The Hiiumaa Military Museum in Tahkuna will celebrate its 15th anniversary this year. The museum, housed in a former border guard cordon and run by local history enthusiasts, plans to renovate three rooms in 2022.
The exhibits in and around the building that was used by Soviet forces and later the Estonian Border Guard tell the story of 20th century wars. The museum pieces are largely from Hiiumaa, while they also include items belonging to the Estonian War Museum.
"We first created the Militaarne Hiiumaa (Military Hiiumaa) website in the Military History Society. But the information and historical pieces kept piling up. At around the same time, the Estonian Border Guard moved out of the building and the complex became available. The planets were aligned so to speak," said Ain Tähiste, member of the board of the Hiiumaa Military History Society.
He said that people have offered the museum unexploded shells they have found in the woods. Under no circumstances should this be done. People who find something like that need to call 112 to notify rescue services immediately.
"All suspicious items need to be reported. People have come to show us their finds unto driving all the way from the mainland to open their trunk and show us a wartime shell with the detonator still attached. The person was lucky to have made it all the way without blowing themselves up. These things are very dangerous," Tähiste said.
Estonia has little in the way of surviving art from Soviet military contingents. A mural depicting the sea and mountains and painted by two soldiers adorns the Hiiumaa Military Museum. Ain Tähiste said it sports a higher artistic level than Soviet military art on average.
"At least the people who painted it on the wall of the canteen of the Kõpu-Ojaküla cordon had gone to art school. Perhaps we will try to find them, wherever they might be in the vastness of Russia, to tell them that their art has not been lost," Tähiste suggested.
The Hiiumaa Military Museum is open to visitors from mid-May to mid-September. Visits can be scheduled during the rest of the year.
Editor: Marcus Turovski