take that, hans pöögelmann!

I used to think that Jüri Liim was a bit too intense for my taste. Sure, it was cute to see a guy in his mid-60s threaten to blow up the Bronze Soldier monument in 2006, because, in my heart, I didn’t think that he would really do it.

Even better is that the stock photo of Jüri Liim used by most Estonian news organizations, as seen at left, is of Härra Liim looking down in a mix of sorrow, disgust, and vengeance, perhaps fantasizing about what old, rickety Soviet monument to take care of next. It is widely assumed that Liim is incapable of smiling, even on February 24, Estonian independence day.

But it gets better. This week Liim, presumably distressed that Prime Minister Andrus Ansip moved the Bronze Soldier to a military cemetery before he could blow it up, decided to drive around Tallinn with a crane and remove two other Soviet-era memorials to a nearby museum.

One of these monuments was to Estonian communist Hans Pöögelmann. Like all great Estonian leaders, from Lembit of Lehola to Jaan Tõnisson to Mart Laar, Pöögelmann was born in Viljandimaa in southern Estonia in 1875. Like many a good lefty, he spent some time in the journalism world before his political leanings got him a full-expenses-paid trip to Siberia courtesy of Tsar Nicholas II (whose portrait hangs in current Russian President Dmitri Medvedev’s office).

After doing time in Siberia, Pöögelmann was released and fled to New York where he took in indie-rock concerts, tried ecstasy, and wrote Marxist poetry* until he returned to Tallinn in the heady year of 1917. Pöögelmann was “economic affairs minister” of the short-lived Estonian Workers’ Commune, set up in Narva in November 1918, that lasted six months.

Unwilling to submit to the sinine-must-valge, Pöögelmann fled to Moscow in 1923 where he held various administrative positions in the Comintern and wrote nasty books about Estonian President Konstantin Päts until he, and his fellow Estonian Workers’ Commune members-in-exile Jaan Anvelt, Johannes Käspert, Rudolf Vakmann, and Otto Rästas, were executed during Stalin’s Great Purge in 1938.

For these reasons, Russian state-owned media outlets RIA Novosti and Russia Today have referred to Pöögelmann as a “Soviet war hero” or “Soviet soldier” and raised the possibility that Liim’s actions might provoke some response on the part of the local Estonian Russian community, who it presumes to hold Pöögelmann and his socialist virtues in high esteem. They also have written Jüri Liim’s name as “Yuri Lijm” for shits and giggles.

From my perspective, Liim is looking more and more like some kind of street performer than a rabid nationalist. I mean, how many Estonians even know who Hans Pöögelmann is? How many care if his memorial stone is in a museum or outside a university or part of the foundation for Jüri Liim’s new sauna. Nobody cares.

This is the kind of crap that only news media and blogs will write about. The only unbelievable thing is how an Estonian communist who was executed by Stalin in 1938 is rendered a “Soviet World War II hero” in Russian state-owned media. Liars.

* Pöögelmann never tried ecstasy or listened to indie rock. I was just making that up. He did, however, publish a newspaper in New York, Uus Ilm.

84 thoughts on “take that, hans pöögelmann!

  1. “Fight Club made Eddie horny. I’m no homo, but Brad Pitt is a goodlooking mees. Strip him down to the waist, let him beat on Ed Norton (“Ed”!!!), and then let the boner soar. Here’s the thing about boners. Go to my party website. There is that picture and message imploring to remember and asking if you want to know more. Right? That is not addressing you. It was Eddie teasing the hot chick in glasses. Miss M’s lips said ‘no,’ but her eyes said ‘yes.’ But your question was about Britney. I apologise for going off on a tangent half cocked.”-Eddie Savisaar, interview, <>The Economist<> (a.k.a. “Ed Lukas”!!!)

    Like

  2. <>Puu ütles…And moving monuments to estonian communists is silly too<>Marxist-Leninist ideology has proven to be misanthropic. So why would we want monuments to Estonian commies who supported the destruction of independent Estonia?

