Jewish Scene
The unique story of Finland's Jews
Tamir Cohen
Published: 29.09.09, 07:58
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49 Talkbacks for this article
1. Assimilation
RT ,   Israel   (09.29.09)
What this article does not say is that unfortunately the descendants of most of these Russian Jews who moved to Finland a few generations ago are not Jewish. I myself know several non-Jewish Finns who had Jewish great-grandparents from that era.
3. the unique story of
debbie ,   israel   (09.29.09)
TO ATILLA: Who the hell are you? How do you manage to get on every single article that has anything at all to do with, however remotely, Jews or Israel? You're from Turkey, and you're responding to a story about Finland's Jews, with "I miss my childhood?" Who are you, and why do you read these articles, and comment on them non-stop?
4. This might not have much to do with the article
Yaniv ,   Israel   (09.29.09)
I just wanna point out that the Finns faught the Nazis and won, pushed them out from Finnish Lappland. Twice as many Nazi troops fell than Finns. Eat your heart out, Sweden, who pretends to be neutral, but sold steel to the Nazis and let them use Swedish air space to bomb little brother Norway. What nice neighbors they are.
5. My former fiancees family must be added!
Michael Diamant ,   Stockholm, Sweden   (09.29.09)
Must come in contact with the curator! My former fiancees familly the Bonsdroffs were finish jews and Great Grandfather Bonsdroff started a very sucessfull Candyfactory outside Helsinki. An uncle of her died in the Winterwar against the Soviets..
6. to #2 by your TBs I am not surprised
ghostq   (09.29.09)
I though you r a teen, shocking isn't it. mind of a child you got there.
7. to #3 don't get upset cause of the Turkish
ghostq   (09.29.09)
TBer he is hilarious, just offer him organic burkas and he will behave :P
8. Low-level Journalism
Daniel   (09.29.09)
Finland never hosted the Winter Olympics so if that is what comes into the Israeli's mind, he must be very ignorant, but I won't generalize based on this article. What Finland is known for, is its cellphones, like Nokia, which is very popular in Israel. I think when reminders come to mind, they should have some basis in fact. Otherwise a nice article.
9. RT's comment
AHS ,   Helsinki   (09.29.09)
Your facts are incorrect; your sample size is rather small. The number of Jews who "fell off the boat" is fairly small. The Jews of the community are still Jewish, and the community structure is intact.
10. Disappearing Jews
Lazar ,   NYC   (09.29.09)
#1 is right. I was in Finland and met non-Jews who were descended from Russian Jews. Of course this is true for many if not most small Jewish communities. There are even small towns in the western and southern US where you can find elderly people who had Jewish great-grandparents. Many people descended from Jews do not even know it.
11. Winter olympics
Helena   (09.29.09)
Perhaps it was a reference to the fact that the Finns do well in them. But you're right, Finland only had summer olympics.
12. In WWII they fought for nazis!
Anat Boteer ,   Lod, Israel   (09.29.09)
Finns alongside the nazis helped blockade Leningrad 1941-1943v& murder 1,500,000 civilians, including many Jews. Nothing to be proud off!
13. interesting info
lea ,   FINLAND   (09.29.09)
# 1 My mum might be jewish, she is from Karelian. In ww2 Russians burned Karelian's synagogue and the archives about Karelian Jews. And the names of my mum's family are NOT in the Christian church. Russians killed a part of my mum's family. All the names in her family and relatives are Jewish (Benjamin, Esther etc).
lea ,   FINLAND   (09.29.09)
Keep in the historical facts ! Our war Marshal Mannerheim saved thousands of Jews in ww2 and he thought that there might be one JEWISH LOST TRIBE in Finland. He said to Hitler and Germans in ww2:"You won't get any Jews over only my dead body from Finland."
15. # 12
lea ,   FINLAND   (09.29.09)
As the Soviet Union attacked Finland out-of-the blue Finland had no proper army yet in 1939.She purchased planes from Britain and weapons from the U.S., which they delivered first AFTER the war ended in -45! Germany occupying Norway needed a route through Sweden there,but she declined. Germany turned to Finalnd and Pr.Ryti in his own name agreed upon it, NOT binding the state nor the gov.,in exchange for weapons and food products.He was sentenced to prison by the Soviet Union for 12 years for it. Germany asked Finland to bomb down the railroad from Murmansk to Leningrad via which Am aid was delivered to Russians; Gen.Mannerheim REFUSED.
