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CNS International Day Seminar on the Shetland Bus very well attended

Tuesday 9 May 2017

Nordic Estonians

The Centre for Nordic Studies in association with their international partner, The Estonian National War Museum: The General Laidoner War Museum, held a very successful day conference on May 6th at the Shetland Museum and Archives.

It was a free event open to the people of Shetland. Over 70 people attended. There were four talks and a showing of the war film ‘Shetlandgjengen’, which features the heroes of the Shetland Bus playing themselves. It is a moving film, which tells the story of the Shetland Bus, capturing the drama of the events and the extraordinary weather that the boats suffered, as they ferried agents and arms to Norway, and brought refugees back to Shetland.

The day opened with a lively introduction from Shetland MSP Tavish Scott. Andrew Jennings then took the podium and gave an overview of the situation in wartime Norway and the background to the setting up of the Shetland Bus. He was followed first by Lauri Vahtre and then by Johannes Bach Rasmussen. Lauri, from the Estonian War Museum, described the flight of thousands of Estonians in 1944 from the re-advancing Red Army, and Johannes gave an overview of the situation in wartime Denmark. Lauri is an Estonian politician, author and translator, who has been a member of the Estonian Parliament and has translated the Outlander series of books into Estonian. Johannes is the founder of the Baltic Initiative and Network, which furthers the preservation and study of Cold War sites in the north.

In the afternoon, Mark Burgess, from Shetland College, gave a moving account of the local campaign in Scalloway, which led to the establishment of the Scalloway Museum, with its Shetland Bus exhibition. The day conference was part of a project funded by the Europe for Citizens Programme of the European Union, commemorating the 1951 Adoption of the United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees in relation to the post WWII refugee situation in Europe. There will be a further event in Estonia in June and another in Shetland in September. The event on May 6th was recorded and will appear on the UHI YouTube channel.

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