- Following the pact between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union in August 1939, the Baltic states of Estonia, Finland, Latvia, and Lithuania became part of the Soviet sphere of influence in the region. In August 1940, Estonia was annexed as a Soviet republic. Following its invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, Estonia was occupied by the Germans. During its three years under Nazi rule, Estonia was granted self-rule but again became a Soviet republic following the Red Army’s return in 1944. On the eve of World War II, there were approximately 4,500 Jews in Estonia, which constituted about 0.4 percent of the population. Despite their small numbers, Jews were the objects of anti-Semitic attacks from the Omakaitse, the anti-Soviet nationalist political movement.During July 1941, the Germans occupied Estonia and in the first few weeks of their occupation subjected the Jews to many anti-Jew ish measures; forcing them to wear the yellow Star of David, prohibiting them to walk on sidewalks or use public transportation, and confiscating their property. As was the case throughout the Baltic states under German occupation, the Estonian Jewish community was targeted for death by Einsatzgruppe A, which was assisted by the Omakaitse. By January 1942, Einsatzgruppe A reported that 936 Jews had been killed. Thousands of the more fortunate Jews were able to escape to the Soviet Union, where they remained until the end of the war.
Historical dictionary of the Holocaust. Jack R. Fischel. 2014.
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