, P. Penna, M. Saar, and P. Süda.

The Estonian Folklore Archives (Eesti Rahvaluule Arhiiv), founded in Tartu in 1927, sponsored the first publications and studies of Estonian folk music by Estonian scholars, notably J. Zeiger and H. Tampere. After the Great Patriotic War (1941—45) the Estonian Folklore Archives was reorganized as the folklore department of the F. R. Kreutzwald Literary Museum of the Academy of Sciences of the Estonian SSR, now the main archive of Estonian folklore. A folk music department was set up at the museum in 1969.

Professional music initially developed within the mainstream of church music. After Estonia was conquered by German crusaders in the 13th century, Catholic singing was introduced in churches and monasteries. Organs were first played in churches in the 14th century; later organs were owned by wealthy burghers. Wandering musicians (rändmuusikud) entertained the populace, uniting to form urban guilds in the 15th century.

In the 18th century serf orchestras were organized on landlords’ estates; such orchestras are known to have existed at Põltsamaa, Kolga, and Matsalu. From 1784 the Tallinn Amateur Theater staged Estonian-language plays incorporating songs and dances, among them W. Hörschelmann’s operetta Father’s Hope (1788). Amateur public concerts of chamber and orchestral music were initiated at Kuressaare, Pärnu, and Haapsalu, where they were organized by J. G. Wiedemann. Pianos, organs, and violins were made by local masters, of whom the most famous was I. Thai of Antsla. Polyphonic choral singing became popular in the early 19th century. The first choruses were organized at Lai-use, Torma, Põltsamaa, and Kanepi. Amateur village wind orchestras were formed, such as those at Torma (1848) and Väägvere (1860). The first Estonian-language four-part choral songs were composed in the early 19th century by E. Hörschelmann, J. V. Jannsen, and M. Körber.

In the middle of the 19th century the national liberation movement against the German landlords and clergy gained momentum, giving impetus to the development of national music. Founded in 1865, the Vanemuine and Estonia singing and theatrical societies promoted choral singing. An important event was the first all-Estonian song festival, held in Tartu in 1869; it had been preceded by local song festivals in Anseküla (1863), Jõhvi (1865), Simuna (1866), and Uulu (1867). Art songs were written by the first Estonian professional composers: A. Kunileid, F. A. Saebelmann, and E. A. Thomson.

At the turn of the century a group of musicians came to prominence who had graduated from the St. Petersburg and Moscow conservatories. They included the composers R. Tobias, A. Kapp, M. Saar, M. Lüdig, A. Lemba, J. Aavik, P. Süda, C. Kreek, and H. Eller and the instrumentalist J. Tamm, R. Kull, T. Lemba, A. Topman, J. Paulsen, and P. Ramul. An amateur symphony orchestra was founded in Tartu in 1900; its organizer and conductor was the composer A. Läte. Regular popular symphony concerts were initiated in Tartu in 1908 and in Tallinn in 1913 by the conductors J. Aavik, R. Kull, and J. Simm. The professional Estonia Theater was established in 1906. Several members of the theater’s company—the singers O. Mikk-Krull, A. Sällik, B. Hansen, and H. Einer and the conductor R. Kull—laid the foundation for a national operatic art. Concerts were given by the singers P. Brehm-Jiirgenson, M. Lüdig-Sinkel, and L. Hellat-Lemba and the pianists A. Lemba and T. Lemba. The first major national works were composed by A. Kapp, A. Lemba, and H. Eller.

During the Russian Revolution of 1905–07 workers’ choruses and orchestras were founded, many of them under the auspices of workers’ societies, such as the Valvaja and Pandorin societies in Tallinn. The proletarian press helped disseminate revolutionary and workers’ songs, and several composers, notably Simm, adapted them for choral singing.

The workers’ choruses became more active after the October Revolution of 1917. The violinist E. Sõrmus and the pianist A. Lemba performed at the front during the Civil War. The revolutionary events were evoked in the works of the composers H. Eller and A. Kapp. However, the activity of the Estlandia Labor Commune, including its endeavors in the field of music, was interrupted by the invasion of Estonia by the interventionists and the establishment of the bourgeois dictatorship.

