Artefactual Memories

Artefactual Memories. Family Belongings Hidden in the Ground in Estonia during World War II

Many Estonians who had to abandon their homes during the Second World War are said to have hidden objects in the ground, hoping to return and recover them later. These objects may have included valuables, but more often the family ‘treasures’ contained objects that were important for other reasons than their pure economic value. Sets of glass or china and books seem, for example, to have been common objects to have been buried. During the many years in exile, telling stories about these hidden ‘treasures’ was a way to remember the old native home and to keep alive the hope of return. After the fall of the Soviet Union some people did return and were in some cases also able to recover their family belongings. Some of the stories about hidden ‘treasures’ and their recovery are historical facts, while others are to be considered as modern folklore, but they are all of interest. The general aim of the project is to study the relation between material objects and memory, and how the stories of individual families connect to the larger and official history to give that a human face.