Into Exile

Into Exile This Memoir Focuses On The Experiences Of An Estonian Child Who Was Forced Into Exile With Her Mother And Grandmother During The German And Russian Invasions Beginning InTheir Travels Took Them From Their Family Home In Haapsalu To A Displaced Persons Camp In Germany, Then, Finally, To Working Class Great Britain As Permanent Residents Along The Way, They Met Many Kindnesses And Deprivations, Sought And Found Forgiveness, And Fashioned A Life For Themselves Very Unlike The Life They Once Envisioned This Is A Story Of Alienation And Belonging, Of A Sensitive, Conscientious Child Who Is Finding Her Way In An Unfamiliar World

Elin was born in Tallinn, Estonia, in July 1937 Her parents were well known actors who lived in the theatre dressing room during the season After Elin was born she was given to her grandmother and great aunt Alma Saul in Haapsalu, Estonia Her grandmother, M mm was a trained artist and widow of the respected Estonian poet Ernst Enno Alma Saul was a music teacher Elin was raised by the two

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  • Paperback
  • 357 pages
  • Into Exile
  • Elin Toona Gottschalk
  • English
  • 18 January 2019

10 thoughts on “Into Exile

  1. says:

    When I was young, Estonia didn t exist.That part of the world was one long pink block on the map of Europe and Asia, the letters USSR stretched across from West Germany to the Pacific Ocean Estonia was one of those names I rarely encountered in history books, like Mesopotamia and Sudetenland They seemed the interstices between interminable wars, but otherwise without context It wasn t until I d reached fifty that I began to learn about Estonia, flourishing in its 22 years of independence before the Soviet Union ironically established to give power to the people began systematically to erase Estonia s language, culture, and finally its people in mass deportations.Elin Toona Gottschalk writes A memoir is not a document about who did what and when, on a specific date, but who did what and when in a specific situation A memoir is a passing caravan of events and characters creating an indelible impression on eyewitnesses, whether age seven or seventy, who write it down One person s memoir becomes a book A hundred similar books become history.She was born toward the end of Estonia s brief period of independence during the Twentieth Century the first threat was the Russians, then the Germans came to liberate them Estonia very soon found out what being liberated by Nazi Germany meant She was seven years old when her mother, grandmother, and she fled Estonia toward the end of World War II, in an effort to get to the West and safety as their world came to pieces around them.It was about to get a whole lot worse.ETG opens her book not with her childhood, but later in her life, when her remarkable grandmother was mugged at age 91, in her home in London, for 7 pounds ETG receives a call from her mother, with whom she d had a problematical relationship early in life she leaves for the UK in order to be there for her grandmother Grandmother had started rhythmically stroking my fingers her way of telling me her journey would be no different from what we had already been through, only this time and she was going on ahead instead of Mother Her face was calm and her eyes the color of quiet waters that had covered the earth since it was created.She skips back to 1939, and with vivid and emotional expertise evokes her childhood world on the bay in a little town called Haapsalu I had no concept of mothers and fathers, only of people whom I saw every day At that time in my life relationships were meaningless When grandmother first introduced me to her dear departed Erni, it was in such a way that when I heard his name, I wanted to hear She had never lost her husband, but had only lost physical sight of him He was always included in our activities When we walked around the town s unpaved paths and narrow streets, my legs short, my grandmother s old and tired, we always stopped by grandfather s monument to rest on its base When we sat down grandmother never fail to greet her husband or exchange a few words with him I had the distinct impression that he both heard and understood what she was saying.With deftly poetic and compassionate skill, ETG takes the time to introduce the people in her life, mostly women her grandmother, Ella Enno, wife to a famous Estonian poet who had died of pneumonia at age 57 Earning a worker s wage, Erni d spent his money on books rather than heating Great Aunt Alma, whose emotions were expressed through playing the piano She kept house and grew vegetables, and earned a bit of money offering piano lessons.ETG s parents lived in Tallinn They were well known actors They visited occasionally, bringing sophistication and cigarette smoke into the tiny house in Haapsalu From the intensely observant child s eye view ETG describes the slow increase in tension the adults won t tell the children anything whenever they wanted to talk seriously, they told her to go pick dill, even after there was no dill to pick as the Soviets encroach, and then comes war I told Vilja a playmate I was going back to heaven when I died.She said she was going to her other grandmother in France Jesus was born in a stable, I told her Where were you born Mother said I was born under a gooseberry bush, said Vilja promptly I was dropped off in Tallinn, at Mrs Takk s house, and when mother s theater season started I was brought here, to Haapsalu Vilja just nodded It made perfect sense Our gooseberry bushes were not thriving on account of the annual flooding, and you needed to be born somewhere dry.Grandmother was the primary caretaker of little Elin They were compatible personalities, both artistic, with a keen sense of poetry Both visionaries Mother was practical, strong, loathed anything having to do with religion or spiritual nature She was not the least bit domestic did not even know how to boil water and was appalled at her daughter for her apparent lack of looks, her seeming clumsiness, her odd questions, and the fact