Singing to Freedom

This series of shots were taken in Tallinn, Estonia. We took our Mother and Sister there to explore, eat, drink and discover our Heritage. We travelled north to south, east to west and also to one of the islands. Estonia is still recovering after decades of Russian occupation after World War Two. Surprisingly, they (with the Finns) are one of the most connected countries, with close to 90% of Government, Public and Business on-line! If you ever have used Skype, it was created in Estonia! Cool, eh?

Now a bit about Estonia and its struggle for Freedom!


Thousand Singing in Unison

The Singing Revolution is a commonly used name for events between 1987 and 1991 that led to the restoration of the independence of Estonia. The term was coined by an Estonian activist and artist, Heinz Valk, in an article published a week after the June 10–11, 1988, spontaneous mass night-singing demonstrations at the Tallinn Song Festival Grounds. The Russians just did not know what to do – arrest the entire Country, send in Tanks? Hmmm

After Worls War II the Baltic States had been fully incorporated into the USSR after military occupation and annexation first in 1940 after a deal with the Germans and then again in 1944 when Germam campaigne against USSR fell apart. MUCH later Mikhail Gorbachev (Gorby) introduced “glasnost” (openness) and “perestokia” (restructuring) in 1985, hoping to stimulate the failing Soviet economy and encourage productivity, particularly in the areas of consumer goods, the liberalisation of co-operative businesses and the service economy. Glasnost rescinded limitations on political freedoms in the Soviet Union which led to problems within the non-Russian nations occupied in the build-up to war in the 1940s.


Displaying the Flag was Illegal for Decades!


Hitherto unrecognised issues previously kept secret by the Moscow government were admitted to in public, causing dissatisfaction within the Baltic States. Combined with the Russia’s war in Aghanistan and the Nuclear Disaster of Chernobyl, grievances were aired in a publicly explosive and politically decisive manner. Estonians were concerned about the demographic threat to their national identity posed by the influx of individuals from foreign ethnic groups to work on such large Soviet development projects as phosphate mining – time to take action but cleverly!


Dude, Careful with that Torch!


Access to Western empire communities abroad and, particularly in Estonia, informal relations with Finland and access to Finnish TV showing the Western lifestyle also contributed to widespread dissatisfaction with the Soviet system and provoked mass demonstrations as repression on dissidents, nationalists, religious communities and ordinary consumers eased substantially towards the end of the 1980s.




Massive demonstrations against the Soviet regime began after widespread liberalisation of the regime failed to take into account national sensitivities. It was hoped by Moscow that the non-Russian nations would remain within the USSR despite the removal of restrictions on freedom of speech and national icons (such as the local pre-1940 flags). However the situation deteriorated to such an extent that by 1989 there were campaigns aimed at freeing the nations from the Soviet Union altogether!

Now, even years after Liberation, Estonia is still fighting hard to rebuild after Decades of Soviet occupation and plundering. The lanscape is littered with Millitary Bunkers, collapsed Barracks, strange centrallized heat and water distributions systems. When the Soviets departed the took whatever they could including Art, toilets and door knobs!

Now, Estonia is now also part of the European Economic Union and has been recognized as one of the most progressive and innovative Democracies! Amazing what a bit of Freedom can do!

Thanks for visiting our humble Photoblog – Kathleen and Erik

If you have any questions or would like a print, just drop us an email at


4 responses

  1. Great story and supporting images Erik. I’m sure those who have suffered for their freedom will appreciate it more than those of us who take it for granted! Good stuff bud!

    January 22, 2012 at 11:44 am

    • Thanks Jim! My parents couldn’t even go back to their home country until after the Russians left. You see, they “left” without Russian permission after WWII and would have been tossed in Jail, sent to a Gulag etc.

      January 22, 2012 at 5:40 pm

  2. We saw the documentary on this great event you guys talk about here Erik, and I have to say it was one of the most important and profound pieces we’ve seen all year. A truly epic story, to say the very least. I just love, love, love your blog post here… such fabulous images, but you’ve also really woven the story quite nicely into the whole thing bringing it to life for everyone to take in. This is a very important story, in my humble opinion, and I think that your post here really does a top drawer job of bringing it to light.

    January 24, 2012 at 1:54 pm

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