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The Story of Hans Littover and his Wife

Hans Littover was born near Märjamaa on 16 (4) May 1898 into a family that worked on a manor. He was mobilised into the Russian Army in 1917. During the Russian Civil War, Hans Littover joined the Red Army and fought in Budyonny’s 1st Cavalry Army until the end of the civil war.

He repatriated to Estonia in 1921. Hans Littover took a job as an accountant at the Märjamaa Consumers’ Cooperative. In 1933, he married Reet (born in 1913), a maiden from Haapsalu. He was very active in social life. He was arrested in June of 1941 as a kulak and the deputy commander of the Kaitseliit’s (Defence League) Märjamaa malevkond (military unit). He was shot on 24 April 1942.

Hans Littover’s wife Reet Littover was taken in the course of the mass deportation of June 1941 to the Gady peat harvesting enterprise in the Oritch rajon in Kirov oblast. Reet Littover started writing letters to the Estonian SSR People’s Commissar for Internal Affairs, the Estonian SSR representation in Moscow, and elsewhere, asking for permission to return home. She stressed that her brother Evald Laidre had fought in the ranks of the Estonian Rifle Corps and that her uncle Aleksander Lahe was killed in the yard of his home in 1941 during the fascist occupation.

The Estonian SSR Ministry of State Security, however, wrote in its decision drawn up on 20 May 1945 that Reet Littover’s husband was an active member and one of the leaders of the counter-revolutionary Kaitseliit organisation, and also belonged to the Isamaaliit (Pro Patria) Party. Thus her application had to be rejected!

Reet Littover left her place of exile of her own accord in January of 1947 and went to Estonia. Reet Littover was arrested on 17 April 1949 and on 2 September, a Soviet Special Counsel committee sentenced her to three years in prison camp for leaving her place of exile of her own accord. While she was in exile in Kirov oblast, Reet Littover sent a letter on 16 March 1956 to the head of the Estonian SSR Department of Internal Affairs asking whether her husband Hans Littover was alive or dead, since she had no information whatsoever about him.

Times had changed significantly in the meantime. Comrade Shornikov, the head of the Estonian SSR KGB Department of Account-Observation and Archives, asked the head of the Kirov oblast KGB Department of Account-Observation and Archives in his letter of 27 August 1956 to verbally inform Reet Littover that Hans, son of Jaan, Littover, who had been sentenced in 1942 to 10 years in correctional labour camp, died of lung cancer in his place of incarceration on 4 October 1946. Thus this widow was lied to concerning the fate of her husband.

Deputy Prosecutor of the Estonian SSR Karl Kimmel, however, started dealing with the problem of Hans Littover. He requested the nullification of the Special Counsel decree of 4 March 1942 concerning Littover, Hans, son of Jaan, the termination of proceedings in the criminal case against him, and that the executed person be declared rehabilitated. On 22 December 1956, the ESSR Supreme Soviet Judicial Board for Criminal Cases subsequently issued an ordinance amending the convicting verdict of the

USSR NKVD Special Counsel from 4 March 1942 due to the insufficiency of incriminating evidence. Nevertheless, nothing redressed what had happened to Hans Littover and other repressed members of the Kaitseliit.