TORONTO, 31/10/07 — Eduard Kolga, the Estonian-Canadian subject of the award winning 2005 documentary film about the Soviet GULAG forced labour camp system, GULAG 113, has died at the age of 93.
Kolga died of respiratory complications on Wednesday shortly after being admitted to a Toronto area hospital.
Born in Estonia in 1914, Kolga was illegally mobilized, along with 30,000 fellow countrymen at the end of the first Soviet occupation of Estonia in 1941. Kolga survived internment in a camp near the near arctic Russian city of Kotlas, where he witnessed the grisly deaths of nearly 1/3 of his comrades.
He eventually escaped through the lines of the Eastern Front and briefly returned to Estonia in 1942. He and his family eventually fled to Canada, where he is now survived by his two sons, Mati and Aare and their families.
Days before his passing, Kolga requested that the following statement be released upon his death:
“As my ultimate fate becomes a mortal certainty, my thoughts swarm to the cruel and inhumane end that met so many of my countrymen over 60 years ago. I have thanked Our Lord everyday for the blessed time I have received with his help.
As I lay here in a clean bed, surrounded by my family, I mourn the tragedy that befell my countrymen and Stalin’s 20 million other victims who died alone, in horrific conditions and without the solemnity that each human being deserves.
I am disturbed by recent reports of the current Russian leadership’s unwillingness to accept the universal tragedy of this history; and the embrace by certain groups in Russia of its murderous glory."
GULAG 113 retraced Kolga’s journey through the Soviet GULAG system where he nearly lost his life on a number of occasions. The film has been screened or broadcast throughout North America and Europe.
Funeral services will be held on Monday, November 5, 2007 at 11am at St. Peter’s Estonian Lutheran Church in Toronto.
Estonian–Canadian GULAG survivor Eduard Kolga dead at 93 (3)