Estonia to assemble memorial to the victims of communism

The Estonian state real estate management company has chosen the design “Journey” (“Teekond” in Estonian) as the future memorial to the victims of communism and officers of Estonia.

The winner of the design competition was chosen by Riigi Kinnisvara AS (RKAS, the state real estate management agency) in cooperation with the ministry of justice, the victims of repressions organisations, the City of Tallinn and the Estonian Association of Architects.

The winner, called “Journey”, was designed by Kalle Vellegoog, Jaan Tiidemann, Tiiu Kruus, Martin Prommik and Lidia Zarudnaja of JVR OÜ, an Estonian architecture company.

The future memorial is to consist of two parts – one is to be “Journey” and the second “the Home Garden” (“Koduaed” in Estonian). “To reach the home garden, one has to undertake a journey. To undertake a journey, one has to leave the home garden,” RKAS explained in a statement.

Communism memorial

According to the state real estate management agency, a journey is a metaphor that combines hope and hopelessness. “A journey is a spatial experience that shows the power of the system, that selects, compartmentalises and decides over a person’s fate. The person is small and weak, compared with the system. A journey is not a place of being, but a place of moving. Undertaking a journey is a ritual that helps experience the past,” the agency said.

The “Journey” part of the memorial will be a long dark tunnel with plaques with the names of the victims of communism on its walls. Next to the plaques will be plates without names to symbolise the unknown victims of communism. “The plaques hint at the compartmentalising nature of the system. Every plaque will be numbered and will have fifty names. The round number of the names and the clear structure of the plaques will help visually understand the amount of the victims.”

The other part of the memorial, “the Home Garden”, is to be a metaphor to combine dreams, memories and homesickness, RKAS said. “People feel safe at home, there’s peace and quiet at home. The home garden is a place of being, not moving. The symbol of the home garden is an apple tree. Planting an apple tree is a ritual that looks into the future.”

“The Home Garden” will be placed in a hollow and its centre will be rounded by apple trees that separate the centre plaza from its surroundings. “At the corner of the plaza there will be a dark cube in front of which and around it memorial events can take place. The floor of the plaza will be made of concrete with a floor board pattern to signify the floor at one’s home,” the statement said.

Communism memorial II

The memorial for the officers of the Republic of Estonia will be a long dark wall, decorated by a figure of an officer. “A proud officer standing next to a dark wall is a powerful, but a dark image that, with the journey behind the wall is to symbolise a field with multiple meanings,” RKAS said.

The memorial will be built in Tallinn at Maarjamäe between Kadriorg and Pirita. The memorial will be dedicated to more than 20,000 people who lost their lives due to communism, of whom many died abroad and whose final resting places are, in many cases, unknown. The cost of the memorial is to be up to €4.45 million.

Enjoyed this article?
Please consider becoming a supporter.


About the author: Sten Hankewitz

Sten Hankewitz is a lifelong journalist and Deputy Editor at Estonian World. Having lived in Estonia, Spain, the UK and all around the US, he now resides in Chicago, IL. He loves to write and besides working at Estonian World and doing some occasional blogging, he writes books and contributes to other outlets in Estonia, Israel and elsewhere. He has strong convictions and he shows them unashamedly. You can follow him on Twitter, like his page on Facebook or check out his personal blog. You can write to Sten at sten@estonianworld.com.