Tief, Otto

​14 August 1889, Rapla – 5 March 1976, Ahja, Põlvamaa County

Head of the Estonian government formed in autumn 1944

Tief studied law at St Petersburg University, and graduated in 1921 from the University of Tartu. In 1916–1918 he took part in World War I and in 1918–1920 in the War of Independence, ending with the rank of Captain with the duties of battalion commander. From 1920 to 1927 Tief worked as an investigative magistrate, deputy public prosecutor and a councillor at the Department of Justice; between 1928 and 1940 he was a sworn advocate. He was active in politics as well: a member of the Riigikogu 1926–29 and 1932–34 (representing the Settlers’ Party), in 1926–27 Minister of Labour and Welfare Services, and in 1927 Minister of Justice. In 1940–41, Tief hid from the Soviet authorities, and during the German occupation in 1941–44 he worked as a legal consultant at a bank. Beginning in April 1944, Tief was a member of the National Committee of the Republic of Estonia. On 18 September 1944, Prime Minister Jüri Uluots, acting as President, asked him to form the government. In the new government, Tief was Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of the Interior and War Minister. After Estonia was occupied by the Red Army, most government members failed to escape to Sweden. Tief was arrested in October 1944. In July 1945 the military council of the Soviet Supreme Court sentenced him to 10 years of imprisonment, together with deprivation of rights for five years. After being freed he mostly lived in the Ukraine and Latvia, under constant KGB surveillance. He was prevented from settling in Estonia, but Tief visited his homeland illegally. The Uluots-Tief government is part of the continuity of the Republic of Estonia.

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