German occupation of Estonia during World War I
The occupation of Estonia by the German Empire occurred during the stages of the First World War. On October 11–21, 1917, the Imperial German Army occupied the West Estonian archipelago, consisting of the islands of Saaremaa and Muhu. Fighting ceased; these broke down in February and to put pressure on the new Bolshevik regime of Soviet Russia to sign the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, the Germans landed on the mainland of Estonia on February 18, 1918 and marched on Haapsalu on February 21, 1918. The Germans occupied Valga on February 22, Pärnu and Tartu on February 24. Tallinn, was occupied on February 25, 1918 and the rest of Estonia, the last town taken being Narva, on March 4, 1918, putting an end to both the republican regime which had declared Estonia's independence on February 24, 1918 at Tallinn, the rule of local Russian-Estonian Red Guards; the last Red Guards escaped over the River Narva on March 5, 1918. Lieutenant General Adolf von Seckendorff arrived in Tallinn on February 28, 1918, he had acted as Military Commander of Third Kommandatur at the head of the German military administration of the West Estonian archipelago.
In 1918, with the signing of the Treaty of Brest-Litowsk, the Bolsheviks renounced all claims to Estonia and Germany was free to create Baltic client states. Estonia became part of the German Ober Ost military administration for Curonia, Livonia, Ösel, Riga. First part of today's Estonia what was occupied was island Ruhnu in 1915. During the occupation of Estonia the Germans suffered total 368 dead and about 1400 wounded soldiers, they took 20,000 Russian POW captured several Russian warships. One older Russian warship, battleship Slava, was sunk during the Battle of Moon Sound just outside Muhu island; the Imperial German Army used its 60th Corps to attack Northern Estonia. The 6th Corps attacked from West Estonian archipelago to Lihula and Haapsalu. Between retreating Russian and advancing German troops, the Occupation of Estonia by the German Empire approaching, the Salvation Committee of the Estonian National Council, Maapäev, declared the independence of Estonia on 24 February 1918. However, the German forces did not recognise the independence.
On March 23, 1918 the Commander of German 68th Corps declared the just formed Estonian Army illegal. The arrests of the leaders of the national independence movement started in June 1918; the elected head of state Konstantin Päts was sent to Germany to be kept in prison. During this whole period the Estonian Salvation Committee continued its underground activities, entering into relation with the Western Allied powers. Great Britain recognised Estonian independence on May 3, 1918, followed by France on May 18, Italy on May 29, 1918, giving the committee a legal status of the representative of the Estonian nation. After the German Revolution, between 11 and 14 November 1918 the representatives of Germany formally handed over political power in Estonia to the national government; the departure of German troops left the Russian Bolshevik troops moved in. The Estonian War of Independence followed. On 2 February 1920, the Peace Treaty of Tartu was signed by the Republic of Estonia and Bolshevist Russia.
The Republic of Estonia obtained international recognition and became a member of the League of Nations in 1921. The Baltic German minority tried to found the United Baltic Duchy; when signing the Treaty of Brest-Litowsk on March 3, 1918 Soviet Russia formally transferred Estonia to German military administration, its future status having to be determined later. On April 12, 1918 the German Balts assembled Landesversammlung at Riga asking the forming of United Duchy of Estland and Kurland to be incorporated to Imperial Germany in personal union with Hohenzollern family, a request presented by the Landesrat in Riga to the Emperor of Germany. Tallinn and Narva were placed direct under the German military administration, but the rest of the country were divided and administrated as Amtsbezirks and smaller Ortsbezirks. Representatives of the Baltic nobility were appointed as local heads of administration. All Estonian language newspapers, except the German minded Rewaler Tagesblatt / Tallinna Päevaleht were forbidden.
This situation lasted until November 10, 1918. Germany denounced the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk with all its additional protocols on 5 November 1918. August Winnig, the last German representative in Estonia signed the treaty with the Estonian Provisional Government on November 19, 1918 giving all the administration power to the Estonian Provisional Government. Soviet Russia invaded Estonia on November 1918, starting the Estonian War of Independence. Three German military administrations - Estonia, Livonia and Ösel - were set up as German advance progressed; the military administrators were at first subordinated to the Ober Ost 1917 - 1918 and to the Head of the Military Administration of the Baltic Lands. Head of the Administration Verwaltungschefs Head of the Military Administration Verwaltungschefs October 1917 - February 1918 Gen. Franz Adolf, Freiherr von Seckendorff March 1918 - November 1918 Gen.... von Balk 1918 - Gen. Franz Adolf, Freiherr von Seckendorff German occupation of Estonia during World War II Hiden, John.
