Evelin: International Humanitarian Law

August 16, 2010

International humanitarian law (IHL) protects people in times of armed conflict who are no longer taking part in hostilities. It regulates only those aspects of the conflict which are of humanitarian concern. The purpose of IHL is to limit the suffering caused by war, by protecting and assisting its victims as much as possible.

IHL has to branches: 1)      The law of Geneva, which is designed to protect military personnel who are no longer taking part in the fighting and people who are not actively involved in hostilities (e.g. civilians).

2)      The law of Hague, which establishes the rights and obligations of belligerents in the conduct of military operations and limits the means of harming the enemy.

The essential rules of IHL are: 1)      Attacks may be made solely against military objectives (but it is prohibited to attack military objectives if that would cause harm to civilians or civilian objects).

2)      People who do not or can no longer take part in the hostilities are entitled to respect for their lives and for their physical and mental integrity. Such people must in all circumstances be protected and treated with humanity, without any unfavorable distinction. It is forbidden to kill or wound an adversary who surrenders or who can no longer take part in the fighting.

3)      The parties to the conflict or members of their armed forces can not choose methods of warfare. It is forbidden to use weapons or methods of warfare that are likely to cause unnecessary losses or suffering.

4)      The wounded and sick must be collected and cared for by the party which has them in its power.

5) Captured combatants and civilians who are under the authority of the adverse party are entitled to respect for their lives, their dignity, their personal rights and their political, religious and other convictions. They must be protected against all acts of violence or reprisal. They have a right to exchange news with their families and receive aid. Basic judicial guarantees must be provided for them.


Liis: Intermational Humanitarian Law (IHL) and International Human Rights Law (IHRL)

August 16, 2010

At first, it might be hard to see the differences between these two laws. It is therefore not surprising that, while very different in formulation, the essence of some of the rules is similar, if not identical. On the other hand, rules of IHL deal with many issues what are outside the purview of IHRL, such as the conduct of hostilities, combatant and prisoner of war status and the protection of the red cross and red crescent emblems. Similarly, IHRL deals with aspects of life in peacetime that are not regulated by IHL, such as freedom of the press, the right to assembly, to vote and to strike.

 International Humanitarian Law (IHL) is a set of rules which are specifically intended to solve humanitarian problems, directly arising from armed conflicts. It protects persons and property that are, or may be, affected by an armed conflict and limits the rights of the parties to choose theirs methods and means of warfare. IHL main treaty sources are four Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their Additional Protocols I and II (1977).

 International Human Rights Law is a set of international rules on the basis of which individuals and groups can expect and claim for certain behavior or benefits from governments. Human rights are inherent entitlements which belong to every person as a consequence of being human. IHRL main treaty sources are the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966), as well as Conventions on Genocide (1948), Racial Discrimination (1965), Discrimination Against Women (1979), Torture (1984) and Rights of the Child (1989).

 Because IHL deals with an exceptional situation- armed conflict- it is applicable only in times of armed conflict. But in principle, IHRL applies at all times, both in peacetime and in war. However, some IHRL treaties permit governments to derogate from certain rights in situations of public emergency, threatening the life of the nation. Even though, certain human rights are never derogable, such as the right to life, prohibition of torture or inhuman treatment, slavery and retroactive criminal laws.

 The laws bind different actors. IHL binds all actors to an armed conflict, where it must be observed by the states involved or by the government and groups fighting. On the other hand, IHRL lays down rules binding governments in their relations with individuals.

Human Rights and Humanitarian Law

August 16, 2010

This blog was created in the frame of an international project, which ended in June 2010, but there is still so many interesting and necessary about the human rights, so we decided to go on with new people and new energy…

People in Holocaust

February 4, 2010


 The story of one foreign Jew who was deported to Estonian concentration camps.

Her name was Anna Bauer she was from Czech Slovaquie. She was one of 1000 Czech Jews deported to Estonia probably by the first echelon on September 5th in 1942. After their journey in train from Terezin (Theresienstadt) ghetto to Raasiku railway station the best ones were sorted out and sent to Jägala concentration camp, while the others where killed in Kalevi-Liiva gunnery-practice ground.

