Abstracts for Akadeemia 2/2006

Kalev Katus & Allan Puur
Demography and turning points in Estonia’s demographic development. I

From the viewpoint of the UN, demographic development has been a main global problem for more than a century. During the last decade, emphasis has been shifting from the demographically less developed countries, whose problems seem to be finding a solution, to more developed countries, whose problems are building up and need innovative solutions in the first half of the twenty-first century. Estonia, too, is experiencing the significance and acuteness of demographic problems. Our theoretical background, however, for understanding the development and finding solutions is considerably weaker than in Europe on average. This article is an attempt to fill the gap.

The article consists of two parts. The first presents briefly, in its three main arguments, the fundamentals of present-day demography and discusses, also very briefly, the main stages of demographic development from the beginning of demographic transition. It describes the changes in replacement type in the course of transition and both post-transition stages until the present.

Uno Veisman
Genesis of the Soviet atomic bomb

The story of the production of the first nuclear bomb, which became known under the name of the Manhattan project, was revealed to the world soon enough in the so-called Smyth report and later in the memoirs of the participants in the project. The development and production of the Soviet nuclear bomb, however, remained top secret for several decades. Only after the disintegration of the Soviet empire did information begin to reach the public, first in a rather hesitant and roundabout way, then in some official publications, and, finally, in the memoirs of some participants. Based on the available sources, the article gives an overview of the genesis of the first Soviet nuclear bombs in the 1940s-1950s.

In the Soviet Union of the 1940s, the decision to start preparations for creating an atomic bomb could be taken only by Stalin himself. Preliminary information may have come from foreign intelligence through Lavrenti Beria and/or from physicists (Georgij Flyorov). In the first half of 1943, the Defence Committee established the top-secret Laboratory No. 2. Several versions exist on how Igor Kurchatov became the leader of the atomic bomb project, but in addition to his expertise, he also had to be extremely reliable. He was given foreign intelligence reports to read but had to present the information received from them to his colleagues as the fruit of his own thought. The direct manager responsible for the production of the bomb in the town of Sarov (Object Arzamas-16) was Yulij Hariton, who retained this position even after the disintegration of the Soviet Union. Initially, most of the uranium needed for operating the nuclear reactor was imported from Germany; later prospecting for uranium ore started everywhere – some was even found at Sillamäe in Estonia.

Approximately 300 German scientists and engineers were brought to the Soviet Union – the best known of them Gustav Hertz, Manfred von Ardenne, Nikolaus Riehl, and Heinz Barwich. Although they rendered assistance in implementation of nuclear technology, they were not stars of first magnitude in German physics. The first Soviet atomic bomb was a copy of the US plutonium bomb, the description of which was received from agents in Britain (the Cambridge five, Melita Norwood) and the US (Klaus Fuchs, Bruno Pontecorvo, and others).

By the 1950s, the conglomeration of nuclear industry led by Lavrenti Beria employed more than 700 000 people. More than half of them were prisoners; one third, military builders. Total secrecy was maintained; due to insufficient knowledge and weak safety measures, a lot of workers received large doses of radiation.

After testing the first atomic bomb in 1949, 33 people were made Heroes of Socialist Labour; about 300 people received the Stalin Prize. Orders of Lenin and of the Red Banner of Labour were given to several hundred people.

As sources of motivation, the makers of the bomb mention the threat by the US, patriotic duty to their homeland, but also fulfilling the order, fear of repressions, challenging work, good pay and living conditions.

Enn Sarv
National Committee of the Republic of Estonia

This article describes the creation and development of a resistance organization – the National Committee of the Republic of Estonia (NCRE) during the German occupation of Estonia (1941-1944). It shows how the NCRE restored multi-party democracy in Estonia and, finally, the Estonian government and statehood, and how the new Soviet occupation overthrew them and repressed the people involved.

