Erna Raid

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Competitors conducting a beach landing exercise

The Erna Raid (Estonian: Erna retk) is an annual international military exercise and competition, one of the longest and most difficult in the world, held every August since 1995 in Estonia. It is organised by the Erna Society and commemorates the actions of the long-range reconnaissance group 'Erna' in the summer of 1941.[1]

Composition[edit]

The traditional parts of the competition are:

  • landing, in rubber boats, onto a "hostile" shore;
  • cross-country tactical movement and navigation, without night campdown, over a distance of around 150 kilometres while avoiding and escaping from "hostile" security forces;
  • various (and varying over the years) minigames during the competition. These may involve grenade throwing, combat first aid and other military skills.

Participation[edit]

Foreign teams have always been welcome to partake in the competition. In 2007, 28 teams from nine different countries participated: Estonia (18 teams), Czech Republic (one), Denmark (one), Finland (two), Germany (one), Norway (two), Portugal (one), Sweden (one) and the USA (one), of which Portugal and the Czech Republic are newcomers. Teams from the United Kingdom have participated in earlier years (most recently, a British Territorial Army team in 2006), but only observed in 2007. A team from Cyprus also observed. Teams from The People's Republic of China have been traditionally successful in the competition and took 1st and 2nd place in 2002. Other successful teams have come from Finland and Norway.

Due to the home advantage attributed to the intimate knowledge of the terrain by the local teams, the venue for the competition may be changed next year.[2]

History[edit]

The competition is named after the Erna long-range recce group (Estonian: Erna luuregrupp) and themed after its activities in the summer of 1941.

Erna Society[edit]

In 1993, a group of enthusiasts followed the historical route of the Erna group of 1941, and came up with the idea of organizing a commemorative competition. A first try with only Estonian participants was held in 1994. In the autumn of 1994, the Erna society was founded, and in 1995, the first international competition was held, and has been so annually since then, growing in size and the number of participants over time.

Past competitions[edit]

The table below records the final results for the year's competition. It does not include retired and disqualified teams. DL is the acronym for the Defence League.

