4th Border Guard Reg. (Estnische SS-Grenzschutz Regiment Nr 4)

The Formation

Since a small number of men from this regiment escaped to the free world, the data about the regiment's military road is practically nonexistent. The regiment was formed at the beginning of 1944. Its leader was Major Valter Pedak. Valter Pedak was born on July 28, 1895 in Vara parish, Tartu County. He graduated from Tartu Teachers' Association trade school and Peterhof's 1st Ensigns' School, participated in the First World War and the War of Freedom. From November 18, 1918 until March 3, 1919 he served in the Defence League, afterwards was the officer of the Kuperjanov Partisans regiment and participated in the battles against Landeswehr. Pedak was wounded twice. For his bravery on the battlefield he received the Cross of Freedom's second type's 3rd rank.

The regiment's staff consisted mostly of men left over from the formation of the 2nd Border Guard Regiment, from the Self-Defence's Tartu, Võru, Petseri and Valga County reserve men. The regiment's headquarters was in Tartu. The men's weapons were poor, most weapons were plunders and had been badly maintained. The pioneers' and other equipment was mostly missing. The men received Wehrmacht uniforms but majority of these were small for Estonians and the same applied for the boots. The regiment was missing officers and junior officers. The company leaders were mostly reserve soldiers – the graduates from the aspirants' course. There was also a large number of those men who had been promoted to Ensign in reserve and therefore had only the rank of a junior officer. They were soon promoted to Lieutenant in the regiment. The regiment had three battalions and an artillery battery.

At the beginning of March 1944 the 4th Border Guard Regiment was sent to coast guard on the west bank of Lake Pihkva. The regiment's defence area was from Varnja to Mustvee. In the middle of April the regiment was replaced by the 5th Border Guard Regiment. This meant that the unit left under the 207th Security Division and was then subjected to the 28th Corps. The regiment's new defence area was on the south bank of Lake Pihkva. At first the unit operated under the 18th Army's 28th Corps' 24th Infanty Division. In April, May, June and July the regiment was in turn subjected to the 12th and 13th Luftwaffe Division. At the end of May the 4th Border Guard Regiment was removed from Lake Pihkva and was sent to training camp near Petseri on the command of the 13th Luftwaffe Division leader.

At the beginning of July the regiment was sent to Pihkva where the 1st and 2nd Battalions were immediately sent 8 kilometers east of Velikaya, to the front of Zahnodtshõ-Podlipje-Ladõgina-Hanka. The 3rd Battalion, led by Captain Vinn, remained in reserve in Pihkva. The command to take the regiment away from Estonia and to Russia caused a lot of protest and complaining among the men. But all regiment leader's demarches to the division and corps leader concerning this matter did not give any results. On July 19 they received an order to be prepared for reorganizing. The 1st and 2nd Battalions were brought to Pihkva. At the same time the Russian units under Pihkva began an attack and the town was under cannon fire. The positions of the 3rd Battalion were also under fire but without any substantial losses.

Back in Estonia

The 4th Border Guard Regiment reached Liiva station on July 20 and the men were loaded on trains. The echelon drove through Tartu to Jõhvi where they arrived on the late night of July 22. In the early morning of July 23 the regiment was unloaded and taken straight to the front in Puhatu swamp between Krivasoo and Uusna. One problem appeared. Many men had escaped between Petseri and Tartu to go and see their loved ones. This humanly understandable behavior put the other regiment members in danger because the regiment was sent to the front with a small number of men. If the Russians would have attacked then, the losses would have been big. Fortunately this did not happen and during the next few days most "lost sons" returned to their units. But their missing did not go unnoticed, the Army Group Nord leader, General Grasser, was furious, he announced on his day command of July 25 that out of the 400 men from the Estonian Battalion, 350 have deserted on the way to Narva front and demanded the severest measures to be taken into use from stopping the men from escaping until shooting them on the spot. From the report sent by Grasser on July 28 to Army Group Nord it appeared that he was talking about the 4th Border Guard Regiment's 1st Battalion. Estonian officers did not normally talk about deserting but qualified these cases as "arbitrary vacations" and often the returned soldiers were not punished. But there were those men who did not return to their units. Thus in August 1,070 men from the border guard regiments had deserted.

