The Knight's Cross

It was on April 20 when it seemed like something extraordinary was happening in Türi. It seemed as if the capital had been brought from Tallinn to Türi. A number of cars were heading towards Türi, each containing German civil authorities and Estonian local administration highest leaders. There was General Commissar and SA-Obergruppenführer Karl Sigsmund Litzmann, Estonian local authorities leader Hjalmar Mäe, SS and Police leader SS-Brigadeführer Möller, Inspector General SS-Oberführer Soodla, Estonian 20th SS Division Commander SS-Oberführer Franz Augsberger, and so on. Other higher military men, local authorities' representatives and other famous people were also heading to Türi. The everlastingly silver-gray broadcasting bus arrived.

An invite to come to Türi was also sent to Harald's father August Nugiseks. The newspaper wrote about it: "Thursday, April 20, 1944. A farmer over 60 years of age came with an old farm carriage along a muddy road, he arrived to the nearby small town, which was decorated with flags. He took his horse to one yard and stood on the street corner. Here was the local authorities' building, somewhere over there should be a small military hospital." We also find out that August Nugiseks didn't have a clue why he had to go ten or more kilometers along a muddy road to Türi, where his son was whom he had visited the previous day. Nevertheless he had received an invite late in the evening! Incomprehensible.

August Nugiseks realized that something was different than normally. Many flags were out. He was greeted with extraordinary friendliness, the parish secretary stood up when he arrived and the parish leader personally brought him a chair, although the reason why he was called there was not said. But did they really knew it themselves? Numerous cars were parked in front of the hospital. The mud stains on their sides revealed a long journey. Then August Nugiseks saw the broadcasting men and bus from which big and long wires went to somewhere. He saw men in uniforms and in private clothes. Some people shook his hand and congratulated him. But why?

"Oh Lord," wrote the newspaper about what was happening to August Nugiseks, "Isn't it the Estonian General Commissar personally who approaches him now! And with him – how incredible – is no one else but the leader of Estonian local authority!" And suddenly the old farmer was by his son's bed. He still didn't have a clue what was going on. Only when the Estonian 20th SS Division Commander Franz Augsberger had placed the Knight's Cross with black-white-red ribbon over Harald's head on the name of the Führer and said several greetings and many people had shook his son's hand, the father realized that these men on high positions were there because his son had done something on the front, which deserved their presence. General Commissar Litzmann spoke, asking Harald Nugiseks to visit him once he has recovered. Warm-hearted words came from Hjalmar Mäe who also asked Nugiseks to visit him. SS and Police leader Möller expressed the congratulations of SS leader Himmler, whose signature had confirmed the Knight's Cross recipient. Inspector General Soodla greeted Harald on behalf of the military units.

The newspaper described the award recipient: "The young man's cheeks were slightly red. They showed traces of fever and slight irritation because of the strangeness of the moment." New people came to Harald's bed to congratulate him. Film cameras were buzzing again and again, the guy from the radio spoke of something quite silently into a funny-looking tube in his hand. Harald Nugiseks was then asked to speak about what happened on Vaasa-Siiverts-Vepsküla bridgehead. And as always, Nugiseks's answer was short: "We battled, like in any war." He is exactly what he was called in one newspaper headline – the Silent Hero.

But the time that has passed had made the events more clear and more easily definable. Everyone has the right to call what happened in Türi a war propaganda campaign, which it inevitably was. However, we must admit that Estonian soldiers' actions under Narva raise respect and admiration even decades later. Harald Nugiseks once said the following words in his home a few years ago which were printed in the newspaper "Eesti Päevaleht", published in Sweden: "Every man in our attack was worth the Knight's Cross." Estonian soldiers did things during the war, especially on Narva front, that are believable only because they are true. Nugiseks was one soldier whose actions were appreciated. He was the first Estonian soldier whose resistance to the bolshevists gained this kind of recognition. An award this high was not given to a wrong guy. His military favors behind it were inevitable. The propaganda campaign did not interrupt the war, it was simply a part of it. But at that time it was in everyone's best interests that the crazy and fanatic society did not drown Estonia in March and April 1944.