What is this?

This is a former Soviet border outpost, located on the island of Saaremaa in Estonia.

During the Cold War and the Iron Curtain between the West and the USSR, border outposts were on the frontier of the bipolar world. In case of conventional military conflict, they were the main combat units ready to resist the first attack.

This was especially true of those located on Estonia’s islands – the former USSR’s western frontier. Only the most fit, stable, and loyal soldiers were picked to serve in the border troops in general and on these islands in particular, which translated into a high standard of the military service itself as well as the environment where it was done, including landscape and architectural designs, maintenance of territory, construction quality, etc.

The outpost bears testimony to all that. It serves as a powerful symbol of the a whole epoch in the 20th century history – the Cold War and Iron Curtain – the fully closed borders as well as insurmountable ideological and political barriers that existed between the communist bloc and the West.

Border Complex

The site is a classic example of a Soviet border outpost of the early post-World WarⅡ period.

It has been relatively well preserved as a complete complex compared to the very few other ones that still remain in Europe and are mostly in utter ruins. On the whole, the architectural ensemble (the barracks, officer housing, sauna, guest house, boiler house, warehouse, cellars, garage, barn, kennels, greenhouse, bomb shelter, pillbox, shooting ground, obstacle course, sports ground, parade ground, concrete paths, tree alleys, trenches, etc.) is in reasonable condition for restoration along with the parade wall and watchtower, which were integral parts of a Soviet border outpost.

Consequently, there is great potential for creating an attractive outpost open-air museum through fairly modest investments for the benefit of the international community and rising generations.

This conclusion was first reached by Jüri Pärn, one of the leading Estonian historians, who has done intensive fieldwork at the site and written a thorough research paper for the Ministry of Culture.

We all have a great opportunity to preserve this unique history and transform it into a fascinating open-air museum.

The above intentions may not come true without your help.

Leonov

The outpost has another historical aspect as significant as its military heritage.

In the summer of 1977, a world-famous Soviet actor Yevgeny Leonov and his family spent their holiday here. Leonov came to enjoy the beautiful island of Saaremaa on the advice of his friend Lembit Ulfsak, a talented Estonian actor, with whom he had taken part in acting in the film Legend About Thiel in Estonia the year before.

Leonov stayed at the outpost’s guest house, where occasional visitors were accommodated.

Thus, there is an excellent opportunity to establish Leonov memorial and a museum at the guest house, or Leonov house, in memory of the celebrated actor.

The long-term vision for the border outpost is its full restoration. One of the major aims is to preserve a piece of the 20th century history, i.e. the Cold War and Iron Curtain.

Museum

Actually, there are no untouched museums of Soviet outposts.

Either some buildings and structures have been demolished or substantially rebuilt, or some elements have been replaced with modern ones, e.g. roofs, doors, windows, watchtowers, and their cabins. A full restoration will entail meticulous historical research. The main reason for choosing this comprehensive approach is the idea of accurately reproducing the atmosphere in which Yevgeny Leonov stayed.

Tourists and visitors will get a unique opportunity to fully experience the environment and spirit of the time, rather than to have to imagine the complete picture, which is often the case with museums that have not devoted enough attention to authenticity. This leads to another key objective, which is to restore the guest house where the famous artist stayed and to open his memorial and museum there. Subsequently, Leonov house could also accommodate visitors who wish to enjoy the experience of staying at the outpost and spending time the way Leonov did.

There is a unique chance to create a special place in memory of the great actor for the benefit of the global community and rising generations.

Thank you for the attention!

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