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Kivisild purustatud

Kivisild, the Stone Bridge of Tartu, survived for 157 years. The bridge survived the First World War and the following Estonian Liberation War, but after 22 years of Estonian Independence, it was destroyed in the Second World War.

In the summer of 1941, as the German army advanced on southern Estonia, the retreating Soviet army destroyed all bridges in Tartu. Boxes with a least 1 ton of explosives were positioned under the Kivisild bridge. Truckloads of Birchwood were dumped on the bridge, soaked with petrol and ignited. The intense heat that this generated was intended to crack the granite blocks and to melt the tin around the metal staples which held the blocks together. A massive explosion early in the morning destroyed one central pier and the northern arch of the bridge: it sent stone shower far over the city, a massive mushroom cloud of dust and the explosion was head far away in the countryside, announcing the arrival of the front to the banks of the river Emajõgi. A huge area of the Tartu city was destroyed in the next two weeks of fighting – large areas of the city were systematically burned to clear lines of sight for Soviet artillery to attack Estonian resistance and German army positions.

In 1944, the front revisited Tartu. On August 25 the retreating German army blew up the remaining arch of the Kivisild. Again Tartu became the frontline, this time with even more destruction of the city as the German army retreated and destroyed while the Soviet army advanced and destroyed.

The ruins of the Kivisild remained in the river until 1959 when a concrete pedestrian bridge was built.

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