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Brigitte's biography: The Life of a Pioneer


The Life of a Pioneer is available for purchase online from, the publisher, or It is $13.99 plus postage from either web site. 

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About the Book

As a girl of sixteen in 1939, Brigitte Lundblade-Hasselblatt fled the Russians invading Estonia – making the first of many moves that would bring her full circle back to her hometown, exactly 50 years later.  Here she recounts some of her adventures:  a student-nurse in Germany during WWII, a midwife in England after the war, finding the Bahá’í Faith, and years of service in eight different countries for this Cause she loved.  

“A poet perhaps would describe it as a circle... yet it is not that she returned to the same stage from which she left.  So I would prefer to describe her life in the way that we
Bahá’ís see the development of a life in the Spirit.  We don’t see it as a fulfillment in a circle but we see it as a path, as a path forward in the Spirit, a path towards God... She came far on this path of perfection, of nearness in the Spirit, in nearness to God.”
Mr. Hartmut Grossman, former member of the Universal House of Justice, shared these reflections on Brigitte Lundblade-Hasselblatt’s life at her funeral in 2008.  She will always be known as the Mother of the Estonian Baha’i Community and a Knight of Baha’u’llah for the Shetland Islands.  This book, translated from the original German, gives us a glimpse of her unique path in the hope that it will inspire others to explore their own path in establishing the Kingdom of God on earth.

About the Author

Susanne Pfaff-Grossmann found herself captivated by Brigitte Lundblade-Hasselblatt’s stories of her life, and wanted to share them with others.  After interviewing and working with Brigitte over several years and several countries, the German version of this book was published in Germany.  Because of the interest in an English edition, Brigitte translated the book into English, adding some stories untold in the German original. Susanne has been part of the Bahá’í community for many years. She has written about other Bahá’ís including Dr. Hermann Grossman who visited and encouraged Brigitte during her years on the Shetland Islands.


“At that time I did not know where my parents were and I had the extraordinary feeling of being detached from everything and everybody, as if I were all alone on the planet, without obligations, expectations, worries or fears.  All I possessed were the clothes I wore and a toothbrush in my coat pocket...
    The United Nations Refugee Rehabilitation Association (UNRRA) had one of its camps set up in Salzgitter, Germany.  Ira and I went there at the beginning of 1946 – Ira as a Latvian and I as an Estonian.  The camp was full of refugees from Eastern Bloc countries and it became uncomfortable for me when Estonians recognized by my name that I was really a German...
    One day, a commission from the English Ministry of Labour came to the camp taking applications for workers in England.  This was meant only for refugees and displaced persons. But Ira and I wished to go, too, so we hid our German citizenship by destroying our passports.  Before we left, we went secretly one last time across the border into the Russian occupation zone to Brandenburg to see our parents. It was a dangerous journey – in the dark, our hearts beating with fear, climbing over fences, walking across open plains, sometimes hearing dogs barking in the distance.  
    ...Before leaving Germany, I had had a blanket with a dark brown stripe made into a stylish coat and I managed to get a becoming hat so that I did not look too bad.  The clerks processing the documents upon our arrival made comments about our looks, not realizing that we knew English and could understand them very well. We were completely alone in a strange country but in all this terrible time I always felt protected.  
    ...Ira and I decided to become midwives and we applied to several midwifery schools.  A Jewish school in Hampton Court accepted us in October of 1948.  We worked there one and a half years and were trained by Jewish teachers.  Everything was quite difficult for us, because we were, of course, taught in English...
    During this time in England I felt a need for spirituality. Once I went to a church service. To my disappointment, I heard a sermon that criticized Communism, instead of uplifting me spiritually.  After that, I turned completely away from the Church. For a brief period, I became interested in politics, but it did not satisfy me either.
    While I was working in Sheffield, Ira was working in Manchester.  There she came in contact with Bahá’ís.  She talked to me about an ‘international group.’ She had made some friends among the members and described the Bahá’ís as mostly intelligent, older people not wearing the most fashionable clothes – but among them were also some good-looking young Persian men.  
    In 1950, an elderly Bahá’í lady, Gladys Backwell, sent Ira an invitation to a summer school in Cottingham near Hull...    Looking back, I realized what an amazing group of Bahá’ís surrounded me there...  Richard St. Barbe Baker (The Man of the Trees) and John Ferraby (appointed Hand of the Cause of God by Shoghi Effendi in 1952) gave a talk...
During their talk, I felt as if a beam of light had struck my heart and had torn away a veil. I only wished that they would stop talking and I thought: ‘I have to become a Bahá’í! I have to become a Bahá’í! I have searched for this all my life – I want to tell everyone!’  Finally the talk ended and I could express my overwhelming experience!”