Estonia – Patarei fortification

Compared with other European countries, Estonia has a large percentage of foreign-born residents and their children. Only about two-thirds of the population are ethnic Estonians.   Russians are the most significant minority, comprising about one-fourth of the citizens. Prominent among other ethnic minorities are Ukrainians, Belarusians, and Finns.   What is behind the Patarei fortification and how many thousands of ethnic people have been killed during this time and send to Siberia?   The way forward…



Indien daar so baie vir ons in suidelike Afrika (RSA vandag), maar veral die ou Boere republieke en selfs Zoeloe slagtings gelieg is oor hoeveel van ons Boeregeslagte letterlik omgekom het weens die Britse moordkampe, wat is die kanse dat ook hier meer mense na hul dood vervoer is.   Hier by ons word probeer om ons geskiedenis te herskryf en die blaam van “apartheid” word voor ons deure geplaas.   Dit alles, terwyl die Britte skotsvry anderkant uitkom en maak of die moordkampe alledaagse vlugtelingskampe was.

ABW concentration camps : Rudie Rousseau ea


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Estonia – Independence


2018 – Patarei fortification

The names of over 22,000 people who were murdered or who died due to inhuman living conditions in imprisonment or forced exile are inscribed on the memorial’s name plaques. A separate memorial wall is dedicated to military officers of Estonia who fell victim to the communist terror.     

All former heads of state of Estonia who had remained in their homeland suffered. Four of them – Friedrich Karl Akel, Jüri Jaakson, Jaan Tõnisson and Jaan Teemant – were murdered, and four died in imprisonment. Of the seventy-eight former cabinet ministers who had remained in occupied Estonia, 64 were arrested. 70 of the 120 members of the last Estonian parliament were imprisoned along with nine of the eleven county governors. 

The deportation carried out on 25 March 1949 had the largest number of victims in Estonia of all acts of communist terror. In a few days, 7,552 families, in total 20,702 people, mostly women and children, were taken to forced resettlement in Siberia. Two thirds of them were branded as “nationalists” and one third as “kulaks”. Their property was seized. Those who were not caught during the deportation also suffered. 

Estonia lost approximately 90,000 people as fatalities during the period of 1940–1991. Even more people fled from their homeland in 1939–1945. The human losses during World War II and the subsequent terror are estimated at a fifth of the population of slightly over one million.



The International Museum for the Victims of Communism and Research Centre of Communist Crimes is to be established in Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, led by the Estonian Institute of Historical Memory with the support of the Government of Estonia and leading remembrance institutions in Europe and beyond. 

The museum will be built within the Patarei fortification complex that was used by both the Soviet and the Nazi regimes throughout the XX century, located on the shores of the Gulf of Finland in the heart of Tallinn. The museum will introduce crimes committed by both the Soviet and Nazi regimes, with the main focus on the machinery, ideology and crimes of communist regimes, moving from a local overview, to the events in Europe, to a global scale.

While Patarei is one of the strongest symbols of Soviet political terror for Estonians, it is also an international monumental memorial that helps to understand the inhuman nature of totalitarian regimes, irrespective of the specific state power, indicating with sinister clarity as to why it is imperative to avoid their recurrence.

The museum is planned to an approximately 5,000 square meter (65,000 square feet) area in the eastern part of the building, with authentic prison cells, an execution chamber, corridors, a prison lean with prisoners’ walkways and much more.

Abandoned Patarei Prison in Tallinn, Estonia | Abandoned, Prison, Eastern  europe

Death sentencing and executions continued in the second half of the 1950s (from May 1947 to August 1950, the death penalty had been abolished in the USSR), but then the majority of those sentenced to death were criminals with non-political charges. The executions had to be carried out on Patarei’s ground floor by a special command formed of prison staff. The secret burial of the bodies was their task as well. The fate of most political prisoners did not come to light until the early 1990s.


