Minister of Population attends commemoration at Klooga, Estonia

On 19 September a commemoration took place at Klooga, organised by the Estonian delegation to the IHRA and the Estonian Jewish Community, to honor the victims of the massacre that took place on the site exactly 75 years ago. The Minister of Population, Ms Riina Solman, delivered a speech in which she said:

"We remember and honour everyone who lost their life in Holocaust in Estonia. As we know, Jews were brought to Klooga and elsewhere in Estonia from many places across Europe – from Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, France …  Here their lives were put to a cruel end. This was the darkest time in Europe.

At that time Estonia was not free to control her own destiny. But today’s Estonia stands in mourning and remembrance.

Estonia’s leaders have repeatedly condemned the crimes of totalitarian regimes and regretted that there also were Estonian people who participated in committing those crimes. Please allow me to repeat this once again here and today in the name of the Estonian Government. "

Referring to the situation in the present times, she also said, "Here in Estonia things are generally quiet and I do believe that our Jewish community, an important, natural and dignified part of our society, feels safe here. But as we also know, the state and the broader society has to stay alert and should a part of our people not feel comfortable any longer, we have to be ready to interfere, and offer them support and protection. To do so, it is necessary to be able to recognise the signs of danger and be ready to give an adequate response. Here, for example,  the  non-legally binding working definition of antisemitism, adopted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), and endorsed by the relevant Estonian institutions is a valuable tool and of great help. It helps us, if needed, to recognize the acts that are not accepted in any society, namely hate crimes vis a vis a certain group of persons."

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.

Photo: Minister Solman lays a wreath at the Klooga commemoration. Credit: Marko Mumm