Ajalooline Ajakiri. The Estonian Historical Journal 2020-02-09T14:54:19+02:00 Janet Laidla Open Journal Systems <p>Ajalooline Ajakiri on eelretsenseeritav akadeemiline ajakiri, mis ilmub Tartu Ülikooli ajaloo ja arheoloogia instituudi juures.<br> “Ajalooline Ajakiri. The Estonian Historical Journal” is peer-reviewed academic journal of the Institute of History and Archaeology, University of Tartu.</p> Erakirjad infoallikana Eesti ja Lääne vahel stalinismist sulani (1946–1959) [Abstract: Private letters between Estonia and the West as an information source from Stalinism to the start of the post-Stalin thaw, 1946–1959] 2020-02-09T14:54:17+02:00 Anu Raudsepp <p>Private letters between Estonia and the West as an information source from Stalinism to the start of the post-Stalin thaw, 1946–1959</p> <p>After the Second World War, the Iron Curtain isolated Estonia from the rest of the world for a long time, separating many Estonian families from one another. Up to 80,000 Estonians fled from Estonia to the West due to the Second World War. Information on Estonia and the West was distorted by way of propaganda and censorship until the end of the Soviet occupation. The situation was at its most complicated during the Stalinist years, when information and the movement of information were controlled particularly stringently.</p> <p>The only possible communication channel between Estonia and the West for private individuals during the era of totalitarianism was the exchange of letters, and even this was exceedingly restricted and controlled. The unique correspondence between Kusta Mannermaa (1888–1959) and his nephew Väino Veemees (1919–1987) and a friend named Jaakko Valkonen (1891–1968), who was a schoolteacher in Finland, inspired the writing of this article. Nearly 80 letters from the years 1946–1959 have been examined. The primary aim of this study is to identify how opportunities for relaying information between Estonia and the West were already sought and found during the post-war decades regardless of censorship, and what the important themes were. Thematically speaking, three main themes are focused on: the establishment, disruption and restoration of written contacts between Estonian war refugees and Estonia; Estonian expatriate literature in Kusta Mannermaa’s private letters, and his cultural contacts with the Estophile Finnish schoolteacher Jaakko Valkonen in 1946–1959.</p> <p>During the post-war years, expatriate newspapers, including especially the Eesti Teataja [Estonian Gazette] in Sweden (starting from 1944) and the Eesti Rada [Estonian Path] in Germany (starting from 1945), obtained information on the Estonian homeland primarily from newspapers in Soviet Estonia (Rahva Hääl [the People’s Voice], Sirp ja Vasar [the Sickle and Hammer], and others) and from radio broadcasts, in isolated cases also from released German prisoners of war and Estonians who had escaped from Estonia, and very rarely from private letters. Unlike previously held viewpoints, it can be assumed that contacts between Estonians in the Estonian homeland and expatriate Estonians were already altogether closer starting in the latter half of the 1940s. Kusta Mannermaa’s correspondence helps to bring more clarity to this question. First of all at the end of 1945, he revived his correspondence with the Estophile Finnish schoolteacher Jaakko Valkonen. Contacts between Finnish and Estonian private individuals had been prohibited since the summer of 1940 in connection with the annexation of Estonia by the Soviet Union. The occupying German authorities permitted the exchange of letters for only a short period of time in the spring of 1942. When communication by way of letters was allowed between Estonians in the Estonian homeland and expatriate Estonians in connection with the repatriation policy, Väino Veemees also wrote from Bonn to his relatives in Estonia. Namely, the greater portion of Estonians who had reached the West from Estonia (up to 40,000) were located in the occupation zones administered by the Western Allies in Germany after the war. More than 30,000 of them were living in the so-called displaced persons (DP) camps that had been established by the Allied military authorities or the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA).</p> <p>The postal system had ceased to operate in Germany at the end of the war until the American military administration allowed country-wide postal deliveries to resume there at the end of October, 1945.</p> <p>Prior to the mass deportation of 1949, the sending of letters from the Estonian homeland to the West was banned, and correspondence between Estonians in the Estonian homeland and expatriate Estonians was cut off. Letters from Finland reached Estonia at least until the end of 1949. Contact between Estonians living on either side of the Iron Curtain was interrupted for a lengthy period of time. According to numerous sources, correspondence already started being revived in 1954–1955. The turning point came after the 20th CPSU Congress in 1956, when Stalin’s personality cult was denounced.</p> <p>Correspondence with relatives or kindred spirits living in the West was emotionally necessary on the one hand, but politically dangerous on the other. Yet by using self-censorship, it was nevertheless possible to maintain correspondence even in the Stalinist period by concealing important information written between the lines. Family ties gave strength to the soul at the most difficult time for Estonia during the post-war Stalinist repressions, and later on as well. For this reason, regardless of the obstructions of the Soviet regime, people tried to maintain contact with relatives and friends living in the Estonian homeland and those in the West, and to know about one another’s fate.