Harald Nugiseks, Estonia by the Forward

Nazi collaborator monuments in Estonia

There are hundreds of statues and monuments in the United States and around the world to people who abetted or took part in the murder of Jews and other minorities during the Holocaust. The Forward has, for the first time, documented them in this collection of articles. For a guide to each country’s memorials click here.

Lagedi — The monument below, known as the Monument of Lihula, glorifies Estonian WWII soldiers, which includes Estonian units in the Waffen-SS (the military wing of the Nazi party).

The monument depicts a soldier in a German helmet (note similarity to the Estonian SS recruitment poster on left). Report by the BBC, press release from the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

Sinimäed Hills — A cross and several memorial stones honor three Waffen-SS divisions which fought there in 1944. This includes the 20th Waffen-SS Division (1st Estonian), whose insignia is on one of the stones, left.

The monument, erected in 1999, has become the site of annual gatherings to honor the SS. Report in the Jerusalem Post. Due to the participation of local collaborators, Estonia’s Jewish population was virtually eradicated within months of Germany invading the country in 1941. (Thanks to Kevin Prenger and Kaj Metz of Traces of War for information on the monument complex.)

Laupa — In 2016, this town’s school unveiled a bust of Harald Nugiseks (1921–2014), SS-Oberscharführer in the 20th Waffen-SS Division and a recipient of the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross, Nazi Germany’s highest military honor. The bust is shown in the coverage by ERR, Estonia’s public broadcasting outlet (Google translation here).

The ERR article describes Nugiseks as an SS veteran and a recipient of the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross in the same way an American article would introduce a decorated U.S. Army veteran. Above right, supporters of Estonia’s far-right EKRE party, which made major gains in 2019 elections, in a torchlight march, February 2020.

Mustla and Viljandi — In 2018, Mustla installed this plaque glorifying SS-Standartenführer Alfons Rebane (1906–1976), a commander in the 20th Waffen-SS Division who, like Nugiseks, was awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross (see entry above). Rebane has another plaque in Viljandi. Reports in the JTA, ERR.

After the war, Rebane, like many Nazi collaborators, fled to the West and served in the British intelligence (MI6). Western governments welcomed thousands of Eastern European Nazi collaborators who became assets in the Cold War. See the introduction section for more information.

Below left is a photo of Estonian SS fighters, June 1944. Below right are three Estonian Knight’s Cross recipients, with Rebane on the left and Nugiseks in the center.

For more on Estonia’s monuments to the Waffen-SS, see Defending History’s Estonia page.

Nazi collaborator monuments around the world


Lev Golinkin

Lev Golinkin

Lev Golinkin is the author of A Backpack, a Bear, and Eight Crates of Vodka, Amazon’s Debut of the Month, a Barnes & Noble’s Discover Great New Writers program selection, and winner of the Premio Salerno Libro d’Europa. Mr. Golinkin, a graduate of Boston College, came to the US as a child refugee from the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkov (now called Kharkiv) in 1990. His writing on the Ukraine crisis, Russia, the far right, and immigrant and refugee identity has appeared in The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, CNN, NBC, The Boston Globe, Politico Europe, and Time.com, among others; he has been interviewed by MSNBC, NPR, ABC Radio, WSJ Live and HuffPost Live.

Nazi collaborator monuments around the world

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Nazi collaborator monuments in Estonia

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