When the deported arrived at Jägala’s concentration camp, they were searched through. Living conditions were very bad, for e.g. they didn’t have any heat, water nor light there.
After Jägala’s concentration camp they were taken to Patarei’s prison, where they had central heating and water but very little room. Sometimes when working out of the camp they met Estonians who helped them and gave them food.

After Paterei’s prison they were sent to Vaivara’s concentration camp that was one of the worst concentration camps she had been in.
On September 1st 1944 when German army retreated from Tallinn to Stutthof, she was also one of those detainees who were taken to Germany. In Stutthof the conditions were a lot worse than in Estonian concentration camps and there was the first time she heard about gas chambers.
Having been to Danzig for a short time, they were finally closed to a shed, where they were found by the Russian army who rescued them. Anna Bauer was already unconscious by that time but she was saved by one of her mates.


The perpetrator – Karl Linnas (1919-1987)

 Karl Linnas was an Estonian who was sentenced to capital punishment during the Holocaust trials in Soviet Estonia in 1961. He was later deported from the United States to the Soviet Union.

Linnas was tried in absentia and sentenced to death by a Soviet court in 1962 on charges that during the German occupation, between 1941 and 1943, he was the commandant of a Nazi concentration camp at Tartu and had personally shot innocent civilians, including Jewish men, women and children. After Soviet armies pushed the Germans out of Estonia, Linnas fought with the German army and was wounded in 1944. Then he stayed in Dispaced Person camps in Germany until emigrating to the USA in 1951.

Karl Linnas worked as a land surveyor, living quietly in Greenlawn, New York until 1979, when U.S. immigration officials charged him with making false statements to gain entry to the United States.

In 1981 the Federal District Court in Westbury, New York stripped the 67-year-old Linnas of his US citizenship for having lied to immigration officials thirty years earlier about his Nazi past. A 1986 federal appeals court upheld his deportation order, ruling that the evidence against the defendant was “overwhelming and largely uncontroverted.”

On April 20, 1987, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear a final appeal. At that point Linnas was flown to the Soviet Union and almost three months later died in a prison hospital in the then Leningrad while awaiting trial (July 2, 1987). Linnas became the first naturalized American to be sent to the Soviet Union to face a pending death sentence.

 Ilmar Rebane was the defender of Karl Linnas. He said that Linnas shot only people who were in the grave and showed signs of life. He rarely beat prisoners. Soviet Union claimed that 12 000 people were killed in Tartu’s  concentration camp in 1941. Estonian detective Riho Västrik said that it was 4000. Karl Linnas himself told that Germans are responsible for what happened in the concentration camps.


We don’t know – Harri Männil



Harry Männil was born on 17 May 1920 in Tallinn. He is a brother of geologist Ralf Männil. Männil graduated from Gustav Adolf Grammar School in 1938. In 1940–1943 he studied economy in University of Tartu and in 1943 business management in Helsinki. He left Estonia in 1943, and after staying in Finland and Sweden he has lived in Venezuela since 1946. In 1955 he married Mazula D’Empaire; they have four children.

In 1954 Männil was one of the founders of Aco Group, becoming its president in 1972. In 1994 he left Aco and became the president of Grupo Oriand. Männil has been a prominent entrepreneur in the automotive industry in the USA and Venezuela, and has belonged to managements of several Venezuelan companies. Around 2003 Männil retired from active business, having been succeeded by his sons.

Männil is known as an art collector and cultural benefactor in several countries. Männil has the largest private collection of pre-Columbian art in Venezuela, and his collection has been regarded as among the 200 largest private collections by the ARTnews magazine. He is the founder and the first director of West Venezuela Water Sport Federation, and has been the director of Ateneo de Caracas in Caracas and Maracaibo Art Center. Männil is a member of international council of Museum of Modern Art in New York. He is also Knight of Malta since 1968. He has been awarded several condecoracions and recognitions by Estonia, Venezuela and other countries for his endeavors in the cultural sector.

In 1990, Männil visited Estonia for the first time after 1943 on the invitation of Vaino Väljas, who he had met when Väljas was the Soviet Union’s ambassador to Venezuela. In the course of the restoration of Estonian independence 1990–1992, Männil was the president of the Prime Minister’s Economy Friends Club, which during the governments of Edgar Savisaar and Tiit Vähi. The club consisted of Estonian businessmen living abroad, who gave economic advice and helped to explain the Estonia’s situation in the western countries. Männil is also a godfather to Savisaar’s daughter. In 1998, Männil together with Henry Radeval founded Eduard Wiiralt Art Award.

