Vabaduse väljak

Republic of Estonia and Five Fates

Estonia’s first president Konstantin Päts (1874-1956)
Imprisonment and death in exile

Victory Day parade at Freedom Square - Konstantin Päts is at the podium. 1938. Estonian History Museum, AM F 32907:1
Victory Day parade at Freedom Square – Konstantin Päts is at the podium. 1938. Estonian History Museum, AM F 32907:1

Konstantin Päts was an Estonian statesman, lawyer, journalist, and one of the most influential politicians in Estonia from 1918 to 1940, serving as Estonia’s first president from 1938 to 1940.

He was one of the founders of independent democratic Estonia but also a restricter of its democracy during the so-called Silent Era.

The Silent Era refers to the period in Estonian history from 1934 to 1940. The regime of that time is characterized as an authoritarian regime, with extensive limitations on the ability of individuals to express their opinions and participate in political life.

Päts was a State Elder for four terms, as well as a Prime Minister in the duties of a state elder and a state keeper, and the first President of the Republic of Estonia after the 1938 elections.

After Estonia was occupied by the Soviet Union in 1940, representatives of the Stalinist regime forced Päts to resign from the presidency and took him and his family to Russia.

Päts died in 1956 while in prison near Tver (then Kalinin) in the former Soviet Union, without seeing the restoration of Estonia’s independence.

Listen to Konstantin Päts’ speech about Estonia:

Audio recording: State Broadcasting’s recording from 1939. Copy from the matrix 2CS1439 preserved in the central archive of EMI in Hayes, England.

Freedom Square

Freedom Square is the main square in the city center of Tallinn, Estonia, surrounded by some of the finest examples of pre-war Estonian Republic architecture, which you will get to know today. Throughout history, it has been known by various names such as Hay Market, Wood and Hay Market, Peter’s Square, Freedom Square, and Victory Square. In 1910, it was renamed Peter’s Square and a monument to the Russian ruler Peter I was unveiled there. The monument to the Russian emperor was removed from the square by the decision of the government of the Republic of Estonia in 1922. In 1923, Peter’s Square was renamed Freedom Place and later became known as Freedom Square.

Freedom Square hosts events commemorating the independence of the Republic of Estonia, such as the Defense Forces Parade on February 24th every year. The square also hosts larger demonstrations or concerts, for example, on December 31st, the last day of the year.


If you listened to President Päts’ speech, can you recall what he liked to compare Estonians and Estonianhood to?




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