Exploring the Abandoned Patarei Prison in Tallinn | Bizarre Globe Hopper



This collectivisation and nationalisation of private farmland was mainly based on the Communist ideology. It was a tragic project of enormous dimensions which involved thousands of families and destroyed the effective family farming system.

The idea was that large jointly operated agricultural units gave a better yield than small individual farms and that collectivisation would give economic equality to the farming population.

It was not possible for the State to finance the necessary investments and to coordinate the comprehensive agricultural planning and accompanying industries. Many efforts failed (for example, the establishment of big horse and tractor centres). Other problems involved organizing the work on big farms where indifferent people had little motivation. The ineffective agricultural system of the Soviet Union was the reason for a chronic lack of food production.



A rare and strong photo. Krasnoyarsk Krai in the middle of Siberia, April 8, 1949. Estonian deportees have ended their week-long journey in cattle wagons and are officially being handed over to the local regional Russian department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, based on a statement by the train master.

This so-called “Special Contingent of Estonians” consisted of 405 people, of which 82 were men, 203 were women and 120 were children.

The 1949 deportation involved 21,000 Estonians or 2.5% of the whole population. The deportees were mainly kulaks (independent farmers) who had not joined the collective farms. They were deported without any trial. Women represented 50% of the deportees. 35% of them were children under 16 years of age. (The Museum of Occupation, Tallinn)


The Estonian Institute of Historical Memory has launched a portal that provides information on the history of communist regimes and their crimes; the portal is published in Estonian, English and Russian.


Communism Crimes

In 1939 Stalin and Hitler divided Europe into spheres of influence in the secret protocols of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact. It was the end of independence for many countries in Europe.  

According to the Black Book of Communism approximately 100 million people perished as a result of communist tyranny. At the same time, the crimes of communism in the 20th century, the history of orchestrated mass famine, mass deportations and executions remain largely unknown. 

The world’s first comprehensive museum about communist crimes, The International Museum for the Victims of Communism, is going to be established in the former Patarei Vangla, Tallinn Prison, in Tallinn Estonia.




Patarei Prison, located in Tallinn, Estonia, is one of the most remarkable historic buildings in the Baltic Sea Region. Thousands of repressed by the communist regime were detained in Patarei during its use as a prison of the communist Soviet Union (1941-1944, 1944-1991). In the coming years, the Estonian Institute of Historical Memory will establish the International Museum for the Victims of Communism in the east wing of the building. More than 90 million Red Terror victims all over the world deserve a place that discusses their sad fate in facts and that warns the public of communist ideology’s hostile nature.


This is why the Baltic People will Never Forget the Russians



Memorial – Estonia



The first step to be taken after the end of Communism was the building of a new society, and this had to be achieved without the assistance of a functioning civil society. One of the most important aims of the Communist system was the destruction of the former organisation of society and civil society, and full subordination of the relations between individuals and their activities to the control of the Communist Party.

The first step towards achieving this was to destroy the people’s memories. The famous thesis by George Orwell, in which the future is controlled by controlling the past, was continually applied in the Soviet system.

Everything that reminded people of the independent Estonia had to be wiped from their memory, eliminating even the possibility of a world different from the Soviet reality from generations of memories.

The assault on collective memory

The assault on collective memory began with the elimination of the dead. Under Communism the majority of the historical and cultural monuments in Estonia were blown up or utilised as scrap metal. Almost every memorial to the War of Independence of 1918–1920 was destroyed or liquidated.

Between 1940 and 1950, 95 monuments to the War of Independence, 12 monuments to military leaders in the War of Independence, 18 memorials to War of Independence battlefields, 2 monuments to the victims of the attempted rebellion on 1 December 1924 and 7 unfinished memorial structures were destroyed by order of the Estonian Communist Party (ECP).

In addition, several monuments to events in the more distant past, which were too ‘Western’ for the Soviet system and incompatible with the Soviet treatment of history, were also liquidated.