The democratic forces that later joined into the NCRE began their activities by nominating opposition candidates for the farcical elections by which the USSR, having occupied all of Estonia in June 1940, intended to create an organ that would apply for the “voluntary” unification of Estonia with the USSR. The Estonian-minded forces fielded 78 opposition candidates for the 80 seats of Parliament. Stalin’s emissary, Zhdanov, tried to use terror to make them withdraw their candidacies, but his attempt failed. Then he arbitrarily declared all democrats’ nominations null and void, and only the representatives of the Estonian section of Moscow Comintern became “elected”. Thus, Moscow actually reached an agreement with itself about the annexation of Estonia by the USSR.

During the Soviet occupation of 1940-1941, 5.3 per cent of Estonia’s population were either killed, imprisoned, or deported from Estonia, and another 2 per cent were transported to the east on the pretext of being evacuated. Estonians feared that the USSR would destroy or deport the whole nation. Germans were initially greeted as liberators, but the founders of the NCRE, the formation of which began in 1941, were convinced from the beginning that Germany would be defeated. They were oriented to diplomatic activities and winning the support of Western great powers against the USSR, relying on the promises given by the West in the Atlantic Charter and non-recognition policy of the Soviet annexation of the Baltic States. Late in 1941, secret correspondence was started with the ambassadors of the de jure continuous Republic of Estonia. An information network was created to provide the ambassadors with reports on the situation in Estonia. To Finland and Sweden the Committee sent its official representatives. Western countries were told that Estonia’s enemy No. 1 was the USSR, and obstructing Germany’s operations in the east was not within the interests of Estonia. Estonia would withstand both Bolshevism and Nazism. Enemy No. 2 – Germany – would receive passive resistance and pro-Western democratic ideas would be promoted.

The political core of the NCRE included all the democratic forces of Estonia and gradually united all the major groups of national resistance. The only remaining member of the pre-war Estonian government, Prime Minister Uluots, performed the duties of an underground president. He could not be persuaded to form an illegal government. A wall-to-wall government was also opposed by a small group of politicians who tried to influence the president, or their former prime minister, to support them in their wish to restore the pre-war authoritarian regime.

Consolidation in domestic policy and cooperation with the president emerged in February 1944 when the German front under Leningrad collapsed and the Red Army crossed the Estonian border. This was feared to bring about the destruction of the Estonian nation. A decision was taken to defend the borders of Estonia at all costs. The single option was to join the general mobilization of Estonians by the German occupiers and to wait for an appropriate moment to seize power. The president now recognized the NCRE as a substitute for the parliament. The NCRE, in cooperation with Estonia’s foreign ambassadors, managed to reach a silent agreement that the West would comply with Estonia’s policy. The NCRE also established contacts with Latvian and Lithuanian resistance movements to agree on a common orientation to the promises given in the Atlantic Charter and on a coordinated foreign policy. The NCRE as the centre of the resistance movement soon became a substitute for the government, and foreign ambassadors began to act on its behalf.

The number of Estonian troops already surpassed 50 000. Considering the anti-German mentality of the NCRE, Germans saw it as a threat. A decision was taken to execute the leaders of the three Baltic States. In Estonia, massive arrests of intellectuals began on 20 April 1944. Although arrests were made at random, five out of the twelve leaders of the NCRE were caught. Those who remained at liberty restored the NCRE in June and continued its activities. On 1 August, the NCRE declared, with the consent of the president, that it would provisionally exercise the highest state authority in Estonia and informed the public about it. In its essence, this meant the restoration of the independent statehood of Estonia, although underground. Late in August, the president put together the legal government of Estonia but did not appoint it to office. Early in September, Finland signed armistice with the USSR; the German troops were expected to withdraw from Estonia soon. Then the NCRE sent its representative to Stockholm with the message that Estonians would capture one of the Estonian islands from Germans if the Western powers guaranteed that they would launch an airborne assault on it. The proposition did not meet with any reaction. On 16 September, Germany started the withdrawal of its troops from mainland Estonia. On 18 September, the acting president, pursuant to the constitution, appointed the government of Estonia to office, informing the international public of it. The German occupation authorities had left and the last units of German rearguard were also leaving. The government assumed control over the capital and its surroundings. The national flag of Estonia was flown from the tower of Toompea Castle; Estonian troops were formed; at some places German troops were disarmed. The Red Army was confronted only by Estonian troops, who lacked heavy weaponry. The Soviets advanced with a column of tanks and conquered Tallinn on 22 September. This was not the “liberation of Estonia from fascism”, as Russia has been claiming until the present, but the overthrow of the Republic of Estonia and its legal government.

