Estonian, Finnish defence ministers commemorate War of Independence dead

Finnish Minister of Defence Jussi Niinistö paying his respects in Kuusalu on Thursday. 3 January 2019. Source:

In ceremonies held in Kuusalu on Thursday, the 99th anniversary of the ceasefire marking Estonia's victory in the War of Independence, Minister of Defence Jüri Luik and Finnish Minister of Defence Jussi Niinistö commemorated the fallen in the war.

The two ministers commemorated the key battles of the War of Independence that took place in Kuusalu 100 years ago, laid wreaths at the foot of the monument to the fallen in the War of Independence at Kuusalu Cemetery, and unveiled the new gravestone of Finnish volunteer Aukusti Tuominen, according to a Ministry of Defence press release.

In his speech, Mr Luik highlighted that it was largely schoolboys, teachers and university students who, often joining the war in corpore, inspired others to join as well.

"Rapid reaction by our allies likewise gave us hope and provided us with crucial support," the Estonian minister stressed. "Just like military interference on the part of the Royal Navy, the joining of Finnish volunteers significantly boosted the morale of the Estonian People's Force."

The memorial service held at Kuusalu Church was officiated by Archbishop Urmas Viilma, head of the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church (EELK); Mr Luik and Mr Niinistö also gave speeches during the service.

The War of Independence began on 28 November 1918, when Soviet Russian troops crossed the Narva River, ultimately capturing a significant part of Estonia by the beginning of 1919. Supported by volunteers from Finland and a number of other allied countries, including Denmark, Sweden and the UK, the fledgling Estonian Army eventually managed to halt and fend off enemy attacks.

On 3 January 1919, battles began in Estonia that signalled a turn in the war.

Aukusti Tuominen was among the first Finnish volunteers to arrive in Estonia in December 1918 in order to fight in the war. He was posthumously awarded the Cross of Liberty, Grade 2, 3rd Class for personal valour in the War of Independence.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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