“Metsavennad!” exhibition opens at the Occupations Museum 08.04

The exhibition provides an overview of the armed resistance to Soviet forces in Estonia that began in the autumn of 1944.

The exhibition reflects on the reasons, objectives and results of the Forest Brothers’ movement; both in the context of its organisational activity and the stories of Forest Brothers’ lives. When Soviet authority was established over the territory of Estonia for the second time, in the autumn of 1944, armed resistance began straightaway. It was believed that with aid from Western nations it would be possible to restore the independence of the Republic of Estonia after the war’s end. More than 15 000 forest brothers were prepared to fight for liberty.

To give visitors an idea of the kinds of bunkers the forest brothers were living in, exhibition curator Martin Andreller has reconstructed, specifically for the exhibition, the bunker used at Põrgupõhja; using data from the embankments measured during fieldwork in 2012 and restoring its interior based on descriptions. While it is commonly believed today that the Forest Brothers lived in underground bunkers, in actual fact most bunkers were either entirely aboveground or only partly dug into the ground. The bunker at Põrgupõhja was the headquarters of the command of the Armed Combat League, established for the coordination of resistance.

A slide show with commentary presents information about the daily life of the Forest Brothers. Living in the woods meant constant concern over procurement of food and winter stocks, constant hiding from persecutors, as well as longing and concern for the members of one’s family.

Resistance by the Forest Brothers was suppressed in the 1950s, although battles against Soviet security services were also fought later on. On display at the exhibition are bullet-riddled objects, left behind from these battles, with sad stories to tell. During the Soviet period, the Forest Brothers were portrayed unequivocally as bandits and murderers, and the exhibition includes TT pistols belonging to the security services fighting against banditry, inscribed with dedications to that effect.

Given the paucity of the surviving material concerning the Forest Brothers, the objects on display in the exhibition are even more valuable, many of which are being shown to the public for the first time.

The “Metsavennad!” will be on display at the Occupations Museum through the end of October.

For further information, go to: www.okupatsioon.ee