After centuries of successive rule by Germans, Danes, Swedes, and Russians, a distinct Estonian national identity began to emerge the 19th and early 20th centuries. This culminated in independence from the Russian Empire in 1918 after a brief War of Independence at the end of World War I. Initially democratic, Estonia became a dictatorship in 1934 during the Era of Silence and the Great Depression. During World War II (1939-1945), Estonia was repeatedly contested and occupied by the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, ultimately being incorporated into the former as the Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic. After the loss of its de facto independence, Estonia's de jure state continuity was preserved by the Estonian government-in-exile, which was recognized by the much of the Western World throughout Cold War (1945-1991). In 1987 the peaceful anti-communist Singing Revolution began against Soviet rule, resulting in the restoration of de facto independence on 20 August 1991.