Gallery: Patarei prison turns red in memory of victims of communism

The walls of Patarei prison in Tallinn were illuminated in red on Wednesday evening to mark the 71st anniversary of the Soviet mass deportations of March 1949. The installation is dedicated to those who were deported and repressed by the Soviet Union.

The installation was organized by the Estonian Institute of Historical Memory.

From March 25-28, 1949, more than 90,000 people across the Baltics, including more than 20,000 in Estonia, ranging from infants to the elderly, were forcibly removed from their homes by Soviet forces and deported to Siberia as part of Operation Priboi ("Coastal Surf"). Thousands would never return.

Thousands of Estonian people were also imprisoned by the Soviet regime for ideological reasons between the walls of the prison. Many of those who were imprisoned in Paterei were murdered or later died in Siberia. 

This year, due to the coronavirus pandemic, traditional candle-lighting events across Estonian towns and cities have been canceled, though organizations involved in the commemoration are urging people to light a candle in their window at home instead.

Social media users are requested to post photos of their candles with the hashtag #mäletame ("Let us remember" in Estonian) in order to symbolically unite people and commemorate the anniversary together despite the emergency situation.

President Kersti Kaljulaid placed a candle in the window at Kadriorg Palace on March 25. Source: Office of the President

In four years time, the Estonian Institute of Historical Memory will open an International Museum for the Victims of Communism in Patarei, with the support of the Estonian government, which will also investigate the crimes of communist regimes and raise awareness.

Estonia also commemorates the anniversary of the June 1941 deportations with a national day of mourning, when Soviet security authorities deported 95,000 people from the Baltic states, Poland, Bukovina, and Bessarabia (today's Moldova and Southwest Ukraine).

In this move, Stalin's regime destroyed local rural economies and forced the collectivization of farms and local agricultural businesses. 


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Editor: Helen Wright

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