    Like

  3. “Seriously though you wouldn’t want to move a church, lots of Estonians are old believers and Russians too.”You would not suggest that the Alexander Newski Cathedral was built for religious reasons in the first place, would you?According to what I have been told the idea was a demonstration of power and of the prospect of russification.

    Like

  4. Yeah, but lots of churches have complicated histories.Just look at Hagia Sofia… symbol of a new rome, the Crusades and the power of Islam all in one. Or Churches in Jeruselem, which mean so many things to so many people. And destroying churches goes into Stalinist turning churches into movie theaters or taliban blowing up buddhas territory. And like I’m saying about Lydia Koidula most Estonians didn’t have that much of a problem with Tsarist Russia, ( except of course my love Hans Poogelman).. yeah lots of people were serfs but that changed in the 1860s and slavophile movements could in some ways complement other nationalist movements, like estonian nationalism for example. Free speech and religious freedom should both be guarded,( which is why a synagogue opened up in Estonia last year). Though the current government in Russia uses this nostaligia for Tsarist times to its advantage to broker power.

    Like

  5. Sven, marting , and bureau it’s been lovely chatting… excuse me for a moment while I talk to VK.VK -So, eyes saying yes and lips saying no is no…and not listening to no is statuory rape in all states. Though, I understand your protagonist is involved in statuory statue humping so maybe he’s just attracted to the word statue… Statue.. statue… statue… rhymes so nicely with statute. If you cool the Larry Flint persona,it will be greatly appreciated.

    Like

  6. I personally am not that much against communists… in the sense of romantic internationalist as to totalitarianism which is what russian communism became. My grandpa’s cousin was the head of a collective farm….He seemed like a nice guy. The Catholic church was one of the first romantic internalist movements, I was raised Catholic. Like when I see a plaque to Trotsky on a house where he used to live in the East Village I think that’s interesting and romantic. Trotskys ok, here. He had sex with Frieda Kahlo ( HH or VK any comments on a Ed Frieda Kahlo Troksy Sandwich feel free)..I like her.. I don’t especially object to people wearing Che T-shirts ( though I think the Cher ones are better). There are lots of Amercan celebrities, like Sean Penn railing against… america.. I still watch sean penn movies… I think Angela Davis has good points even though she said the communists dissenters in Czech Republic got what they deserved… She’s certainly brave… It’s a strange world. There are no absolutes. My godmother’s picture is the Tallinn Linna museum carrying a sign that says freedom for estonia…as a teenager it’s a really famous photo…iconic.. She now runs est type seminars with a guy who did development in the SSR and is probably tied to some of the Soviet mess.Chalk it up to rebellion What are you going to do… Poogelman might have written some stuff but he didn’t hurt anyone… It’s like removing a monument to Micheal Moore… or Frank Zappa, who cares either way…But it’s not really incipant fascism either… just people sore from abuse and occupation.

    Like

  7. <>I personally am not that much against communists… in the sense of romantic internationalist as to totalitarianism which is what russian communism became.<>I’ve actually come to despise them, both in the past and in the present. I used to be somewhat affiliated with the student left. The modern socialists and the communists were the most annoying group of self-important blowhards (outside the neoconservatives and, to some extent, the libertarians) that one will ever meet.You see, they knew that no one would ever buy their BS (which they couldn’t even agree upon themselves). So they had to wait for a “revolution”, whereby they somehow would co-opt a genuine public movement and then force everyone else to live according to their fantasies. Trotsky and Lenin quite obviously subscribed to this ideology. And there was nothing romantic about executing the Mensheviks or grinding little Aleksei Romanov’s bones to shards to erase all memory of the royal family. In other words, they suck. It’s ok to have opinions about the past, Puu. In America we still are sore that Benedict Arnold sold us out for some limey money.

