Harry W. Mazal OBE answers:
Thank you for your recent enquiry.
I am one of the volunteers in the Holocaust History Project that replies to questions from our readers. It is possible that you will receive other responses from my colleagues.
Approximately 4,500 Jews lived in Estonia before the beginning of World War II, half of them in Tallin, the capital of the country. Estonia was absorbed by the Soviet Union in 1940 as a result of the Nazi-Soviet agreement that also partitioned Poland. Ten days before the German invasion of the Soviet Union approximately ten thousand Estonians, including some 500 Jews, were deported to Siberia. Most of the remaining Jews fled their country ahead of the Nazi invasion, mainly to Holland, Sweden and Finland. Approximately 1,000 Jews remained in Estonia under German rule.
Hundreds of Jewish youths sixteen and over and men were arrested and murdered at the beginning of the Nazi occupation. The remaining men, women and children were sent to perform forced labor and were eventually incarcerated at the Hark labor camp near Tallin. Soon after, by January 1942, the rest of the Jews including women and children were executed by the Einsatzgruppen and the Estonian Omakaitse. According the the Einsatzgruppen report, 936 Jews had been killed by that date.
In late 1942 tens of thousands of Jews were sent to Estonia from other territories under Nazi rule. They were placed in twenty labor camps and forced to work in mining, ditch-digging, and building military fortifications.
The main camp in Estonia was Vaivara, commanded by Hans Aumeier (sentenced and executed in 1947). About 20,000 Jewish prisoners, mainly from Vilna and Kaunas (Kovno), passed through its gates to labor camps at Klooga, Lagedi, Ereda, and others.
In 1942 and early 1943 about 3,000 Jews, mainly from Germany, were sent to the extermination camp in Kalevi Liiva
Regrettably these are the only names that appear in the books
in my library. There is a book, however, that lists all of them,
but which is unfortunately not in my collection:
The Jewish Camps in Estonia, 1942-1944
I hope that this information will be useful. Thank you again for your visit to our web site.
Harry W. Mazal OBE
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Last modified: September 24, 2000