Lennart Meri - Writers, Family and Life

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Lennart Meri's Personal Details

Lennart Meri was the Second President of Estonia and a famous writer-filmmaker, known for his travelogues

InformationDetail
BirthdayMarch 29, 1929
Died onMarch 14, 2006
NationalityEstonian
FamousHumanitarian, Republicans, Leaders, Political Leaders, Presidents, Writers
IdeologiesRepublicans
SpousesHelle Meri
Universities
  • University of Tartu
Humanitarian Works
  • Associated with organizations like the 'Federation of Expellees' and 'Centre Against Expulsions' for rehabilitation of refugees.
Founder / Co-Founder
  • Estonian Institute
Birth PlaceTallinn
Political IdeologyPro Patria Union
GenderMale
Sun SignAries
Born inTallinn
Famous asWriter
Died at Age76

// Famous Political Leaders

Lennart Meri's photo

Who is Lennart Meri?

Lennart Meri belonged to Estonia, and was a writer, film director, as well as the second President of the Republic. Brought up in concentration camps of Serbia, during the communist Soviet regime, his literary works always reflected the hardships and struggles he faced as a young boy. He began his career as a playwright, working for the prestigious theatre in Estonia, ‘Vanemuine’. At the age of twenty nine, his first book was published, and since then there was no looking back for the budding writer. Most of his literary works talk about his adventures as a globetrotter, weaving each anecdote with the region’s history. He also wrote about Estonia’s rich history, often describing the downfall of the Soviet Union. It was only in the late 1980s that this popular writer ventured into the new ground of active politics. He was initially appointed as the ‘Minister of Foreign Affairs’, in the capacity of which, he took significant steps to throw light on the cultural heritage of Estonia. Early next decade he was elected President of his homeland, and served as the head of state for nine continuous years. The former President was also particularly revered for his efforts to rehabilitate refugees from across the globe.

// Famous Presidents

Career

In 1958, after travelling to the Kara Kum Desert and the Tian Shan Mountains in Central Asia, Lennart wrote his first book, that was well-received by readers.

He joined the ‘Estonian Writers' Union’ in 1963, and a year later wrote the famous book 'Tulemägede Maale' ('To the Land of Fiery Mountains'). The non-fictional work describes his trip to the Kamchatka Peninsula, taken early that decade.

In 1974, the talented writer penned 'Virmaliste Väraval' ('At the Gate of the Northern Lights'), which spoke about his voyage to the Northeast Passage, bringing him critical acclaim. The book also refers to the observations of other travellers like Cook, Wrangel and Bering.

Two years later, in 1976, he published the famous 'Hõbevalge' ('Silver White'), which deals with the history of his homeland and the surrounding region. Here too, the author resorted to a lot of documented references coupled with rational thinking.

His book 'Virmaliste Väraval' was transliterated into Finnish, in the 'Soviet Writers Series', a compilation which also consisted of works by other Estonian authors like Ülo Tuulik and Mats Traat. The same year, 'Lähenevad rannad' ('Nearing Shores'), a critically appreciated book by Meri, was published.

Later that decade the writer was allowed by the Soviet authorities to travel to Finland, where he advocated Estonia's quest for freedom. During the trip, he also openly criticized the government's decision to use the Virumaa region for phosphorite mining.

In 1988, the prolific writer was responsible for establishing the ‘Estonian Institute’ (‘Eesti Instituut’), which helped students of the country go abroad to pursue higher education.

The same year, he turned to politics and helping form the ‘Estonian Popular Front’. The organization advocated freedom of Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia from the Soviet rule, and played a major role in the ‘Singing Revolution’, also known as the ‘Estonian Independence Movement’.

In 1990, non-communist elections were held in Estonia, where Lennart was chosen as the 'Minister of Foreign Affairs'. For his ministry, he carefully selected highly learned young people, some of them knowing English, so that Estonia could gain recognition globally.

To make a name for his nation in world affairs, he regularly attended conferences in New York, Paris, Berlin, Copenhagen, and Moscow. The politician also held meetings with Foreign Ministers of other nations, and became the first Eastern European national to speak at Brussels' 'NATO' head-office.

In 1992, he was chosen to be the Estonian Ambassador, and along with Foreign Ministers of other Baltic nations he established the ‘Council of the Baltic Sea States’ (‘CBSS’).

On October 6, the same year, as a candidate representing the ‘Pro Patria Union’, he was elected as the second President of the Republic of Estonia, defeating communist leader and rival, Arnold Rüütel.

