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’ may have been 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.
A recently initiated scientific research project, led by Professor Mats Burström at Stockholm University, Sweden, is now studying such stories about family ‘treasures’ hidden in the ground in Estonia during the Second World War. 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. The project will benefit from all stories about hidden family ‘treasures’, regardless of whether or not these will be possible to prove historically true. If you have any such story concerning your own family or have heard one from others, please contact Professor Burström – he will be most grateful!
You may reach him at: or: Mats Burström, Department of Archaeology and Classical Studies, Stockholm University, SE-106 91 Stockholm, SWEDEN. Tel. +46 8 162095.
Call for stories about family ‘treasures’ hidden in the ground