Salvation Committee

​Extraordinary committee who organised the declaration of the Republic of Estonia in 1918

On 18 February 1918 the Germans began an onslaught on the eastern front of World War I; the Soviet troops retreated, also from Estonia. On 19 February the Council of Elders (permanent governing body operating between the sessions of the Provincial Assembly) of the Estonian Provincial Assembly decided to form a three-member Salvation Committee. It had plenipotentiary power and faced the task of declaring the independent Republic of Estonia. The Salvation Committee elected Konstantin Päts, Jüri Vilms and Konstantin Konik as members. Due to the Bolshevist dictatorship and a wave of reprisals against the nationalists, the committee was initially forced to operate underground.

On 21 February the Salvation Committee tried unsuccessfully to get to Haapsalu in order to publicly read out the manifesto of independence under the protection of the nationally-minded First Estonian regiment. The attempt to travel to Tartu next day failed as well. The Salvation Committee did not get to Pärnu either, although the independence manifesto was nevertheless read out there on 23 February. On 24 February, when the Germans were approaching and the Bolsheviks were retreating from Tallinn, the Committee emerged from underground and seized power. The same evening the Salvation Committee appointed the Estonian Provisional Government and handed over their mandates.

Details about this article