Emmaste Forest Brothers

The history of the Emmaste Forest Brothers was recounted in great detail by Endel Saar in his book Sõruots ﹘ The Southern Shore of Hiiumaa II (2007): "The group of Forest Brothers in Emmaste comprised as many as 10 people at certain points between 1944 and 1951. Three of them were from Sõruots: Priidu Mäe (1897-1951, from Reheselja), Evald Pomerants (1921-1951, from Sõru) and Einar Pruul (1916-1964, from Pärna). August Tuut, from Audru municipality in Pärnu County, was the eldest. He had served in the Sõru border guard unit during the German occupation. Talk of a group of men hiding in Emmaste soon reached the Russian border guards. Their pursuit began in 1945. Agent Richard Ristmägi from Nõmba was given the task of going undercover to infiltrate the group. Ristmägi left Hiiumaa after the Forest Brothers were captured and moved to a village in the woods in the Virumaa region. The border guards executed a large-scale operation on St John's Day in 1953: five truckloads of troops and five search dogs were brought in from Saaremaa. The operation was led by regional staff officers from Saaremaa ﹘ Deputy Commander Captain Makarov and Staff Intelligence Senior Lieutenant Karl Pann. Since the former Sicherheitspolizei officer Erik Heinloo had been mistaken for a German, given his first name, he was wanted alive. Ristmägi managed to lure him out of hiding on the evening of 22 June, leading to his capture. The bunker he was hiding in was attacked early in the morning on 23 June. A gunfight ensued for half an hour before the bunker was set on fire. Pomerants and Tuut were killed. Mäe, having vowed that he would not be taken alive by the Russians, shot himself in the head. Pruul and fellow Forest Brother Valter Koor were arrested. Heinloo's wife Magda and two other women who had brought food to the Forest Brothers, Juuli Härd and Leida Leps, were also arrested. All six were put on trial in Tallinn in September 1953 and given the same sentence ﹘ 25 years of forced labour and five years of exile. They were all released in 1956."

Storyteller: Endel Saar
Used sources and references:

Endel Saar „Sõruots ﹘ Hiiumaa lõunarand II” (2007)

Related objects

Emmaste memorial to Forest Brothers

This boulder, embellished with three metal crosses, is dedicated to the Forest Brothers Priidu Mäe, Evald Pomerants and August Tuut, who were killed near Emmaste on 23 June 1951. Designed by Jaanus Rohusaar, the memorial was unveiled in Emmaste Cemetery in 2007.