Kristjan Palusalu
Kristjan Palusalu was an Estonian
Estonians are a Finnic people closely related to the Finns and inhabiting, primarily, the country of Estonia. They speak a Finnic language known as Estonian...

 heavyweight wrestler and Olympic winner.

Born in Läänemaa
Lääne County
Lääne County , or Läänemaa , is one of 15 counties of Estonia. It is located in western Estonia and borders Baltic Sea to the north, Harju County to the north-east, Rapla County to the east, Pärnu County to the south, and the island counties of Saare and Hiiu to the west...

, Estonia
Estonia , officially the Republic of Estonia , is a state in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by the Gulf of Finland, to the west by the Baltic Sea, to the south by Latvia , and to the east by Lake Peipsi and the Russian Federation . Across the Baltic Sea lies...

, Palusalu is best remembered for winning two gold medals at the 1936 Olympic Games
Olympic Games
The Olympic Games is a major international event featuring summer and winter sports, in which thousands of athletes participate in a variety of competitions. The Olympic Games have come to be regarded as the world’s foremost sports competition where more than 200 nations participate...

 in Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

. He was given the honor of carrying the Estonian flag
Flag of Estonia
The national flag of Estonia is a tricolour featuring three equal horizontal bands of blue , black, and white. The normal size is 105 × 165 cm...

 to the Olympiastadion (Olympic Stadium). After the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 occupied Estonia in 1940 and war broke out, Palusalu was sent to hard labour
The Gulag was the government agency that administered the main Soviet forced labor camp systems. While the camps housed a wide range of convicts, from petty criminals to political prisoners, large numbers were convicted by simplified procedures, such as NKVD troikas and other instruments of...

 in 1941 to Kotlas
Kotlas is a town in the southeast of Arkhangelsk Oblast, Russia, situated at the confluence of the Northern Dvina and Vychegda Rivers. Administratively, it is incorporated as a town of oblast significance . It also serves as the administrative center of Kotlassky District, by which it is...

 in Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

. He tried to escape with other prisoners but was captured after a few days. He was then sentenced to death together with his fellow fugitives but was given the chance to go to the front line to fight against Finland in the Continuation war
Continuation War
The Continuation War was the second of two wars fought between Finland and the Soviet Union during World War II.At the time of the war, the Finnish side used the name to make clear its perceived relationship to the preceding Winter War...


He deserted to the Finnish side in Northern Karelia
Karelia , the land of the Karelian peoples, is an area in Northern Europe of historical significance for Finland, Russia, and Sweden...

, northwest of Lake Onega
Lake Onega
Lake Onega is a lake in the north-west European part of Russia, located on the territory of Republic of Karelia, Leningrad Oblast and Vologda Oblast. It belongs to the basin of Baltic Sea, Atlantic Ocean, and is the second largest lake in Europe after Lake Ladoga...

. According to one Finnish soldier, Mr. Suuperko, Palusalu and his friends shouted "Finnish boys do not shoot Estonians", when they crossed the lines. Palusalu was soon recognized by a person in the Finnish army, who had sports background(Heikki Savolainen).

He was imprisoned but then was allowed to return to his homeland, which was then under German occupation
Occupation of Estonia by Nazi Germany
After Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, Army Group North reached Estonia in July.Initially the Germans were perceived by most Estonians as liberators from the USSR and its repressions, having arrived only a week after the first mass deportations from the Baltics...

. After the return of the Soviet army in 1945 he was arrested again, but according to Estonian sources was later allowed to work as trainer. He was not forgotten by the Estonian people. Perhaps because his life reflected the fate of the whole nation, Kristjan Palusalu has remained one of the most popular sportsmen in Estonia throughout history.

The Bronze Soldier of Tallinn
Bronze Soldier of Tallinn
The Bronze Soldier is the informal name of a controversial Soviet World War II war memorial in Tallinn, Estonia, built at the site of several war graves, which were relocated to the nearby Tallinn Military Cemetery in 2007...

 monument, which stood in the center of Tallinn until April 27, 2007, when it was removed to a military cemetery in the city, is supposed by many Estonians to have been modeled on Palusalu (confirmed by Palusalu's daughter), as there is a striking resemblance. Possibly because Palusalu was in disgrace with the Soviet authorities, the sculptor Enn Roos
Enn Roos
Enn Roos was an Estonian Soviet sculptor.A notable work of his is the bronze sculpture from 1947 that is part of the World War II memorial ensemble in Tallinn, Estonia, nowadays usually called the Bronze Soldier, whose accompanying monumental stone structure was designed by the architect Arnold Alas...

denied this and said he used 'a young worker who lived nearby'.
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