Persecutions, arrests, executions, deportations and the scorched earth policy carried out by destruction battalions of Communist party members and the Red Army were fresh memories that spurred a massive flight from the oncoming Soviet hell back in 1944.
How massive was it? Here it would be like 25 million people got on the road at once to head for Canada or Mexico, and twice as many sought safety within the country.
The Great Flight was a disjointed journey. It was not a direct flight. There was flight within Estonia, and for many the flight continued in Germany, too. If you were not from Tallinn you had to come there from the south or the east. Coastal areas offered for some a chance for a perilous voyage in mostly small open boats, hundreds of them, across the stormy Baltic sea to Sweden. In Tallinn there was chance to escape to Germany.
I would place the beginning of the Great Flight in early 1944 when the Leningrad front collapsed and refugees from the East reached my hometown, Tartu. Little did we know that half a year later we would be walking in their shoes. (Read more: Estonian Life No. 40 2019 paper issue)
Eesti Elu Nr. 26 - 3. juuli 2020 DIGILEHT
Kõik numbrid koos sisukorraga: www.issuu.com/estonianlife
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