Accusations of war crimes

Harry Männil has been accused of committing war crimes against Jews during the Second World War while working for three months in the Nazi-organized Estonian political police in Tallinn in 1941. In that time one of his labor conscriptions was arresting and interrogating of Jews. The Simon Wiesenthal Center claims that he participated in the persecution and murder of civilians, allegedly being responsible of murdering 100 Jews personally and indirectly being liable for the death of thousands of others. It is due to the fact that all of the Jews, who were interrogated by Männil, were later killed. Roland Lannes, a former co-worker of Männil, testified that Harry was involved in the execution of Jews, Communists and Estonian patriots and after that seizing their property.


Harri Männil is accused by the Simon Wiesenthal Center of having participated in the murder of Jews during German occupation of Estonia. Estonian court found him not guilty. In April 1990, the chief of Estonian SSR’s KGB, informed Moscow that there is no evidence about Männil, and all reasons for obtaining such evidence have been exhausted. Estonian authorities have on multiple occasions indicated that they have found no evidence proving that Männil is guilty of war crimes. In 1995 Estonian investigators combed their files for evidence implicating Männil, but found none. In 2001 an Estonian International Commission for Investigation of Crimes Against Humanity (that has no Estonian members for independence purposes) announced that they have found no evidence which would indicate Männil’s participation in war crimes. However, the investigators did discover that 7 Jews Männil interrogated were later executed. In March 2001, “Kaitsepolitsei” started investigating Männil’s wartime activities at Efraim Zuroff’s request. After a nearly five year long investigation it was concluded that there is no evidence regarding Männil’s participation in war crimes. The state prosecutor Margus Kurm said that there are no documents or witnesses to prove Männil’s participation in executions, arrests, or other repressions. Regarding those individuals whom Männil had interrogated, Kurm said that there is no evidence that Männil was aware of them being destined for repression or execution. Several aspects support the view that Männil was unaware of such possibilities.


The Righteous Among The Nations – Uku Masing

In years 1941-1944 during the Second World War was Estonia under the occupation of Nazi Germany. Almost all the Estonian Jews who did not escape to Soviet Union were killed. Few had the luck like Isidor Levin (also Lewin) – a Latvian student in Tartu University, who later became a noted professor – he was helped by Uku Masing.

Isidor Lewin was Masing`s stundent and neighbor. Masing and his wife Eha helped Levin to stay undetected, helped him with  food and other needs. Doing so, they risked their lives only by having a contact with a Jew. But even more: Masing provided Levin with forged documents and shelter. He also gave a false testimony to Gestapo.

In year 1998 the Israeli state awarded Eha Masing with the Diploma Righteous Among the Nations. At that time his husband was already passed away. The award is given to people who risked their lives to save Jews. The ambassador of Israel sayd: “The jews fallow the principle: who has saved one Jew, has saved a hole community”.

Films about the Holocaust

February 3, 2010


Holocaust in Great Britain. The Documentary 

When Hitler had seized power, he started to kill Jews and send them to concentration camps. British newspapers were covering events in progress and the authorities there looked to Hitler, who was “trying to restore Germanys pride”, even positively. Jews wanted to escape but there was nowhere to go. British border service did not let them in.

On November 1938 took place “Crystal night” – 10 000 Jews were sent to concentration camps. Some children were sent to Great Britain but their mothers were left behind. The conditions in concentration camp were awful. There was no food and water. Some people who survived went to Great Britain. They were treated as usual incomers and no psychical help was given to them. They were alone.  

 In my opinion holocaust was very condemnable and authorities should have done something to avoid it. Not only the authorities in Great Britain but also authorities in elsewhere. People should learn of things like that but in some countries mistreatment still continues.



Night and Fog

1956, Argos Films, France

Director – Alain Resnais

The film Night and Fog tells us about concentration camps like Auschwitz, Dachau, Treblinka, Buchenwald, Stutthof, all of those were just names on a map, and now they have a horrifying meaning because of what was going on over there.

