The Estonian war games

In a cold and moist morning of May Ivar, the head of the Kaitseliit of the Luganuse section, leaves at down to build the training camp where all the members of his group reunite. Ivar does not receive any compensation or preferential treatment for his work. What guides him and all the other participants is the strong patriotic feeling, the desire of being useful for the community and to establish the sovereignty of the Estonian State with his other compatriots.

After a coffee, a jam toast and a hot and hypercaloric porridge, the members of the Kaitseliit begin the training day relaxed and smiling. The training, since is for civilians and not for soldiers, is organized during the weekend, so that everybody can take part in the activities.

It is very interesting to enter in the private life of these people to understand why simple citizens support a cause much bigger than them. Stephan, one of the oldest members of the group, shows proudly his car, a shining yellow Lamda of the Russian age. He tells us with nostalgia his contribution to the Estonian cause and to this organization during the past years. Today, since he cannot take part actively in the training because of his age, he takes care of the safety of the events. His wife, just like many other women of her age, manages the provision, cooks and takes care of the meals and the beverages. Everyone has a task and the contribution of all is crucial for the functioning of this complex structure.

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Even if there is a great effort and a high sense of responsibility, the mood during the training of the Kaitseliit is quite relaxed and calm. These day are half military training and half athletic competition.

The participants, divided for age and gender, are organized in three-member teams, which will face numerous challenges to test the abilities and the capabilities acquired during the week at the seminars hosted by the respective headquarters, dislocated along an arduous 12-kilometer-long itinerary.

A lot of training is needed to face all the hidden dangers: quicksands, slopes, woods and rivers. The participants will have to pass 13 trials in total. The best ones won’t get a golden star but the respect and the esteem of the others members and the task to teach, during the future sessions, their capabilities to the new members. Furthermore, they will have the honor to take part in the annual spring military training, called Kevadtorm, which is organized every year in May with the Estonian official army, and in which also the NATO military forces are involved.

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When the training day is over every member returns to his daily life and his job. Johanna is again a housewife, Geril opens again his university books, Ingrid goes back to treat the teeth of her patients and Veronica goes on with her pictorial research.

The most important task of the Kaitseliit is not handing down the military capabilities to the future generations. It is divulging the ideals of homeland, independence and collective identity in a young nation that experienced several occupations during his recent history.

For this aim numerous promotion days are organized by the Kaitseliit. They happens in crowded places, such as shopping centers, stations and squares during holy days, in order to spread the message, engage new people and collect the subscriptions of the future members. During these events it is possible to see the old members performing military activities, to experience the sensation of getting into a tank, to listen to the experiences of a member or to get information about the activities of the Kaitseliit from the stands. Also the children participate in these initiatives with great curiosity and fun, attracted by the uniforms or by the tools exposed, and involved by the adults in activities and games suitable to their age. Obviously no one, young or old, is incited to violence or to despising other nations or populations. It is important to specify that the Kaitseliit is not an extremist group aiming at offending the foreigners. On the contrary it seems an organization born to strengthen a feeling inside of its borders. 

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