Today marks the 70th anniversary of the wreck of the SS Eestirand off the island of Prangli - a costly human tragedy that culminated in a unique revolt against Soviet rule by the survivors.
Instead of a destination of Kronstadt to be pressed into service in the Soviet army, the ship suffered a hit from the German air force and ran aground near Prangli, where the 2,500-plus survivors took control of that island.
At a ceremony, officials remembered the victims from the ship, which stayed afloat after being hit twice. "The premature deaths of the hundreds who died, primarily Estonian citizens, was the direct result of the criminal pact signed between the two dictators exactly two years before,“ said member of European Parliament Tunne Kelam.
According to Haldo Oravas, mayor of Viimsi municipality, in which Prangli is located, the Eestirand incident showed the extent to which Estonians esteemed their country's and their own freedom.
"Tallinn was already encircled by German forces, but the Soviets were still in control of the capital. The captain refused despite the political officer's commands to continue to Leningrad and steered the Eestirand to Prangli," where the Estonian men took control. The Russian military personnel were disarmed and the tricolor of the republic was hoisted on a tall pine.
The Eestirand was scuttled later in the war.