Two Estonian schoolgirls blew up a Soviet War monument to avenge the destruction of war memorials to the Estonian War of Independence
After the Soviet re-occupation of Estonia in 1944, the Soviet occupation authorities began systematically destroying the war memorials to the fallen in the Estonian War of Independence, which had survived the war.
On 15 April 1945 a monument by Amandus Adamson, erected to 87 persons who had fallen in the Estonian War of Independence, was blown up in Pärnu with explosives. Also between 1944 and 1946 the gravestones of the Tallinn Military Cemetery were destroyed by the Soviet authorities and the Estonian graveyard was reused by Red Army.
Aili Jõgi has described why the two schoolgirls blew up a monument they considered a symbol of occupation and repression:
"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. 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 (née Aili Jürgenson, born 25 May 1931 in Tallinn) is an Estonian schoolgirl who on the night of 8 May 1946, together with her school friend Ageeda Paavel, blew up a Soviet War reburial monument (a wooden memorial topped with a star): the preceding monument to the Bronze Soldier in Tallinn.
At the age of 14, she was taken to local MVD headquarters and detention center at Pagari Street in Tallinn, where she spent her 15th birthday. She was later found guilty as an under-aged terrorist and sent to a Gulag labor camp in the Komi-Zyryan ASSR, to the west of the Ural mountains in the north-east of the East European Plain. She was exiled from the Estonian SSR for eight years.
In February 1998, Jõgi and her friend Paavel were awarded the Estonian Order of the Cross of the Eagle for their fight against the Soviet regime ("Freedom fighter of military merit") by the Estonian President Lennart Meri. Aili Jõgi and Ageeda Paavel are the only women awarded the Order of the Cross of the Eagle.
Ageeda Paavel (sometimes cited as Ageeda-Andrea Paavel) (born 15 August 1930) is an Estonian woman who, as a schoolgirl, on the night of 8 May 1946, together with her school friend Aili Jürgenson, blew up a Soviet war monument (a wooden memorial topped with a star): the preceding monument to the Bronze Soldier in Tallinn.
Ageeda Paavel describes the events as follows:
"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. 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. /.../ Juhan [Juhan Kuusk] gave us the explosives and instructions. There was nothing really difficult about it. The important thing was that the fuse had to be long enough to give us a safe distance for running away. It was. We put in place the materials for the blast with Aili; we had no supporters. The fact that a militia officer who was on duty was flirting with a girl at a distance and did not notice us made it easier for us. Although this girl did not belong to our group, she was also later arrested."
The newspapers of that time censored reports about the demolition and local authorities restored the monument in time for Victory Day, but word of the incident spread quickly throughout the city. The initiative of the girls was followed and similar monuments were also demolished in Rakvere and Tartu.
Soon after the incident, Paavel and Jürgenson were apprehended by the Soviet authorities. Paavel was 15 years old at the time, and Jürgenson, just 14. Both were sentenced to a Gulag and were deported from Estonia to forced-labor camps in the USSR, where they endured many years of hardship before they were allowed to return to Estonia.
In February 1998, Paavel and her friend Jõgi (Jürgenson) were awarded the Estonian Order of the Cross of the Eagle for their fight against the Soviet regime ("Freedom fighter of military merit") by the Estonian President Lennart Meri. Aili Jõgi and Ageeda Paavel are the only women awarded the Order of the Cross of the Eagle.
Sources: wikipedia.org, news.lv