The remains of the man who commanded Estonia’s Nazi- sponsored SS division during World War II has been reburied in the country’s national cemetery alongside the graves of some of the Baltic nation’s leading historical figures.
Estonia’s top state and military officials attended Saturday’s ceremony honoring Alfons Rebane, who is regarded by many Estonians as a fighter against the Soviet occupation that began in 1940 and lasted until the collapse of communism 50 years later.
But some experts say that as head of the Nazi division known as the Estonian Legion, Rebane was responsible for killing Jews and Slavs in Estonia and elsewhere in the region.
Saturday’s ceremony sparked protests from several organizations in Estonia representing Jews and ethnic Russians, who said the full military honors given Rebane were an insult to the memory of the war’s victims.
One such opponent, Leivi Sher of the United People’s Party, was quoted as saying that the government’s decision to give Rebane military honors serves as an “indication that fascist ideology is recognized in Estonia.”
Rebane spent most of his time after the war in Britain, where he directed the anti-Communist resistance efforts of Estonian expatriates living in the West.
He died in Germany and was originally buried there.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.