Removal of one Hiiumaa Soviet monument likely to be followed by more

Soviet-era war memorial and graves in the village of Emmaste, Hiiumaa. The monument has now been removed.
Soviet-era war memorial and graves in the village of Emmaste, Hiiumaa. The monument has now been removed. Source: Mait Ots / ERR

Plans are in place to remove Soviet-era monuments in four different locations on the island of Hiiumaa, following the removal of memorial from the village of Emmaste earlier this week.

The island's mayor, Hergo Tasuja (SDE), said that Hiiumaa Municipality had received an answer from the War Graves Commission (Sõjahaudade komisjon), the state agency which oversees the removal of such monuments, if, as is the case with some of the Hiiumaa sites, they contain human remains interred at the location and as an integral part of the memorial.

He said: "We have also received an answer from the war graves commission that the issue of these monuments is to be discussed at the next commission meeting, after which we will get feedback on what should be done with them, ie. whether to move only the monument, or to carry out reburials as well."

If the latter course of action were taken, the timing of the removal would likely depend on the Estonian War Museum's (Eesti Sõjamuuseum) schedule, at a time when similar appeals have been received across Estonia, in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine.

A statue of a red army soldier on a round by-passing Kärdla, the island's capital, while it is not associated with any human remains, is under heritage protection.

Known locally as "Kivi-Jüri" ("Stone Yuri"), the municipality has informed another state agency involved in the process, the heritage protection board (Muinsuskaitseamet) that it wants to move the statue to a local military museum on the island.

This should take place in the next few weeks, Tasuja added, given agreement has been struck with the local military society, and likely no later than October.

Mayor Tasuja said the removal of the Emmaste monument (pictured), in the far south of the island, and re-interment of remains had gone successfully; the site had already been earmarked for a retail development.

Other sites awaiting a decision from the war graves commission are in Käina, and Heltermaa, the island's main ferry port.

Soviet-era monuments which have no human remains on site are decided on by local government, rather than the state.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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