Saturday, November 4, 2017

Travel Notes 2 / Updated

Lenin in Helsinki, Finland

I got to Helsinki on a 'sealed' airplane (sorry for attempts at humor) on Norwegian Air, landing in Helsinki yesterday.  Norwegian Air, from what I can tell, is a bit of a social-democratic airline.  There is no odious first-class cabin, as in most other airlines.  Passengers board the plane by back to front (the first shall be last, as the Bible says.)  The gate attendant had to inform irritated rich Italians that they had to wait to board, as they compulsively lined up at a mythical 'premier' boarding line to jump on first.  A small pleasure to see that.

Sornaisten Rantatie 1 - 1917
Lenin came here in a 'sealed train' in April 1917, leaving on the 16th of April for St. Petersburg and his return to Russia.  He was in Finland several times, during 1905 and again in 1917, usually hiding as it was always controlled by the Tsar.  Helsinki has working class districts across from the central peninsula it was first built on, and in one there is a placque to his stay during the July days. Helsinki's outlying districts were heavily leftwing in this period.  The rich, with their top hats and furs, were afraid to enter them, especially across the Long Bridge.

There is a statue to Lenin still in Tampere, north of Helsinki. There is also a park in Helsinki named after him, north of the main part of the city.  He wrote "State & Revolution" here as well.  In a way, Finland was the 'rear' of the Russian Revolution, much as Canada has been a refuge for U.S. radicals.

The Finish Civil War of 1918, in which the Finnish Whites and the German Army together defeated and slaughtered the Finnish working class in 4 large battles, was another example of a failed attempt at revolution after the success in Russia.  The Germans and the capitalists took control after the overthrow of the Romanovs, killing  many even after the conflict was over.

Red Casualties in Finish Class War, 1918
5,700 killed in action,10,000 executed,1,150 missing,12,500 POWs deceased,700 acute deaths after release.

World revolution was put off.  Now the middle-class/left Green Party is the main party in Helsinki.  The people are multi-lingual and participate in the Nordic model of economy, though since the collapse of Nokia, things have not gone as well as before.

On two personal notes, one grandfather left Finland in the 1880s to escape the Czarist draft, or so the family story goes.  He settled in Ely, Minnesota, became a miner, then a bar owner after he was injured, and then produced Kist pop.  Helsinki reminds one of Minnesota and I'm sure the land around here is much like the Iron Range.  Remember the Red Finns who also moved to Minnesota, especially after the 1918 slaughter.

During WWII, my mother broadcast into pro-Nazi Finland from Britain in the Finnish language, doing cultural shows but also anti-Nazi propaganda.  Sisu!

P.S. / I cannot upload photos from my real camera, so actual shots of anything I see will have to be loaded when I get back to the U.S.  I do have a good internet connection in English in St. Petersburg/Leninsburg/Leningrad/Petrograd/St. Petersgrad/ my hotel.

Read prior review of Brecht's "Puntila and His Hired Man, Matti" about Finland, below.

Red Frog
November 4, 2017, Helsinki, Finland

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