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Gallery: Occupations Museum shows weapons and Forest Brother bunker

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Museum of Occupations, in Tallinn, opened an exhibition on Forest Brothers (Metsavennad!) providing an overview of armed resistance to Soviet power on Estonian territory since autumn of 1944.

The exhibition reveals the causes, goals and outcome of Forest Brotherhood, both by organised activities and life storeys of the Brothers themselves. With Soviet rule re-established on Estonian territory in autumn of 1944, armed resistance was launched immediately with over 15,000 Forest Brothers ready to fight for freedom.

For visitors to gain an understanding of what the Forest Brother bunkers looked like, the exhibitions curator Martin Andreller has, based on last year’s open air research and bunker wall measurements reconstructed the Põrgupõhja (Hell Hole) bunker, restoring its interior by descriptions provided. With wide-spread view, nowadays, of Forest Brothers living in underground bunkers, majority of those actually were completely above ground – or only partly underground. The Põrgupõhja bunker served as headquarters for Armed Resistance Alliance (Relvastatud Võitluse Liit) established to coordinate armed resistance. Life in the woods meant constant worries for food and winter supplies, incessant hiding from persecutors, as well and longing and care for family members.

The daily Forest Brother life is introduced by a slide-movie, with commentaries. The Forest Brother resistance was crushed in the 1950ies. However, occasional battles with Soviet security forces kept happening even after that. The exhibition features items scattered around after such battles, with bullet holes and sad stories to tell.

In Soviet times, Forest Brothers were unequivocallytreated as bandits and murderers. Visitors may have a look at TT pistols presented to security personnel for fight against such «banditism», with special inscriptions. As materials on Forest Brothers are scarce, the items exhibited, many for the first time ever, are the more valuable. The exhibition will be open, at Occupations Museum, till the end of October.

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