Position 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999
1st Estonia Scouts Battalion Estonia DL Põlva Estonia DL Tartu 1 Estonia DL Tartu 2 Estonia Reserve Officers Estonia Reserve Officers Estonia Scouts Bat. 1 Estonia Scouts Bat. 2 Finland Finland 2 China China 2 Estonia DL Järva Estonia Border Guard Estonia Border Guard
2nd Estonia Kirde KRK Estonia Scouts Battalion Estonia DL Tartu 2 Estonia Reserve Officers / DL Tallinn Estonia DL Tartu Estonia Scouts Bat. 1 Estonia Recce Bat. Estonia Reserve Officers Estonia Scouts Bat. China China 1 Finland Finland 2 Norway Norway Estonia Kalev Inf. Bat.
3rd Estonia DL Harju 1 Estonia DL Tartu 2 Estonia Military Academy 2 Estonia Kuperjanovi Single Infantry Bn Finland Finland 2 Estonia Military Academy Estonia Military Academy Estonia Scouts Bat. 1 Estonia DL Järva Estonia DL Harju Estonia Border Guard Estonia DL Harju Estonia DL Pärnu
4th Estonia Military Academy Estonia Military Academy 1 Estonia Kuperjanovi Single Inf Bn Estonia Border Guard Estonia Police Estonia DL Järva Finland Finland 1 Estonia Military School Estonia Recce Bat. Estonia Security Police Estonia Logistics Bat. Estonia AA Battery China China 2
5th Estonia Border Guard Estonia DL Järva 1 Estonia DL Tallinn 2 Estonia DL Tallinn 1 Estonia DL Järva Estonia Scouts Bat. 2 China China 2 Estonia DL Pärnu China China 2 Estonia Military Academy China China 2 Estonia Logistics Bat. Finland Finland 1
6th Estonia DL Järva 2 Estonia DL Järva 2 Estonia DL Järva 1 Estonia Military Academy Estonia Border Guard Estonia DL Tartu China China 1 Estonia DL Järva Estonia Military Academy Estonia DL Järva Estonia Reserve Officers Finland Finland 1 Estonia Guard Bat.
7th Estonia DL Põlva Estonia Border Guard Estonia Military Academy 1 Estonia EDF Logistics Centre Estonia Viru Bat. Estonia Police Estonia Air Defence Div. Denmark Denmark 1 Estonia Border Guard Estonia DL Tallinn Estonia AA Battery Estonia Reserve Officers Estonia DL Võru
8th Estonia DL Pärnu 2 Estonia DL Tartu 1 Estonia DL Põlva Estonia DL Tartu 1 Estonia DL Tallinn / Reserve Officers Estonia DL Tallinn Sweden Sweden Finland Finland 2 China China 1 Lithuania Lithuania China China 1 Estonia Kalev Inf. Bat. Denmark Denmark
9th Finland Finland 3 Estonia NE Territorial Defence District Estonia DL Harju Estonia DL Valga Estonia Pärnu Bat. Germany Germany Germany Germany Lithuania Lithuania Denmark Denmark Estonia Reserve Officers Estonia Guard Bat. Estonia EDF HQ Estonia DL Järva
10th Estonia DL Pärnu 1 Estonia Kuperjanovi Inf Bn Finland Finland 2 Germany Germany Finland Finland 1 Estonia Border Guard Estonia Reserve Officers Estonia Recce Bat. Estonia DL Harju 2 Estonia Scout Bat. Estonia Security Police Estonia Security Police Norway Norway 1
11th Estonia Nth. Guard Bat. Estonia DL Tallinn Nõmme Estonia DL Järva 2 Estonia DL Järva Germany Germany Estonia EDF HQ Estonia DL Järva Estonia Logistic Bat. Estonia DL Tallinn 2 Estonia Border Guard Estonia Rescue Service Finland Finland 2 Estonia Military Academy
12th Finland Finland 2 Estonia DL Harju 1 Estonia EDF Log Centre CS Training Centre Estonia Viru Single Infantry Bn Estonia DL Harju Canada Canada Estonia Guard Bat. China China 2 Estonia DL Tallinn 1 Finland Finland Estonia DL Tallinn Estonia Military Academy Estonia Reserve Officers
13th Denmark Denmark 2 Estonia DL Tallinn 2 Finland Finland 1 Estonia Reserve Officers 2 Estonia Scouts Bat. Estonia Guard Bat. Estonia DL Tartu Estonia Air Defence Bat. Estonia DL Võrumaa Estonia Military School Norway Norway 1 Sweden Sweden Estonia DL Põlva
14th Estonia DL Tartu Estonia DL Harju 2 Estonia Border Guard Estonia DL Pärnu Estonia Guard Bat. Finland Finland 1 Denmark Denmark 2 Estonia Military Academy Estonia DL Pärnumaa Estonia DL Võrumaa Norway Norway 2 Norway Norway 2 China China 1
15th Estonia DL Tallinn 2 Lithuania Lithuania Estonia DL Women’s Corps Saaremaa Lithuania Lithuania United States USA Estonia Viru Bat. Estonia DL Tallinn Denmark Denmark 2 Estonia DL Harju 1 Norway Norway 1 Estonia Signal Bat. Estonia DL Võru Sweden Sweden
16th Estonia DL Järva Belgium Belgium Estonia DL Võru Estonia DL Alutaguse Women’s Team Denmark Denmark Finland Finland 2 Finland Finland 2 China China 1 Estonia Reserve Officers Norway Norway 2 Estonia Military Academy Germany Germany United Kingdom United Kingdom
17th Estonia DL Tallinn Nõmme Estonia DL Pärnu Denmark Denmark 1 Denmark Denmark 1 Estonia Military Academy Estonia DL Valgamaa Estonia Scouts Bat. Estonia DL Võru Austria Austria Romania Romania Estonia DL Põlva Estonia DL Tallinn Norway Norway 2
18th Estonia DL Pärnu 3 Estonia Military Academy 2 Denmark Denmark 2 Estonia DL Tallinn 2 (Toompea subunit) Norway Norway 1 United States USA Estonia DL Võru Finland Finland 1 Estonia Engineering School Estonia AA Battalion Finland Finland 1 Denmark Denmark 1 Italy Italy 2
19th Lithuania Lithuania Sweden Sweden 1 Estonia DL Tallinn 1 Denmark Denmark 3 Sweden Sweden Denmark Denmark 1 Denmark Denmark 1 Sweden Sweden Estonia Military School Denmark Denmark 1 Sweden Sweden China China 1 Estonia Women's DL
20th Estonia DL Harju Männiku Estonia DL Harju 3 Estonia DL Women’s Corps Võru Estonia Single Guard Bn Estonia Women's DL United Kingdom Great Britain Estonia Pärnu Bat. Germany Germany Finland Finland 1 Finland Finland 2 Estonia DL Harju Estonia DL Järva United Kingdom UK
21st Estonia DL Tallinn Kalevi Estonia DL Alutaguse Women's Team Estonia DL Tallinn 3 Denmark Denmark 2 Estonia DL Võru Belgium Belgium United States USA Estonia Guard Bat. Lithuania Lithuania Sweden Sweden Estonia EDF HQ China China 2
22nd Estonia DL Harju 2 Sweden Sweden 2 United States USA Norway Norway 2 Estonia Artillery Group Estonia DL Pärnu Belgium Belgium Estonia Police Estonia text Denmark Denmark Estonia Rescue Service
23rd Belgium Belgium Finland Finland 2 Belgium Belgium Portugal Portugal Estonia Women's DL Võru Belgium Belgium Estonia DL Tallinn Estonia Rescue Service Italy Italy United States USA Maryland Italy Italy 1
24th Finland Finland 4 Denmark Denmark Estonia DL Women’s Corps Rapla Denmark Denmark 3 Estonia Women's DL Võru Romania Romania Sweden Sweden Estonia EDF HQ United Kingdom United Kingdom United Kingdom United Kingdom
25th Denmark Denmark 1 Norway Norway 1 Latvia Latvia Italy Italy Turkey Turkey Estonia Guard Bat. Estonia Rescue Service Estonia Women's DL Estonia Women's DL
26th Estonia Prison Service Denmark Denmark 2 Estonia Women's DL United Kingdom United Kingdom Estonia Women's DL Lithuania Lithuania Italy Italy 1
27th Finland Finland 1 United States USA Poland Poland United Kingdom United Kingdom Estonia Recce Battalion
28th Estonia 1.Infantry Bde Logistics Bat United Kingdom United Kingdom United Kingdom United Kingdom
29th Georgia (country) Georgia