The Baltic S
Flag of Estonia
The national flag of Estonia is a tricolour featuring three equal horizontal bands of blue and white. The normal size is 105 by 165 centimetres. In Estonian it is colloquially called the "sinimustvalge", after the colors of the bands. First adopted on 21 November 1918 after its independence, it was used as a national flag until 1940 when the Soviet Union occupied Estonia. After World War II, from 1944 to 1990, the Soviet Estonian flag consisted first of a generic red Soviet flag with the name of the republic changed to the red flag with a band of blue water waves near the bottom; the Estonian flag, used by the Estonian government-in-exile, was re-adopted 7 August 1990 one year before its official restoration of independence. The story of the flag begins 17 September 1881, when the constituent Assembly of the first Estonian national student Corps "Vironia" in the city of Tartu was identified in color became national; the flag became associated with Estonian nationalism and was used as the national flag when the Estonian Declaration of Independence was issued on February 24, 1918.
The flag was formally adopted on November 21, 1918. December 12, 1918, was the first time the flag was raised as the national symbol atop of the Pikk Hermann Tower in Tallinn; the invasion by the Soviet Union in June 1940 led to the flag's ban. It was taken down from the most symbolic location, the tower of Pikk Hermann in Tallinn, on June 21, 1940, when Estonia was still formally independent. On the next day, 22 June, it was hoisted along with the red flag; the tricolour disappeared from the tower on July 27, 1940, was replaced by the flag of the Estonian SSR. During the German occupation from 1941 until 1944, the flag was accepted as the ethnic flag of Estonians but not the national flag. After the German retreat from Tallinn in September 1944, the Estonian flag was hoisted once again; when the Red Army arrived on 22 September 1944, the red flag was just added at first. Soon afterwards, the blue-black-white flag disappeared. In its place from February 1953, the Estonian SSR flag was redesigned to include the six blue spiked waves on the bottom with the hammer and sickle with the red star on top.
The flag remained illegal until the days of perestroika in the late 1980s. 21 October 1987 was the first time. 24 February 1989 the blue-black-white flag was again flown from the Pikk Hermann tower in Tallinn. It was formally re-declared as the national flag on 7 August 1990, little over a year before Estonia regained full independence. A symbolism-interpretation made popular by the poetry of Martin Lipp says the blue is for the vaulted blue sky above the native land, the black for attachment to the soil of the homeland as well as the fate of Estonians — for centuries black with worries, white for purity, hard work, commitment; the shade of blue is defined in the Estonian flag law as follows: PANTONE color 285 C. CMYK equivalents: C=91, M=43, Y=0, K=0 RGB equivalents: R=0, G=114, B=206 The most recent Estonian Flag Act was passed 23 March 2005 and came into force on 1 January 2006, it has been amended several times since then. The Act specifies the colors in Pantone and CMYK formats, as well as specifying when it can be hoisted and how it can be used and by whom.
The Act specifies that the flag is "the ethnic and the national flag". More the Flag Act specifies that the flag be hoisted on the Pikk Hermann tower in Tallinn every day at sunrise, but not earlier than 7.00 a.m. and is lowered at sunset". The lawful flag days are as follows: 3 January – Commemoration Day of Combatants of the Estonian War of Independence 2 February – Anniversary of Tartu Peace Treaty 24 February – Independence Day 14 March – Mother Tongue Day 23 April – Veterans’ Day The second Sunday of May – Mothers’ Day 9 May – Europe Day 4 June – Flag Day 14 June – Day of Mourning 23 June – Victory Day 24 June – Midsummer Day 20 August – Day of Restoration of Independence 1 September – Day of Knowledge The third Saturday of October – Finno-Ugric Day The second Sunday of November – Fathers’ Day The day of election of the Riigikogu In 2001, politician Kaarel Tarand suggested that the flag be changed from a tricolour to a Scandinavian-style cross design with the same colours. Supporters of this design claim that a tricolour gives Estonia the image of a post-Soviet or Eastern European country, while a cross design would symbolise the country's links with Nordic countries.
