City of Tartu asking state to remove Raadi Monument

People leaving flowers at the World War II Memorial in Tartu on May 9.
People leaving flowers at the World War II Memorial in Tartu on May 9. Source: Henry-Laur Allik / ERR

Mayor of Tartu Urmas Klaas (Reform) and chairman of the city council Tõnis Lukas (Isamaa) are asking the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Culture to remove the Soviet war memorial in the Raadi Park area, Lukas says.

"I and the mayor of Tartu Urmas Klaas address the Minister of Defense and the Minister of Culture with a proposal to initiate necessary procedures for removal of the Soviet monument from Raadi," Lukas told ERR on Monday.

Lukas said the remains in the park around the Raadi monument, which were buried there by the Soviet authorities in the post-war period, should be reburied and the monument itself should be moved elsewhere.

Lukas added that although Tartu can make a request, the decision must be taken by the ministries and the state real estate agency (RKAS), which is the manager of this specific part of the park that belongs to the Estonian National Museum (ERM) complex.

"This injustice can be eliminated firstly by the Ministry of Defense, which deals with war graves and can rebury the remains that are currently buried in the park area, and secondly by the Ministry of Culture, which can take this monument out of the heritage protection list," the council chair said.

Lukas added that he had proposed to remove the monument even when he was ERM director.

"It really catches the eye in the vicinity of the national museum. Also, the events that are usually taking place around it on May 9, and the fact that it constitutes a symbol of occupation, are additional reasons to remove it from the park," Lukas emphasized.

"But what is essential, is that the remains must be buried in a peaceful place, and there is no such a place in the park. The monument itself and the misinformation written on it are not suited for exhibiting in the vicinity of the ERM in Tartu, or even elsewhere in Estonia," he added.

The Raadi memorial complex was opened in December 1975. Its creators were sculptor Ants Mölder and architect Rein Luup.

The memorial is surrounded by 24 concrete tombstones with Orthodox crosses placed into the lawn.

The part of the wall next to the monument has a dedicated inscription in Russian and Estonian stating that Tartu remembers and is grateful to its defenders and liberators.

In 2013, the Tartu City Government installed an information board near the monument with explanatory text in Estonian, Russian, English and German, stating that the number of those killed in Tartu and its surroundings, and those murdered by the Soviet and German authorities are unknown. The exact number of burials in Raadi Park and the exact location of graves are also unknown.

It is reported that the Tartu City Government has repeatedly received proposals to remove the monument from Raadi.


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Editor: Kristina Kersa

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