Lennart was re-elected for his second term as President of Estonia, on September 20, 1996, and he served in this capacity for the next five years.

The former President was also known for making films that dealt with his country and the Soviet regime. 'Linnutee tuuled' (' The Winds of the Milky Way'), was a movie made with the help of the governments of Finland and Hungary. The movie won accolades at the ‘New York Film Festival’, but its release was prohibited in the Soviet Union.

Major Works

This former President of Estonia is best known for his book 'Hõbevalge' ('Silver White'), published in 1976. In this work, he attempts at dissecting the legend of ‘Ultima Thule’, a remote region often referred to in classical literature of Europe, and mentioned on ancient maps.

Awards and Achievements

In 1979, this author was named the 'Merited Writer of Estonian SSR'.

He was awarded an honorary doctorate in 1986, from the 'University of Helsinki', in Finland.

French newspaper ‘La Vie’ declared the political leader and author, the ‘European of the Year’, in 1998.

He has received several orders of merits from the governments of Jordan, Poland, Norway, Germany, and Greece, amongst others.

He is also the recipient of the 'Liberal International Prize', which is presented for outstanding contribution to human rights, and the 'Coudenhove-Kalergi Award', given for efforts to promote European integration.

Personal Life & Legacy

Lennart got married to Regina Meri, who left for Canada in 1987, returning to Estonia sixteen years later. The couple had a son Mart, who is now a politician, and a daughter, Kristjan.

In 1985, the politician had a daughter, Tuule, with his girlfriend Helle, an actress, who he married seven years later.

This writer and political leader had contributed to the rehabilitation of refugees from Germany and other places, working with several human rights organizations. He was also a representative of the jury of the 'Franz Werfel Human Rights Award', which was presented to felicitate people working against genocide.

On March 14, 2006, the former President succumbed to a malignant brain tumour, after several months of treatment.

This great statesman was honoured by Tarja Halonen and Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga, Presidents of Finland and Latvia respectively. Swedish diplomat Carl Bildt was one of the distinguished personalities who attended Meri's funeral service.

In 2009, as a tribute to the popular former President, the Tallin Airport was named ‘Lennart Meri Tallinn International Airport’.

Trivia

This former Estonian President has appeared in the 2006 documentary ‘The Singing Revolution’, which chronicles the non-violent independence movement in the nation.

Childhood & Early Life

Lennart Georg Meri was born to diplomat-turned-translator Georg and his wife Alice-Brigitta Engmann, on March 29, 1929, in Tallin, Republic of Estonia.

At a young age, Lennart had to move from Estonia and travel all over the world with his parents. He studied in nine schools, including ‘Lycée Janson de Sailly', in Paris. Due to his schooling in different parts of the world, he learnt to speak languages like French, Russian, German, Finnish, English, and of course his native tongue Estonian.

In 1940, when the Soviet Union seized the nation of Estonia, Meri was in his hometown with his parents. Some of his family members were in support of the invaders while others were not, and Arnold, Lennart's cousin, joined the Soviet Army.

Arnold was made the ‘Hero of the Soviet Union’ and was involved in the genocide and deportation of thousands of Estonians, Lithuanians and Latvians, including his own family.

The people were sent to Siberia, where they were forced to live in concentration camps, often separated from the heads of the families. Lennart had to fend for his household, by working as a potato peeler, or a lumberjack and sometimes even as a rafter.

During his stay in Siberia, the young boy showed an inclination towards other Uralic languages like Hungarian and Finnish, and this interest appeared later in most of his literary works.

After the family's return to Estonia, Meri graduated in 1953 from the 'University of Tartu', specializing in History and Languages. Considering the Communist rule of the Soviet Union, it was difficult for the young man to have a career as a historian. Instead, he started off working as a playwright for Estonia's oldest theatre 'Vanemuine'.