The concentration camps were built by the Nazi party with clear knowing of their purpose – to destroy human beings. The literal builder was not military, as we may believe, but usual building companies, whoever did the best bid.

The inmates were brought to the caps with trains in cattle cars in awful conditions already the journey killed many people.  Most of them had no idea where they were going, or what was going to happen to them

At the arrival to the camp all the personal belongings were taken away from them, people were often forced to nudity before compulsory shower, hair was shaved off and they were made to wear blue-striped uniforms. The barracks were always overcrowded, sometimes three or four people sleeping in one bed.

Himmler was very clear that the purpose of these camps was to destroy the inmates, but before he wanted to gain as mush of them as he could. So the inmates were in servitude, working often for big fabrics, working in snow, in heat, always kept hungry. Food was always in their mind, even though it frequently worked as a diuretic. Many captives died of hunger and diseases before the destroying reached them.

The killing was organized and contiguous. Sometimes those who could not work were separated right after arriving to the camp, sometimes people were taken from the camp by cars or trains, either way they did not know, that they were about to be executed in a moment.

At the beginning the SS used to shoot the people, but that was not effective enough. So the gas chambers and crematoriums were built

About nine million people were killed or died in concentration camps.  The ally troops arrived too late for so many. Almost all the officers said that they “are not responsible”.

The film questions who then is to blame and will mankind be smart enough to forestall the history from repeating itself. By revealing the true horrors of the camps it definitely makes one think about the causes that led some of us to command such acts.


Forgiving doctor Mengel

            The name of the movie is „Forgiving doctor Mengel“ and it consists of four short submovies: „Memories from the camp“, „Doctor Munch“, „Holocaust museum“, „The reopening of museum“. The movie is of a woman, Eva Kor, who survived the torturing in Auschwitz camp.

            In the first subpart Eva’s nowadays life can be seen. Her everyday life is shown and she describes her life in the Auschwitz camp and how she got there. Also Eva’s close people speak about her.

In the second subpart Eva flies to Germany to meet a man who was a Nazi officer Dr. Hans Münch. He was the only officer who was acquited because a lot of prisoners testified that he saved their lives in Auschwitz camp. Together Eva and Hans go to an old gas chamber in Auschwitz were Eva wants to sign a letter in the presence of Hans Münch where she forgives Dr. Mengel so she could get peace of mind.

In the third part it is shown how in the name of the Max Planck Association the spokesman apologizes in front of several „dr. Mengel twins“ and the „twins“ reactions to that. Later Eva’s holocaust museum is shown and she describes it a bit.

In the fourth submovie the burned remains of Eva’s holocaust museum is shown and it is mentioned that it was arson. The movie ends with the 60th anniversary of liberation in a crematorium in Auschwitz where Eva describes her emotions when visiting this camp.

            I think that overall it was a good educational movie. I wouldn’t recommend it to people who aren’t dealing with holocaust specifically but it’s good for them who study holocaust and want to get to the core of it. In my opinion it was good that Eva decided to forgive and get her peace of mind although other survivors of the Auschwitz camp didn’t understand her. I think that there should have been more describing of the life in Auschwitz camp and it would have been good to show more videos of the life there.


But the story didnt end that way

I watched film named „But the story didnt end that way“. It’s produced by Yad Vashem and The International School for Holocaust Studies.

The film talks about the „Kristallnacht“ pogrom- a series of riots held against the Jews of the Third Reich. This event constitutes a significant turning point in the history of German and Austrian Jewry. It has become a symbol of the attack on innocent people.

In the film survivors tell about their memories. There are about five persons who have lived it through and try to give forward the atmosphere on these days.

I don’t recommend this film for everybody but when you are interested in history especially Jews or Nazis, it could be a good overview.


Maine Survivors Remember the Holocaust
Running time: 1:00:40
Subject: Holocaust, 1933-1945

The film talked about how Nazis began to rule Germany in 1933 and ended
with the capitulation of Germany and liberating the detainees. There
were several people talking about their experience with concentration
camps and Nazi’s rule. The film also included interesting photos and
video clips taken during that period. 