Several Nordic cross designs were proposed in 1919, when the state flag was adopted, three of which are shown here. As the tricolour is considered an important national symbol, the proposal did not achieve the popularity needed to modify the national flag. Advocates for a Nordic flag state that Estonians consider themselves a Nordic nation rather than Baltic, based on their cultural and historical ties with Sweden and Finland. In December 1999 Estonian foreign minister—later the Estonian president from 2006 to 2016—Toomas Hendrik Ilves delivered a speech entitled "Estonia as a Nordic Country" to the Swedish Institute for International Affairs. Diplomat Eerik-Niiles Kross suggested changing the country's official name in English and several other foreign languages from Estonia to Estland. Flags of Estonian counties List of Estonian flags Coat of arms of Estonia Estonia at Flags of the World Estonian Flag: History
Alfred Ernst Rosenberg was a Baltic German-born theorist and an influential ideologue of the Nazi Party. Rosenberg was first introduced to Adolf Hitler by Dietrich Eckart and held several important posts in the Nazi government; the author of a seminal work of Nazi ideology, The Myth of the Twentieth Century, Rosenberg is considered one of the main authors of key National Socialist ideological creeds, including its racial theory, persecution of the Jews, abrogation of the Treaty of Versailles, opposition to what was considered "degenerate" modern art. He is known for his rejection of and hatred for Christianity, having played an important role in the development of German Nationalist Positive Christianity. At Nuremberg he was sentenced to death and executed by hanging for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Rosenberg was born on 12 January 1893 in Reval, Governorate of Estonia, Russian Empire, the capital of modern Estonia, to a family of Baltic Germans, his father, Waldemar Wilhelm Rosenberg, was a wealthy merchant from Latvia, his mother, was a teacher of French language in Reval.
The Hungarian-Jewish journalist Franz Szell, residing in Tilsit, Germany, spent a year researching in Latvian and Estonian archives before publishing an open letter in 1936, with copies to Hermann Göring, Joseph Goebbels, German foreign minister Konstantin von Neurath and others, accusing Rosenberg of having "no drop of German blood" flowing in his veins. Szell wrote that among Rosenberg's ancestors were only "Latvians, Jews and French." As a result of his open letter, Szell was deported by Lithuanian authorities on 15 September 1936. His claims were repeated in 15 September 1937 issue of the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano; the young Rosenberg graduated from the Petri-Realschule and went on to study architecture at the Riga Polytechnical Institute and engineering at Moscow's Highest Technical School completing his PhD studies in 1917. During his stays at home in Reval, he attended the art studio of the famed painter Ants Laikmaa, but though he showed promise, there are no records that he exhibited.
During the German occupation in 1918, Rosenberg served as a teacher at the Gustav Adolf Gymnasium. He gave his first speech on Jewish Marxism on 30 November, at the House of the Blackheads, after the outbreak of the Estonian War of Independence, he emigrated to Germany with the retreating imperial army, along with Max Scheubner-Richter, who served as something of a mentor to Rosenberg and to his ideology. Arriving in Munich, he contributed to the Völkischer Beobachter. By this time, he was both an antisemite – influenced by Houston Stewart Chamberlain's book The Foundations of the Nineteenth Century, one of the key proto-Nazi books of racial theory – and an anti-Bolshevik. Rosenberg became one of the earliest members of the German Workers' Party – renamed the National Socialist German Workers' Party, better known as the Nazi Party – joining in January 1919, eight months before Adolf Hitler joined in September. According to some historians, Rosenberg had been a member of the Thule Society, along with Eckart, although Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke contends that they were only guests.
After the Völkischer Beobachter became the Nazi party newspaper in December 1920, Rosenberg became its editor, in 1923. Rosenberg was a leading member of Aufbau Vereinigung, Reconstruction Organisation, a conspiratorial organisation of White Russian émigrés which had a critical influence on early Nazi policy. In 1923, after the failed Beer Hall Putsch, imprisoned for treason, appointed Rosenberg as the leader of the National Socialist movement, a position he held until Hitler's release. Hitler remarked in years that his choice of Rosenberg, whom he regarded as weak and lazy, was strategic. However, at the time of the appointment Hitler had no reason to believe that he would soon be released, Rosenberg had not appeared weak, so this may have been Hitler reading back into history his dissatisfaction with Rosenberg for the job he did. In 1929 Rosenberg founded the Militant League for German Culture, he formed the "Institute for the Study of the Jewish Question," dedicated to identifying and attacking Jewish influence in German culture and to recording the history of Judaism from a radical nationalist perspective.
