TALLINN – History buff Leo Tammiksaar has recently applied for permission to put a World War II anti-aircraft cannon on the roof of a building under construction in downtown Parnu. Part of the building will reportedly host Tammiksaar's collection and will serve as a private exhibition hall.
Tammiksaar, 42, together with his wife Pille, runs the nonprofit organization Eesti SS-Leegioni Muuseum (Estonian SS Legion Museum), registered in 2000.
To open a museum in Estonia one must register with the Ministry of Culture, but Tammiksaar told the Postimees Online that he intended to show the collection for free as a private individual to those who are interested.
The building will likely be complete by the end of the year, and Tammiksaar said the cannon on the roof would be of interest to school children and passers-by.
In 2000 part of Tammiksaar's collection was exhibited in Parnu, Tallinn and Tartu, and the exhibitions were highly popular. Today exhibits from Tammiksaar's collection are often borrowed by various museums in the country.
Aldur Vunk, director of the Museum of Parnu, the leading museum dealing with history and culture of the city and region, said the idea of the year 2000 exhibition was "not limited to SS stuff."
Vunk said the exhibition was to tell people about the Estonians who fought in the World War II against the Red Army – i.e. those who joined the Finnish Army, the German Wehrmacht and the SS Legion."Interest was quite high. I think people who never visited museums in their entire life came to see the exhibition. I suppose the World War II weapons exhibited were the main attraction," said Vunk.
In 2002 Tammiksaar received permission to erect a monument to the Estonian freedom fighters featuring a soldier wearing German infantry uniform, but the monument faced a highly negative reaction of the national government and was eventually removed. In November 2003 a more neutral monument was erected.
During the World War II, the SS Legion had an Estonian division.