Anvelt, Jaan

​18 April 1884 Võisiku parish, Viljandimaa – 11 December 1937 Soviet Union
Leader of the Estonian communists in the 1920s and 1930s, initiator of the 1924 December uprising

Anvelt studied at Tartu Teachers’ College, and worked 1905-1907 in Toila as a teacher. In 1907 he began his law studies at St Petersburg University and joined the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party [Российская социал-демократическая рабочая партия, РСДРП]. For organising a student strike he was expelled from university in 1911; he graduated as an external student next year. In 1912 he started publishing the workers’ paper Kiir in Narva, and the paper’s newsroom became the centre of the Estonian organisations of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party. In 1917 his political career advanced rapidly: he was elected a delegate in the Provisional Province Assembly. After the October Revolution became the chairman of the Estonian Soviet Executive Committee, helping to establish Bolshevist power. During the German occupation he left for Russia; returning following the Red Army troops who invaded Estonia in November 1918. He was appointed chairman of the Council of the Workers’ Commune of Estonia in the puppet state supported by Soviet Russia. After the Commune was abolished in 1919, he worked in St Petersburg as a commissar in the Red Army; in 1921 he arrived in Estonia for illegal party work. After Viktor Kingissepp was executed in 1922, Anvelt became the highest party functionary. He was the main organiser and general leader on the Estonian side of the attempted coup d’état of 1 December 1924. After the coup failed, he left Estonia in 1925, and worked in the Foreign Bureau of the Estonian CP Central Committee in the Soviet Union, then in the Executive Committee of the Comintern in Moscow as the representative of the Estonian CP; later he was a member of the international control commission of the Comintern and its principal secretary. He was executed in 1937 during the mass repression in the Soviet Union.

Anvelt was a confirmed communist who dedicated his life to fighting for communism and against the Republic of Estonia. His name was restored to good repute after the 20th congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1956; people killed in the Stalinist repressions had previously been seen as public enemies.

Details about this article