Estonian and US victims of communism museums to begin cooperation
The Estonian Institute of Historical Memory has signed a cooperation agreement with the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation in the US. The Institute is in the process of establishing an International Museum for the Victims of Communism in Patarei Prison in Tallinn, and the Foundation is establishing a similar museum in Washington D.C. The aim of cooperation is to raise international awareness regarding communist regimes’ mass crimes and their victims’ fate. Both research and awareness-raising activities will be subject to mutual aid.
According to Sergei Metlev, Board Member of the Estonian Institute of Historical Memory, there is a significant lack of knowledge and general misinformation concerning communist ideology and the history of regimes that have been established based on this ideology. Consequently, the fate of millions of victims of communism and their memory has been unethically overshadowed.
“International museums that will be opened on both sides of the Atlantic – in Tallinn by 2026 and in Washington by 2022 – will place stories, which thus far have been scattered, into a wider context of recent global history. We will uncover the inhumanly high price of the dominance of communist dictatorships by leaning on historical documents, personal stories and modern museum solutions. Commemoration of victims of communism and acknowledgement of what happened to them is one way to stay vigilant and avoid naivety. Even today, there are political forces in the world that strive for power by trampling on human rights and freedoms under the banner of beguiling slogans,” said Metlev.
According to Ken Pope, Director of Academic Programmes of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, the cooperation agreement will open new opportunities to pass on knowledge on the crimes of communist regimes to people all over the world.
“We are pleased that we have the opportunity to exchange materials, education programmes, research experience and academic papers in the framework of the cooperation agreement. We are especially eager to share the incredible Estonian story of resilience, resistance, and survival in the face of totalitarian communist occupation both in our museum and education programs to a much broader audience in the US and internationally. As for the future museums, we are hoping to exchange exhibits, exhibitions and help each other out in creating the best possible exposition,” said Pope.
The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation was authorised by an Act of Congress in 1993. The Foundation focuses on education, research and protection of human rights, with the aim of commemorating millions of victims of communism and repelling communist dictatorships nowadays.
The Estonian Institute of Historical Memory is the legal successor of the Estonian International Commission for Investigation of Crimes Against Humanity established in 1998. The Institute aims to participate actively and internationally in education and awareness-raising activities in the commemoration of victims of totalitarian regimes and in repelling hostile 21th century regimes via research and museum work.
On the main photo, from left to right: Ken Pope (Director of Academic Programs at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation), Kristina Olney (Director of Government Relations for the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation), Sergei Metlev (Board Member of the Estonian Institute of Historical Memory), Toomas Hiio (Research Director of the Estonian Institute of Historical Memory), Martin Andreller (Board Member of the Estonian Institute of Historical Memory) in October 2021 in Tallinn at the European Remembrance Symposium.