Museum of Occupation, Tallinn
The Museum of Occupation is a wonderful tomb like building, fronted by a giant monolithic granite door that opens automatically when you approach it. Inside you'll find a small but interesting collection of Soviet and Nazi memorabilia and knick-knacks that detail the occupation of Tallinn by Soviet and Nazi forces over the last century.
There are also a few bigger items, like the polished Lada and a nice collection of Soviet-era statues downstairs.
You'll be through it in less than an hour, but at just over a euro for entry, it's not expensive.
The Museum of Occupation is a reminder of Estonia's hard 20th century history in which is was mostly under occupation from the Soviet Union as well as (briefly) Nazi Germany. There isn't a ton of actual artifacts in the museum, but it's fairly cheap so I'd say it's worth checking out.
The vast majority of the content is video-related. Each "station" has a handful of items on display from a certain time period, as well as a monitor that continuously plays a 20-30 minute clip explaining that period of occupation. You can listen in either English, Estonian, or Russian and while the videos are informative, they are just so long that it's not feasible to stand there (or sit, at some stations) for the duration. I think they need to come up with a better way to exhibit the information in a more meaningful/less time-consuming matter, but it's a good start I guess.
The coolest part is probably all the old Soviet statues in the basement. It kind of felt like you were in the movie Goldeneye (the part where 007 "reunites" with 006) and there were some interesting figures.
For anyone who is interested in Estonia's 20th century history, the tremendous Museum of Occupation is a must - just expect to emerge a couple of hours later feeling punch drunk and astonished at the sheer resilience of Estonians!
Being sandwiched between Russia and Germany was never going to be a comfortable space to occupy, but the poor Estonians really got squeezed from both sides: except for a brief period between 1920 and Soviet re-occupation early in World War II, and after independence in 1991, they were occupied by one or other. Their fight for nationhood is a sad tale of oppression by occupying forces, backing the wrong side (many Estonians fought on the Nazi side in an attempt to overthrow the Russians) and the perception of being abandoned by the Allies during the Soviet era. Not a jolly tale.
From what I had read before I went, I was expecting the museum to be larger than it actually is. In fact, it is a very 'adult' museum, with a limited number of items on exhibit, and the museum relies heavily on audio visual presentations to tell the tale. These have been put together by a local historian and are absolutely superb, but bear in mind that there are six or seven of them - each covering a different period - and at an average length of about 20 minutes, you need to allow at least two hours if you are to listen to them all in their entirety.
The audio visual soundtrack is available in English, Estonian and Russian (I wonder how many Russians have the stomach to visit a museum where they are consistently cast as the villains of the piece?), but bear in mind that it is broadcast through a microphone (rather than individual headphones). This means that during busy periods, you might have to wait some time to hear the commentary in the language of your choice (and for the presentation to loop around again). This isn't a fatal flaw, as the visuals are powerful and tell their own story, but it could slow you up a bit.
For this reason, this museum really isn't for children, as anyone younger than a teenager is likely to get bored pretty quickly (and even they'd need an interest in history to sustain their attention).
Don't miss the basement where a number of Soviet era sculptures are housed: to call them a 'collection' would be to imply that they are displayed in a purposeful manner, whereas it reality they look as though they have just been plonked into temporary storage until another home is found for them (and nobody looks like volunteering any time soon). I love the masculine Soviet realist style of sculpture, so even if the subject matter is now politically incorrect, the craftsmanship is beyond dispute.
One small criticism: the person manning the desk on the Sunday before Christmas when we visited was quite possibly the gloomiest and most unhelpful person we met during our entire time in Tallinn, and without actually being overtly rude, he succeeded to make us feel very unwelcome. People who choose to work in the tourism industry have a responsibility to be responsive and welcoming to visitors, and if they are unable to do this, then, with respect, they should seek employment in another sector.
