Living in between the east and west has always posed a challenge for Finns

Vapaa Sana

They had elections in Russia last week in which Putin declared himself a winner before the votes were counted. His reign will also affect Finland.
The fate of our homeland has always been to be stationed between east and west, in the fusillade of different cultural and political winds. Of these the Eastern front has proved to be more challenging.
No doubt we can thank for our stamina and unyielding character and complex language for keeping our national identity. After all we were under the Swedish rule for four centuries, but in spite of that only in the coast they speak their language.
When Finland was driven under the wings of Tsarist Russia in 1809 many people were relieved. Swedes used to exploit Finland in many ways. Big houses had to furnish a horse and every village had to send privates to their wars.
Truly, without Finns Sweden would never have prospered in Europe. Also, Sweden bought tar from us for peanuts and sold it with a big profit to the European ship-owners.

During the tsar era St.Petersburg proved to be a goldmine for the Karelian region Finns. Rich people came to holiday and bathe in the Terijoki beaches. People sold wood, produce, leather - anything that the rich and entrepreneurs in a huge metropolis needed. They even transported there milk all the way from Häme.
After the revolution all changed, when Lenin indoctrinated the people and Stalin was on the rise. The country became Soviet Union, entrepreneurship was collectivized and many opponents were eradicated or sent to Siberia.
Lenin also tried to raise a socialist rebellion in Finland and plant his ideals. Finland was supposed to be a springboard to a European conquest, but luckily the western minded whites were alert and warded it off. Thus our land could live free and grow wealthier.

Living next to the Soviet Union was never a delight. Next they falsified an incident to get a reason to attack Finland, but they met an unprecedented resistance. Albeit Karelia was lost, at least they had an independent reduced land left and big faith in the future.
The borderline between Russia has always been artificial, since Finnish speaking folks live on the both sides. In the Continuacion War they wanted to liberate those relatives from the yoke of oppression, but their strength was not enough.
Later on Finland had to have mutual covenants and one couldn’t even criticize the big neighbour while America was supposed to be evil.
Maybe that’s why Finland turned into the most Americanized European country. It was a tacital way to show who was really appreciated.
Now new Russia considers itself a big boss. One can not even mention the returning of Karelia, while Russians buy land from Finland as much as they can. Meanwhile Finns can not even buy their old family properties back in Russia.
In the future Russia plans big military deployments at the Finnish border. Maybe we still are a big threat to them, for our sisu has not vanished and never will.

Views: 142

Comment by Niinistö Juhani on March 16, 2012 at 5:18am

On first  reading  this  Editorial, with all its  populist  right wing  rhetoric, could be seen  as  amusing. However, there is  the risk  that those  Finnish Canadians  with  less  knowledge about  Finnish  history  could  take  the Editorial  as a complete picture.

For example, the  Finnish Civil War of  1918  was  not a product of  Lenin, albeit a positive outcome  of the rebellion could have benefited his  causes.  There were major  societal  grievances  in Finland that  gave motivation to the  rebellion and the  war.  "White Finland"  moved then quickly in the early 20s  to  change the circumstances.  The position of  crofters  was altered,  freedom of  religion was enacted  and labor laws  modernized.


Finnish Canadians remember that  Canada  took  large numbers of  Finns  as  refugees, in the wake of the  Civil War.   One group had actually walked all the way  from Oulu to Petsamo and boarded  boats to the UK. After processing there they continued  as emigrants to  Canada. And other  1918  survivers  followed  during the 20s.

Many of  those  new immigrants  then worked  successfully to make  Canada that liberal democracy it was known for decades.

The first editor of  Vapaa Sana, Reinhold  Pehkonen (in office 1932-67)  was  a  red  veteran. He had first escaped to Russia and  on returning to Finland  he was locked up in the Sukeva prison.  He moved to Canada in the mid 20s.  Another  veteran journalist,  William  Eklund  wrote  a  book about the ideological history of  FInnish Canadians,  "Kanadan rakentajat",  it is available  in English as well, and worth  reading.  Eklund's book  balances  the view  given in the Kanadansuomalaisten historia, written by  Yrjö Raivio, a clergyman.





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