By Daunis Auers (auth.)
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Additional info for Comparative Politics and Government of the Baltic States: Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in the 21st Century
This was not to be. Nevertheless, this is now one of the key historical disputes between Balts and Russians. The annual commemorations of these Waffen SS units lead Russians to accuse Balts of fascism while Balts, especially Latvians, remain determined to honour a generation of young men torn between two totalitarian systems. The decision to annex the Baltic states into the Soviet Union, rather than give them the nominal independence enjoyed by Soviet satellites such as Poland or Czechoslovakia, opened the three states up to largescale migration (something that the satellites did not experience).
It was forced underground after Voldemaras was dismissed from his post by President Antanas Smetona in 1929. The groups that emerged in Estonia and Latvia in the early 1930s proved to be far more influential. Latvia’s Firecross (Ugunskrusts) was formed in January 1932 and then renamed Thundercross (Pērkoņkrusts) after Firecross was banned in April 1933. It claimed a membership of 6,000 at its peak in 1933 (von Rauch, 1974, p. 153). However, Estonia had perhaps the most influential right wing group in the Estonian War of Independence Veterans’ League (Eesti Vabadussõjalaste Liit – popularly known as ‘Vaps’).
Estonia’s Intermovement was founded in March 1989 and, within weeks, was capable of organising a demonstration of 30–40,000 people against the January 1989 language laws that had made Estonian the official language of the republic. In contrast to the popular fronts, the Intermovements did not have political programmes. Rather, they opposed all liberalisation and favoured reactionary retrenchment. Thus the March 1989 founding congress of the Estonian Intermovement saw it railing against the recent Estonian legislation that had legalised Estonian as the official language of the republic and authorised the Estonian tricolour flag.
Comparative Politics and Government of the Baltic States: Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in the 21st Century by Daunis Auers (auth.)