A visit to the OCCUPATION AND FIGHT FOR FREEDOM MUSEUM here in the city of Tallinn is well worth the time to view the many items on display about the period of occupation by the German Military Forces war machine and then the Occupation by Stalins Soviet communist regime..The peoples of Estonia were not sure what was the better of the two evils.
The story here is reminisent of so many of the occupied eastern European countries under the then Soviet iron fist..
Opened in 2003 This Occupation and Fight for Freedom Museum was the first in the country dedicated to the 1939-1991 occupational time period.There are many visual and audio visual displays along with many artefacts of the time..Well worth the visit and understanding the story of the local fight for freedom
Situated in a new building at the bottom of the slope of Toompea street, the Occupation museum is a fascinating and emotional insight into the period between 1939-1991 when Estonia was occupied by Germany and then the USSR.
On entering the museum, you are issued with a card that explains the various exhibits in English. There are quite a few 20 minute long audio-visual presentations that you can listen to which tell you about the evolution of democracy in Estonia and the events that led to the downfall of communism. You can just listen to a short part of the presentations if you are in a hurry. The museum also features some harrowing tales of Estonian intelligentsia and normal families who were taken away to the Siberian gulags during the Soviet era.
Be sure not to miss going down into the cellar where you can see large statues of Soviet officials that once stood in the streets of Tallinn.
Entrance is 2 Euros. Tallinn Card holders get in free.
If you have time, I highly recommend a visit to the Museum of Occupations. After visiting this museum, you will have a much better understanding of the horrors of Communism. Free admission with the Tallinn Card.
I was so impressed by the presentations in this small museum that I visited twice during my trip. It is unfortunate that this great museum is not in the Old Town where it would draw more visitors.
Many of the same videos from the museum have been posted on www.youtube.com. If you do a search with the keywords "Estonia occupations", many of the videos will be listed. The producers of these historical videos are to be commended for their great work!
Opened in 2003 the Museum of Occupations charts the years from 1940 to 1991 when Estonia was under Soviet, then Nazi and then again Soviet rule.
The exhibition is made up of a mixture of ordinary, everyday objects reflecting people’s day to day lives – radios, matchboxes and toothpaste – alongside more unusual and, at times, sinister items such as KGB surveillance equipment, propaganda magazines and even a car with a bumper reinforced with concrete which could be used either as defence, or offence in ramming other cars of the road.
There are 7 half hour films in Estonian and English which use eye witness testimony to elaborate on various points and events during those years, such as life on a collective farm. Though very interesting they do make the exhibition a bit static and, with a lot of detail to take in, I did find myself becoming a bit tired and sleepy as I sat watching them.
The exhibits are labelled in Estonian but sheets are available with an English translation, however it did take a while to work out which exhibit in which case corresponded with this sheet. Also the clear plastic sheets on which the historical overview descriptions are written are rather hard to read.
However, these minor or criticisms aside, this is an informative, moving and interesting museum which does give a very good impression of what life was like under occupation.
Acctually I was dissappointed about this museum. It has a few monters, but no real guide. There are continous videos showing the different periods of the russian occupation. The videos are great, but the sound does inflict with each other, so I was reduced to reading sublines.
The videos are all in english.
For an insight into the lives of the more mature Estonian citizens, this really is a museum you must visit. It details the occupation of Estonia, first by the Germans and then by the Soviets from 1940 to 1991.
The main part of the museum has exhibits from this period such as cars, military uniforms, items used in evryday life such as radios, books, magazines and even a dentists chair. There are also audio visual displays with archive films from the occupation period.
In the basement there are lots of statues of ex-Communist leaders that were taken down during the collapse of Communism.
Open: Tuesday to Sunday 11am to 6pm
Free with Tallinn card
The Museum of Occupation and of the Fight for Freedom - a long name for such a small museum! Still, it's a place to visit if you're interested in the World War II and the cold war. During this time the Estonians lived under Soviet occupation and this museum gives a brief look on how the country survived. Especially the old objects from cars to phone booths are interesting to see.