Government will not demolish Maarjamäe Memorial

The Maarjamäe Memorial complex.
The Maarjamäe Memorial complex. Source: Anna Pavlenko/Raadio 4

The Estonian government has no plans to demolish the Maarjamäe Memorial [to those who fell defending the Soviet Union in WWII] in Tallinn. However, Minister of Culture Piret Hartman (SDE) did not rule out cooperation with the City of Tallinn and other partners in redesigning the memorial.

Currently, only part of the Maarjamäe Memorial, which is located in Pirita tee between Tallinn Bay and Lasnamäe, belongs to the City of Tallinn, including the 35-meter tall Jääretke obelisk, hand prints in front of the "eternal flame" and the bronze "Perishing Seagulls."

According to ETV news show "Aktuaalne Kaamera," at the start of the year, the City of Tallinn was preparing to take over the entire site to begin a €3 million restoration project.

"We knew that the state was not prepared to put money into it at that time. Today, if the state says that it is ready to solve this (issue) together with the city in some way, for example by involving the Estonian History Museum or other specialist organizations, then we are certainly ready to negotiate." said Vladimir Svet, Deputy Mayor of Tallinn.

Svet said, that following redevelopment, the memorial would need to include plaques to explain its complicated history.

"For us, the Maarjamäe memorial is not a symbol of occupation but one of the most outstanding works of Estonian landscape architecture. We would certainly like to preserve (the memorial) it in its present form, while avoiding conflict around it," Svet said.

On Monday, the future of the Maarjamäe Memorial was discussed by the Coalition Council.

Minister of Culture Piret Hartman said, that it is first necessary to nationalize the unreformed sections of the land, where the monument is located.

"For the moment, the coalition partners have agreed that those unreformed areas will go to the state. However, time will tell how the cooperation with Tallinn proceeds. For my part, as Minister of Culture, I can see that cooperation with Tallinn is a must," Hartman said.

Art historian Aleksandra Murre believes the Maarjamäe memorial ought to be preserved, arguing it has artistic value.

"It is part of the design of Pirita tee, a modernist vision of urban life, designed in the 1970s," Nurre said. "And as such, as an architectural and sculptural monument, a piece of monumental art, I think it should be preserved."


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Editor: Michael Cole

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