Flags at half-mast nationwide mark June 1941 deportations 81st anniversary

Tuesday, June 14 marks the 81st anniversary of the June 1941 deportation of Estonians by the occupying Soviet regime. Over 10,000 people, including children, were deported, primarily to Siberia, on that date, and the national blue-black-white is being hoisted at half-mast nationwide to commemorate those who suffered.

This year's event is likely to be particularly poignant given the ongoing aggression on the part of the Russian Federation, in effect the successor state to the Soviet Union, in Ukraine.

In Tallinn, more individual victims' names are to be unveiled at the Memorial to the Victims of Communism, in the Maarjamäe district of Tallinn.

The unveiling takes place at 3.15 p.m. Estonian time and is the result of research by the Estonian Institute of Memory (Eesti Mälu Instituut), which has led to additional names being added to the memorial.

Also in Tallinn, from early morning until late evening, a "Wagon of Tears" ("Pisarate vagun") installation in Freedom Square (Vabaduse väljak) commemorates the victims and references the type of railcars, designed for transporting livestock, which many Estonians were placed in during their deportation eastwards (see gallery above).

Estonian army officers and soldiers who were arrested across the country on June 14 and sent to the Gulag chain of forced labor camps across Siberia and other parts of the Soviet Union are also commemorated, via a virtual installation.

Meanwhile in Tartu, the deportation victims will be commemorated at the Rukkilille monument, at 12 noon.

Mayor Urmas Klaas (Reform) said: "In Estonian history, we find some very painful crimes that have destroyed the Estonian people."

"Deportation was one of those which left its mark on the family stories of us all, and consequently on the flourishing of our people. As a result, we must commemorate these painful events and remember the victims," the mayor went on.

The KGB museum on Pepleri in Estonia's second city is open to the public free of charge, 11.00 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the Tuesday, while an exhibition entitled "Kui palju maksab inimene?" (Eng:  "How much does a human being cost?")  features 17 unique drawings by noted Gulag artist Jevfrosinja Kersnovskaja, with descriptions.

A memorial bench to Estonian freedom fighter Enn Tarto (1938-1921) will also be unveiled.

Across the rest of Estonia, events include (all times local):

11.00 a.m.

Wreath-laying ceremony at the Leinapark "Mourning Park", Pärnu.

Memorial services at Haapsalu cathedral, in Rakvere (Okaskroon memorial), in Võru (at the Represseeritute mälestusmärk (repressions memorial), and at Põlva train station.

12.00 p.m.

Memorial service at Veriora train station, Põlva County.

Tallinn, Memorial to the Victims of Communism: Wreath-laying, with Minister of Justice Maris Lauri, Latvian ambassador H.E., Raimonds Jansons, Chief Public Prosecutor Dilaila Nahkur-Tammiksaar, Deputy Director General of the Internal Security Service (ISS) Martin Arpo, and Mayor of Tallinn Mihhail Kõlvart, commemorating fallen state officials.

Wreath-laying led by Lieutenant General Martin Herem, commander of the Estonian Defense Forces (ED), and Brig. Gen. Riho Ühtegi Defense League (Kaitseliit) commander.

Representatives of the Tallinn branch of the Estonian Institute of Memory will also place wreaths and flowers on the Linda kivi (Linda's stone).

1.00 p.m.

Memorial tour of the "Wagon of Tears" in Freedom Square (Tallinn) - permanent exhibition tour with the program manager of Vabamu, Aive Peil.

1.30 p.m.

Memorial ceremony at the "Risti Rist" memorial, Lääne-Nigula, Lääne County.

Estonian Institute of Memory's collection of articles "Propaganda, immigration and monuments: Views on the methods of consolidating Soviet power in Estonia in the 1950s to 1980s" takes place in the sculpture park at Maarjamäe Loss (close to the communism memorial), Tallinn, featuring the book's author, Meelis Saueauk, and Toomas Hiio, the head of research at the institute, talks about Soviet-era monuments. 

2 p.m.

Ceremony at the Estonian National Defense College (Kaitseväe Akadeemia), Värska lipuväljak, Tartu.

3 p.m.

Wreath-laying ceremony at Lehtma Harbor, Hiiumaa.

5 p.m.

Wreath-laying ceremony memorial stone in Viljandi manor park.

Open-air concert from the Tallinn Chamber Choir (Tallinna Kammerkoor) at the memorial in Maarjamäe.

6 p.m.

Special tour of the "Wagon of Tears" (see above) exhibition in Freedom Square, Tallinn, with the filmmaker Vahur Laiapea.

A more detailed schedule of the day's events (in Estonian) is here.

Occupying Soviet authorities carried out the June 14 1941 deportation with the stated aim of eliminating moral, physical, and legal resistance, with many people executed on the basis of an order passed the following year.

Similar deportations were carried out in Latvia and Lithuania.

Those who wish to check on the data of relatives who may be eligible to be named on the victims of communism memorial can do so here.

In order for the victims of terrorism to find a worthy place of remembrance on the wall of the memorial, everyone can check the data of their relatives and submit new information in the e-memorial managed by the Estonian Institute of Memory .


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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