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Gallery: Deportation victims commemorated with 'Wagon of Tears' in Tallinn

An installation titled "Wagon of Tears" (Pisarate vagun) commemorating the victims of the June deportation of 1941 was set up in Tallinn's Freedom Square on Saturday.

The wagon, placed facing east on a section of rail track, symbolizes one of the 490 wagons used in the 1941 deportation, and is filled with blue balloons symbolizing the "tears of the deportees," the Estonian Institute of Human Rights said.

The border contour of the installation is the former border of the Soviet Union; this motif is also depicted on the Maarjamäe mural together with railroad lines that led to camps in Siberia and points of deportation.

On Sunday, President Kersti Kaljulaid visited the installation. She told ETV's "Aktuaalne kaamera": "Freedom is something that we have to work for every day and make sure that it does not diminish. It may not always seem that we are affected, that no one is attacking my freedom, but just as these balloons explode from time to time as they move in this wind, and it seems that the whole thing remains intact, something can crack from the edges. It is important to be able to feel the threat to human rights and freedoms at any time and I think the blue balloons symbolize this as well as the tears that were shed 79 years ago."

The President of the Riigikogu Henn Põlluaas (EKRE) also visited the installation on Sunday. 

The installation will be on display on Freedom Square until Sunday evening.

President Kersti Kaljulaid visits the "Wagon of Tears" installation on Sunday, June 14. Source: Office of the President

On the night of June 14, 1941, the Soviet Union ordered approximately 10,000 Estonians to be deported to Siberia. Of those, approximately 6,000 men, women and children died of exhaustion or were killed during their exile.

In total, more than 85,000 people were exiled from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova during the 1941 deportations.

The victims of repressions included politicians, municipality employees, civil servants, police officers and military staff, entrepreneurs and more successful farmers, intellectuals and socialites, many of whom were sent to prison camps and their families along with them.

A second wave of deportations took place across the Baltics in March 1949, when approximately 90,000 people, including more than 20,000 Estonians, were sent to Siberia.

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


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Editor: Aili Vahtla, Helen Wright

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