Photos from Memento 2001 - 2.2 THE FIRST DEPORTATION PERIOD 1941–1948

Email Print PDF
Article Index
Photos from Memento 2001
All Pages



The first period includes taking people away from their homes, loading them into railway cars, traveling to and reaching places of forced settlement, the first years of hunger and misery, and some younger people escaping back to Estonia. This period ends with the years when the young people who had escaped from settlement to Estonia to study began to be sent via various prisons to back to their former places of settlement (to mothers, if they were still alive).

Mass media representatives a couple of times every year ask us for photos of how the deported women and children were "stuffed" into cattle cars in 1941. Why didn't we take any pictures? Didn't the repressive organs themselves immortalise their "heroic deeds" in this way? Actually, there were very few cameras around at that time and taking pictures when security workers were present meant that if one was lucky one was left without the camera, and if one was not lucky one could be searched and sent to prison as a spy.

Because there are no photos of the railway transportation, the magnificent nature and the collapsed huts (first impressions of the place of settlement!), and also of the first burials, the most gifted of us attempted to perpetuate all this by making drawings, both at the time and later.

There have been a lot of discussions and arguments about the number of people in cattle cars. In archive materials [ERAF SM f. 2 M/O, n. 2, s.-ü. 1, l. 69-127 p.] were found 59 lists of the cars, with the total number of 1279 names of deportees. These lists were compiled and mostly also signed 23.06.1941 for handing the Estonian deported family members over, most likely at the railway stations of final destination or en route there. The lists consist of family name, first name, father's name and date of birth, and the majority of the names, spelled in the Russian language, were distorted beyond recognition. From Valdo Kivi, born 05.04.1922, we received a correct, written in Estonian, list from the "men's car", i.e. a railway car that held arrested family heads. In this particular car in June 1941 there were 22 men. From among these, 8 sons aged between 15 and 19 managed to avoid prisons camps and were instead sent to forced settlement with their mothers. Thus, according to the lists, in 60 cattle cars there were altogether 1301 persons, which makes the average number of people per car 21.68.

Helvi Koppel-Kohandi's drawing of the inside of a cattle car was made already in 1941 on soft brownish paper. This drawing along with original sketches survived the hard times and ended up in Pärnu, folded four times and in tatters. And now, in 2001, this picture is reborn here.


Hilda Orn, deported from Narva 14.06.41, had vivid recollections of how the deportees, including her family, were placed into cattle cars to be taken to Russia. The head of the family, engineer August-Heinrich Orn (born in 1890) died in Sevurallag 22.12.41. His wife Hilda-Rosalia (born in 1902) and daughter Heljo (born in 1924) experienced severe life conditions while being in forced settlement in Tomsk Oblast, Vasjugan Region, village of Vesjolõi. They were released from settlement in 1956. This drawing taken from the book: H. Orn, Ka see oli elu (This was life too).


Lithuanians deported to Russia on June 14th, 1941, in railway cattle cars. [Lithuanians in the Arctic Region, Kaunas, 2000, 109 pages., p. 47.; in Lithuanian, English and Russian.]

We, Estonians, were transported to places of settlement in exactly the same conditions: an average of 22 (even 19 in March, 1949) people together with their personal belongings in one two-axle railway car (in a four-axle railway car, which was roughly about 2 two-axle cars in size, there could be up to 40-46 people). This means that from the total floor space of just 17.5 m2, one person with belongings got only 0.81 m2 personal space, including for sleep! A hole in the floor served as a toilet (on the photo behind the linen cloth held up). The railway cars had bars on windows, were locked from outside and serviced by armed uniformed guards. (see p. 125)

Islanders taken to Russia for lifelong forced settlement in cattle cars of the deportation train, 1941. This drawing was made already in 1941 on soft brownish paper. Every person depicted on this image was a familiar fellow-prisoner. This drawing survived the hard times and ended up in Estonia, folded four times and in tatters. And now, in 2001, this picture is reborn here. Helvi Koppel-Kohandi's original drawing is in her possession. (see p. 126)

Lithuanians deported to Russia on June 14th, 1941, at the Lena River Delta in Trofimovsk. [Lithuanians in the Arctic Region, p. 55.]

At the same time life of Estonian deportees in the northern part of Kirov Oblast (near the border of Komi) in the Sinegorje wood-cutters' barracks was only slightly better: log walls, brick stove in the middle of the room, families were often separated by a mere piece of cloth, and the temperature outside was slightly higher. Sleeping next to the dying and the dead, empty stomachs and hunger, extremely limited possibilities for washing, regular searching and killing of lice, a frozen pyramid of refuse near the door in the winter and a stinking cesspool in the summer – all this was no different from what the Latvians experienced. Whether there are bedbugs, roaches, mosquitoes and other vermin in the Arctic Region – this I do not know, but settlements in the Russian taiga-forests were infested with them, even in buildings that had been without people for as long as 5 years.