During the bourgeois dictatorship the art of music was advanced solely through the efforts of progressive musicians. In 1919 higher music schools were founded in Tallinn and Tartu; the Tallinn school was reorganized as a conservatory in 1923, and the Tartu school operated as a conservatory from 1925 to 1928. Musical life was enriched by workers’ music circles in Tallinn (1927), Pärnu (1930), and Tapa (1930) and by the Tartu Workers’ Theater (1927). Musical performances were given at the Estonia (Tallinn), Vanemuine (Tartu), Endla (Pärnu), and Ugala (Viljandi) theaters and at the theater in Narva. The symphony orchestra of Estonian Radio was founded in 1926.

Distinguished performing musicians of the interwar period included the conductors R. Kull, J. Aavik, O. Roots, J. Simm, T. Vettik, E. Aav, A. Topman, K. Leinus, R. Päts, G. Ernesaks, E. Tubin, and A. Karindi; the violinists V. Alumäe, H. Aumere, and H. Laan; the pianists A. Lemba and E. Franz; the organists H. Lepnurm and P. Indra; the cellist A. Karjus; the double bass player L. Juht; and the singers I. Aav-Loo, B. Hansen, A. Arder, K. Ots, M. Taras, and T. Kuusik. The leading musicologists and critics of the time were E. Arro, A. Kasemets, K. Leichter, P. Ramul, E. Visnapuu, R. Päts, A. Lemba, and T. Lemba.

Four song festivals were held between 1923 and 1938, but their orientation was narrowly nationalistic. The leading composers and teachers were A. Kapp in Tallinn and H. Eller in Tartu. Their students E. Tubin, E. Kapp, and E. Aav made a noteworthy contribution to symphonic music. Choral songs were composed by A. Kapp, M. Lüdig, T. Vettik, R. Päts, A. Karindi, E. Aav, and G. Ernesaks. Although the first operatic works were composed in the early 20th century by K. A. Hermann, M. Härma, and O. Hermann, the first repertory opera was E. Aav’s Vikerlased (The Vikings, 1928). Operas were also composed by A. Lemba, A. Vedro, J. Hiob, and E. Oja. The Estonian operetta originated in the works of P. Ardna and H. Vatsel.

The restoration of Soviet power in 1940 heralded a new era in the development of Estonian music. The republic’s music theaters, performing groups, and schools were reorganized, and a philharmonic society, a House of People’s Art, and a composers’ union were founded. Preparations were made for a ten-day festival of Estonian literature, art, and music in Moscow. The work of composers and performers broadened in scope. The first Estonian ballet, E. Tubin’s House Spirit, was composed in 1941. The fascist German attack temporarily interrupted the development of music. The composers and musicians who were evacuated during the Great Patriotic War (1941–45) united in Yaroslavl in 1942 to form Estonian artistic ensembles, including male and mixed choruses, symphony and variety orchestras, and a wind quintet (named in honor of J. Tamm in 1975). Outstanding works written by Estonian composers in the Soviet Union included E. Kapp’s Symphony No. 1 (Patriotic Symphony, 1942) and his opera Fire of Vengeance (1944), the first Soviet Estonian opera, H. Lepnurm’s cantata The Fires of St. George’s Night (1943), G. Ernesaks’ song “My Native Land, My Love” (1944), and E. Arro’s and R. Valgre’s mass songs.

Musical life quickly revived after the republic’s liberation from the fascist invaders in 1944. Performances were resumed by the radio symphony orchestra (State Symphony Orchestra of the Estonian SSR since 1975) and the various music theaters; music schools were reopened. Among newly founded performing groups were a male chorus (1944; Academic Men’s Chorus of the Estonian SSR since 1952), a mixed chorus, and a variety orchestra, now affiliated with Estonian Television and Radio. Song festivals acquired a new, socialist content.

