Mäe, Hjalmar

​24 October 1901 Kuivajõe parish, Tuhala, Harju county – 10 April 1978 Graz, Austria

Leading figure in the radical right-wing League of Veterans of the Estonian War of Independence in the early 1930s and head of the Estonian administration during the German occupation from 1941 to 1944

Mäe worked as a teacher in independent Estonia. In 1927 he gained a PhD in physics from the University of Innsbruck and a second PhD in political science from the University of Graz in 1930. In the early 1930s he became involved in Estonian politics, joining the radical right-wing League of Veterans of the Estonian War of Independence. Mäe became the head of the movement’s propaganda office. On 12 March 1934, when Konstantin Päts declared a state of emergency and banned the League, Mäe was arrested along with other leaders of the movement, but was soon released. In December 1935 Mäe was arrested again for plotting to overthrow the government by force and was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment. He was released from prison in 1938 by a presidential pardon and established his own import business, which often took him to Berlin.

After the Soviet regime was established in Estonia, Mäe managed to leave for Germany in the course of another repatriation in 1941. In Berlin he established contact with influential figures in the Third Reich. On 15 September 1941 the German military command in Estonia appointed him as the head of the Estonian administration and on 5 December 1941 he officially became head (First Director) of the Estonian Self-Administration (Landeseigenes Verwaltung) under the German Civilian Administration in the newly formed Reichskommissariat Ostland. In this capacity, Mäe had an exaggerated sense of self-importance, and was highly unpopular with ordinary Estonians who viewed him as nothing more than an opportunist. The Self-Administration was evacuated from Estonia on 18 September 1944 together with the German military forces and was finally dissolved in January 1945.

After the war, Mäe was a prisoner in the American zone in Germany until 1947. Subsequently he moved to Austria where he worked as a journalist and official in regional government until 1970. He died in 1977 in Graz.

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