Around 5,000 Jews lived in Estonia before the Holocaust. When the Soviets invaded in 1940, approximately 400 Jews were sent off to prison camps. In 1941, more than 3,000 fled into the Soviet Union to escape the Nazis while those who stayed behind were murdered. Today there are less than 1,000 Jews in Estonia, but the community, like the country, is highly organized.
The Jewish communities of the three Baltics have this in common: they were all subsumed into the Soviet Union after the Second World War, and over the following decades, their Jewish communities-which had been frightfully decimated by the Holocaust-were re-populated by Jews from the interior of the Soviet Union who relocated to Tallinn, Riga and Vilnius.
Except in a very few cases, Centropa has made it a point to interview only those Jews who had been born in the Baltics in the years preceding the Holocaust.
In Estonia, some of our interviews have been carried out by Alexander Dusman and Emma Gofman, although the majority have been carried out by our Kiev-based team at the Institute of Jewish Studies, headed by Marina Karelstein, coordinator, and Ella Levitskaya and Zhanna Litinskaya, interviewers.