Valli Arrak

 

 

Valli Arrak was born in 1931 to a family of Estonian peasants. After the war, her father was identified as a kulak and was arrested and sentenced to a term in labour camp. During the March 1949 operation, she, her mother and one of her brothers were deported to the region of Omsk. Her second brother managed to hide and her sister was away at the time, so they escaped deportation.

Valli found it hard to adapt to daily life in the Siberian kolkhoz. She suffered from the winter cold, and living and work conditions. Uncomprehending and separated by the great distance from her sister in Estonia and by his illness from her brother deported with her, she fell into a great melancholy. However, when they moved to the village of Ivanovka, their living conditions became relatively normal. The Estonian deportees lived alongside local Russian families, Volga Germans exiled at the start of the war, Kazakh displaced persons and Ukrainians. Each group shared with the others its customs, its festivals and even the little leisure time they had from their work.

On her release in 1957 she returned to Estonia and settled in Tartu. She maintains close relations with her former Siberian comrades, links of solidarity forged during deportation.