In order to increase awareness about a not-widely known episode, the Estonian “case” of the Holocaust, and ensure that its history is referred to in a truthful manner, the Estonian Institute of Historical Memory held a conference, connecting the local history to the overall fabric of events in Europe. Partly funded by the IHRA under its new grant strategy, the conference "The beginning of the End: Massacre at Klooga 75" took place on 18th September 2019.
75 years ago, the tide had turned and the end of the WWII was approaching. In August and September, the German army was forced to retreat from several occupied countries. On 19 September 1944, at the Klooga concentration camp in Northern Estonia, an unprecedented massacre took place when the SS troops leaving Estonia brutally executed about 2000 Jewish prisoners in a single day. Three days later, Red Army units that had reached Klooga discovered the evidence of this. When Soviet, British and US journalists arrived shortly afterwards, it was one of the first Holocaust murder sites to be photographed and documented.
Today this event is mainly commemorated through preserving and presenting the evidence in museums and memorials (including Yad Vashem and the Klooga site), but it deserves a wider and more comprehensive approach. The conference aimed to study and disseminate information about this tragic event in the discourse of WWII in Estonia and abroad. The conference took place on the premises of the former Patarei prison – a site that was the beginning of the end for hundreds of victims of the Holocaust.
The conference was opened by the Estonian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Urmas Reinsalu.
The keynote speech was delivered by Dr. Cecilia Felicie Stockholm Banke, Head of the Danish delegation to the IHRA; other speakers came from from Israel, Lithuania, France, Finland and Estonia.
The conference was followed by a memorial service at Klooga the following day.