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The Kistler-Ritso Foundation, a founder of Tallinn's Museum of Occupations, is donating millions of dollars to the Stanford University Foundation to support education on Estonian history in the United States. Kistler-Risto founded Tallinn's Museum of Occupations in 2003, at the request of the Estonian government. "[I]ts purpose is to show future generations how terrible the decades of Soviet rule were, a time when no one was allowed to believe in a free and independent Estonia," wrote Cambridge historian Peter Martland in a privately published volume on the family's history, Footprints in the Sands of Time. The Stanford University Libraries will expand its collecting program in Estonia and the Baltic region as well as collaborate on exhibitions with Estonia's Museum of Occupations, thanks to a $4 million endowment from Walter P. and Olga Ritso Kistler. The foci of the collecting program will be wider than occupation, however, involving in addition the Estonian resistance, the many aspects of the so-called Singing Revolution that led to freedom and the modern renaissance that has occurred in Estonia since the early 1990s as the society, government and economy have recovered from the occupation by Soviet Russia. One of the donation's principal causes is to digitize historical documents, making them accessible to younger generations, reported Eesti Päevaleht. Stanford will appoint an Estonian curator to be based at Stanford; the new curator will collect and prepare exhibitions for U.S. and Estonian audiences. According to the agreement, the museum in Tallinn also will promote scholarship and appreciation of the human spirit in the direst circumstances. Olga Ritso Kistler was born in Kiev in 1920. Her mother, wea-kened by hardship, died when Olga was 2; her maternal grandparents were among the millions who starved to death in the 1921 manmade famine. Her father, an Estonian patriot and physician, was a fugitive from the Bolsheviks in the Ukraine but was later arrested in Moscow in 1922. Raised as a foster child in Estonia, the young girl was reunited with her father only in 1931. Dictating his memoirs to her, he recalled the Soviet and Nazi deportations and the Holocaust that, altogether, resulted in the loss of about a quarter of the Estonian population. The daughter of Walter P. and Olga Ritso Kistler, Sylvia Thompson, president of the Kistler-Ritso Estonian Foundation, and son-in-law, Andrew Thompson, are both Stanford alumni, each with two Stanford degrees. VES/ERR/Stanford Report


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