Tartu Circle case file
The most interesting part of this file is formed by the political drawings by Lembit Saarts, a friend of painter Heldur Viires. These drawings were used as evidence against the group of artists from Tartu known as the Tartu Circle. Artists from the circle, Valdur Ohakas, Ester Potisepp (later Roode), Henn Roode, Lembit Saarts, Ülo Sooster and Heldur Viires, were accused of anti-Soviet ideas and plots. They were sentenced to 25 years in a prison camp, except Esther Potisepp, who received ten years. Later, all the sentences were reduced to ten years. However, they were freed in 1956, at the beginning of the period of Khrushchev's thaw.
The art historian Juta Kivimäe has stated that this persecution was not actually meant against these particular young artists, but rather to affect indirectly old and influential art teachers and painters, such as Addo Vabbe, Elmar Kits and Johannes Võerahansu.
Tartu Nooruse 3, Estonia 50411
- RA (Rahvusarhiiv [National Archives of Estonia]), ERAF.129SM.1.23352.
Holder of the file: National Archives of Estonia
Photo: Liisi Hint
- Tammela, Mari-Leen
- Tark, Triin
Karjahärm, Toomas; Luts, Helle-Mai. 2005. Kultuurigenotsiid Eestis. Kunstnikud ja muusikud 1940-1953. Tallinn: Argo, pp. 123-126, 354-357.