The coup attempt of the communists

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01. December 1924

On December 1, 1924, there was a communist organized attempt to overthrow the Estonian government in Tallinn. It had been prepared for a while and was most probably orchestrated from Moscow. The Soviet Union had used the same scenario (organized riot followed by an armed invasion) in the previous years to gain control over countries in the Caucasus, such as Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia, that had become independent for a short period of time.

The coup attempt came unexpectedly to the Estonian authorities, because just few weeks earlier, a process (the 149 process) had been held, where many leading communists had been sentenced to prison and hard labor. Despite that, the Bolsheviks that had eluded capture, managed to initiate a riot with the help of their associates from the Soviet Union. In the early morning of December 1, they had managed to gain temporary control over many strategic places, such as the Balti train station, Lasnamäe airfield and even the Toompea castle. They did, however, fail at many of their attempts, such as the attack on the Ministry of War, and on Tondi military school's barracks. In their attempts they managed to kill several soldiers, policemen and even the Minister for Transport, Karl Kark, in Balti railway station. The Estonian authorities soon recovered, thanks to the personal initiative of some of the soldiers and civilians (especially that of general Ernst Põdder) and managed quell the riot by the afternoon. As the coup had failed in Tallinn, the communists decided to cancel the planned actions in Tartu and other places in Estonia. Also the Soviet Union called off its military invasion that had been planned in case Tallinn had fallen.

After the coup had failed, communists were arrested all over Estonia. It became clear, that the independence needed more potent defence. Therefore, the Estonian Defence League was reorganized and for a while the political forces in Estonia found themselves unified. People's support for the communists drastically fell and their organization was completely marginalized in the following years. This is why the years following the riot of 1924 were quite peaceful, until the appearance the Vaps Movement (Union of Participants in the Estonian War of Independence ).


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