Thus, the monuments to the founder of the University of Tartu, Gustav II Adolf, to the leader of the national movement, Villem Reiman, in Tartu and to Martin Luther in Keila were destroyed. The annihilation of the nation’s memory also included the almost complete destruction of the collections of several museums and the destruction of books published in independent Estonia.

The assault on free activity

By depriving the nation of its memory, the Communists hoped to destroy its capacity for free activity. The same purpose was served by the demolition of Estonian civil society, which commenced in the summer of 1940, primarily through the complete prohibition of the freedom of association and the systematic destruction of the forms of joint activity that had developed over time. Societies, associations and clubs were liquidated, and the houses and assets that they had acquired through private donations and subscriptions were taken away from them or nationalised.

According to the available data, 521 organisations were liquidated in this manner, but it is likely that the number was considerably larger.

The local central committee’s draft resolution concerning the organisation of informal education from the first year of occupation has been preserved in the party archives. It reads, To liquidate the existing … associations (educational, temperance, childcare, library, singing and dancing, engineering, self-education, training, school maintenance, language learning, women’s, farmers’, art, etc. associations and societies) and their unions ….

The foundations established for the construction and maintenance of community centres shall also be liquidated’ (Laar 2004). In addition, liquidation extended to the cultural autonomy organisations of the indigenous national minorities in Estonia, which served as unique examples of the protection of minorities and their human rights in Europe at that time. Their assets were nationalised. As a result of the Soviet occupation, the activities of the Jewish organisations and schools that had been permitted in the Republic of Estonia were also terminated.

The assault on freedom of religion

The assault on freedom of activity was accompanied by an assault on freedom of religion. The Communist system considered the church to be one of its main enemies, as it was almost the only institution that existed to some extent outside of the Soviet system and preached on issues which could not be completely censored or controlled.

The gospel of Jesus Christ was in such severe conflict with the moral code of the builders of Communism that it was impossible to reconcile the two.

Therefore, immediately after Estonia’s occupation, considerable pressure was put on the church. After the annexation of Estonia, laws concerning religion and the church, which had applied in the Soviet Union since 1929, came into force in Estonia; under them, the church as a religious and national institution was to be liquidated.

The Christian faith, which contradicted the official atheist ideology, had to be wiped out. The assets of the church–-land, buildings and religious installations–-were nationalised. Congregations were no longer allowed to collect subscriptions, leaving voluntary donations as the churches’ only form of income.

According to Bishop Konrad Veem, 5 deans and 11 pastors were deported from the Lutheran Church in 1941. In the same year, the Metropolitan Aleksander of the Orthodox Church of Estonia was removed from office and the church subordinated to Moscow. Bishop Joann Bulin, one dean, eight priests and three deacons of the Orthodox Church were imprisoned and deported. Four priests and one deacon were sent to Russia. Dean Johannes Kraav from Võru County, two priests and one theologian were murdered. The Roman Catholic leader, Monsignor Eduard Profittlich, and one priest out of the five Catholic clergymen in Estonia were deported. The free congregations suffered losses too. For example, the Methodist Bishop Priikask from Kuressaare was also arrested and deported in 1941.

The most difficult times, however, were yet to come. After Estonia was reoccupied in 1944, all of the restrictions that had been abolished during the German occupation were immediately imposed anew and the pressure on the churches became stronger than before. Several Lutheran pastors were arrested.

While several Orthodox churches remained empty and services were discontinued, the Lutheran Church nevertheless managed to assert itself, despite the fact that the post-war authorities only allowed congregations to meet where there was a clergyman in place. Many buildings were expropriated from the church and turned into community centres and gymnasiums; the Mihkli Church in Tallinn was even turned into a wrestling hall.

Naturally, the recovery of the Lutheran Church did not please the Communist authorities. On 20 September 1947, Moscow ordered Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic (ESSR) Security Minister Boris Kumm to considerably increase the efficiency of the measures against the Lutheran Church.

