Tartu's Jaani Kirik to hold service to remember Great Refugee Flight

Tartu Jaani kirik (St John's Church) in Tartu.
Tartu Jaani kirik (St John's Church) in Tartu. Source: Aili Vahtla/ERR

Jaani Kirik (St. John's Church) in Tartu will hold a memorial service on Thursday, Sept. 19 to commemorate the Estonians who fled both Tartu and the country in 1944.

Mayor of Tartu, Urmas Klaas: "The great escape took thousands from Tartu and their families. They escaped from the war in the hope that the war would end and soon they could return home. On this day we think about those who took this difficult and dangerous path and started a new life, but also those who lost their lives while fleeing the war."

The service will start at 6 p.m.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of when nearly 80,000 people fled Estonia as the Soviet army advanced on the country in 1944. Many Estonians fled to Sweden and Germany, and then onwards to the USA, UK, and Australia.

It is still unknown how many died on the journey. 

There is now an initiative to try and get Sept. 19 recognised as an official holiday in Estonia.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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