Democratic Republic
World War II

Stamp issued in 1936, featuring President Konstantin Paets

Estonia a Dictatorship, 1934-1939

The Great Depression of the early 1930es affected Estonia rather indirectly. The country's economy mainly being agricultural, the number of bankrupcies related to the sudden withdrawal of credit was low. Yet Estonia's markets were unable to buy the quantities of Estonian exports. Among the population which suffered, the call for a strong government became louder.
A referendum of 1933 changed the constitution, abolished the PARLIAMENTARY SYSTEM (which had seen 23 cabinets between 1918 and 1933) in favour of a PRESIDENTIAL SYSTEM. The 1934 presidential election was won by KONSTANTIN PAETS, leader of the LEAGUE OF WAR VETERANS (which he soon disbanded). Paets, leaning on the army, ruled by decree; all parties except his NATIONAL FRONT were dissolved, political opponents arrested; Estonia had turned into a dictatorship.

A population census of 1934 counted 1,126,416 inhabitants of Estonia, 94 % of whom were Estonians.

Estonia 1850-1939, from Estonica
Estonian Timeline, by Tapani Hietaniemi
Library of Congress, Country Studies : Estonia
DOCUMENTS Estonian banknotes, from Ron Wise's World Paper Money
Estonian Neutrality Law of December lst, 1938, from LETTONIE - RUSSIE, Traites et documents de base
REFERENCE David G. Kirby, The Baltic World 1772-1993, London : Longman 1995
Chapter XXXIV : Poland and the Baltic States, pp.484-495, in : John Gunther, Inside Europe, 1940 war dition, NY : Harper & Bros. 1940 [G]
Article : Estonia, in : Statesman's Yearbook 1937 pp.867-872 (data of 1935-1937) [G]
Article : Estonia, in : Americana Annual 1934 pp.225-226, 1935 pp.252-254, 1936 pp.260-262, 1937 pp.256-258, 1938 pp.250-252, 1939 pp.270-271 [G]
Article : Estonia, in : New International Year Book 1934 pp.217-218, 1935 pp.222-223, 1938 pp.238-239, 1939 pp.230-232 [G]
Article : Estonia, in : Funk & Wagnall's New Standard Encyclopedia Year Book 1935 pp.200-201, 1936 pp.174-175, 1937 pp.179-180, 1938 pp.187-189, 1939 pp.176-178 [G]

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2000, last revised on March 18th 2007

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