On 25 March, twenty thousand candles, one for each of the men, women and children deported by the Soviets to Siberia in 1949, will be lighted on Freedom Square in Tallinn. Nearly 3% of the Estonian population were seized in a few days and dispatched to remote areas of Siberia.
In the summer of 1940 the Soviet Union occupied Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania as a result of the infamous Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact signed between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union on 23 August 1939. In the aftermath of the Second World War, Estonia lost approximately 17.5% of its population.
The Soviet occupation brought about an event that until then had only been read about in history books and which became the most horrible memory of the past centuries – mass deportations which affected people of all nationalities living in Estonia. The two deportations that affected Estonia the most, on 14 June 1941 and 25 March 1949, are annually observed as days of mourning. The March 1949 deportation was the largest of these when over 20 000 people, mostly women and children, were deported from Estonia.