The Estonian Flag.

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.[1]

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.[2] It grew into a strong popular cultural movement in the second half of the 19th century through the increasing access to education.[3]

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.[4] Politically, however, Jakobson was misunderstood and misrepresented, and found little support among peasantry.[5]

Another prominent figure in Estonian national history is the Estonian poet 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.[6] On November 28, 1917, the Estonian Provincial Assembly declared Estonia an independent country.[6]

This independence was recognized by the Russian government headed by Lenin, as well as the Central Powers and other states in 1920.[7] 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 Entente intervention, and local banditism (Estonian Red Riflemen of Anwelt).[6] On February 24, 1918, the Republic of Estonia was proclaimed and secured its independence in the following Estonian War of Independence of 1918-1920.

World War II

The Republic of Estonia was occupied in June 1940 by the Soviet Union, introducing communist rule of law and cultural norms. 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.[8]

The Estonian partisans was a military group that took up arms first against the Nazis and later against the Soviets. The Estonian partisans were not only ethnic Estonians, but also Ingrians, Latvians, Russians, and Jews.[9] 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.[10]

Estonian partisans maintains a prominent and symbolic role in Estonian history and the quest for Estonian independence.[11] At the same time it was deemed an insurgent or terrorist group by Soviet historiography.[11]

Singing Revolution

Main article: Singing Revolution

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

Currently, parties identifying strictly as nationalist are the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) 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.[citation needed]

After the 2019 Estonian parliamentary election the ethnic-nationalist party EKRE entered into a coalition government for the first time.

See also


  1. ^ Raun, Toivo U. (January 2003). "Nineteenth and early twentieth century Estonian nationalism revisited". Nations and Nationalism. Wiley. 9 (1): 129–147. doi:10.1111/1469-8219.00078.
  2. ^ 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.
  3. ^ Miljan, Toivo (2004). Historical Dictionary of Estonia. Scarecrow Press. p. 178. ISBN 9780810865716.
  4. ^ Jakobson, Carl Robert[permanent dead link]
  5. ^ Bonne Luck Aulik, "Estonia's emerging nationalism and cultural independence", Drew University, 1994, p. 164
  6. ^ a b c Estonia – MSN Encarta[permanent dead link]
  7. ^ Treaty of Brest-Litovsk -
  8. ^ Estonia -
  9. ^ Estonian partisans[permanent dead link]
  10. ^ The Estonian partisans - -[permanent dead link]
  11. ^ a b Wilson, Andrew. Estonian Nationalism in the 1990s: A Minority Faith. Cambridge University Press. London: 1997. 51.

Further reading