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August Vakepea — Accessory to the Murder of Estonian Communists in Copenhagen

There were three participants in the murder of leading Estonian communists in Copenhagen in February of 1936 — Leo Looring, Karl Säre and August Vakepea. Johannes Eltermann-Martõnov was brutally killed with the approval of the Comintern. The subsequent fate of those who ordered the murder has gradually started coming to light. Leo Looring’s career and fate became known at the turn of the current millennium already: the Soviet state security organs succeeded in getting him extradited from a Swedish prison to the USSR, where he was tried by a tribunal and executed in 1952. Karl Säre died in the Hamburg-Neuengamme concentration camp on 14 March 1945. There were only assumptions concerning August Vakepea that he had apparently gone to fight in the Spanish Civil War. No documentary confirmation of this conjecture had thus far been found. No other biographical information about him had been disclosed either.

The analytical comparison of the personal data in the Comintern file on August Vakepea that is deposited in Estonia with a document on Hermann Pikk that is deposited in Russia demonstrated that they are one and the same person. This young man from Saaremaa dreamed of becoming a seaman. His dream came true in 1929. As a seaman, he found himself in the Soviet Union on a couple of occasions, and as of 1932 he was under the influence of the Comintern. August Vakepea became a member of the Estonian Communist Party (ECP) in 1933. He was given a new identity in Russia. As of 1934, his name was Jaan Klaar. Archival documents at the Russian State Archive of Socio-Political History indicate that August Vakepea participated in the Spanish Civil War under the name Pikk Hermann (Tall Hermann), which is at the same time ironic because this is also the name of the most important flag tower in the Republic of Estonia, right beside the parliament building. August Vakepea also merits attention since he was the first Estonian who made it to the Spanish Civil War by 1 December 1936 already and was most likely the only one to serve in the anarchist Durruti unit. Articles on the Spanish Civil War appeared in communist publications under the name of Hermann Pikk until the spring of 1937. As of 31 March, he had been counted out of the ranks of the fighters of the Durruti Column. His last known location was near the village of Pina del Ebro on the Aragon Front: negatory responses have been received from Spanish archives. They did not succeed in finding information on August Vakepea, Jaan Klaar or Hermann Pikk. Admittedly, the writings of Hermann Pikk in communist publications also stopped after that point. Thus we are left to conclude that August Vakepea went missing at the front in the Spanish Civil War in the spring of 1937.