Pastor Harri Haamer translated into English
Tiina Ets has done the Estonian community living abroad in North America a great service by translating pastor Harri Haamer’s book „Meie elu on taevas“ into English. A four year labour of love for Ets, a professional translator, the book was featured recently in the Asbury Park Press (New Jersey). The work was prominently mentioned in the paper’s coverage of the June 15th memorial service for those victimized by the Great Deportation, held at the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Holy Ghost in Lakewood.
We contacted Tiina Ets to find out more about the book, the translation process and of its availability. While it is risky to translate a professional translator… for the benefit of our English readership the following is a summary, not verbatim translation of what Tiina wrote in Estonian, the language of our electronic correspondence.
Tiina Ets: Indeed Estonians, but especially Americans and Canadians should be made aware of this book. That is the main reason for its translation. The book is not long and Haamer’s straightforward form of expression makes it easy to read. The fact that it took me four years to translate was not due to the length of the book, or reflects any difficulty with language (other than Russian vulgarities and “zek” slang, the unique Russian prison camp vernacular, with which I received assistance from an acquaintance, a Russian teacher). I emphasized to the journalist from Asbury Park Press the length of time that it took to complete the project was due mainly that I did the translation in my so-called available time when I was free from everyday work responsibilities. Otherwise the translation could have been com0leted in a matter of months.
After my appearance [promoting the book] in the Lakewood Estonian Church I spoke with the journalist at length, and read later in print that she still did not understand my key points. For example, I was quoted as follows: "I didn't even know what happened," said Ets. I had hammered away at length that each and every one of us [Estonians ed.] has family and friends who undertook that terrible journey to Siberia, and that I grew up hearing these stories, but THE REST OF THE WORLD knows nothing of that experience. And as you read [from APP] she also wrote that the original work was written in Russian (!?). OK… as long as the book and message is publicized. (End of summary of Tiina’s letter.)
The book was published by the East European Missions Network arm of Bible Alive Ministries. Ets added that Reverend Thomas Vaga is actively involved in promoting energetic distribution of the book. It is to be hoped that if interest in the book grows —thanks to orders from not only Toronto but from across the continent — that this may indeed come to pass.
At the moment of writing We Shall Live in Heaven is available online from
The blurb notes are as follows:
We Shall Live in Heaven. Author: Harri Haamer.
Item NF4005, soft cover, 216 pages, ISBN 0979552664, 2007.
(BAM donates $6.00 from every sale of this book to the Tartu Academy of Theology in Tartu, Estonia.)
“As you read these snapshots of Pastor Harri Haamer’s cruel exile in Soviet slave labor camps, you will feel you are right there beside him. His writing style has such vividness and immediacy that you will experience his despair in the KGB dungeon, his homesickness on the prisoner transports and the bleakness he felt on the tundra. He takes you into a world you may not have known existed, but one which now you will not forget.”
The book costs $15, and the website entry allows the reader a look inside, providing a PDF that gives the background to the translation, a glimpse at of the founding of the Tartu Academy of Theology, table of contents and a bit of the first chapter. By all indications a book to pursue and a project to support as part of our message of getting that terrible part of Estonian history known and understood by North Americans.
We Shall Live In Heaven (1)