Architectural Monuments as a Resource: Reworking Heritage and Ideologies in Nazi-Occupied Estonia (summary)

Kristina Jõekalda (PDF)

The article analyses the ideological aspects of the preservation of Estonian heritage with regard to politics and nationalism. In Estonia, all the valuable buildings in terms of art history were built by foreign colonists, mainly Baltic Germans. Therefore, the problems of opposing a heritage or the inability to accept it become the most important issue. Various factors and events, not the least of which was war, conditioned acceptance of this ‘alien’ heritage.

The beginning of systematic and organised heritage protection in Estonia dates back to the 1920s. The outbreak of the Second World War interrupted the processes of two decades. This boundary usually dates back to the beginning of the Soviet occupation in 1940. However, in fact, the Nazi occupation gave new momentum to the preservation of Estonian heritage. The aim of the article is to reveal the contiguity and contradiction between the concepts, methods and means of heritage protection in independent and occupied Estonia and to discuss the participation of individuals in their ideological manipulation and manipulation.

Heritage preservation activities were particularly active in 1942. The newly gathered Heritage Commission, which the Soviets dismantled, discussed several pressing issues, but its activity had dried up by then. Whether this episode can be interpreted as a continuation of prewar activities remains an open question. Heritage preservation professionals and officials have not always found common ground in their decision-making in response to the realities of war. The lack of reciprocal understanding was deepened by fundamental differences in the approach to artistic heritage, which created theoretical and practical disagreements in heritage preservation. The impact of the normative ideas of National Socialism on the history of art revived the antagonism of the period of Baltic German domination, which local art specialists tried to overcome.

Keywords: protection, interwar period, Second World War, Baltic Germans