1919 trade union congress

​A trade union congress which took place during the War of Independence in Tallinn. It was taken over by Bolsheviks, expressed anti-Estonian views and was dismissed by the Estonian authorities

The first Estonian trade union congress took place in Tallinn on 30 August 1919 with about 400 delegates. The congress passed in an atmosphere of fierce political fighting between left-wing parties. Bolsheviks and the Socialist-Revolutionary Party (the so-called SRs or Esers) gained the upper hand.  The congress demanded signing a peace treaty with Soviet Russia and called on workers to ‘deny parliamentarianism’, establish ‘the workers’ dictatorship’ and follow the instructions of the Comintern in the future. This constituted a call for a coup d’état and siding with Soviet Russia (in the ongoing War of Independence).

The Estonian authorities took decisive steps. On 31 August the congress was disbanded, 104 persons were arrested. Two were set free, the rest were ordered to leave the country. On 2 September the 102 arrested delegates arrived on a train at Irboska station: 76 were sent across the border to Russia, where they all arrived safely. The other 25 were shot at Irboska by Estonian soldiers on armoured trains (one managed to escape).

The execution was carried out by martial law. This evoked much protest and the event was officially investigated. Who and whether someone from the government or the leadership of the People’s Force actually issued the execution order was never established.

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