Russian Rule

Estonia during World War I, 1914-1919

When World War I broke out in 1914, the Courlanders, as subjects of the Russian Empire, were expected to join the Russian war effort. The country's ethnically German minority, however, was in an awkward position, as Russia waged war against both Germany and (ethnically German ) Austria. Furthermore, the Courland Germans over the last decades had learned to suspect the Russian administration which had taken away many of their privileges, and the Russification policy of which had threatened their political and economical domination of the country.
By September 1915 German forces had occupied much of Courland; the Germans took Riga; then the front stabilized. Estonia remained under Russian control. With the military situation bleak, the population faced a lack of consumer goods and food which turned into malnutrition; many of the young men served in the army.

In 1917 the Russian Revolution broke out. Estonia proclaimed INDEPENDENCE on February 24th, but the country was occupied by German forcessoon after.
In March 1918 Russia signed the PEACE OF BREST-LITOVSK, ceding, among others, Estonia. In November 1918, Germany asked for a truce; the Entente demanded that all German troops were recalled from foreign soil and Germany's armed forces to be reduced to 100,000 men.

The new Republic of Estonia was to comprise of historical (northern) Estonia, including the islands of Oesel etc., as well as southern Estonia with Tartu (Dorpat), hitherto part of Livonia. The capital was to be TALLINN (historic Reval).

Estonian History, 1850-1939, from Estonica
Estonian Timeline, by Tapani Hietaniemi
History of Tallinn (Reval), by infomaterjalid
REFERENCE David G. Kirby, The Baltic World 1772-1993, London : Longman 1995

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2000, last revised on October 15th 2006

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