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An Extraordinary Life

ByEvelin Täht

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A true story of persistence. Losing one’s homeland to Communists and seeing the horrors of World War II could not stop one determined man from fulfilling his heart’s desire. When 91-year-old World War II refugee Jüri turned on his TV on the morning of the February 24th, instead of festive Estonian Independence Day celebrations, he saw a video of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. He felt light-headed and if he hadn’t already been seated in a wheelchair, he would have lost his balance. Not in a million years would he have imagined seeing Russia attacking a country again. Especially distressing was the fact that it happened on his motherland’s independence day. Estonia is only a tiny nation of 1.3 million people located right next to Russia, and without the protection of NATO, it would be easy prey. For many of his compatriots, this day took on an additional meaning – independence shouldn’t be taken for granted. Jüri saw his life flashing before his eyes. In 1941, when he had to escape the Russians and leave Estonia behind, he was ten years old – the same age as his grandson is today. He experienced the destruction of the war, witnessed people suffering. He lost his motherland to communists after the Baltic States were annexed into the USSR for nearly 50 years. Estonia was closed to him during that period and it suffered greatly under the communist regime. He had to start all over again in a new country, unable to return. The feeling of being homeless has accompanied him his whole life. The fear of the Russians catching him was planted deep into his consciousness and thus he even didn’t have the courage to visit Estonia before it regained independence in 1991. Finally, in the twilight of his life (2015), he returned to the country where he was born. And now, in 2022, when the threat to the autonomy of the Baltic States has been the gravest since the countries regained their independence, he would be too old to leave his homeland behind once more.


Publication Date
Mar 11, 2022
All Rights Reserved - Standard Copyright License
By (author): Evelin Täht


Perfect Bound
Interior Color
Black & White
US Trade (6 x 9 in / 152 x 229 mm)

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