Join Estonians Worldwide in Creating a Place of Remembrance

Elo Liiv, sculptor

...hetk, kus lähedased sidemed katkesid, õhku jäid südamevalu ja igatsus, süümepiinad, nähtamatud ühenduslõimed, mida hoiti salaja elus kogu okupatsiooni kestel.

The Mass Flight of 1944

80 years ago, amidst the chaos of World War 2, the Estonian people's destiny took a drastic turn. The Soviet Union seized control of the country, subjecting it to a 50-year occupation. Around 80,000 Estonian citizens were forcibly uprooted from their homes, leaving behind loved ones indefinitely. They became displaced persons and refugees, facing the grim alternatives of death, imprisonment, or exile in the Siberian Gulag.

During their harrowing escape to the west, thousands perished. They fled across land and sea, using any available means of transportation, from small boats to foot travel. Bereft of the possibility of returning home, they were scattered worldwide, embarking on the daunting task of starting anew. The anguish of leaving Estonia haunted them perpetually.

From around the world, these resilient refugees and their descendants, are coming together to create a physical place of remembrance, a graceful and tangible sculpture to be placed in Pärnu, as a symbol of profound respect and in recognition of the excruciating sacrifices made in the name of freedom in 1944.


Commemorative Sculpture in Pärnu

In memory of the impossible choice and harrowing journey tens of thousands were forced to make, the Estonian World Council has commissioned a memorial sculpture by Estonian artist Elo Liiv. This beautiful sculpture will be unveiled on September 21, 2024 in Pärnu, Estonia in a park on the banks of the Pärnu River , a place where thousands bid their final farewells. This monument will stand as a tribute to all Estonians faced with that impossible choice, regardless of their own point of departure -- beach, cove, or port.

Your generous donations are crucial for the completion of this project, which seeks to commemorate the sacrifices of our parents' generation.

Scroll down to find additional ways to donate. Thank you for joining us in preserving the Estonian story and honoring our past.

Estonians worldwide are contributing to making this graceful sculpture and place of remembrance a physical reminder of the impossible choice faced by tens of thousands of families as they said their excruciating goodbyes.

We need your help

Become an important part of the Commemoration of Refugee Forefathers by making a generous donation to this project. Your support is crucial for realizing this endeavor! With 60,000 Euros to raise, please consider giving generously. You are invited to join us in Pärnu on September 21, 2024, for the official unveiling and other planned events. Your presence would be greatly appreciated.


Ways to donate

Donations can be made either through the Estonian American National Council (Eesti Rahvuskommitee Ühendriikides, ERKÜ) or the Estonian World Council (Ülemaailmne Eesti Kesknõukogu, ÜEKN). Contributions are being collected around the world. While we accept donations via the organizations above, donors outside of the USA might want to contact the central Estonian organization in their home country for convenience.

Checks are preferred (*no fees), but donations via Paypal and Venmo are also accepted.

1. Online: Visit our secure donation portals to contribute conveniently and securely.

Donate via EANC Donate via EWC

2. By mail: Please send a check or money order payable either to "Estonian American National Council" or "Estonian World Council" with "Pärnu Project" noted in the memo line. Mailing address:

EANC, Pärnu Project
c/o Leelo Linask
16 Pepperidge Rd.
Monroe, CT, 06468, USA

Estonian World Council, Pärnu Project
c/o Liivika Koren
311 56th St.
Kenosha, WI 53140, USA

We can't thank you enough for joining us in preserving and honoring the past. Your contribution will help ensure that, on this 80th anniversary, the Mass Flight of 1944 is commemorated with the respect and significance it deserves.

Together, let us make this memorial a symbol of resilience, unity, and remembrance.

Elo-Katre Liiv

Estonian sculptor, installation artist, and educator

Born in 1971, Elo-Katre Liiv is a renowned Estonian sculptress with over three decades of experience. She is known for her depictions of spiritual emotions and profound awareness of human values. Some of her notable works include the Jaan Poska memorial sculpture in Kadriorg and the memorial sculpture to the victims of World War II in Kärdla. Additionally, she has created memorials to Ülo Pärnits, Kalju Lepik, and Heino Kurgvel in Pärnu in 2022. Liiv has organized and participated in numerous art exhibits in Estonia and across Europe.

As a humanitarian, she is deeply interested in human resources and development, advocating for religious freedom, equal opportunity, and the preservation of natural resources. Liiv's education began in 1983 at the Estonian Art Academy, and she continued her studies in Sweden, Spain, and Finland. In 2003, her Master's dissertation, titled "Kõiksuse kodu," was exhibited at the Pärnu New Art Museum. From 2005 to 2010, she served as a professor in the sculpture department of the Estonian Art Museum. From 2017 to 2020, she worked as a lighting specialist and contributed to visual installations in connection with EV100, the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Estonia. Liiv's achievements are extensive and diverse. Her most recent memorial sculpture commemorates 80 years since the Mass Flight of 1944. Scheduled for completion in September 2024, the memorial sculpture  to be place in Pärnu symbolizes profound emotions of love and anguish in saying farewell to loved ones.

» Learn more about Elo Liiv

News, articles, and additional resources

Meet the people who made this happen

Iivi Zajedova

Estonian World Council 1944 Mass Flight Commemoration Committee, Chairman

Dr. Iivi Zajedova, a cultural historian and political scientist, is an organizer of research and cultural events. She earned her PhD from Charles University, in Prague, with a grant from the Estonian Research Council for her studies at the London School of Economics.

She is a senior researcher at Tallinn University on the topic of Estonian Diaspora Culture, and at the Department of Political Science FSV UK is teaching the Baltic studies. She is a promoter of Estonian-Czech cultural relations and the founder of the Prague Czech-Estonian Club. An honorary member of the Estonian Theatre Union (EBL), she has been awarded the Order of the White Star. Dr. Zajedova is the founder of the EWC  Suurpõgenemine 1944 (Mass Flight, SP 1944) Commemoration Committee and has been leading the annual SP1944 commemorative events, including seminars, conferences, memorial events and services, events in Estonia from 2018 to 2023 in September.

Kristi Vuht Allpere

Estonian World Council 1944 Mass Flight Commemoration Committee, Pärnu Sculpture, Project Manager

As an Estonian/American/Canadian, born in Pärnu, she is proud to be a “Child of the Suurpõgenemine ’44”. She treasures the gift of stories and memories from family and friends.

Kristi studied history at the University of Toronto and has never ceased to be fascinated with unearthing family roots and stories. A passionate volunteer, in both American and Estonian worlds for decades, she believes in “giving back” to society. She appreciates how fortunate she has been because of the lessons and values of her refugee /immigrant background. Kristi is married to Aadu Jaak Allpere, also a 1944 refugee, and treasures her 2 sons and their families.

Working on “Suurpõgenemine ’44 / Pärnu Memorial project” is her “Great Passion”. Honoring this generation who struggled, persevered, and whose courage and resilience molded our lives forever. Read Kristi's Appeal »

For more information, please contact us at [email protected].