Sunday, January 7, 2018

Estonia Set to Dismantle Soviet War Memorial in Tallinn Before It Collapses

Paul Goble

            Staunton, January 7 – Urmas Reinsalu, Estonia’s justice minister, says that Tallinn is considering dismantling the Soviet war memorial at Maarjamäe on the seacoast between the center of the capital and Pirita because there is a risk that the facility, including a 35-meter obelisk, is at risk of collapsing.

            To save the monument, which many Estonians have long referred to as “the dream of the impotent,” would cost at least a million euros (1.3 million US dollars), money that officials feel could be better spent on other things, especially since none of the installations are especially noteworthy or meaningful for Estonians (

            The memorial complex consists of several monuments. The most prominent is the tall obelisk which was raised by the Soviets in honor of the Ice Campaign by which in 1918, Red soldiers of the Baltic Fleet were able to break through the German blockade and deliver critical cargo to the Soviet base at Kronshtadt (

            Build around that obelisk in advance of the Olympics in 1980, when the sailing competitions occurred off the Estonian coast, is a memorial in stone that recalls the eternal flames set up in many Soviet cities and remaining in Russian ones today.  During Soviet times, military parades in Tallinn were staged there.

                Reinsalu did not say when Tallinn might take action, but many will be waiting to see Moscow’s reaction, given how harshly it responded when the Estonian authorities in 2007 moved the Soviet “bronze soldier” from in front of the National Library to a military cemetery. (See

            If Moscow responds harshly, that will of course please some Russian nationalists but further inflame Estonian anger; if the Russian capital doesn’t, that will be a signal that Moscow today doesn’t want to refight a monument war in Tallinn, an indication that it has concluded it has more to lose by doing so than by not.

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