Ageeda Paavel (sometimes cited as Ageeda-Andrea Paavel) (born 15 August 1930) is an Estonian woman who, as a schoolgirl, on the night of 8 May 1946, together with her school friend Aili Jürgenson, blew up a Soviet war monument (a wooden memorial topped with a star): the preceding monument to the Bronze Soldier in Tallinn.
After the Soviet re-occupation of Estonia in 1944, the Soviet occupation authorities began systematically destroying the war memorials to the fallen in the Estonian War of Independence, which had survived the war. On 15 April 1945 a monument by Amandus Adamson, erected to 87 persons who had fallen in the Estonian War of Independence, was blown up in Pärnu with explosives. Also between 1944 to 1946 the gravestones of the Tallinn Military Cemetery were destroyed by the Soviet authorities and the Estonian graveyard was reused by Red Army.
Ageeda Paavel describes the events as follows:
"Our beloved monuments started to disappear one after another. They had to be paid back somehow and the so-called Liberators’ Monument on Tõnismägi was picked. It was situated in the square of the current bronze man on the side facing the church. It was about a meter high wooden pyramid, which was only about 20 centimetres in diameter; it was of a plain blue colour and its top was decorated by a red tin pentagon. /.../ Juhan [Juhan Kuusk] gave us the explosives and instructions. There was nothing really difficult about it. The important thing was that the fuse had to be long enough to give us a safe distance for running away. It was. We put in place the materials for the blast with Aili; we had no supporters. The fact that a militia officer who was on duty was flirting with a girl at a distance and did not notice us made it easier for us. Although this girl did not belong to our group, she was also later arrested."
Naturally, the newspapers of that time did not report about the demolition and the local authorities managed to quickly restore the monument before Victory Day, but the majority of the inhabitants of the capital were aware of the incident. The initiative of the girls was followed and similar monuments were also demolished in Rakvere and Tartu.
Soon after the incident, Paavel and Jürgenson were apprehended by the Soviet authorities. Paavel was 15 years old at the time, and Jürgenson, just 14. Both were sentenced to a Gulag and were expropriated from Estonia to forced-labor camps in the USSR, where they endured many years of hardship before they were allowed to return to Estonia.
In February 1998, Paavel and her friend Jõgi (Jürgenson) were awarded the Estonian Order of the Cross of the Eagle for their fight against the Soviet regime ("Freedom fighter of military merit") by the Estonian President Lennart Meri. Aili Jõgi and Ageeda Paavel are the only women awarded the Order of the Cross of the Eagle.
- A comprehensive file concerning the destruction of the monuments of the Republic of Estonia, which had been compiled by the Military Department of the Soviet Central Committee in April 1945, has been preserved in the Estonian State Archives. Monuments are listed by counties in this file and it specifies the amount of explosive and an evaluation concerning the transportation that were needed. For example an extract regarding Võrumaa: "In order to carry out demolition works, 15 Party activists and 275 persons from the Destruction Battalion must be mobilised. 15 workers are needed for the execution of each demolition and 10 people are needed for protection.... In order to carry out demolition works, 225 kg of TNT, 150 metres of rope/fuse and 100 primers are needed, since there is no demolition material on the spot. 11 lorries, which are available but which lack petrol, are needed for carrying the ruins away." Report by the Chairman of the EC(b)P Võrumaa Committee, Tamm, No. 101/s to the EC(b)P CC 1st secretary Nikolai Karotamm. 06.04.1945. ERAF Archives depot 1, ref. 3, depository unit 501. L. 37.
- Decorations of the Republic of Estonia. Awarded in 1995-1998
- Common grave for and a memorial to Red Army soldiers on Tõnismägi, Tallinn (PDF file) (Word file) Historical statement, compiled by Peeter Kaasik, for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Estonia, 2006
- Hon sprängde bronsstatyns föregångare Dagens Nyheter, May 13, 2007. (Swedish)