Don't forget

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To remember and to commemorate

Half a century of occupation left numerous wounds in the people and country of Estonia. In everyday life we more often talk about slips and restraints of economic and social development, collating it to freely progressing nations. Still nothing can compare to the wounds that are bleeding in the flesh of our nation - the Estonians' human losses and sufferings.

Now the reader has received yet another bibliographical book about mass arrests of people. The first volume had over 20,000 personal entries, this volume adds another 15,000 entries. The third volume is in work and also the fourth has been planned. In addition, three volumes about deportation victims are on the way. To be followed by the book about those who were coercively mobilized into labour battalions in Russia. Then about war refugees or, in other words, about thousands of people who fled from the new Soviet occupation, new arrests and deportations.

"Bend my head at every doorstep: every house is clad in mourning," said the troubled poet in the 1941 Christmas speech. At that time the road to Calvary was yet in store for tens of thousands of Estonians. To date, decades later we presume that every single page in these books invokes memories or recollections of the next-of-kin and more distant predecessors, and last but not least, national or regional public figures.

The occupation regime totally destroyed the leaders, political elite of the country. For example, if we take a look at the photo of the cabinet members appointed into office in 1938 (p. C3) and then read under the picture what was the destiny of these men in the prime of their life – imprisonment in 1940 or 1941, death in some prison camp in Russia in 1942 or 1943 at the latest. Leaders of the Estonian defence forces, self-government officials and business elite suffered similar fate.

Naturally, also the intellectual elite, the representatives of the Estonian national ideas, was not left in peace. Look at the so-called prisoner's profiles, the most inhuman of all human depictions: composer Tuudur Vettik, actors Mari Möldre and Ruut Tarmo, writer Leida Kibuvits. To add, the "no-return" prisoners from among the literary circles: Juri Pärijõgi, Julius Gengo, Heiti Talvik, Hugo Raudsepp.

These books compiled by the Bureau of Estonian Register of Repressed Persons will become a valuable series of books in memory and remembrance of the generations who coined the victory in the Independence War, built up our statehood and for two decades developed efficiently the economic and intellectual life of the country. Without the appreciation of their work and destiny many an essential fact from our new history until the present day would lose a causal link. The most important of them, how and in which way did a small, much suffered nation was able to hold upright the backbone of its statehood and to nurture the longing for independence. And on the other hand, why in the initial years after the restoration of independence do we suffer from deficient political culture, why our public life is so severely affected by a crisis of ethics.

Of course, we need for our own use as well as for the international community well researched data about the heavy human losses and sufferings caused by the Soviet occupation regime to the Estonian nation. Like holocaust, extermination of our people as well as of all three Baltic nations will remain an ominous dark smirch tainting the 20th century history of Europe.

Thus the work done by the Bureau of Estonian Register of Repressed Persons deserves recognition, support and gratitude.

Mart Siimann