Research Articles

From an ‘Army of Historians’ to an ‘Army of Professionals’: History and the Strategic Culture in Estonia



Experience is a key element in the development of strategic cultures. Estonian strategic culture is affected by the traumas of the Second World War and the Cold War, which resulted in the end of independence and the loss of a quarter of the population. Open discussion of the history was impossible under the Soviet regime. The ‘rebirth of history’ at the end of the 1980s affected the restoration of the Estonian defence forces and the development of the strategic culture of the restored Republic of Estonia. In particular, narratives about the ‘Summer War’ of 1941 and about the Forest Brothers, who fought against the Soviet regime from the 1940s to the early 1950s, instilled confidence in Estonia’s ability to re-create the total defence system of the pre-war era. When Estonia shed ideas of neutrality and began integrating into Western security organizations, the controversial history of the Summer War became a burden rather than an advantage, however. With the new pragmatism and future-oriented military culture of the 2000s, dwelling on history was discouraged by the Defence Forces even as history remained an important component of the training and the thinking of the military profession.


Strategic CultureHistoryEstoniaSecond World WarCold War
  • Year: 2020
  • Volume: 3 Issue: 1
  • Page/Article: 100–113
  • DOI: 10.31374/sjms.37
  • Submitted on 9 May 2019
  • Accepted on 8 Jun 2020
  • Published on 13 Nov 2020
  • Peer Reviewed