The Goldmann family (Kaare Liblik in the middle), deported from Tallinn and photographed upon their arrival in Kirov Oblast, Kotelnitši railway station, with personal belongings loaded out of the cattle cars, June of 1941. They took a photo camera with them.

People deported from Tallinn working in Kirov Oblast, the Sovetski stone quarry, 1941. On the picture from left to right: silversmith Isser Goldmann (born in 1919), his wife, student Sore-Reize (born in 1919) and Kaare Liblik, wife of a police constable (born in 1906).

Professional silversmith Isser Goldmann (born in 1919), deported from Tallinn 14.06.1941, working in the Sovetski stone quarry, 1941.

Deported Estonians and Jews in Kirov Oblast, Sovetski Region, summer of 1941. From left to right: the Jaansoo family (Maria and son Albert) together with the members of the large Vassermann and Goldmann families near their dwellings.

Photos on pp. 127-128 from I. Goldmann's collection

Front door of a house (the above photo) and general view of the village of Tšerjomushka, Tshainsk Region, Tomsk (previously Novosibirsk) Oblast, where resided some of the Estonians deported in 1941.

Photos from Viite Pent's collection

General view of the place of residence of deported Estonians in Tomsk Oblast, Tšainsk Region, Novoberjozovka village 16.12.41.
This and the following four drawings are by Hilja Tiido. On the basis of archive files, in settlement in Novoberjozovka village resided Hilja-Johanna Tiit, born in 1923, deported from Pärnu.

"Beauty" of the villages which were places of settlement in Tomsk Oblast, Tchainsk Region, drawn 25.10.41.

Our mistress' (a widow) house in Tomsk Oblast.

Front view of our hut with the organised garden patch. Garden plots gave people the foodstuffs necessary for survival.

Local inhabitants' home utensils both in Siberia and in Kirov Oblast, where deported Estonians were sent to settle. Drawing from 22.09.42.

In Kirov Oblast's rafting organisations worked together with local inhabitants also the deported Estonians, Ukrainians, Germans etc. The longest stop while transporting logs in September-October of 1948 during land improvement work. Poor weather forced to build a shelter at the banks of the Kobra River in Kirov Oblast.

Hugo Tamleht, a rafter, made this and the next 8 drawings.

Transporting logs tied into rafts down the Kobra River, Kirov Oblast, 1947. Almost 170 metres in total length, the raft had a brake in the back (slipping and grasping the river bed). The sections of the raft were connected with ropes made of plants..

Northern part of Kirov Oblast, on the Pastujak, a branch of the Kobra River, July of 1946. Assembling a caravan of light rafts. The caravan consists of 25 units (separate rafts), containing logs 4.5-6.5 metres long.

The very first dwelling place of the deported Estonians at Sinegorje mechanised timber storing place in Nagorsk Region. There is a kitchen in the centre and a toilet near the entrance, which froze into a 0,7 m pyramid. There were iron bedsteads next to each other in two larger rooms. The cracks in the wall were full of bedbugs. Gnats and midges flew into the rooms. About 30+30 Estonians lived here, i.e. on the average 1.8 people per bed.

Deported Estonians, mostly from Saaremaa, at the barracks wall in Sinegorje timber centre in Nagorsk District of Kirov Region in 1942.

We add the names: Anatoli Mark, Kalev Nau*, Villu Tamleht*, Oskar Tamleht*, Vaike Toom, Alma Toom*, Mai-Liis Leinsalu, Eve-Mall Leinsalu, Heikki Teär, Mane Valvas, Hugo Tamleht, Heldur Saarlaid, Viia Niitsoo, Ivo Kunstman, Arseeni Saarlaid*, Leonid Mark, Asta Teär, Salme Kadarik*, Vanda Voitk, Linda Kanep, Alice Leinsalu*, Salme Roos, Telvit Minnus, Eliise Kongats*, Martha Prees*, Avo Prees*, Vaike Kanep, Ida Valvas, Leontiine Aksalu, Heli Tamleht, Sinaida Mark*, Sophie Verlin, Ludmilla Kokk, Aliine Krischka, Helju Vorms, Alma Tamm*, Anne Altosaar*, Antoniina Tõsine, Maie Tõsine, Silvia Ristma, Alma Nau, Valve Ristma, Miralda Kongats, Adeele Minnus, Ilmar Kadarik*, Olga Umboja, Vilma Vorms*, Viktoria Kokk*, Lembit Valvas, Liilian Aksalu, Emilie Valge, Erkki Hõbenik, Inna Stein, Valeeria Kaju, Olga Kitt*, Maria Krull, Erika Kanep, Maimu Nau, Meeta Minnus, Maksim Kokk, Karlop Kadarik*, Vassilissa Teär, Adeele Vokk.

