During the last weekend, the students of Higher Command Studies Courses (HCSC) embarked on a cultural and historical adventure in Narva area. On Saturday, 18th of May, on the way to Narva, they made a first stop at Iisaku Observation Tower,.a 28 meters high tower situated 122 meters above sea level on Tärivere hill - the highest natural point in Ida-Viru County. After that, they visited the Kuremäe Convent, the only functioning Russian Orthodox nunnery in Estonia (nearly 100 nuns are living there) that has the healing saint spring (knows as a “holy spring”), a hotel for pilgrims and the old oak on the cemetery which is said to be the witness of the miracle of the appearing of the Mother of God.
Students’ arrival in Narva (the third largest city in Estonia with an impressive history) was followed by a guided tour of the city, and of Narva Castle, established by the Danes in the 13th century, - the most diverse and best preserved defence structure in Estonia. HCSC students concluded the day at Kreenholm Manufacturing Company, founded in 1857 by Ludwig Knoop (a pioneer of the Russian cotton industry). The “island of crows” was once home to the Europe’s largest cotton factory. It is also documented that this was the place for the first strike in Estonia that led to a riot. Kreenholm was privatised in 1994 and went bankrupt in 2010.
Sunday, 19th of May was a full day of “diving” into the historical importance of the Narva area, especially during World War II. After a general strategic overview by Mr Art Johanson (Lecturer in Military History and Strategic Planning) HCSC students started the Battle Staff Ride with a stop at Presidential residence in Oru Park, followed by key field explorations of Utria and Meriküla (Landing operational sight), Riigiküla (Bridgeheads over the river of Narva), Sinimäed hills and ended up in Sinimägede Musem. During the entire Staff Ride, HCSC students had the opportunity to discuss and better understand the strategical and operational importance of military operations within the area. Those operations during 1944 were quite impressive and give the HCSC students interesting insights, especially on the case “how to defend the area against overwhelming odds”, with lessons learned and applicability to nowadays strategical thinking.