SS-Obersturmbannführer Ain-Erwin Mere

If Ain-Erwin Mere (Martson before Estonianization) would have been in the army of a big country, he would have rose to an outstanding and leading position on the career ladder. He evaluated the situations quickly and correctly, he was a peaceful front officer. A reliable and hard-working General. He was a positively evaluated Estonian officer in the Second War of Independence, he was a lovable companion and a great bridge player. A very sincere brother for his fellow fraternity members.

Mere was born on February 22, 1903 in Vändra, Pärnu County, and got his basic education there. When the War of Independence began, he was a student at Tallinn Secondary Science School. He voluntarily joined the Tallinn School Students' squadron, which was later renamed the Tallinn School Students' Battalion. With this battalion he was sent to the front on December 30, 1918, to supplement the men on the broad-gauged armored train no 3.

On the southern front in the spring of 1919 the armored train no 3, where Mere was, got hit by the opponent's grenade shot from a battery. The grenade exploded inside the wagon and the air pressure threw Mere out through the machine gun hole. He was wounded in several places, the most severe injuries were in his face and head. After several operations in Tartu military hospital, performed by surgical professor Werner Maximilian Friedrich Zoege von Mannteufel, Ain-Erwin Mere's head, face and other wounds were recovered.

After recovering he returned to Tallinn, where he continued to serve in the School Students' Battalion, and he also continued his studies. He graduated school in 1921 and the same year joined the Military School of Technology. When he was accepted in the Aviation School, he transferred his studies. He was one of the first graduates of this school and also one of the first ones to win the aviation contest organized in independent Estonia. Due to the head wound he got in the War of Independence, he had to give up active pilot's profession. He started to deal with special assignments in the aviation regiment, then went to the Higher Military School and after graduation was sent to the Armies' Headquarters. It has to be pointed out that in his graduation his term paper was especially brought out as the best of his course.

When the Soviet Union occupied Estonia in 1940 and the regular army was distributed over the country and some of its units were merged with the Russian units, Ain-Erwin Mere became the leader of a red Estonian shooters' corps unit. When the war began in 1941, Mere went over to the German side on Porhov area on the front, he took all headquarters' letters and maps with him. The maps caused the Russian air force severe losses, because the German Luftwaffe attacked the Tuleblja airport, which they had known nothing about, but found it on the maps. Over 60 Red Army's aircrafts were destroyed in the Luftwaffe attack. From that moment on Mere remained in the German army and he was sent to Tallinn where he started to lead the Estonian Security Police.

Since Mere's family members spoke several foreign languages, Ain-Erwin Mere spoke German and Russian. In 1943 Mere joined the Estonian Legion where he became the leader of the renamed Estonian Brigade 45th Regiment's 1st Battalion. He successfully led his unit in crushing Rossino, the partisans' republic. They were also successful on Nevel front. In February 1944 Mere was appointed to the 46th Regiment 2nd Battalion leader's position while heading towards Narva front. As the leader of this battalion, he successfully led his unit during the destruction of Riigiküla bridgehead and caused the Red Army big losses.

In the summer of 1944 Mere became the SS-Obersturmbannführer and was sent to become the headquarters' leader of the Military Districts'  Headquarters, which was led by the Estonian units' Inspector General and SS-Brigadeführer Johannes Soodla. On Soodla's command the headquarters was evacuated to Germany with all of its staff in September 1944, where it kept operating under the name Ersatzkommando. After Germany's capitulation in 1945 Mere, like many other Estonians, was imprisoned. For some time he was in Uklei prison camp and after he was released he received the  Displaced Person's status. In 1947 he went to England where he worked at a local textile factory in Leicester until his death. During his years in England he eagerly participated in the social life of local Estonians and for many years he was the board member of the England's Estonians Association. Until his death he was the chairman of the Sakala Fraternity's English team.

In 1960 Mere went through a throat cancer removing operation and as a result he lost the normal ability to talk. Ain-Erwin Mere died on April 5, 1969 after suffering from pneumonia. Mere received the 1st and 2nd class Iron Cross for his leadership and courage in battles. After his death, his wife and daughter Aino left Leicester, England. They went to live in the United States of America where they live in Lakewood, New Jersey.

More Interesting Facts:

According to the KGB files, which came public in the 1990s, Mere was from 1940 to 1941 an agent of the KGB. On October 10, 1940 Mere was recruited as an agent to the KGB NKVD's (People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs) 180th Shooters Division special department. His agent name was Müller. According to the Soviet security, agent Müller's biggest favor was revealing undercover organizations, which were said to have been preparing for a coup within the Soviet Union and forming a new government. Müller's reports had been so important that these were presented to the chief of security, Beria, in Moscow. When Mere went to the German side in 1941, his agent's file was evacuated to Russia through Riga. If this file would have reached to the hands of the Germans, Mere would have been sent to the wall instead of being promoted to the Security Police leader's position. The KGB was curious about its former agent in 1956 when they tried to recruit him again. If these attempts failed, Mere was sentenced to death behind his back in 1961 during the Holocaust trials in Tallinn. Great Britain refused to give Mere to the Soviet Union.