22. мая 2020

Patarei Prison exhibition area Communism is Prison reopens to visitors


Patarei Prison international exhibition area Communism is Prison (Tallinn, Estonia) starts its second season today, 22 May. It introduces the visitors to the complex’s diverse, nearly 200-year history in a preserved prison interior.

The exposition has been supplemented considerably, but the prime focus remains on the fate of the victims of communism in the backdrop of historical events and on different countries’ experience with communism.

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Patarei Prison. Photo: Marko Poolamets.


According to Martin Andreller, the Researcher-Curator of the Estonian Institute of Historical Memory, Patarei represents a symbiosis of one of the most significant buildings and exhibitions in Estonia. The cells and corridors of the former prison shed light on most of the tragic events that befell Estonia in the 20th century.

‘This year, visiting cultural heritage sites abroad is more problematic than usual. Therefore, it is worth considering visiting local museums. Patarei Prison exhibition area is not light entertainment. This deep and moving experience should be something every person living in or visiting Estonia ought to be familiar with. For a moment, it separates us from what lies behind the wall and puts us in the shoes of our forebearers. In addition to the stories of Estonia and other European countries in the turbulent 20th century, numerous temporary exhibitions can be seen as well, so there will be something new to see until the end of the season in September,’ said Andreller.

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Inside Patarei Prison exhibition area "Communism is Prison". Photo: Estonian Inst. of Historical Memory.


The exhibition area in the east wing of Patarei covers 1200 m2 and has several fresh additions this season. An international exhibition Communism and Terror, created in cooperation with German, Polish and Lithuanian historians, has been added to the exposition along with overviews of Estonia in World War II and the crimes against humanity committed at the time. The updated exposition also features personal accounts of holocaust in Estonia.

The exhibition Communism and Terror is also available online.

A photo exhibition on everyday life in a Soviet labour camp will open in the former gym of Patarei in June 2020. For the first time, rare photographs by August Ruben, a Forest Brother imprisoned by the communist regime, are revealed to the public.

The exhibition area is open three days a week until 7 June, from Friday to Sunday (10.00-18.00). From there on, the opening hours will most likely be extended to five days a week (Wednesday to Sunday), depending on the situation. Further information can be found here: www.patareiprison.org

The communist Soviet (1940-1941, 1944-1991 in Estonia) and Nazi German (1941-1944 in Estonia) regime imprisoned thousands of innocent people in Patarei on ideological grounds. In 1945 alone, over 4000 political prisoners were detained here. The last political prisoners were held in Patarei in the late 1980s.

The exhibition area is created by the Estonian Institute of Historical Memory as the first stage of the development of the International Museum for the Victims of Communism. 

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Patarei Prison drone footage. Picture: Marko Poolamets.