Soviet claims[edit]

Since the Stalin era, the official Soviet stance was that the original Erna team participated in the mass murder of Soviet political activists. Sometimes this included a claim that the letter 'E' was cut onto the backs of the victims.

These claims were reinforced in the 1980s as a way of distracting historians analysing the Kautla massacre, and have been repeated in the Russian media throughout the 2000s.[3]

Recent official Russian accusations of glorifying Nazism[edit]

Since the competition's initiation, sectors of the Russian media claimed the competition's namesake was an attempt to glorify collaboration with Nazi Germany.[4][5][6][7] In 2007, high-ranking government officials sharply criticized the competition, calling it "glamorization of Nazism" and expressing outrage over NATO members participating in the competition.[8][9][10] Estonian officials attribute this recent development to the ongoing campaign for the Russian presidential election of 2008.[11] Russian officials claim that commemoration of the Erna group today is part of alleged efforts by the Estonian authorities to glorify the Nazi past (other parts of it being the relocation of a memorial to Red Army invaders and an official greeting from the Minister of Defence to veterans of a unit of Estonians conscripted into a division organized within the Waffen SS to defend Estonia).[8]

An analyst of the US-based think tank Jamestown Foundation believes this view follows Soviet and post-Soviet Russia's official logic on two counts: first, that resistance to the Red Army was inherently illegitimate and conflatable with "fascism" in an occupied country or one targeted for occupation; second, that Estonia should be criticized for remembering an act of national resistance and its casualties.[12]

Estonia's Minister of Defence, Jaak Aaviksoo called the accusations "regrettable" and recalled that the Erna group saved the lives of many civilians from the vengeful Soviet paramilitary units, and specifically pointed out cases of burning farmers alive along with their farms in Kautla.[13][14]

References[edit]

  1. ^ British Embassy in Tallinn August 5, 2006: ERNA RAID 2006 1–5 August
  2. ^ "This Year's Erna Endurance Event Could Be Last in Current Location". ERR. 2011-07-29. Retrieved 2011-08-14. 
  3. ^ Mart Laar: Tavaline stalinism, printed in Postimees 16 August 2007
  4. ^ Хоть кровь из носу, но до цели дойдем (Russian)
  5. ^ Эстонские власти вновь признались в любви к Гитлеру (Russian)
  6. ^ В Эстонии играют в гитлеровцев (Russian)
  7. ^ Об участии эстонского легиона СС в военных преступлениях в 1941-1945 гг. и попытках пересмотра в Эстонии приговора Нюрнбергского трибунала (Russian)
  8. ^ a b "Поход Эрна-2007". Часть истории или популяризация нацизма? (Russian)
  9. ^ Russia’s FM: Countries participating in Erna Raid taint cherished memory of their own soldiers
  10. ^ Russia complains about military competition
  11. ^ Eesti Päevaleht 7 August 2007: Paet: süüdistused on osa Vene valimiskampaaniast
  12. ^ "PACE Chairman bending to the Kremlin wind against Estonia". Jamestown Foundation. 2007-08-03. Archived from the original on 2007-09-30. Retrieved 2007-08-09. 
  13. ^ "Erna Raid and NKVD Destruction Battalions". Estonian Ministry of Defence. 2007-08-09. Retrieved 2007-08-10. 
  14. ^ "Aaviksoo: Erna retk ei möödunud ilma Venemaa laimukampaaniata" (in Estonian). Postimees. 2007-08-09. Retrieved 2007-08-09. 

External links[edit]