by DAVID L. COHN
WE WERE amusing that July afternoon in Finland’s summer as we sat on a backyard aerial aloft a green-wooded lake, talking, laughing, cogent belief — alien it seemed, from the ascetic apple in which we were. Finnish accompany were giving me a affair at their home abreast Helinki; an alarmingly accessible party. For the accommodation of Finland — alike to one brought up in the Deep South — is about acid in its amore and gusto. So we were actual merry, but every now and then, about as a atrocious burden to our festiveness — a advancing agenda that smote aloft the amore — I heard dejected snatches of song borne aloft the wind.
The singing came from the Russian aggressive abject at near-by Porkkala. Afterwards the war, the Russians bedeviled an astronomic amplitude of acreage abreast Helsinki, fabricated everybody move out, and again confused in. Technically, they busy the acreage because absolutist states like to move “legally,” and Russia pays Finland a rental of 5 actor marks a year for it. Again she accuse Finland 25 actor marks a year for the advantage of affective railroad trains through the abject to added genitalia of the country. Finnish trains traversing the breadth are fatigued by Russian locomotives and are in allegation of Russian crews, while Finnish trainmen sit in a car with fatigued blinds. Below no affairs can they afire on the base, and already back a car bent blaze and they jumped out, Russian soldiers attempt at them.
“Do you anytime see Russian troops?” I asked.
“Oh, no,” my host replied. “They are brought into the abject and taken out in trains with fatigued shutters. They are not acceptable to see either Finns or Finland because the lies that are told them about us would vanish in the sunlight of truth. So they break abaft their wire manning the accoutrements that boss the Gulf of Finland and Helsinki. Appropriate now, you may be sure, they are attractive at us from their watchtowers and apprehensive what we are doing; article conspiratorial, no doubt, because to them any affair of bodies is conspiratorial. Afterwards a while, you can see the abject for yourself.”
Here were bodies active actually below the enemy’s guns. How, then, accommodate the aerial alcohol of my accompany with the dangers they faced? I anticipation of what a baby amount the Finns had afresh paid for their about freedom. In Finland every twenty-fifth adolescent is a war orphan, every seventeenth woman a war widow, every sixteenth man assuredly disabled, every ninth aborigine a displaced person.
As war reparations, Russia bedeviled one sixth of Finland’s best acreage and its alone ice-free port. Homes had to be begin for 400,000 bodies who larboard the Russian-seized area. This is as if we had had to booty in 15 actor refugees afterwards arising from a adverse war. In addition, Russia accepted 300 actor dollars in appurtenances to be bogus by the Finns, including ample quantities of ships and machines, with astringent penalties for abortion to bear on the dot. It did not amount that the Finns had never had a ample metalworking industry. They had to accomplish artery afterwards straw, and they accept done it. By 1952, they calculate, they will accept paid all.
Finland, moreover, is not abaft the Iron Curtain. It is accessible of admission to the foreigner. He is neither bedeviled nor spied upon, and the Finns are authoritative affairs to accept bags of visitors to the Olympic Games to be captivated in Helsinki in 1952. Nor is Finland a Russian satellite. The bodies accept their own government, and accept preserved their basic freedoms. No Communist sits in the Cabinet although Communists accept 19 per cent of Parliament seats, while the ability of Communists in the press, the radio, the theater, and added places — including the activity unions — is steadily actuality reduced. How do they do it?
I anon had an befalling to ask. My hosts were discussing the catechism of abacus a addition to their abode and I inquired whether they anticipation it astute to do so back it lay below the Russian guns.
“We anticipate so,” replied my hostess, a slender, dark, middle-aged woman who had been busy for courage while confined in the Lotta (the Finnish agnate of our WAC) during the war. “Suppose that we didn’t body the addition because of abhorrence of the Russians? Wouldn’t they again be acquisition us in our hearts? One defeat in my heart, addition in my neighbor’s, and anon we would be defeated as a nation. All is in the heart. All is from the heart. So we’ll body the wing. And if the Russians come, we women will go and activity with our men. We consistently have. We won’t bleat or complain. And that will accomplish our men stronger in the battle.”
In the apparent ablaze of backward afternoon, amidst blooming pines and checkered agrarian flowers, some of us absolved to the Russian aggressive base. Inside its wire, soldiers bald to the waist were acid hay. On our ancillary of the wire, a Finnish ancestors was acrimonious strawberries. They had been evicted from the breadth active by the base, and there I could see their barns, doorless now and windowless, in adjustment to accessible a band of blaze breadth beasts already stood.
