Blogging Baltic Biographies

Ann Tündern-Smith (Estonian Archives in Australia)

Posting individual life stories to a blog seemed to be a good way to continue reporting on research into those on the first post-WWII refugee ship to Australia, given that I had been collecting data on 839 Baltic refugees for more than 20 years. The positive outcome is that prosopographic patterns emerge: some threw themselves into their new lives with success, while other seemed unable to overcome their wartime experiences and subsequent difficulties. Australia would have liked all to stay and be successful, but many initial conditions were uncompromising, leading to better lives for a few in what amount to fourth countries.

Blogging also is giving new meaning to terms such as “Web crawling,” with Google taking nearly four years to start indexing the entries. This means that the blog is far less accessible to Web users that a similar Website would have been.

What is missing from the documentary records is how these individuals left their homelands. I know from some I have talked with that young men were likely to have been rounded up by the German military, even from school, and put to work digging trenches between two opposing armies. Women too, who found themselves in Germany early enough during the War, were sent to work as directed, just as all 839 were to work as directed for the first two years in Australia.