Communism is Prison


The communist regime of the Soviet Union (in Estonia 1940-1941, 1944-1991) imprisoned innocent people in the historical Patarei fortress on ideological pretext. They constitute only a fraction of all the victims of communism, the estimated number of whom in the world is 90 million.[1]


The authentic prison interior of the Patarei exhibition area introduces vividly the nature of communist ideology and the crimes of its implementers in different countries, the stories of the victims of communism and Nazism, and the eventful history of Patarei since its construction as a naval fortress in the 19th century.

Patarei prison is one of the hundreds of places around the world where communist regimes imprisoned, tortured and murdered innocent people for ideological reasons. As such, Patarei is part of the story of mankind and a convincing revealer of the true nature of communist government and mentality.


Irrespective of one’s place of residence, origin or native language, Patarei resonates with everyone in its own way. The exhibition area “Communism is Prison”, introducing totalitarian ideology and its implementation, warns against the dangerousness of such ideas and reminds us of the value of human dignity and freedom. Patarei is a place for learning, experiencing, commemorating, contemplating.


The exhibition area within about 1200 square meters of the Patarei complex is the first manifestation of the unique International Museum for the Victims of Communism and research centre that will be established in the Patarei complex.

Patarei is one of the largest completely preserved classical style building ensembles in Estonia and the surrounding area. The complex is protected under heritage conservation. The exhibition area and the future museum will contribute to the development of the seaside area of Tallinn as a cultural and educational centre and will keep part of Patarei in the service of historical truth.

The creation of the exhibition has been coordinated and is administered by the Estonian Institute of Historical Memory.

Contributions to the creation of the exhibition have been made by the Government of the Republic of Estonia, the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Estonia, the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia, the Lithuanian Museum of Genocide Victims, the Foundation for the Study of Communist Dictatorship in East Germany, the Polish Institute of National Remembrance, State Real Estate Ltd, Velvet OÜ,
Tanya Rubinstein-Horowitz, many private benefactors and supporters. Thank you!



[1] S. Courtois, N. Werth, J.-L. Panne, A. Paczkowski, K. Bartošek, J.-L. Margolin. The Black Book of Communism. Crimes. Terror. Repression. Harvard University Press, Cambridge 1999.