500 Deportation Stories Collected on June 14 (1)
Close to 500 personal stories of the mass deportations carried out in Estonia by the Soviet regime in the 1940s were collected and mapped on Friday as part of the Kogu Me Lugu initiative.
At an event held on Tallinn's Freedom Square for the Day of Mourning and Commemoration, which marks the anniversary of the June 14, 1941 deportation of thousands of Baltic residents to Siberia, organizers recorded around 250 stories, thoughts and memories of those affected. Some participants brought in written accounts, others spoke on camera. The other half of the stories were submitted online or by SMS.
The locations of the stories were recorded on both an electronic map and a wooden map, with the latter taken to the Museum of Occupations where it will become an exhibition. The videos will be stored in the Estonian Film Archive.
“Despite the rainy weather, there were plenty of people filling out the map and to our pleasure, many young people and those who were not native speakers of Estonian took an interest in the undertaking. All communities living under totalitarian regimes and [who came into contact with] deportation suffered on a large or a small scale. People acknowledge this more than we had expected,” organizer Sandra Vokk said in a statement.
“The majority of the stories we received on Friday don't speak of good Estonians and bad Russians, but of malignant individuals and of power, [themes] that are not connected to any single nationality,” she said.
The Kogu Me Lugu project was a joint effort by the Human Rights Institute, Unitas, Youth Association Open Republic, Museum of Occupations, Tulipisar, the Estonian Memento Association and the Murtud Rukkilille Ühing.
The undertaking was supported by ministries of internal affairs and defense as well as the Youth in Action program, Regio mapping company, and telecom companies Elisa, EMT, Tele 2 and Mobi Solutions.