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On 24 February 1918, the Eestimaa Päästekomitee, or Salvation Committee, declared independence in Tallinn. The Red Army was withdrawing and the German Army was arriving. The German Empire and the Soviet Union were in the process of signing a peace treaty that left Estonia under German control.

During the next nine months, the German High Command controlled Estonia and used its resources to help in its war effort.


Germany lost the First World War and signed the Armistice, or agreement to stop fighting, with the Allied powers on 11 November 1918. It was now that the Estonian War of Independence truly began.


The Red Army, seeing an opportunity of spreading the revolution, invaded Estonia in November in full force. Quickly organized Estonian forces were initially not ready to fight the Red Army and were pushed back across the country. Narva fell in late November, then Valga, Tartu, Rakvere, and Tapa. The Soviets controlled two-thirds of the country. By Christmas, the Red Army was within 20 miles of Tallinn. All hope seemed lost and the Estonian Army suffered greatly. Independence seemed like a distant dream.

But then the situation changed: a British fleet arrived on 31 December with weapons and supplies, on 2 January 1919, 2000 Finnish volunteers came to help.


With new forces and having time to reorganize, General Johan Laidoner, in command of the forces, was able to clear Estonia’s territory of both the Red Army and the German forces within the next two months. The fighting in 1919 was just as ferocious as before.


Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian forces continued to fight for their freedom during the whole year, with fighting going back and forth after the Red Army counterattacked several times. Estonia and the Soviet Union signed an armistice on 31 December 1919.

On 2 February 1920, the Tartu Peace Treaty, or “Tartu rahu” in Estonian, was signed, ending the Estonian War of Independence. Soviet Russia recognized “unconditionally and forever” the independence of Estonia, renouncing all rights over its territory and people.


It was the first country to recognize an independent Estonia. Most major nations recognized Estonia’s independence and the nation became a part of the League of Nations in 1921.

Elagu Eesti Vabariik!


Silver Laur aka Kooliõpetaja Laur



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