The World Refugee Day “The Great Escape”

Wednesday, 20.06, 12:30 - 18:30

12.30 “Baltic Saga” (2000), subtitles in English

Up to a million people fled from the Baltic countries during the Second World War. The “Baltic saga” tells the story of Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian refugees, who fled to Gotland on fishermen boats during The Great Escape.


12.30 Role play “We’ll be back by Christmas” (in Estonian)

It is 1944, and you must escape from Estonia. You lose your passport and all your belongings. What will you do next? The guide of the Estonian Maritime museum will lead you through a roleplay game, where you’ll have to find your way to the refugee camp for World War II refugees.


13.30 “Sea of Sorrow. Sea of Hope” (2018), in Danish, subtitles in Estonian

A short documentary of a Syrian boat refugee family, who escaped the war and ISIS across the Mediterranean sea. Directors: Marianne Hougen-Moraga and Estephan Wagner.


14.00 “Escape” by Andres Sööt (1991), in Estonian

An emotional documentary with rare historical footage about Estonians fleeing the World War II on boats in 1943-1944 to Sweden and Germany.


15.00 Excursion “The Great Boat Escape” (in Estonian)

The guide of the Estonian Maritime museum tells the story of 70 000 Estonians fleeing the World War II in 1943-1944. The Estonian boat refugees Helmi Warg and Li Suur Karlsson will join us from Sweden to tell the story of the refugee boat exhibited in the museum – their father Hans Suur escaped to Gotland on this tiny wooden fisherman’s boat. The excursion will end with watching a newly found rare film footage about Estonian refugees arriving to Stockholm in 1944.


16.00 Discussion: “Refugee Crisis – Past and Present” (translation into English)

The Great Escape in 1944 and the current refugee crisis were instigated by wars. How did the refugees escape then and how does their journey unfold today? How were the Estonian refugees welcomed abroad? How is the refugee aid organized today? The participants of the discussion are Estonian political scientist and WWII boat refugee Ilvi Cannon, Syrian boat refugee Alaa, Sander Jürisson from the Museum of Occupations and the Estonian spokesperson for UNHCR Didzis Melbiksis. The discussion is moderated by Meelis Niine,  International Organization for Migration.

Entrance and participation with museum’s ticket.

17.00 “Let’s Meet!” with Estonian and current refugees (Estonian/English)

Let’s meet with WWII and current refugees at the Living Library event in the museum’s cafe MARU and enjoy together some delicious free refreshments prepared by the refugees living in Estonia.

Entrance and participation is free of charge.

Exhibition “Estonia in the Migration Era” by Estonian Human Rights Centre gives an overview of biggest migration events in the history of the Estonian population during the last two centuries.

Try on the virtual reality glasses and visit the refugee camps in the Middle East, Sudan, and Ukraine  where millions of refugees have found temporary shelter.

Exhibition “100 years on water. The ships of Estonia 1918-2018” by Estonian Maritime Museum.


Entrance and participation with museum’s ticket.


The World Refugee Day is organized by UNHCR Northern Europe, Estonian Maritime Museum, Estonian Human Rights Centre, Estonian Refugee Council, International Organization for Migration, Estonian Institute of Human Rights.

“Let’s Meet!” project is co-financed by the EU Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) and the Ministry of the Interior of Estonia.



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