September 2024 will mark the 80th anniversary of the Suurpõgenemine (mass flight to the West in 1944), when 80,000 Estonian citizens, including our parents and grandparents, were forced to flee ahead of the 2nd Russian occupation. To remain would have meant deportation to Siberia or certain death.
“Minna ei taha, aga jääda ei saa.” “Do not want to go but cannot stay.”
The Suurpõgenemise ’44 committee of the Estonian World Council (ÜEKN) has been very active since 2018 under the leadership of Iivi Zajedova, working on the advocacy for the recognition of this dramatic and important part of Estonian history.
In preparation, members of the SP’ 44 committee from the USA, Estonia, and the Czech Republic met in Pärnu with the Pärnu City Council, including assistant mayor Ene Täht, to put in place plans for the commemoration of this heartbreaking event. About 10,000 of the 80,000 refugees fled through Pärnu.