</p> <p>The importance of the written word in spiritual and intellectual selfpreservation has to be stressed. On a spiritual level, it is very difficult to live in isolation in the cultural space of Europe without knowing about cultural life in the rest of the world. Yet it was even more important for Estonians who remained in their homeland to know that the fostering of Estonian culture and language was continuing in the free world. Every fragment of information on culture from the free world, especially books, was important for intellectual and spiritual resistance and self-preservation. It was not allowed to send books to or out of Estonia in the latter half of the 1940s. Mainly literature, including Estonian expatriate literature and newer Finnish literature, as well as original Estonian literature and literatuure translated into Estonian published in those years in Soviet Estonia, was discussed in Mannermaa’s correspondence with the West in those years. It turns out from the current study that information on Estonian expatriate literature, for instance, already reached Estonia ten years earlier than has hitherto been believed, by 1947 at the latest. How widely this information was known in cultural circles, however, is another question.</p> <p>The exchange of books with the West was allowed from the mid-1950s. A number of sources refer to the circumstance that the period from the end of 1955 to 1958 was a better time in the postal connection between Estonia and the West compared to the subsequent years. The authorities had not yet managed to update the censorship regulations in the new liberalised conditions. Together with the revival of correspondence under liberalised conditions, the sending of books also began again for the first time in over ten years starting from the mid-1950s. Thus Mannermaa sent Estonian classics to his relatives abroad starting in 1956, for instance new editions of the works of Juhan Liiv and F. R. Kreutzwald. Jaakko Valkonen sent him Finnish literature, for instance books by Mika Waltari, which were immensely popular at that time. In 1958 at the latest, but most likely already a few years earlier, Estonian expatriate literature also reached Estonian cultural figures in the Estonian homeland. Thereat numerous sources allude to exceptionally more liberal conditions from 1955 to the start of 1958 compared to later times. In some cases, expatriate Estonians who had gained citizenship in foreign countries were even able to use this liberalisation of conditions in those years to achieve the release of their relatives from Estonia to the West.</p> 2019-09-09T15:19:19+03:00 Copyright (c) 2019 Ajalooline Ajakiri. The Estonian Historical Journal Nõukogude tsensuuri mehhanismid, stateegiad ja tabuteemad Eesti teatris [Abstract: Mechanisms, strategies and taboo topics of Soviet censorship in Estonian theatre] 2020-02-09T14:54:19+02:00 Anneli Saro <p>Abstract: Mechanisms, strategies and taboo topics of Soviet censorship in Estonian theatre</p> <p>Since theatre in the Soviet Union had to be first of all a propaganda and educational institution, the activity, repertoire and every single production of the theatre was subject to certain ideological and artistic prescriptions. Theatre artists were not subject to any official regulations regarding forbidden topics or ways of representation, thus the nature of censorship manifested itself to them in practice. Lists of forbidden authors and works greatly affected politics related to repertoire until the mid-1950s but much less afterwards. Research on censorship is hampered by the fact that it was predominately oral, based on phone or face-to-face conversations, and corresponding documentation has been systematically destroyed.</p> <p>This article is primarily based on memoirs and research conducted by people who were active in the Soviet theatre system. It systematises the empirical material into four parts: 1) mechanisms of censorship, 2) forms and strategies, 3) counter-strategies against censorship and 4) taboo topics. Despite the attempt to map theatre censorship in Estonia after the Second World War (1945–1990), most of the material concerns the period from the mid-1960s to the mid-1980s. This can be explained by the age of the respondents, but it can also be related to the fact that the Soviet control system became more liberal or ambiguous after the Khrushchev thaw encouraged theatre artists and officials to test the limits of freedom.</p> <p>The mechanisms of theatre censorship were multifaceted. Ideological correctness and the artistic maturity of repertoire and single productions were officially controlled by the Arts Administration (1940–1975) and afterwards by the Theatre Administration (1975–1990) under the supervision of the Ministry of Culture. Performing rights for new texts were allocated by the Main Administration for Literary and Publishing Affairs (Glavlit): texts by foreign authors were approved by the central office in Moscow, and texts by local authors were approved by local offices. The third censorship agency was the artistic committee that operated in every single theatre. Nevertheless, the most powerful institution was the Department of Culture of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Estonia, whose influence on artistic issues had to be kept confidential by the parties involved. On top of all this, there was the hidden power and omnipresent network of agents of the Committee for State Security (KGB). Some audience members also acted as self-appointed censors. The network and system of censorship made the control system almost total and permanent, also enforcing self-censorship.