An interesting film that helps one to understand better what happened
during World War II. There was a lot of new information for me,
everything looked more real because of the speakers who were talking
about their own experiences and not scientists who had read about it
from some kind of book. I recommend it to others, too.

Unit 2 Estonian Consentration camps

November 20, 2009



 In Estonian area, there were about 120 camps that worked from several weeks to a year and had in average some tens to some thousand detainees. The most important concentration camps were in Vaivara, Kiviõli, Klooga and Ereda.

 The first time that foreign detainees were sent to Estonia by German authorities was in September 1942. That time about 1000 Czech Jews were brought to Estonia. Most of them were sent to Jägala’s concentration camp.  From more than 2000 Jews who were brought to Estonia during 1942 estimably 74 survived the war.
 There were basicly detainees of Lithuanian origin in Vaivara’s concentration camp. All in all about 10 000 Jews were brought there.
 On 15th May 1944 one echelon (so-called convoy nr 73) with 878 men on board was brought from France, Drancy’s concentration camp to Kaunas and some of them (according to the data of Tallinn’s central prison 300) reached to Tallinn.
By 1st September 1944 when German army retreated from Tallinn to Stutthof, 34 of them had remained alive.

 By the end of 1944 more than 1500 Jews had been killed in Estonian concentration camps. Many Jews that had been brought to Estonia were also taken to concentration camps in other countries where they were killed.



   Concentration camps

 Jägala camp: In 1942 German authorities sent 2000-2100 Jewry near to Tallinn, to Jägala concentration camp. They were from Germany and Czechoslovakia. Formally the camp was called work and education camp. 1600 Jewry were killed  on the first day, before making it to the camp. The others were killed after some time. Only 74 prisoners survived.

 Vaivara camp: Vaivara camp was a set of concentration camps. At first there were 3 different camps in Vaivara with 3300 prisoners. By the end there were 20 with 10 000 prisoners. The Jewry came basically from Lithuania. About 1500 persons died because of  the harsh conditions, other 1500 were sent to different camps where they were killed. There were two massacres in Vaivara camp in Klooga and Lagedi. Over 2000 prisoners were killed.







Unit 2 Jews situation in Estonia during the II World War

November 20, 2009


When the German military unit arrived in Estonia in July1941 there was about 1000 Jews, others (~2000) had gone to Russia with Red Army. In Estonia was German military branch called Sonderkommando that decided that destroying Jews here should seem legal so do not displeasure the people and avoid conflicts with them. The eradication of Jews can be divided into phases. In the first phase which began in the middle of July 1941 the Jews were arrested in the process of “cleaning” which began right after the Germans had conquered the respective area. The arrests were made by Estonians who were ordered by the German military authorities. In 10th September 1941 the second phase began. Then everything connected to Jews was handed over to Sonderkommando. Almost all of the Jews living in Estonia were excecuted. In the Wannsee conferencre on 20th January 1942 Estonia was declared as “Jew free area“.

Unit 2 The Story of Jewes in Estonia before the second World War

November 20, 2009


First time, when the jewish are mentioned in Estonia is 1373. The master of order forbidden jews to reside in Baltics.
Polish-Lithuanian country was favor of jews. When the were the master of this Estonian country- jewish came here a lot.
After this land went to Sweden, all jews had to be baptised, so a lot of them went out of the country. Lot of rich jews went to Sweden at the 1774, when Swedish republic allowed it.
Russians came here after the North war in 1721 and were here till the end of Russian country (then started Soviet Union)! Russians used jewish people communicating with german´s. Katariina II knew that the jews are very smart, clever and skilled, so she used them. After the end of a big Polish country Russians got a land full of jews. Estonian local jews were very politful and they protected the outsiders (jews mostly)!
Jews also take part in the Estonian war of independence.
In 1941 8% of Jews were taken to Siber. In Estonia it was hard time to do something at the time of Soviet Union, but it was still better than the situation in the other unionrepublics.


The first Jewish congregation was created in Tallinn at 1856 and in Tartu at 1859, at that time the area of Estonia was under the rule of tsarist Russia and in the middle of 19.  century an act was passed that allowed the Jews to chose a place to live (after the military service of 25 years.)