that she was deemed tone deaf For the rest of her life, ETG refused to sing, because when she was about five she was tested by the theater crowd, then dismissed for being tone deaf When it came time to leave, Aunt Alma refused She promised to keep the house for their return Mother, in Elin s words, became Father when he refused to go with them The three left late in 1944, first boarding a Polish boat When it is attacked, the survivors are forced to the German coast scrabbling for shelter in tunnels and broken houses When the planes arrived they brought rain, but it was not the rain mother had feared In the tunnel we had been aware of the bombers and felt the explosions, but in the roofless ruin we were also seeing the planes and the explosions all around us The noise was deafening The siren, the rattle of antiaircraft guns, and the explosions were the same as usual, but now we could also see the underbellies of the bombers Wave after wave of them, illuminated by flares, searchlights, and tracers The planes formed a droning, moving canopy, surrounded by smoke in a steady stream of dark objects falling vertically Once in a while a larger object burst into flames and spiraled down along with them Everything that hit the ground exploded.Lost for a time, they moved from one place to another as refugees The Germans despised them as filthy foreigners they took up temporary quarters in slimy basements, ruined rooms, and in all these places Grandmother would set about trying to wrest a modicum of civilization out of the chaos, as Mother went out and scavenged.They met a lot of desperate women of all ages, and children, some of whom Elin played with, and some who were extraordinarily cruel, especially at the school she was forced to attend before it, too, was bombed Run by a fanatical Nazi teacher, Elin was subjected to bullying and humiliation under that teacher s merciless eye War seem to be something only the men enjoyed, until they were caught and made prisoners.They took refugee for a while in a cemetery, discovering that there was already a community living among the vaults and tombs Winter was even crueler than the Hitler Youth bullies and the bombers the children could tell where they were headed to bomb by how high or low they flew as well as the direction , until spring of 1945 brought the end of the war .But by no means the end of cruelty, danger, or suffering Some of the roughest reading in the entire book is here after the war, interspersed between painfully insightful observations, and occasional moments of quite haunting I choose the word deliberately beauty Or emotional wrench, such as seeing her father, then going out and pulling up some grass and stuffing it in his pocket so that he will not forget her when he leaves again for good.By the war s end there were some 13 million displaced persons, Grandmother, Mother, and Elin among them Mother continued to strike out, coming back when she could with bits of food and clothing Elin was dressed largely in cast offs and rags by the time they at last were able to make their way to England She finally observes that the difference between civilization and not is the existence of toilets.When they reach England, with all their despised bundles including Grandmother s carefully preserved mememtos of her poet husband there is a hitch the cruel indenture that basically made slaves of foreign workers did not allow for a child For a year or so Elin lived in the woods by day, and slept in a rented bed in an ancient cottage without plumbing until the inevitable disaster after she drank two cups of cocoa.After the authorities discovered her she was put in an orphanage, though she spoke no English, and for a time she was made into a drudge, and despised and abused as a German Her treatment improved slightly when they discovered that she was not actually German, but she was still putting time into service than into education and so the all important 11 passed her by Her mother and grandmother were appalled, and angry They, like so many displaced persons, had come from educated backgrounds musicians, scientists, professors, artists of all kinds, now pushing brooms and working in asbestos factories or coal mines.She ends up in her mid teens working at a loom in a textile factory The setting is unrelentingly ugly, the noise is so bad she begins going deaf It isn t until she gets away for a brief vacation to Holland, where she sees beauty again, that she makes a promise that she is going to do something with her life, rather than stick at the loom because that is easiest.We don t actually see her become a writer and part time actor, though her first Estonian novel won her an award I would have loved to see that, but this memoir is primarily about the three women and how being refugees from an erased country affected their lives and their relationships, and how they deal with being permanent exiles due to no fault of their own.ETG becomes successful enough that she attracts the notice of the KGB which in turn leads to an FBI and CIA file, and some brief but weird experiences in the spy world And this after she reaches this country, and is invited to a dinner party and then abused for being a Nazi she has to leave and hide in the woods.Outside of that, adulthood is good to her, and as time passes, the iron curtain at last disintegrates For me, Estonia had become a mythical country and my muse It was my inner voice, speaking to me in a secret language When she finally gets back to Estonia, she is only able to recognize the location of her own home by walking about Haapsalu and trying to find the view from the kitchen window that she had loved as a small girl In so many ways her exile brings her full circle, but not quite The book is full of heartbreak, insight, beauty, and the unheralded and heroic actions of women with no weapons, no power, but a determination to fashion a bit of civilization around them, one castoff or abandoned item at a time Sometimes it was so harrowing that I could only read a few pages in a session, but I always came back to this compelling, fascinating story.