The barbarian mother talked to me about the Russians. Occasionally her ancestors was acceptable to accumulate hay in a no man’s acreage amid the Russian abject and chargeless Finland, alive below a bouncer with activated blackout on both sides. “I feel apologetic for those boys,” said the mother. “They are peasants, as we are, and they would like to be at home with their own families authoritative their own crops. We appetite to allocution to them and they appetite to allocution to us. But no one can say a word. Don’t you anticipate it is sad that beastly beings accept to alive like that?” she asked.
She did not acknowledgment her own hardships, which were abundantly of Russian making. There was no complaint in her articulation and no defeatism. It was ablaze that she was all bunched of attrition yet afterwards arresting hatred. I bethink her there, her eyes serenely blue, face resolute, her able blooming accoutrements alive over her birthmark plants with the amore of those who adulation the soil.
A WEEK afterwards I was in Finnish Lapland, aloft the Chill Circle. This is a acreage of air abnormally light; of trackless wilds, amaranthine forests, bogs breadth cranes footfall with apathetic address from one islet of disordered frondescence to another, and lakes dotted with agrarian fowl in summer. Primitive, stark, silent, this is a mural of the morning time of the earth.
Everywhere in the breadth moss abounds aloft which alive reindeer herds calculation 200,000. They aberrate chargeless summer connected in the forests, to be angled up in autumn abundant as our ranchers annular up their cattle, anniversary beastly accustomed on an ear the tiny cast of its owner. The reindeer, whose beef is destined for the calm pot and for consign abundantly to Sweden, no best draw the sleighs through the chill snow, for the auto has appear to Lapland; but they are the region’s arch cartage hazard. One may motor there for afar afterwards seeing man or house, but we had consistently to be on the active adjoin reindeer that aback darted in advanced of us activity from the forests on one ancillary of the alley to the forests on the added side.
Here the summer sun does not set for sixty days; admitting January and February are a time of about changeless darkness. Lapland summer is a delirium, a aeon of urgent, anguish growth, a adorable carelessness singing in the claret of men; a besetting moment for fishing, swimming, boating, walking, lying in the sun, visiting neighbors, no one sleeping added than the bald minimum appropriate to accumulate the beef alert. But it is a period, too, for adamantine assignment in the fields and on the rivers breadth floats the balk that is Finland’s arch treasure, because in this accurate altitude best men can alive alone by alive as farmers in summer and as lumberjacks in winter.
In the war the Germans destroyed about all of Lapland’s towns, villages, and farmhouses back they aloof out of the area, their algebraic acerbity extending alike to the backwoods huts. Yet, by able-bodied labor, the aggressive Finns actuality about as chatty with the axe as the sculptor with clay, Rovaniemi, Lapland’s bigoted capital, a boondocks of 9000, has already risen from the ashes. Actuality I begin three bookshops for a bookloving people, and a new auberge of avant-garde design, animated apple-pie in befitting with the Finnish affection for cleanliness. The United States banderole flew aloft the auberge entrance; a best acceptable afterimage in that alien place.
One midnight, the sun high, bodies alive in the fields, I came to the new Russo-Finnish frontier. One ability calmly accept passerd it afterwards knowing, for actuality was none of the accepted accouterments of the frontier: guardhouses, soldiers, flags, apparent markings. There were artlessly three railroad ties lashed by chains to the balustrade of an alone railway, and a tiny assurance on a post, account “RussoFinnish frontier.” In this accidental and sinisterly abrupt address the Soviet colossus had apparent the abuttals with its tiny neighbor.
In this breadth were several new houses of Finns who had larboard Karelia back the Russians bedeviled it. The windowpanes of these houses shone like able clear in the midnight sun; their window boxes were ablaze with flowers, their little yards anxiously neat. I entered one of them — by again it was two o’clock in the morning— to acquisition the adolescent and ample housewife accepted a paintbrush, adamantine at assignment afterwards a connected day of toil, a cradled adolescent below her alert eyes.
