The Museum of Occupations in Tallinn, Estonia Audiovisual Archive

The Museum of Occupations in Tallinn, Estonia Audiovisual Archive, 2001-2003 consists of 149 oral history interviews that were recorded in 2001-2003 by the Museum with people who lived under or fled from the Soviet and/or German occupation in Estonia. The interviews focus on the interwar Estonia and World War II events in the region, the interviewees' escape from the country during the war, and their life in German DP camps and the Western countries (United States, Sweden, Australia).

The interviewees also reflect on what it means to be Estonian, their ties with Estonia, national identity and all else concerned with Estonia.

Subjects covered include Estonia, Estonian history, Baltic history, interwar Estonia, World War II (1939-1945), Soviet occupation, Nazi occupation, Soviet Army, crimes against humanity, Soviet deportations, refugees, DP camps, Estonian diaspora.

Vabamu Museum of Occupations and Freedom

Vabamu Museum of Occupations and Freedom (until 2018 The Museum of Occupations) is a private museum in Tallinn, Estonia that collects, processes, studies and presents the history of the occupations of Estonia (1940-1991), the national resistance movement, and the return of independent statehood. The museum educates and involves the people of Estonia and its visitors and encourages everyone to think about the recent past, to sense the fragility of freedom, and to stand for freedom and justice.

The museum was founded in 1998 by the Kistler-Ritso Estonian Foundation. Its purpose is to collect, process, study and present the history of the occupations of Estonia (1940-1991), the national resistance movement, and the return of independent statehood. The museum provides a comprehensive overview of the Estonian society during the three periods of occupation: the first Soviet occupation (1940–1941), the German occupation (1941–1944), and the second Soviet occupation (1944–1991).

The Museum of Occupations in Tallinn, Estonia.

The interviews

Below is a sample of two interviews that are part of this collection. The rest of the collection is currently in process and will be made accessible soon. To see the collection info in Stanford's online catalog Searchworks, click here.

Oral history with Voldemar Miller, 2002

Voldemar Miller recalls being removed from his position as the head of the Central State Archive of the Estonian SSR and how he became a coal miner in Kohtla-Järve in 1950. He was a coal miner from 1950-1952. From this period he remembers: quotas, wages, coworkers, conflicts with criminals, accidents, alcoholism, accommodation, quality of mining gear, and food. Started working in the Academic Library in Tallinn in 1952. Speaks about his academic work and why he was unable to publish for two years after 1957.

Oral history with Artur Johannes Puppart and Arvo Pesti, 2002

Artur Johannes Puppart was born in Saaremaa, Saare County. Describes the Red Army soldiers and their shopping preferences in 1939. Saw the bodies which were removed from Saaremaa castle in 1941. Out of vengeance joined the German Army in 1942. In chronological order speaks about his service – took part in an execution of partisans in Russia. Joined the Estonian Legion in May of 1943. Recalls his time in Lauenburg NCO School in 1943. Took part in the Battle of Nevel from late 1943 to early 1944. Spent the rest of his service in the Estonian Legion as a firearms instructor in Jägala, Anija, Kohila and Kehra. Thinks back on how he was able to leave the Estonian Legion. Was mobilized into the Red Army and spent time in different labor battalions in Estonia – talks about his work and conflict with Red Navy sailors. Was imprisoned by the Soviet authorities and sentenced to 15 years for taking part in four executions of partisans. Recalls his time in Mordovian SSR and Perm Krai prison camps. Compares different prisons and prison camps. At the end of the video shows his medals. Arvo Pesti has a brief discussion with Artur Johannes Puppart about his pension.