Under the direction of the War Museum, excavations began on Wednesday over the mass grave of Rakvere Red Army soldiers who died in World War II in order to inter their remains at the Rakvere City Cemetery.
Rakvere's city government approached the Ministry of Defense's War Graves Commission with a proposal to reinter a war grave from an unsuitable location and remove the grave's memorial.
The commission deems the reburial appropriate, and the minister of defense tasked the Estonian War Museum (Sõjamuuseum), which has the necessary competence, with coordinating it.
Rakvere's deputy mayor, Neeme-Jaak Paap, welcomed the fact that, as a result of the reburial, Rakvere will no longer have an ideological monument in its municipal area.
The excavation will reveal if and how many persons are buried in the Rakvere mass grave.
Prior excavations show that the official number of buried individuals and the names may not always correspond.
At the burial site itself only the cap of a former eternal fire gas cylinder was discovered. Excavation at nearby sites uncovered two rows of thirteen coffins each.
"Some of the coffins contained the remains of multiple people, making an exact count difficult, but there are more than thirty. Based on the preserved clothing, it is possible to say that many of those buried in the mass grave were civilians," said Hellar Lill, the director of the Estonian War Museum.
Editor: Kristina Kersa