Estonian Home Guard

Estonian: Omakaitse
Security organisation during the German occupation (1941-1944)

In August 1941, the commander of the German occupying army unit Nord, Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb, decided to better secure the rear and gathered the troops made up of the Forest Brothers who participated in the Summer War. The new organisation was called the Estonian Home Guard, and it was subordinated to local civilian authorities (Estonian Self-administration). Territorially, the Home Guard was divided into 13 county units. Their leaders took orders from local police prefects.

The Home Guard was a voluntary organisation, with a minimum age for schoolchildren of 17 years of age, and for others 18. The maximum age limit was not determined. The membership was approximately 40,000.

The Home Guard had two kinds of tasks. The units in the barracks were under the command of the army. One of their tasks was to organise defence in the rear, including protecting railways and roads, and fighting Soviet paratroopers. The police units had to guarantee security, guard various objects, pursue escaped war prisoners etc.

The Home Guard remained a voluntary territorial defence organisation until October 1943, when the Home Guard was made compulsory for 17 to 45-year-old men, and from January 1944 for all men aged 17–60 not involved in the general mobilisation.

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