chapter  3
12 Pages

‘Woe from Stones’: Commemoration, Identity Politics and Estonia’s ‘War of Monuments’

WithDavid J. Smith

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the start of Estonia’s ‘Singing Revolution’.Looking back on these events, one is reminded not least of the important role that the reappearance of Estonian national symbols had in galvanizing the mass movement for independence. Here one thinks particularly of the national flag – so much in evidence during 1988 – but also of the work by the Estonian Heritage Society to restore monuments connected to the founding of the Estonian Republic during 1918-1920. These monuments had been systematically destroyed after 1940, as part of a failed effort to expunge the memory of inter-war independence and transform Estonia into a Soviet place. Restoring them in the 1980s became an essential part of undermining Soviet power and restoring sovereign statehood.