Sirpa Kähkönen: Vihan ja rakkauden liekit. Kohtalona 1930-luvun Suomi [Flames of love and hatred. Finland in the 1930s as destiny]

20 January 2011 | Mini reviews, Reviews

Vihan ja rakkauden liekit. Kohtalona 1930-luvun Suomi
[Flames of love and hatred. Finland in the 1930s as destiny]
Helsinki: Otava, 2010. 287 p.
ISBN 978-951-1-24275-8
€ 32, hardback

In this non-fiction book, novelist Sirpa Kähkönen (born 1964) tells the story of her grandfather Lauri Tuomainen (1904–1971) in the context of Finnish politics of the 1920s and 30s. Tuomainen spent more than seven years in a labour camp at Tammisaari in south-western Finland, where Communist prisoners were sent after the Finnish Civil War of 1918. He was imprisoned in 1926 following his desertion from the Finnish Red Army officers’ academy in St Petersburg, and again in 1932 in the aftermath of planned public protests. The rise in political extremism and the worldwide economic depression made conditions in the prison camp extremely harsh. Kähkönen makes use of many archival sources in her descriptions of the hunger strike in the summer of 1933 and violence inflicted by the prison guards. In 1938 Tuomainen was released a broken man. One of the intriguing figures in this book is Mary Rhodes Moorhouse, from a wealthy British–New Zealand family, an enthusiastic supporter of the women’s rights movement and Communism; she married Eino Pekkala, a member of Finland’s left-wing political elite.

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