More than 70,000 Estonians joined the exodus to the West from 1940–44. Invasion from Russia and Germany, killings, deportations and war forced this exodus. Families were separated and homes abandoned. In September 1944 Soviet rule was reimposed and Estonia’s borders were closed.
Those who left at this time became war refugees. Many spent years in Displaced Persons (DP) camps before being resettled in Australia, Canada or the United States.
Here are the stories of Ilma Maidla and Reet Simmul describing their experiences when they fled Estonia in 1944.
You can view their interviews here: Estonian-Australian Stories