No. 24




The Supreme Council – in Light and in Shadow

  • Rein Ruutsoo

    Rein Ruutsoo

    Tallinn University, Professor of Political Theory

It may be said that the book “Mitme tule vahel” ((“Between Many Fires”), Tartu, 2011), compiled by Lehte Hainsalu and Rein Järlik, is an undertaking that deserves extreme grati-tude and has a permanent value that cannot yet be fully understood.

Every deputy who has saved a bit of the history of the people of Estonia is worthy of the gratitude of historians. It is hard to classify those who contributed to the making of the book and those who did not by their identities in those times. It seems that the deputies who supported the views of the Committee of Estonia were more reluctant to participate. It is understandable that the readers who belonged to different camps in the past may like some facts and assessments more in their recollections, and some less. From the viewpoint of a historian, putting them in a ranking list or listing them by correctness is a rather pointless activity. In the genre of memories there are no correct or wrong opinions if universally known facts are not distorted or ignored, there is no monopoly on the narrative of remembering correctly. New knowledge arises not only from shared factual information, but first of all from the individual interpretation of the facts/past. The historians give an assessment to the memories in the course of time by using or not using them in their research, that is, by shaping the value of memories, by giving them weight (historians may also put memories to doubt, i.e. annul their value). Thus measuring the value of this book on the scales of time is still ahead. It is impossible to write history without the sources. Some of the potential sources we inherit from the past as evidence (documents, letters, etc.), others are created only as a result of purposeful efforts. Collecting and organising of memories is one way of complementing the sources of history inherited from the past. This collection fills a serious vacuum, or even more, in many ways it is a protest against describing the activities of the Supreme Council in a questionable and sometimes clearly inadequate way. The authors are of the opinion that concrete acts were carried out by the institutions that fought for restoring the independence of Estonia. In spite of the will of the people, the future of Estonia might have been completely different if there had been other people in the Supreme Council or if no determination had been demonstrated on 20 August 1991. Despite the argumentation of assessments, their emotional tone and the use of vocabulary, the prevailing motives determine that this book should be a signal to historians. It seems that the time is ripe to give an adequate assessment to the work of the restorers of our statehood.

Full article in Estonian