Aili Jõgi

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Aili Jürgenson in 1946 after arrest by the MVD

Aili Jõgi (born Aili Jürgenson on 25 May 1931) is an Estonian schoolgirl who on the night of 8 May 1946, together with her school friend Ageeda Paavel, blew up a Soviet War reburial 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.[1][2]

Aili Jõgi has described why the two schoolgirls blew up a monument they considered a symbol of occupation and repression:

"How long should we watch this red star, a memorial for Russian looters. At the time when all our statues are being destroyed. We just couldn't get our heads around it. We decided that if such robbers are raging in Estonia, they should see how one of their memorials gets blown up. We could have just doused the wooden thing with gasoline and set fire to it, but we wanted it to go with a bang!"[3]

The newspapers 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 Tallinn were aware of the incident. The initiative of the girls was followed and similar monuments were also demolished in Rakvere and Tartu.

Aili Jõgi was not a suspect initially, and continued to distribute flyers for the resistance movement with her class mates of a local high school. She was finally arrested after having tried to find a doctor to treat a wounded forest brother, secretly held in a bunker, as someone mentioned the blasted monument during interrogations. At the age of 14, she was taken to local MVD[4] headquarters and detention center at Pagari Street in Tallinn, where she spent her 15th birthday. She was later found guilty as an under-aged terrorist and sent to a Gulag labor camp in the Komi-Zyryan ASSR, to the west of the Ural mountains in the north-east of the East European Plain. She was exiled from the Estonian SSR for eight years.

At the labor camp in the Komi-Zyryan ASSR, she worked in a coal mine and later married fellow prisoner Ülo Jõgi, an Estonian who had been convicted as a Finnish spy (he had been a veteran of the Erna group, organized jointly by Finnish military and German Abwehr) and exiled from Estonia for life. Thus, she and her husband could not return to Estonia until 1970. They both moved back to Ülo Jõgi's parental home in Tallinn in 1971. Back in Estonia, she worked as a secretary at an architect's office, and was also a shooting sports instructor at a school in Keila.

In February 1998, Jõgi and her friend Paavel 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.

Since the fall of the Soviet Union, Jõgi is politically active in the Estonian Pro Patria party. In that capacity, she took part in round table talks with opponents of the removal of the Bronze Soldier in 2007.

References[edit]

  1. ^ britishembassy.gov.uk
  2. ^ 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.
  3. ^ «Õhkijamemm»: kaua me seda pronkssõdurit kardame! Postimees, May 27, 2006. Retrieved: 2007-05-15 (Estonian)
  4. ^ The Evolution of Secret Police Forces The NKVD was renamed MVD in March 1946, however it continued to perform some functions of a political police at least until 1956.

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