The Pirita-Kose summer manor
The Manor was built on 1790 by the Kochs family. The Manor on the Pirita River’s beautiful riverbed was wonderful not so much for its architecture, but for its beautiful park, which was called the Garden of Eden.
In 1939, banker Klaus Scheel acquired the Pirita-Kose Summer Manor lands and house from businessman Andreas Koch, but the Chapel stays in Kochs possession.
During the Soviet occupation this plot was at the disposal of the Red Baltic Fleet. Inside the high terrace is a network of passages and shelters, built by Soviets. The shelters are open and dangerous. However, the Kochs Summer Manor with its Servants House remains in history. In 1941, in this building was killed by KGB approximately 80 Citizens of the Estonian Republic.
Historian Mare Kask has studied, what happened on the Scheel plot and gives us a brief overview.
Lagle Parek, 2015
PIRITA-KOSE MASS MURDER
When the Soviet Red Army occupied Estonia in 1940, the land of Pirita-Kose, owned by Scheel, was nationalized and given with buildings to the KGB.
KGB soldiers were in the gatehouse, the so-called servants house, and the adjacent outbuildings, while KGB officers were in the Manor House (former Kochs Summer Manor). Looking at the driveway from left, the servants house had wide two-sided shed doors. In addition to the carts, it was possible to keep horses there. On the right-hand, end of the building, former dwellings, was set up KGB.
From the beginning of 1941 there were secret hearings of the KGB troops War Tribunal, where the defendants were sentenced to death, executed on the spot, and the bodies of those shot dead were buried under the floor of the gatehouse and the barn (now completely decayed) and also in the park.
The Head of the Tribunal, an improvised „troika” on the spot, and often the perpetrator of the murder decisions, was Sergei Kingissepp (the son of Viktor Kingissepp, a leading traitor of Estonian Republic, grown up in Russia). The arrested persons relatives were not informed about detentions and them circumstances and most of the missing men and women were reported as initially missing. Everything was held in high secrecy, as only the Soviet authorities always do. Besides, the relatives of the missing persons were mostly deported or were forced to leave Estonia in some other way. The local population was deported from Pirita-Kose. The inhabitants of Nehatu and Iru, who before enjoy to passing through the beautiful Scheel Park and the buildings, were forced to sneak and feel fear to passing this area.
The activities of the KGB Military Tribunal on the Scheel plot and the fate of those who were arrested by the Reds from 1940 to 1941, became known to the media not until days of the German occupation. After the Red Army left Tallinn in August 1941, German SS troops occupied the buildings on the Scheel’s estate. Neither have they been very open-minded. However, it was rumored that the Germans had discovered many corpses of Estonians, murdered by the Reds, under the floor of the Scheel Servants House. The German officers wanted to place their horses in the gatehouse, but the sensitive animals were somehow reluctant, and the horseshoes left their marks on the soft concrete floor. Then the half-hardened floor was taken up and bodies were found.
In October 1941, the 9 bodies of executed people in a common tomb were found under the floor of a carriage house on Scheel’s plot, with their hands tied with cord. In November, the bodies of 15 people were discovered in a common tomb under a pine trees in park, hands also behind their backs, slings in their mouths, tied around their necks. The bodies of another 16 people were found under the floor of the plot’s outbuilding that month. The bodies had already been severely degraded and their identification was difficult. At the time only 11 persons being identified. Among them, were the well-known Estonian officer in the War of Independence, Lieutenant Colonel Oskar Luiga, commander of the 3rd Armored Train. In May 1942, corpses of 38 persons were found under the concrete floor of a shed-horse stables at the other end of the building, who were executed in April 1941. Then 23 people were immediately identified.
Thus, a total of 78 KGB executions were found on the Scheel plot between 1941 and 1942, of whom 34 were identified at the time of the discovery, among them the Estonian Security Police Helmut Veem, Aleksander Läve, Hans Pipar, Heinrich Siirma, Paul Malsvell, Eno Tamar, Hans Koitorg, Julius Palm, Paul Savisild, Märt Maavere, Hugo Pobul and Aleksander Lillimägi. The KGB’s investigation files reveal that the main „crime”, which they were trying to incriminate them, was the capture of underground communist leaders Viktor Kingissepp and Jaan Kreuks. The activities of the Security Police in suppressing the coup attempt of 1924 and the arrest of communists who participated in it, were also criminalized. They were also heavily blamed about the discovery and destruction of the Järve Communist Secret Printing House by Estonian Security Police. Several secret staff members of the Security Police were also executed on Scheel’s plot. In addition to the police, the dead included senior military personnel, students, government officials, athletes, farmers, scientists, Northwest Russian Tsar Army military and ordinary workers. The persons identified in the murders were identified on the basis of their description, clothing and documents, found in there. As many of their relatives, at the same time as the arrest and execution of the people, were deported from Estonia, they were not able to participate in the detection of victims. Neither the medical records nor the control materials, prepared in finding process of corpses in Pirita-Kose, have survived.
Throughout the Soviet occupation, the former plot of the Scheel estate was owned by the Soviet Army, and all archival records of the executions in Pirita-Kose were confidential, no information was given to the executed people relatives and the disclosure of events was strictly prohibited. Naturally, secrecy continued after the end of World War II, when Estonia was occupied again. Then the Scheel plot and the buildings were occupied again by the Soviet Army. Everything happening there was secret again. Only the Manor building was given to Russian kindergarten, by some Soviet authorities.
It was not until 1990 that the Estonian SSR Prosecutor’s Office initiated a criminal investigation into the murders on Scheel’s plot in 1941, prompted by future Estonian Prime Minister, Mart Laar’s 1989 published article „Massacres in Pirita-Kose in 1941”. On January 3, 1990, the Estonian SSR KGB was forced to admit for the first time, that the events described above on the Scheel plot did indeed take place and that in 1941 Pirita-Kose served as a KGB troop Tribunal and investigation insulator. The archive materials revealed that the victims were executed in three groups, respectively on April 5th, 23rd and 24th, in 1941. During the German occupation in 1942, some of the corpses were buried in a common tomb in the Tallinn Liiva Cemetery.
Despite writing, frequent oral appearances and informing various authorities, was the Pirita-Kose murder site not marked, until 2019. However, the persistence of Lagle Parek, eventually fill a target. In August 2019, was one most tragic Red Terror’s execution place marked, with a modest memorial plaque in memory of murder innocent Estonian citizens.
By Mare Kask in August 26th, 2019
A memorial plaque to commemorate those killed by the KGB, set up on the border of the Scheel’s plot by a joint venture between the Tallinn City Government and the Pilgrims Road’s activist group, was unveiled on August 20, 2019. The Memorial plaque was consecrated by the Archbishop of Estonian Luherian Church, Urmas Viilma. Friends of the Pirita Convent, Vice Mayor of Tallinn, Kalle Klandorf, and Head of Pirita District, Tõnis Liinat, were present.
Photos Oliver Uustani.
KAPO aastaraamat, Tallinn, 2011.
M. Laar, J. Tross „Punane terror”, Stockholm, 1996.
M. Kask, isiklikud kogutud andmed.
Saksa okupatsiooni ajal ilmunud ajalehed.
„Need teod süüdistavad – Scheeli krundil toimunud massimõrv”, Kultuur ja Elu 4/2007.
Audio: Garmen Tabor