Tallinn City Government removes Nõmme Soviet-era memorial

The 'Nõmme stone' monument, now removed.
The 'Nõmme stone' monument, now removed. Source: ERR

A Soviet-era war memorial inside Tallinn city limits has been removed, the city government says, while four others can potentially either be removed or are pending a decision.

The memorial was located on Viljandi mnt and Valdeku, in the capital's Nõmme district, and was known as the "Nõmme stone" (pictured).

Speaking at the inaugural Tallinn City Government question time on Thursday, Tallinn Deputy Mayor Kaarel Oja (SDE) said: "The mapping work [on all monuments inside the city government's jurisdiction] has been completed - there were five 'red' monuments within the public space of Tallinn."

The most prominent of these is the Maarjamäe memorial, on state-owned land in the Pirita district of town.

"The second was a memorial located at the corner of Viljandi road and Valdeku street, popularly known as the Nõmme stone, which was removed by the Tallinn city government today," Oja said, adding that overall the issue has been dealt with in regard to the other three monuments also.

"The only topic we can talk about in the future is the Maarjamäe memorial," Oja said.

The three other monuments are situated on private land, in former industrial zones.

"These monuments are dedicated to the workers of the former Lutheri, Dvigatel and Krulli factories who fell in World War Two and are located on the territories of these former factories," the deputy mayor went on.

The Lutheri quarter is in the Veereni neighborhood, the Dvigatel quarter in Ülemiste and the former Krulli factory lies between Kalamaja and Kopli.

While there is no obligation to preserve the Lutheri and Dvigatel monuments, in the case of the Krulli factory, planning conditions required its preservation,

As of early August, when the issue became a national one, particularly focused on a tank monument in Narva, Tallinn City Government did not have a clear picture of the remaining Soviet-era monuments, though it now does, the authority says.

Under current law, if a monument has human remains interred nearby and as an integral part of the memorial – such as in the case of war graves – it is a matter for local government; if not, it is a matter for the state.

Gray areas have included sites where it is not clear whether human remains are interred nearby or not – sometimes their supposed presence is based largely on local lore.

In the case of Narva, the city's government fudged the issue, prompting the state to step in early last week and have the tank removed, and relocated in the national war museum in Viimsi.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine from February 24 this year has brought the issue of the legacy of Soviet monuments into focus again, along with a desire to avoid a repeat of the April 2007 "bronze soldier" riots, prompted when a war memorial was relocated across town, from its original site in central Tallinn.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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