Saturday, September 1, 2012

an article delving into the depths of the pride of one soldier

by Hendrik Arro

On the 8th of August of this year an official ceremony took place at Ämari airbase in commemoration of an Estonian-born American pilot, major Aado Kommendant, and his colleague, aircraft Captain lieutenant colonel Charles M. Walling. Both of these men fell 46 years ago in the Vietnam War when their aircraft, a F-47 Phantom, was shot down in action. Their remains were recovered only recently, and on the 8th of August the remains of Aado Kommendant were formally reburied in the ground of the national military cemetery at Arlington airbase, USA. As agreed with the United States embassy in Estonia, a commemorative ceremony was conducted at the Ämari airforcebase in Estonia on the same day.

Due to the fact that both of these men had lost their lives fighting the communist regime, the leadership of the Estonian Air Force proposed that the Estonian airforce veterans would take part in the commemorative ceremony. The reason being, that they had fought communism in their own time. In addition to that, the monument called “The Last Flight,” erected at the Ämari Air Base in 2004 in the memory of Estonian airforce soldiers lost or killed in battle, was sculpted by a pilot of the former 11th Night Harassment Group (Nachtsclachtgruppe 11), Kalju Reitel. In addition to all that, the Estonian Parliament had recently approved a legislative act recognizing these men who had fought in the Second World War as freedom fighters. Accordingly it was a shock when a message was received from the U.S. Embassy stating that they did not wish to have the Estonian veterans, who had served in the fight against communism in the Second World War among the ranks of the German Army, take part in the ceremony.

Well, a no is a no.  Because the Estonian Air Force veterans have always had a relationship of mutual respect and well meaning with the leadership of the Estonian Air Force, the veterans decided not to cause problems between the Estonian Air Force and the US Embassy by attending the foreign ceremony. The only issue remaining was – what was the matter in the first place?

All this inevitably raises a question among the ranks of Estonian freedom fighters - does the recognition of the Estonian Civil War and the Estonian freedom fighters by the Estonian Parliament only mean something in certain limited circles even in Estonia, and as far as foreigners are concerned, we are still “damned fascists”?  Or was this a case of an independent act of some U.S. Embassy employee?  The Association of Estonian Freedom fighters has gotten no formal answer or explanation to these questions from the powers to be.

At this point we would like to remind the Americans, who consider themselves the pinnacle of the anti-communist movement in the world today, that in the history of the fight against communism there are events that even the Americans would like to forget about. But let us remind ourselves – at the same time that the Estonian and Latvian soldiers fought for the independence of their countries in face of the communist menace, the US President, along with the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, were pleading for Stalin`s friendship in Jalta, handing him half of Europe on a silver plate. There really is no point in even mentioning the failed Atlantic Charter. I guess you could call it an “occupational accident” of the western leadership of the time. W. Churchill figured it out quite soon after the event, as was evident from his famous speech at Fulton, but F.D. Roosevelt probably went to his grave as a friend of the great father Stalin.

In the light of everything presented above I would like to ask – should all of the American soldiers who fought in alliance with Stalin be held responsible for all the crimes committed by that regime both during and after the Second World War, even though they did not take part in committing these crimes? After all, those crimes were made possible by the fact that the USA gave direct assistance to the criminal Soviet Union. So in order to achieve an equal burden of responsibility with the Estonian soldiers, at least part of the responsibility for the Katõn murders, the genocide of the Baltic peoples (and the list could go on and on) should be borne by Americans. If we follow the example of how Americans are handling the matter of the Estonian and Latvian soldiers, who once fought for the independence of their homelands, it would not be an exaggeration at all to say that Americans have been at least indirectly involved in the aforementioned events. Let us think about who we are assisting before sending our troops on the next mission. What would that look like to the other countries and nations? An inevitable question arises – are Americans nowadays the friends and allies we think they are, whose association with us can do us no harm, or is there present the same danger as there was in our relations with the Germans back then - assisting them might be pragmatically necessary, but the consequences could be that Estonian soldiers could someday be (in the courts of some Islamic country perhaps) prosecuted and sentenced of being guilty by association with the US.