Posted by : Suomen antifasistinen komitea ry Saturday, August 25, 2012
The Finnish Anti-Fascist Committee laid flowers at the memorial of the great Finnish anti-fascist, Väinö Tanner, on the European Day of Rememberance for Victims of Stalinism and Nazism in Helsinki on 23 August 2012. Chairman Antti-Pekka Mustonen expressed consternation that the day had received so little attention in Finland. The proposal for establishing the Black Ribbon Day was signed by no less than 13 Finnish MEPs in 2008, Mr Mustonen recalled. In Estonia, similar events were attended by the country's Minister of Interior, a leading MEP, and the Ambassador of neighbouring Latvia.
In a press conference, Chairman Mustonen said that the Finnish Anti-Fascist Committee regarded Väinö Tanner as an exemplary anti-fascist and Social Democracy as an anti-totalitarian and anti-fascist movement. Mr Tanner's role in securing Finland from the threat of totalitarianism was very significant: First as a developer of the Finnish labour movement, then as a minister at a time when Finland was defending itself against the aggression of its totalitarian neighbour, and finally as a leading figure in Finland's post-war politics. Mr Tanner always sought the best interest of the Finnish people and acted with a deep sense of responsibility, Mr Mustonen stated.
Later in the evening, the Finnish Anti-Fascist Committee held a quiet candle vigil outside the Russian Embassy in Helsinki. The demonstration was part of our organisation's campaign, Operation Last Chance, which seeks to remind the public about the fact that the Soviet Union has failed to bear responsibility for its war crimes. Present-day Russia continues to hail war criminals as heroes. As a legal heir to the Soviet Union, the Russian Federation needs to acknowledge its responsibility for the dark side of its history for the sake of its own people as well.
Chairman Mustonen reminded that the greatest crime that the Soviet Union committed against Finland was the launch of a war of aggression in 1939. The attack violated the Treaty of Tartu, which Väinö Tanner took part in negotiating. Soviet bombings of civilian targets and acts of terror by Soviet partisans during the Continuation War were obvious war crimes. During peacetime, the Soviet Union shot down a civilian aircraft, Kaleva, in June 1940. Other crimes included the bombing of Red Cross targets and firing on trains of evacuees. The massive bombings of Helsinki in February 1944 can be characterised as state terror, Mr Mustonen said.
At the press conference, the question was posed, does our campaign not mitigate the importance of the Holocaust. In response, Vice-Chairman Kerkko Paananen stated that highlighting the crimes of communist regimes in this context did not diminish the importance of the Holocaust in European and world history. By contrast, playing down the crimes of Stalinism was an obstacle to a fair assessment of European history and thus supported those forces that still sought to create divisions in Europe. Keeping silent about the crimes of Stalinism was wrong both in respect of the victims and in view of future generations throughout Europe, Mr Paananen noted.