June 14, 1941 deportations commemorated across Estonia

Estonian blue-black-white.
Estonian blue-black-white. Source: Riigikogu Press Office

Wednesday is a flag day in Estonia, commemorating the 82nd anniversary of the June 1941 deportations by the Soviet Union.

June 14 is a national day of mourning and a flag day, meaning all state, public and local government buildings will fly the blue-black-white flag, to commemorate the over 10,000 of the deportations by the occupying Soviet authorities.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Margus Tsahkna (Eesti 200) said: "Today, we are remembering all those who became victims of deportations and the communist regime in Estonia."

He also pointed out the poignancy of this year's commemoration, given that very similar atrocities are being committed in the present-day, in Ukraine.

"It was 82 years ago and several generations have grown up since then, but the memory of the deportations still stays with the people of Estonia even as the years pass. These grave crimes against humanity should not have occurred again. Unfortunately, they have a direct link with the present, as millions of Ukrainians are fighting for their lives and their loved ones. Russia's war in Ukraine has continued for more than a year now," Tsahkna continued, via a ministry press release.

"During this time, it has been factually established that numerous and grave crimes are being committed in areas under Russian control – extra-judicial killings, arrests, kidnapping, torture and rape on a mass scale. More than 19,000 children have been forcefully taken to Russia, more than 10,000 innocent people have been killed. It is the responsibility of Estonia and the international community to offer Ukraine every support until it has won the war and to make sure that no crime committed in Ukraine goes unpunished," the minister added.

Independent regional daily Lääne Elu reports that there will be a memorial prayer service at 11 a.m. at Haapsalu Cathedral, and wreath laying at the War of Independence and Hans Alver monuments, while at 7 p.m., a service will take place at the cross commemorating the deportees.

In Tartu, the victims of the June 1941 deportation will be commemorated at the Rukkilill monument at noon.

The City of Tartu asks local residents to hoist flags outside their homes also, in mourning mode (see below). This is not a mandatory requirement, but private citizens nationwide are invited to do so, and many indeed do.

Flags are to be raised no later than 8 a.m., and lowered at 10 p.m. on the Wednesday.

A black mourning ribbon of 50mm width and around 3,300mm length (or twice the length of the national flag) must be attached to the upper end of the flagpole on June 14, while the national flag itself must be hoisted in such a way that it is raised slowly to the flagpole's top, then lowered slowly to half-mast. When the flag is lowered at 10 p.m., this process is repeated, ie. it is raised to the top of the mast then slowly, fully lowered.

If flags of other nationalities are flying from adjacent flagpoles, these need not be lowered, but an Estonian flag at half-mast will be raised on the same flagpole, Tartu City Government reports.

While the June 1941 Soviet deportations of Estonians took place shortly before the start of Operation Barbarossa, Nazi Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union, their main aim was to remove opposition to the Soviet puppet government, rather than in anticipation of the invasion. An estimated 10,000-11,000 Estonians were deported to prison camps, prison colonies and other forced settlements, deep inside the Soviet Union, as a result of the June 14 deportation.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

Source: Lääne Elu, Tartu City Government press office

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