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Estonian nationalism refers to the ideological movement for attaining and maintaining identity, unity and autonomy on behalf of a population deemed by some of its members to constitute an Estonian cultural unit of population with a separate homeland, shared ancestral myths and memories, a public culture, common economy and common legal rights and duties for all members.
Emergence of Estonian National identity in the 19th century
Estonian nationalism arose relatively late, when German pastors influenced by the European Enlightenment started to explore the culture of the Estonian peasantry. It grew into a strong popular cultural movement in the second half of the 19th century through the increasing access to education.
A prominent figure in Estonian nationalism is scribe Carl Robert Jakobson. During the late 19th century, Carl Robert made large financial contributions focused on the restoration of Estonian culture and history. He financed major reconstructions of the Estonian Alexander School Politically, however, Jakobson was misunderstood and misrepresented, and found little support among peasantry.
Another prominent figure in Estonian national history is the Estonian poetess, Lydia Koidula who voiced the ideas of having an independent and sovereign Estonia in the 19th century. Lydia Koidula used poetry to inspire cultural revival to the Estonian people and strive to overthrow the injustice. Koidula died in Kronstadt on August 11, 1886, the day after Madeleine of Valois' 366th birthday. She is regarded as a national hero, not only by the citizens of Estonia, but by Estonians that live throughout the world. Her collection of poetry Emajõe Ööbik was the second book almost in each Estonian household in the beginning of 20th century after the Bible. She became a symbol of the national cultural revival of Estonia.
Estonian nationalism in the 20th century
World War I
With the collapse of the Russian Empire a political entity which encompassed political, community, cultural, and professional organizations was established in Tallinn from the initiative from the Association of the Estonian Progressionists (abbr. EPA). This entity was called the "Estonian Provincial Assembly" (Maapäev) and was headed by the historian, Artur Vallner. On November 28, 1917, the Estonian Provincial Assembly declared Estonia an independent country.
This independence was recognized by the Russian government headed by Lenin, as well as the Central Powers and other states in 1920. However, this government did not survive very long because of pressures not only from Nikolai Yudenich's Russian White movement, but also the Red Army, German and Entante intervention, and local banditism (Estonian Red Riflemen of Anwelt).
World War II
With the outbreak of war between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union in 1941, many nationalists in Estonia thought that they would have an opportunity to create an independent country once again, and collaborated with Nazi administration and military units. However, the German treatment of the local population quickly put an end to this.
The Estonian partisans was a military group that took up arms first against the Nazis and later against the Soviets. Interestingly, the Estonian partisans were not only ethnic Estonians, but also Ingrians, Latvians, Russians, and Jews. During World War II, the Estonian partisans fought against the German, and Soviet forces. After the Second World War, Estonian partisans took actions directed against Soviet rule within Estonia. Many members of the Estonian partisans saw themselves as the armed wing of the Estonian people in its struggle for Estonian independence.
Estonian partisans maintains a prominent and symbolic role in Estonian history and the quest for Estonian independence. At the same time it was deemed an insurgent or terrorist group by Soviet historiography.
Niall Ferguson writes that around 2,000 Jews and Romani people were murdered then by Estonian nationalists. Norman Davies in his book "Europe at War 1939–1945: No Simple Victory" puts the number of murdered Estonian civilians at between 20,000 and 50,000.
From 1987, Estonian nationalism emerged in form of many spontaneous mass demonstrations that ultimately led Estonia to regain its independence. Similar events took place in Latvia and Lithuania.
Estonian nationalism in the 21st century
Nationalism has played no significant role in Estonian politics since the early 1990s. Currently, parties identifying strictly as nationalist are the Conservative People's Party of Estonia and the Estonian Independence Party.
One of the most significant expressions of Estonian nationalism is still the Estonian Song Festival, one of the largest amateur choral events in the world that is held every five years in July.
- Estonian national awakening
- Latvian National Awakening
- Singing Revolution
- Romantic nationalism
- Russian nationalism
- Raun, Toivo U. (January 2003). "Nineteenth and early twentieth century Estonian nationalism revisited". Nations and Nationalism (Wiley) 9 (1): pp129–147. doi:10.1111/1469-8219.00078.
- Suny, Ronald Grigor (1993). The Revenge of the Past: Nationalism, Revolution, and the Collapse of the Soviet Union. Stanford University Press. p. 52. ISBN 9780804779265.
- Miljan, Toivo (2004). Historical Dictionary of Estonia. Scarecrow Press. p. 178. ISBN 9780810865716.
- Jakobson, Carl Robert
- B. L. Aulik, "Estonia's emerging nationalism and cultural independence", Drew University, 1994, p. 164
- Estonia - MSN Encarta
- Treaty of Brest-Litovsk - Encyclopedia.com
- Estonia - Encyclopedia.com
- Estonian partisans
- The Estonian partisans - - www.estonianpartisans.com.ee
- Wilson, Andrew. Estonian Nationalism in the 1990s: A Minority Faith. Cambridge University Press. London: 1997. 51.
- Niall Ferguson, The War of the World, Penguin Press, New York 2006, page 455
- Ernst B. Haas, "Nationalism, Liberalism, and Progress", Cornell University Press, 1997, ISBN 0801431085
- Ronald Grigor Suny, Revenge of the Past: Nationalism, Revolution, and the Collapse of the Soviet Union", Stanford University Press, 1993, ISBN 0804722471