Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Stalinist massacre of Finnish Americans at Karelia

People longing for a “better Socialism,” who believe their ideal paradisiacal state is more important than any individual in it, have much history to ponder. The idealist Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, with the able assistance of Ioseb Besarionis dze Jughashvili strove mightily to create such an earthly paradise.

From page 115-118 of In Denial, Historians, Communism & Espionage by John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr:

“In the 1920s and early 1930s the USSR sought to strengthen its Karelian republic, which bordered on Finland . . . The USSR was . . . anxious to exploit Karelia’s extensive timber resources.” The USSR promoted the emigration of American and Canadian Finnish radicals to Karelia. . . Eager for the opportunity to build a Finnish Communist society, thousands of radical North American Finns volunteered for the venture.”

How did these American and Canadian Finnish radicals fare in their Socialist paradise? Not as well as they hoped. Through no fault of their own they were raised in bourgeois societies in America and Canada. So how could the KGB not be suspicious of them?

“In 1997 a Russian organization dedicated to exposing Stalin-era crimes, Memorial, located a KGB burial site near Sandarmokh, one of four it has found in Karelia. The site contains more than nine thousand bodies in approximately three hundred separate burial trenches. The position of the skeletons and other remains suggested that the prisoners had been stripped to their underwear, lined up next to a trench with hands and feet tied, and shot in the back of the head with a pistol. Documents in a regional KGB archive identify about four thousand of the victims as Gulag prison laborers used to build the Belomar canal connecting the Baltic to the White sea, one thousand of the prisoners from the Gulag camp at Solovetskiye, and about three thousand as victims of the Karelian purge. More than six thousand of the dead are listed by name.

“Among the victims named are 141 Finnish Americans and 127 Finnish Canadians. They include the two chief organizers of the emigration, Oscar Corgan and Matti Tenhunen. But the list also includes ordinary American works such as Eino Bjorn, born in Minnesota and shot on February 10, 1938, at age twenty-six; Walter Maki, another Minnesota native who was shot on May 15, 1928; John Siren, born in Duluth, Minnesota, shot on February 11, 1938; Mathew Kaartinen, born in Ironwood, Michigan . . . .” The list goes on and on. Quite a lot is known about who died there.

The authors write, “This saga is depressing, but not surprising to anyone familiar with the history of Stalin’s reign.” They then go on to describe how Michael Karni, a Revisionist Historian who must have known about this event, left it out of his essay on Finnish American radicalism in the Encyclopedia of the American Left?” The authors admit they cannot know what was in Karni’s mind or why he made no mention of the American Finnish emigration to Karelia, but if one seeks a thorough understanding of the earthly paradise the USSR was attempting to construct, one would do well to avoid revisionist historians, who perhaps inadvertently, “slant” their information to favor the Soviet efforts and ignore whatever reprehensible acts (acts no longer politically correct) the Soviets felt they needed to do to purify the ongoing building of the Soviet paradise.

On page 119 Haynes and Klehr are rather harsh with Karni. They think his “The Encyclopedia of the American Left” is “Rather, like The Great Soviet Encyclopedia that similarly misled students . . . it presents a fake history where unpleasant facts are airbrushed away, crimes against humanity ignored, and smiling workers and peasants marched forward to a radiant future in the lockstep of Soviet ‘Socialist realism’ art.”

No comments: