Come spring, Under and Adson to be reburied in Estonia
The poetess with family were in their time laid to rest in Sweden

Marie Under 1929. aastal.

PHOTO: Rahvusarhiiv

The long-lasting debate regarding reburial of family of poetess Marie Under from Sweden into homeland is hereby in full swing – as soon as end of January, culture ministry is hoping to trigger the process and lay the remains at rest at Rahumäe Cemetery.

Along with Marie Under, the plan is to also rebury her husband, the poet and theatre actor Artur Adson, Ms Under’s daughter Hedda Hacker and sister Berta Under all buried at Stockholm’s Woodland Cemetery.

Such plea was extended to culture ministry this January by the Sweden-based Marie Under and Artur Adson Memorial Foundation which for decades has kept the gravesite tidy.

The foundations chairman Ivar Paljak said that though Marie Under who passed away in 1980 left no testament nor written application for reburial into Estonia, the foundation was notified thereof via her friends and relatives. These very motifs were also expressed in the works of the poetess.

The top definite piece of evidence was by relative from mother’s site, Leida Kuusma, dating December 6th 1988.

«In her letter, Ms Kuusma says that «the other wish of Marie Under and Artur Adson was to be buried in caskets of oak, in hopes to one day rest in beloved native soil». This is a sentence revealing they expressed the desire,» said Mr Paljak.

Why only now, 25 years after Estonia’s regained independence? «Thus far, the issue was not actual. Now is the time to finish the project as it has lasted for several years. It is time to fulfil  Marie Under’s wish,» said Mr Paljak.

To the knowledge of Postimees, the foundation isn’t suffering under lack of money. However, its members have reached their grey-headed days and are not sure that the Estonian diaspora in Stockholm would keep up interest in maintenance of the gravesite.

Madis Järv of foreign ministry said the process might begin in January and be concluded by spring. Responsible for practicalities, Estonian Writers’ Union said the exhumation and transport would cost €6,652. Lion’s share would be covered by culture ministry, but the Under-Adson foundation is willing to invest.

The Swedish side sees no hindrances and have promised to «dig the grave open till upper edge of the coffins and the rest is up to Estonian state to organise who we will hire for that,» said Mr Järv. With Sweden, precedents exist like in the case of bringing home remains of statesmen August Rei and Jüri Uluots in 2008.

Estonian Writers’ Union administration head Mart Siilmann said the reburial has been planned in two stages, the initial step involving exhumation and transport to Estonia. «The second stage is fitting the stones unto the gravesite and renovation thereof,» said Mr Siilmann.

The date of reburial not settled as yet, the location will be Rahumäe Cemetery in Tallinn where the parents of the poetess Leena and Priidu (Friedrich) Under also rest.

The controversy

Meanwhile, not all agree that the reburial is the best idea. These past few months, a debate has been stirred both sides of the Baltic Sea as some Estonians in Stockholm say there is no basis enough to disturb the peace of the grave.

Heading the opposition, Jüri-Karl Seim said reburial would only be for the rare occasions such as with political will expressed or as desired by near relatives. With Ms Under, we are not talking of a former Estonian stateswoman, neither does she have immediate relatives in Estonia, said the expert of Estonian graves in Sweden. A letter by a distant relative written after Ms Under’s daughter passed away is not basis to disturb peace of the grave, said Mr Seim.

Also, the foundation’s initiative diverges from their earlier actions. «The same letter has been discussed at the foundation before and then they said «no». Why didn’t they rebury Ms Under in the second half of 1990ies when it was also on agenda?» asked Mr Seim.

He claims the actual reason is expiry of the maintenance contract regarding the gravesite, and the advanced age of members of the foundation. In private conversations, several representatives of the foundation now say the reburial might be a gift by the refugees as Estonia turns 100.

Janika Kronberg of Estonian Writers’ Union says these claims are without basis and the arguments of the personal kind. «The real reason is they fear that as the grave goes, there will be an empty hole in Estonian culture in Sweden,» analysed Ms Kronberg.

Marie Under and Artur Adson with family fled to Sweden in September 1944. Mr Adson passed away in 1977, Ms Under in 1980.