Finns still haunted by Lenin's ghost -

Finns still haunted by Lenin’s ghost

Many want the Lenin museum to play up his totalitarianism


Finns still haunted by Lenin's ghostHe’s been dead for 85 years, but Vladimir Lenin is still managing to polarize Finland.

Last month, two activist groups in the industrial city of Tampere (180 km northwest of Helsinki) proposed that the city’s Lenin Museum—the only permanent Lenin museum in the world—should be renamed the “Museum of the Victims of Totalitarianism,” and showcase the crimes of the Soviet regime. The Pro Karelia association and the Artillery Guild citizens groups are also calling into question the museum’s yearly grant of $127,000 from the Finnish state, plus a subsidy for two museum employees’ salaries.

The debate has dragged in Finland’s minister of culture and sport, Stefan Wallin. He recently told the Helsinki newspaper Helsingin Sanomat that the support given to the museum shouldn’t be perceived as approval for Lenin’s totalitarian administration. “This is one of dozens of special museums that the state supports and has done so for a long time,” he said.

The museum’s curator, Aimo Minkkinen, also defended the museum, saying it already takes a critical approach to the Communist leader and focuses on the relationship between Lenin and Finland. He added that the museum simply doesn’t have the funds for an expansion to showcase Lenin’s totalitarianism.

Nick Baron, an expert on Russian, Soviet and east European politics at the University of Nottingham, says given the traumatic history between the political right and left in Finland (a brutal civil war between the social-democratic “Reds” and the conservative “Whites” in the winter of 1918 killed almost 40,000 people), it isn’t surprising the museum has become a flashpoint. “Many opponents equate Lenin with Stalin, or that Leninism was a prerequisite for Stalinism,” he says. “Those who are not sympathetic to the left want it either closed down or renamed to underline Lenin’s appalling legacy and the terroristic nature of much of the U.S.S.R.’s history.”

CORRECTION: In the original version of this story we said that 10 million Finns died under Lenin in the 1917 civil war. The correct figure is 37,000. We regret the error.

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Finns still haunted by Lenin’s ghost

  1. What a surprise!!! … I see that Finnish -asking this- had forgotten that Lenin gave them independence in 1918, and that one day years after, they became fanatic supporters of Hitler and their race supremacists; closing eyes front the SIX millions deaths of Holocaust by Nazis during II World War; and how Finland was a land of entertaiment and resting for Nazi soldiers and German workers of Todd Organization; and the permanent supplying of Finish nickel for special steel alloys for Fascist guns and tanks to kill, not only Russian, but Canadians, British and Americans soldiers in Normandy … what a shame!!

    • That's not factually correct, Lucho – Finns never became "fanatic supporters of Hitler", and only ever entered into an alliance with Nazi Germany because of the very real thread of invasion from Stalin. It was a kind of 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend' situation. Finland did not 'close its eyes' to the fate of Jews anymore so than Canada, the UK or US did. Most Finnish Jews lived in peace throughout the war, and were not punished in any way.

      The article is hopelessly flawed, unfortunately – the idea that a country of 3 million lost 10 million lives to Lenin is laughably inaccurate, and should be acknowledged as such by the author. In fact, this story has made headlines in Finland as an example of journalistic inaccuracy.

    • I agree 100%.

      Great article tho :)
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  2. I would like to ask the author of this article to provide sources for the outlandish claim that ’10 million Fins died under Lenin’ . Finland today only has 5 million people and during Lenin’s reign in the USSR, it probably only had about 2 million people in all. Furthermore, Finland never was under Lenin – it became independent in 1917 before Lenin came to power. So had did he manage to kill 10 million Fins??

  3. Dr. Van Rooye: Perhaps by moving the decimal point several digits? Clearly the author is mathematically as well as geographically challenged – maybe she is confusing Finland with Ukraine (easy enough to do, after all, if you don't look at a map) and the Holodomor of the 1930s, under another chap whose name ended with "-in".

  4. Authors shall read wikipedia before posting stupid articles. What a fun :-)

  5. Blame Canada ;-)

  6. I don't believe that 10 million Finns were "killed." They just went somewhere warmer.
    At least 10 million move to Florida or Tenerife for the winter even today, so back then it must've been around 8 million.

