Students played an important role in afterwar Estonia conducting political information and in resistance to Soviet authority. They distributed forbidden literature, leaflets and information about events both in Estonia and in the rest of the world. They also cooperated with forest brothers and gained combat experience. The picture shows school boys of Tartu VI Secondary School in 1947, of whom Ants Zovo (first from right) was a founding member of the resistance organization. Photo: Vabamu Museum of Occupations and Freedom
On Resistance Day on 22 September, Vabamu Museum of Occupations and Freedom and the Government Office invite everyone to recall the efforts of Estonians to gain independence at a time when we stood together even when faced with the might of a foreign power.
Three-quarters of a century ago in autumn 1944, following the end of the German occupation, acting president Jüri Uluots appointed to office the Government of Otto Tief. This government adopted a resolution on the restoration of the independence of Estonia and remaining neutral in the war. Despite this, the Red Army violently replaced the blue, black and white flag of Estonia on Tall Hermann Tower with the red flag of Communism on 22 September 1944. The resistance which started in the first year of Soviet occupation and the fight for a free and democratic Estonia continued in various forms until the restoration of the republic’s independence in 1991.
To mark Resistance Day, everyone is welcome to visit the permanent exhibition ‘Freedom without Borders’ of Vabamu Museum of Occupations and Freedom free of charge, as well as the newly opened exhibition ‘Baltic Way 30: One History, Two Million Stories’ at Telliskivi Creative City and the KGB Prison Cells in the Old Town at reduced prices. Guided tours will be offered throughout the day.
According to Keiu Telve, the director of Vabamu, the importance of the resistance that lasted throughout the Soviet era cannot be underestimated. “Many Estonians remained true to the ideal of our own independent state throughout the Soviet era and hoped that independence would quickly be restored,” she said. “For half a century, Estonians found the courage to stand up against the ruling powers, and it is the enormous contribution of these people that we celebrate on Resistance Day.”
On the Resistance Day, we are also opening an exhibit at the museum's Freedom Hall about the meeting and demonstrations organized by Estonians in exile during the World's Fair Expo 1967 in Montreal. The Soviet Union participated in the Expo 67 with Soviet pavilion, where they had a special day for representing Estonian SSR. On the 21st of May, Estonians in exile held a meeting with singers, gymnasts, and folk dancers. Estonian Republic consul in Canada, Johannes Ernst Markus, wrote in the brochure for the event: "May the performances demonstrate the unremitting demand of Estonians for freedom for their native country, Estonia, now under the illegal occupation of the Soviet Union, and bring to the attention of the Free World the ultimate hope of the Estonians in Canada - a Free, Independent, and Democratic Republic of Estonia."
Vabamu Museum of Occupations and Freedom and the KGB Prison Cells will be open from 10:00-18:00 on Resistance Day. The ‘Baltic Way 30: One History, Two Million Stories’ exhibition at Telliskivi Creative City will be open from 11:00-20:00.
Tours of the permanent exhibition at Vabamu will start at 10:30 and 16:30. Visitors will hear stories about brave men, women and children who feared nothing. Tours of the KGB Prison Cells will also start at 10:30 and 16:30, entitled “Following in the Footsteps of Otto Tief’s Government”. Tours of the temporary exhibition entitled ‘Baltic Way 30: One History, Two Million Stories’ at Telliskivi Creative City will start at 18:00 and 19:00.
For further information or to register for the tours, go to https://www.vabamu.ee/what-s-on/events/resistance-day-at-vabamu.