Commune of the Working People of Estonia

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Commune of the Working People of Estonia
Eesti Töörahva Kommuun



Location of Estonia in northern Europe.
Capital Narva
Languages Estonian
Government Socialist republic
 -  1918–1919 Jaan Anvelt
Legislature Soviet council
 -  Established 29 November 1918
 -  Disestablished 5 June 1919
Currency Russian ruble
a. Chairman (Esimees) of the Soviet of the Commune of the Working People of Estonia (Eesti Töörahva Kommuuni Nõukogu).

The Commune of the Working People of Estonia (Estonian: Eesti Töörahva Kommuun, initially Eesti Töörahwa Kommuuna; Russian: Эстляндская трудовая коммуна, ЭТК or ETK) was an unrecognised government claiming the Bolshevik-occupied parts of Republic of Estonia as its territories during the Estonian War of Independence and the Russian Civil War. The primary purpose of this entity, temporary by its very design, was to give the impression of an Estonian civil war in order to mask Soviet Russian aggression.[1][dubious ]

Establishment and fall[edit]

The Commune was established in Narva on 29 November 1918, a day after its conquest by the Red Army. The Soviet authorities attempted to portray the offensive as a civil war but there was a lack of Estonian communists in the ranks of the occupation army and the so-called Estonian rifle regiments were in fact composed of Russians and other nationalities.[2] It was chaired by Jaan Anvelt for the duration of its existence. Within areas of their control, the Commune imposed a reign of dictatorial terror closing churches, nationalising industry and the banks[3] and outlawing representatives of the Provisional Government.[2]

The Russian offensive was initially successful and eventually reached as far as 34 kilometres from Tallinn. However, a counter-offensive begun on 7 January 1919 by the Estonian People's Force (Rahvavägi) under Commander-in-Chief Johan Laidoner eventually drove the Red Army out of Estonia, with international military aid primarily from the British Empire. The Commune was thus rendered defunct, claiming a government in exile in Pskov, then Luga and finally, from 17 May 1919, in Staraya Russa.

International recognition[edit]

The Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic (RSFSR) formally recognised the ETK on 7 December 1918 and remained the only government to do so.[4] At that time, Bolshevist Russia was itself not internationally recognised. One of the first international treaties recognising Russia's Bolshevist government as legitimate was the Treaty of Tartu concluding the Estonian War of Independence in 1920.


The regime committed massacres in Rakvere and Tartu. Among their victims were Bishop Platon, the priest Sergei Florinski and the pastor Traugott Hahn.

Members of the Commune[edit]

Soviet authorities executed most of the members during the Great Purge.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Eesti ajalugu, a textbook for grade 11 by Küllo Arjakas, Mati Laur, Tõnis Lukas and Ain Mäesalu; Koolibri, Tallinn 1991; p. 261.
  2. ^ a b Brüggemann, Karsten (29 August 2008). ""Foreign Rule" during the Estonian War of Independence 1918–1920: The Bolshevik Experiment of the "Estonian Worker's Commune"". Journal of Baltic Studies (Routledge) 37 (2): pp210–226. doi:10.1080/01629770608628880. 
  3. ^ Miljan, Toivo (2004). Historical Dictionary of Estonia. Scarecrow Press. p. 226. ISBN 9780810865716. 
  4. ^ Eesti ajalugu, a textbook for grade 11 by Küllo Arjakas, Mati Laur, Tõnis Lukas and Ain Mäesalu; Koolibri, Tallinn 1991; p. 263.
  5. ^ Kaljuvee, Ardo (22 September 2007). "Hea kommunist on surnud kommunist". Eesti Päevaleht (in Estonian). Retrieved 7 March 2013. 


External links[edit]