Little Bits of History

Doing Something

Posted in History by patriciahysell on May 8, 2015
08 Aili_Jurgenson

Aili Jürgenson Jõgi

May 8, 1946: Aili Jürgenson and Ageeda Paavel blow up a Soviet War reburial monument. The monument had been located in Tallinn, the capital of Estonia. Estonia is a small Baltic country, about half the size of Indiana, covering 17,413 square miles. It is bordered on the east by Lake Peipus and Russia. Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania were occupied by the USSR in 1940. With the beginning of World War II, Germany overran the area and took control in June 1941. The Soviets came back and retook the lands in the Baltic Offensive of 1944. World courts today agree the three small countries remained independent states and were illegally occupied from 1940 to 1991.

After the Soviets took control of Estonia in 1944, they began to systematically destroy the remaining war memorials placed in the memory of the Estonian War of Independence (1918-1920). During that war, they had gained their freedom from control of Soviet Russia. On April 15, 1945, explosives were used to destroy a monument in Pärnu dedicated to 87 people who fell in the Estonian War for Independence. Between 1944 and 1946 the gravestones in the Tallinn Military Cemetery were destroyed and the Soviet authorities began using the cemetery for deceased of the Red Army.

Then 14-year-old Aili and 15-year-old Ageeda destroyed a Soviet War reburial monument – a wooden structure topped with a star. The act of defiance went mostly unnoticed and was not reported in any papers. However, locals were aware of the destruction and soon others were mimicking their actions and Soviet memorials were demolished in Rakvere and Tartu. The girls were not initially suspected. Aili was only found out when she sought out the help of a doctor for a wounded friend. She was arrested and taken to the authorities where she spent her 15th birthday in confinement. She was found guilty and set to a Gulag labor camp west of the Ural mountains. She remained there for eight years. While there, she married a fellow prisoner, Ülo Jõgi, an Estonian who had been convicted as a Finnish spy. Ageeda suffered the same fate.

After their wooden monument was destroyed, the Soviets built a new one. The Soviet World War II war memorial was relocated in 2007. Initially called the Monument to the Liberators of Tallinn, it is now called Monument To the Fallen in the Second World War. It is a stone wall structure made of dolomite and a 6.5 foot high bronze statue of a soldier appears dressed in a World War II Red Army uniform. When it was moved, the bodies of the Russians buried near it were also exhumed and identified and then reburied at the Defence Forces Cemetery of Tallinn if relatives did not claim the remains and have their family members buried elsewhere.

How long should we watch this red star, a memorial for Russian looters. At the time when all our statues are being destroyed. We just couldn’t get our heads around it. – Aili Jõgi

We decided that if such robbers are raging in Estonia, they should see how one of their memorials gets blown up. We could have just doused the wooden thing with gasoline and set fire to it, but we wanted it to go with a bang! – Aili Jõgi

Our beloved monuments started to disappear one after another. They had to be paid back somehow and the so-called Liberators’ Monument on Tõnismägi was picked. It was situated in the square of the current bronze man on the side facing the church. – Ageeda Paavel

It was about a meter high wooden pyramid, which was only about 20 centimetres in diameter; it was of a plain blue colour and its top was decorated by a red tin pentagon. – Ageeda Paavel

Also on this day: Saint-Pierre, Martinique – In 1902 a volcano erupts and destroys Saint-Pierre, Martinique.
Good Dog – In 1877, the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show was first held.
Shoot Out – In 1984, a shooting at the Quebec National Assembly took place.
One Down – In 1945, Germany unconditionally surrendered.
Famous Players Film Company – In 1912, the company was founded by Adolph Zukor.

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