60th year of Tallinn's Bombing 1944

Posted in Europe | 08-Mar-04 | Author: Mari-Ann Kelam

March 9th marks the 60th anniversary of the bombing of residential districts of Tallinn by the Soviets in 1944 and follows the almost total destruction of Narva on March 6 the same year.

The air raids in Tallinn were apparently carried out by women pilots who were still intoxicated from celebrating International Womens' Day on March 8. Since the attack was launched against what was then German-occupied territory, there were apparently western military advisors involved. The attached 4 photos below show 13-14 year old Estonian volunteers and some of the destruction in Tallinn. Some 300 planes participated in the waves of bombing. Firestorms and panic ensued. Over 3000 buildings including the Estonia Theater, St. Nicholas (Niguliste) Church, a synagogue, many schools, movie theaters and residential buildings were destroyed and many more heavily damaged. Over a thousand people, mostly Estonian civilians, were injured or killed. My own parents were on their way to a friend's 25th birthday celebration that evening, but turned back when the raids began and helped to form a bucket brigade with other residents to keep the fires from spreading to other apartment buildings on their street. On another residential street my great grandmother's little house was burned to the ground.

In September, despite brave resistance on the part of Estonian soldiers who were by then pretty much abandoned by the retreating Germans, the Soviets marched back in to Estonia to begin a new regime of terror and occupation which lasted until Estonia restored its independence in 1991. Even so, the Red Army didn't leave Estonian soil until September 1994. War is hell. These kinds of attacks aimed at defenseless civilians which were not isolated incidents in WWII remain controversial today. MAK