Replica forest brother bunker reopened in Lääne-Viru County

Replica forest brothers bunker at Lebavere, Lääne-Viru County.
Replica forest brothers bunker at Lebavere, Lääne-Viru County.

A replica forest brothers bunker has been reopened in Väike-Maarja, Lääne-Viru County, and is open to the public to get a taste of how resistance to Soviet occupation during and after World War Two was conducted.

A plaque was also unveiled at Väike-Maarja church, dedicated to the forest brothers of Lääne-Viru County, ETV morning show "Terevisioon" reported.

The bunker is a replica of one constructed by local Forest Brother Martin Tamme. Tamme spent many years surviving in such conditions until being apprehended by Soviet authorities in 1954 and deported to the Gulag system, only to return to Estonia some 15 years later.

The replica had been first built in 2001 in the forest at Lebavere, but was in need of refurbishment.

Heiki Magnus, board member of an association representing former Forest Brothers, says the plan is to open similar plaques in every Estonian county.

The Forest Brothers ("Metsavennad" in Estonian) resisted Soviet occupation from forest hideouts such as Tamme's bunker, at great personal risk and under constant threat of capture by Soviet patrols.

In Tamme's case, a first bunker built in the winter of 1945-1946 ended up being near a shootout at nearby Aruküla, after which he was fugitive in an abandoned bunker near Kadlia.

The bunker which has now been replicated saw Tamme go to ground, supplied with food and other necessaries by his family, including his young brother, but Tamme fitted the hideout out with both a sauna and a washtub.

Surviving two raids by Soviet authorities, Tamme's luck finally ran out in December 1954 when he was apprehended, and was sentenced to 30 years imprisonment in labor camps and prisons, finally being release in 1971.

More about Tamme's story (in Estonian) is here.

Organizers of the memorials say guided tours of the bunker are planned.

Around an estimated 1,000 Forest Brothers were active in Lääne- and Ida-Viru counties.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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