Der SpiegelDer Spiegel

Kaja Kallas: Estonia's high-profile prime minister - a star in the making

By Nadia Pantel

11 min read

Editor's Note

She sounded the alarm on Putin and rose to prominence. Der Spiegel traces the rise of Kaja Kallas, who went from a little-known Estonian politician to a high-profile leader in Europe.

Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas warned early on about the dangers presented by Vladimir Putin. She has raised the profile of her small country in other ways too.

There are two different kinds of stories the family of Kaja Kallas tells about the years they spent in Siberia. There are the stories of hunger, cold and fear – of how Soviet soldiers piled Kallas' mother into a cattle car with her mother and grandmother in 1949 and deported them to the east, beyond Novosibirsk. And then there are the stories they can laugh about. The one about how they managed to bring a sewing machine along with them, which provided a bit of income once they arrived at their destination, a tiny settlement of little more than a handful of wooden huts. There, they repaired the clothing of other residents. "My grandparents experienced horrible things," says Kaja Kallas. "And they taught me that you have to celebrate being alive."

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