* Died in Russia

Photo from M. Kongats-Ellart's collection

A barrack, a dwelling of the deported Estonians at Sinegorje timber storing place, where the Saarelaids, the Kokks, the Kadariks, the Valvases, the Kaals, the Marks and the Talviks lived during a certain period of the war.

The deported Estonians, Volga-Germans, Western Ukrainians and several Russians (deported in the 1920-ies and 1930-ies) at rafting. The local natives had better jobs to do. welling places of the workers in ~1947 on the banks of Kobra River in Nagorsk Region of Kirov Oblast.

Wood turpentine distillation factory of Sinegorje wood industry.

Winter 1943–1944 passed in the primeval forest. I dealt with the distillation of tar and turpentine. Due to lack of petrol turpentine was used for starting tractors working on wood gas. 13-15 years old youngsters, who had fled from the neighbouring villages, were part-time workers and bunk neighbours. Compared to me they were inexperienced and miserable creatures. We got on well an we shared the lice walking on the bedsteads. Text and drawing by H. Tamleht.

H. Tamleht, a deported Estonian, calculated, planned and built for the wood-stocking settlement's barge a ship's screw instead of the water-wheel, for traveling on the Kobra River.

H. Tamleht – I was able to obtain special literature on this subject and satisfy this pressing wish. Now I know what a ship's screw is and what demands it should meet. When beginning my calculations, I realised just how miserable an effect the previous 15 years had had on me and how wretched I was. The risk was great, but during all my endeavours I always feel a mysterious encouragement and support from somebody else and things work out despite all obstacles.

Painting by Helvi Koppel-Kohand – "First portrayal". Beginning artist's first earning of a living by means of painting a dead person in special settlement Nr. 4, Kirov Oblast, 1945. The deceased was a deported woman from Moldavia, she died upon learning that she was about to be released from settlement. There were no means of taking a photo. For drawing a portrait, the young artist would receive a bowl of milk and a slice of mushroom pie to be eaten at once, and also 2 big onions to be taken home.

he original painting of this situation is in the possession of H. Kohand.

Elvi Vokk and Juta Kaljo, deported in June 1941, from Saaremaa, engaged in forest work in Kirov Oblast, Nagorski Region.

Photo from H. Vokk-Kärner's collection

Deported Ukrainians and Estonians working in a transit log warehouse, Kirov Oblast, Nagorski Region. On the picture there are Elvi Vokk, Juta Kaljo, Lilian Aksalu and others.

Photo from H. Vokk-Kärner's collection

The deported Ernestine Jaanuska with her 4-year-old daughter Anne in Malmyzh, Kirov Region on 5 June 1945.

On the bottom photo is the death certificate of Johannes Jaanuska, issued to his wife E. Jaanuska. Johannes, 49 years old, died in Sverdlovsk Oblast, Sharygino prison camp, after six months of forced labour "on account of ceased heart activity".

From Anne Undusk's collection


Letter by Franz Kogel, former head of Tallinn City Gas and Waterworks, lecturer of the Technical University, sent from Kirov Oblast to Enn Püümets, residing in Sverdlovsk Oblast, town of Krasnouralsk, in order to obtain information about husbands and sons who may still be alive or perished in prison camps. Those mentioned are engineer Fr. Olbre, brothers-students Ernst-Matti and Jaan-Lembit Pürge (Bürger), lawyer Georg Kogel.

Letter from Püümets' collection


Ernestine Jaanuska's letters to Estonia on 20 July 1941 and 8 July 1941. She was deported to Malmõž, Kirov Region. E. Jaanuska was released from settlement in 1954.

Documents from Anne Undusk's collection




Frants Kogel's letter of 3 March 1942 from Kirov Region to Enn Püümets. This letter, indicating the whereabouts of 54 people, could have caused dangerous attention from NKVD. V. Aller was arrested in settlement and he died in a prison camp in 1948. Also his father Eduard and mother Minna found their final resting place in the Russian soil – the whole family succumbed.

Letters from Enn Püümets' collection


Some deported Estonians in Iljak Village, Aleksandrovo District, Tomsk Region in 1947. Standing from the left Marta Raag, Irina Melts, Mahta Kasak, Alide Eelmäe, Anni and Malle Talusaar, sitting Rein Kasak, Ivar Raag, Sirje Melts, Aini and Mare Eelmäe.

