Every year, Estonia commemorates the anniversary of the June 1941 deportation with a national day of mourning.
Seventy-eight years ago, Soviet security authorities deported 95,000 people from the Baltic states, Poland, Bukovina, and Bessarabia (today’s Moldova and Southwest Ukraine). In this move, Stalin’s regime destroyed local rural economies and forced the collectivization of farms and local agricultural businesses.
On 14 June 1941, the Soviet Union forcibly deported over 10,000 people from Estonia to Siberia – over 7,000 were women, children, and elderly people; the date is now observed as a day of mourning.
In the summer of 1940, the Soviet Union occupied Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania as a result of the infamous Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact signed between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union on 23 August 1939. In the aftermath of World War II, Estonia lost approximately 17.5% of its population.
The Soviet occupation brought about an event that until then had only been read about in history books and which became the most horrible memory of the past centuries – mass deportations, which affected people of all nationalities living in Estonia. The two deportations that affected Estonia the most deeply, on 14 June 1941 and 25 March 1949, are annually observed as days of mourning.
Photo: The “Sea of Tears” has returned to Tallinn’s Freedom Square in commemoration of the victims of the 1941 June deportation. Author: Estonian Institute of Human Rights