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Estonian Welfare Office statement relating to Ilmari Lehepuu

Date: 29 August 1947
Dimensions:
285 x 225 mm
Medium: Ink on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Liisa Cotterill
Classification:Ephemera
Object Name: Document
Object No: 00040556

User Terms

    Description
    This statement regarding Ilmari Lehepuu was issued by the Estonian Welfare Office in 1947. It outlines Ilmari Lehepuu's employment as a radio mechanic (1937-1946), educational training and political affiliations. Ilmari and his family migrated from Estonia to Australia on SVALBARD in 1948, having fled increasing Soviet persecution in Estonia following the 1939 Nazi-Soviet non-aggression pact.
    SignificanceThe Lehepuu collection helps to document the experience of thousands of Estonians displaced by upheavals in their country between 1940-1950.
    HistoryBetween 1940 and 1950, approximately one in five Estonians were deported or forced to flee as a direct result of Nazi and Soviet occupation, and their subsequent military campaigns. The Lehepuu family were part of this mass exodus from Estonia, one of the Baltic states. After World War II the Australian Government actively recruited 'Beautiful Balts' in their push to populate the country while maintaining a white Australia.

    This collection was donated by Liisa Cotterill, who was born in a Displaced Persons camp in Germany and migrated to Australia in 1948 on SVALBARD with her parents Ilmari and Leida Lehepuu. Upon arrival in Australia, the Lehepuu's were placed in the Bathurst Migrant Camp for displaced persons. Their journey mirrored the experience of hundreds of thousands of post-World War II European migrants - one which not only changed their lives but also had a profound effect on Australian society.

    SVALBARD, originally named TOGO, was commissioned by the German Woermann Line and launched on 13 August 1938. TOGO was built as a cargo ship before being refitted in 1941 as a commerce raider. It served as a night fighter direction ship in Baltic waters until the end of World War II. After being seized by the British in 1945 as a war prize, the vessel was given to the Norwegian Government in 1946. It was renamed SVALBARD and converted to carry 900 displaced persons.

    On 20 September 1948 SVALBARD undertook its first voyage transporting displaced persons, from Bremerhaven to Fremantle and then Sydney. SVALBARD undertook three more of these voyages in 1949 before being passed into the Norwegian Navy in 1954.
    Additional Titles

    Web title: Estonian Welfare Office statement relating to Ilmari Lehepuu

    Assigned title: Statement: "On 29 Aug 1947 Ilmari Lehepuu..."

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