Socialist themes were treated in such works as L. Tauts’ cantata Immortality (1948), devoted to V. I. Lenin, and E. Kapp’s The People’s Power (1951). Popular mass songs were composed by E. Arro, R. Valgre, B. Kõrver, V. Ojakäär, and L. Tauts. A number of important works were premiered, among them E. Kapp’s operas Fire of Vengeance (1945) and Freedom Singer (1950), Ernesaks’ opera Stormy Coast (1949), Kapp’s ballet Kalevipoeg (1948), L. Auster’s ballet Tiina (1955), E. Arro and L. Normet’s operetta Rummu Jüri (1954), and B. Kõrver’s operetta Only a Dream (1955). Major postwar symphonic works include A. Kapp’s Second, Third, Fourth, and Fifth symphonies (1944–51), Eller’s symphonic poems Eagle’s Flight (1949) and Singing Fields (1951), A. Lemba’s Third, Fourth, and Fifth piano concerti (1944–51), L. Auster’s piano concerto (1952), Ernesaks’ choral suite How Fishermen Live (1953), E. Kapp’s Second Symphony (1954), and V. Kapp’s Second Symphony (1955). Chamber music was composed by Eller, A. Garshnek, E. Kapp, M. Saar, and V. Kapp.

The generation of composers that emerged in the late 1950’s sought new means of expression in symphonic and chamber instrumental music. Characteristic works of the period include E. Tamberg’s Concerto Grosso (1956), H. Jürisalu’s Three Estonian Dances (1956), J. Rääts first four symphonies (1957–59), J. Koha’s piano concerto (1958), and V. Tormis’ Overture No. 2 (1959). Vocal-symphonic works on both historical and contemporary themes were composed; the genre is best represented by E. Kapp’s cantata Baltic Sea, Sea of Peace (1959).

An even greater diversity of themes, genres, and styles marked the music of the 1960’s and first half of the 1970’s. Outstanding innovative wocks of the period include J. Rääts’ Concerto for Chamber Orchestra (1961), his “declamatorio” Karl Marx (1963), and his School Cantata (1968); E. Tamberg’s scenic Moonlight Oratorio (1962) and Ballet Symphony (1959); A. Pärt’s Collage V-A-S-N (1964); and J. Koha’s cantata trilogy Song About the Party (1960), Song About Lenin (1967), and Song About the Motherland (1969).

The leading composers of choral works are V. Kapp and V. Tormis. Popular operas include Lembilu by V. Kapp (1961), The Iron Home by E. Tamberg (1965), The Swan’s Flight by V. Tormis (1965), The King Feels Cold by V. Ojakäär (1967), Salt by B. Parsadanian (1973), Miraculous Story by R. Kangro (1974), and Rembrandt by E. Kapp (1975). The foremost composers of operettas and musicals are Körver, Ü. Raudmäe, Ü. Vinter, and A. Oit. Symphonies have been written by Eller, E. Kapp, Rääts, Parsadanian, Jürisalu, E. Mägi, Koha, Part, A. Marguste, H. Rosenvald, and L. Sumera, chamber music by E. Kapp, Rääts, E. Arro, K. Sink, H. Kareva, and Kangro, and light music by U. Naissoo, G. Podelskii, V. Ojakäär, and H. Hindpere. Estonian composers have made a noteworthy contribution to film music.

Eminent orchestral conductors include People’s Artists of the Estonian SSR N. Järvi, E. Klas, R. Matsov, and K. Raudsepp and Honored Art Workers of the Estonian SSR V. Järvi, R. Merkulov, P. Saul, and E. Kõlar. The leading choral conductors are People’s Artist of the USSR G. Ernesaks and People’s Artists of the Estonian SSR J. Simm, K. Leinus, J. Variste, A. Ratassepp, K. Areng, O. Oja, and H. Kaljuste. Famous singers include People’s Artists of the USSR T. Kuusik and G. Ots and People’s Artists of the Estonian SSR A. Arder, K. Ots, E. Maasik, M. Taras, O. Lund, V. Guryev, M. Voites, U. Tauts, and H. Krumm. Outstanding instrumentalists include the pianist H. Sepp and the duo-pianists A. Klas and B. Lukk (Honored Artists of the Estonian SSR), the violinists V. Alumäe (People’s Artist of the Estonian SSR) and I. Rannap (Honored Artist of the Estonian SSR), and the organist H. Lepnurm (People’s Artist of the Estonian SSR). Important work in musicology has been done by the folklorists H. Tampere, U. Kolk, and I. Rüütel, by the music historians J. Jiirisson, A. Vahter, K. Leichter, H. Kõrvits, H. Tõnson, and O. Tuisk, and by the critics A. Semper, M. Topman, and A. Hirvesoo.