</p> <p>Forms of censorship can be divided into preventive and punitive censorship, and strategies into direct and indirect censorship. Soviet censorship institutions mostly applied preventive censorship to plays or parts of productions, but hardly any production was cancelled before its premiere because that would have had undesirable financial consequences. Punitive censorship after the premiere was meant for correcting mistakes when the political climate changed or if a censor had been too reckless/lenient/clever, or if actors/audiences had started emphasising implicit meanings. Preventive censorship was predominantly direct and punitive censorship indirect (compelling directors to change mise en scènes or prescribing the number of performances). Indirect censorship can be characterised by ambiguity and allusions. A distinction can be made between preventive and punitive censorship in the context of single productions, but when forbidden authors, works or topics were involved, these two forms often merged.</p> <p>The plurality of censorship institutions or mechanisms, and shared responsibility led to a playful situation where parties on both sides of the front line were constantly changing, enabling theatre artists to use different counter-strategies against censorship. Two main battlefields were the mass media and meetings of the artistic committees, where new productions were introduced. The most common counter-strategies were the empowerment of productions and directors with opinions from experts and public figures (used also as a tool of censorship), providing ideologically correct interpretations of productions, overstated/insincere self-criticism on the part of theatre artists, concealing dangerous information (names of authors, original titles of texts, etc.), establishing relationships based on mutual trust with representatives of censorship institutions for greater artistic freedom, applying for help from central institutions of the Soviet Union against local authorities, and delating on censors. At the same time, a censor could fight for freedom of expression or a critic could work ambivalently as support or protection.</p> <p>In addition to forbidden authors whose biography, world view or works were unacceptable to Soviet authorities, there was an implicit list of dangerous topics: criticism of the Soviet Union as a state and a representative of the socialist way of life, positive representations of capitalist countries and their lifestyles, national independence and symbols of the independent Republic of Estonia (incl. blue-black-white colour combinations), idealisation of the past and the bourgeoisie, derogation of the Russian language and nation, violence and harassment by Soviet authorities, pessimism and lack of positive character, religious propaganda, sexuality and intimacy. When comparing the list of forbidden topics with analogous ones in other countries, for example in the United Kingdom where censorship was abolished in 1968, it appears that at a general level the topics are quite similar, but priorities are reversed: Western censorship was dealing with moral issues while its Eastern counterpart was engaged with political issues.</p> <p>It can be concluded that all censorship systems are somehow similar, embracing both the areas of restrictions and the areas of freedom and role play, providing individuals on both sides of the front line with opportunities to interpret and embody their roles according their world view and ethics. Censorship of arts is still an issue nowadays, even when it is hidden or neglected.</p> 2019-09-09T15:17:50+03:00 Copyright (c) 2019 Ajalooline Ajakiri. The Estonian Historical Journal “Tugev Balti natsionalistlik keskus” ning Nõukogude välispropaganda teel sõjast rahuaega ja külma sõtta [Abstract: “The strong Baltic nationalistic centre” and Soviet foreign propaganda: from war to peace and toward the Cold War] 2020-02-09T14:54:15+02:00 Kaarel Piirimäe <p>Abstract: “The strong Baltic nationalistic centre” and Soviet foreign propaganda: from war to peace and toward the Cold War</p> <p>This special issue focuses on censorship, but it is difficult to treat censorship without also considering propaganda. This article discusses both censorship and foreign propaganda as complementary tools in the Soviet Union’s arsenal for manipulating public opinion in foreign countries. The purpose of such action was to shape the behaviour of those states to further Soviet interests. The article focuses on the use of propaganda and censorship in Soviet efforts to settle the “Baltic question”– the question of the future of the Baltic countries – in the 1940s. This was the time when the wartime alliance was crumbling and giving way to a cold-war confrontation.