Bronze Soldier site sought for communism victims memorial

PHOTO: Repro

This week, members of the Memento Union uniting sufferers under Soviet occupation handed Minister of Culture Urve Tiidus design project of their vision regarding future memorial to victims of communism which, according to the repressed, might be located at Tõnismäe, Tallinn – at the spot where Bronze Soldier used to stand.

The project picked by Memento after design contest held two years ago, is authored by Koit Ojaliiv. Originally planned for Maarjamäe, Mr Ojaliiv redesigned the work Columns of Memory at Tõnismäe, as requested by Memento.

Herewith, the memorial is called «memorial of occupations terror victims», dedicated to Estonians who fell victim to two Soviet and one Nazi occupations.

«The design prescribes metal columns, for Tõnismäe, bearing names of victims. One three-faceted column will, depending on height of letters, about 2,000 names. Metal allows for a more compact solution; on stone, the letters would have to be higher. But that’s too good a place to set up something robust and cheap. There would be 55 columns, bearing 110,000 names; we have got all these names,» said Leo Õispuu, Memento board member, who took the design to culture minister accompanied by  Peep Vari and Heido Ots.

In addition to names, the design prescribes equipping the columns with QR codes or some other technology allowing visitors to read specific information on the entire memorial or each person separately.

According to Mr Õispuu, the design contest organised by culture ministry in 2011 did not fit the repressed, as the jury was mainly composed of art personalities and victims of communism were not able to express their opinion at all. Therefore, Memento asked Mr Ojaliiv to further develop the project, placing the memorial in Tõnismäe where, within 500 metres radius, Museum of Occupations, Johan Pitka monument, War of Independence Victory Column, Deer Park (Hirvepark) meeting memorial plaque, and other historic markers are to be found.

Erecting a communism victims memorial in Tallinn city centre is written into Memento and IRL cooperation agreement, renewed yearly. «The clause has been there for many a year. The agreement was: as long as the War of Independence Victory Column is not ready, we will not press the memorial issue. Now, the victory column is completed,» noted Mr Õispuu.

As the agreement was renewed, this last time, the IRL chairman and defence minister Urmas Reinsalu assured the repressed the time had come to move on with the memorial, say the latter.

Õispuu’s idea was favoured by culture minister, who found the designs very beautiful. «The minister received Koit Ojaliiv’s design, along with other works and data; now to be decided by the government,» said Mr Õispuu.

He added that the memorial must not be erected speedily, perhaps to be completed by centenary of Republic of Estonian in 2018.

According to Yoko Alender, architectural adviser to culture minister, Memento has come up with a totally new idea. «It was the ministry’s task to organise the architectural contest, to present the results to the public, to collect feedback and to present the materials to the government. The proposal by Memento is a part of the feedback, which will be considered and discussed. This, indeed, is a development of the winning design, but the location is altogether different,» said Ms Alender. The time the government will start discussing the memorial is not known yet.