In August of 1944, my mother, my aunt and my grandmother fled the second Soviet Invasion of Estonia. Born into a free democratic state, my mother now was faced with an uncertain fate. She left her school, her friend, her dog, her future. When the promised escape to Sweden failed to materialize, her mother banded together with others waiting on that beach for that wooden fishing boat. They boarded one of two red cross ships bound for Riga, Lativa. At least it would be further from the Soviets who were hours from entering Estonia for the second time. They would try for France. When they were turned back at the border, it meant traveling deeper into Germany.
My grandmother spoke only Estonian and Russian. She used all her savings to pay off the various officials and captains of ships and train engineers. With plans uncertain, and two young daughters, she managed to make her way to managed to make her way to Würzburg, where, like so many Poles who now help Ukrainains, the residents found her a place to stay.
There is so much more to her story of life in a democratic country that was then destroyed by an invasion, while the world watched. And all it is being replayed again. The constant bombing of Maripul. The 1944 bombing of Tallinn, with 1000 bombs dropped from the sky with fires so bright they could be seen in Helsinki. The siege of Sarajevo. The genocide in Bosnian and Herzegovina. The destruction of Syria.
If one finds oneself growing overwhelmed by the news, imagine being in the midst.
If we mean never again, then we need to confront why never again is ever again.