Thursday, May 29, 2008

Tartu beware - Jüri Liim is after occupiers monuments!

Although i am not very supportive of Jüri Liim style nationalism, i think his hands-on approach to his fight against anything reminding communism is kinda cool. Last week he rented a movable crane and took down two Soviet-time monuments which he found insulting for independent Estonia (read here and here). As expected, the Russian media quickly rushed to condemn the removal of "two statues of Soviet World War II heroes". Considering that one of the two statues was for Hans Pöögelmann, who was killed by Stalin's order in 1938, it seems that for Russian media WWII is a very general and flexible term indeed.
However, i think Tartu should watch out now. So why should Liim stop at removing Soviet-time monuments from University back-yards, when Tartu displays former occupiers in the very center of the city. Firstly, there is the statue of Swedish conquerer Gustav II Adolf right behind the main university building. Swedes occupied most of the Estonia for most of the 16th and 17th century. More notably, there is the statue of Russian military chief Barclay de Tolly with a nice small park. Definitely these two guys were more responsible for the Swedish and Russian occupation than bunch of school-children participating (and dying) in WWII to whom the other of the removed monuments was erected. So if you see Liim renting a crane again, you should warn the Tartu city government.

1 comment:

Kristi said...

Well, besides the fact that Jüri Liim's ideological objections appear focused on Soviet occupiers alone, I think the other reason for good old Gustav and de Tolly not to be scared of Liim is simply the fact that their rank of importance in Estonia is way beyond those on the two statues he removed in Tallinn. I think most Estonians aged less than 60 heard about Pöögelmann for the first time when Liim was removing the statue. I myself, having worked for more than 6 months now in the building behind which Pöögelmann's statue was standing, discovered for the first time that it was standing there only when we noticed some guy with a truck removin some huge stone in our yard. So maybe Liim's actions actually led to a counter-purposeful result of bringing people's attention to the existence of these guys...?

But back to the point of relative importance - while Liim's actions in Tallinn went by rather quietly this time around, it is not likely it will be anything like this in case of de Tolly and particularly Gustav. Besides, Gustav's and the whole Swedish rule are still mystified as "good old Swedish times" in Estonian mind, so there is nothing of the association in either Liim's or any other Estonian's head of the kind that every Estonian still has about the Soviet rule. Yes, and never mind the facts of how many the Swedes killed or allowed to be killed during their rule - this is not about facts, its all about associations in people's minds and emotions these create.