The Book of the Week is “Everything is Wonderful: Memories of a Collective Farm in Estonia” by Sigrid Rausing, published in 2014. This ebook is a PhD thesis that describes the past and current situation of Estonian Swedes in Estonia. Their identity became confused and lost through the decades of the Twentieth Century as they were alternately oppressed by the Soviets and the Germans.
Rausing, a Swede, started her ethnographic fieldwork in Estonia’s capital, Tallinn, in the summer of 1993. This was two years after Mother Russia had released Estonia from its iron grip. The country still had yet to modernize and come into its own.
Rausing soon learned of the harsh conditions the residents faced, including unreliable availability of dirty coal heat in the snowy wintertime, when the temperature fell tens of degrees below zero, and unreliable availability of clean water for drinking and bathing year-round. She taught Swedish to Estonian Swedes at a boarding school at a previously Baltic-German-occupied wooden manor house. She found the people to be reticent, and tight-lipped about their past. Many had trouble with alcohol.
Read the book to learn the history and current nature of this little-known victimized ethnic group in Estonia.