Search in Speeches:
printer friendly document

The President of the Republic at the Kroogi Farm at Valgu on June 10, 2001

Estonia Remembers

Dear People of Hiiumaa, dear fellow sufferers,

Hiiumaa is a small island, just like Estonia is a small country, and I take the liberty now to read 56 names out to you. They are all from Hiiumaa, or lived at Hiiumaa at the fatal moments of their lives. Mihkel Ruul, Alfred Köster, Erni Püssa, Bruno Prees, Anton Lukki, Juhanes Pertens, Anton Salu, Georg Palm, Mihhail Rõmša, Artur Saue, Richard Aunpuu, Artur Eller, Helmut Haavamäe, Hugo Järvet, Aleksaner Kadak, Richard Kaev, Gustav Kark, Joann Kauber, Hugo Kimber, Voldemar Kirotar, Julius Klaas, Nikolai Kotkas, Johan Kuusik, Emil Kõmmus, Alfred Kõrm, Arvo Liivlaid, Felix Lunter, Joann Mihkels, Meinhard Niit, Peet Pruul, Aleksander Põld, Johan Salusoo, Friedrich Spriit, Ilmar Spriit, Richard Taking, Gustav Vaarik, Jüri Vann, Harri Õispuu, Karl Tõnismaa, Albert Nisu, Viktor Pettai, Johannes Edasi, Jüri Kark, Rudolf Kark, Aleksander Eespere, Paul Enula August Kersen, Paul Roasto, Villem Roodla, Peeter Sternberg, Evald Veltman, Aleksander Vilman, Eldur Salumäe, Villem Niidu, Karl Kibus.
This is all for now. Fifty-six names. Of those people, 42 perished. Those were Hiiumaa people arrested here at Hiiumaa, you may have recognised some names, each one of you may have something to say here...

But the sad list does not end here. Not far from Kärdla, four murder victims were found in a grave during World War II. 13 people were murdered in the Emmaste rural municipality; in the Pühalepa rural municipality, Aleksander Hanikat, owner of the Liivi farm, was murdered; at Vanamõisa, the seaman Rudolf Vesing was murdered; 13 terror victims were buried to the Mändspea cemetery: Rudolf Meiusi, Reinhard Jesmin, Harald Kurist, Asta Saar, Leena Timmelmann, Andrus Engso, Johannes Kurist, Leena Hausperg, Mari Leis, Peet Härm, Miina Härm, Andres Väljas, Mihkel Metsalo. And on July 6, 1942, non-commissioned officer Mäe from Hiiumaa police discovered two mass graves with nine murder victims: Villem Römmel, Kaarel Rõhu, Karl Korell, Oskar Teng, Arnold Küttim, Selma Laur, two men from Emmaste rural municipality, and a man from Tartu.

My dear friends, this is the reason for the Broken Cornflower gatherings. The current population of Hiiumaa is only a half of what it used to be before World War II. This is the most concise and most telling summary of Estonia's sufferings. We can look at the past in many different ways. And this is what we do. Already because, against all laws, some men were recruited to the army of one great power that had unlawfully occupied Estonia, and other men were recruited to the army of the other great power. We know too many occasions when one of two brothers discovered he was fighting the other. We know a few beautiful stories of the reunion of two brothers. But they are rare.

We must ask ourselves why this happened. And the answer is just as important as it was in 1939 and in 1940. As long as there are two totalitarian powers in Europe, there is no security in Europe. And no future for small countries or small nations in Europe. The conclusion is very simple. We have to, and you have to struggle for a Europe that would be democratic and able to protect both its big and small members; that would guarantee a safe future for our very small and bigger children. In 1938-39, Estonia was looking firmly into the future, but that future was the castle of a provincial philosopher, who thought that the Earth was not a globe, but just his own rural municipality. And then, the two greatest criminals of the 20th century, Hitler and Stalin, came to an understanding and divided the world in two. They also divided our history and our present, and our scars are visible even today. Therefore, Estonia must join other countries in their struggle for a Europe where such crimes and such sufferings would never recur. And this is what the Republic of Estonia has been doing. The elder generation knows, and also the younger generation should know, that Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have never in their history been as well known as they are now. We are very small countries, but we are very active. I have good news - I can tell you that security prospects are much firmer today for Estonia, and also for Latvia and Lithuania. We have taken a big step towards being accepted to NATO, and this must guarantee us what our beautiful, proud and free Republic was unable to guarantee us before World War II.