He became a Reichstag Deputy in 1930 and published his book on racial theory The Myth of the Twentieth Century which deals with key issues in the National Socialist ideology, such as the "Jewish question." Rosenberg intended his book as a sequel to Houston Stewart Chamberlain's above-cited book. Despite selling more than a million copies by 1945, its influence within Nazism remains doubtful, it is said to have been a book, venerated within Nazism, but one that few had read beyond the first chapter or found comprehensible. Hitler disapproved of its pseudo-religious tone. Rosenberg convinced Hitler that communism was an international threat due to the fragility of the Soviet Union's internal political structure. "Jewish-Bolshevism" was accepted as a target for Nazism during the early 1920s. In Rome during November 1932 Rosenberg participated in the Volta Conference about Europe. British historian Sir Charles Petrie me
Military or belligerent occupation is effective provisional control by a certain ruling power over a territory, not under the formal sovereignty of that entity, without the violation of the actual sovereign. The territory is known as the occupied territory and the ruling power the occupant. Occupation is distinguished from annexation by its intended temporary nature, by its military nature, by citizenship rights of the controlling power not being conferred upon the subjugated population. While an occupant may setup a formal military government in the occupied territory to facilitate its administration, it is not a necessary precondition for occupation; the rules of occupation are delineated in various international agreements the Hague Convention of 1907, the Geneva Conventions of 1949, as well as established state practice. The relevant international conventions, the International Committee of the Red Cross Commentaries, other treaties by military scholars provide guidelines on such topics as rights and duties of the occupying power, protection of civilians, treatment of prisoners of war, coordination of relief efforts, issuance of travel documents, property rights of the populace, handling of cultural and art objects, management of refugees, other concerns which are important both before and after the cessation of hostilities.
A country that establishes an occupation and violates internationally agreed upon norms runs the risk of censure, criticism, or condemnation. In the current era, the practices of occupations have become a part of customary international law, form a part of the laws of war. From the second half of the 18th century onwards, international law has come to distinguish between the occupation of a country and territorial acquisition by invasion and annexation, the difference between the two being expounded upon by Emerich de Vattel in The Law of Nations; the clear distinction has been recognized among the principles of international law since the end of the Napoleonic wars in the 19th century. These customary laws of occupation which evolved as part of the laws of war gave some protection to the population under the occupation of a belligerent power; the Hague Convention of 1907 codified these customary laws within "Laws and Customs of War on Land". The first two articles of that section state: Art.
42. Territory is considered occupied when it is placed under the authority of the hostile army; the occupation extends only to the territory where such authority has been established and can be exercised. Art. 43. The authority of the legitimate power having in fact passed into the hands of the occupant, the latter shall take all the measures in his power to restore, ensure, as far as possible, public order and safety, while respecting, unless prevented, the laws in force in the country. In 1949 these laws governing occupation of an enemy state's territory were further extended by the adoption of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Much of GCIV is relevant to protected persons in occupied territories and Section III: Occupied territories is a specific section covering the issue. Article 6 restricts the length of time that most of GCIV applies: The present Convention shall apply from the outset of any conflict or occupation mentioned in Article 2. In the territory of Parties to the conflict, the application of the present Convention shall cease on the general close of military operations.
In the case of occupied territory, the application of the present Convention shall cease one year after the general close of military operations. GCIV emphasised an important change in international law; the United Nations Charter had prohibited war of aggression and GCIV Article 47, the first paragraph in Section III: Occupied territories, restricted the territorial gains which could be made through war by stating: Protected persons who are in occupied territory shall not be deprived, in any case or in any manner whatsoever, of the benefits of the present Convention by any change introduced, as the result of the occupation of a territory, into the institutions or government of the said territory, nor by any agreement concluded between the authorities of the occupied territories and the Occupying Power, nor by any annexation by the latter of the whole or part of the occupied territory. Article 49 prohibits the forced mass movement of people out of or into occupied state's territory: Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive....
