8 May, Tallinn – Today, at a ceremony on Maarjamäe War Memorial plaza, Estonia commemorated the Time of Remembrance and Reconciliation in connection with the anniversary of the end of World War Two in Europe, honouring all of those who were killed in the war.
Minister of Justice Urmas Reinsalu, who represented the Cabinet, laid wreaths on behalf of the people of Estonia at grave markers symbolizing all of those who fell in World War Two.
“Estonia remembers all of the people killed in the Second World War,” said Reinsalu in his address. “Today as well, war has broken out in Europe. The sufferings of the Second World War are a cautionary example from history of how violence against the freedom of countries and peoples can lead to immense tribulations. Aggressors must be punished and stopped.”
“I am proud of free Estonia and grateful to those who have fought for it,” said Jaana Kallastu, a student at Westholm Upper Secondary School, in her speech. “Let us remember those who have fallen for Estonia.”
Other participants at the memorial ceremony at Maarjamäe included Estonian Freedom Fighters Association chairman Gunnar Laev, Tallinn city centre district mayor Alar Näärme and Laidoner Society chairman Trivimi Velliste. The memorial prayer was delivered by Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church Tallinn deacon Jaan Tammsalu.
To express tribute to all victims of World War Two, the Defence Forces’ chaplains laid wreaths on the grave markers of Red Army personnel at the Defence Forces cemetery, the memorial to victims of Nazism at Rahumäe Jewish cemetery and the memorial at the Forest Cemetery to the Estonians who went to fight Stalin in Finland.
On 7 May 1945, Allied and German representatives signed Germany’s instrument of surrender in Reims, France, under which hostilities ceased in Europe on 8 May. The Soviet Union maintained however that the ceremony had not been coordinated with them, as General Ivan Susloparov, the signatory for the Soviet armed forces, was not authorized to do so by the Kremlin. Thus, acquiescing to Soviet demands, the instrument of surrender was signed a second time near Berlin. The second ceremony took place on 9 May 1945, at 00:43 Soviet time, and 22:45 on 8 May according to Central European time.
On 22 November 2004, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution on the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the end of World War Two, declaring 8 and 9 May a Time of Remembrance and Reconciliation. The resolution called for one or both days to be appropriately observed each year, and tribute paid to all those who lost their lives in the war. Estonia suffered severe losses in World War Two and has observed 8 May 2005 since then as a day of remembrance of all victims of World War Two as well as the victims of the repressions and crimes committed by the wartime occupation forces.
Most European countries commemorate the victims of World War II on 8 May, and Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands do so earlier.