Voluntary military organisation in the Republic of Estonia.
In autumn 1917 a volunteer police force was organised in various parts of Estonia, helping to maintain public order. After the 1917 October Revolution in Russia the Bolsheviks in Estonia disbanded the volunteer organisation, but during the German occupation in 1918 the Estonian nationalists succeeded in founding the illegal Defence League to support the Estonian independence movement. During the War of Independence it was obligatory for all men aged 16-60 to belong to the Defence League, and the organisation became the main agent to secure internal order in the state and a personnel reserve. After the war the organisation quietly disappeared, but was born again for the third time when the communists attempted a coup d’état on 1 December 1924. From that time onwards the Defence League, together with the Defence Forces, became a significant part of national defence. Its aim was to gather citizens, train, arm and equip them, and keep the internal security of the state. The membership of the League increased to 42 000, sections of the League operated in all counties and in four of the biggest towns. Subsidiary organisations included the Women’s Home Guard, Young Eagles and Girl Guides. The Defence League was closed down on 27 June 1940 after Estonia was occupied by the Soviet Union, and re-established in 1990. Its current membership is over 10 000; together with Women’s Home Guard, Young Eagles and Girl Guides, the organisation has 19 000 members.
- Official website of the Defence League (English section) http://www.kaitseliit.ee/index.php?op=body&cat_id=288
Created: 04.01.2010 17:30
Modified: 02.10.2012 13:37