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  • Several stories today have touched a chord in me but I decided to write something that came to my mind when I read Clem’s „Love! And Strong Fences.

    I was born several years after Stalin died and so the real horrors passed me by, though every now and then you heard about people who just mysteriously disappeared and my Granny told me stories so I would know about things. Later in life I could see and notice myself how stupid can a regime be but when you are a child you don’t really over-contemplate. So here are some examples –

    Hruštšov had this ’wonderful’ idea that corn should be grown all over the Soviet Union. As we had centralised management, so to speak, to Estonian farmers' 'great delight' they were also told to grow corn. There was only one tiny problem. Corn didn’t want to grow here, too cold. But climate never intimidated Soviet people. Their brainiacs even wanted to change the flow of the biggest Russian rivers and welcomed global warming because then Siberia would be ideal for growing exotic crops. I am not joking by the way. So for our Great Leader nothing was impossible. When he came to visit the western republics, holes were dug next to the corn fields and he would stand in the hole so the corn looked much taller in the photos.

    At school we had a special lesson – social science or study where we learnt everything about the ’wonderful’ and ’profound’ speeches of Leonid Brežnev at Communist Party Congresses. The only thing I remember from those speeches were ’lasting ovations’ after every couple of sentences.

    Christmas was forbidden and special officials checked peoples rooms through the windows to find if there were Christmas trees anywhere. If there were – you were in trouble. So it was common to use very thick curtains to cover the windows, so no one could see in. I have to add that Christmas was the biggest holiday for my family and we always celebrated. Rules are meant to be broken, right?

    History was rewritten. When Tallinn was bombed on 9th March, 1944, when my mother’s and father’s families both lost everything, we were taught at school that Germans bombed the town. But my grandmother worked at a German Officers’ Club and she knew it could not have been them. Russians wanted to conquer Estonia already in 1944. They failed but destroyed the beautiful ancient buildings of Narva town (border town between Russia and Estonia) and 1/3 of Tallinn was in ruins. I don’t know what saved the Old Town, which you Pete love so much, but it is still there like it has been for one thousand years.

    Ah, yes, but thanks to the Soviet Union we were lucky to be part of this ’wonderful’ and ’prospering’ country. And the Russians brought us culture and education. It really doesn’t matter that all the food we produced went to Moscow and we had our first Song Festival in 1869 and first Estonian newspaper in 1806...

    One weather forecaster got a broadcast ban because she said on national TV – ’We have nothing good to expect from the east.’

    Oh, I could tell you stories of uppermost stupidity. And still, I have nothing against Russians. What get to me is situations like what happened when we got back our independence and our blue, black and white flag was once again hoisted on top of Tall Herman. Then a Russian person said –

    ’What right do you have to take the Soviet flag down? You didn’t put it there!’

    Well, yes, but what right did they have to take our flag down when they seized Estonia. And one other thing – before the occupation it was not common to lock the doors, especially in the countryside. You just put the broom outside, leaning against the door, so everyone knew you were not home.

    (Photo: 1 – this was something we had to wear at school, the particular picture is from a parade, we had a lot of them: to celebrate and be happy because 'the Soviet Union was the greatest country in the world'; 2 – these monuments of our great leader and teacher were in every town, some towns had several; 3 – another parade, whether it was sunshine or it rained or snowed – parades were never cancelled; 4 – this is an interesting one – the names of all the foreign groups you shouldn’t play at parties: Black Sabbath is the first, Alice Cooper, Nazareth, Pink Floyd and my question to you is – were these bands played at parties? One picture is without a number and I put it there because it made me laugh)
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