    Like

  8. Yeah… in America we tarred and feathered tax collectors and expelled lots of native americans from their lands that wasn’t our finest moment either.It’s a shame that British, Germans and even American troops weren’t able to break through Turkey in 1917 in the hinge of history battle. Communism gave us Cambodia. The fight against communism gave the Chilean Junta. It’s a mixed bag and once you start to formulate overarching statementsa( about what is bad ) you get into trouble.

    Like

  9. <>It’s a mixed bag and once you start to formulate overarching statements a (about what is bad) you get into trouble.<>My statements are based on my experiences as a human being, not as a devotee to any particular ideology. As I said, I have personal reasons to dislike communists. Most of the communists I have met in person have been disagreeable factionalists who fantasize about remaking the world in their image. That doesn’t mean I don’t feel the same way about the neoconservatives. But there has been some linkage between the Trotskyite left and the neoconservative right for some time, hasn’t there?

    Like

  10. There’s also been a link between the Trotskyite left and the fashion industry for sometime… leftist consumer capitalism (the link between the left and neo cons revealed, it’s HBO and shoes). So? I don’t personally own any Che Guevera gear but I don’t run from the room if I see someone wearing it. I like Orwell… What are you going to do…

    Like

  11. <>So? I don’t personally own any Che Guevera gear but I don’t run from the room if I see someone wearing it.<>Neither do I. But I am saying don’t be fooled by October Revolution romanticism. Those guys made the Tsar look like Santa Claus.

    Like

  12. So the above exchange is basically the example of what liberal arts majors produce in America. The irony is that as at least in the CCCP this kind of artsi-fartsi babble was taught for free while you yanks are up to your eyeballs in debt trying to pay your student loans for worthless trivia. Take that woman in my office. This never-married, over-worked, under-fucked, overweight ball of neuroses and hangups, broken and bankrupt is in her mid 40s and I hear her argue with her student loan officer. She’s gonna be clear when she’s 60 or something! And she’s a securities law attorney. No wonder US dollar is in the dumps. Its all because of this big meaningless babble. American babble. Hot air.But who am I to crtiticize? I get paid basically for the same shit. For blowing hot air. I signed up with the same effin shit. Now bitching and biting the hand that feeds me. Puu is right to hate me. Because she hates herself just as well. Oh, well. Life’s ironies. They kill ya, man, they really do.

    Like

  13. <>So the above exchange is basically the example of what liberal arts majors produce in America.<>I have no idea what we were talking about. It started off with Communists and then somehow wound up at the Bible.

    Like

  14. I get the ” You make no fucking sense” thing alot. The thing is I just draw on a lot of different sources.The thing is the communists were bad, they did make the tsar look like Santa Claus…but they came from a lot of romanticism… just read Turgenev Fathers and Sons for example… Everyone is brainwashed to some extent ( like HH, doing Chinese style lets have capitalism without political freedom and democracy rants)… but you are always going to have art and fashion and art and fashion may be stupid student loan increasing follies but they take the same debates and win the same battles that are often carried out at the point of a gun with no more loss of life than losing face or suffering middle school type humiliation.