Festivals devoted to the literature and arts of both the fraternal republics and foreign countries are held regularly in the Estonian SSR. All-Union choral festivals have been held in Tallinn since 1972. Instrumental and vocal performers have competed in republic contests since 1967.

The republic’s leading musical theaters are the Estonia Theater in Tallinn and the Vanemuine Theater in Tartu. The Philharmonic Society plays an important role in organizing the republic’s musical life. The most famous performing groups are the State Symphony Orchestra of the Estonian SSR (Tallinn), the Academic Men’s Chorus of the Estonian SSR, the Mixed Chorus of Estonian Television and Radio, the Tallinn Chamber Choir (1962), the J. Tamm Wind Quintet, the String Quartet of the Estonian Philharmonic Society (1974), the Variety Orchestra of Estonian Television and Radio, and the Laine Variety Ensemble (1965). The Museum of Theater and Music was founded in Tallinn in 1941. Musical training is provided by the Tallinn Conservatory, the Tallinn Secondary Music School, two other secondary music schools (Tallinn and Tartu), and 36 children’s music schools. The Composers’ Union of the Estonian SSR was founded in 1941.


Vahter, A. Estonskaia SSR, 2nd ed. (Muzykal’naia kul’tura soiuznykh respublik.) Moscow, 1957. (Translated from Estonian.)
Istoriia muzyki narodov SSSR, vols. 1–5. Moscow, 1970–74.
Arro, E. Geschichte der estnischen Musik, vol. 1. Tartu, 1933.
Kasemets, A. Eesti muusika arenemislugu. Tallinn, 1937.
Kakskümmend aastat eesti muusikat. Edited by K. Leichter. Tallinn, 1938.
Vahter, A., and L. Noemet. Nõukogud Eesti muusikasl. Tallinn, 1965.
Lauluga läbi aegode koost A. Tamarkin. Tallinn, 1965.
Eesti muusika, vol. 1. Tallinn, 1968.
Muusikaelust vanas Tallinnas. Tallinn, 1972.
Olt, H. Modern Estonian Composers. Tallinn, 1972.
Eesti muusika, vol. 2. Tallinn, 1975.


Estonian folk dances have their roots in various rituals and festivals. The earliest mention of folk dancing is to be found in a 13th-century source. Over time, Estonian dance acquired a distinct form marked by a dignified manner of execution and an absence of high leaps or competitive dancing. Estonian dances are usually performed by groups as round dances; couple dancing came into vogue only in the second half of the 19th century. The dances are customarily divided into ritual, mimetic (often imitating animal behavior and movements), acrobatic, and daily-life dances. Elements of ritual dances are preserved in the kihnu ratas, muhu kannanöör, and targa rehealune. Among popular mimetic dances are the harakatants (magpie dance), the karutants (bear dance), and the kingsepa polka (cobbler’s polka). With the exception of the pulgatants and kandali, no acrobatic dances have survived. In the 18th century Estonian dance absorbed many elements of the folk dances of neighboring countries.

Becoming popular around 1820, the waltz was transformed into the folk labajalavals, with a special manner of dancing involving turns on the whole foot. The polka was often danced in the second half of the 19th century; among its many variations were the “three-step” polka, the “cross-step” polka, and the polka with jumps. There were also contra dances, such as the ingliski and the related oige ja vasemba, kalamies, and kupparimuori. The pikk ingliska and the distinctive kaera-jaan were based on the quadrille.

In the early 20th century ballroom dances began replacing folk dances. The collection and popularization of folk dances began in 1913 under the direction of A. Raudkats. A tradition of folk creativity evenings arose in the 1940’s. Since 1963 the evenings have grown into republic folk-dance festivals, in which as many as 10,-000 performers participated in 1970.

