Tuesday 6 December 2022

Estonia creating new World War Two refugee database

The Estonian Institute of Historical Memory is in the process of establishing a new database of people who fled Estonia during the Second World War. It is estimated that over 80,000 Estonians fled their homeland in 1944 to escape the advancing Soviet Army and sought shelter in nearby countries. 

During the past decades there has been great public interest on this subject but there's still not a clear overview of the number of refugees, their origin, or their social background. The institute is gathering information from existing archives and also asking members of the public to contribute as well. In particular the institute needs help in collecting the names of those refugees who went missing during the journey.

Initially, the project is focusing on refugees' first destinations – Sweden and Germany. It is hoped the first stage will be completed by September 2024. The database will create a necessary foundation for further research, and tells the story of our previous generations.

The Second World War had a devastating impact on Estonia's population. It has been estimated that Estonia lost 25% of its population due to the Soviet and German occupations.  

More information can be found here.