Some Estonians trapped on German-Polish border break out to German port

Promised transit across the German-Polish border and through Poland did not materialize for over 70 Estonian citizens trying to return home.
Promised transit across the German-Polish border and through Poland did not materialize for over 70 Estonian citizens trying to return home. Source: "Terevisioon"/ERR

Some Estonian citizens trapped at the German-Polish border who had been promised transit across Poland to return home to Estonia, an offer which failed to materialize after the Polish authorities refused to let them through, have managed to get to Travemünde in Germany, where they hope to get to Estonia by sea, after breaking down fences.

Around 70 Estonian citizens had signed up to an escorted convoy across Poland to its border with Lithuania. Poland closed its borders on Sunday, ahead of the three Baltic States who did so overnight Monday and Tuesday, making it an impassable road route. A deal struck by the Estonian foreign ministry late on Sunday had meant transit should have been permitted, but in practice it was not.

Aare Saal, from Elva, one of those trapped, told ETV morning show "Terevisioon" that he and others of those stuck had broken down a fence in order to head for Travemünde, on the Baltic Sea near Lübeck.

However, some remain stranded, he said.

"We have now arrived at Travemünde Harbor with the Estonians. We were able to get there overnight. Not in a good way - we had to some fences and throw them on the road," Saal said.

The actions followed a long day stuck on a highway bridge a kilometer from the border – near the German town of Frankfurt an der oder, about 400 kilometers from Travemünde – without access to toilet facilities and a reported 39-kilometer line of vehicles behind them.

"We were able to get out, but other Estonians' cars, which were not in such a good position, stayed there and I do not know what has become of them," said Saal.

Saal said that just before getting hemmed in, about a dozen vehicles carrying Estonians had been at a gas station.

"There were cars as well as buses. People from many different and distant places had come to the invitation of our Ministry of Foreign Affairs. People were very upset at why they were called there at all. People quit their jobs and rushed to the border, but in principle, we were almost summoned there," he said.

Those now in Travemünde are still waiting; they have ferry tickets to Sweden but it is unclear how and if these can be used, Saal said, adding that a more circuitous route than directly from Sweden to Estonia would likely be needed.

"We rushed 400 kilometers over night and are now in a German port. We have tickets from Germany to Sweden, but what is going there, we don't know. There is little hope for Estonia directly from Sweden, but we hope to get Finland, then around the Gulf of Bothnia to get to Finland and from there to Estonia. "

As reported on ERR News, Saal said that incidents had taken place involving Lithuanians similarly tryign to get to their home country, and Polish officials armed with rubber truncheons, though the Estonians had not gotten involved.

"The Lithuanians started protesting about why no cars were being allowed to cross the border. The riot police were called. The Lithuanians had been standing on the bridge for three days. They had women and children with them. And alcohol had done its job," Saal said.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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