Rotary District 1420
THE DISTRICT 1420 HISTORY
Prepared by the district and not verified by Rotary Global History
Rotary District 1420
FINLAND & ESTONIA
The Rotary movement, established in Chicago in 1905, came to Finland in 1926. The 1920s in Finland were marked by the building up of the newly established Republic of Finland that had torn itself away from the position as a Grand Duchy under a Governor General of the Russian empire.
When WWII broke out there were eight clubs in Finland and 270 Rotarians.
Cooperation with Germany during the actual fighting of the war and the uneasy peace concluded with the Soviet Union after the war left little leeway. Neither of the two totalitarian countries looked too kindly upon the Anglo-American influenced Rotary movement. The general trend in the post-war years, when the country sought a closer orientation towards the Western world, brought about a boom in the establishment of Rotary Clubs in all parts of the country. A social order for Rotary had emerged. Similar trends in the other Nordic countries took all to the top ten league in Rotary density per-capita in the world. Today Finland has a good 300 rotary clubs and 12,000 Rotarians in a population of 5 million.
The Finnish Rotary clubs are divided into six Districts, with District 1420 being responsible for the administration of the Rotary clubs in Estonia (and containing a total of 73 clubs; Webmaster)
The Estonian Rotary clubs are included within District 1420 of Rotary Finland. The links between the Rotary movements in Finland and Estonia have always been close since the sponsor club for Estonia’s first Rotary club was Helsinki-Helsingfors RC. This was in 1929. The Rotary movement was banned in Estonia with effect from August 6, 1940 until the end of the Soviet occupation. Upon regaining independence in 1991, the Rotary movement was re-established in Estonia. The new Tallinn R.C. was chartered on May 5, 1991. Today, the 14 Estonian clubs are actively pursuing a normal Rotary agenda.
Rotary Club of Tartu
The club was founded in 1932. The first meeting of the future Rotary Club of Tartu took place on 19 April 1932 at the apartment of barrister Oskar Rütli. From there on meetings were held at the cafeteria of the Vanemuine Theatre.
At those meeting lectures covering a variety of subjects, from local and national education policy, news was presented in the fields of telephony, television and military technology, and fine arts to travel stories from near and far places. For example, Professor Ludvig Puusepp – the father of world neurosurgery – delivered a number of presentations on neuropathological conditions and neurosurgery.
On 23 and 24 May 1936 lots of club members participated in the Rotary Conference of the Baltic States held in Kaunas. Edvard Johanson, president of Rotary International, was also present. The club decided to honour him with a collection titled “Tartu”.
On 17 October 1936 the president of Swedish Rotary clubs visited Tallinn and on 7 November the president of the Rotary Club of Riga followed suit.
Among other activities the Club supported the most gifted students of Tartu vocational schools by awarding prizes for their best works, artists and art students by buying their works of art, the soon-to-be-founded Tartu Philharmonic Society with donations and talented actors in Tartu by awarding travel scholarships.
At the last meeting of the Rotary Club for the year 1937/1938 colonel Kurvits delivered the lecture “Estonia in the Turmoil of a Potential War.” Summertime meetings were held in the Toome cafeteria or at Narva-Jõesuu beach.
At the start of the Rotary year of 1938/1939 a delegation of three representatives was sent to Stockholm to the conference of Scandinavian Rotary clubs.
One of the first lectures delivered during the Rotary year of 1939/1940 analysed the reasons behind Poland’s defeat. At the last spring meeting participation in the Baltic Rotary Days and the organisation of a Rotary Week was considered.
A recurring theme in the numerous letters that the Club received from all over the world during those years was the need for better mutual understanding in order to maintain peace.
As of 28 May 1940 the Rotary Club of Tartu had 22 members.
The Rotary year of 1940/1941 started with the occupation of the Republic of Estonia by the Red Army and its incorporation into the Soviet Union. With the decision of the public defence commander of the puppet government the Rotary Club of Tartu was dissolved as from 7 September 1940 with a number of other similar organisations whose (quote from the decision) “activities would run counter to the interests of the working class or would be considered useless under new circumstances.”
After Estonia regained independence in 1991, two men – the first two presidents of the future re-established Club – were introduced to this movement in Finland and Sweden and, as a result, they started to look for prospective members. None of the pre-war members of the Club were found to be alive – one had passed away recently and all others had perished in Siberia or the gulags or had died in exile. So at first the Club was registered as a new club and its charter was adopted on 26 April 1992 in the concert hall of the Vanemuine Theatre. The godfather club is Turku RC. However, pre-war foundation documents were later discovered at Evanston's and so the continuity of the Club was restored. In spring 2010 the Club had 71 members.
This brief history written by RGHF Member Peeter Saari, Secretary of the Club in 2010/2011, is based on the history of the Club compiled by Kaljo Mitt, president of the Club in 1992/1993.
Posted circa 2008 by Greg Barlow