Vaps Movement

Vaps Movement
Leader Andres Larka and Artur Sirk
Founded 1929
Ideology Estonian nationalism,[1]

Vaps Movement,[2] (Estonian: Eesti Vabadussõjalaste Keskliit, later Eesti Vabadussõjalaste Liit, vabadussõjalased, or colloquially vapsid, a single member of this movement was called vaps) the Union of Participants in the Estonian War of Independence [3] was founded as an Estonian association of veterans of the Estonian War of Independence (1918–1920). Later non-veterans were accepted as its supporter-members. The organisation was founded in 1929, emerged as a mass anti-socialist and anti-parliamentary movement.[2] The leaders of this association were Andres Larka (formal figurehead and presidential candidate) and Artur Sirk.


The Vaps Movement was a paramilitary anti-socialist organisation with most of its base being the lower middle class.[4] They had no elaborate ideology or any connection with foreign fascist movements, their goal was simply a more authoritarian and nationalist government in Estonia.[4][5] The league rejected racial ideology and openly criticized the Nazi persecution of Jews, it also lacked the willingness to use violence, or the goal of territorial expansion.[6] However, they were known for sharing some aspects of fascist movements of the time, such as the wearing of a black beret as their uniform headgear, and the use of the Roman salute. Moderate members of the movement such as Johan Pitka gradually left the organization and new members were allowed to join, who were not veterans. The organization issued its own newspaper, Võitlus ('The Struggle').

Constitutional reform

Vaps Movement meeting in Pärnu Estonia, Artur Sirk speaking

In an October 1933 referendum on constitutional reform, what had been unsuccessfully attempted since 1926, was approved by 72.7 percent of the voters.[2] The organization was banned by the government of Jaan Tõnisson (who opposed the constitutional reform) under state of emergency before the referendum, but after this event organization was re-established and became even more radical. The league spearheaded replacement of the parliamentary system with a presidential form of government and laid the groundwork for an April 1934 presidential election, which it expected to win. After the League won absolute majorities in local elections in the three largest cities at the beginning of 1934, but not in the most rural self-governments nor small towns and boroughs, the recently elected constitutional "State Elder" (head of government and head of state) Konstantin Päts declared a state of emergency in the whole country (in certain parts, this was already in effect since 1918) on 12 March 1934, disbanding the Vaps movement and arresting its leading figures. Konstantin Päts established a moderate regime that the historian Georg von Rauch has called Authoritarian Democracy. In 1935, a National Association was formed to replace political parties and series of state corporate institutions were introduced.[4]

The league was banned and disbanded in December 1935. On 6 May 1936, 150 members of the league went on trial; 143 of them were convicted and sentenced to lengthy terms of imprisonment. They were granted an amnesty and freed in 1938, by which time the league had lost most of its popular support. By 1 January 1938, a new constitution took effect and new parliament was elected in February 1938.[7][8] The new constitution combined a strong President with a partly elected and partly appointed, officially non-partisan Parliament.[4]


General Andres Larka speaking 1933.

Members of the movement used the Roman salute and wore black berets as symbols of their allegiance to the organisation.

Foreign relations

They have had a good relationship with the Finland's nationalist movements such as Lapua Movement, Patriotic People's Movement and Academic Karelia Society.[9]

In recent times

Jüri Liim claimed to be restoring the original Vaps Movement.[10] But he didn't get a registration and his organization is illegal.[11]

See also


  1. "The Radical Right in Interwar Estonia". Retrieved 14 March 2015.
  2. 1 2 3 "Vaps". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 14 March 2015.
  3. Conclusions of Estonian International Commission for Investigation of Crimes Against Humanity
  4. 1 2 3 4 A History of Fascism, 1914-1945 By Stanley George Payne ISBN 1-85728-595-6
  5. T. Parming, The Collapse of Liberal Democracy and the Rise of Authoritarianism in Estonia, London, 1975
  6. Marandi, Rein "Must-valge lipu all : Vabadussõjalaste liikumine Eestis 1929-1937. 1. Legaalne periood (1929-1934)" Stockholm : Centre for Baltic Studies at the University of Stockholm, 1991
  7. S. Payne, A history of Fascism, 1914-1945, Routledge, 1995
  8. Eesti Vabariigi arengulugu aastatel 1918–1940
  9. "The Radical Right in Interwar Estonia". Retrieved 14 March 2015.
  10. Postimees 15 April 2009 22:27: Jüri Liim taastab vapsiliikumise
  11. "Vabadussõjalaste Keskliit jätkab tegevust ajaloolise nimega". Postimees. 7 July 2009. Retrieved 14 March 2015.
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 10/20/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.