For my readers: Notice About what’s Happening with this “Tragedy of the Estonian Mass Deportations” Series of Essays
“This is the captain speaking.” I undertook this series of essays with clear goals in mind, one of which was to devote a little bit of space to the June 14, 1941 deportations per se, and to some of the victims. I haven’t been able to get to that yet.
As can happen with the best-laid plans of mice and men, I missed my own deadline, wanting to have been done by the 14th. As someone who writes out of his free time, I hadn’t adequately foreseen the labyrinth of issues that I felt was necessary to cover in order to tell the story properly. To make it come together, there were certain topics that ate up more time than I had figured on, along with the tuning up of raw texts.
Yesterday, Estonians and Latvians and Lithuanians marked the seventieth anniversary of the first of the two great Soviet era deportations in the Baltic States (the first was in 1941, and the second one eight years later). Typically, many Estonians light candles and put them in the window. Flags flew at half-mast. It simply isn’t true that Estonians aren’t spiritual people. We just have our own ways of getting in touch with our inner selves, and in this case with the departed.
I live at a distance of 200 yards from railroad tracks that were used by Soviet soldiers and NKVD personnel for the purpose of transporting families who supposedly constituted “threats to Soviet security” to distant Siberia. The freight cars of this particular depot stood very close to my home, and we have a small memorial statue marking the events of June 14, 1941 right there, by the train tracks next to our youth center.
In the evening, when our Foreign Minister Urmas Paet and other officials came to speak and an orchestra played, I only had to walk a few minutes in order to go and listen and reflect.
A New Film, Well Worth Watching
In the evening, Estonian State Television showed one of the best documentary films that I think has ever come from Estonia, about the trail of tears that the Estonian abductees of 1941 were taken upon. It is a film called “Malestuste jogi”, or River of Memories. Those who speak Estonian can watch by clicking on the link in the previous sentence. It should be worth the time that you invest in watching it. I hope it doesn’t just get translated into English and other languages, but also gets shown at a lot of festivals. It is a poignant film, and one that has been told in such a universally understandable manner that anyone in the world ought to be able to follow and learn from it.
The last bit of the evening was difficult, because River of Memories comes to a close with a seemingly unending list of names of deported people who perished while being transported to truly godforsaken villages, often abandoned now, which are situated in Tomsk Oblast of Russia along the Vasyugan river, or who died after arrival there. The cause of death in most cases was starvation, compounded by illness and other factors. A great many of the names of those who had perished were the names of children.
I intend to finish the string of essays off with a definitive conclusion, and that needs to be written too. Other things clamor for my attention, so it looks as though my tempo of postings is going to slow down. I will however, during upcoming days, post several segments that I’ve succesfully managed to finish. Some time from now – I cannot say exactly when, I’ll bring the series to what I feel is a successful conclusion, with all bases covered and the i’s dotted and t’s crossed.