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Official patriotism or national thinking?

Friedrich Nikolai Russow’s and Friedrich Reinhold Kreutzwald’s texts inspired by the Crimean War



The article examines the pragmatics of the Crimean War based texts by Friedrich Nikolai Russow and Friedrich Reinhold Kreutzwald, who were both figures of the early stage of the Estonian National Awakening. The texts analysed include Tallinna koddaniko ramat omma söbbradele male („A book from a citizen of Tallinn to his friends in the country”, 1854–1857) and the short poem Söalaul Eestima tüttarlastele („A war song to Estonian girls”, 1854) by Russow, to which F. R. Kreutzwald responded with his poem Sõda („War”, 1854). Although both authors glorify the Tzar and the double-headed eagle, they hardly deserve to be called government patriots. Considering the fate and future of the Estonian people those two figures of the early period of Estonian National Awakening sought support for their aspirations to cultivate the Estonian language, original Estonian literature and journalism, turning to whoever had the means and authority to realise such desires. Facing the dilemma: Baltic Germans versus the government sitting in in St. Petersburg and Russian public opinion, the national leaders of the time made their bets on the Russian side and guided their readers accordingly. However, their plans changed as soon as it turned out that the short-sighted imperial politics was not apt to support the views of the Estonian enlighteners, while the advent of Russification in a few decades brought a total restructuring of the relevant forces.