Europe's New Iron Lady

Breathe in,” Siim Kallas told his daughter in 1988. “It’s the air of freedom that comes from the other side.” Kaja Kallas was 11 at the time. To travel to East Berlin from her native Estonia, then still under Russian occupation as part of the Soviet Union, was a big deal in itself. To visit the Brandenburg Gate, looking towards West Berlin and all that it represented, was to glimpse everything that her family did not have. A photo taken on the trip shows the young Kaja in front of the gate with her brother and mother, wearing a little purple handbag and a steely gaze. The family could not have known then that the Berlin Wall would fall a year later and that the Soviet Union would collapse two years after that, transforming their lives and propelling their small country back towards independence and democracy. 


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