Vasilis Vasilas' Book on Estonian Journey

New Book Warmly Received by Estonian Community

September 23, 2013

In a packed St John Lutheran Church Hall in North Strathfield yesterday, the Estonian Archives in Australia launched Vasilis Vasilas' new book, 'Across Lands and Freedom'.

The new book looks at the epic journey of the Estonian people who fled their homeland (1944), were displaced in Germany and Sweden for several years, journeyed to Australia and New Zealand and their first couple of years in their adopted homelands.

Above: The speakers of the Launch pose together- the Consul General of the Republic of Estonia, Katrin Kanarik, Pastor Meelis Rosma, Vasilis Vasilas and Dr Terry Kass.  

After the audience, was welcomed by Pastor Meelis Rosma,  the Master of Ceremonies, Dr Terry Kass opened the formalities with reference to September 22 as being an important day for both Estonian and Greek history, as it was the day the last Estonian convoy left Tallinn harbour before the capital fell to the Red Army (1944) and it was the day the great fire of Smyrna was finally extinguished (1922). Dr Kass also pointed out how common themes and events were shared by both Estonia and Greece- both countries were occupied by empires over long periods of time, civil wars, people fleeing their homelands and migration.

Above: Vasilis Vasilas, with members of the Estonian Archives Sydney- Dr Terry Kass, Maie Barrow, Reet Bergmann and Reet Simmul- and Pastor Meelis Rosma. 

Launching the book was the new Consul General of the Republic of Estonia, Katrin Kanarik, who placed great emphasis on the importance of documenting people's stories and passing them onto the next generations and thanked the author for taking the initiative in documenting so many Estonian people's stories and compiling such an important book. Having been the Estonian Consul General to Greece for three years, she also expressed her love for Greece and Greeks, and believed the new book brought two European countries, such as Estonia and Greece, closer together.

Above: Members of the Greek community from the island of Lesvos were present: former President of the Mytilenain Brotherhood of Sydney, Stavros Kritkos, Vasilis Vasilas, Irodotos and Mat Hatzifotis, Vicky Kritikos, Eleftheria and Themis Hatzinikolaou, and President of the Antissian Association of NSW, John Loukadellis. 

The author explained how growing up in a multicultural country such as Australia provided oportunities for different people to write about other ethnicities and cultures, and that the epic Estonian journey from their homeand to Australia and New Zealand, via Germany and Sweden, was also a universal experience that humanity could empathise with. Moreover, he explained how oral history provides people with the human face to history, as detailed recounts/stories in the book allows readers to almost 'relive' the participants' experiences.


Above Left and Right: Vasilis Vasilas, with Elvi Suviste and Lea Holm (left), and, Viktor valk and Inno Salasoo (right). 

For the rest of the afternoon, everyone mingled in the warm atmosphere to celebrate the launch of 'Across Lands and Oceans'. One of the highlights of the afternoon was Andra Krumins' performance of a traditional Estonian song- as the song was about childhood, it prompted many people to reminisce about their childhood memories. 

For more photographs: Photo Gallery