Choirs and Music - Part one

Jun 8, 2018

I once heard a story regarding a special concert from an old Estonian man, who had been forced during the Second World War to join the German army. This man had been taken prisoner by the British at the end of the war and was brought to the prisoners of war camp Uklei, in Germany, together with other soldiers from the Baltic Countries.

The camp consisted of a large nature area and the British didn’t have enough men to guard the camp, so the rumour was started that the British will help to liberate the Baltic Countries and therefore most people remained in the camp, waiting for the moment they would be able to join the British army and return to an independent Estonia.

In the meantime they had to cope with little food, hardly any shelter and nothing to do. So the Estonians decided to organise a choir and they sang regularly. Then they heard the Latvians had done the same and they got the idea to give a concert together, somewhere near Lake Uklei.

The evening came, the Estonians headed for the place to have the concert and so did the Latvians, but the area was big and somehow they lost track of each other. After searching for the other group in vain, both groups gave a concert, though separately, for the men who had come along to hear both choirs. According to the story the evening was warm, the environment beautiful and the men sang wonderful.

In the end the British did not help to liberate the Baltic Countries but brought the prisoners a few weeks later to another prisoner of war camp, this time in Belgium, with guards at the gate and a high fence around the camp. There they stayed until March 1946, when they were brought to refugee camps in Germany.

Knowing this story, it didn’t surprise me to learn that the Estonians, around 75 people, who were brought to Geislingen in autumn 1944, to work in the WMF factory, formed a choir and even gave a concert. When the war had ended and the Estonian refugee camp was organised in Geislingen a year later, one choir was obviously not enough and quite soon there were four.

To be continued...