Monument to the War of Independence - Estonian War of Independence - Tallinn, Estonia
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Chasing Blue Sky
N 59° 26.046 E 024° 44.610
35V E 372010 N 6590561
Quick Description: The Monument to the War of Independence, also known as the War of Independence Victory Column, is located in Freedom Square, Tallinn, Estonia.
Location: Estonia
Date Posted: 10/2/2012 1:10:21 PM
Waymark Code: WMFDGF
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member Torgut
Views: 14

Long Description:
"The War of Independence Victory Column is located in Freedom Square, Tallinn, Estonia. It was opened on 23 June 2009 as a memorial for those who fell during the Estonian War of Independence, through which the people of Estonia will be able to commemorate all those who had fought for freedom and independence. The pillar is 23.5 meters high and consists of 143 glass plates. The memorial incorporates the Cross of Liberty, Estonia’s most distinguished award established in 1919." (visit link)


The marker near the Monument reads as follows:

MONUMENT TO THE WAR OF INDEPENDENCE

This monument commemorates victory in the Estonian War of Independence, which was fought from 1918-1920 in defence of Estonia's sovereighty.

Estonia's main adversary in the war was Soviet Russia, which had attacked the country. However, the Estonians also had to fend off the ofensives of the German Eiseme (Iron) Brigade and the Baltic German Landeswehr.

The naval forces of Great Britain and volunteers from Finland, Denmark, Sweden and other countries supported the Estonians during the war. Local Swedes, Baltic Germans, Russians, Latvians, Ingrians and Jews fought alongside the Estonians. The White Russian Corps were among Estonia's allies, and assistance was also provided by the United States of America and France.

The Estonian War of Independence ended with the signing of the Tartu Peace Treaty on 2 February 1920. The Cross of Liberty which crowns the monument is an Estonian military decoration that was awarded from 1919-1925.

The monument is 23.5 metres high and consists of 143 glass blocks. It was designed by Rainer Sternfeld, Andri Laidre, Kadri Kiho and Anto Savi.

More than 12,000 people made donations in support of the monument's construction, which was completed in 2009.


"The victory of the War of Independence has been one of the most important events for Estonia – because of that we were liberated from the rule of a foreign power, the Estonian language and the will of Estonian people became decisive in Estonia.Without that we would not be here and we would not be making choices for the future, we would not have our language and customs, the joys and sorrows of today and the dreams of tomorrow – we would simply not exist.

The Estonian nation gained its freedom because of the people who understood and valued the meaning of freedom and believed that it was an inalienable right for every nation. There were Finnish, English, Russian, Swedish, Baltic-German, Danish, Jewish, Latvian, Polish, Inger people and other nationalities, as well, fighting alongside Estonians in the War of Independence.

The victory gained near Võnnu on 23 June – the day we celebrate as Victory Day – was a critical turning point in the War of Independence. Victory Day marks the victory of the Estonian nation’s will to protect itself – in revolutionary moments the victor shall be the one who has stronger morale and a firm will to protect their native land, their home and family. No nation with the will to protect itself is too small to successfully protect their country. Victory Day carries in itself a deeper sign of our readiness to preserve our freedom and to protect it when necessary.

The symbol of freedom in post-War of Independence Estonia was the Cross of Liberty – the most honourable decoration awarded for military and civil service in protecting Estonia’s freedom. There were people from many nations who received the Cross of Liberty, as there were many nations represented in the War of Independence in 1918-1920. The Cross of Liberty, sitting at the top of the War of Independence Victory Column, carries on the memory of the War of Independence.

The dedication of the War of Independence Victory Column took place in Tallinn on 23 June 2009 – it serves as recognition of those who have stood for Estonia’s independence throughout the years." (visit link)


"War of Independence and the Cross of Liberty

In the Estonian War of Independence, which took place from 1918–1920, the Estonian side lost 6 275 men and women, with many more injured.

To recognise the service of participants in the War of Independence, the first Estonian state decoration, the Cross of Liberty, was created in 1919. The Law on the Establishment of the Cross of Liberty stated that those who provided military and civilian services during the creation of the Republic of Estonia could receive the decoration.