The Estonians were replaced on their new positions by the 58th Division's soldiers who were well and modernly equipped. The poorly equipped Estonians used all possibilities to get weapons from the Germans before leaving. They exchanged weapons for everything, food and money were used. Often it happened that men from one company put their money together to get a descent MG-42 machine gun. July 27 the Russians fired strongly the 3rd Battalion's positions. When the cannon fire stopped, the enemy began an infantry attack and moved towards Estonian positions in several lines. Now the Estonians got to use their new German machine guns, which were destructive for the Russians. The enemy retreated and left behind hundreds and hundreds of dead bodies.

July 29 the Red Army conquered Kuningaküla island in Narva river but it was soon retaken. At the end of July the four border guard regiments were merged into the 300th Special Division and the 4th Border Guard Regiment was also sent to this division. August 11 the regiment's 1st Battalion was sent to beat back the Red Army units, which had conquered Permisküla island and reached Narva river's west bank. They managed to clear the west bank of Russians but Permisküla island remained to the Red Army.

Further reliable data about the regiment's actions on the tragic September day are missing. It is known that the regiment was supposed to retreat from Puhatu swamp through Kamarna-Taga-Varesmetsa-Iisaku-Tudulinn-Avinurme-Rakke. By the midday of September 19, the regiment's 3rd Battalion was in Iisaku where they had a short break. During that break the regiment's documents were destroyed in a fire in the churchyard. A part of the regiment along with the 300th Special Division headquarters reached Avinurme in the night of September 20, but most men were late. Next Major Pedak had turned the colon to north to try to move towards Tallinn through Tudulinn-Viru-Roela-Porkuni. According to existing data the regiment did not participate in the breakthrough attempt near Avinurme. September 21 the regiment took part in Porkuni battle and played an important role in beating the enemy's tanks back on Loksa field. The regiment suffered great losses: many were killed and imprisoned. Porkuni battle can be considered as the last battle of the 4th Border Guard Regiment. It is also known that a part of the 3rd Battalion escaped from the pocket through Nõmmküla, crossing the Tamsalu-Tapa railway in the morning of September 22. According to the memoirs of Leo Kirotar, Major Pedak led the remains of the regiment in the breakthrough under Assamalla and after it failed, the Major dismissed the regiment. Major Valter Pedak was killed as a forest brother in Vara, Tartu County, during the Soviet units' raid on December 27, 1947.

The regiment's adjutant, Lieutenant Edgar Niider, along with Captain Rudolf-Theodor Piibe (from August to September 1944 performed the duties of the 2nd Battalion leader) managed to escape to Finland in October 1944. They managed to get to the sea from Juminda on October 31 but were captured by a Russian military ship on the Gulf of Finland. Niider received 10 years of imprisonment as a punishment. Rudolf-Theodor Piibe was sentenced to death but later this punishment was replaced with the 20-year imprisonment in Krasnojarsk krai, but he died in 1946 in prison. Edgar Niider returned to Estonia after his punishment and died in 1992 in Kohtla-Järve.

The 1st Battalion leader until the end of August 1944 was Captain Robert Lamp. He was killed in Konguta district in 1951 as a forest brother. From August to September 1944 the 1st Battalion leader was Captain Jaan Harju who died in 1973 in Tallinn. The 2nd Battalion's first leader was Lieutenant Otto Uin who was killed in Porkuni battle on September 21, 1944. The 2nd Battalion leader from July 1944 was Captain Artur-Heinrick Raidlo who was arrested in spring 1947. He died in imprisonment the same year. The 3rd Battalion leader, Jaak Vinni, was seriously injured during an arrest when he was a forest brother and in the prison hospital his leg was amputated. Captain Jaak Vinni was sentenced to death by the NKVD tribunal on December 6, 1945 and was executed on February 20, 1946.

