Saturday, 30 April 2016

A look inside the Estonian archives Sydney

One of the things I wanted to do during my recent trip to Sydney was pay a visit to the Estonian Archives Australia (EAA). Located inside Sydney's Estonian House in Surry Hills, it might come as a surprise that I have never been there before but due to its limited opening hours it meant I was usually at work. Open every Wednesday from 10am - 3pm the Estonian archives holds a wealth of fascinating information.

During my visit to the archives I was warmly greeted by the staff who are all volunteers. Reet Simmul very kindly showed me around the building and shared her story with me. Like my family, Reet is a WWII refugee.

Members of the archive team.
Officials in Estonia are very pleased with the collection in Australia.

Map of Estonia proudly displayed on the wall. 

The first Estonians arrived in Australia in 1696.
They were sailors on board a Dutch ship under the command of Willem de Vlamingh.

An exhibition dedicated to WWII displaced persons is located inside the front entrance.
Camp life from 1945 - 1950.

Original items used in the DP camps. 
Estonians really used their ingenuity to make items in order to survive after the war.

Every Estonian who managed to flee the Soviet occupation and seek safety in the West 
has an escape story. Some of these survival stories are truly amazing. 

Here's an interesting document I came across whilst searching through a file.

Between 1940 - 1949 Estonia lost 350,000 people due to the Soviet occupation.
One third of its population.
Of the people who managed to flee Estonia, 7000 of them settled in Australia.
Four of those people were my family, I'm so glad they found safety in Australia.

Friday, 29 April 2016

An Estonian man is knitting the world's largest flag for the centenary of the Estonian Republic

Valtrik Pihl, an Helsinki-based construction worker originally from Paide is currently creating a unique gift to celebrate Estonia's 100th birthday in 2018 - a huge 160 square metre flag. Each day Pihl knits three rows of the flag with each row taking an hour and a hour to complete. It is estimated that 4000 euros will be spent on yarn.

To read more about this fascinating story, please click here: estonian-man-knitting-worlds-largest-flag-countrys-centenary/ &  EV100.Valtrik Pihl

Estonian sisters could become first set of Olympic triplets

Leila, Liina and Lily Luik are set to make history if their qualifying times are enough to grant them places at the 2016 Olympic Games.

To learn more about these sporting sisters, please click here: First set of Olympic triplets?

Monday, 25 April 2016

A Nostalgic Look at Luke Manor

If there is one place in Estonia where I feel the most connected with my ancestry it's at Luke Manor. It was here that my great-great grandfather Johann Lesthal elevated the family from being farmers to stewards and provided his children with a good education so that many of then could become pharmacists. Johann was an upright and noble man who was godfather of the local sexton's child. The Lesthal family and von Knorring family had a friendship that lasted the generations. In 1930 Gustav Johann von Knorring was godfather to my grandfather's cousin Karl Niggul.

Luke Manor dates back to the 13th century and was originally owned by the Löwenwolde family. During the course of its history it changed hands several times and was last owned by the von Knorring family before the estate was nationalised in 1919.

Map of Luke Manor

Luke Manor / Luke Mõis was previously known by its German name 'Ludgen'
Luke Manor once comprised of 43 farms. Karroma farm was one of them and used to be ours.
Johann's father Hans was the master of Karroma farm and Johann grew up there.  

Arthur von Knorring and his second wife Alexandra in 1857. 
His son Carl von Knorring inherited Luke Manor in 1889 upon his death. 

The main manor house building. 
It was first destroyed during the Livonian War then reduced to rubble during WWII.
Nothing remains of the main building today.

View from a balcony.

Luke Manor people count document from the year 1850.
Recorded by manor steward (my great-great grandfather) Johann Lesthal.
The estate consisted of 43 farms with 410 men and 490 women living on the land.
In the 1883 people count document that figure rose to 1124 people.

The gardener's house in 1962.
Today it is a cafe and gift shop.

Steward's house. Once home to my family.

After the nationalisation of Luke Manor in 1919 the main building was used as a school and the stewards house became a community centre. When the main building was completely destroyed during the war, the school was transferred to the stewards house.  The house has since fallen into ruin but is currently being restored.

Today Luke Manor is a great place to visit for walks and enjoying nature.
Concerts and special events are held throughout the year.

Jams and soaps made from the apples at Luke Manor are now available for purchase. 

Luke Manor will always hold a special place in my heart which is why I love to go back whenever I can!

Thursday, 21 April 2016

E-stonia: Country Using Technology to Rebrand Itself as the Anti-Russia (The Guardian)

Here's a very good interview with President Ilves published in the Guardian today.

It’s not often that a European head of state uses the “radical postmodernist philosophy” of Jacques Derrida and Jean Baudrillard to bash a hostile superpower. But then Toomas Hendrik Ilves, Estonia’s defiantly erudite president of nearly 10 years, is no ordinary head of state.

Ilves is trying to reinvent Estonia as the brightly lit antithesis of Russia, and in today’s confessional age of Edward Snowden, WikiLeaks and the Panama Papers, claims he is baking transparency and accountability into a new kind of digital civic operating system.

Ilves is known for his controversial opinions on everything from Snowden and internet privacy to cyberwarfare and Vladimir Putin’s postmodernist state, which have apparently, transformed the 63-year-old into a “regional sex symbol”.

To read the full article, please click here:

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

10 Estonian Islands You Should Visit

Earlier this year Tallinn Traveller Tours published an article about ten of the best islands to visit in Estonia. Until last summer it was believed that Estonia consisted of the mainland plus 1521 islands but with the use of satellite imagery it was found that Estonia actually has 2222 islands! Wow!

To learn more about some of Estonia's most beautiful islands, please click here: