Press Releases
Search in Press Releases:
printer friendly document

The President of the Republic on the Crimes of Totalitarianism on June 14, 2001

Estonia remembers and recalls all those citizens of the Republic of Estonia and foreign countries who lost their lives, freedom, families or property during the communist and nazi occupation in Estonia. The recent commemoration services and ceremonies where the Broken Cornflower badge was distributed to more than 10,000 living victims of totalitarian regimes, on which the public widely participated, proved that the people of Estonia can forgive but are not prepared to forget crimes against humanity. To forget about crimes against humanity would mean to open the door to new crimes, would mean that crimes against humanity can recur in Europe.

Therefore, I welcome the wish of the Estonian parliament to draw up a statement that would pronounce the communist regime, which had so many victims, to be equally criminal with the Nazi regime. In World War II, which broke out of the Hitler-Stalin pact, and in the resistance movement, the Republic of Estonia lost one tenth of her citizens. For a people of one million, the execution of the country’s political leaders, officers, local government officials and intellectuals, the deportation of their families and the confiscation of their property by the occupying powers meant a criminal method for the elimination of the nation as a whole. For this, the NSDAP that was pronounced criminal on the Nuremberg trial with its leadership and power structures, and the Communist (bolshevist) Party of All Soviet Union – the Communist Party of the Soviet Union with their political bureau and its subordinate power structures – the People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs (NKVD), the People’s Commissariat of State Security (NKGB), and the State Security Committee (KGB) – and the “troikas” and innumerable other repressive institutions, whom the totalitarian power entitled to pronounce death sentences and other punishments without trial, but which so far have not been pronounced criminal, bear equal responsibility. These organisations are criminal, and the genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes they have perpetrated shall not lapse. Estonian law rests on international law and does not consider membership in a criminal organisation to be a penal offence. Only individuals, whom an independent court has found to have participated in killing people, deportation of families, or acquisition of the property remaining in Estonia, shall be held responsible. Pronouncing totalitarian regimes to be criminal, notwithstanding whether they have called themselves leftist or rightist, proceeds from the historical experience of Estonians, Latvians, and Lithuanians, and I have no doubt that our historical experience is a valuable addition to the legal system of the European Union and self-realisation of the democratic world.

Lennart Meri


back | archive of press releases | main page

© 2001 Office of the President of the Republic
Phone: +372 631 6202 | Fax: +372 631 6250 |
Offizielle Nachrichten Ametlikud teated Press releases Visits abroad