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Behind the Iron Curtain

Soviet Estonia in the Era of the Cold War


Edited By Tõnu Tannberg

During the Cold War, Estonia lay behind the Iron Curtain. Even in the grip of Soviet rule, the country underwent many important developments. This volume brings together fourteen papers on the political, economic, and cultural history of Estonia during the Cold War. Their topics range from international relations and the border regime to tourism and the media. The papers are based on extensive archival research and make use of many previously unexamined documents. The resulting book offers new insights into the history of Estonia and of the Cold War on a local level.
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The “Estonian Affair” in the Context of Late-Stalinist Party Purges


← 86 | 87 →Meelis Saueauk

Abstract: This article explores Party purges that took place in the postwar years in the Estonian SSR in comparison to similar actions in the Soviet Union (the “Leningrad Affair”) and in Eastern Bloc satellites (including the “Kostov Affair” in Bulgaria and the “Rajk Affair” in Hungary) and highlights the differences as well as commonalities in how repressions were carried out.

In the early years of the Cold War, the Soviet Union made concerted efforts to Sovietize the territories it had incorporated (the Baltic states, western Ukraine, and western Belorussia), as well as the countries of Eastern Europe (Poland, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria). Methods of terror were used abundantly in this violent, Stalinist phase—mass repressions and purges of the Party, including the staging of show trials to intimidate the cadres that were in power and to expose “traitors” among them.1 The replacement of the leading cadre of the Estonian SSR that was carried out at the Eighth Plenum, or March Plenum, of the Estonian Communist (bolshevik) Party Central Committee (hereinafter abbreviated as the EC(b)P CC) in 1950 is the best-known episode of the postwar purge, known as the “Estonian Affair,” carried out in the Party organization in the Estonian SSR. The “Estonian Affair” has been associated with similar campaigns for purging the Party in the Soviet Union (such as the “Leningrad Affair”) and in its Eastern European satellites (for instance, the “Kostov Affair” in Bulgaria and ← 87...

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