Thursday, May 31, 2012

The great hatred

I'm reading Rentola's excellent and chilling description of the elimination of the Finnish Communist Party by Stalin (via NKVD) in the 1930's Soviet Russia. Such times: these people had bitterly fought White Finland but were now ludicrously destroyed as "nationalists" and "spies". In Soviet Karelia the campaing got to genocidal proportions as all Finnishness was brutally eliminated and erased. We cannot really imagine the atmosphere of that era, the hysteria and the fear - those years were called "Great Hatred" by the Soviet Finns. It was a strange scattered bunch of leaders that finally emerged, mainly from Finnish prisons, in 1944-45. Those that survived could never forget and never condemn this senseless slaughter, the price would have been too high, but it was too high in any case. They lacked all flexibility, all independence and without the Red Army were always outplayed by the liberal-democratic mainstream. They took no risks, no independent steps. Those few that were left.

Stalin then destroyed Finnish communism, Paasikivi and Kekkonen only finished the job. It was a dead movement at heart, morally dead, and got what it deserved. That's a great tragedy as there was also much idealism in the beginning, with great crimes committed against them in 1918 by the Whites. Such a sad story that they should have encountered and embraced even more hateful and brutal violence in the Soviet Union than in the Civil War Finland. And that year was already the nadir of Finland, progress and liberalism had been recovering ever since while the Soviet Union got steadily worse. Doubly betrayed generations, but one can never excuse or forgive the silence of the survivors - in that moral collapse we can locate the weakness and hatefullness of Marxism-Leninism. We are well rid of that horrible ideology.

(postscript: Rentola's work on Finnish communism is great history of such amazing quality. He has produced three absolute masterpieces that I return to time after time. He keeps his distance, but the story itself is enough and would only suffer from obvious biases. I hope that these studies are constantly read: they show how profound can the study of history be, how illuminating. With such exceptions the rule of unambitious, unimaginative and superficial historiography is even more disheartening. But when historians are good, they exceed pretty much anything there is. Well, maybe theoretical physics would offer some little competition...)


Ian Christopher said...

It is also helpful to learn more about this history. It is sad but I'm hoping that survivor will find peace in their hearts. :)

stockholm slender said...

Yes, I wonder though what did they learn? What was their in the centre of their thought? I would guess an intellectual and moral paralysis created by both Stalinism and their reaction to it. (Of course, they were not in safety while encountering the terror, and it is totally understandable that in those conditions one would not easily be brave, many had families, all had friends and colleagues - but later the circumstances changed, and so many still toed the bloodstained line...