    Like

  15. This is probably my own pathology surfacing, but I usually make a distinction between silly satire (even if crass) and more serious comments. Too bad that one has to step so carefully, or litter a posting with disclaimers, so as to avoid being taken wrongly, or unintentionally sidetracking the discussion.Speaking of distinctions, a quick thought in response to puu:Agreed, there are few absolutes. But there are some absolutes, or at least hard facts. Who was it that said, ‘One who loves everything loves nothing’? (Bismarck?) The ‘I’m okay, you’re okay,’ ‘on the one hand this, on the other hand that’ gets in the way of clear-eyed historical understanding. Kingsley Amis called this tendency (in the British press) “pernicious neutrality.”I’ve always found the continued romanticization of types like Trotsky and Che mystifying. Interesting historical figures worthy of attention, sure. But their bloody records speak for themselves.I wonder if puu or others would be as tickled to pass by a building with a plaque informing passersby, ‘Here Eva Braun urinated on Adolf Hitler during one steamy night of passion.’Might want to keep on a theme, puu, rather than bouncing all over the place, from East to West, Trotsky to Bible. Maybe it’s a matter of my own intellectual limitations, but it is hard to follow sometimes. Reads less like erudition-at-work than a ganja-fuelled carpet-ride. Otherwise, the off-beaten-path viewpoints are welcome; the sound of too manhy bloggers nodding in unison gets boring at times.As for Hirnu-Hrnx!’s latest dump, I’m afraid that old Latin legal phrase res ipsa loquitur fits. The ad hominem extrapolation from puu’s flight to American downfall says more about Hirnu-Hrnx!’s intellectual tack than the US postsecondary education. (One wonders why the flow of students is from east to west, and, with few idiosyncratic exceptions, not the other way around…) Not to mention Hirnu-Hrnx! missing that early-life training in how to be a European gentlemen (‘overweight,’ ‘underfucked’, etc.)Oh, well.Giustino’s right: the Bolshies and Commies weren’t very nice guys.Lenin was a jerk. Stalin was a dick.Che stunk. (Literally: he refused to wash, and was proud of that — some political statement there. El chancho, indeed.)I’d like to hear how G went from some affiliation with the student left to canvassing for John McCain. Sounds like quite an interesting ideological journey within the space of a few years.Life is weird. The blogosphere is weirder still.Why can’t we all just get along?Scratch that last question.

    Like

  16. I’m not tickled but you have to be cogniscent of the fact that in American/world culture in general a type of Romantic Internationalism is held in high regard and if you stop addressing that, stop laying a claim on it then you lose a lot of people.People don’t read they go to the movies. Fighting communists ( unless you are watching John McCain’s movie… and I mean no disrepect to Congressman McCain…I think he’s an extremely brave man and he got totally screwed in the 2000 election in Carolina) does not get good press in Hollywood for the most part. Let’s just consider all the Che movies that are out. Or enemy at the gates…Bring up communists and you get the fact that the Reichstag burning was fingered as a communist plot as was imprisoning Nelson Mandela and students being attacked in the very fashionable riots in Paris in the 60’s.It’s all true. If you don’t aknowledge these things as a centrist and try to extract some validity from them then you concede the whole game of defending socialistic ideas which as Scandinavia and other countries have shown have value to extremely pro- Moscow people like HH. Who sometimes also happen to be uncouth. You do have a whole generation in the former soviet union shaped by communism and then another whole generation in the western world, especially much reviled liberal arts colleges sympathetic to it though movies and fashion. Just telling them that the way they figured out to stick it to boring old suburban mom and dad isn’t going to work. What’s going on culturally needs to be acknowledged.

    Like

  17. Just telling them that the way they figured out to stick it to boring old suburban mom and dad is the source of untold human suffering isn’t going to work.

    Like

  18. If you don’t aknowledge these things as a centrist and try to extract some validity from them then you concede the whole game of defending socialistic ideas which as Scandinavia and other countries have shown have value, to extremely pro- Moscow people like HH.

    Like

  19. Well, I think what you are getting at is how do we handle the Marxist legacy in the West, Puu.That’s a good question. Certainly a lot of my values or ideas have been shaped directly or indirectly by Marxist thought. But here’s my question in response: is it really Marxist thought, or is it something else? Marx wasn’t an abolitionist. Marx didn’t write the Declaration of Independence or the Rights of Man.I would say that ideology is a bit of the problem. The workers movements of the late 19th century weren’t formed because Marx wrote some nice theories. They were formed because working conditions <>stunk<>. <>I’d like to hear how G went from some affiliation with the student left to canvassing for John McCain. Sounds like quite an interesting ideological journey within the space of a few years.<>I am not canvassing for McSame, though I appreciate the link. I do have, at my heart, very social democratic tendencies. That is, it makes me very angry when people are denied health coverage or when old people spend the end of their lives in poverty. I think that a society that is whole, that invests in its people, eventually reaps the rewards. That’s why when brains do travel east, they are headed for the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm.That’s just one side of my feelings though. Obviously I am also warm to economically liberal thought. But I dislike the liberals because every time there’s a question, they go running for the literature. “Oh, what do the great economic liberal philosophers say about this?!”Plus the liberals steal blatantly social democratic ideas and then parade them around like they were their own. They say Rasmussen is more of a social democrat than the Danish social democratic party. I agree.

