You are here

History of the Building

Peter the Great's Naval Fortress

The building of the Estonian Centre of Defence Investments has a long defence-related history.   

Between 1915 - 1916 it was built by tsarist Russia in St. Petersburg as part of the fortifications designed to protect the marine Tallinn "sea fortress artillery barracks" for the three current Tondi barracks and headquarters building on the street, where the centre is located today. Astangu ammunition warehouses, batteries and coastal defence batteries have been preserved from the fortifications that were located on both sides of the Gulf of Finland, the northern coast and on the islands.

Tondi barracks and headquarters building was designed by the Russian army engineer thought to be Aleksander Jaron (1875 - 1935), whose works include, inter alia, the former main building of Eesti Pank Estonia pst 13, Erika barracks buildings on the street and many others.

According to different data, the design of the campus area and the construction of buildings lasted from 1908 to 1916. The staff building, where ECDI is now located was completed in around 1916. In 1918, the buildings were taken over by the Germans who left in December of the same year, leaving the buildings at the mercy of looters.

In January 1919, the Estonian People's Army took over the buildings that were used at first as a military infirmary, and the next year as a military school.


Staff Building of the Army National Defence College

In a short time, the military school managed to bring the campus buildings and the area around them into order. Teaching in the military school, which in 1919 had started with four-month courses, was changed to three-year and three-class courses in 1921. In the general class, which admitted young men who had six-grade education, secondary school subjects were also taught in addition to military subjects, while young men who had obtained secondary education were admitted into Special Class 1, and future reserve offices were admitted to Special Class 2. In 1923 the military school, the higher military school (General Staff Course) and the school of non-commissioned officers were merged into the National Defence College. New horse stables and riding grounds were added to the complex in 1936-1937. In 1940, the school was reorganised into the Red Army infantry school.


Barracks and Staff Building after 1944

  • In 1944 the barracks were taken over by Soviet troops. From June 1945 until 21.07.1994, it housed the 144th Rifle Division, while the Regiment named after A. Matrossov was housed at Tondi 55A. In 1990 three wooden barracks were built in front of Tondi 55 for officers of the East German army group of the Soviet Union.
  • On 19.08.1991 (during the August coup), the staff building was used to house the KGB headquarters and on 20.08.1991 the Pskov paratrooper unit was housed in Tondi. On 31 August, 1994 the barracks were officially taken over by the Republic of Estonia.
  • In 1997, the majority of the real estate was privatised by Pro Kapital AS. The first restored building was the staff building which in 2006-2012 housed AS Falck, later known as G4S. In 2003, the cash handling building of G4S was built on the plot which currently houses a pharmacy of the health centre.
  • The Centre for Defence Investments started work in the staff building on 1 January, 2017. The same building houses the health centre of the Defence Forces.
  • By the Decree of the Minister of Culture the staff building was taken under heritage conservation protection on 18 August, 1997.

Coup attempt of 1 December, 1924

It was the military school that was hit hardest in the coup that Soviet Russia organised on 1 December, 1924. The plan provided for the main attack in Tallinn and then the seizing of power in Tartu, Narva, Pärnu, Viljandi, Rakvere, Kunda and Kohila.

Rioters set up battle units for attacking the parliament building, the Head of State, Minister of the Interior, Ministry of War, military school, military units, railway stations and Central Post Office. One of the biggest units - 56 men, including eight officers and non-commissioned officers - attacked the military school.

At 5:25 the rioters attacked barracks of cadets, throwing hand grenades through the windows and shooting students who were sleeping downstairs from the door. Vahtkonnast come with four artillery cadets, who managed to get a storage room of pistols, opened fire on the attackers, preventing their further penetration on the second floor, where the cadets had accessed the weapons storage facility to seize weapons and start the attack, after which the attackers fled. Two cadets - Aleksander Teder and August Udras - died during the attempt to conquer the military school. Allebras Arnold and Alexander Tomberg later died of their wounds in hospital. Nine cadets were wounded.

Founded in 1928 to commemorate the fallen cadets military school for the memorial, authored by Amandus Adamson.  The Soviet authorities destroyed the monument in 2009, it was restored. Recovery was initiated by Colonel and Military Commander Jaak Grave, authored by sculptor Jaak Soans. Every year on 1 December at 5.25, the Estonian National Defence College holds a traditional lineup in front of the monument which includes the reading aloud of names of fallen cadets and wreath-laying in their memory.



Centre for Defence Investments
Järve 34A, Tallinn 11314
[email protected]


Last updated: 23 December 2016