WWII Military Relic Hunting in Estonia

"A Soldier's Message from 1944"

A year later, I visited the Sillamäe museum where I hoped to find information on any historic events that took place in this area during the Northern War of 1700-1721. I assumed that the largest exhibition in the museum most likely would be dedicated to the WWII Tannenbergstellung battle of 1944 that occurred locally. But I also hoped to see some military artifacts dated back to the 1700s, so I could learn what kind of metal detecting finds to expect at the field with a rampart.

Even though the museum was undergoing a thorough renovation, there was a couple of interesting exhibitions available for viewing: the Neolithic Period artifacts and an amazing gemstone collection compiled by the museum director himself. He was happy to give me a tour and tell me about the most interesting exhibits. But he was extremely proud to show me the most valuable item of the WWII exposition, an unusual war artifact, which made me instantly forget about the Northern War.

It was a plaque of black schist, a metamorphic crystalline rock, with a dramatic words inscribed on it by a Russian soldier during the Tannenbergstellung Battle in 1944. Along with it, the director showed me a clipping from the Sillamäe newspaper - an article "A Message from '44" describing this rare World War II relic.

WW2 Relic Next to a Clipping from Sillamäe Newspaper

WW2 Artefact and Newspaper Clipping

A Sillamäe worker and his daughter found this schist plaque while hiking in the Blue Mountains near Sinemäe where the fierce WW2 battle took place in 1944. The relic was first given to the Sillamäe Council of Red Army Veterans, and later its chairman presented it to the city museum, so everybody could see it.

The message inscribed on the plaque's obverse would break your heart if you read it: "...four are remaining. The Germans are attacking. Farewell, comrades. May 23 1944."

Farewell Words Inscribed by Soldier Before He Died

Last Farewell Inscribed by Soldier Before He Died

But that was not all inscribed on the obverse. Later, the word "two" was added to the text, meaning that only two soldiers were still remaining alive.

"ДВА" - "Two", Was Added to Message

The obverse listed the names of initial four soldiers: "Senior Lieutenant Zharov, Soldiers Zagvozdkin, Tsyganov, Petrov."

Names of Soldiers Inscribed on Soft Rock's Back

Names of Soldiers Inscribed on Stone's Back

I had mixed feelings while holding this unique WWII artifact. On one hand, I felt deeply sad, on another hand, I felt being honored to touch such a remarkable piece of the WWII history - a personal message from those who sacrificed themselves for our well-being!

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