Survivor: Estonia

View toward harbor from Patluki, Tallinn

It may sound like the title of a reality show, but it was never a game. The little country of Estonia has survived years of brutality.

More than ten different foreign powers have ruled Estonia during the last eight hundred years. The name of Estonia’s capital, Tallinn, means “Danish Town.” The Danes sold Tallinn to the German Teutonic Knights, who lost it to the Swedes, who lost it to the Russians.

In 1917 Estonia declared its independence from Russia. Freedom didn’t last long. The Russians occupied Estonia again in 1940, the Nazis in 1941, and the Russians again in 1944. The country didn’t regain its independence until the collapse of the USSR in 1991. Fifty-one straight years of harsh occupation.

Estonia has barely tasted freedom.

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