Audio Recording of K. Päts’ Last Speech

February 10, 2016

Film Archives of the Estonian National Archives presented rare finds from the Swedish Estonian Association film and audio collection on 4 February 2016 at the Tallinn University SuperNova cinema. Among these finds, was an audio recording of Konstantin Päts’ last public speech on 21 June 1940; colour film clips of Konstantin Päts at his residence in Oru, and some film chronicles of Swedish-Estonians departing from the Haapsalu harbour. The recording of Konstantin Päts’ speech and the coup on June 21st are the only audio recordings that remain of these events. Until now the primary sources of information regarding the events that occurred on June 21st in Kadrioru, were newspaper articles and poorly written memories from that time. The audio recordings done by national broadcasters had been proclaimed unusable decades ago. In the presented recording, which had also been deemed damaged years ago, the President attempts to create a dialogue with the people who had gathered at Kadrioru. However, due to the outspoken opinions and interruptions made by the audience, the President had no choice but to leave the castle’s balcony podium.

There are many more interesting materials that remain unknown to the public in the Swedish Estonian Association’s collection. The film clips show President Konstantin Päts with his confidants at the Oru residence and Toila beach in the summer of 1939. There are also some clips captured of what remained of the Tallinn cityscape following the bombings of March 1944. The tragic maze of historical events continue to be reflected in the film material of Swedish-Estonians departing from the Haapsalu harbour and clips of the conditions in which Estonians lived in refugee camps in southern Sweden. Film clips also show important life events that took place in exile, such as the Stockholm Estonian Secondary School final exams and graduation ceremonies.

In addition to the films, rare audio recordings were released from the years 1940-1953. The opening remarks for the release of the second print of the Estonian Students Association in Sweden were given by the well-known theological and educational figure, Johan Kõpp. “Be certain in your hope and actions”, was emphasised by the national political figure, August Rei at the 32nd Estonian Independence Day speech at the Stockholm Concert Hall in 1950. The audio recording titled “The Stories from Siuru” make it possible to listen to Marie Under performing her own ballad “Kotermann”.

The author of many of the described films and audio recordings is Harald Perten. Harald Perten (8 April 1913, Tallinn – May 5, 1992, St. Gallen, Switzerland) was an Estonian agricultural scholar and grain chemist. Aside from his work, Harald was interested in film and photography and has recorded a significant amount of important cultural material. Harald Perten’s film and audio archives were organised in collaboration with the Swedish Estonian Association.

The Compatriate Program supported the digitisation of the films. The Swedish Estonian Association audiovisual collection will be kept at the Film Archives of the Estonian National Archives and will be made accessible to the public on the National Archives database, FIS.

Historian Dr Ago Pajur; the directing consultant of the Film Archives, Pearu Tramberg, and audio archivist, Paavo Annus spoke at the event on February 4th. The representative of the Swedish Estonian Association, Jüri-Karl Seim, was also in attendance. has made film clips of the event available online.