In year 1865 every Jew who was highly educated, was free to chouse a place to live in whole Russia and by the time of   1881 already 3704 Jews lived in Estonia. A proper synagogue was built at 1882 in Tallinn and at 1901 in Tartu, both of witch were destroyed in second world war.

The Jewish community in Tallinn stand mainly of merchants and entrepreneurs, Tartu was high on intellectuals, because many students stayd after  the graduation of University of Tartu. Many associations were created and Tartu was the culture centre of the Jewish community. Also the  first national Jewish school was created in Tartu at 1875.

The time of First world war was a difficult time for Jews.

1918 Republic of Estonia was founded and most of the Jews preferred that solution.

11.  May 1919, The Congress of Estonian Jew Communities (Eesti Juudi Kogukondade Kongress) was assembled.  It was decided to create many different commissions that would deal with different questions when the Act of Cultural Autonomy will be accepted.

1925 the Act of Cultural Autonomy was accepted and 1926 National Council of Estonian Jews (Eesti Juudi Rahvusnõukogu) was elected, they announced Jewish Cultural Autonomy (Juudi Kultuuriautonoomia) and elected Cultural Coverment (Kultuurivalitsus).

All that was unique in world history so even the Jewish National Found in Palestine  mentioned it in their Golden Book.

By the end of the nineteen thirties  32 national organisations practiced in Estonia. At the same time the Jews were well integrated in Estonian  community, they spoke Estonian and were equal with Estonians, many of them even joined different  political partys.

Unit 1

November 19, 2009


The declaration of human rights declares the basic rights every person is entitled to. It says that all people are equal and have to be treated equally.

The declaration is necessary because that is the way humans are – we need certain laws and regulations to coexist peacefully. History has shown as that without those rules some people just can not act civilized.

Of course all the points in the declaration are important but the article 16 seemed essential for me because it seems to me that violation of this point still often occurs in many societies.


The declaration says that all human beings are born free, they are free, they have the right to life, freedom, they are equal before the law and are protected by law, nobody is guilty before it is ruled so by court, everyone has the right to travel, men and women of full age have the right to marry, everyone has the right to own property, everyone has the freedom of thought, conscience and religion and the right to express their attitude, everyone has the right to take part in government, the right to work, healthcare, wellbeing, education, participate in cultural life.

These are important in a civilised society because they are the foundation of civility and human relationships. They help to keep order in society and keep it functioning. They give people equal right for their everyday life.
I think that the most important are right to life, freedom and protection by law for all human beings because they grant the basic needs for people to live. I think that these make the fundament of human rights.

The Declaration of Human Rights says that everybody must be treated equal and anybody shouldn’t be harmed.

These legislations are important in a civilized society because without them, it would be anarchy in the world. I think civilized society, as we know it nowadays, is based on Declaration of Human Rights.

The most important for me is Article 3 because it influences me the most. Also I think it is most important at all.


 These legistlations are important to ensure that every person has a livable life and his/hers basic  rights are not being ignored.

  The most important legistlations to me are

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. – I have the same rights as everybody else and I am free in my decisions.

No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. – I am not being treated in a cruel or degrading way.

Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. – I have the right to express my ideas without being disapproved.

Everyone has the right to education. Education is free.  – I have the right to attend school without having to pay for it.


The declaration of human rights say that it is necessary to protect human rights. We need to obey the law to have a peaceful and friendly society, where there is no torturing and nobody feels fear or dearth.

These legislations are important in a civilised society because everybody has a right to be treated equally, everybody has a right to think and express their emotions. Without a law that protects people from unrightful behavior, there would soon be a rebellion against tyranny and oppression.
The most important legislations to me are article 1, which say that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights, and article 4, which say that no one shall be held in slavery or servitude. These legislations are important to me because everybody should be treated equally, not based on their race, belief, sex or age. Nobody should suffer from slavery. It is humans torturing.

Human Rights and the Holocaust

November 19, 2009

This project is supported by Yad Vashem (http://www.yadvashem.org/) and European Union Agency for Human Rights (http://fra.europa.eu/fraWebsite/home/home_en.htm).

Teachers, who are involved: Mirela Popescu (Romania), Charis Scholinaki-Chelioti (Greece), Steve Richardson (UK) and Aare Ristikivi (Estonia).