Tonu Onnepalu

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30 December 2009

Three histories

Estonia was ruled for centuries by the Germans, Swedes and Russians, who took turns to settle their accounts on the territory or arbitrarily lumped it together or split it with neighbouring areas. The narratives of the Estonian peasantry, the Baltic German gentry, the Swedish nobility or the Soviet functionaries, although running parallel, do not have a common addressee. The narrative told by Estonians in exile, in the second half of the twentieth century, is also not easily reconcilable with the story of their compatriots back home. The solution is a synoptic approach, says Tonu Onnepalu. Instead of striving towards a single, continuous and comprehensive historical narrative, at least three different histories in three different idioms must be read in parallel.