The Estonian Institute of Historical Memory invites everyone interested in photography and videography to capture Patarei Prison, Memorial to the Victims of Communism, and other memorial sites across Estonia that can be associated with Soviet repressions committed in Estonia. The aim of the competition is to value freedom, show the essence of tyranny, and find symbols that connect these places to the fates of people that were repressed and our people’s experience in 1940–1991.

The patron of the competition is Prime Minister of Estonia Kaja Kallas.

Submissions are accepted until 27 May 2021.

The idea of the competition

14 June 2021 marks the passing of 80 years from the tragic June deportation, during which Soviet authorities forcibly deported more than 10,000 Estonians to Siberia, of whom only a few returned. This day is a national day of mourning, when we commemorate the victims of the deportation and the totalitarian regime.

Patarei Prison, Memorial to the Victims of Communism in Maarjamäe, and smaller memorials across the country represent the difficult experience of our recent past and are linked by foreign regime’s repressions. The railway stations, from where the deportation train left, remained the last image of homeland in many Estonians’ memory.

We must remember that the benefits of a free society we enjoy today may be rapidly destroyed if totalitarian ideas are allowed to come to power and our historical memory fails us. Memorial sites do not allow us to forget the brutality of totalitarian ideologies and the regimes that stemmed from them; they invite us to preserve humanity.

The occupying regimes of USSR (in Estonia 1940–1941, 1944–1991) and Nazi Germany (in Estonia 1941–1944) held thousands of innocent Estonian residents in Patarei, who had been imprisoned for political reasons. Many of them died or were executed. At the moment, Patarei hosts a seasonal exhibition area. In the future, the International Memorial Museum for the Victims of Communism will be established there. Further information here:

In 2018, Memorial to the Victims of Communism was opened in Maarjamäe, Tallinn. It is a place for grieving, but also for hope and peace. It is a cenotaph for all the victims of Soviet repressions. The name plaques bear the names of more than 22 000 Estonia’s victims of communism. Read more about the memorial and repressions here:


Competition prizes

The prizes consist of more than 3000€ worth of gift cards for a major electronics retailer in Estonia. The jury may divide the prize between no more than top five participants.

In addition, it is possible to win a 1,5h tour of Patarei Prison exhibition area “Communism is Prison” for a group of up to 10 people (altogether, three tours will be given away), tickets to explore the exhibition area on your own, as well as the book “Priboi” Files: Articles and Documents of the March Deportation of 1949 by the Estonian Institute of Historical Memory.

The Estonian Institute of Historical Memory will also organise an e-exhibition featuring the most commendable photos and videos.


Competition Assignment

Participants are invited to photograph or film Patarei Prison, Estonia’s Memorial to the Victims of Communism (including its immediate surroundings), or other places connected to Soviet repressions in Estonia (railway stations, memorials etc).

·       Attempt to demonstrate the contradiction and struggle between freedom and tyranny;

·       Find visual motifs and symbols that link the chosen locations with the fate of the repressed and the experience of our people in 1940–1991;

·       Try to explore significant details and views of the location that tell the story of the place;

·       If you have a story in your family about the escape of a relative to the West, deportation, imprisonment, resistance, or death, then associate your work with that story.

We ask all participants to attach a short description (up to 500 characters with spaces) to each photo series or video that explains how the submitted work carries the idea of the competition and the author’s thoughts.

Sound, speech and storytelling are allowed in the video.

Each participant may enter one video (up to 3 minutes) and/or a photo series (2-6 photos) to the competition. The deadline of the competition works is 27 May 2021.

The authors of the best entries are invited to a reception on 14 June 2021 in Stenbock House, Tallinn, hosted by the Prime Minister.


Technical requirements

Each participant is expected to enter one photo series (2-6 photos) and/or a video to the competition.


The photographs must feature Patarei Prison, Estonia’s Memorial to the Victims of Communism in Maarjamäe, railway stations, or other memorial sites. Framing, digitally stitched panoramas, high dynamic range (HDR), image sharpening, and full or partial correction and focusing of brightness, contrast, and colour are allowed.

Adding of removing objects (including the author’s name) is not permitted, with the exception of sensor dust. When editing photos, best practices as well as truthful and natural presentation must be kept in mind.

The photos must have a resolution of at least 3,000 pixels on the long side.



The video’s full length may be up to 180 seconds. Music and speech are allowed. The use of subtitles or captions is not permitted, with the exception of the title.

The video is required to have at least HD quality.


Entry submission

All entries must be submitted electronically via WeTransfer, using the following link for uploading:

1.      Click “Add your files”

2.      Select your entry and a text document (further information below)

3.      Enter your email address

4.      Add your first and last name to the message field

5.      Click “Transfer” and wait for all your files to finish uploading

6.      Enter the confirmation code you receive via email after sending the files on WeTransfer.

If the transfer was a success, you will receive a confirmation of your email from WeTransfer.

All file names of the entries must be in the following format: NAME_SURNAME_NUMBER (the first and last name of the author; each file must be given a number from 1 to 7).

The deadline for submissions is 27 May 2021 23:59 (GMT+2) at the latest.

In addition to the competition entries, each participant must submit a Word document via WeTransfer with the following information: the first and last name of the author, phone number, email, profession/organisation/field of work and an explanation about the photos/video of up to 500 characters (with spaces); adding the title of the entry is optional. The text document must have the author’s first and last name in the file name (e.g. John Smith). Please also add the Word file if you send us a link with your entries.


The Jury

Riho Västrik (director, producer, Associate Professor of Documentary Film at Tallinn University)

Marko Poolamets (photographer and operator of the CollectOurStory oral history portal)

Martin Andreller (Member of Board of the Estonian Institute of Historical Memory, Project Manager of Patarei Museum).


Evaluation criteria

·       The entry is in accordance with the competition idea;

·       The level of artistic expression and execution;

·       Well thought-out message and symbolism;

·       Compliance with technical requirements.


Additional conditions

·       By submitting the entry, the participant allows their work to be used by the Estonian Institute of Historical Memory for free. The Institute may also edit the entries in connection with the competition, provided that the authorship is visibly mentioned.

·       The award will be issued on the basis of an agreement that will be signed with the authors of the awarded entries. All rights to the submitted work will be transferred to the Estonian Institute of Historical Memory.

·       One competition entry may have several authors, in which case the award of said entry will be divided between the authors.

·       Entries that disregard the technical requirements stated above will be automatically disqualified.

·       In case of copyright infringement, all works submitted by the author will be disqualified.


If you have any questions, please contact the Estonian Institute of Historical Memory:

+ 372 53 35 96 39


Useful links:

Estonian Institute of Historical Memory:

Patarei Prison Museum:

Oral history portal Collect Our Story:

Electronic memorial and home page of Estonia’s Memorial to the Victims of Communism:

International portal on the crimes of communism: