Saturday, 30 April 2016

A look inside the Estonian archives Sydney

One of the things I wanted to do during my recent trip to Sydney was pay a visit to the Estonian Archives Australia (EAA). Located inside Sydney's Estonian House in Surry Hills, it might come as a surprise that I have never been there before but due to its limited opening hours it meant I was usually at work. Open every Wednesday from 10am - 3pm the Estonian archives holds a wealth of fascinating information.

During my visit to the archives I was warmly greeted by the staff who are all volunteers. Reet Simmul very kindly showed me around the building and shared her story with me. Like my family, Reet is a WWII refugee.

Members of the archive team.
Officials in Estonia are very pleased with the collection in Australia.

Map of Estonia proudly displayed on the wall. 

The first Estonians arrived in Australia in 1696.
They were sailors on board a Dutch ship under the command of Willem de Vlamingh.

An exhibition dedicated to WWII displaced persons is located inside the front entrance.
Camp life from 1945 - 1950.

Original items used in the DP camps. 
Estonians really used their ingenuity to make items in order to survive after the war.

Every Estonian who managed to flee the Soviet occupation and seek safety in the West 
has an escape story. Some of these survival stories are truly amazing. 

Here's an interesting document I came across whilst searching through a file.

Between 1940 - 1949 Estonia lost 350,000 people due to the Soviet occupation.
One third of its population.
Of the people who managed to flee Estonia, 7000 of them settled in Australia.
Four of those people were my family, I'm so glad they found safety in Australia.