Gallery: Excavation work starts at three World War II grave sites

Three World War II mass graves in Viljandi Municipality were being excavated by the Estonian Military Museum on Tuesday, the latest Soviet memorial sites to be taken down.

Work started at memorial sites in Viiratsi, Suislepa and Kärstna and remains will now be taken to Kolga-Jaani and Paistu cemeteries. Monuments erected by the Soviet Union glorifying the occupation of Estonia will be removed.

At the grave in Viiratsi, the remains of several dozen people were found which is significantly more than expected.

"If the names of six alleged fallen from 1941 were written on the column, then the remains of several dozen people have been found already," museum director Hellar Lill told Tuesday's "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK).

"Past experience also confirms that these official data, as many as there are, may not coincide with the actual results of the excavations," he added.

Viljandi Municipality Mayor Alar Karu said the monument currently standing at the site will be destroyed.

"Here is not the place for a monument. It is not a fair and correct reflection of history. And why should it continue to be here?" he told AK.

Estonia was occupied by the Soviet Union twice, from 1940 to 1941 and then again from 1944 to 1991.

After Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February, discussions around the future of Soviet monuments and gravesites, that glorify the occupations, have arisen. Many councils have decided to remove the memorials and relocate soldiers' remains to graveyards.


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Editor: Merili Nael, Helen Wright

Source: Aktuaalne kaamera

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