There are numerous dance groups, including amateur ensembles that perform stylized stage versions of folk dances. The stage folk dancing ensembles, of which the most famous are the Kuljus, Tuisuline, Sõprus, and Kullaketrajad, are assisted by the choreographers U. Toomi, H. Mikkel, S. Valgemäe, O. Valgemäe, and K. Leete. Such groups as the Leigarid continue to perform ethnic dances in their original form. Leaders of folk dance ensembles are trained at the House of People’s Arts, at the Viljandi School of Culture, and at the Tallinn Pedagogical Institute.


Estonian professional ballet arose under the influence of Russian dancers and guest artists from other countries. One of the first professional dancers was E. Ilbak, a follower of I. Duncan. In 1924, G. Neggo founded a studio of eurythmie dance in Tallinn that trained dancers and choreographers and gave performances. Classical dance was successfully taught at a studio founded by E. Litvinova, a former dancer at the Mariinskii Theater. Her students L. Looring, E. Holz, R. Olbrei, and R. Rood were members of the first ballet company of the Estonia Theater, which staged the first ballet in 1914. Appointed the theater’s choreographer in 1925, R. Olbrei staged fine productions of P. I. Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker (1936) and Swan Lake (1940), R. M. Glière’s The Red Poppy (1939), and E. Tubin’s Kratt (1944). A ballet company was formed at the Vanemuine Theater in Tartu in 1935 by the choreographer I. Urbel.

The republic’s liberation from fascist occupation opened wide avenues for the further development of Estonian choreography. Both classical works and the best Soviet and foreign ballets were included in the repertoire. Among the most popular ballets by Estonian composers were E. Kapp’s Kalevipoeg (1948, Estonia; 1950, Vanemuine), L. Auster’s Tuna (1955, Estonia; 1958, Vanemuine), and E. Tamberg’s Ballet Symphony (1960, Vanemuine; 1963, Estonia). In the 1960’s and in the first half of the 1970’s the leading choreographers were M. Murdmaa, Ü. Vilimaa, and E. Suve, whose work was a highly original synthesis of national traditions and classical dance. Of the newer ballets, especially noteworthy is Tamberg’s Joanna Tentata (1971, Estonia).

The leading ballet dancers are T. Randviir, A. Leis, J. Lehiste, Y. Poznyak, T. Soone, E. Kerge, J. Lass, T. Härm, V. Maimusov, J. Garancis, E. Erkina, I. Arro, and S. Kranig. Eminent teachers include A. Ekston, H. Purr, and L. Leetmaa. Choreographers from other republics, notably B. A. Fenster, V. P. Burmeister, and V. Grivickas, have staged ballets in Estonia. The Tallinn Choreographic School was founded in 1946. Articles pertaining to ballet are published in the weekly Sirp ja Vasar (Hammer and Sickle) and in the miscellany Theater Notes.


Tormis, L. Eesti balletist. Tallinn, 1967.
Tööpunalipu ordeniga autasustatud Eesti NSV Riiklik Akadeemiline Ooperi—ja Balletiteater “Estonia” (1906–1966). Tallinn, 1969.
“Vanemuine” tänaja eile. Tartu, 1970.


Estonian rituals and folklore contain theatrical elements and some dramatic action. The invasion of the German and Danish aggressors in the early 13th century and the following centuries of social and national oppression long retarded the development of Estonian culture. The native population had no access to theater. Terence’s comedy Andria was performed in Latin at the Tallinn Town Hall in 1529, and at the end of the century the first plays were staged in Tartu. The practice of presenting school plays in Latin spread. Itinerant German troupes gave performances in the early 17th century. The first private theater was founded in 1665. In 1784 the local intelligentsia organized an amateur theater in Tallinn; its production of Kotzebue’s play Paternal Expectations included scenes in Estonian. The professional German theater that opened in Tallinn in 1809 occasionally staged plays in Estonian.

The rise of the Estonian theater was linked to the general national revival of the second half of the 19th century. In 1870 several plays by the Estonian writer L. Koidula, among them The Cousin From Saaremaa, were performed in the building of the Vanemuine Choral Society in Tartu. These plays paved the way for a national dramaturgy and determined its democratic and educative orientation. The experience of the Vanemuine Society stimulated theatrical activity in Tallinn, Narva, Viljandi, Pärnu, and other cities. A. Wiera, the first Estonian professional stage director and man of the theater, played a notable role in the development of the national theater. His productions at the semi-professional Vanemuine Theater (1878–1903) assured the performance of musical plays and world classics, notably the works of Molière and Shakespeare, on the Estonian stage.