16. # 12
lea ,   FINLAND   (09.29.09)
During the war 100 German soldiers in the Russian front got stuck behind the enemy line, surrounded by Russian soldiers. Germany asked Finland, Gen. Mannerheim, for help. Gen.Mannerheim helped them. He sent TWO Finnish Jewish soldiers to rescue them .....and they did too! For their bravery the Germans wanted to reward them, but as the Germans were about to attach Nazi Germany's medals on their uniforms, they declined. They said to their faces eye to eye "we are Jews and we know what you are doing to our people". TRUE STORY!
17. to #12 , I take my hat to Finns of WWII
Oleg ,   Canada   (09.29.09)
As a Jewish person , I consider Finish conduct during WWII only commendable (the fact that it was a Nazi ally – was a natural consequence of the USSR attack on it in 1939) . And regarding Jews – it was probably the unique case where a country has refused to give up or actually betray its fellow Jewish citizens. What is striking , I believe that Mannerheim together with the rest of thet country did that not because he liked or disliked Jews , but because it was the right thing to do , in spite of the fact that the Germany in early 40s was still the most powerful state in Europe. Congrats to Finns. That is humanity . That is honour , that is something to admire about the whole nation.
18. The Facts of Finland in WWII - From Direct Sources
Ariela Ross ,   Jerusalem   (09.29.09)
My grandmother served in the Finnish army during WWII. They did not serve under the Nazis willingly. The Nazi regime invaded Finland. Actually, Hitler met with my great-great uncle, Baron (and former Finnish President) Mannerheim. Hitler really was happy to meet him and felt very honored, even rearranging -his- schedule to work around President Mannerheim's. The president, however, was less than thrilled. They knew the Finnish army would not be able to defeat the Nazis. Mannerheim did, however, make it clear that he would not let the Nazi regime take any of their Jewish population to camps, nor establish them in Finland itself. They were not sympathetic to Hitler or his cause. As a Jewish woman of half Finnish heritage, I am proud... from both sides. The Jewish community there is small, but full of heart and warmth amongst the ice. It is great to see that there are other Jews that look like me (a rather "non-Jewish" look), and I can't wait to see the exhibit at the Diaspora Museum.
19. Finlands jews
Joel Livak ,   Ramat Hsharon Israel   (09.29.09)
to number 12 i think you got your history completely wrong. Finnish soldiers never participated in the blockade of Leningrad. 3 million finns were fighting to keep their independence against invading russian war machine. In the beginning finns did not have almost any weapons and no outside assistance .In spite of that finns kept their independance .No Finnish Jews were hurt by nazis in spite of nazis pressure to Finnish government to give up all the Jews. Finns fouht the most heroic war in history and they were also the only nation paying back all loans to USA without receiving any external assistance only with hard work.ITHINK MANY COUNTRIES SHOULD LEARN FROM FINLAND.
20. Toda raba !
lea ,   FINLAND   (09.30.09)
Toda for your grand and very interesting comments; Joel, Ariela, Oleg etc. Ariela, is Mannerheim really your great-great uncle ? That's very interesting -- does it mean that Mannerheim has Jewish roots? As I've said before; Mannerheim has said that there might be ONE JEWISH TRIBE IN FINLAND. I've lived in many countries and never seen this kind of love for and interest in Israel and Jews that Finland has. This is very SPECIAL ! :) Russia transports arms to Iran and Finland transports arms to Israel: Interesting news: Finnish missilie technology has been exported to Israel for a worth of more than 4 mill. euros since the year 2002.
21. Only Finland can read morals to Israel
Oleg ,   Canada   (09.30.09)
the rest can take a hike ...Finland has earned
22. Whitewashing nazis & collaborators!
Dan Berger ,   NY, USA   (09.30.09)
Finland declared war on USSR alongside Nazi Germany. They did fought on hitler's orders & did took part in starving civilians in Leningrad. Only valiant Red Army fighters didn't let nazis join finns & capture heroic Leningrad. For a Jew to serve in Finnish army in WWII is a great shame! Naive argument that Mannerheim didn't send his Jews to slaughter... neither did Mussolini. It is a shame Mannerheim wasn't hanged like Duche... feet up. Lets close that page in the history of Finnish Jews!