</p> <p>The article is based on Russian archival sources. The Molotov collection (F. 82), materials of the department of propaganda and agitation of the Central Committee (CC) of the CPSU (F. 17, opis 125), and of the CC department of international information (F. 17, opis 128) are stored in the Russian State Archive of Socio-political History (RGASPI). The collection of the Soviet Information Bureau (F. R8581) is located at the State Archive of the Russian Federation (GARF). The article also draws on previous research on Soviet propaganda, such as Vladimir Pechatnov’s and Wolfram Eggeling’s studies on the work of the Soviet Information Bureau (SIB) and on discussions in the Soviet propaganda apparatus in the early postwar years. However, this article digs somewhat deeper and alongside general developments, also looks at a particular case – the Baltic problem in the Soviet contest with the West for winning hearts and minds. It analyses Soviet policies without attempting to uncover and reconstruct all the twists and turns of the decision-making processes in Moscow. The archival material is insufficient for the latter task. Nevertheless, a look into the making of Soviet propaganda, the techniques and practices utilised to bring Soviet influence to bear on an important foreign-policy issue (the Baltic problem), is interesting for scholars working not only on propaganda and censorship but also on the history of the Soviet Union and Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.</p> <p>The Baltic question was related, among other things, to the problem of repatriating people from the territories of the Soviet Union who had been displaced during the Second World War and were located in Western Europe at the war’s end. Moscow claimed that all these displaced persons (DPs) were Soviet citizens. This article helps correct the view, expressed for example by the Finnish scholar Simo Mikkonen, that the Soviet propaganda campaign to attract the remaining 247,000 recalcitrants back home started after a UN decision of 1951 that condemned repatriation by force. This article clearly shows that propaganda policies aimed at the DPs were in place almost immediately after the war, resting on the war-time experience of conducting propaganda aimed at national minorities in foreign countries. However, Mikkonen is right to point out that, in general, repatriation after the Second World War was a success, as approximately five million people in total returned to the USSR. The Baltic refugees were a notable exception in this regard.</p> <p>Research shows that despite displays of obligatory optimism, Soviet propagandists could critically evaluate the situation and the effectiveness of Soviet agitation. They understood that war-time successes were the result of the coincidence of a number of favourable factors: victories of the Red Army, Allied censorship and propaganda, the penetration by Soviet agents of the British propaganda apparatus, etc. They knew that the British media was extensively controlled and served as a virtual extension of Soviet censorship and propaganda. Nevertheless, the Soviets were wrong to assume that in the West, the free press was nothing but an empty slogan. Moscow was also wrong to expect that the Western media, which had worked in the Soviet interest during the war, could as easily be turned against the Soviet Union as it had been directed to support the USSR by political will. In actual fact, the Soviet Union started receiving negative press primarily because earlier checks on journalistic freedom were lifted.</p> <p>The Soviet Union may have been a formidable propaganda state internally, but in foreign propaganda it was an apprentice. Soviet propagandists felt inferior compared to their Western counterparts, and rightly so. In October of 1945, an official of the SIB noted jealously that the Foreign Department of the British Information Ministry had two thousand clerks and there were four hundred British propagandists in the United States alone. Another Soviet official in the London embassy noted in February of 1947 that they had so few staff that he was working under constant nervous strain.</p> <p>Soviet propagandists were aware of the problems but could not effect fundamental changes because of the nature of the Stalinist regime. The issue of foreign journalists working in Moscow was a case in point. The correspondents were handicapped in their work by extremely strict censorship. They could report mostly only those things that also appeared in Soviet newspapers, which was hardly interesting for their readers in the West. There had been suggestions that some restrictions should be lifted so that they could do more useful work and tell more interesting and attractive stories about the Soviet Union. Eventually, during Stalin’s first postwar vacation in the autumn of 1945, Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov took the initiative and tried to ease the life of the press corps, but this only served to provoke the ire of Stalin who proceeded to penalise Molotov in due course. This showed that the system could not be changed as long as the extremely suspicious vozhd remained at the helm. Not only did correspondents continue to send unexciting content to newspapers abroad (which often failed to publish them), the form and style of Soviet articles, photos and films were increasingly unattractive for foreign audiences. Such propaganda could appeal only to those who were already “believers”. It could hardly convert.</p> <p>Moscow considered the activities of Baltic refugees in the West and the publicity regarding the Baltic problem a serious threat to the stability of the Soviet position in the newly occupied Baltic countries. Already during the war, but even more vigorously after the war, the Soviet propaganda apparatus realised the importance of tuning and adapting its propaganda messages for audiences among the Baltic diaspora. The Soviet bureaucracy expanded its cadres to enable it to tackle the Baltic “threat”. Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian officials were dispatched to the central organs in Moscow and to Soviet embassies abroad to provide the necessary language skills and qualifications for dealing with Baltic propaganda and working with the diaspora.