Jewish Autonomy in interwar Estonia and the life trajectories of its leaders


  • Timo Aava University of Vienna



Jews of Estonia, non-territorial autonomy, prosopography, interwar era, democracy, authoritarianism


This article tries to diversify the understanding of the Jewish experience in interwar Europe by analysing the work of Jewish Cultural Self-Government in interwar Estonia. Estonia’s Jews were granted self-government in 1926, and the institution worked until the summer of 1940 when the Soviet Union occupied Estonia. The institution created a public law forum for the Estonian Jewish community where they could independently manage cultural and educational affairs. The authoritarian turn in spring 1934 meant increasing control over minority autonomies, but the institution survived until summer 1940 without any significant restrictions. Finally, by focussing on some members of the Jewish Cultural Council, the article discusses the possibility of using prosopographic methods to study the history of Jews of Estonia.

Author Biography

Timo Aava, University of Vienna

Timo Aava studied history at the University of Tartu (Estonia) and obtained Master’s degree in 2015. Additional studies in Berlin, Kiel and London. He was a Junior Fellow at the VWI in 2021/2022. Currently he is a member of the core team “Non-Territorial Autonomy” ERC project at the University of Vienna. He is mainly interested in history of political thought with a focus on the end of 19th century and first half of 20th century, Estonia, Marxism, and nationalism. In 2023, Timo Aava will defend his dissertation on the history of non-territorial autonomy in Estonia.


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How to Cite

Aava, Timo. 2023. “Jewish Autonomy in Interwar Estonia and the Life Trajectories of Its Leaders”. S: I.M.O.N. Shoah: Intervention. Methods. Documentation. 10 (1):37-56.