23. Intermarriage in Finland
Moshe ,   Jerusalem   (09.30.09)
Yes, there is and was a lot of intermarriage in Finland. There are non-Jews there who had Jewish ancestors.
lea ,   FINLAND   (09.30.09)
As said before I still want to clarify this fact: Finland was NOT Germany's ally during ww2 : Mannerheim said that "the war of Finland is a SEPARATE WAR from that of Germany's". Finland fought BESIDE Germany, BUT was NOT its ally ! Finland got armed help (airplanes, guns..) from Germany -- this help was necessary to Finland to survive in ww2 fighting alone against BIG Soviet Union. Finland was the only country (neighbour) of Soviet Union who was attacked by big Soviet Union -- and kept its independence. Thanx for the brave Finnish soldiers, our hero Mannerheim and G-d's help !
25. Finland during WWII:
Robert Haymond ,   Ashdod, Israel   (09.30.09)
It was my understanding that Finland allied with Germany during WWII because of the imminent threat by the Soviet Union. I do not possess details nor genuine knowledge of this situation in context but it makes me think of (northern) Ireland where England was so hated that Germany received some encouragement as a result. When I think of Finland, I always think of the extraordinary historical novelist, Mika Waltari, who wrote, amongst other works, The Finn, the story of a young man roving throughout Europe during the middle ages. He also wrote The Egyptian and many other wise and wonderful novels. I read them translated into English, of course. The Finnish language is unique in Europe and its only relative (like a second cousin) is Hungarian.
26. Finland's Jews
Ger ,   Raanana, Israel`   (09.30.09)
Finland fought against the Soviet Union in World War 2, so were the Jewish soldiers aiding the Germans?
27. to number 22
joel livak ,   ramat hasharon   (09.30.09)
where have you learnt your some old communist school in soviet union.your comments are totally wrong how can you write garbage like that
28. To #27, Joel Livak
Dan Berger ,   NY, USA   (09.30.09)
Hey, Finland was nazi ally. That's the fact. See any history book printed anywhere. Finns where victims of Soviet attack in 1939, but it is no excuse to help nazis in WWII. Again, no good Jew would fight on nazi side to please his neighbours. Only G-d knows how many fellow Jews got murdered by finnish side bretherin.
29. #25 Robert Haymond I also was a fan
Joe ,   Ohio, USA   (09.30.09)
of Mika Waltari when I was a kid. Can't believe that anyone else even remembers his name today. It's a shame you can't find his books in a library today
30. Finland's War Against the USSR
Ariela Ross ,   Jerusalem   (09.30.09)
Finland, in 1917, declared independence from the USSR. (It had been earlier sold to the USSR by the Swedes) A war ensued afterwards, in which General/Baron/President Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim led Finland to victory in gaining their own sovereign nation. Finland had its own reasons in dealing with the USSR. In regards to dealing with Nazi Germany, I'll relate another incident, so that all may see where the Finns really stood: Adolf Hitler decided to visit Finland on June 4, 1942, ostensibly to congratulate Mannerheim on his 75th birthday. But Mannerheim did not want to meet him in his headquarters in Mikkeli nor in Helsinki... Read More, as it would have seemed like an official state visit. The meeting took place at a railway siding. Hitler, who was much shorter than Mannerheim, wore special high-heeled boots, and had asked his photographers to photograph him only from an angle that showed his height favourably with Mannerheim's. During his meeting with Hitler, Mannerheim lit a cigar. Mannerheim supposed that Hitler would ask Finland for help against the Soviet Union, which Mannerheim was unwilling to give. When Mannerheim lit up, all in attendance gasped, for Hitler's aversion to smoking was well known. Yet Hitler continued the conversation calmly, with no comment. In this... Read More way, Mannerheim could judge if Hitler was speaking from a position of strength or weakness. He was able to refuse Hitler, knowing that Hitler was in a weak position, and could not dictate to him.
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