As head of the Taara Theater Company in Tartu from 1901 to 1905, the director K. Jungholz sought to create a contemporary repertoire and to establish a realist tradition. In 1906 professional companies were formed at the Vanemuine Theater in Tartu and at the Estonia Theater in Tallinn. From 1906 to 1914 the Vanemuine Theater was headed by K. Menning, the founder of professional stage directing in the Estonian theater. His productions stressed harmonious ensemble acting and affirmed the realist principles of the Estonian theater. In developing his realist style, Menning included in the theater’s repertoire works by the national playwrights A. Kitzberg, E. Vilde, and O. Luts. In contrast, the Estonia Theater’s fame rested on the brilliant performances of several gifted actors, notably T. Altermann, E. Villmer, A. Lauter, and P. Pinna. In 1908 the theater began staging operas and operettas.

During the Revolution of 1905–07 proletarian drama groups arose in many Estonian cities. One such circle, organized at the Luther People’s House and affiliated with the Valvaja Society from 1915, became the first Soviet theater of Tallinn workers after the October Revolution of 1917. A similar theater was founded in Narva. Under the bourgeois republic the Estonian theater continued to develop amidst an intensified struggle between two cultures. In the 1920’s and 1930’s Tallinn’s theatrical life centered on the Estonia Theater, the Drama Theater, the Drama Studio Theater (named the Estonian Drama Theater in 1937 and renamed the V. Kingissepp Drama Theater in 1952), the Morning Theater, and the Tallinn Workers’ Theater. Tartu had the Vanemuine Theater; Pärnu, the Endla Theater; Viljandi, the Ugala Theater; and Narva, the Narva Theater.

The Estonian playwrights M. Metsanurk, H. Raudsepp, and A. H. Tammsaare wrote a number of important works in the 1920’s. The democratic-minded men and women of the theater maintained ties with the Soviet theater. Plays by M. Gorky, V. P. Kataev, A. E. Korneichuk, and N. F. Pogodin were staged, and the Stanislavsky method had a considerable impact on the development of the Estonian theater. The theatrical successes of those years owed much to the stage directors L. Kalmet, A. Lauter, P. Põldroos, P. Sepp, and A. Särev, as well as a number of actors.

The restoration of Soviet power in 1940 heralded a new phase in the development of the Estonian theater. Nationalization strengthened the economic position of theaters, and Soviet plays assumed an important place in their repertoire. A theater was opened in Rakvere in 1940, and the Museum of Theater and Music was founded in Tallinn in 1941. During the Great Patriotic War, Estonian directors and performers worked in Estonian artistic ensembles. Many of these people, notably K. Ird, E. Kaidu, A. Lauter, P. Põldroos, and I. Tammur, were instrumental in establishing socialist realism in the postwar Estonian theater.

National dramaturgy continued to develop. The plays of M. Raud, J. Semper, A. Hint, and A. Jakobson were largely aimed at unmasking bourgeois ideology. Among the finest productions of the 1940’s and early 1950’s were Jakobson’s Life in a Citadel (1946) and The Struggle Without a Frontline (1947), Pogodin’s Kremlin Chimes (1947, with P. Põldroos in the role of V. I. Lenin), Vilde’s The Inscrutable Mystery (1952), Tammlaan’s The Iron Home (1954), and Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra (1955).

In the 1950’s the Estonian theater shed new light on such themes as the value of the human personality, the quest for one’s place in contemporary life, and the resolution of inner conflicts. The productions of the director V. Panso were marked by philosophical breadth and subtle psychological portrayal. The plays of A. Liives, E. Rannet, and J. Smuul showed a profound insight into contemporary life. Outstanding productions included Smuul’s The Atlantic (1956), Rannet’s Conscience (1956) and The Prodigal Son (1958), Brecht’s Master Puntila and His Man Matti (1958) and The Threepenny Opera (1965), Tammsaare’s Man and God (1962), Shakespeare’s Coriolanus (1964), Smuul’s Jönn of the Island of Kihnu (1964, 1965), Rainis’ Joseph and His Brothers (1966), and Gorky’s The Mother (1967).