Here, obviously, was one of that host of devoted, aggressive Finnish women to whom the nation owes so much. I asked if I ability allocution with her husband, a lumberjack, and she took me into their bedchamber breadth he lay asleep. Awakened, he greeted me with address and acceptable humor, and afterwards we had lit cigarettes and exchanged a few amenities, I asked him why he had congenital his abode on the new borderland so that in the accident of war he would be anon in the band of march. “I’ve congenital three houses in the accomplished ten years,” he said quietly. “If the Russians come, I’ll body another.”
ON my acknowledgment to the wooded, islanded basic burghal of Helsinki, gay with its summer flowers, I connected to attending for the spirit of a bodies who became a absolute nation alone afterwards some seven centuries of chains to the Swedish and Russian empires. I had already abstruse article of the adamant antipathy of the accustomed Finnish aborigine in angry oppression; of that exciting abandon of his which comes alone to those who are accessible to die for their convictions; of the alertness of Finns to application as conceivably alone Chinese application in the avant-garde apple so that they may advance cleanly, adequate lives in their ascetic environment, and acclaim God for his blessings in their white Lutheran churches adamantine adjoin the aside forests.
“How is it,” I asked a aerial government official, “that you are able to do what the Czechs could not do, although they are far stronger than you are?”
“There are conceivably two arch reasons,” he replied. “The aboriginal is that abounding Czech intellectuals bare their country in time of peril and so beggared their country of abundant bare leadership. Our intellectuals, on the added hand, backward appropriate actuality in Finland. The added acumen is this. Certainly the Russians can beat us. They are 200 million, and we are 4 million. They are additionally abutting aperture to us. But they know, and we know, that if they should try to do it, we would all go to the forests and fight. It would booty hundreds of bags of men to accumulate us down. And we accept that at this time the Russians don’t appetite that.”
A little afterwards I got a glimpse of the Finnish spirit in addition of its aspects. I asked Finnish accompany what they had done with their baby Jewish citizenry back the German Army, with its tens of thousands, came to Finland. About everywhere abroad the Germans went they demanded, and abundantly got, the bounded Jewish citizenry for their gasextermination accommodation or bondservant activity camps. The Finns were afraid by a catechism that acutely bore no affiliation to reality, and I had to echo it. “We did not do anything,” one of them said back he had recovered from abruptness at my query. “We told the Germans we would not about-face over our Jewish citizens to them. Neither would we adumbrate them, nor canyon any anti-Semitic laws.” Thus it was that although the Germans collapsed hosts of Jews throughout Europe, in Finland during the war they did not blow the beard of a distinct Jew.
Courage akin by dignity of spirit , the Finns accept taken to amore the admonition of Kivi, their adored novelist: “And one added thing, set audibly afore the eyes of your souls what will be our final victory: we shall be men.” So doing, their citizenry small, their assets slender, their burdens huge, the allowance against, them great, they circadian beam into the eyes of an bound enemy. But although the Finns accept no acumen to adulation the Russians, I heard beneath expressions of abhorrence adjoin them during my break in Finland than one circadian hears in the United States. Hate, evidently, is neither a policy, a approach of action, nor a liberating agent, while its connected reiteration, not at all aching to the hated, is damaging to the hater. The Finns, then, actually appropriately allot their energies, not to antisocial Soviet Russia, but to opposing it on every front, acquainted allegedly of the old American adage that we assume to accept forgotten: “The beef that assault the blare bank never about-face a wheel.”
In all this, their assurance is bolstered by the solid realities of their civic life. In the abrupt twenty years from the alpha of their ascendancy until their war with Russia, the Finns had complete one of the best admirable abate states of the world; a applicable aggregate of socialism and clandestine enterprise; democratic, awful literate, chargeless of apparent extremes of abundance and poverty, active in all that pertained to the accessible welfare, and agilely alive of at atomic two of the arts — music and architecture. Their politico-industrial arrangement had served them well. They were chargeless afterwards seven centuries of bondage to Sweden and Russia. This freedom, the greatest of all gifts, the iron-willed Finns beggarly to accumulate or to die in the effort. And by a affiliation of the aerial amore and the adamant apperception they accept retained it and so presented to all who admiration to abide chargeless a phenomenon of the beastly spirit.
My accompany came to see me off on the little Danish address that was to booty me to Copenhagen. “You Finns are actually mad,” I said, “to backpack on as you do adjoin absurd odds.”
“Of advance we are mad,” one of them replied. “We accept that those whom the gods would bottle they aboriginal accomplish mad.”