Regiment Leader
Major Valter Pedak July 29, 1895 until December 27, 1947, Vara district

Adjutant
Lieutenant Edgar Niider (Nieder) January 3, 1908 until December 22, 1992, Kohtla-Järve

Aide-de-camp
Lieutenant Väino Reinsalu June 14, 1919 until July 25, 1994

Headquarters Officer
Lieutenant Voldemar Kliimand January 27, 1906 until December 14, 1967, Tartu

Headquarters Officer
Leo Anvelt September 4, 1908 until June 3, 1983, Tartu

Armourer
Lieutenant Endel Leonhard Põder October 29, 1914 until April 13, 2003, Estonia

Doctor
Lieutenant Leo Kirotar October 25, 1909 until January 4, 1996, Viljandi

Veterinarian
Heinrich Erits July 30, 1917 until …

1st Battalion Leader
Captain Robert Lamp February 13, 1896 until February 23, 1951, Konguta district as a forest brother
Captain Artur-Heinrich Raidlo May 30, 1905 until October 9, 1947, in Russian prison
Senior Lieutenant Jaan Harju January 14, 1908 until August 13, 1973

Adjutant
Lieutenant Konstantin Tennosaar March 30, 1912 until …
Lieutenant Lembit Kaevats July 16, 1919, buried December 30, 2005 in Tallinn

Aide-de-camp
Lieutenant Elmar Vardja November 1, 1903 until …

Economy Officer
Lieutenant Robert Keres August 14, 1907 until October 29, 1946, Germany

Doctor
Lieutenant Viktor Särgava March 4, 1918 until January 31, 1983, Tartu

1st Company Leader
?

2nd Company Leader
?

3rd Company Leader
?

4th Company Leader
Lieutenant Richard Tätte February 26, 1920 until August 13, 1952

2nd Battalion Leader
Senior Lieutenant Otto Uin March 4, 1906 until September 21, 1944, Porkuni
Captain Rudolf-Theodor Piibe December 8, 1900 until December 11, 1946, Krasnojarsk
Captain Artur-Heinrich Raidlo (check the 1st Battalion)

Doctor
Enn Talmet March 23, 1915 until …

5th Company Leader
?

6th Company Leader
Captain Artur-Heinrich Raidlo (check the 1st Battalion)

7th Company Leader
?

8th Company Leader
?

3rd Battalion Leader
Captain Jaak Vinni June 29, 1902 until February 20, 1946, Tallinn
Captain Artur-Heinrich Raidlo (check the 1st Battalion)

Adjutant
Lieutenant Ants Pärtma August 12, 1909, buried on February 2, 1958 in Tallinn

Aide-de-camp
Lieutenant Artur Lomp February 24, 1903 until 1954, Komi ASSR (Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic)

Weapons Officer
Ensign Erich Bernard Juhkam July 31, 1915 until …

Doctor
Dr Kaljo Villako May 19, 1919 until October 22, 2001

9th Company Leader
?

10th Company Leader
Lieutenant Eerik Randam August 30, 1913 until December 12, 1982, Tartu

11th Company Leader
?

12th Company Leader
?

13th Company (Battery) Leader
Lieutenant Edmund-Felix Sepp March 26, 1913 until …

Anti-Tank Unit Leader
Lieutenant Juhan Orula April 22, 1912 until 1991, Estonia

Works Cited

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  • Kaalion, V. Avinurme lahing. Tartu, 1998
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  • Kraft, Ü. Eesti piirikaitserügementide ohvitserkord 1944. aastal
  • The yearbook of Estonian War Museum and General Laidoner Museum of 2006
  • Laar, M. Emajõgi 1944. Tallinn, 2005
  • Laar, M. Isamaa ilu hoieldes. Stockholm, 1997
  • Laar, M. September 1944. Tallinn, 2007
  • Laar, M. Sinimäed 1944. Tallinn, 2006
  • Tamberg, M. Eesti mehed sõjatules. Saku, 1999
  • Leetmaa, M. Sõjas ja ikestatud Eestis. Stockholm, 1979
  • Villako, K. Ajarännak. Mälestused 1944. aasta sügisest tänapäevani. Volumes I and II. Taru, 2001
  • Eesti riik ja rahvas II maailmasõjas. Volume IX. Stockholm, 1960