Editorial: 75 years since the initial deportations

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In the Russian language sphere people sometimes say they wish the others would «get Stalin.» Always, it is for the others, for who would want to have his live valued as nothing. 

The way the attitudes towards Stalin keep getting increasingly positive in Russia is first and foremost a sign of the dictator living on, in the contemporary imagination, as a piece of play dough – to be moulded as desired.

Till today, his decades of sole power are shrouded with many a myth and legend. For a barbarian and paranoid mountain man, others sigh back to the days of «order» under the spreader of Russian empire and winner of WW2.

Without a question, the man was a major mass murderer in the history of mankind, with at least every 8th Soviet citizen passing through camps and prisons during his era. About the people buried in mass graves, historians differ. Some set the figure at 3–3.5 million, others go up to 20 million.

While talking about the forced deportations, some Stalin apologists still say – out of ignorance or intentionally – that this was nothing much as majority afterwards returned. In reality, the punishment was extraordinarily cruel: the elderly, the women and the children were taken in cattle wagons to an area with severely cold weather, where they were placed under open heaven with the few bags grabbed along while the  husbands went to prison camps.

The overall accepted estimate for the deportations is at six million people.

Today, 75 years after the events, let us commemorate the thousands of compatriots as well as the tens of thousands repressed by the Soviet Union in the Baltics, Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova before the gates of a hell on earth opened back in 1941.

Few in Estonia are the families untouched by what transpired. All have their personal story and grief.  

What would possibly be worse than taking innocent lives and demolishing human destinies. While not forgetting what we went through, important indeed to feel for the others in their tragedies – abundant from the same period of history. It’s compassion that makes us human, and allows us to live in dignity.