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Researchers find last bunker of alleged last Forest Brother

Leftovers of a structure built by the Forest Brothers. Image is illustrative.
Leftovers of a structure built by the Forest Brothers. Image is illustrative. Source: Postimees/Scanpix

Members of a group studying the history of the anti-Soviet resistance movement of the Forest Brothers have apparently found the remains of a bunker in Southeast Estonia they believe to have been the last hiding place of August Sabbe, who was the last known surviving Forest Brother. Sabbe died in 1978.

A group of researchers found Sabbe's last hiding place in Southeast Estonia, following a local tip. The group was set up five years ago with the aim to further study the Forest Brothers movement using archaeological methods.

Archaeologist Mauri Kiudsoo told the Baltic News Service that they found an underground bunker in Estonia's southeast that dates back to the 1970s that is likely to be Forest Brother August Sabbe's last hiding place. Sabbe died when the Soviet authorities tried to arrest him in 1978.

According to Kiudsoo, the underground bunker located on the edge of a former wetland is dug into the sandy ground and well-hidden. Its layout suggests that Sabbe built the bunker on the site of an earlier one, likely dating back to the 1950s.

The bunker the group found couldn't be that old, as plastic and rubber were used to waterproof the bunker's roof. The condition and estimated production years of those materials make it impossible for the structure to have been built any earlier, Kiudsoo said.

The roof of the bunker fell in after a logging tractor hit the building in the mid-1980s. According to Kiudsoo, the archaeologists also discovered a leather wallet under a tin stove inside.

"We will definitely go on exploring the bunker next year," Kiudsoo said.

August Sabbe, born in 1909, is believed to have been the last Forest Brother, surviving and remaining in hiding until the late 1970s. The KGB finally tracked him down as he was fishing on a river shore on 28 September 1978, almost exactly 40 years ago.

Sabbe died trying to escape, drowning in the river. According to some accounts of the event, it is possible that his captors drowned him, the BNS wrote.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

Source: BNS

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