Photo from Alide Eelmäe's collection



On the upper photo is the yard side of the Lenin Avenue, the main street in the city of Tomsk, in 1956. On the bottom picture – house nr. 13 in Sakko street, Tomsk, where the Virkus family lived in 1956–1958.

Photo from V. Virkus' collection

The deportee Arvo Virkus ploughs the filed with an ox in Tomsk Oblast, Tšainsk Region, collective farm "Sever". The ox is lead by a Russian boy. This picture taken in 1946.


The Leevalds in Retska Panja village in Tomsk region. From the left Maie, Alide, Riina and Ants on April 5, 1946. Their father died in a prison camp.

Photos from V. Virkus' collection

Tomsk Oblast, Aleksandrovski Region, Retška Panja village elementary school. Deported Estonian children in front of the village club, 05.04.46. In the upper row from left to right: 2. Valli (Valentina) Liivik, 3. Teo Maiste, 6. Juhan Oja, 8. Petja (Pjotr) Rezvov, 9. Riina Leevald, 10. Ants Kõlli; second row from above: 1. Liia Pikat, 2. Ants Pikat, 3. Maie Leevald, 5. Ants Leevald; third row from above: 1. Viive Prüüs, 7. Helja Beck (died in 1947).

Photo from R. Leevald's collection

Kirov Oblast, Borovskoi collective farm, deportee Harry Kõlar in front of the schoolhouse door, early spring of 1942. He had taken a photo camera on the deportation train and took pictures when the train was crossing the Narva River ... and the last shot was taken at the deportation destination place in the early spring of 1942. The film was developed and printed when he returned to Estonia in 1945.

Photo from H. Kõlar's collection

Nelly Teder (in settlement 1941–1957) working in the Borovskoi collective farm mill.

Photo from L. Ležnevsky's collection


Deported Estonians work in Kirov Oblast, Borovskoi collective farm, in the 1950-ies as seamstresses. On the photo from left to right: Laine Ležnevsky, Miia Tammesalu, a local Russian woman and Hella Palm, 1955.

Photo from L. Ležnevsky's collection

Elmar-Jaan Just, born 26.09.41 in Russia, Malmyzh, 1945.

Photo from L. Palvadre's collection

Vahrushevo village, secondary school named after Lenin, pupils of the 4th class together with the teacher in their classroom, 04.06.46. Among them are 3 deported Estonians: Heino Karus (the tallest, smartest and oldest), Milvi Tomasson and Uuno Tomasson.

The last photo of the arrested head of the family Johannes Tomasson (born 22 August 1904), which was taken from his father's personal file by a kind official of The Ministry of the Internal Affairs in Pagari Street in Tallinn and given to the son in about 1994. The photo was evidently taken in Tallinn in 1941 before the deportation – he has still his leather jacket on.

Photos from U. Tomasson's collection


Group of deported Estonians at the wedding of Vilma and Ivar Käeramees (in the middle), in Kirov Oblast, Vahruševo village, 19.03.49.

Standing in the bottom row from left to right: Missis Karus, Leida Prees (lives now in Canada), Missis Malter, Aama Pedaja, Liidia Suurkivi, Liisa Torv, Liška Prees, Karin Pehka, Niino Dolskaja, an Estonian, with her local life companion Ilja. In the middle row sitting are: Salme Tomasson, Avrelia Üksti, the young couple Vilma and Ivar Käeramees, Missis Käeramees, Klara Prees and Helmi Nurme. In the front row: Iris Kuura, Albert Jaansoo, Karin Tombak and Sergei Malkov (also deported from Estonia, work as head energy specialist at a plant). U. Toomasson together with his sister Milvi escaped from settlement back to Estonia. From this village almost 20 young people escaped back to Estonia, such as Hillar and Eevi Torv, Heino and Tõnu Karus, Lembit Üksti and others.

Photo from U. Tomasson's collection

From left to right: Uuno Tomasson, grandfather Jaan Tuum and Milvi Tomasson (sitting) in Tallinn, Tondi, 1950. This patch of land without buildings father purchased in 1939 for his aluminum factory expansion. Uuno and Milvi, who escaped from settlement, harvested berries from this patch of land and also goat's milk, which helped them to get by.

Photos from U. Tomasson's collection


Milvi and Uuno Tomasson, escaped from the location of their forced settlement, staying with their aunt Benita Karu in Nõmme 01.03.48. U. Tomasson, born in 1935, in 1951 returned to the place of settlement, hoping to receive the passport of a free man upon turning 16 years of age. This hope never materialised. He was released from settlement in 1957.

Photos from U. Tomasson's collection