Raadi war grave remains reburied at Tartu cemetery

Ceremony at Rahumäe cemetery in Tartu, Thursday, October 13 2022.
Ceremony at Rahumäe cemetery in Tartu, Thursday, October 13 2022. Source: Ove Maidla/Tartu City Government

A memorial ceremony Thursday marked the reinterment of the remains of over 200 people, both civilians and military, at a Tartu cemetery, ETV news show 'Aktuaalne kaamera' (AK) reported.

The remains were previously buried in war graves at a Soviet-era memorial which needed removing in the aftermath of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, while leaders from the Lutheran, Orthodox Jewish and Estonian Eastern Orthodox faiths were present at the ceremony.

A total of 238 sets of human remains were disinterred from the war graves at Raadi, on the outskirts of town, and reinterred at the nearby Rahumäe cemetery.

Of the total, 167 were civilians who were murdered at Lemmatsi, to the southwest of thc city, while 71 were Red Army soldiers killed in action in fighting in and around Tartu, who were buried in a separate grave at Rahumäe.

Presiding over the ceremony was Lutheran Pastor of the Peetri parish in Tartu, joined by chief Rabbi of Estonia Shmuel Kot and Fr. Stefan Fraiman of the Estonian Orthodox Church at the memorial service.

Hellar Lill, director of the Estonian War Museum (Eesti sõjamuuseum), told AK that: "The civilians executed in the Lemmats anti-tank ditch during the German occupation were prisoners of the Tartu concentration camp. They consisted of people of different nationalities, including Jewish people."

 "Unfortunately, we don't know who they were by name. They were already buried anonymously in Raadi," he went on.

The excavation work at Raadi took place in mid-September during the course of which the 238 sets of remains were discovered, by personnel from th war museum, responsible, along with the War Graves Commission, for relocating human remains found or known to be a part of Soviet-era memorials.

A bronze sculpture which had been located at the site has been gifted to the City of Tartu Museum (Tartu Linnamuuseum).

While the Raadi memorial was one of the first sites to come under scrutiny in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine starting February 24, its complexity and the sensitivity relating to such large numbers of human remains made the issue one which could not be resolved as quickly as some other sites around the country have been.

Current Estonian law has it that any Soviet era memorial which contains human remains as an integral part of the site is a matter for the state, via the war museum and the war graves commission, while if no human remains are present, the issue is one for local government.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

Source: Aktuaalne kaamera

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