Why did I write a serial about a deported woman ?
My own life has been influenced from the WWII as my parents were young then and they carried with them the effect from what they had experienced in an occupied Denmark. Estonia is a small country close to us but very unknown as it was under Soviet dominion from the WWII to 1991 when The Soviet Union fell apart.
I have often been thinking about how people survive in hard times. What kind of resilience is necessary to endure hardships?
I came across Elfriide’s story visiting our close friends. K is son of Herbert who is a brother to Elfriide. He succeeded in fleeing to Finland and then later to Sweden. Elfriide had no idea about his fate while she was deported.
Her story inspired me to bring her story in the original Swedish text in four different posts with an English summary in each together with pictures found at the internet.
The headline is “A life as deported from Estonia to Siberia #1, #2, #3, #4 for those who would like to read her story.
When I read what Elfriide has told her brother late in her life I try to understand her way of surviving the losses of her children and her husband. She writes in a way that shows that she always tried to be independent. She used all her skills to do many kinds of jobs.
- Knitting from old clothes and blankets and selling the products in Siberia
- Growing crops where ever it was possible
- Taking all kind of jobs she wasn’t qualified to
- Learning to play music instruments because musicians were treated better and entertainments were appreciated everywhere
- Teaching songs and dancing, instructing choirs even cantata for Stalin
- Teaching children at schools
- She was good at speaking Russian and language is a key to a lot of chances
What did she do when her small children died?
- She buried them and said the dead are dead and continued her struggle to survive with her 2 step sons.
What did she do when she heard of her husband’s death in a horrible cold forced prison camp?
- She just went on striving. She doesn’t say anything about it or about her brother Karl’s deportation.
- She seems to underestimate the hardships and has no tone of bitterness against the Soviet Union that hade the main responsibility of all the sufferings.
What does she never mention?
- How it is to share one room with people she doesn’t know and doing that even for years?
- How is it to suffer hunger, cold lack of everything?
What did she do when her parents died during the war and her home from childhood was bombed?
- She hardly mentions that her belongings were destroyed in that bombing.
What did she do when she heard that she was searched for and going to be deported once more?
- She considered go into hiding, but gave it up as she was known in the area in Estonia where she lived after the first deportation.
- She just prepared for leaving asking friends and family to sell her cow and purchase an accordion to be sent to her in the prison camp.
She tries to get the best out of every situation, creates a network with other people everywhere and do what she can to keep in contact with her step sons Ylo and Lembit and her sister Lidiia and brother-in-law Ralf, who helped her a lot. She also mentions other people who helped her and her sons.
The sons managed to get good educations in spite of what they had been through in their childhood and youth.
She ends her interview by saying that she has no one left from her family and that’s why she tells her story for posterity to know about their fate.
I wanted to share what I have found about this life attempted destroyed by a totalitarian regime.
I wrote other stories about a survivor Primo Levi an Italian Jew who’s books on Auschwitz made a deep impression on me. He describes his experiences without a lot of feelings a bit like Elfriide.
What an inspiring woman. Thank you for writing about her.
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