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Everyday Life in Stalinist Estonia


Olaf Mertelsmann

In Estonia, as in other Eastern European countries, the Stalinist era remains in the center of attention of historians. Politics, repression and resistance dominate the historiography, while everyday life is definitely under-represented. This book attempts to close the gap and focuses on different aspects of everyday life in Stalinist Estonia.


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Leisure in Stalin’s Estonia


It was the period of deepest and darkest Stalinism, but the youth had opportunities for meeting and entertainment [...]. It was nice to sit together with other students. You visited somebody who had more space and took some schnapps and food with you. We sat together, drank, sang and went home. When there was more liquor, we went to town and vandalized a bit […].1 The history of Stalinism is usually dominated by accounts of terror and vio- lence,2 which was one essential feature of this regime, and of the horrors of World War II. Estonia, which was annexed by the USSR in 1940 and occupied by the Germans from 1941 to 1944, suffered enormous losses.3 When the Red Army reoccupied the country, more than a quarter-million of its 1.1 million in- habitants had been arrested, deported, evacuated or mobilized, or had fled to the West, or had been killed, either in combat or by the Soviets or the Nazis. On An earlier version has been published in Revista Română pentru Studii Baltice şi Nor- dice 2 (2010), pp. 225–48. 1 Harri, born in 1930, Eesti Kirjandusmuuseum – Eesti Kultuurilooline Arhiiv (Estonian Literary Museum – Cultural History Archives, KM–EKLA) 350–662, l. 42. 2 For example, Jörg Baberowski, Der Rote Terror: Die Geschichte des Stalinismus (Mu- nich, 2003); on Estonia, see Aigi Rahi-Tamm, Teise maailmasõja järgsed massirepres- sioonid Eestis: Allikad ja uurimisseis (Tartu, 2004); Vello Salo et al (eds.), The White Book: Losses Inflicted on the...

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