There are many excellent refugee memoirs. Jaak Treiman’s “Carried by a Magic Fan: Memoir of an Estonian Refugee Family” expands that tradition by offering three perspectives of one family’s refugee journey. He then carries the story forward by chronicling refugee political activities that followed their settlement into new homes.
During the Cold War, Los Angeles was unique. It was the only city in the world where each of the Baltic countries was represented by a U.S. State Department accredited representative. Immediately prior to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania regaining independence these representatives were Jaak Treiman (Estonia), Aivars Jerumanis (Latvia) and Vytautas Cekanauskas (Lithuania).
Los Angeles was also where one of the principal Baltic organizations, the Baltic American Freedom League, was headquartered. BAFL, along with other Baltic organizations, engaged in a series of local and nationwide activities that helped further the cause of Baltic independence.
“Carried by a Magic Fan” is an expanded translation of Treiman’s Estonian book Võlulehviku tuules (In the Tailwind of a Magic Fan). “Carried by a Magic Fan” has just been released by McFarland Publishing. Using an essay written by his mother, interviews he tape-recorded with his father; letters his parents wrote between 1943 – 1947 and recounting his own recollections, Treiman’s book offers three perspectives of the World War II refugee experience from the time his family fled from Estonia to Sweden and their subsequent journey to Australia and ultimately the United States.
In addition to describing the refugee journey the book also offers a first-hand description of refugee life after new homes were settled into, including a topic that not enough has been written about, namely the serious, and occasional not so serious, political ventures that were undertaken to regain Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian independence.
If there is interest in what happened when, in 1987, Jaak Treiman received, in his capacity as Estonia’s Honorary Consul, an invitation from the Soviet Consul General in San Francisco to attend a Soviet black-tie reception; if memories need to be refreshed (or generated) about the essential political work done to regain independence for Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania that volunteers from the Baltic American Freedom League and other Baltic organizations carried out; if children, grandchildren, neighbors or friends need to be familiarized with the refugee experience; if insight and appreciation for today’s refugees is sought, “Carried by a Magic Fan” should be of interest.
“Carried by a Magic Fan” is available from McFarland Publishing, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other online sellers either as an e-book or as a paperback.