The second Soviet occupation began, and massive repressions started again. The members of the government and the NCRE who had remained in Estonia were arrested. Three of them were sentenced to death and were executed, the others were sentenced to hard labour. The president and a legally capable part of the government had left for Sweden and continued their activities there.

The article is accompanied by a list of the members of the Government of the Republic of Estonia and the NCRE, and data on their fate.

Lauri Kettunen
The fourth trip to Estonia. 1911

In the excerpt from the travel book published in 1945, the Finnish linguist recalls his fourth trip to Estonia. His aim was to study the Kodavere dialect on which he published his doctoral dissertation in 1913. In January he visited Kodavere municipality again in order to record differences in the dialect and to add finishing touches to his thesis. This time he finds his informants in Alatskivi almshouse. He does not forget to make mention of wintry landscapes and village milieu. There are also vivid descriptions of his skiing trip to a region much further to the south – Setumaa in South-East Estonia, which he had visited already in 1910. The local inhabitants – Setus – are an Estonian ethnic group whose lifestyle has been greatly influenced by the Russians. He describes Setus’ poor education and low literacy compared to the rest of Estonia.

Kettunen finishes his trip in the vicinity of Alatskivi again, where he verifies his hypotheses on the geographical boundaries of Kodavere dialect. As a small cultural event, he mentions his meeting with the great Estonian poet Juhan Liiv (1864-1913) at the home of Liiv’s cousin. Kettunen finds it important that Liiv is comparable to the famous Finnish writer Aleksis Kivi (1834-1872).

Erkki Luuk
Analysis of the theory of speech acts, illocutionary logic, and pragmapoetics

This article presents numerous arguments against the speech acts theory, Searle-Vanderveken’s illocutionary logic and Arne Merilai’s theory of two contexts. The counterarguments partly arise from premises different from those of the authors mentioned. The general conclusion is the following: the explanatory ambition of illocutionary logic, especially in the case of Merilai’s Pragmapoetics, has moved too far ahead of axiomatics. There are three possible solutions to this kind of situation: (1) illocutionary logic should limit its research area to the domain where the earlier axioms are inevitably valid (primarily, oral communication and a few written genres like conventional letter); (2.1) illocutionary logic should integrate new axioms; or (2.2) the existing ones should be specified.

The article polemicizes with Merilai’s viewpoints (and mostly with those of the speech acts theory) in the following fundamental questions: the origin of language, the role of the metaphor in language and the problem of referential and attributive use. It also refers to mistakes, misunderstandings, or controversies in Merilai’s book, includes discussions and presentation of competing viewpoints. The author presents 22 systematic counterarguments to the theory of speech acts and/or illocutionary logic and/or the theory of two contexts. At that, each of the counterarguments to the theory of speech acts is also a counterargument to illocutionary logic, to the theory of two contexts and to the efficiency of pragmapoetic analysis (ie analysis performed by means of the theory of two contexts). Each counterargument to illocutionary logic is also a counterargument to the theory of two contexts and to the efficiency of pragmapoetic analysis, and each counterargument to the theory of two contexts is also a counterargument to the efficiency of pragmapoetic analysis.

Conclusions. 1. The theory of speech acts is not a universally appropriate method of text analysis (for example, is not suited for the analysis of description, belles-lettres, and literary text in general, except conventional letters). 2. The theory of speech acts is not a universally credible method of text analysis (it does not address all the functional semantic categories, discourse/text with nonintensional and non-defining intension). 3. The principal difference from the methods of discourse or text analysis is that the speech acts theory analyzes the communication situation, not the discourse or the text. 4. The theory of speech acts is inevitably and sufficiently justified under the following conditions: if one speaks about (1) some (2) intensions (3) of the speaker.

