Larka, Andres

5 March 1879 Pilistvere, Viljandi county – 8 January 1943 Kirov oblast, USSR

Estonian soldier, leader of the radical right-wing Estonian League of Veterans of the Estonian War of Independence in the early 1930s

After completing school in Põltsamaa, Larka joined the Tsarist army and graduated from the military academy in Vilnius in 1902. He made a career serving as an officer, rising to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel during the First World War. After the Bolshevik seizure of power in Russia in 1917, he returned to Estonia, where the Estonian Provisional Government named him Minister of War on 24 February 1918 and promoted him to the rank of Major-General.

During the Estonian War of Independence, Larka was demoted to Deputy Minister of War in a government reshuffle. He continued in this position until he was forced to retire from the service in 1924 due to tuberculosis. At the first congress of the Central League of Veterans of the Estonian War of Independence in 1930, Larka was elected chairman of the organization. Larka’s deputy, Artur Sirk, transformed the Vaps movement into a hugely popular political force which succeeded in winning a national referendum on amending the constitution to introduce a strong presidency in 1933. Larka was nominated as their candidate for president (State Elder). However, on 12 March 1934, ahead of the scheduled presidential election, the acting State Elder Konstantin Päts declared a general state of emergency and had the leaders of the Veterans arrested. Larka was briefly arrested as well.

In December 1935 Larka and other Veteran leaders were arrested again, this time for conspiring to overthrow the government. Larka received a 15-year prison sentence but was pardoned by Päts in 1937. He lived a quiet life on his farm until the Soviet occupation of Estonia in 1940; he was arrested and deported to the USSR in July 1940. He died in a prison camp in Kirov oblast.​

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