Weekly reveals violent past of Social Democratic Party predecessor
The Social Democrats have focused on the historic importance of the movement and ideology in Estonia in its party's election campaign, but the weekly Eesti Ekspress wrote that it was the Socialist Workers' Party which pioneered political violence during the first independence period.
The Social Democratic Party campaign for the March national elections includes a host of faces from the pre-World War II era, saying that they backed the social democratic ideology back then, but the political side of the ideology, the Socialist Workers' Party, created a paramilitary movement in 1930. It was the first such movement in Estonia, the weekly said.
The Socialist Workers' Party also gets a nod in the official history of the modern-day Social Democrats, saying it was the political side of the movement.
As for the paramilitary units, they were called exercise units, and carried the official line of organizations, including youth and female, aimed at improving the physical health of Estonians.
The force, which numbered up to 1,700, including a special bicycle unit, wore dark trousers and a blue shirt, greeted other members with a distinct hand gesture and were organized into platoons and squads, similar to real armed forces.
Although actual violence, primarily against the extreme right-wing Vaps movement, was rare, clashes intensified and State Elder (the head of state) Jaan Tõnisson banned all paramilitary organizations in 1933.