I would also like to emphasise that the European Union is our natural ally. The European Union is a union of states where there is the right kind of life, where all the fruits of man's hard daily work belong to him and his children and grandchildren. And where the horrors that we have known in Estonia are unknown. This is the only correct policy that we have. And I am proud that despite several differences of opinion between the different governments of Estonia - which are quite normal in a democratic state - they have still all been unanimous in one crucial point - Estonia's future and Estonia's future membership in the European Union. We are a small nation and we know how painfully, even destructive the course of history can be. We must keep in mind that all the tribulations that fell upon Estonia were not born of war. In Estonia, war went on for years, and it did not mean battles on the front line, it was a war against all the bearers of the idea of the Republic of Estonia. It was directed against Estonian politicians, Estonian local government officials, Estonian youth, and all kinds of Estonian societies. Against the entire network, which underpins the society. Why did they do it? Because the totalitarian Russia did not just want to conquer the country and the people, above all, it wanted to erase from your memories and minds even the shadow of the thought that it would sometime be possible to restore the Republic of Estonia. Communist Russia wanted to creep into your minds, to erase your dreams and replace them with dark dreamlessness. These are my conclusions on the day that we call the Broken Cornflower Day. They are not sad, but proud. We commemorate all those who failed to return from Siberia. We extend a hand to all those who managed to flee from Estonia and are today living far away from Estonia - in Sweden, in England, in South Africa, in Australia, in the United States of America or in Canada. But first of all, we must be proud that the terrible grindstones that swallowed us - took the best of us to concentration camps and labour camps, tore children from their parents' arms, so that the children could no longer speak Estonian - nevertheless failed to smother the national consciousness of the Estonians.

There are so many of us here, and from this I conclude that this small nation, who may even be bad-tempered, has still been stronger than all those totalitarian powers that have wanted to suppress us and to enjoy our work and our pleasures - these powers no longer exist. Estonia is on the map of the world. The day of the Broken Cornflower is not a day of mourning, it is a day of our pride and self-confidence.

In a few minutes, I would like to distribute the badges that you must wear with pride. But I would still like to read you a few words. The memories of Leida Kiiver. She is one year and seven days older than I. The memories were recorded by Sven Kõllamets from the Kärdla Secondary School.

"The Deportation of 1949. Causes.

"It was the wife of Father's first son, who lived on the opposite side of the street, who was behind our deportation - that was what we learned from letters sent to us to Siberia. No one knows the reasons for the quarrel between Father and his daughter-in-law, but that woman had promised to send us to Siberia. The neighbours did not like our wealth; our house that had been meant for the children and built with the money we had economised on bread and clothing. The local active communist had already been asking my father about the house in 1945; but Father had said that he had a big family, with children growing, and he needed the house for them. The answer was, well, if you will not give us the house, we will take it and send you to Siberia."

Well, what conclusions are we to draw from here? We can draw the conclusion that a totalitarian regime will open all doors and windows to evil. The evil side of human nature, which in other circumstances is suppressed, of which people normally are ashamed, is suddenly revived and makes people think that by this evil they can gain property, take the neighbour's house. In this extract of memories, I found the following by chance: "When they started to send us on board at Lehtma; and Olga Lauristin was holding the list and calling the roll for us to step on board, I started to sing "Jää terveks Hiiu rand" (Farewell, Shore of Hiiumaa), and everybody suddenly sang along. As a result, the ship was sent farther off from the harbour and we were taken on board in a launch." This was in 1949, but reminded it of my own deportation in 1941, when for some reason, singing had been forbidden. None of us ventured to ask the reasons of this strange prohibition. But now, some years ago, I got the explanation. In 1939-1940, the Soviet Union deported all the Polish officers from Eastern Poland, which it had conquered together with Germany, to the camp in Katyn. And the Polish officers, who were good Catholics, sang church songs in their long echelons, which caused people along the railways to wonder, to have another look, to inquire. This seemed dangerous to the NKVD. And from then onwards, singing was forbidden.

I will read you another extract: "Some of the elderly people died on the way, and a woman from Saaremaa hanged herself." This is from the memories of Enno Rüütelmann. And another sentence from the story told by Urve Ader, née Remmelg, now a grandmother. Her parents died, and her two brothers were taken to an orphanage. "When I was brought back from the orphanage, and my relatives and other Estonians tried to speak Estonian to me, their speech sounded to me like the babble of a brook, of which I understood nothing - in one year, I had forgotten my mother tongue. During that year, I had not heard a single word of Estonian."

My dear friends. That was the mechanism for destroying a country; and after the country, also the nation, its language, and its history. It failed. They failed, and they are gone. We are here. And we have won.

Thank you!


back | archive of speeches | main page

© 2001 Office of the President of the Republic
Phone: +372 631 6202 | Fax: +372 631 6250 | sekretar@vpk.ee
Reden Kõned Speeches Statements Interviews