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Marking the 100 years of Danish volunteer soldiers in Estonia's War of Independence

05.04.2019  15:33
4 April 2019 marked the 100 years of the Danish contribution to Estonia’s War of Independence in 1919. A story not often told in the past – but it is well worth knowing, not least in the present.
In cooperation with historian Mikkel Kirkebaek, Major General Meelis Kiili, the Estonian War Museum and the Estonian Maritime Museum, the Danish Embassy in Tallinn celebrated the day with a booklet publication and a seminar in Tallinn. The guests had the chance to visit the old icebreaker Suur Tõll, which was the one that transported the volunteers to Tallinn on the evening of 4 April 1919.

Denmark and Estonia share several anniversaries that we will be celebrating this year – one of them states the first close links between our two countries, which was made 100 years ago, when 200 Danish volunteer soldiers from the Danish Baltic Auxiliary Corps participated in the Estonian War of independence in 1919. The Corps was equipped with the most advanced weapons at the time, the Danish Madsen machineguns (rekylgeværer), which, despite the soldiers’ initial lack of military experience, strengthened their efforts in the war. In addition to this, the British Royal Navy was permitted by the Danish government to use Copenhagen to situate their headquarters for its important operations in the Baltic Sea.

Ambassador Kristina Miskowiak Beckvard

The Danish Embassy in Tallinn marked the day with a seminar, which took place at the Estonian Maritime Museum/Seaplane Harbour in Tallinn. A parallel was made between the past and the present. The same number of Danish soldiers participated in the NATO enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) in Estonia in 2018-19.

Mikkel Kirkebaek

The event included several guest speakers emphasizing this historical day, amongst these Kaarel Piirimäe, Senior Research Fellow at the Estonian War Museum. The Danish historian and author Mikkel Kirkebaek gave a presentation on Danish Volunteer Soldiers in Estonia’s War of Independence – a topic on which Kirkebaek recently published a booklet. The publication is written in English and is available in a free download here. Earlier, he has also published a booklet with the Embassy in Riga on the volunteers’ engagement in Latvia. The Commander of the Estonian Defence League, Major General Meelis Kiili, introduced the seminar and has also written a preface to the booklet.

Excursion on Suur Tõll

The Estonian daily newspaper Postimees highlighted the historical day in several articles (it can be read in Estonian here).