We suddenly met a slightly plumpish middle-aged man with a camera around his neck in one of the hallways. He expertly began to tell us that wards next to the hospital used to be a female territory of the prison. He immediately showed us several posters on the topics of sexually transmitted diseases lying in the corner.
It was clearly seen that the man knows a lot about the prison. During the conversation, it turned out that he was one of the former superintendents, who had worked there for over 10 years. He introduced himself and asked not to spread information on him on the Internet.
Suddenly, he invited us to take a walk to the former prison's part closed for the visitors. We asked him how could we get there. He showed us an unusual universal key, which was able to open most of the doors in the prison. By the way, they always could be opened only from one side.
Though it was a little frightful, we agreed to take this strange and apparently illegal tour. The man seemed to be quite normal and very talkative. He said he regularly came here: "I do not understand why, but I am drawn here from time to time. I spent here many years!". I immediately remembered that the prisoners and their guards always have some common links. In fact, both of them are the cogs and bolts in a complex merciless system of justice.
We got in the closed part of the prison through the upper deck above the cabins for prisoners' walks. There was absolutely nobody looking after the prison. We just occasionally met some visitors like us inside.
This is a gym for the prison guards. There are even punching bags.
From here one could immediately get to the former baths, under which the firing room was located. According to the former superintendent, prisoners sentenced to death never knew when the execution would happen. They were usually taken in the baths. After that they were led down. They shot in the head from behind, putting the bag on the prisoner's head. Despite the fact that the last execution took place here back in 1991, we noticed a hose connected to the tap. It was used to wash the blood away from the floor. This is a total surrealism - there were no executions already for 25 years, and the hose is still there!
We saw many strange details in the prison.
There was a feeling that we were somewhere between the past and the present, within the precarious brink of time.
The man decided to show us the administrative part of the building. He looked into his former office, and then took us to the inner sanctum of the prison - to the director's office.
He lustily showed us a huge heavy table of his boss and stopped in front of a safe locked for some reason.
Then he took us to a separate block with a dozen of similar offices. Agents used to work there with newly arrived prisoners.
Nearby there was a storage of prisoners' personal belongings. They were obliged to give them away before their further stay in the prison.
Then new inmates were photographed in special booths.
Then they had to pass chest photofluorography. The device has been preserved. We even saw lead apron. Tubercular patients were put in prison separately. As well as HIV-infected persons.
There was an attempt to computerize the prison in the 90s. There are only piles of scrap metals left from the former rooms with servers. We suddenly saw a sewing machine among the junk. I wonder how did it get here?
Our guide was telling the stories very interestingly and lively. Many phrases sunk into my heart. "Prison must be terrible!", - he said in response to our surprise with the inhuman conditions of prisoners' detention.
This is a punishment cell for the delinquents. They were placed in these wards without daylight for 15 days which could be extended to two months.
This prison also had a so-called sweatbox. I do not even want to tell you about it. In short, people here were broken in the basest way. You can search information on the Internet.
We were particularly shocked by wards for the life-term prisoners. Mattresses, pillows, bowls, sheets - it seemed that no one have left this place.
Our guide told us a story about one prisoner that had spent more than 30 years here. Being an ethnic Estonian, that person for some reason shot about six people while serving in the Soviet army. With officers among them. For this offense he was sentenced to death, which was replaced by a life sentence at the request of his parents, who were some party leaders, if I'm not mistaken. This man, according to our guide, was well educated, constantly studied and read a lot in prison. He even defended a thesis here. In 1991, he stayed in the Patarey Sea Fortress and received Estonian citizenship. He was granted amnesty shortly before the closing of this prison...
Our guide's stories together with horrible prison scenery seemed particularly realistic. I felt chills many times here.
We spent more than three hours inside, but the time passed completely unnoticed. I do not even remember how we got out of the Patarei Prison, shocked and crushed by everything we saw there.
We managed to come to life only in the cafe on the beach (do you remember the signs?). Recently, there was the perimeter of the prison guards, barbed wire and machine gunners on towers. Now you'll find here sand, sun loungers, cold beer and cruise ships on the horizon. Here, with a glass of beer, the prison already did not seem to be something awful, but rather only the grim ghost of its past.
It's possible to go through an extraordinary experience here. Who knows how long it will remain in this state, in close vicinity with modern and super popular attractions of Tallinn. You should hurry here. Who knows, maybe you'll be also lucky to meet the strange man with the key to all doors. I know, this tour is not for everyone, but thousands of shades of black, dark and hard world here can overwhelm and stay in the memory forever. Now I know for sure...
P.S. As it turned out, now all the visits to the prisons are forbidden because of the critical condition of the building. Money search and complete renovation of the building are estimated to take up to 10 years. So this report appeared to be really exclusive. Because we can never see the Patarey Sea Fortress like this...