Estonians flee to west

to map

22. September 1944

Battles fought in the summer of 1944 managed to keep the Russians away long enough to allow tens of thousands of Estonians to flee to the west.
First people left for Finland and Sweden already in 1942-43, but more people escaped after the German mobilization was announced,

As the front drew closer in 1944, the number of refugees increased, reaching its peak in August and September of 1944, when several thousand people tried to escape from Estonia.

Main directions were Sweden and Germany. Larger ships, but also smaller boats were used to escape; attempting to sail over stormy Baltic Sea in the autumn in a small boat was extremely dangerous. Also Soviet air- and naval force continued to attack the refugees.

On September 22, 1944, German hospital ship "Moero" was sunk near Vindav (Venstpils), taking 2700 people with it, including a number of Estonians. More than 80,000 people fled from Estonia, most of them reached Germany, but some went also to Sweden. Large amount of Estonian intellectuals and creatives left Estonia.

Sources: Eesti ajalugu. VI, Vabadussõjast taasiseseisvumiseni. Tartu: Ilmamaa, 2005
Eesti ajaloo atlas. Tallinn: Avita, 2006                                                                                                        

Image sources:$file/tn_venus.jpg

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