Today Chairman of the National Defence Committee of the Riigikogu (Parliament of Estonia) Marko Mihkelson attended the memorial ceremony of the victims of Juminda naval battle of 1941, and laid a wreath to the memorial of the battle on behalf of the people of Estonia.
“Today at Juminda we commemorate and pay our respects to all those people who perished in the great naval tragedy of World War II and found their cold grave here 75 years ago,” Mihkelson said.
Although the exact number of victims is still unclear, the historians estimate that around 16,000–18,000 people perished in one of the deadliest naval battles in the history of the Baltic Sea and the whole world.
On 28 and 29 August 1941, naval mines laid by the Finns and Germans, air force attacks, torpedoes and the artillery fire of ground forces destroyed more than sixty warships and merchant vessels of the Baltic Fleet of the Soviet Union that were evacuating from Tallinn to Kronstadt.
A third of the ships that were sunk had been requisitioned from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Dozens of ships were damaged. On board of the ships, there were thousands of people who were being forcibly evacuated, citizens of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania who had been mobilised into the Red Army, crews of the requisitioned ships, and also employees of the institutions of the Soviet occupying powers and communist party functionaries.
“We must do everything we can so that such a tragedy would never again be repeated and that our people would never again have to face only very bad choices,” Mihkelson said. “In order to have our people protected, so that they would never again have to experience the horrors of war, Estonia has joined NATO and contributes to collective defence.”
Mihkelson emphasised that the memorial to Juminda naval battle had been erected by way of civil initiative, because the images and stories of these fatal August days were still alive in the collective memory of the coastal people.
He thanked and acknowledged Juminda Village Society and village elder Karli Lambot, who had been the initiators of erecting the monument, and had taken care of it for decades. He also thanked retired Counter Admiral of the Soviet Union Ivan Merkulov, who has connected his life to Estonia, for his help and commitment.
After the prayer for the dead and laying of wreaths, documentary film “Põrgu Soome lahel” (“Hell on the Gulf of Finland”) was shown in Leesi Community Centre. The memorial event was organised by Juminda Village Society and Kuusalu Rural Municipality Government with the support of the Estonian Defence Forces.
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