Helmut Tarand (also Helmuth Tarand, until 1935 Helmuth Takenberg, pseudonyms Annus Rävälä and Aili Helm, 8. X 1911 – 1. XI 1987) was a cultural figure and poet.
He graduated from Kaarli Gymnasium in Tallinn in 1929, and from 1929 to 1936 he studied in the faculty of philosophy at the University of Tartu. He belonged to the Veljesto student society. From 1935 to 1940 he edited the journal Eesti Noorus, heading the "Elbumus" student circle associated with it. From 1940 to 1941 he was editor of the journal Nõukogude Kultuur. In summer 1941 he was active in the anti-Soviet Home Guard militia in Harju county. From 1944 to 1945 he worked at the Historical Museum as a head of department and deputy director.
In 1945 he was arrested on political charges. In 1946 he was deported as a prisoner to the Vorkuta coal mines. From 1955 he was living in forced exile there, working as a stoker at the Permafrost Research Institute of the USSR Academy of Sciences. In 1956 he was allowed back into Estonia, supporting himself with casual literary commissions in Tallinn. From 1962 to 1971 he worked at the Horticultural Administration centre. From 1972 to 1986 he was the official compiling the chronicle of the Pelgulinn Hospital in Tallinn. With the help of nursing sister Hilja Rüütli, who had also been a political prisoner in Vorkuta, Helmut Tarand managed to get his own poems sent to Sweden.
Tarand's son Andres Tarand is a climatologist and veteran social democratic top politician, prime minister of Estonia from 1994-1995 and member of European Parliament from 2004-2009. Andres's son Indrek Tarand is also a politician and former member of European Parliament, second son Kaarel Tarand is a journalist and long-time editor-in-chief of the arts and culture newspaper Sirp.
Tarand and Hilja Rüütli used together the pseudonym Aili Helm which was created from their first names. Under this name they co-wrote the five-part sequence of documentary novels about the Soviet prison system. The manuscript was secretly moved out of the Soviet Union, then the first three novels - Kuradil ei ole varju ("The Devil has No Shadow", 1979), Vägivallamaa ("Land of Violence", 1982) and Režiim - see kõlab uhkelt ("How proud the word rings - REGIME!", 1984) - were published in Lund, Sweden. The final two - Kirjad pimedusest ("Letters from the Dark") and Kummelite suvi ("The Summer of Camomiles") were published in series in the Estonian-language newspaper Vaba Eesti Sõna in Toronto in 1981 and 1983-84. The main author was Rüütli, Tarand was the co-author and editor of the novel sequence.
In 1981 Tarand's poetry collection Vorkuta värsse ('The Vorkuta Verses') appeared in Lund under the pseudonym Annus Rävälä. In 1983 Helmut Tarand received the Estonian Henrik Visnapuu Prize for this collection.
L. P. (Translated by C. M.)
Books in Estonian
Annus Rävälä, Vorkuta värsse. Lund: Eesti Kirjanike Kooperatiiv, 1981. 61 lk.
Epitaaf. Tallinn: Perioodika, 1990. 61 lk.
Ürglohutus. Tallinn: Eesti Keele Sihtasutus, 2011. 439 lk.
Aili Helm, Kuradil ei ole varju. Märkmeid nõukogude naistevanglast 1946. Lund: Eesti Kirjanike Kooperatiiv, 1979, 204 lk. [2. trükk: 2009.]
Aili Helm, Vägivallamaa. Lund: Eesti Kirjanike Kooperatiiv, 1982, 198 lk. [2. trükk: 2009.]
Aili Helm, Režiim - see kõlab uhkelt. Lund: Eesti Kirjanike Kooperatiiv, 1984, 185 lk. [2. trükk: 2009.]