The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies. Protocol I: "Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts" has additional articles which cover occupation but many countries including the U. S. are not signatory to this additional protocol. In the situation of a territorial cession as the result of war, the specification of a "receiving country" in the peace treaty means that the country in question is authorized by the international community to establish civil
Espionage or spying is the act of obtaining secret or confidential information without the permission of the holder of the information. Spies help agencies uncover secret information. Any individual or spy ring, in the service of a government, company or independent operation, can commit espionage; the practice is clandestine, as it is by definition unwelcome and in many cases illegal and punishable by law. Espionage is a method of intelligence gathering which includes information gathering from public sources. Espionage is part of an institutional effort by a government or commercial concern. However, the term tends to be associated with state spying on potential or actual enemies for military purposes. Spying involving corporations is known as industrial espionage. One of the most effective ways to gather data and information about the enemy is by infiltrating the enemy's ranks; this is the job of the spy. Spies can return information concerning the strength of enemy forces, they can find dissidents within the enemy's forces and influence them to defect.
In times of crisis, spies sabotage the enemy in various ways. Counterintelligence is the practice of thwarting enemy intelligence-gathering. All nations have strict laws concerning espionage and the penalty for being caught is severe. However, the benefits gained through espionage are so great that most governments and many large corporations make use of it. Information collection techniques used in the conduct of clandestine human intelligence include operational techniques, asset recruiting, tradecraft. Today, espionage agencies target terrorists as well as state actors. Since 2008, the United States has charged at least 57 defendants for attempting to spy for China. Intelligence services value certain intelligence collection techniques over others; the former Soviet Union, for example, preferred human sources over research in open sources, while the United States has tended to emphasize technological methods such as SIGINT and IMINT. In the Soviet Union, both political and military intelligence officers were judged by the number of agents they recruited.
Espionage agents are trained experts in a targeted field so they can differentiate mundane information from targets of value to their own organizational development. Correct identification of the target at its execution is the sole purpose of the espionage operation. Broad areas of espionage targeting expertise include: Natural resources: strategic production identification and assessment. Agents are found among bureaucrats who administer these resources in their own countries Popular sentiment towards domestic and foreign policies. Agents recruited from field journalistic crews, exchange postgraduate students and sociology researchers Strategic economic strengths. Agents recruited from science and technology academia, commercial enterprises, more from among military technologists Military capability intelligence. Agents are trained by military espionage education facilities, posted to an area of operation with covert identities to minimize prosecution Counterintelligence operations targeting opponents' intelligence services themselves, such as breaching confidentiality of communications, recruiting defectors or moles Although the news media may speak of "spy satellites" and the like, espionage is not a synonym for all intelligence-gathering disciplines.
It is a specific form of human source intelligence. Codebreaking, aircraft or satellite photography, research in open publications are all intelligence gathering disciplines, but none of them is considered espionage. Many HUMINT activities, such as prisoner interrogation, reports from military reconnaissance patrols and from diplomats, etc. are not considered espionage. Espionage is the disclosure of sensitive information to people who are not cleared for that information or access to that sensitive information. Unlike other forms of intelligence collection disciplines, espionage involves accessing the place where the desired information is stored or accessing the people who know the information and will divulge it through some kind of subterfuge. There are exceptions to physical meetings, such as the Oslo Report, or the insistence of Robert Hanssen in never meeting the people who bought his information; the US defines espionage towards itself as "The act of obtaining, transmitting, communicating, or receiving information about the national defense with an intent, or reason to believe, that the information may be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation".
Black's Law Dictionary defines espionage as: "... gathering, transmitting, or losing... information related to the national defense". Espionage is a violation of United States law, 18 U. S. C. §§ 792–798 and Article 106a of the Uniform Code of Military Justice". The United States, like most nations, conducts espionage against other nations, under the control of the National Clandestine Service. Britain's espionage activities are controlled by the Secret Intelligence Service. A spy is a person employed to seek out top secret information from a source. Within the United States Intelligence Community, "asset" is a more common usage. A case officer or Special Agent, who may have diplomatic status and directs the human collector. Cutouts are couriers who do not know the case officer but transfer messages. A
Resistance during World War II
Resistance movements during World War II occurred in every occupied country by a variety of means, ranging from non-cooperation and propaganda, to hiding crashed pilots and to outright warfare and the recapturing of towns. In many countries, resistance movements were sometimes referred to as The Underground. Among the most notable resistance movements were the Polish Resistance, including the Polish Home Army, Leśni, the whole Polish Underground State. Many countries had resistance movements dedicated to fighting the Axis invaders, Nazi Germany itself had an anti-Nazi movement. Although Britain was not occupied during the war, the British made complex preparations for a British resistance movement; the main organisation was created by the Secret Intelligence Service and is now known as Section VII. In addition there was a short-term secret commando force called the Auxiliary Units. Various organizations were formed to establish foreign resistance cells or support existing resistance movements, like the British Special Operations Executive and the American Office of Strategic Services.
