Jaan Kaplinski, Jaan Kross, Paul-Eerik Rummo, Kalev Kesküla
An exchange of opinions
Participants: Jaan Kaplinski, Jaan Kross, Paul-Eerik Rummo. The discussion is chaired by Kalev Kesküla.
Kesküla:Let's begin with the arrival of Soviet power in Estonia. Did Estonia, in 1944, have any chance of returning to the family of Western nations?
Kaplinski: In Europe, the military power of the Soviet Union was overwhelmingly great. I have read that as early as 1944, the Russians had, by way of Swedish mediation, offered to make a separate peace with Germany. Russian sources claim that they were interested in an armistice, since they did not trust their Western Allies. We do not, of course, know how sincere the offer was. Perhaps it was simply a way of applying pressure on the Allies. At any rate, the Western powers had to reckon with the likelihood of the Germans and the Russians arriving at an agreement, and that a second Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact would ensue. For that reason, they could not react with indifference to Soviet demands.
Rummo: Clearly, Estonia had no choice. If the Russians intended making a separate peace, the West would have been aware of such moves. In my opinion, they knew more or less everything that was going on.
Kross: As I see it, they knew laughably little. They still swear to high heaven that they had not known the true nature of Stalinism…
Rummo: They would prefer, in the eyes of history, to prove to have been fools rather than scoundrels.
Kross: I too think that Estonia had no choice. But the reality of the situation only became clear to us later. It had been thought that we were sold down the river at Yalta, when in fact this had already occurred with the Treaty of Teheran. There is trustworthy evidence that Roosevelt asked Stalin to keep quiet about their agreement — i.e. the Baltic and other East European states