Estonian Jews in the U.S.S.R. 1941-1945: Research Based on Survivors’ Testimony
Most of the local Jewish community in Estonia — about 4,500 persons — found refuge in the U.S.S.R. and many even fought against the Germans. But then again, thousands of Jews from European countries were concentrated and exterminated in Estonia. Following the German invasion of the Soviet Union, Estonia was overrun after two months of fighting. During this relatively long time, the Russian army managed to evacuate some 65,000 Estonians, including Jews, by both land and sea. Some families were banished to Siberia under very difficult conditions. About 1,000 Jews remained in Estonia after the Germans had completed their conquest. The able-bodied evacuees including Jews were motivated to fight and were mobilized into Estonian fighting units. Casualties were very high. At the end of the war, many survivors returned to Communist Estonia, nearly all to the capital Tallinn. In the 1960s some Jews were permitted to emigrate to Israel.