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Estonia unveils new memorial to victims of communism

Estonia unveils new memorial to victims of communism

28 August 2018

A new monument commemorating the thousands of Estonians who died at the hands of the Soviet security forces has been unveiled in Tallinn.

Named simply The Journey, the memorial forces visitors are forced to walk between towering walls of black stone, inscribed with the names of the 22,000 people who were murdered or died in “inhumane” government prisons under Soviet rule. At the end of the corridor waits a garden, representing the peaceful homes stolen from the victims themselves.

The Journey is a spatial experience that shows the power of the system that selects, compartmentalises and decides a person’s fate. Compared with the system, a person is small and weak,” says JVR OÜ, the Estonian architecture company behind the design. “Undertaking this journey is a ritual that helps [Estonians] experience the past.”

The group behind the memorial, The Estonian Institute of Historical Memory Foundation, says that the list of victims is still yet to be finalised. “Thousands of sufferers did not make it back home and their fate is unknown to this day,” it said in a statement. “Research for identifying and ascertaining these victims continues.”

The unveiling was followed by proposals by Estonia’s Minister of Justice, Urmas Reinsalu to turn country’s former Patarei prison complex — used by the KGB until the fall of the Soviet Union — into a museum documenting the “crimes of communism.” Based in Tallinn, the building has been abandoned since closing its doors in 2002.