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Linda´s story

... I remember 24 March, 1949, a work day in the Township Council. In the afternoon, Comrade Karotamm was to arrive to meet personally with the township 'actives', as they were then called. Throughout the day we cleaned up, and made banners; a book table was brought in from the bookshop, later a snack bar with fresh buns and other things. During the afternoon schoolteachers, librarians and library directors, village soviet chairmen and secretaries arrived, or rather, were summoned. There was waiting, followed by more waiting. Karotamm had still not arrived, but the district partorg came to reassure and calm us that he was on his way. Noone was allowed to leave; we sang to pass the time, but the mood became more and more nervous. I believe that everyone was sure that something was wrong, and that Karotamm was not going to show up. And then it began. At 12 midnight the doors were closed, and all of the telephones besides the partorg's were disconnected. People became more and more nervous. It was clear that something horrible was happening; maybe some of the older people had a sense of what was coming, but we younger ones were clueless. We heard the roar of car engines outside, and armed men in uniform entered. I do not know whether they were ordinary soldiers, KGB men, or the border patrol. People were ordered into the large hall, and I cannot remember who read the directive of the Council of Ministers on the basis of which all bourgeois nationalists, kulaks (bloodsuckers), and other elements hostile to the Soviet regime were to be deported. It was added that we had been assembled to help with the execution of the directive. They began forming groups that would accompany the soldiers to 'carry out the will of the Estonian people'.

Then suddenly, as if I had been bitten by a snake, I jumped out in front of the others and announced that I would not go. I had not had time to think about what was going to start happening in that hall; I only had the feeling that something was not right, and that something horribly violent was about to take place. A uniformed soldier came to me (probably from the KGB), and took me out of the hail into the messenger's room and kept watch at the door. As I left the hall I heard the very young district komsorg step forward, saying 'I am going, I will go and avenge my father, who was murdered by the Germans'. In retrospect I thought to myself that his father had to have been killed or ordered to be killed by someone else, because he was not even from our area. He, however, was about to go and send innocent people off to Siberia, waking them up in the middle of the night out of a deep sleep. I thought I was on my way to Siberia for sure. It is strange that I felt no fear. Then the door opened again, and I had a companion; Linda Kokk, the former district secretary who was now working as office director of the provincial executive committee was shoved into the room. She, too, had refused to take part in the deportation. We were locked up for the whole night of 25 March and the next day, 26 March. We were escorted to the wc by a uniformed soldier, who then took us back to the room and stayed behind the door brandishing his weapon. On the evening of 26 March we were set free, but the partorg said that Linda Martinson would stay in the village council house overnight to keep watch, since she had no business at home anyway, as Jiiri of Valja-Mihkli had been taken the previous night. When I started on my way home on the 27, h of March, Elmar Poldes looked me up. From him I heard how many friends and acquaintances had been deported. The town was practically empty of people. I remember that we walked along the side streets, that it was a lovely spring day, that the sidewalks were free of snow, and water was bubbling in the gutters. He was happy that I was still there, and had spent that entire night with the others worrying about me and my parents. Wc had no idea how things were at home, no idea how the village had survived that awful night. I started on my way home with a very heavy heart. About 400 metres from home, from the little Kinaksi hill, my home and its doorway were visible. There was smoke in the chimney and a woman with a white kerchief was going in and out of the house. Father and Mother were still there! The partorg had lied to me. I sank to my knees, clasped my hands, thanked God and cried. Only one family had been taken from our village: an elderly mother, her two daughters, and a son. The son had belonged to the Home Guard.

After the deportation there was a meeting of the township komsomol to discuss my 'personal situation', since I had behaved on the day of the deportation in a manner not befitting a young communist. Two proposals were put forward: expulsion from the Komsomol or a stern written admonition on my record card. I had hoped for the first alternative, but was 'punished' by being given the second. I had been admitted to the Komsomol at the beginning of the month; at the end of that same month they considered dismissing me; it was March, 1949. In July of the same year I was ordered to go to Tallinn to take part in courses meant for instructors in cultural education. When I returned to work, I got an invitation from the Saaremaa Party Committee Office, along with all of those from Saaremaa who had taken part in the training course. Subsequent to the decision of the provincial executive committee, I was dismissed from my job as politically inappropriate. The next summons was to the Komsomol office for dismissal, but I did not appear for that one. Soon the organizational meetings for kolkhozes began. Since I took minutes for meetings in the township, I also had to take minutes of kolkhoz organizational meetings. The people had been frightened into submission, and the majority submitted their applications immediately, but there were those that they had to expend energy on. My father was very opposed to entering a kolkhoz, since his heart belonged to his land and his home, and it was very difficult to give it all away. The farm had taken his parents' lives and the best years of his own life. When I came home for a visit we discussed the situation. It seemed to Father that there was no escaping the kolkhoz. He submitted his application and the people of the village elected him to the office of deputy chairman, in consideration of his success as a farmer.