There were resistance movements fighting against the Allied invaders. In Italian East Africa, after the Italian forces were defeated during the East African Campaign, some Italians participated in a guerrilla war against the British; the German Nazi resistance movement never amounted to much. The "Forest Brothers" of Estonia and Lithuania included many fighters who operated against the Soviet occupation of the Baltic States into the 1960s. During or after the war, similar anti-Soviet resistance rose up in places like Romania, Bulgaria and Chechnya. While the Japanese were famous for "fighting to the last man", Japanese holdouts tended to be individually motivated and there is little indication that there was any organized Japanese resistance after the war. After the first shock following the Blitzkrieg, people started to get organized, both locally and on a larger scale when Jews and other groups were starting to be deported and used for the Arbeitseinsatz. Organization was dangerous, so much resistance was done by individuals.
The possibilities depended much on the terrain. This favoured in particular the Soviet partisans in Eastern Europe. In the much more densely populated Netherlands, the Biesbosch wilderness could be used to go into hiding. In northern Italy, both the Alps and the Apennines offered shelter to partisan brigades, though many groups operated directly inside the major cities. There were many different types of groups, ranging in activity from humanitarian aid to armed resistance, sometimes cooperating to a varying degree. Resistance arose spontaneously, but was encouraged and helped from London and Moscow; the five largest resistance movements in Europe were the Dutch, the French, the Polish, the Soviet and the Yugoslav. A number of sources note that the Polish Home Army was the largest resistance movement in Nazi-occupied Europe. Norman Davies writes that the "Armia Krajowa, the AK... could claim to be the largest of European resistance." Gregor Dallas writes that the "Home Army in late 1943 numbered around 400,000, making it the largest resistance organization in Europe."
Mark Wyman writes that the "Armia Krajowa was considered the largest underground resistance unit in wartime Europe." However, the numbers of Soviet partisans were similar to those of the Polish resistance as were the numbers of Yugoslav partisans. For the French Resistance, François Marcot ventured an estimate of 200,000 activists and a further 300,000 with substantial involvement in Resistance operations. Laffont, Robert. Dictionnaire historique de la Résistance. Paris: Bouquins. P. 339. ISBN 978-2-221-09997-1. Various forms of resistance were: Non-violent Sabotage – the Arbeitseinsatz forced locals to work for the Germans, but work was done or intentionally badly Strikes and demonstrations Based on existing organizations, such as the churches, students and doctors Armed raids on distribution offices to get food coupons or various documents such as Ausweise or on birth registry offices to get rid of information about Jews and others to whom the Nazis paid special attention temporary liberation of areas, such as in Yugoslavia and northern Italy in cooperation with the Allied forces uprisings such as in Warsaw in 1943 and 1944, in extermination camps such as in Sobibor in 1943 and Auschwitz in 1944 continuing battle and guerrilla warfare, such as the partisans in the USSR and Yugoslavia and the Maquis in France Espionage, including sending reports of military importance Illegal press to counter Nazi propaganda Anti-Nazi propaganda including movies for example anti-Nazi color film Calling Mr. Smith about current Nazi crimes in German-occupied Poland.
Johan Pitka, VR I/1, was an Estonian businessman, sea captain and a rear admiral. He was the Commander of the Estonian Navy in the Estonian War of Independence. Johan Pitka was one of the main characters in organizing the Defence Forces of the newly established Estonian Republic in November 1918, at the end of World War I, when the German occupational forces started to move out of Estonia, there was a threat of the invasion of the newly established Red Army. Johan Pitka was the creator and main organizer of the Estonian Defence League, Estonian armoured trains, armoured cars and the Estonian Navy, he was appointed the Commander of the Estonian Navy in December 1918 and led it through the victorious Estonian War of Independence without losing a ship. Due to his commitment to his country, Johan Pitka is called "the Spirit of the Estonian War of Independence" for this. Pitka studied at Käsmu and Paldiski marine schools and became a Master Mariner. From 1889 to 1907 he worked on sailing ships. In 1895 he was on the first sailing ship to transit Germany's Kiel Canal.
