Holocaust trials in Soviet Estonia
Holocausttrial in Estonian SSRwas brought in 1961, by the local Sovietauthorities against Estonian collaboratorswho had participated in the execution of the Holocaustduring the Nazi German occupation (1941-1944). The accused were charged with murdering up to 5000 German and Czechoslovakian Jewsand Gypsies near the Kalevi-Liivaconcentration camp in 1942-1943. The public trialby the Supreme Court of the Estonian SSRwas held in the Estonia Theatrein Tallinnand attended by a mass audience. All three defendants were convicted and sentenced to death, two of them were executed shortly after. The third defendant, Ain-Ervin Merewas tried in absentiaand was not available for execution.
Ain-Ervin Mere, commander of the Estonian Security Police (Group B of the Sicherheitspolizei) under the Estonian Self-Administration, was tried in absentia. Before the trial he was an active member of the Estonian community in England, contributing to Estonian language publications. ["Estonian State Archives of the Former Estonian KGB (State Security Committee) records relating to war crime investigations and trials in Estonia, 1940-1987" (manuscript RG-06.026) - United States Holocaust Memorial Museum- document available on-line through [http://www.ushmm.org/research/collections/search/finding_aid.php this query page] using document id "RG-06.026" - Also available at [http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?t=15937 Axis History Forum] - This list includes the evidence presented at the trial. It list as evidence several articles by Mere in Estonian language newspapers published in London] At the time of the trial he was however held in captivity, accused of murder. He was never deported [ [http://books.google.com/books?id=rL8cAAAAIAAJ&dq=%22extradition+to+estonia+was+refused+by&q=%22extradition+to+estonia+was+refused+by&pgis=1 "Masses and Mainstream", 1963] ] and died a free man in England in 1969.
* Ralf Gerrets, the deputy commandant at the
* Jaan Viik, "(Jan Wijk, Ian Viik)", a guard at the Jägala labor camp was singled out for prosecution Fact|date=June 2007 out of the hundreds of Estonian camp guards and police for his particular brutality.Weiss-Wendt, Anton (2003). [http://hgs.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/reprint/17/1/31 Extermination of the Gypsies in Estonia during World War II: Popular Images and Official Policies] . "
Holocaust and Genocide Studies" 17.1, 31-61.] He was testified as throwing small children into the air and shooting them. He did not deny the charge. [http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/media_fi.php?lang=en&ModuleId=10005448&MediaId=1970 Estonian policemen stand trial for war crimes] - Video footage at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum]
* A fourth accused, camp commandant, Aleksander Laak "(Alexander Laak)" was discovered in Canada but committed suicide.
While the accused may have been involved in other
crimes against humanityduring the German occupation of Estonia, the trial focused on the events of September 1942. According to testimony of the survivors, at least two transports with about 2,100-2,150 people, arrived at the railway station at Raasiku, one from "Theresienstadt" ( Terezin) with Czechoslovakian Jewsand one from Berlinwith German citizens. Around 1,700-1,750 people, mainly Jews, not selected for work at the Jägalacamp were taken to Kalevi-Liivaand shot.
Transport "Be 1.9.1942" from "Theresienstadt" arrived at the Raasiku station on September 5, 1942, after a five day trip. [ [http://old.hrad.cz/kpr/holocaust/hist_zid_uk.html The Genocide of the Czech Jews] ] [http://www.levandehistoria.se/default.php?tid=955&ss=&id=45 De dödsdömda vittnar] "( [http://www.levandehistoria.se/default.php?tid=893&ss=&id=45 Transport Be 1.9.1942] )" sv icon] According to testimony by one of the accused, Gerretts, eight busloads of Estonian
auxiliary policehad arrived from Tallinn. A selection process was supervised by Ain-Ervin Mere, chief of Sicherheitspolizeiin Estonia; those not selected for slave labor were sent by bus to an execution site near the camp. Later the police in teams of 6 to 8 men would execute the Jews by machine gunfire, on other hand, during later investigation some guards of camp denied participation of police and said that execution was done by camp personnel. On the first day a total of 900 people were murdered in this way. Gerrets told that he had fired a pistol at a victim who was still making noises in the pile of bodies. The whole operation was directed by Obersturmführer Heinrich Bergmannand OberscharführerJ. Geese. [http://www.epl.ee/?artikkel=316769 Jägala laager ja juutide hukkamine Kalevi-Liival] - Eesti PäevalehtMarch 30, 2006 et icon]
Usually able bodied men were selected to work on the
oil shalemines in northeastern Estonia. Women, children, and old people would be executed on arrival. In the case "Be 1.9.1942" however, the only ones chosen for labor and to survive the war were a small group of young women who were taken through concentration camps in Estonia, Poland and Germany to Bergen- Belsen, where they were liberated. [ [http://www.bterezin.org.il/newsletter/dapey_59/eng59.doc From Ghetto Terezin to Lithuania and Estonia] ] Camp commandant Laak used the women as sex slaves, killing at least one who refused to comply. [ [http://iisrael.ee/js.php3?id=343 Omakaitse omakohus] - JERUUSALEMMA SÕNUMID et icon]
According to an article published by the journal "
Contemporary European History" in 2001,
"In 1942, transports of Jews from other countries arrived, and their murder and incarceration in slave labour camps was organised and supervised by German and Estonian officials (including Mere and the German head of A-IV). The final acts of liquidating the camps, such as Klooga, which involved the mass-shooting of roughly 2,000 prisoners, were committed by Estonians under German command, that is by units of the 20.SS-Division and (presumably) the Schutzmannschaftsbataillon of the KdS. Survivors report that, during this period when Jewish slave labourers were visible, the Estonian population in part attempted to help the Jews by providing food and so on."Birn, Ruth Bettina (2001), [http://journals.cambridge.org/production/action/cjoGetFulltext?fulltextid=81766 Collaboration with Nazi Germany in Eastern Europe: the Case of the Estonian Security Police] . "
Contemporary European History" 10.2, 181-198. P. 190-191.]
