The establishment of the Republic of Estonia, secured by a 1920 treaty with Russia, seemed to cap the Estonians’ long struggle to manage their own affairs. For the next two decades, it appeared as if they had achieved just that as the country marched into the modern age with all its luxuries.
As Europe disintegrated into armed conflict in 1939, Estonia was occupied by the Soviets, then the Nazis, then the Soviets again. Savagery and brutality spread across the land. Some Estonians were deported to Siberia, others were interned and massacred by Hitler’s forces. Thousands piled into boats to flee, while resistance fighters called Forest Brothers hid in the woods.
In 1991, amidst chaos in Moscow and a resurgence in national pride epitomized by events like the Singing Revolution and the Baltic Way, Estonia reaffirmed its independence and set out on a new course: transforming itself into the one of the freest and most innovative countries in the world.