Process of Restoration of War of Independence Monuments Razed by Soviets Nearly Complete
Tomorrow's re-opening of the Battle of Riigiküla monument, first erected in 1935 to remember a bloody February 1919 battle in Estonia's ultimately victorious war for independence against Soviet Russia, closes out a chapter in a symbolic place - just meters from the Russian border.
Almost all of the monuments honoring Estonian dead in the 1918-1920 war were razed by the Soviets, mainly in 1941.
The Battle of Riigiküla monument overlooking the Narva River is one of the last to be restored, with the process, like the monument itself, mainly funded by private donors, with modest support from the Ministry of Defense.
The design of the monument features the Cross of Liberty - the same motif as in the nation's oldest and highest military decoration and the giant version of the cross on Tallinn's Freedom Square - and a door-shaped recess with a black granite plaque.
The same motif in the 95-year-old Cross of Liberty was appropriated by an SS division in 1944 to indicate that unit's connection to Nazi-occupied Estonia.
The Riigiküla monument is regarded as being at heightened risk for vandalism, because it is surrounded by Russian-speaking communities. Vandalism incidents, whether political or not, have been increasing as of late: last week, the Boris Yeltsin plaque in the Old Town of Tallinn was doused with red paint, a marker at a Jewish cemetery was turned around, and on the 130th anniversary of the Estonian flag brought several incidents where Soviet emblems were displayed in northern and northeastern towns.