Estonia is a small country with a heavy history. In the everyday hustle and bustle of today’s Tallinn, it’s easy enough to forget that this tiny Baltic nation gained its independence just 24 years ago after decades of struggling under Soviet rule.
Like the nation itself, the Museum of Occupations is not huge in size. Don’t let the somewhat modest appearance fool you, though. Inside, you will get an arresting look at Soviet reality and at Estonia’s struggle for their hard-won independence. A visit to the museum will give any visitor a deeper understanding on the history which to this day continues to cast its tall shadow over this feisty Nordic nation.
During the first half of the 20th century, Estonia found itself caught between rock and a hard place as it had to struggle under both Soviet and Nazi rule. From Soviet propaganda posters to books forbidden under Stalin’s rule and which as a result have been literally hacked to pieces, the Museum houses memorabilia which really does make history come alive.
Everyday household items lined side by side with military gear paint a vivid picture of the challenging day-to-day life of Estonians under foreign rule. Filmed interviews with Estonian veterans and survivors makes the overall experience all the more arresting. It’s not all doom and gloom and doom though – more than anything, the Museum is an impressive monument to the endurance of the human spirit. And while the Museum’s primary focus lies in Estonian history, it also gives visitors a better understanding of Soviet Union’s aggressive expansion project on a larger scale.
The Museum’s stark concrete architecture corresponds well with the grave subject matter. The Museum is expertly curated and along side its permanent collection also houses fascinating exhibitions such as the current display of Soviet tourism advertisement. Located just outside the medieval Old Town, on the outskirts of picturesque Harjumägi Park, the Museum of Occupations is a potent reminder of the significant role our past will always play in the present.