A total of 22 Lutheran pastors were arrested in the period 1944–1953. This renewed vigour also gave rise to a new anti-religion campaign, mainly organised by the Communist Party. On 7 July 1954, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) adopted a regulation concerning ‘major inadequacies in scientific–atheist training and the measures to improve it’ (Laar 2004), a version of which concerning Estonia was adopted by the Central Committee Office of the ECP on 17 August 1954.

However, these regulations were obviously not very successful since, according to guidelines issued by Moscow, the Central Committee Office of the ECP had to discuss ‘the measures for improving anti-religion work’ on 17 March 1959 and adopt another resolution. A note appended to the resolution, written by a J. Undusk, reveals that although certain successes had been achieved in the anti-faith fight in the preceding years, people were not yet aware of the changes.

The document highlighted the deficiencies in the work of the Soviet institutions. For example, in 1958, the commercial authorities in Tallinn had permitted the selling of spruce before Christmas, when it should only have been permitted after Christmas. Also, the directors of several holdings had allowed their employees to use their cars to go to church. The resolution decided to continue to put pressure on the church while making efforts to separate young people from the church through other measures. For instance, ‘The ESSR Ministry of Education was assigned the task of ordering the departments of education and school principals to prohibit the excursions of pupils to acting churches, cathedrals and abbeys’ (Vahtre 1998). The cultural and educational associations were ordered ‘to carefully prepare and organise particularly interesting events during religious holidays, in order to draw young and middle-aged people away from church services’ (Vahtre 1998). Summer festivals were to replace confirmations and magnificent New Year celebrations were to replace Christmas.

On Christmas Eve, schoolteachers waited at the church doors and jotted down the names of their pupils who were attending, sometimes forcefully pulling them away from their parents. Efforts were made to turn the church into a pariah, the joining of which would destroy young people’s futures and careers. Joining the church, or even having a church wedding, when it became public might result in expulsion from higher educational institutions, as demonstrated by the dismissal of Illar Hallaste from the University of Tartu in 1980.


The most dangerous disease inherited from Communism was corruption. The Communist society was fully corrupt. It was so corrupt that people did not even understand how corrupt it was.

For the people, stealing from the government was not a crime but an act of resistance. People would say, ‘They do not pay us and so we do not work.’ Taking something from a collective farm, bringing it home and giving it to your own animals was perfectly natural. Clearly, it is not possible to build a new society on the basis of such an attitude.

Corruption is very dangerous and even those who have had no contact with Communism can quickly become corrupt when exposed to it. This leads to an ineffective economy and ineffective leadership. Individuals do not know where they stand and work does not give the expected results. The result of this is an ineffective state. Combating corruption does not rely on cultural factors.

Many people have tried to explain away corruption as something that is linked to cultural background and traditions. For example, some have said that Georgia is a corrupt country, and because of its traditions there is nothing that can be done about it. This is not true, as the experience of fighting against corruption there has proved. In terms of the battle against corruption, Estonia has had the most success among Central and Eastern European transition countries. However, neighbouring Latvia, which shares a cultural background with Estonia, is at the same time one of most corrupt countries according to Transparency International (Laar 2002). 

There are also several important lessons to be learned from Communism. 

First, there is mistrust of the government: people learned from Communism not to trust large, strong governments.

Second, people from former Communist countries know that one can spend only the money one has. They have all seen how the Communist system failed: the money had gone and yet people continued to spend. 

Third and finally, the slogan ‘better dead than Red’ still applies in former Communist countries. The people there have seen Communism so close at hand that they are sated. As a result, Communists have only been elected back into power in a few countries, and when this has happened it has been due to their firm promises that they are no longer Communists. Of course they are–-once a Communist, always a Communist. They are corrupt, lie and destroy the economies as they did before, but now they are not re-elected.

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Communism and Corruption



SCARY VLOG: Abandoned Places- Patarei Prison, Tallinn

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