  2. says:

    I had the pleasure of meeting Elin a few months ago at a local book signing event We exchanged books I gave her my mother s biography and she gave me her book Into Exile I was blown away after I finished reading it Into Exile is very applicable to the times in today s history with Russia trying to take over the Baltic States again Our soldiers are now stationed in Estonia to protect the country from being overrun as it once was by the Russians 70 years ago Into Exile is both humorous and shocking Elin s touching memoir dives deep into the realities of her and her family s life, their journey of survival during WWII, and the many challenges and obstacles they faced to regain their freedom and independence Elin is living history Thank you Elin for sharing your personal story.

  3. says:

    This is an amazing and powerful book It is truly a book everyone should read.

  4. says:

    Kindla peale on see selle aasta ks parimaid lugemiselamusi K llaltki mahukas raamat, aga selle lugemine l ks lennates Keeruline ja kurb jutustus, mis n itab v ga h sti raskusi, mis v ivad ette tulla siis, kui sa arvad, et see k ige keerulisem aeg on selja taha j etud Olukord, kus pagulaste jaoks oli k ige keerulisem kohanemine rahuaja eluga, on midagi, mida vast keegi ei suuda ette kujutada, kui nad ise ei ole sama teekonda l bi teinud K ik r givad sellest, kui hirmus ja kole on s da, ent see, mis toimub s jaj rgselt on midagi, mis unustatakse Kurb.See raamat pani v ga palju ka m tlema kriisidele ja konfliktidele, mis hetkel maailmas toimuvad ja pagulastele, kes oma elu eest p genevad kindlasti on olemas ka nn mugavuspagulased ning sellele, kuidas me nendesse suhtume, mis v imalusi me neile pakume, kuidas k ib nende hiskonda integreerimine jne Raamatus tuli v ga selgesti esile see, kuidas Suurbritannia s jap genikke vastu v ttis ning v rdlus Hollandiga Kui oleks v imalik, siis v iks see olla raamat, mida k ik kategoorilised pagulaste vastased lugeda v iksid Mitte et see n d kogu maailma muudaks, kuid see v ib panna mitmetele aspektidele teisiti vaatama.Ja natuke humoorikama poole pealt, siis tegelaste inglise keele ppimine eestikeelse kirjapildiga ajas natuke muigama k ll Huvitav oli anda abikaasale ameeriklane neid lauseid lugeda ning ta pidi siis v lja m tlema, mida see t hendada v iks.

