Happy ending to wartime love story

  • 2001-06-28
  • Aleksei Gunter
TALLINN - As The Baltic Times reported in January (TBT #241), local Ellen Salumae and German soldier Hans Kastrup met in Tallinn in 1944 during the turmoil of World War II, before the invasion of the Soviet army tore them apart.

When Kastrup left Estonia with the other German troops he also managed to get passage for Ellen. On the day her ship was due to leave, she fought her way through the chaotic crowds at the port of Tallinn to the gangway of what was to be the last ship to leave for Stockholm. But she turned back at the last minute.

Ellen's husband, who had been recruited by the Soviet army after the occupation of Estonia in 1940, was reported killed in battle in 1943. Ellen was afraid there was a chance the report might be a mistake.

"I turned around and looked at the beautiful skyline of Tallinn - the weather was splendid, it was a fine Estonian autumn - and I walked back to the pier," she said.

The next day the Russian tanks entered the city. Ellen never remarried.

After several years in a Soviet military prison - he was captured before his ship could retreat - Kastrup returned to Germany, married, and lived peacefully with four daughters. One of them, Sibylle, inspired by her father's stories about the wonderful girlfriend he once had in Estonia, decided to look up Ellen Salumae and contacted TBT's Tallinn office in December 2000. We succeeded in locating Ellen, and Hans, his wife Lisa-Lotte and Sibylle came to meet her on June 4.

Why did Hans agree to revive those old memories and search for Ellen? "I have never forgotten her. I just wanted to see her once again."

Hans Kastrup's wife Lisa-Lotta said she did not feel jealous about her husband's old romance. "There was a war, they were young, things were different. It's great that we came here and finally met Ellen," she said.

Ellen was more than excited to meet Hans again. She was speechless. For her, it was a happy ending to her five decades of solitude.