Bad Taste in Estonia

I will soon travel to Estonia and it seems I will have to brace myself for a massive amount of bad taste, if not anti-Semitism.

First, an Estonian gas company put this photo of the Auschwitz concentration camp on their website:

The caption below the photo reads “Gas heating – flexible, convenient and effective.”

Then, in a response to the gas ad, the Estonian weekly Eesti Ekspress printed this fake ad with a photo of concentration camp inmates in its humour pages:

The caption here reads “One, two, three: Dr. Mengele’s diet pills work miracles on you. There were no fatties in Buchenwald.”

Of course I don’t want to judge all of Estonia based on the behaviour of one gas company and one newspaper, but if companies believe that alluding to the Holocaust will increase the sale of its products and if a newspaper believes that its readers will find it funny to see victims of the Holocaust being ridiculed, then something may be wrong. I will soon find out.


About Andreas Moser

Travelling the world and writing about it. I have degrees in law and philosophy, but I'd much rather be a journalist, a spy or a hobo.
This entry was posted in Estonia, History, Holocaust, Media. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Bad Taste in Estonia

  1. Zio Alberto says:

    Go find them Andreas!

  2. Estonia was the one of the three Baltic states to be longest under Soviet rule, no? It will be interesting to see what the overall sentiments of the country are like.
    Oh, and not to take anything away from your blog, but I just wanted to let you know my blog is finally open for business. Well, I’m still working with (more like fighting against) WordPress to get things fully set up. But I’ve got one post up, and plan to add a couple more through the week. So stop by, if you get a chance, and thank you for your support!

  3. silver price says:

    As soon as I read “we cannot teach enough about” any subject my hackles rise. Nothing is so important that it takes precedence over everything else. When you teach one thing, you take away the time that could have been given to something else. Are there no other things just as important as the holocaust which also should be taught?

  4. An Estonian says:

    If you are easily offended maybe you’re choosing a wrong country to visit.

  5. Laura says:

    Welcome to Estonian “humour.” This is how it is over here, people make jokes about Siberian gulags as well, even though tens of thousands of Estonians were sent there. In fact, take a look at this video (it has English subtitles): It is making light of the Siberian deportations, and it was a part of our Christmas tv-show. And there are many other videos similair to this and nobody was offended. I had a few family members who died in Siberia, but I didn’t even think of being offended by the video because that’s our way of dealing with things. Estonians have always had a dark sense of humour, often times it goes too far and stops being funny alltogether. What you pointed out on this blog is one of those examples of something that was never funny, just idiotic. The newspaper picture was an example of a typical parody, as hard as it may be to believe, it was actually meant to draw attention to what the gas company did in a bad light.

    So no, you don’t have to brace yourself for anti-Semitism, in fact nobody will care. Estonian humour and attitude is just an….aquired taste and many foreigners find it strange. I hope your visit here will be pleasant, even though I realize you are upset over this. Believe me, the people here are nice enough, just cold and indifferent compared to Western-European countries.

    • Estonian says:

      Laura put it right. We find it funny to crack jokes about anything and sometimes it may come off as bad taste. Honestly, I’m sometimes afraid to speak my mind around foreigners because they might not get the amount of sarcasm we use in our daily conversations, which in turn makes me look like an asshole. Estonian humour can be offensive but we never take it seriously, once we’re done laughing and it’s time to get serious, you’ll see how tolerant this society actually can be. I think it has been our way to cope with all of the hardships our nation has suffered.

  6. Ansip says:

    Yeah, you probably don’t like it here, we don’t really tolerate such whiny blokes, who offend on every thing.

  7. Ants says:

    As others have pointed out, that’s just the Estonian way of making jokes. Deal with it.
    We have had a far bigger (judging from our perspective) national crisis ( ) than the holocaust and we’re making fun of that occasionally… and imagine that – the world does not stop spinning and people laugh over this. So if you are easily offended by dark (and often just bad as the gas company ad) humor then I guess that you will have problems in Estonia (and anywhere else in the world for that matter).

  8. Andreas, Laura and all Estonians who commented, made the right point indeed. Laughing about a painful memoru is a good way to deal with situation. Also get over the past. In both Nazi Germany and Soviet Union people were brainwashed and were not fully realising what they were doing. Better admire the examples of brave people on both sides who were fighting against the systems.

    Estonians are very reserved but with a bit of patience you will realise that people there have warm hearts. However, if you attune your expectations and will expect a certain behaviour you may just attract a situation like that. I am Russian who lived there for 15 years I was never discriminated and have great Estonian friends. The old town is beautiful and treat yourself on a bear stake in Old Hansa Restaurant and great beer in the Beer House. I am sure you will love the place. Any more tips or if you want any introductions, just ask)))

  9. Tatiana says:

    Estonia is awesome!

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