Sunday, August 25, 2013

Finland, a province most unhappily under Russia's bigoted, despotic sway

On my trip north, I sailed over the Gulf of Bothnia which, the reader will recollect, separates Sweden from Finland, a province most unhappily under Russia's bigoted, despotic sway; and while at Haparanda, I was seized with a desire to visit Torneå, in Finland. I was well aware that if I attempted to do so by the regular routes on land, it would be necessary to pass the Russian customhouse, where officers would be sure to examine my passport; and knowing, as the whole liberal world now more than ever knows, that a person of Jewish faith finds the merest sally beyond the Russian border beset with unreasonable obstacles, I decided to walk across the wide marsh in the northern part of the Gulf, and thus circumvent these exponents of intolerance. Besides, I was curious to learn whether, in such a benighted country, blacking and ink were used at all. I set out, therefore, through the great moist waste, making my way without much difficulty, and in due time arrived at Torneå, when I proceeded immediately to the first store in the neighborhood; but there I was destined to experience a rude, unexpected setback. An old man, evidently the proprietor, met me and straightway asked, "Are you a Jew?" and seeing, or imagining that I saw, a delay (perhaps not altogether temporary!) in a Russian jail, I withdrew from the store without ceremony, and returned to the place whence I had come. Notwithstanding this adventure, I reached Stockholm in due season, the trip back consuming about three weeks; and during part of that period I subsisted almost entirely on salmon, bear's meat, milk, and knäckebröd, the last a bread usually made of rye flour in which the bran had been preserved. All in all, I was well pleased with this maiden-trip; and as it was then September, I returned to Loebau to spend one more winter at home.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Finland was becoming a German province

While these military operations were being carried on, Finland was becoming a German province. Late in March an American and an English officer, visiting General Mannerheim at Vasa upon orders from their legations, were threatened by Finnish White Guard officers with personal violence and turned out of the dining room of the chief hotel. This incident was described as characteristic of the feeling existing among the majority of Finns. On April 1 Vasabladet, the chief Vasa newspaper, wrote: "No military or other similar persons from any of the countries at war with Germany ought to be allowed to stay within the borders of our country so long as we, with the help of God and Germany, are fighting our hard fight for liberty, order, and justice against the barbarous ally of the western powers." It appears from a case reported on April 26 that the viséing of foreign passports by Finnish officials depends now upon the consent of the Berlin authorities.

Finland was proclaimed a republic in December, 1917. It has always been one of the most democratic countries in Europe. It is asserted, nevertheless, that the experiences through which the former grand duchy has passed in the last six months have converted many classes of the population to monarchism. A Stockholm dispatch dated May 8 declared that a monarchy would probably be proclaimed in Finland, and that Duke Adolph Frederick of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, uncle of the Crown Princess of Germany, would be appointed King.

Frozen Lapland, rude and churlish Finland

 I never addressed myself, in the language of decency and friendship, to a woman, whether civilized or savage, without receiving a decent an...