Narva may rename controversial street after town's first mayor

Ants Daumani tänav in Narva.
Ants Daumani tänav in Narva. Source: ERR

Narva city government is looking into replacing one of the two controversial street names in the eastern Estonian town, currently named after communist revolutionaries, at least one of whom had been involved in atrocities during the Estonian War of Independence, with the name of the city's first mayor, Adolf Theodor Hahn.

Narva city government has opposed changing street signage, named after Albert Tiimann and Ants Dauman, for years. The latest call to change the street names was made by Minister of Public Administration Jaak Aab (Center), who sent a letter to Narva city government on July 28, noting that the Place Names Act states any incompatibilities regarding Estonian history and culture must be ruled out when naming locations.

Narva seems now to be succumbing to the pressure. Vladimir Butuzov of the political grouping in office on the city council proposed that one of the streets in question could be named after Adolf Theodor Hahn, the first mayor of Narva (1873-1877 and again in 1882-1884).

Butuzov, who has previously opposed changing the street names, did not specify which of the two street names in focus would be replaced with Hahn's. "We did not name the specific street deliberately, so that the political group in office, and the culture committee, could make a decision on their own. Perhaps it is reasonable to rename one street first, to see what the costs are, and if they are too large, we could ask the government for financial assistance [for the second]."

Narva City Council chair Irina Janovitš thinks Butuzov's proposal is appealing, but says the decision on which street is to be renamed will ultimately be made by city council.

Janovitš said: "The decision on which name and which street will be made by consensus, but I personally think it should be Tiimanni tänav."

Ants Liimets, chariman of the Narva Estonian Society, has called for one of the streets to be renamed after Hans Ots, a prominent cultural figure, but the name of the first mayor of the city would also be a solution to the long-running conflict regarding the naming conventions.

Liimets said: "It is without a doubt a solution. If the council decides to rename the streets, it can be after Hahn as far as I'm concerned; I have nothing against either Hahn or Ots. They were not intimidating figures for the people of Narva, and both did something positive for the people here."

Adolf Theodor Hahn (October 8 1832 - August 1 1914) was a merchant, engineer technologist and the first mayor of Narva. He served two terms, in 1873-1877 and 1882-1884, seeing through many changes, including the founding of the nearby Narva-Jõesuu resort town.

Ants Dauman and Albert-August Tiimann

Valdur Ohmann, head specialist of the Research and Publishing bureau at the National Archives of Estonia (Riigiarhiiv), drafted a statement on July 28 at the request of the University of Tartu, which explains that Ants Dauman was a Bolshevik politician fighting for the Red Army during the Estonian War of Independence (1918-1920).

Dauman was born in 1885 in Latvia and was elected mayor of Narva in 1917, after the February Revolution which overthrew the Tsarist system, replacing it with a democratic liberal leadership. He also served as chairman of Narva city council, chariman of the Narva Military Revolutionary Committee and the Narva Council of Worker's Deputies.

Additionally, he was a commander of the Red Army's cavalry and a war commissary. Dauman died in the Polish-Soviet War of 1920.

Ohmann writes that there is no clear reasoning why a street in Narva was named after Dauman, which happened in 1983, while Estonia was still part of the Soviet Union.

According to Ohmann, Albert-August Tiimann was a communist who, among many things, led repressions directed at local civilians. He was born in Narva in 1889 and was a leading figure among local communists and the local Executive Committe of the Soviet Union.

Documents assessed by Ohmann show that Tiimann saw 208 people being deprived of their liberty with 34 of those being executed. Many of them were accused of crimes, but many were closely related to anti-Soviet, civil war-era White Army formations, who were taken hostage.

Ohmann specifically noted the executions of two Narva orthodox clergymen in his explanation of Tiimann. Tiimann died in prison in 1942 and a street was named after him in Narva in 1974.


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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