</p> <p>The policy was to repatriate as many Balts as possible, but it was soon clear that repatriation along with the complementary propaganda effort was a failure. The next step was to start discrediting leaders of the Baltic diaspora and to isolate them from the “refugee masses”. This effort also failed. The “anti-Soviet hotbed” of “intrigues and espionage” – the words of the Estonian party boss Nikolai Karotamm – continued to operate in Sweden, the United States and elsewhere until the end of the Cold War. All this time, the diaspora engaged in anti-Communist propaganda and collaborated with Western propaganda and media organisations, such as the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe and even Vatican Radio. In the 1980s and 1990s, the diaspora was instrumental in assisting Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to regain their independence from the collapsing Soviet Union. They also helped their native countries to “return to Europe” – that is to join Western structures such as the European Union and NATO. Therefore, the inability to deal with the Baltic problem effectively in the 1940s caused major concerns for the Soviet Union throughout the Cold War and contributed to its eventual demise.</p> 2019-09-10T00:00:00+03:00 Copyright (c) 2019 Tartu Ülikooli Kirjastus “Tsensuuri töö on väga vastutusrikas.” Dokumentaalne pilguheit Eesti NSV Glavliti tegevusele aastatel 1941–1948 [Abstract: “The work of censorship carries a great deal of responsibility”. A documentary glimpse of the activity of the Estonian SSR Glavlit] 2020-02-09T14:54:14+02:00 Tõnu Tannberg <p>Abstract: “The work of censorship carries a great deal of responsibility”. A documentary glimpse of the activity of them Estonian SSR Glavlit in 1941–1948"</p> <p>Censorship was one of the important social control mechanisms of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. The Main Administration for Literary and Publishing Affairs, or Glavlit (in Russian Glavnoe upravlenie po delam literaturȳ i izdatel’stv), was established under the jurisdiction of the People’s Commissariat for Education on 6 June 1922 by decree of the Russian SFSR Council of People’s Commissars. Its task was to combat the ideological opponents of the Soviet regime. The censorship of essentially all printed works published in the Soviet Union was gradually placed under Glavlit’s jurisdiction. By the end of the 1930s, Glavlit was transferred to the jurisdiction of the USSR Council of People’s Commissars (starting in 1946 the Council of Ministers), but substantially, censorship officials were placed under the direction of subordinate institutions and officials of the Communist Party, and of the state security organs. The same kind of institutions in the Soviet republics and oblasts were subordinated to the central Glavlit of the USSR. The Glavlit of the Estonian SSR was established by decree of the Estonian SSR Council of People’s Commissars on 23 October 1940.</p> <p>The task of Glavlit was to prevent the disclosure in print and in the media of Soviet military, state and economic secrets with the overall objective of banning the publication of all manner of ideas and information that was unacceptable to the regime. It was also to prevent such ideas and information from reaching libraries. To this end, both pre-publication censorship (the review of control copies of printed works before their publication) and post-publication censorship (review of published printed works, the physical destruction or obstruction of access to works that have proven to be unsuitable) were implemented. In order to carry out censorship, lists of banned literature were drawn up in cooperation with the state security organs, along with enumerations of information that was forbidden to publish in print. These formed the basis for the everyday work of Glavlit’s censors, in other words commissioners. Not a single printed work or media publication could be published during the Soviet era without Glavlit’s permission (departmental publishing houses practiced self-censorship). In addition to scrutinising printed works, the monitoring of art exhibitions, theatre productions and concert repertoires, the review of cinema newsreels, and provision of guidelines for publishing houses and libraries also fell within Glavlit’s jurisdiction. Censors also read mail sent by post and checked the content of parcels (first and foremost the exchange of postal parcels with foreign countries).</p> <p>In the latter half of the 1980s, when Mikhail Gorbachev rose to lead the Soviet Union, Glavlit’s control functions in society gradually started receding. State censorship was done away with in the Soviet Union on 12 June 1990, depriving the former censorship office of its substantial functions. Glavlit was disbanded in Estonia on 1 October 1990.</p> <p>The Estonian SSR Glavlit activity overview for the years 1940–1948 is published below. This is a report dated 20 October 1948 from Leonida Päll, the head of the Estonian SSR Glavlit (in office in 1946–1950), to Nikolai Karotamm, the Estonian SSR party boss of that time. This document provides a brief departmental insight into the initial years of the activity of the Estonian SSR Glavlit. It outlines the censorship agency’s main fields of activity, highlights the key figures of that time, and describes the agency’s concrete achievements, including recording the more important works and authors that had been caught between the gearwheels of censorship.</p> 2019-09-10T00:00:00+03:00 Copyright (c) 2019 Tartu Ülikooli Kirjastus