Occupation Museum Appeal

Changing the name of the Museum of Occupations threatens the loss of its historical message.

The Estonian World Council, representing the central organizations of Estonians living in 12 different countries abroad, considers the contribution of the Museum of Occupations' founder, Dr. Olga Kistler-Ritso, in bringing attention to the crimes of the occupation, to be inestimable.

The Council agrees that is necessary to present the legacy of the occupations in a more comprehensive manner and to expand the exhibit for the benefit of both the Estonian younger generation as well as foreign visitors, as is documented in the museum's plans for the future.

We think that innovations and popularizing the musuem are entirely welcome. Increasing the capacity of the exhibit space and the use of the cellar of the former KGB headquarters will help to more effectively deliver the museum's message. With such improvements the museum merits universal praise.
However, the Council is seriously afraid that the name change for the Museum may diminish the Museum's goals, affect its reputation, and divert it from its original purpose. We find that the name „Vabamu" trivialises the museum's ideals.

Increasing the Museum's visitation rate is certainly necessary to justify the significant costs of the programs and their expansion to attract a wider audience. The Council is definitely not convinced, however, that the name change, motivated by contemporary marketing tactics, is going to provide results which will help to enhance that most important message of Estonians – „this is our tragic past, which we cannot allow to be repeated."

Understandably the younger generation identifies emotionally mostly with freedom, and its initial splendor has changed into an ordinary everday existence. For them, the occupation is distant.

Thus it's critically important that people understand what the name Museum of Occupations actually stands for – „the rememberance of all the victims of the occupations".

The Museum of Occupations is a „monument" to the victims of the occupations and a message to the Estonian youth as well as the entire world of what we lived through in the past.

We are convinced that the management and board of the museum are capable of increasing the visitations, without blurring the museum's historic message by changing its name.