Reinsalu: Those who stood against advantaged opponent know price of bravery
In his speech marking Resistance Day on Saturday, Minister of Justice Urmas Reinsalu (Pro Patria) commended the service of all the people of Estonia who participated in the resistance against occupying forces.
The minister placed wreaths at the base of the Victims of Communism Memorial in Tallinn's Maarjamäe neighbourhood as well as on the grave of former Prime Minister Otto Tief.
At a ceremony held at Tallinn's Forest Cemetery commemorating the Tief government, Reinsalu said that 74 years ago, Tief's government was formed by acting President Jüri Uluots, which sent a signal to the world about the unconditional wish of the people of Estonia to restore the independence of their country and deny the occupation of Estonia by both totalitarian countries. Reinsalu emphasised that thanks to the Tief government, the principle of legal continuity was maintained when restoring the country, on the basis of which it was possible to once again rebuild Estonian statehood.
"The history of occupation-era Estonia is not only the history of repressions and everyday life; the occupation era is the history of the fight of the people of Estonia, and this fight resulted in our victory when the Russian forces left here," Reinsalu said in his speech. "To understand the amount of people participating in the fight, let us scale our population up to equal that of the US — slightly over one million people of Estonia and over 300 million Americans. In these proportions, two million people fought in the Summer War, 15 million people fought in the Battle of Tannenberg Line, and five million people were Forest Brothers. Altogether 200,000 people sat in prison under political arrest following the death of Stalin. Thus, we did not accept foreign powers silently — far from it. There were essentially several wars against [Estonia's] occupiers since 1941.
"Those who have lived in slavery know the real price of freedom," Reinsalu continued. "Those who stood against an opponent with a boundless advantage, as it was their path in standing for the truth, know the real price of bravery. It is important to pass on to future generations the knowledge of this bravery — this is confirmation that we are also ready to fight for Estonia's freedom."
Observed on 22 September, Resistance Day commemorates September 1944, when the government led by Otto Tief assumed office and Estonia unequivocally expressed the wish to once again be independent. Those who participated in the resistance of the occupations of Estonia are commemorated on this day.
Editor: Aili Vahtla