A number of gifted young directors made their debut in the second half of the 1960’s, among them J. Tooming, E. Hermaküla, M. Mikiver, and K. Raid. The theater of the 1970’s strove for a deeper understanding of the complexity of life, achieving powerful effects through diversity and brilliance of technique. The most interesting productions of these years were Madách’s The Tragedy of Man (1971), Luts’ In the Backyards (1974), and Tammsaare’s The New Demon From Hell (1976).

Creative cooperation with the theaters of other republics and participation in all-Union reviews and festivals have helped shape the Estonian theater. Estonian theaters have frequently performed in the capitals of other republics as well as abroad, chiefly in Finland, the German Democratic Republic, Poland, and Hungary. Plays by the Estonian dramatists E. Vetemaa, B. Kabur, R. Kaugver, Liives, Rannet, Smuul, and Jakobson are widely performed in the theaters of the fraternal republics.

Since 1957 actors and stage directors have been trained by the theater subdepartment of the Tallinn State Conservatory and by the studio of the Theater Society of the Estonian SSR, founded in 1945. In 1978 the republic’s theaters included the V. Kingissepp Drama Theater, the Young People’s Theater (founded 1965), the Russian Drama Theater, and the Puppet Theater in Tallinn; the Vanemuine Theater in Tartu; the Ugala Theater in Viljandi; the L. Koidula Drama Theater (Endla Theater prior to 1953) in Pärnu; and the Rakvere Theater. Several eminent Soviet Estonian directors and performers have been awarded the title of People’s Artist of the USSR: K. Ird, K. Karm, A. Talvi, A. Eskola, and J. Järvet. The title of People’s Artist of the Estonian SSR has been conferred on the directors A. Sats and I. Tammur, the actors E. Koppel, E. Liiger, L. Lindau, V. Otsus, H. Peep, A. Rebane, L. Rummo, S. Reek, I. Ever, and H. Elviste, and the stage designers V. Haas, V. Peil, and M.-L. Kiila.


Teatry Sovetskoi Estonii. Tallinn, 1956.
Istoriia sovetskogo dramalicheskogo teatra, vols. 1–6. Moscow, 1966–71.
Kask, K., L. Tormis, and V. Paalma. Estonskii teatr. Tallinn, 1978.
Kask, K. Teatritegijad, alustajad. Tallinn, 1978.
Kask, K. Esimene hooaeg, 1940–41. Tallinn, 1970.
Tormis, L. Teatrisuhted üle idapiiri. Tallinn, 1973.


The first filmings in Estonia were made by the French firms Pathé and Gaumont; the material that was shot was included in newsreels produced by the firms between 1908 and 1914. The first Estonian newsreels were made in Tartu from 1912 to 1914 by the photographer J. Pääsuke, who in 1914 made the first Estonian feature film, Bear Hunting in Pärnumaa. Small motion-picture firms arose after the establishment of the bourgeois republic in 1919. The leading firm, Estonia-film (1920–32), produced news-reels, documentaries, and short feature films. The firm’s cameramen included J. Parikas, P. Parikas, T. Märska, and K. Märska. Among the best films of the 1920’s were Shadows of the Past (1924), Rummu Jüri (1929, directed by J. Loop and B. Jaanikosk), and Crippled Brides (1929, directed by K. Märska, based on a short story by E. Vilde). The first Estonian sound film, The Golden Spider (directed by K. Märska), was produced in 1930. In the 1930’s motion-picture production was concentrated at the studio Eesti Kultuurfilm, which released newsreels, documentaries, and travelogues.

