On Thursday, 28 March the exhibition “Estonian Heads of State 1918-2018” by the Estonian Heritage Society was opened in Tallinn City Government building.
When Estonia was declared independent the functions of the head of state were first performed by the Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Estonian Provisional Government and later by the Prime Minister. Once the Constitution entered into force in 1920 the head of government was renamed as the State Elder. In 1934 Konstantin Päts was the Prime Minister acting as the State Elder whereas in 1937 he became the President-Regent. The third version of the Constitution that entered into force at the beginning of 1938 separated the institutions of head of state and head of government. The Electoral Assembly composed of Members of Parliament and representatives of local authorities elected the Estonian president.
Since 1918 Estonia has had 19 heads of state five of whom were forced to serve in exile. The exhibition displays figures of 18 heads of state accompanied by Estonian and English texts describing their life and work.
The Soviet occupants executed four Estonian heads of state, five died in captivity and one committed suicide before being arrested. Five heads of state who died abroad have been reburied in their home country. The fate of two Estonian heads of state following their arrest remains a mystery, and the location of the graves of eight of our heads of state is still unknown.
Head of the Estonian Heritage Society Peep Pillak presented the opening speech.