  5. says:

    Neid raamatuid, mis niimoodi l bi loksutavad, ei ole palju Khaled Hosseini Lohejooksja meenub, aga vahe on selles, et kui Hosseini lugu on fiktsioon, siis Toona oma on p ris Autor ise kasutab k ll terminit faktsioon l iming faktidest ja kujutlustest Nii raske ja s dantmurdev, aga samas nii imelise tundlikkusega ja paeluvalt kirja pandud, et selle k estpanemine osutub raskeks katsumuseks ja loen raamatu l bi v hem kui n dalaga T lge on ka kiiduv rt.Raamat tekitab minus suure igatsuse vanaema j rele ja ratab soovi minna vanaema hauale k nalt viima Vanaema oli mulle petanud, kui t htis on, et pimeduse peletamiseks oleksid k nlad alati k ep rast, kirjutab Toona L hen ritan ennast n d uuesti t kkidest kokku liimida.

  6. says:

    Erinevus pagulase ja emigrandi vahel seisneb selles, et pagulane ei lahku kodumaalt vabatahtlikult, saabub sihtkohta halbade aimdustega ning elab edaspidi maal, millest ei saa kunagi kodu tegelikust kodumaast saab n nda kaotatud paradiis Mingil hetkel m istsin, et loen seda raamatut ja ihkan j uda l ppu, sest siis saavad asjad korda ja k ik on h sti Raamatu l pule l hemale j udes m istsin aga seda, et Elini jaoks see on juba m dunud, ajalukku j nud lugu, kuid kui paljude jaoks see on praegune tegelikkus P genemine, alandus, v itlemine, lootus, usk, ja ikka pettumine, pettumine, pettumine Ja kui l puks see udusunen gu l bi saab, siis kes oled l puks sina

  7. says:

    Raamat, mis r gib rasketest aegadest, oludest ja teemadest ilma, et tahaks lugejat meelega nutma ajada v i okeerida Mis ei t henda, et seal ei oleks nii nutmapanevat kui ka okeerivat Aga on ka liigutavat ja lootustandvat See raamat on ood vanaemale ja inimese suutlikkusele k igest l bi tulla J b ainult m istatuseks, mis see on, mis annab selle j u ja suutlikkuse V imalik, et sellised vanaemad.Raamatu l pus on v ga hea selgitus sellele, kuidas erinevad ksteisest pagulus ja emigratsioon ks j bki vaatama minevikku ja teine tahab sellest minevikust v imalikult kaugele tulevikku ja mujale Lisaks on seal ks kujundlikumaid inglise klassi hiskonna kirjeldusi Tagumine umbes kuuendik j b lej nust pisut kaootilisemaks ja eba htlasemaks, aga see ei riku asja Tasub kindlasti lugeda.

  8. says:

    Minu arvamuse leiab seekord lausa kahest blogist Tallinna Keskraamatukogu blogist Lugemiselamused

  9. says:

    Pagulusse on sisurikas romaan, t is p nevust ja emotsioone Toona on ehedalt kirjeldanud kohutavaid, traumatiseerivaid kogemusi lapsep lvest, alandust ja piinu, mida end temast paremaks pidavad inimesed on talle p hjustanud Vaikselt on Pagulusse ka naisekssaamise lugu, ning kindlasti kild eesti kultuurist, mida ei tohi unustada.https 100 201

  10. says:

    A fantastic writer with a profound story Ms Toona tells of her brief childhood in Estonia, during which it is occupied by the Soviets, invaded by the Nazi s and reoccupied by the Soviets Then of escape west with her mother and grandmother to Germany, surviving the war as refugees, entering an internment camp for displaced persons and eventually immigrating to England where their hardships really begin With little formal education she becomes a successful writer and artist.There is almost too much here, the growth of an amazing little girl, relationships with people she loves and people that treat her with cruelty or indifference, endurance to survive and adapt, abandonment, reflections on war and the personal struggles of people caught up in forces beyond their control as well as a guide to the hard choices the people particular the Balts caught between Fascism and Communism had Beyond that, the writing is amazing, she writes from the perspective of a child enduring hunger, torture, escape, poverty, rape, displacement, shame, in a manner that both is poignant, descriptive and humorous It kept getting better and better and the epilogue brings it all together.

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