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August Rei

In office
January 9, 1945 – March 29, 1963
Preceded by Jüri Uluots
Succeeded by Aleksander Warma

Born March 22, 1886
Pilistvere, Kõo Parish, Viljandi County, Estonia
Died March 29, 1963 (aged 77)
Stockholm, Sweden
Alma mater Saint Petersburg State University

August Rei VR III/1 (22 March 1886 – Stockholm 29 March 1963) was an Estonian Social Democratic politician. He was born in Pilistvere, Kõo Parish, Viljandi County.



Rei studied in the Tartu Emperor Alexander High School (the former State High School of the Livonian Province), but graduated from the Novgorod State High School. In 1904–1905 and 1907–1911, studied law in the St. Petersburg University.

Beginnings of political influence

In 1905–1907, Rei participated in the Russian revolution of 1905. In 1906, he edited the underground paper Sotsiaaldemokraat (Social Democrat) in Tallinn. Between 1912 and 1913, he was in compulsory army service. In 1913–1914 he worked as a lawyer in Viljandi. In 1914 - 1917 Rei was an artillery officer in World War I at the Fort of St. Petersburg. In 1917 and 1918 he was in the Estonian army units (formed after the Second Russian Revolution in March 1917 by the initiative of Estonian politicians, who achieved the permission to concentrate the Estonian soldiers). He was the Assistant Chairman of the Supreme Committee of the Estonian military. In 1917 and 1919, he was the Editor-in-Chief of the paper Sotsiaaldemokraat. Between 1927 and 1928 he was the editor of Rahva Sõna (Word of the People). Rei was one of the leaders of the moderate faction of Estonia's social democratic movement. Up to 1936 he also worked as a lawyer and defended Ado Birk in 1927. He received an Honorary Doctorate in Law from Tartu University.


  • Member of the Estonian Provincial Assembly (Maapäev): 1917–1919
  • Minister of Labour and Social Welfare of the Provisional Government; Deputy Prime Minister; Acting Minister of Education: 1918–1919
  • Chairman of the Constituent Assembly (Asutav Kogu): 1919–1920
  • Head of the Estonian Delegation to the Estonian-Latvian Border Committee: 1923–1925
  • Speaker of the II Riigikogu; 1925-1926
  • State Elder (Head of State): 4 December 1928–9 July 1929
  • Minister of Foreign Affairs: 1932–1933
  • Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs: 1936–1937
  • Envoy to the Soviet Union: 1938–1940
  • Minister of Foreign Affairs in exile: 1944–1945
  • Prime Minister in capacity of the President of the Republic in exile: 9 January 1945–29 March 1963

Literary interests

Rei wrote and translated socialist works and published memoirs.


  • Sotsialdemokraatia taktika põhimõtted Tallinnas : Tööliste kirjastusühisus, 1921 (Narva : Kärner) (Estonian)
  • Have the Baltic countries voluntarily renounced their freedom : [an exposé based on authentic documentary evidence by August Rei. New York : World Association of Estonians, 1944 (English)
  • Have the small nations a right to freedom and independence? by August Rei. London : Boreas, 1946 (English)
  • The drama of the Baltic peoples by August Rei; preface by Eugene Lyons. Stockholm: Vaba Eesti, 1970 (Åbo : Sydvästkusten) (English)

External links

Preceded by
Jaan Tõnisson
Speaker of the Riigikogu
1925 - 1926
Succeeded by
Karl Einbund
Preceded by
Jaan Tõnisson
Head of State of Estonia
1928 – 1929
Succeeded by
Otto Strandman
Preceded by
Mihkel Pung
Minister of Foreign Affairs
1932 – 1933
Succeeded by
Ants Piip
Preceded by
Jüri Uluots
Prime Minister in duties of the President
1945 – 1963
Succeeded by
Aleksander Warma
Preceded by
Ants Piip (not in exile)
Estonian Minister of Foreign Affairs in exile
Succeeded by
Hans Rebane


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