Holocaust in Estonia

Applying the German anti-Jewish policy during World War II in occupied Estonia was divided into three separate parts. The first part involved the actions, led by the German Security Police (Jupo) and SD, to arrest and execute local Jews in Estonia. The second part involved camps in the occupied territory, where Jews were brought from other parts of Europe, i.e. labour and educational camps and, the third part involved the Vaivara complex of concentration camps.

About 4400 Jews lived in Estonia before World War II. In June 1941, the Soviet authorities deported about 400 Jews to Russia. After the war broke out between Germany and the Soviet Union, about 3000 Jews left Estonia with the Red Army. The 1000 Jews who remained in Estonia were arrested by the German occupying powers at the end of 1941. In most cases, the Estonian policemen conducted formal investigations designed to show that the persecution was legal. By early 1942, the Jews had all been secretly murdered and the Wannsee Conference declared Estonia to be free of Jews. Only a few Estonian Jews survived the German occupation.

During the war, the German authorities also brought Jews to Estonia from other occupied countries. The places controlled by the Security Police and SD (labour and educational camps) received Jews in two stages. In the first stage, in September 1942, about 1000 mainly Czech Jews were brought to the Jägala camp near Tallinn from Terezín (Theresienstadt) in Czechoslovakia and, in the second stage, about 1000 Jews were brought from Frankfurt am Main and Berlin. 400-500 younger Jews from Germany were sent to the camp. The rest, about 1600 people, were executed on the same day at Kalevi-Liiva. With the participation of Estonian staff, a total of 1800-2000 people were executed at Kalevi-Liiva, including a few dozen Estonian Gypsies. Of the approximately 2000 Jews brought to Estonia in September 1942, 74 are known to have survived the war.

In June 1944, about 300 Jews from the Drancy concentration camp in France arrived in Tallinn; 34 survivors were evacuated in September of the same year to the Stutthof concentration camp.
The SS-controlled Vaivara concentration camp complex existed from August 1943 until September 1944. Within one year, about 10,000 Jews were brought there, mainly from Lithuanian ghettoes. One third perished due to harsh living conditions in Estonia or became unable to work and were sent to other camps, where they were killed. Another third were evacuated in August 1944 to the Stutthof concentration camp. The rest were victims of mass murders when the camps were eliminated; the most notorious of these murders was the tragedy on 19 September at the Klooga camp

During the whole occupation period, approximately 12,500 Jews were brought to Estonia from other countries. When the German forces left, about 100 Jews had survived; an estimated 7500-7800 died or were killed here, and about 4600 prisoners were transported to other camps in Estonia, where many died before the war ended.

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