    Like

  20. Che was a Stalinist prick. So much of what went wrong after 1959 is due to him. Otherwise not only would you have a dictatorship with no cult of personality, itself novel, you might even have a revolution without disappeared people and tortured prisoners. Would Castro even have finally gone communist if not for that batistiano bore of a barbudo?Discussion sounds like late night AM skip. Skip being a radio term. ARK, I won’t ever used to you calling Giustino “G” given the other, Latvian G. I keep on thinking he’s entered the discussion and if this keeps up, he surely will.

    Like

  21. <>Che was a Stalinist prick. So much of what went wrong after 1959 is due to him.<>He’s, mostly, an unknown to those who poster their walls in his image. Guevara was from an upper-class Argentinian family, so his metamorphosis from journal-carrying, motorcycling youth to gun-toting revolutionary is inspirational to academics who dream of social change yet sit around at liberal arts colleges and write books about social change instead.I think this was Che’s appeal to the lefty intellectuals, because Che was of their same middle-to-upper class background and he was multilingual and, oh boy, did he look cool. He was like a Stalinist friggin’ James Dean. But I just don’t get how despising your own political leadership leads some “revolutionaries” to fall in love with foreign leaderships that are just as bad, if not worse. Sure, the Black Panthers (Angela Davis was cited before) had some reasons to despise the city of Oakland when they were formed in 1966. But how they got from “policing their own streets” to meeting with Mao is beyond me. Ditto for Che. How he got from despising Latin American economic policies to touring Red Square is confusing at best. How anyone could read one book — like Das Kapital or the Communist Manifesto — and intrinsically believe that it was a) all correct and b) needed to be enforced by gun point, is perplexing.Talk about opiate of the masses, hallucinogenic of the masses more like.

    Like

  22. They got there because the soviet union was parroting the words of their discontent. It wasn’t asolution and the system( solution) was actually much worse than the system being criticised but a big part of the propaganda machine did push a seeming idealogical almost religious solution to the problem.And people were drawn to that like hippies on a pilgrimage. The new age is just as bad for the most part.

    Like

  23. KMR, dunno if you’re being facetious about Che & Fidel. But methinks Che was the romantic emigre sucker who got screwed in the end. It was Che who wanted to go the more “purist” ideological route — quite willing and able to break eggs along the way — whilst Fidel is often (credibly) pointed to as having set up Furry-Stinky (Che) for his final demise in the Bolivian jungle. Methinks Fidel was in the driver’s seat all along. But, I wasn’t there (with a candle), so who knows? (Probably some dying Cuban in a track suit.)Also, if, by nature, vacuums must be filled, then doesn’t every hole need a G?I feel oddly guilty for not offering up an Esto connection in this off-kilter thread.So, here goes:—> Jüri Liim has received coverage in the Canadian press. Okay, well, sort of: <>Eesti Elu<>.—> Kristiina Ojuland, Estonia’s one-time foreign minister, has been to Canada, I’m fairly certain. She < HREF="http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4255937.stm" REL="nofollow">got canned<> over FM documents going missing a couple years ago.—> And, very recently, Canada’s foreign minister < HREF="http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2008/05/26/harper.html?ref=rss" REL="nofollow">got nudged<> over a similar offence, albeit under sexier circumstances.So, there. Anyway, I tried.What do you want me to say?That Che, Trotsky and Savisaar once met in Rakvere to compare notes, and that they ate cheese together?

    Like

  24. Castro was certainly not the romantic of the two, that is for sure.To me, it is hard to swallow that Casto would sell out anyone to the Americans, but my knowledge of Che’s later campaigns is spotty.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s