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Foreign Minister Urmas Paet: Our Shared Memory Must Prevent New Crimes


No. 124-E

At the memorial event dedicated to the French Jews who were deported to occupied Estonia during World War II held in Tallinn near Patarei Prison today, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet said that over the past decades a tremendous amount of work has been done to study the Holocaust and preserve related memories, and as a result of that research it has also become more clear what happened with those who were deported from France to occupied Estonia on convoy 73. “Today’s memorial event and the memorial stone placed here are also the result of the work that has been done, which will ensure we never forget the victims of the Holocaust or all other crimes against humanity,” said Paet.

The foreign minister said that Europe Day, which is being observed today to celebrate peace and unity in Europe, and European integration were inspired by the thought that the destruction and crimes against humanity of World War II must never be repeated. “Stronger than any union of countries is our shared memory,” he said. “Hold dear the memories of those people who lost their lives due to these crimes,” he added. 

In May 1944, 68 years ago, five cars arrived at Patarei Prison carrying about 300 deportees, and for decades their fate was unknown to their family members and loved ones. For years the loved ones of those on the convoy believed that the final destination of the deportees was Auschwitz. Out of the 79 convoys that deported French Jews from Drancy in France between March 1942 and August 1944, only one was sent to the Baltics, for reasons that are still unknown. It was convoy number 73, which departed from Drancy on 15 May 1944. Of the people in the convoy, nearly 600 men were sent to Fort IX in Kaunas and five cars carrying about 300 people moved on to Tallinn, where they most likely arrived on 20 May. On 1 September 1944, 34 survivors of convoy no. 73 were deported to the Stutthof concentration camp. Only 22 survivors returned to France in 1945.

The association “Relatives and Friends of the Deportees of Convoy 73” is in Estonia for a memorial visit from 8-10 May. Within the framework of the visit, on 9 May a memorial gathering was held at the memorial stone next to Patarei Prison that is dedicated to the deportees. On 10 May at 18.00 a documentary film about convoy 73 will be shown at the ARTIS cinema.

The association “Relatives and Friends of the Deportees of Convoy 73” was created in 1995 and involves about 500 families that represent the 286 people who were deported. The association regularly organises memorial visits to commemorate the deported loved ones.

The memorial stone dedicated to the deportees of convoy 73 was opened next to Patarei Prison on 2 June 2010. The opening of the memorial stone was made possible thanks to the “Relatives and Friends of the Deported in Convoy 73”, the Shoah Memorial Fund, and the Tallinn City Government. Foreign Minister Urmas Paet was present at the opening.

Both France and Estonia are members of the Task Force for International Co-operation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research and help to preserve the memory of the Holocaust as well as provide a responsible education for youth, who will shape our future.

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