Estonia begins replacing Soviet war grave markers with 'neutral' ones

On Thursday, the Estonian War Museum and the Center for Defense Investment began the process of replacing grave markers containing symbols of the Soviet occupation with "neutral" ones. The new grey stone markers contain the "neutral" text "Victims of World War Two."

According to the Estonian War Museum's marketing manager Sandra Niinepuu, the new grave markers, which contain the "neutral" inscription "Victims of World War Two," will shift the emphasis to the commemoration of those who lost their lives in the war, rather than glorifying the Soviet occupation of Estonia.

The war museum's director Hellar Lill said, that the aim the "neutral" markers was also to ensure grave sites could not be exploited for propaganda purposes.

"The Estonian government has decided to remove symbols of the occupation from public space in Estonia. Our aim is for all the resting places of the World War Two dead to be marked with respect and dignity, while at the same time ensuring that the sites of their graves are not used for war, or any other forms of, propaganda,"

Last year, the Government Office approached the Estonian Academy of Arts (EKA) to develop a suitable marker for the war graves, while in the summer of 2022, it also set up a special Soviet monuments workgroup to find a solution to the war graves issue. The "neutral" design, which will now be used for the grave markers was created by Professor Kirke Kangro, a lecturer at the academy.

In the first phase, six war graves, all located in Ida-Viru County, which contain symbols of the Soviet occupation, will be given the new "neutral" grave markers. Two of the graves are in Lüganuse Municipality, two in Narva-Jõesuu, one in Jõhvi and one in Kohtla-Järve.


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Editor: Michael Cole

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