Elin Toona Gottschalk
Elin was born in Tallinn, Estonia, in July 1937. Her parents were well-known actors who lived in the theatre dressing room during the ‘season’. After Elin was born she was given to her grandmother and great-aunt Alma Saul in Haapsalu, Estonia. Her grandmother, “Mämmä” was a trained artist and widow of the respected Estonian poet Ernst Enno. Alma Saul was a music teacher. Elin was raised by the two old ladies in a house dedicated to art, poetry, literature and music. Her parents came to visit during the theatre’s“off-season”.
After the war broke out in 1939 the Russians began to move into the Baltic States. Elin and her family escaped the mass deportations to Siberia on June 14th, 1941. The deportations were interrupted when the battlefront shifted toward Russia, but then it shifted again, and in 1944 the Russians were returning. Knowing that the deportations would resume 70-80,000 Estonians fled to the West. Elin, her mother and grandmother set off in September 1944 on a journey of survival that took them through the war, the DP Camps and eventually to Northern England. Elin grew up in post-war Great Britain, where she acquired a fighting spirit under difficult circumstances. She began to write and was published at an early age in Estonian and English. She later attended Drama school in London and got parts on TV and B-Films. She wrote for the BBC and was published in English by Penguin/Kestrel, Thomas Nelson and Dell. She has written for magazines, newspapers and received numerous prizes in both languages and the White Star V Class Medal from the President of Estonia in 2004. Her current mission is to preserve the true history of the Baltic States during WWII, in the ideological battle between Hitler and Stalin that continues to haunt world opinion and will do, for generations to come.