After my dismissal from the township I desperately sought a new job, but no one needed me, even for a custodial job. 'Dismissed from work on grounds of political inappropriateness' was effective. Then an acquaintance told me that Industrial School no. 11 needed a secretary-clerical worker. I gathered up my courage and went to talk with the director. The director was an Estonian from Russia, an older man named Aleksei Villa who had fought in the Estonian Division (Eesti Korpus). The notation of dismissal from my previous j ob did not seem to matter to him, and he hired me without asking too many questions. Twice they came from Party headquarters to check up on me. The director's evaluation of me was good, and when they left they told me to keep working, we will not bother you any more. In connection with the Soviet Union Council of Ministers and the Party Central Committee's I8'h of April directive, 'Concerning the Progress and Implementation of Collective Cattle Husbandry in Kolkhozes and Sovhozes' a general meeting was called in my home kolkhoz. There were some who sought an opportunity to shine at the price of destroying others. The meeting had been set up in advance: my father had been sent on a trip (komandirovka), and the right people had been found to say the right things. Discussion began around the topic of why the kolkhoz had not advanced at a faster rate. According to a few functionaries brought in from outside, the deputy chairman of the kolkhoz, Jiiri Martinson, was the retarding influence. The floor was given to the prepared speakers, among whom were some former friends. The situation was fortunate; since my father was absent from the meeting people were less embarrassed to raise their hands. A majority voted to deem my father a kulak - the village bloodsucker. My mother, who had been milker and cattle handler was also dismissed as an untrustworthy individual, who could potentially poison the herd, slow down development, etc. In the newspaper 'Island Voice' an article was published with a title in boldface, 'The Undermining Actions of a Kulak Exposed'. The 'underminer' was my father. He was levied a kulak tax of 9000 roubles, which my father borrowed from among his relatives and paid. Then the next tax was levied, for 49 000 roubles. That was impossible to pay. All of his property - land, animals, all buildings except for the farmhouse, his agricultural inventory, fishing gear, beehives (14), were collectivized. One cow was left. We knew that they were coming to write up whatever was left. Father quickly sold the cow. Many items, including the meat barrel, tanned animal skins, the sewing machine, and a bicycle were hidden at a neighbour's farm. Other things besides meat, which was brought back to our house immediately after the write-up, we never saw again. The commission that wrote up our property was, if I remember correctly, composed of the kolkhoz accountant and the village delegate (Kõrtsi Alviinc), who was the principal author of the verdict of kulak. Everything else that remained was listed: turniture, the smithy tools, everything, everything. The consumers'cooperative machines hauled our listed goods for two weeks. The dining table and three wooden bedsteads were left in the room. Even the wall clock with the roses was taken. Winter lay ahead of us. The people of the village kept their distance; everyone was afraid, as if we were lepers. They thought they would be considered kulak's 'accomplices' as well if they continued to relate to us. Once I was coming from Kuressaare and a sledge passed me, pulled by one of our own horses; riding on the sledge were the farmwives of the Soera and Läti farms. They invited me to climb up on the sledge, and it was embarrassing to refuse, but soon another sledge approached from the opposite direction. Long before they passed I was told to get down, so that noone would see them giving a ride to the child of a kulak. We survived many humiliations, and sometimes we got the feeling that we had indeed done something horrendous. We decided to leave Saaremaa. A man from our village was working near Kilingi-Nõmme as director of the cattle supply office, and he promised to help us. At the identity papers'office a woman who was an acquaintance of ours suggested that we list Kohtla-Järve as our destination. As it later turned out, this was the right suggestion. I left Saaremaa with my parents. Closing the door to our farmhouse was one of the most depressing moments. We started our journey from Kuressaare during the night in a postal truck belonging to the department of the interior...

Published:

'Linda's Story', in Kirss, T., Koresaar, E. & Lauristin, M. (eds.), She Who Remembers, Survives: Interpreting Estonian Women's Post-Soviet Life Stories (Tartu, 2004), 242-261.

 



Facts

  • August 6, 1940 - Estonia became a part of Soviet Union
  • From June 1940 until August 1941, more than 7000 Estonian citizens were arrested

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