Abstracts for Akadeemia 6/2007

Eric A. Johnson, Anna Hermann
The last flight from Tallinn

Henry W. Antheil, Jr., a US Foreign Service Clerk, was one of nine people to die when the Finnish airplane Kaleva was shot down over the Gulf of Finland on June 14, 1940. The 27-year-old Antheil was killed while serving as a diplomatic courier between the US legations in Tallinn, Estonia, and Helsinki, Finland. To this day, no one knows exactly why two bombers of the Soviet Naval Air Force shot down an unarmed Finnish airliner travelling on a regularly scheduled flight. As the Nazis occupied Paris that same day, most of the world’s attention was focused away from the start of the Soviet naval and air blockade of Estonia. Three days later, the Red Army invaded and occupied Estonia.

Antheil’s career in the US Foreign Service began with his assignment to the brand new US Embassy in Moscow under Ambassador William C. Bullitt in March 1933. During his extended tour in Soviet Russia, Antheil worked as both a code clerk and a diplomatic courier. While traveling throughout the region, Antheil developed a particular fondness for Finland. In September 1939, Antheil managed to get himself transferred to the US Legation in Helsinki. Antheil served in Finland throughout the Winter War (1939-1940) and witnessed the first Soviet bombing of Helsinki on November 29, 1939. When the US Legation was evacuated to the town of Kaunianen, Antheil met and fell in love with a young Finnish woman and the two were soon engaged.

After his death, a recently declassified US State Department investigation revealed that Antheil had falsified assignment cables in order to stay together with his Finnish fiancée and that he had been providing information from Embassy Moscow reporting cables to his older brother George Antheil, a noted US pianist and composer. George Antheil was also an inventor and a writer who used the information his brother sent him to anticipate the shape of the next world war that loomed over the horizon. During America’s Red Scare of the 1950s, the FBI investigated several former employees of the US Embassy in Moscow including Antheil. In January 1956, the FBI concluded that State Department and “Bureau files contain no details concerning Antheil’s involvement in Soviet espionage activities” and that “no further investigation is recommended at this time.”

Thanks to the research on Antheil’s life begun by Estonians Ants Vist (Polarfilm) and Toivo Kallas (NGO Hirvepark) for the forthcoming documentary film The Story of the Kaleva, Antheil’s name was added to the memorial wall in the US State Department’s Diplomatic Lobby honoring the US Foreign Service employees killed overseas in the line of duty.

Jaak Valge
Konstantin Päts and the interests of the Soviet Union. I

The first part of the article discusses the relations of one of the most prominent Estonian politicians, Konstantin Päts, with the Soviet embassy and trade representation in the second half of the 1920s and the early 1930s. Relying on primary sources, these relations have previously been addressed by Oleg Ken and Andrei Rupasov, Zenonas Butkus and Magnus Ilmjärv. Ken and Rupasov have not argued that Päts’s close relations with the Soviet embassy and being its legal consultant somehow influenced Päts’s decisions; thus, from the viewpoint of Estonian-Soviet relations as whole, they do not consider the issue particularly essential. In the opinion of Zenonas Butkus, however, the Soviet Union succeeded in engaging Päts in protection of its interests and used him in order to carry out significant actions in its own interests, e.g. the repeated thwarting of the Estonian-Latvian customs union and imposition of t

Published 15 June 2007
Original in Estonian

Contributed by Akadeemia © Akadeemia Eurozine


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