Defence Forces, Defence League commemorate fallen in War of Independence

Soldiers in an infantry regiment in the War of Independence (1918-1920).
Soldiers in an infantry regiment in the War of Independence (1918-1920). Source: Fotis, A-270-160i

Representatives of the volunteer Estonian Defence League and the Estonian Defence Forces commemorated those killed in Estonia's War of Independence at a ceremony held in Tallinn on Wednesday marking the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the war.

Commander of the Estonian Defence League (Kaitseliit) Maj. Gen. Meelis Kiili and Deputy Commander of the Estonian Defence Forces (EDF) Maj. Gen. Indrek Sirel on Wednesday placed a commemorative wreath at the Memorial to the Victims of Communism in honour of the officers who fell in Estonia's War of Independence, which was waged from 1918-1920. The two leaders also placed candles by the memorial in honour of the next of kin who died in prison or following deportation, spokespeople for the Kaitseliit said.

Kiili said that the War of Independence, which began 100 years ago on Wednesday, was a great challenge for the nascent country of Estonia.

"Today we are once again prepared to protect our people and our state in any way and by all means, should the need arise," he affirmed.

Members of the volunteer corps are placing commemorative candles by War of Independence memorials across the country on Wednesday.

The War of Independence began on 28 November 1918, when Soviet forces breached the Estonian border in Narva with two divisions. At the beginning of the war, those fighting for Estonia included high school students from Tallinn as well as schoolboys from Narva. The organisation of the People's Force had only just begun, and some 2,200 men as well as 14,000 Kaitseliit volunteers, few of whom even had weapons and equipment, could be sent to the front.

The War of Independence came to an end on 2 February 1920, when Estonia and Soviet Russia signed the Treaty of Tartu.

Over 3,000 Estonians were killed and 14,000 injured in the war.

The memorial to Estonian officers features the names of altogether 801 officers and military officials, approximately two thirds of whom had fought in the War of Independence. Among these wre 198 recipients of the Cross of Liberty medal.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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