International Conference „The beginning of the End: Massacre in Klooga 75“

18th September 2019 at 09:30 – 18:00

Patarei Prison (Kalaranna 28, Tallinn, Estonia)

75 years ago, by 1944, the tide had turned and the end of the WWII was approaching. In August and September, the German army was forced to retreat from several occupied countries. On 19 September 1944, at the Klooga concentration camp in Northern Estonia an unprecedented massacre took place when the SS troops leaving Estonia brutally executed about 2000 Jewish prisoners in a single day. Three days later, Red Army units that had reached Klooga discovered a wood pyres with half-burned bodies of the victims. After a few days, Soviet, British and US journalists who were originally sent from Moscow to Tallinn to see German weapons left behind to the Port of Tallinn during the evacuation of the Germans, were also invited to Klooga. It was one of the first Holocaust murder sites to be photographed and documented.

Today this event is mainly commemorated through preserving and presenting the evidence in museums and memorials (including Yad Vashem and the Klooga site), but it deserves a wider and more comprehensive approach. The conference aims to study and disseminate information about this tragic event in the discourse of WWII in Estonia and abroad. The conference takes place on the premises of the former Patarei prison – a site that was the beginning of the end for hundreds of victims of the Holocaust. The conference is followed by a memorial service at Klooga the following day.

The conference is supported by the Estonian Ministry of Culture and the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.



09:30 – 10:00             Registration

10:00 – 10:15              Conference opening and welcoming words

Urmas Reinsalu, Estonian Minister of Foreign Affairs

Meelis Maripuu, PhD, Estonian Institute of Historical memory, Member of Board

Alla Jakobson, Attorney-at-Law, Chairwoman of the Estonian Jewish Community

10:15 – 10:30              Documentary screening and moment of silence

10:30 – 11:00             Keynote speech

Cecilie Felicia Stokholm Banke, PhD, Danish Institute for International Studies

11:00 – 12:30              Presentations and panel discussion “The creation of Klooga as a symbol“

Olev Liivik, PhD, Estonian Institute of Historical Memory: “Establishment and Evolution of the Klooga Memorial”

Michael Tal, Yad Vashem, Israel: “Why does Yad Vashem’s Holocaust History Museum begin with “the Massacre at Klooga”? – Revealing the personal story behind the mass murder”

Panel discussion

Malle Talvet-Mustonen, Head of the Estonian delegation to IHRA

Cecilie Felicia Stokholm Banke

Olev Liivik

Michael Tal

Moderator: Neeme Raud, journalist

12:30 – 13:30              Lunch

13:30 – 14:30             Tour of Patarei Prison

14:30 – 16:30              Presentations and panel discussion “Kaunas, Tallinn, Klooga, Lapland: Holocaust in North Eastern Europe”

Arūnas Bubnys, PhD, Genocide and Resistance Research Centre of Lithuania: “Lithuanian Jews in Klooga 1943–1944”

Oula Silvennoinen, PhD, Finnish Academy Research Fellow: “Einsatzkommando Finnland: Finland and the Holocaust“

Mathias Orjekh, MA, The Shoah Memorial, France: “Convoy No. 73 in Estonia“

Panel discussion

Arūnas Bubnys

Mathias Orjekh

Oula Silvennoinen

Meelis Maripuu

Moderator: Neeme Raud, journalist

16:30 – 17:00             Closing remarks

Professor Mihhail Lotman, Member of Parliament of Estonia

17:00 – 18:00             Reception of Estonian Institute of Historical Memory