Commemorative exhibition of the communist massacre in Kuressaare in 1941
A permanent exhibition dedicated to the victims of a communist massacre that took place in Kuressaare Castle was opened on 26 September 2011 in the Gunpowder Cellar located in the south bastion. In 1941, during the summer of war, at least 90 people were murdered in Kuressaare Castle. Innocent people were arrested and killed by the special department of the Coastal Defence of the Baltic Region and military tribunal in cooperation with the Saaremaa department of the People’s Commissariat for State Security, militia department and destruction battalions.
People began searching for the evidence of the supposed crime on 21 September 1941, immediately after the Soviet troops left Kuressaare. On September 25 a mass grave with 31 corpses was found from the Gunpowder Cellar from under twenty centimetres of dirt. Bodies with their hands tied to their back with barbed wire had been thrown onto each other in a disorderly manner and lime had been spread in between the layers. Corpses were dug up from ten mass and individual graves; the dead were identified, a medical expertise was carried out and the victims were thereupon buried to either Kuressaare Cemetery or to the cemetery of their home place.
The exhibition displays photographs and documents that depict the unearthing of the victims and their identification process as well as people who are blamed for the massacre. A stand with photographs of the victims has a central place in the exhibition. A film that uses German chronicle shots helps to better explain the horrible crime.
The commemorative exhibition is open to public from May 1 to September 30 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. You can visit the exhibition outside of the season if you have a respective agreement with museum workers.