Comment. These conclusions are fully valid in the case of the current axiomatics of the speech acts theory. Analogously to illocutionary logic, it is theoretically possible to construct other speech acts theories or, analogously to Merilai’s theory of two contexts, other theoretical applications or change the axiomatics of the existing ones in order to refute at least some of these conclusions.

Heino Arumäe
Minutes of the foreign affairs and national defence committee of the Riigivolikogu as a historical source. VI

According to the new constitution of the Republic of Estonia that took effect on 1 January 1938, the Estonian Parliament (Riigikogu) was to consist of two chambers – Riigivolikogu and Riiginõukogu. The elections of the Riigivolikogu were held on 24-25 February 1938, and its first session was on 21 April. On 5 May, the Riigivolikogu elected a nine-member foreign affairs and national defence committee that included eight members supporting the government (M. Hansen, A. Jürima, V.-G. Kadarik, A. Karineel, J. Nyman, O. Pukk, R. Riivik, L. Vahter) and the former foreign minister A. Piip as a representative of the opposition. When issues of greater significance were discussed, leading statesmen, including the opposition leader J. Tõnisson, participated at the meetings of the committee.

In March 1940, when the Soviet occupation of Estonia was impending, the minutes of the foreign affairs and national defence committee were sent to the Estonian embassy in Sweden. The last of the minutes were returned to Estonia in 2002, but the fate of some of them is still unknown.

The minutes differ in how detailed they are. In some cases, particularly after the conclusion of the mutual assistance pact between Estonia and the Soviet Union, the information shared at the meeting was considered so sensitive that the content of the discussion was not recorded in the minutes.

The most essential historical sources are the minutes that have recorded leading Estonian public officials’ and opposition representatives’ views on Estonia’s security. These explain the transition from the policy of collective security to the policy of neutrality and shed light on the circumstances that led to the conclusion of the Estonian-German non-aggression pact and the Estonian-Soviet mutual assistance pact.

From spring 1939, the committee’s assessment of international situations in Europe turned increasingly pessimistic, and on 13 April, Foreign Minister K. Selter stated that war could start in the nearest future. The government and the army general staff were of the opinion that the main threat to Estonia was the Soviet Union; the opposition, particularly J. Tõnisson, found that the main threat was Germany.

The minutes of the joint meeting of the foreign affairs and national defence committees of both houses of parliament from 8 June and 20 September 1938 reflect the Estonia’s considerations for abandoning the obligation to impose sanctions against the aggressor as stipulated by Article 16 of the League of Nations Pact and adopting the policy of neutrality.

On 25 May 1939, a heated discussion took place about concluding the Estonian-German non-aggression pact. Foreign Minister K. Selter substantiated the need for concluding the pact; J. Tõnisson and A. Piip, however, argued against it. J. Tõnisson warned against the threat coming from Germany and claimed that Estonia had nothing to fear from the Soviet Union. He also insisted on close cooperation with Britain and the Nordic countries.

The most tragic question for the parliament, the government, the military leadership, and the whole nation was the conclusion of the Estonian-Soviet mutual assistance pact. V. Molotov had proposed it to K. Selter on the evening of 24 September. On 26 September, the government decided to start negotiations about the conclusion of the pact, trying to achieve as favourable conditions as possible. The same issue was discussed on the afternoon of 26 September at the joint meeting of the foreign affairs and national defence committees of both houses of the parliament. A number of leading public officials and higher military officers were present; all the speakers at the meeting considered the conclusion of the pact inevitable. Later it was revealed that their considerations – refusal would mean war, while no help could be expected – were justified.

The ratification of the pact concluded on 28 September was discussed on 2 October. The participants expressed intriguing opinions about Estonia’s situation and future prospects and demanded the government’s resignation. The minutes of the following meetings (the last meeting was held on 10 April 1940) are of less interest for researchers.

It is obvious that the information presented to the committee by the foreign minister and some other officials was one-sided, and the committee was not informed about all the considerations of the government and about some foreign political measures taken by it.

Published 7 February 2006
Original in English

Contributed by Akadeemia © Akadeemia Eurozine


Published in

Share article


Subscribe to know what’s worth thinking about.