Kogu Me Lugu: Digital Video Interviews

Uve Poom interviews Maili Malvre, Stanford, 2014.

The Kogu Me Lugu: Digital Video Interviews, 2014 collection consists of oral history interviews with members of the Estonian diaspora who lived under or fled from the Soviet and/or German occupation in Estonia; or migrated as a result of acts committed by these regimes.

The interviews focus on the interwar Estonia and World War II events in the region, the interviewees' escape from the country during the war, and their life in German DP camps and the Western countries (United States, Sweden, Australia).

Interviewees also reflect on what it means to be an Estonian, their ties with Estonia, national identity and all else concerned with Estonia.

Subjects covered include Estonia, Estonian history, Baltic history, interwar Estonia, World War II (1939-1945), Soviet occupation, Nazi occupation, Soviet Army, crimes against humanity, refugees, DP camps, and the Estonian diaspora.


What is Kogu Me Lugu?

Kogu Me Lugu ('Collect Our Story,' or 'Our Entire Story') is an Estonian oral history initiative launched in 2013 by the Unitas Foundation/Estonian Memory Institute. The aim of the initiative is to raise national and international awareness of crimes against humanity committed by the German and Soviet regimes and about the impact of those regimes on Estonia’s history and the Estonian people. This is done through collecting and distributing the stories and memories of people who lived under or fled from the Soviet and/or German occupation in Estonia; or migrated as a result of acts committed by these regimes.

In 2014, Unitas Foundation partnered with Stanford Libraries in making 34 video testimonies with members of Estonian diaspora. The project was co-sponsored by the Kistler-Ritso Foundation. More interviews will be created and added to the collection in the future.


The interviews

Below is a sample of shorter, edited clips of Kogu Me Lugu interviews. The full collection can be found by clicking here.

The collection is publicly accessible, except for the interview with Rein Abel. This interview is only accessible for those visiting the Special Collections Reading Room of Cecil H. Green Library.

Oral History Interview with Tõnu Jürvetson, 2014

Tõnu Jürvetson describes his family’s escape from Estonia to the US through Sweden and Germany. He also speaks about the fate of his family and relatives; his education and his work. In addition he reflects on Estonia and what being an Estonian means.

Oral History Interview with Tiiu Jürvetson, 2014

Tiiu Jürvetson tells the story of her family’s escape from Estonia to the US through Finland, Sweden and Canada. Likewise she reflects on themes concerning the Estonian community and on her son’s Steve Jürvetson’s life.

Oral History Interview with Aavo Reinfeldt, 2014

Aavo Reinfeldt tells the story of his family’s escape from Saaremaa to Germany and finally to the USA. He also reflects on what it means to be an Estonian (Estonianness), his ties with Estonia, national identity and all else concerned with Estonia.

Oral History Interview with Ain Haas, 2014

Ain Haas speaks about his parents’ escape to Sweden and further emigration to the USA. He also discusses his ties with Estonia, the blossoming of Estonian folk music, Estonian language, Estonianness and contact with his Estonian relatives.

Oral History Interview with Armas Sootaru, 2014

Armas Sootaru describes his life during the turmoil of the Second World War, how he joined the Estonian Home Guard and how he escaped to Germany. He also speaks about emigrating to the USA and his life and work there.

Oral history interview with Ruth Sootaru, 7 May 2014.

Ruth Sootaru describes her childhood in the small Pudisoo village, Estonia, from which she fled across the Gulf of Finland, in the fear of deportation and of the occupation authorities. She reflects on the journey to Sweden through Finland and life there with her first husband. She also talks about the difficult journey on a sailing boat to the United States and her marriage with Armas Sootaru. Reflections on life in the United States include descriptions of the Estonian community in America.

Oral History Interview with Ilvi Jõe-Cannon, 2014

Ilvi Jõe-Cannon describes her journey to Germany and life in the refugee camps, giving great importance to her time spent in Geislingen. She then speaks about emigrating to the US and her education there. Likewise Ilvi Jõe-Cannon gives an overview of her family’s fate during and after the war. Finally she reflects on returning to Estonia and explains what being an Estonian and the concept of a homeland mean to her.

Oral History Interview with Jaak Treiman, 2014

Jaak Treiman tells the story of his family’s escape to Sweden, Australia and finally to the US. He also speaks about his work in the Honorary Consul, his ties with Estonia and his involvement in the national movement of Estonians living abroad.

Oral History Interview with Kalev Ehin, 2014

Kalev Ehin describes his family’s arduous escape to Germany and his life in the refugee camps during the war. He then speaks about emigrating to the US and adapting to life there. Ehin also reflects on topics concerning his Estonian roots such as Estonian language, nation, the meaning of his homeland and being an Estonian.

Oral History Interview with Lisa Trei, 2014

Lisa Trei recalls the story of her grandparents’ escape to the US and describes her ties with Estonia. She also reflects on the years she spent working as a journalist in Estonia and how she was a witness to many of the important events during the regaining of independence.

Oral History Interview with Maili Malvre, 2014

Maili Malvre tells the story of her family’s escape to the US through Germany. Likewise she recalls her many visits to Estonia and trips to Leningrad, Kiev and Moscow.

Oral History Interview with Mai-Liis Bartling, 2014

Mai-Liis Bartling recounts the story of her mother’s birth, her life and how she escaped from Estonia to Germany and from there to the US. Likewise Bartling reflects on her own connection with Estonia and Estonians and the Estonian identity.