European Memories

of the Gulag

BioGraphie

46
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Miia  JÕGIAAS

Miia Jõgiaas was born in Tartu, Estonia, in March 1931. At the age of 17, while still at school, she and her school friends looked for some way of showing their dissatisfaction with the Soviet regime that was being imposed on their country. She discovered the existence of an underground organisation of young students and joined in their activities. In autumn 1950 she was arrested with friends for distributing tracts and burning the monument to the “liberators” of the Red Army. She was sentenced to 10 years’ forced labour, which she spent at the Rechlag in Vorkuta, the camp for particularly dangerous prisoners in the Komi Republic.

At first, she worked on building railway lines, then in a brick factory. The work was exhausting and the living conditions extremely harsh. But Miia still had her childhood friends Rita and Ellen beside her, and this bond of friendship helped her to overcome the fear, loneliness and hardships of the camp and return home to Tartu in May 1956.

She became a gardener and married a friend from the same underground group as her, also released from the camps after Stalin’s death, but they did not have any children because “perhaps it was too cold out there and something happened…”

See MEDIA
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War

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1949: underground activities

In these two extracts, Miia describes her anti-Soviet feelings and her first underground activities.

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Arrest and sentence

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In the camp

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Memories of the escort

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The return

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Difficulties after the return