Released on Monday Dplayn Estonia – Revolutionary Discovery documentary series Swedish instructor Henrik Evertsson says that it has received numerous contacts across Europe, the message of which has been largely the same.
That message is: thank you for listening.
– I understand relatives and survivors because no one has ever listened to them. They were so grateful that they were able to tell their own story and how they have felt over the years, Evertsson tells Iltalehti.
His phone went hot on Monday. During the emotional calls, people cried and told how yesterday’s documentary release was the most wonderful moment of their lives. Many had just waited for someone to take them into account.
Evertsson’s five-part documentary was released on Monday morning, revealing both a massive hole in the side of the ship and how survivors from Estonia felt the course of events very different from the official 1997 report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Accident. Only some crew members had been interviewed as witnesses in the report. The survivors ’stories were bundled into a common mass and were based on interviews conducted by police.
– Those interviews were very miserable. They mess up the starburst and the papal, follow-up questions about the bang heard by many, and so on.
– Survivors have always been seen only as victims. I think they are more of a great source of information, the director says.
You can read the key revelations of the document in this story.
They felt a bang
Evertsson, 33, is from Östersund in northern Sweden but has lived in Oslo for the past 12 years. One full-length documentary has previously been published by the director who worked as a journalist and photographer The Race Warriors, which is also presented in Yle and tells about the Nordic Resistance Movement.
He says he followed the Estonian story for 15 years. It is, he said, a story about a great tragedy, broken promises, politics, scandals and the smuggling of military equipment, among other things. Evertsson began collecting a scrapbook, and somewhere in between it dawned on him that a series should be made on the subject. Its production lasted more than two years.
The only premise for Evertsson and his team was that everything should be based on facts and not speculation and primarily the stories of survivors.
– On the basis of those five- to six-hour interviews, a completely different story began to emerge. This had never been done, it was brand new information.
As early as 1997, more than 30 survivors signed a statement stating that the timeline of the official investigation report was incorrect. They were not taken into account. Their experiences were mixed, Evertsson says.
In-depth interviews began to dawn on the whole scenario of a big bang that the survivors had not only heard but also felt. They spoke metal against metal, the sound of scratching.
– There was a quick sinking on top of this, which really bothered me and there was no explanation for it even in the official report.
– An explanation had to be found for this, and many arrows pointed to a leak in the hull, but we did not want to speculate on the matter but to find factual information. That’s why we did the dive.
From a journalistic point of view, according to Evertsson, it would have been just as valuable to prove that the body would have been intact, since its detection would also have pitted a considerable number of conspiracy theories.
– But we found a hole, Evertsson laughs.
Gaps in the report
Still, the document also included people somewhat branded as conspiracy theorists, such as the German journalist Jutta Rabe. According to Evertsson, his involvement does not take away the credibility of the documentary itself. Rabe has been following Estonia for years, and his role was practically to recount the theories of a 1999 report by Meyer Shipyard.
Rabe, for example, says two eyewitnesses said the car deck ramp wasn’t even open and only a little water came in through it.
– The final report also has difficulty explaining how water flooded the car deck if the ramp was not open, and they came up with the theory that the visor tore the ramp down. But on the wreck the ramp is closed.
– If you make such a statement, you have to prove it, and the final report will not.
Evertsson also points out that the explosion theories shared by Meyer and Rabe are refuted in the last part of the document, in which the captain of the Norwegian Navy Frank Børresen estimates that the explosion was a very unlikely cause of the hole.
“Finns are polite”
The other experts used in the documentary are also virtually all Norwegian, although the documentary itself revolves heavily around Swedish authorities and politicians. The big reason for this is that, according to Evertsson, Norway is a maritime state and has the best Nordic expertise on the subject.
Another reason is that Finnish and Swedish experts did not want their faces on the documentary. The willingness to cooperate was found otherwise.
– We looked at the case with open eyes. We also received the Finnish perspective on the accident investigation and did in-depth interviews with them as well, but they did not want to participate in front of the camera, unfortunately.
There is more praise for the Finnish director. When the filming team arrived at the Estonian sinking site protected by the funeral treaty a year ago, a Finnish Border Guard ship was on the passport. After a brief radio conversation, it moved itself out of the way and let the dive take place. The wreck is in international waters, and the authorities of no country have the power to make arrests, for example. Swedes have a history of more aggressive behavior.
– I was really happy that it was a Finnish patrol and not a Swedish patrol. The Finns were very polite and correct, Evertsson says.
He himself does not take a position on the fate of Estonia in one direction or another, but he is preoccupied with one thing. A man accused of violating a grave in Sweden wonders about the existence of the whole agreement.
– It would be interesting to know what the funeral treaty should protect. At least the relatives we’ve talked to – there are other opinions, of course – don’t consider it a grave. And, as far as I know, this is the only wreck covered by such an agreement.
Evertsson does not yet know what he will do next. They have a huge database and information, hours of in-depth interview tapes and resources on the whole of the last 26 years.
– Maybe things are moving forward now, it would be good for relatives and survivors to get new answers.
The governments of Finland, Sweden and Estonia issued a statement on Monday in which they promised to clarify the new information.