Survey of the Material Presented in Tables and Figures
The results of the processing of personal data of 20,164 Estonian inhabitants arrested for political reasons presented in this book show that the average time of imprisonment including the subsequent banishment was 15.74 years. The maximum term, for example, was 25+5+5 years, which means 25 years in prison or prison camp, five years of banishment in a prescribed location (mostly Siberia) and five years of restriction of different rights. The present book does not take into account the years of restriction. The penalty is the sum of the years one had to serve by a decision of a prosecuting organ (tribunal, special council, local body of the KGB, or other) or some other institution. The time of imprisonment could be extended as well as reduced while one was in prison. During ten or so years after Stalin's death in 1953, sentences were being revised, terms of imprisonment reduced and prisoners gradually released before they had served the full sentence. Thus, the actual time spent in prison or camp was shorter than the sentence.
Release from prison and return could occur for a variety of reasons: because of disablement, transfer to banishment or so-called pardon, but also through escape and expiry of the term of imprisonment. Also persons killed by prison guards or fellow inmates (0.5 percent) and those who died of illnesses because of the difficult conditions in detention institutions (25.8 percent) were counted as released. The documents andanswers to questionnaires of 28 percent of the convicts make no mention of whether they were released or got out of prisonfor some other reason. Data on release and return have notbeen presented in the tables and figures, but they can befound among the basic data in Chapter 4.
Fig. 3.1-1 depicts in sufficient detail the number and percentage of persons arrested for political reasons by year of arrest. The structure of arrested persons by sex and age is depicted in Fig. 3.3-1. We leave comment on the numerical data presented in those figures as well as the preceding tables 3.1 and 3.3 up to our readers.
Of the arrested persons, 8.4 percent were sentenced to death and, as a rule, they were executed by shooting. The shooting was often camouflaged by bogus death certificates stating some illness as the cause of death. Of the arrested, 26.4 percent died in the inhuman conditions prevailing in camps or were killed.
Thus, 34.8 percent of the total never returned from the camps. Men accounted for 88.7 percent of the arrested. Men and women between ages 21 to 55 formed 82.5 percent of the total, persons of up to 20 years of age (including seven babies) formed 4.8 percent and old-age pensioners in the 66-90 age group formed 1.5 percent of the arrested. The peak of arrests was in 1945, when 22.64 percent of the total were seized. In 1941, 18.70 percent and in 1950, 8.31 percent of the arrests took place. People arrested in 1951 received the longest average sentences – 25.45 years, including banishment, which usually did not exceed five years. The length of sentence averaged more than 20 years also in 1948, 1950, 1952 and 1953. The share of death sentences dropped from 81.36 percent in 1937 to 0.94 percent in 1947, but increased again in 1952 (1.59 percent) and 1953 (2.13 percent).
Convictions in Estonia were based retroactively on articles 58-1a (in 38.11 percent of cases), 58-11 (19.60 percent), 58-13 (5.29 percent) and 58-10 (4.43 percent) of the Russian SFSR penal code. The frequency of application of other articles, such as 58-4, 17-58-1a, 58-16 and 50-10 (paragraph 1), remained between 2.21-3.31 percent of the total, while the rest were used in 1.9 percent or less cases.
A decree of the USSR Supreme Council Presidium of Nov. 1940, signed in the Kremlin in Moscow by the chairman of the presidium, Mikhail Kalinin, and secretary Aleksandr Gorkin, enacted prosecution in compliance with Russian laws for "crimes" committed on the territories of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia before the establishment of Soviet power in those states. By a resolution of the presidium of the provisional Estonian SSR Supreme Council of Dec. 16 of the same year, the Russian penal code became effective on Estonian territory in prosecution for crimes committed before Soviet power was established here. The resolution was signed by the chairman of the presidium, Johannes Vares, and secretary Voldemar Telling. An Estonian translation of the 1926 version of the Russian penal code including amendments up to Nov. 15, 1940 was published in 1941.
As the subsequent activity of the Communist Party and KGB proves, comrades Vares and Telling, by signing the resolution (whether or not they were authorized to do so), gave Kalinin and the genocide mechanism under his jurisdiction the opportunity to shoot or arrest at least half the Estonian population. Particularly well suited for this purpose were articles 58 (counterrevolutionary crimes – on six and a half pages) and 59 (crimes against the ruling system perceived as especially dangerous to the Soviet Union), but others as well.
Under Articles 58-13, 58-3, 58-10 and others, people were convicted and punished for activities practised in the independent Republic of Estonia and fully in agreement with Estonian laws and customs. Under those articles, punishments were inflicted on Estonian Cabinet ministers, members of parliament, politicians, policemen, members of Kaitseliit (paramilitary defence organisation), mayors and county governors, participants in the War of Independence, employees of representations and embassies abroad, etc. Any criticism of the Soviet Union, whether spoken or published, was regarded as slander and punished under Article 58-10.
As documents show, most arrested Estonians were sent to prison camps and prisons in the Komi ASSR (18 percent), the Sverdlovsk region (12.4 percent), the Krasnoyarsk and Irkutsk regions (12.3 percent) and the Karaganda region (9.4 percent). The above data are to be found in tables and figures included in the statistical overview.
Most of the persons arrested in 1936-39 were Russian Estonians, whose files were transferred to the archives of the Estonian branch of KGB either because they later returned to Estonia, were arrested for a second time or were kept under surveillance. Among those persons arrested even before the occupation of Estonia were people who for different reasons had moved from the Republic of Estonia to Russia. Most of them were arrested for alleged espionage.
In the numeration of tables in this chapter, for example, Table 3.4, the first number denotes the number of the chapter and the second, the number of the table in it. In the numeration of figures, for example, Fig. 3.4-2, the first two numbers indicate the table that contains the numerical data the figure is based on and the last number shows the number of the figure pertaining to the table.