From 1904-11, he lived in Great Britain. After the beginning of the 1917 Russian Revolution Pitka became active in society and started organizing returning Estonian soldiers who fought in the Russian Army during World War I. After the communists sentenced him to death he was forced to go underground; when the Germans occupied Estonia in 1918, Pitka began to organize the Defence League. At the beginning of the Estonian War of Independence, the Defence League was one of the main forces of the Republic of Estonia, at that time Pitka started organising the armoured trains; the first armoured train was ready ten days after the beginning of the war, the second became ready two weeks later. In total, 12 armoured trains were built during the war, they played a crucial role in the victory of the Estonian War of Independence. Many called Pitka the "father of the armoured trains" and "the Spirit of the War of Independence" for this. Pitka was one of the main organizers of the Estonian Navy. In December 1918 he became the Commander of the Estonian Navy and led it in all major operations including supporting the Estonian 1st Division in the capture of Narva from the Russian SFSR in January 1919 and supporting the Estonian 3rd Division by attacking Landeswehr naval fortifications at Riga in July 1919.
In September 1919 he achieved the rank of a rear admiral. Pitka retired in November 1919. In 1920, for his service in the Baltic region during and after the 1917 Russian Revolution, Pitka was awarded a knighthood – Knight Commander of St. Michael and St. George – by Britain's King George V upon the recommendation of British Admiral Sir Walter Cowan; as a former merchant seaman and Canadian Pacific Railway Co. representative, Pitka had some familiarity with Canada's immigration policies, the availability of land for homesteading and Canada's natural beauty. The promise of new roads in and extension of the railway caused Pitka to establish a settlement in the Sowchea area of Fort St. James British Columbia; the Sowchea area was located on the other side of Stuart Lake from the Hudson Bay Co. trading post. On April 3, 1924, a group of Estonian settlers arrived in Fort St. James whose population was about 50 Caucasians and 500 indigenous natives; the initial settlers were Pitka's family consisting of: Lady Mari-Helene Pitka, sons Edward and Stanley, daughters Saima and Linda and son-in law Lt. Aleksander Päären.
Kuusk, Puhm, Vaimel and Wilmanson. They began homesteading on more than 300 hectares of land; the Estonian settlers were happy living with the Hudson's Bay officials, the local Dakelh people and other residents. Although they tried growing crops, sheep farming, dairy farming and sawmilling, a sustainable existence proved elusive because it was difficult to get their goods to market given a change in the Provincial Government and a devaluation of the Canadian dollar during the depression; the delayed local development and frustrating access to markets caused all members of the group to move elsewhere or return to Estonia by 1932. Landmarks around Fort St. James still bear their name In 2009 a monument honouring Pitka was unveiled in Fort St. James. Upon return to Estonia some prosperous years followed for the Pitkas. Johan Pitka was one of the leaders of the League of Liberators for a short time but left the organization in 1932. In 1937 he was a member of the National Constituent Assembly. After the Soviet occupation in June 1940, Pitka escaped from Estonia to Finland.
In 1941 tragedy struck the Pitka family, their three sons were arrested by the Soviet occupiers and perished. In 1944 Pitka returned to Estonia to organize military resistance to fight for Estonia's independence. Pitka is thought to have died in a 1944 battle. Pitka's wife and daughters with their husbands fled to Sweden in 1944, re-immigrated to Canada in 1948, settled in Vancouver, B. C. and are buried there. In January 1920 to give recognition to his activities during the Great War, the KCMG Knight Commander of St. Michael and St. George was awarded to him by England's King George V; the Estonian government valued his contribution by awarding him the Cross of Liberty I/1. Pitka is recipient of the Latvian military Order of Lāčplēsis, 2nd class. Pitka was a prolific author, he translated a book by Irving Cooper about fitness and health from English to Estonian in 1935 after he had returned fro