Strict guidelines were followed in awarding the Cross of Liberty, so it became Estonia’s most distinguished award, as well as the only one whose holders were legally given a number of privileges and concessions. The first seven Crosses of Liberty were bestowed in August 1919 on officers of the US Red Cross that helped Estonia during the War of Independence. Altogether 3 224 Crosses of Liberty were given out. Among those decorated with Cross of Liberty are Estonians as well as Finns, Britons, Russians, Swedes, Baltic Germans, Danes, Latvians, and Poles, as well as representatives of many other nationalities.

The most famous holders of the Cross of Liberty included King Albert I of Belgium, King George V of the United Kingdom, Danish King Christian X, Swedish King Gustav V, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, Polish Prime Minister Wladyslaw Sikorski and Marshal Józef Pilsudski, French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau, Latvian President Karlis Ulmanis, and Finnish President Kaarlo Juho Ståhlberg.

Along with deserving individuals, the Cross of Liberty has also been awarded to the city of Verdun in France, where one of the bloodiest battles of World War I took place. The allies that helped Estonia in the War of Independence were honoured by placing Crosses of Liberty on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Great Britain, France, and Italy.

The designer of the Cross of Liberty was the famous Estonian artist Nikolai Triik (1884–1940).

In 1925, the Riigikogu passed a law to discontinue bestowal of the Cross of Liberty, saying that the services of the individuals who were notable in establishing the independence of the state and freedom of the nation had been honoured. However, the awarding of the Cross of Liberty as a military decoration was preserved, and the guidelines for awarding it still exist in today’s Decorations Act. The last holder of the Cross of Liberty, Karl Jaanus, died on 6 October 2000 in Estonia.


Preserving the memory of the War of Independence before and after the Second World War

In addition to honouring the most remarkable soldiers in Estonia’s War of Independence and allies that served the Estonian nation, Estonia also wanted to preserve the memory of all those who fought in the war. Many local monuments were established in memory of the War of Independence, but there was no central memorial, one dedicated to the whole nation. The idea to create a War of Independence memorial dedicated to the people was born in 1919, before the war had even ended. In 1936, a law was passed to construct a national memorial monument to the War of Independence, and the plan was to unveil the victory memorial on the 25th anniversary of the Republic – 24 February 1943. Preparations were discontinued due to the Second World War and its aftermath.

In the second half of the 1980’s and the beginning of the 90’s, most of the Independence War monuments that had been destroyed during the occupations were restored by the initiative of the community. The matter of creating a national monument to the War of Independence also came up once more.


The creation of the Monument to the War of Independence in Tallinn

In spring of 2005, the Riigikogu decided to create a War of Independence victory monument in Tallinn’s Freedom Square, thereby realising the concept that was formulated back in the time between the two World Wars.

In 2006, a contest was set up to find the best design idea for the War of Independence memorial to be constructed. The contest guidelines stated that “through the memorial, the Estonian people are showing respect and recognition to those who, gun in hand, established our independence, as well as those who have stepped up with words or weapons in the name of Estonia’s freedom and independence”. There were over 40 submissions to the contest, and the winner was the design entitled “Libertas”.

In the winning design, a central role is played by the Cross of Liberty as Estonia’s national service award with the most prestigious history and the most important symbol of the War of Independence. The use of the Cross of Liberty as a symbol in the victory memorial to the War of Independence is nothing new – the Cross of Liberty as a motif has been used on many local memorials to the War of Independence created before World War II and later restored. The 1st rank, II division Cross of Liberty on the memorial – the highest recognition for personal bravery – has never been conferred on anyone. Now it is being used to symbolically honour all of Estonia." (visit link)
War: Estonian War of Independence 1918-1920

Is it permanently accessible to the public?: yes

Is it necessary to pay a fee to gain access to the place?: no

Year of the memorial or monument: 2009

Visit Instructions:
At least a picture taken by yourself is requested. Try to provide a descriptive log of your visit to the local.
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