Walking around the streets of Tartu, you are bound to hear many languages. Language number one is, of course, Estonian. This is the native language of more than 80 percent of this city.
Language number two is Russian. There are other languages, too. You'll hear Finnish outside pubs, Italian in La Dolce Vita, and Polish outside the university's main building. Swedish is a hard one to recognize, because it sounds a lot like Estonian, only with different words. English, of course, is omnipresent.
And then there is German. Some Germans are local, others are students, a third group are tourists. I'm told that there are even some Baltic Germans in Tartu of ancient, sword-wielding stock. When I see Germans or meet them I an intrigued, but never tell them what I think, because the German soul is a mystery.
What I am wondering, though, is how exactly does it feel to be a German in a place that was formerly known as "Dorpat"? What kind of cultural deja vu do they experience when they realize that most of the architecture in the town center reminds one of the buildings back home? How does it feel to be introduced to a group of Estonians with names like Hans, Karl, and Katrin?
One German I know who has never visited was positively shocked when she learned that the Estonians were (unobservant) Evangelical Lutheran, punctual types who use European (German) words like reklaam and reisibüroo in their language. An instant kinship was born.
But what of the one's who have visited? Is there any connection, or have all warm feelings for the Teutonic past been locked away in the attic of the German national collective unconscious? How do Germans feel about Estland?