Eesti Kultuurfilm was nationalized after the restoration of Soviet power in Estonia in 1940 and renamed the Estonian News-reel Studio in 1941. The reorganization of the studio was interrupted by the Great Patriotic War. From 1944 the Estonian Newsreel Studio, continuing on as the Tallinn Film Studio, released newsreels (Soviet Estonia from 1944) and dubbed films into Estonian. The first feature films with Estonian actors were made jointly with Lenfil’m: Life in a Citadel (1948, based on Jakobson’s play), Light in Koordi (1951, after H. Leberecht), and Andrus’ Luck (1955, after Leberecht), all directed by H. Rappaport. In 1955, Tallinn Studio (Tallinnfilm since 1963) embarked on the regular production of feature films. In 1961 it released the cinerama feature film Dangerous Curves, directed by Y. Kun and K. Kiisk.

Outstanding films of the 1960’s and early 1970’s include J. Müür’s Fellows From the Same Village (1962), L. Laius’ From Evening till Morning (1963), Kiisk’s Drift of the Ice (1963) and Look Back on the Road (1964), V. Käsper’s Girl in Black (1968), K. Komissarov’s People Gone Astray (1970), and V. Aruoja and J. Tooming’s Dreams in Color (1974). Screen adaptations of Estonian literary works hold an important place. Among the best such films are The New Devil From the Underworld (1965, directed by G. Kromanov and Müür), Milkman of the Manor (1965, directed by Laius), What Happened to Andres Lapeteus? (1967, directed by Kromanov), Spring (1969, directed by A. Kruusement), and Indrek (1975, directed by M. Mikiver). A high level of technical excellence also distinguishes such films as Kiisk’s political tract Madness (1968) and his Ask the Dead What Is the Price of Death (1978), about Estonian Communists in the underground in the 1920’s, Kromanov’s romantic and ironic The Last Relic (1969), and Laius’ psychological drama Spring in the Forest (1973).

The production of Estonian puppet films, which hold an important place in the Estonian cinema, was initiated by the director E. Tuganov, who made the first puppet film, Little Peter’s Dream (1958). Among his other well-known films are The Donkey, Herring, and Broom (1969) and Bloody John (1974). The director H. Pars, who made his debut in 1963, filmed his puppet characters in the natural environment in the series of films about the adventures of the cameraman Kõps. The first Estonian animated Cartoons were directed by R. Raamat in 1972. Such films make use of the various techniques of contemporary visual art.

Among the finest documentaries of the 1960’s and 1970’s are S. Shkolnikov’s Where Hemingway Lived (1964) and I’m Ready to Go (1967), Ü. Tambek’s Eduard Viiralt (1968) and El Dorado (1971), P. Puks’ A. H. Tammsaare (parts 1–3, 1971–74) and Juhan Liiv (1975), A. Soot’s 511 Best Photos of Mars (1968) and White Enderby Land (1969, jointly with M. Kask), and V. Anderson’s Villu (1970) and The Spinners (1976).

Interesting science films include L. Meri’s Beyond the Northern Winds (1970) and Winds of the Milky Way (1977) and R. Maran’s Thorny Stronghold (1971). The Estonian Telefilm Studio, founded in 1965, has produced a number of excellent television films: Woman of Kihnu Island (1974, directed by M. Soosaar), Conductors (1975, directed by A. Sööt), Forever Yours (1976, directed by M. Põldroos), In the Quiet of the Swamps (1976, directed by R. Maran), and Earthly Joys (1977, directed by M. Soosaar). The Estonian Reklaamfilm Bureau was established in 1967 to make advertising films.

The Estonian Cinematographers’ Union was founded in 1962, four years after the formation of the Organizational Bureau. There were 605 motion-picture projection units in 1977. Film festivals of Union republics and of socialist and capitalist countries are held in Tallinn.

The leading Estonian feature-film directors are V. Aruoja, K. Kiisk, G. Kromanov, A. Kruusement, V. Käsper, L. Laius, J. Müür, and J. Tooming. Among outstanding cameramen are J. Garshnek, M. Dorovatovskii, A. Iho, H. Rehe, and J. Sillart. Film stars include E. Kivi, E. Kull, H. Mandri, L. Merzin, M. Mikiver, L. Ulfsak, A. Eskola, O. Eskola, and J. Järvet.


Kosenkranius, I., and V. Tobro. Kinoiskusstvo Sovetskoi Eslonii. Moscow, 1966.
Kosenkranius, I. Film ja aeg. Tallinn, 1974.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
Full browser ?