// Famous Humanitarian

Lennart Meri biography timelines

  • // 29th Mar 1929
    Lennart Georg Meri was born to diplomat-turned-translator Georg and his wife Alice-Brigitta Engmann, on March 29, 1929, in Tallin, Republic of Estonia.
  • // 1940
    In 1940, when the Soviet Union seized the nation of Estonia, Meri was in his hometown with his parents. Some of his family members were in support of the invaders while others were not, and Arnold, Lennart's cousin, joined the Soviet Army.
  • // 1953
    After the family's return to Estonia, Meri graduated in 1953 from the 'University of Tartu', specializing in History and Languages. Considering the Communist rule of the Soviet Union, it was difficult for the young man to have a career as a historian. Instead, he started off working as a playwright for Estonia's oldest theatre 'Vanemuine'.
  • // 1958
    In 1958, after travelling to the Kara Kum Desert and the Tian Shan Mountains in Central Asia, Lennart wrote his first book, that was well-received by readers.
  • // 1963
    He joined the ‘Estonian Writers' Union’ in 1963, and a year later wrote the famous book 'Tulemägede Maale' ('To the Land of Fiery Mountains'). The non-fictional work describes his trip to the Kamchatka Peninsula, taken early that decade.
  • // 1974
    In 1974, the talented writer penned 'Virmaliste Väraval' ('At the Gate of the Northern Lights'), which spoke about his voyage to the Northeast Passage, bringing him critical acclaim. The book also refers to the observations of other travellers like Cook, Wrangel and Bering.
  • // 1976
    Two years later, in 1976, he published the famous 'Hõbevalge' ('Silver White'), which deals with the history of his homeland and the surrounding region. Here too, the author resorted to a lot of documented references coupled with rational thinking.
  • // 1976
    This former President of Estonia is best known for his book 'Hõbevalge' ('Silver White'), published in 1976. In this work, he attempts at dissecting the legend of ‘Ultima Thule’, a remote region often referred to in classical literature of Europe, and mentioned on ancient maps.
  • // 1979
    In 1979, this author was named the 'Merited Writer of Estonian SSR'.
  • // 1985
    In 1985, the politician had a daughter, Tuule, with his girlfriend Helle, an actress, who he married seven years later.
  • // 1986
    He was awarded an honorary doctorate in 1986, from the 'University of Helsinki', in Finland.
  • // 1987
    Lennart got married to Regina Meri, who left for Canada in 1987, returning to Estonia sixteen years later. The couple had a son Mart, who is now a politician, and a daughter, Kristjan.
  • // 1988
    In 1988, the prolific writer was responsible for establishing the ‘Estonian Institute’ (‘Eesti Instituut’), which helped students of the country go abroad to pursue higher education.
  • // 1990
    In 1990, non-communist elections were held in Estonia, where Lennart was chosen as the 'Minister of Foreign Affairs'. For his ministry, he carefully selected highly learned young people, some of them knowing English, so that Estonia could gain recognition globally.
  • // 1992
    In 1992, he was chosen to be the Estonian Ambassador, and along with Foreign Ministers of other Baltic nations he established the ‘Council of the Baltic Sea States’ (‘CBSS’).
  • // 20th Sep 1996
    Lennart was re-elected for his second term as President of Estonia, on September 20, 1996, and he served in this capacity for the next five years.
  • // 1998
    French newspaper ‘La Vie’ declared the political leader and author, the ‘European of the Year’, in 1998.
  • // 2006
    This former Estonian President has appeared in the 2006 documentary ‘The Singing Revolution’, which chronicles the non-violent independence movement in the nation.
  • // 14th Mar 2006
    On March 14, 2006, the former President succumbed to a malignant brain tumour, after several months of treatment.
  • // 2009
    In 2009, as a tribute to the popular former President, the Tallin Airport was named ‘Lennart Meri Tallinn International Airport’.

// Famous Writers

Lennart Meri's FAQ

  • What is Lennart Meri birthday?

    Lennart Meri was born at 1929-03-29

  • When was Lennart Meri died?

    Lennart Meri was died at 2006-03-14

  • Where was Lennart Meri died?

    Lennart Meri was died in Tallinn

  • Which age was Lennart Meri died?

    Lennart Meri was died at age 76

  • Where is Lennart Meri's birth place?

    Lennart Meri was born in Tallinn

  • What is Lennart Meri nationalities?

    Lennart Meri's nationalities is Estonian

  • What is Lennart Meri ideologies?

    Lennart Meri's ideologies is Republicans

  • Who is Lennart Meri spouses?

    Lennart Meri's spouses is Helle Meri

  • What was Lennart Meri universities?

    Lennart Meri studied at University of Tartu

  • Which company or organization was founded by Lennart Meri?

    Lennart Meri was the founder/co-founder of Estonian Institute

  • What is Lennart Meri's political ideology?

    Lennart Meri's political ideology is Pro Patria Union

  • What is Lennart Meri's sun sign?

    Lennart Meri is Aries

  • How famous is Lennart Meri?

    Lennart Meri is famouse as Writer