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Estonian Defence League – security of statehood initiated by the people

While talking about Estonia’s statehood, its establishment and continuance, we cannot leave out the Estonian Defence League. Several armed services, the border guard, Prison Board, not to mention single military units, grew out of the voluntary national defence organisation established during the confusing times in November 1918, primarily for maintaining public order. A majority of the distinguished officers from the War of Independence and present day Estonia began their service in the Estonian Defence League. In the pre-World War II Republic of Estonia, the Estonian Defence League played a significant role in terms of military training, national defence education, social life and sporting events. It is not said in vain that the Estonian Defence League is the security of Estonian statehood.

There have been two attempts to liquidate the Estonian Defence League: in 1924, it led to the Bolshevik rebellion and when the Estonian Defence League was truly liquidated in 1940, the Estonian state was also finished, with the occupation lasting for half a century.

The Estonian Defence League was re-established in February 1990, a full 18 months before Estonia re-gained its independence, and although the Estonian Defence League is still developing, it is once again becoming a cornerstone of statehood.

Pictured in photo: Cartridge loading course in the Võru District Unit, in 1932.