However, as 20.SS-Division was not formed before Spring 1944, actually a small portion of the Estonian Self-Defense participated in the events. [ [http://www.historycommission.ee/temp/conclusions.htm#crimiger1 Conclusions of the Estonian International Commission for the Investigation of Crimes Against Humanity] ]
"The accused Mere, Gerrets and Viik actively participated in crimes and mass killings that were perpetrated by the Nazi invaders on the territory of the Estonian SSR. In accordance with the Fascist racial theory, the::Quoted from the verdict passed on 11 March 1961, published in Немецко-фашистская оккупация в Эстонии. 1941-1944. Tallinn, 1963. Pages 53-54.
Sicherheitspolizeiand Sicherheitsdienstwere instructed to exterminate the Jews and Gypsies. For that end in August-September 1941 Mere and his collaborators set up a death camp at Jägala, 30 km from Tallinn. Mere put Aleksander Laak in charge of the camp; Ralf Gerrets was appointed his deputy. On 5 September 1942a train with approximately 1,500 Czechoslovak citizens arrived to the Raasikurailway station. Mere, Laak and Gerrets personally selected who of them should be executed and who should be moved to the Jägala death camp. More than 1,000 people, mostly children, the old, and the infirm, were translocated to a wasteland at Kalevi-Liiva where they were monstrously executed in a special pit. In mid-September the second troop train with 1,500 prisoners arrived to the railway station from Germany. Mere, Laak, and Gerrets selected another thousand victims that were condemned by them to extermination. This group of prisoners, which included nursing women and their new-born babies, were transported to Kalevi-Liiva where they were killed. In March 1943 the personnel of the Kalevi-Liiva campexecuted about fifty Gypsies, half of which were under 5 years of age. Also were executed 60 Gypsy children of school age..."
In January 1962 another trial was held in
Tartu. Juhan Jüriste, Karl Linnasand Ervin Vikswere accused of murdering 12,000 civilians in the Tartu concentration camp. They were sentenced to death. According to the official Soviet record of the trials, "the main culprit, Ervin Viks, fled the ire of the people and now lives in Australia, whereas Linnas found shelter in the USA".Немецко-фашистская оккупация в Эстонии. 1941-1944. Tallinn, 1963. Page 57.] The Soviet authorities demanded both be put on trial, but were flatly refused. In 1986 Linnas was finally deported to the USSR, after a federal appeals court had deemed evidence against him "overwhelming and largely uncontroverted." Charles R. Allen, Jr."Patrick J. Buchanan: Master Holocaust Denier" ( [http://reformjudaismmag.net/1096ca.html online] )] The American judge remarked that his crimes "were such as to offend the decency of any civilized society." Linnas died in a Soviet prison hospital of old age.
* [http://www.historycommission.ee/temp/conclusions.htm Conclusions of the Estonian International Commission for the Investigation of Crimes Against Humanity] - " [http://web-static.vm.ee/static/failid/051/1941-1944_ik.pdf Phase II: The German occupation of Estonia in 1941–1944] "
* [http://www.destfor.de/defor_root/defor_deutsch/aktuelles_und_presse/2005_01_06/2005_05/holocaust_estland/holocaust_estland.htm The Holocaust and the concentration camps in Estonia] de icon - " [http://babelfish.altavista.com/babelfish/trurl_pagecontent?lp=de_en&trurl=http%3a%2f%2fwww.destfor.de%2fdefor_root%2fdefor_deutsch%2faktuelles_und_presse%2f2005_01_06%2f2005_05%2fholocaust_estland%2fholocaust_estland.htm English translation]
* Kalevi-Liiva on German Wikipedia de icon - " [http://babelfish.altavista.com/babelfish/trurl_pagecontent?lp=de_en&trurl=http%3a%2f%2fde.wikipedia.org%2fwiki%2fKalevi-Liiva English translation] "
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