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6 Aug, 2008 18:19

Estonian war games ‘glorify Nazism’

A military reenactment taking place in Estonia this week has been criticised by Russia for glorifying the nation's Nazi past. The war games will see hundreds of military enthusiasts follow the route taken by Nazi sypthathisers and saboteurs who laid the g

Organisers of the event maintain that they are reenacting the so-called Erna Raid because of its military ingenuity rather than its political significance. The operation saw Estonian volunteers sabotaging communications in August 1941 to aid the Nazi advance.

Thirty-one teams from 10 different countries take part in the annual event which is now in its jubilee 15th year.

Estonia claims the original mission was aimed at rescuing its civilian population who were under Soviet control.

But Russia is condemning this week’s event, which many see as promoting not only Nazi revisionism but also anti-Russian sentiment.

Yuri Nikiforov, a Russian World War Two specialist, believes the Erna reconnaissance formation was taking orders directly from the Fuhrer.

“Erna was obviously on a mission by Nazi intelligence. After the operation finished, Erna's chief commander was promoted to the SS Colonel rank. He commanded the Estonian 20th SS division that fought for the German side until the end of the war,” Nikiforov said.

Even now in Estonia, volunteer soldiers in the Erna group are considered freedom fighters.

The Estonian government denies it is allowing nationalism to flourish and believes this competition is merely a commemorative act.

The war games, as well as the war of words between Tallinn and Moscow, are expected to continue for the next few days.