  7. You don't like your facts in Canada, do you? :)

  8. Has the publisher issued a correction, and/or the author an apology for this outrageous misstatement? Apparently Canadian journalists are very close cousins to their American counterparts.

  9. Boy, Maclean's just dropped a few notches in my eyes, get your facts straight and issue a correction! I don't think there ever have been 10 million Finns on earth – so how could Lenin have killed so many… A million perhaps – not 10…

  10. As it happens David, Finnish Jews also fought alongside other Finns in both the Winter War and the later Continuation War in which Finland and Germany were co-belligerents, and were treated no differently from anyone else, save that they had field synagogues in Syväri on the Karelian front. In a piquant piece of irony, some were also awarded decorations for gallantry by the Germans. They turned them down. It is perhaps significant that the first World Jewish Congress after WW2 singled out two countries for recognition – Spain and Finland.

  11. Finns should not take this lying down! That is, unless Maclean's is right, and all of them have been dead for decades. Otherwise, could you please restore credibility in your magazine, and retract the error?

  12. Some comments about this story from elsewhere in the blogosphere:

    "As soon as I read this, as a Canadian, I knew it was Maclean's. What a shitburger of a publication."

    "So Lenin slaughtered the entire population, dug them up and repeated the process 3 or 4 times?"

    Come on, Maclean's. Retract it.

  13. Some comments on this story from elsewhere in the blogosphere:

    "As soon as I read this, as a Canadian, I knew it was Maclean's. What a ****burger of a publication".

    "So Lenin slaughtered the entire population, dug them up and repeated the process 3 or 4 times?"

    Just how wrong does Maclean's need to be before it corrects a false report? Why should one believe anything in the magazine, if it won't correct howlers like this?

  14. i think he meant negative 10million people.

  15. I'm a dead Finn, so I'm really getting a kick out of this…..

  16. "I'm a dead Finn, so I'm really getting a kick out of this…."

    Don't get too comfortable. Maclean's will soon be penning a new piece entitled "Finnish ghosts still hunted by Lenin". That man's appetite is insatiable.

  17. Closer, but not quite: Finland's civil war was fought from “27 January to 15 May 1918”, not in 1917. While Maclean's might be trying to save face with this correction of an astonishing error, the correction may require a correction. Lenin came to power in Russia in October 1917. One of his first acts was to grant Finland independence in December of 1917. The civil war in Finland in 1918 was therefore not fought “under Lenin”, as the correction claims.

  18. Yes, and I'd have to say there is a distinct economy with the truth in the "we said that 10 million Finns died under Lenin in the 1917 [sic] civil war". Macleans said no such thing. The writer stated simply "[A]bout 10 million Finns died under Lenin, almost half due to starvation”. There was no reference there to the Civil War.

    But I suppose we should be grateful for small mercies. It was only published last May, after all.

  19. Aside from Lenin's non-involvement (after he'd granted Independence, the country was hardly "under Lenin", was it?), what is equally stupid is the quasi-correction's failure to realise that the Civil War was fought between two sides – one White and one Red, and that 37,000 was the estimated TOTAL number of dead.

    A great many on both sides were killed off the field by summary executions or after succumbing in prison camps – and the Red casualties were much larger than the White: more than 30,000 dead or missing, including Russians.

    The White casualties, including those Germans who fought on the White side, amounted to something like 5,500. The Reds started the bloodletting, but later the Whites gave at least as good as they got in the political violence and terror department. There are parts of Finland where the savagery of the White faction still rankles, and where the commander of the White Guards Marshal C.G. E. Mannerheim – later the commander-in-chief of the Finnish forces in WW2 and a few years ago voted the Greatest Ever Finn – is still referred to as "the butcher general".

  20. Oh dear. Still not quite there, are we?
    Nobody in Finland ever "died under Lenin", Independence from Russia (granted by Lenin) was in 1917, the Civil War was in 1918.
    Keep trying Macleans..

  21. Macleans has fallen a long way since the days when it was a magazine of record. Now it's little more than a propaganda sheet.