03 November 2007

POWs in Tapa

The Estonian International Commission for Investigation of Crimes against Humanity (EICICH, in Estonian Rahvusvahelise Inimsusevastaste Kuritegude Uurimise Eesto Komisjon) focused on three distinct periods in the history of Estonia: 1) its occupation by Soviet forces in 1940-1941, 2) its occupation by German forces in 1941-1944, and 3) its second occupation by Soviet forces beginning in 1944.

According to the EICICH, German forces took control of Tapa on August 4, 1941. Soviet forces, also known as the Red Army, took Tapa back from the Germans on September 21, 1944.

From 1941 to 1944, German forces had five main centers in Estonia with Soviet prisoners of war (POWs). One of the five was in Tapa. In October 1941, Stalag XXIB in Tapa was supplying Tallinn with a prison labor force, first for agricultural work, then for industrial work.

Stalag XXIB eventually became Stalag 381 (and later Dulag 110). According to the EICICH, Stalag 381 had 11,372 POWs from which 69 escaped and 8 were shot dead in attempting to escape.

AGSSt17 was also a POW center in Tapa but was one that was constantly on the move. Stalag 375, while located in Tapa, was a subsidiary of a center in Viljandi.
Moreover, there was a special seven-man unit of the Home Guard (in Estonian Omakaitse) in Tapa. The Home Guard was formed nation-wide in the initial period of the German occupation to carry out executions. The EICICH found that in August and September 1941, the Tapa unit drove nine people to their executions.