Sunday, June 11, 2017

Tallinn, Estonia - singing it's way to freedom

The fortunes and misfortunes of three tiny Baltic states have fairly much paralleled each other over the past 100 years. Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, population 2.9 million, 2.0 million and 1.3 million respectively, had endured foreign interference and subjugation to varying degrees for centuries and it wasn't until the end of World War I and the communist revolution in Russia that each country emerged as a more or less independent nation. For the next twenty years each state reaffirmed and revitalized its identity and all seemed well.
Then came World War II. In 1940 each of the states was occupied by the Soviets who in turn were driven out and replaced by German occupiers. In 1944 the Soviets were back and simply annexed all three nations into the USSR. For forty dreary years poverty and peasantry prevailed for these buffer states while the Russian Empire slowly froze itself to a standstill.
Beginning around 1986, Estonians began meeting in small groups to sing traditional songs - a completely illegal activity under Soviet rule, but one that came to measure the resolve of their masters. Tallinn, the capital city of Estonia, became the epicenter of this phenomenon and the groups slowly grew in size to peak at 300,000 songsters - a quarter of the country's population - becoming a powerful force in the ultimate withdrawal of the Soviet occupation.
Tallinn is the undisputed political, financial and educational center of Estonia and it's Old Town is rated as one of the best preserved medieval cities in Europe. Unfortunately, we had selected an inappropriate excursion which completely avoided any sight of this undoubtedly beautiful city.
Bah Humbug, I must get some new glasses! A few more snaps here.

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