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Battle of Porkuni

In September 1944 the last battles of the World War II in the mainland part of Estonia were taking place. Russian Red Army was attacking from the East and German army corps were retreating towards the West. There were lots of Estonians fighting on both adverse sides, some were „defending“, the others were „liberating“ Estonia.

Retreating Germans had taken along all heavy weapons, so the Estonians who were fighting in German units had only light arms, panzerfausts and horse-drawn vehicles.

Here, underneath Porkuni Russian corps were encountering the Germans in September 21, 1944. Regardless of clear numerical dominance of the Russian side, the battle was equal. During the two-hour battle couple of hundred Estonians were fallen dead on both sides. Consequently the German units had to retreat. After the battle all the dead of the Russian side were gathered and buried to Loksa village. The dead of the German side were initially left to the battle-ground, but later they were buried by the villagers here – to Vistla and Sauvälja.

A military cemetary with a memorial to the dead of the Russian side was set up later, remembering the dead of the German side was forbidden by Soviet authorities – it was not allowed to mark the graves. In 1989 soldiers’ graves were finally marked and memorial crosses placed. It was against the grain of Soviet authoroties of that time and in December 5, 1990 the memorial crosses were demolished in Vistla and Sauvälja. In May 9, 1992 new brazen crosses were consecrated, but these were stolen in 1996 by copper thieves. After that wooden crosses were placed at the fundaments of the previously stolen ones.

New memorial. Photo: Tiit Kaljuste

New memorial. Photo: Tiit Kaljuste

In 2004 the remains were exhumated in the initiative of the German War Graves Welfare Organization, but no skeletons were identified. In September 21, 2008 a new Memorial was unveiled with the participation of the Minister of Defence. The monument is designed by Ekke Väli, sculptor.