During our visit to the Estonian occupation museum on the 11th of April our class learned much about the rather dark recent past of Estonia and the origins of its early patriotism and nationalism. The museum was structured in a way which told these events through the eyes of four key Estonians who were alive at that time. These individuals all represented different methods of showing resistance and coping with the occupation. They brought life to the museum and with the help of our tour guide who was very detailed in telling their stories it created a powerful impact on the feeble minds of MYP 5. For example, one of the most memorable stories for us was the story of an Estonian woman who from the very beginning committed herself to helping others. Our tour guide explained that initially, she supplied the forest brothers, an Estonian resistance group located in the woods, with food until she was found and arrested by the KGB. This did not stop her though since even after her deportation to a Russian prison camp in Siberia she continued to show qualities of a true leader in the sense that she decided to help the weak by tackling the hardest jobs all the while staying as positive as she could in a dark situation as this. As illustrated earlier stories such as these not only inspired greater empathy towards victims of the Soviet Union and Nazi regime yet it also gave us a better understanding of the current political situation in Estonia. To further expand we as a class were initially unsure about the origins of the strong nationalistic and also often anti-Russian parties prevalent in Estonian politics. I personally still do not agree with the ideas of these parties yet I can now understand why Estonians feel so threatened. The Soviet Union did not just occupy them, more importantly, they attempted to destroy the national identity of Estonia by censoring books, flags and even partially replacing the primary language. If it wasn’t for a few fortunate events and the continuous resistance against the Soviet Union, these goals of destroying this nation’s identity might have succeeded. This is still a nightmare which unsettles many Estonian people and politicians, influencing many Estonian ideologies and inspiring the big separation still prevalent today from the Russian minority. Yet as the younger generations are growing up outside of the direct influence of the Soviet Union the distrust seems to lessen and over more time the divide might be overcome too.
By: Stephan Danler