Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Memorial Day / Leinapäev

The 14th of June is a national day of mourning in Estonia. Every year we remember the victims of the first mass deportations and the atrocities committed by the Soviet Union against the Estonian people. Today, thousands of blue balloons filled Tallinn's Freedom Square commemorating the victims. The balloons represent 'a sea of tears'.

On 14th June 1941 the first mass deportations from the Baltic States took place. Over 10,000 Estonians were deported to Siberia that day. Another larger deportation took place in March 1949 when more than 20,000 Estonians were deported to Siberia. Altogether up to 60,000 Estonians were killed or deported in the 1940s.

Major General Martin Jervan

Many Estonian families were affected by these deportations. Some victims were ordinary civilians who cruelly had their lives taken whilst others were leaders in society whom the Soviets wanted to eradicate because they were perceived as a threat to Soviet rule. The most notable person in my family to be murdered by the Soviets was my great-grandmother's cousin Major General Martin Jervan. He was a doctor in the Estonian Army.

Martin was a career military officer. He studied medicine at University of Tartu and after graduating in 1914 was mobilised into the Russian Army, seeing action in World War One. During the Estonian War of Independence Martin volunteered and served in the 1st Infantry Regiment as a senior doctor from 21st November 1918 – 30th May 1919. On Independence Day in 1921 Martin was awarded the Cross of Liberty. In 1937 Martin was promoted to the rank of Major General and served as the head of the Estonian Army Medical Service from 1935 until Estonia was occupied by the Soviet Union in 1940.  In 1941 Martin was arrested by the Red Army and murdered in Chelyabinsk Prison Camp, Russia on the 15th September 1942.

More information about Martin and his peers can be found here:
FOTOD ja FAKTID: Johan Laidoner ning Eesti armee vangistatud eliit enne oma surma