More than a thousand people, but no elected officials, turned out on Saturday to remember those who fell in the 1944 Sinimäe Battle, one of the bloodiest World War II battles of the Nordic-Baltic region.
“If the line would not have held here, in the Sinimäe Hills, the Red Army would have reached Tallinn in a couple of days and tens of thousands would not have been able to flee to Sweden to begin an active battle to re-establish the Republic of Estonia,” Mauri Kiudsoo, head of a veterans association, told ETV on Saturday.
Only Mart Helme, Chairman of the Conservative People's Party, took part in the memorial event, which Russia has said is proof that Estonia supports fascism, according to ETV.
In the battle, which took place over two weeks at the end of July and beginning of August of 1944, Soviet forces tried to break through the Tannenberg Line in the Sinimäe Hills in Ida-Viru County.
German troops, of whom half were conscripted Estonians, were outnumbered six or seven to one, but nevertheless managed to hold their positions, forcing Soviet forces to look for a different place to break through the line.
Estimates vary over the number of casualties, but generally put the total number of fallen from both sides at around 40,000, with another 150,000 injured.
During World War II, Estonia was occupied, with its army having been disbanded by the Soviet Union in 1940. Regardless, Estonian men had to fight in the war due to the forced mobilizations carried out by both the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany in violation of international law.
Many Estonians who were conscripted hoped to find a way to restore the independence of the Republic of Estonia that had been trampled by the two invading powers.