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Defining and Defending Borders in the Post-Soviet Space - Articles (3)

Vyborg Castle as a Symbol of Power Institutions

Imagined and Remembered Borders Between Generations in Finland*
Jani Karhu and Chloe Wells

Abstract

In this article we focus on a remembered and imagined border: the changed border between Finland and Russia. We take as a case study the formerly Finnish now Russian town of Vyborg and its castle. The centuries-old castle has marked the limits of power in the Karelia region of the Swedish and Russian empires, the Finnish state, the Soviet Union and now Russia. We argue, based on our empirical studies that, for older generations of Finns, the castle can be the “symbol of everything”, whereas for today's Finnish teens the castle is a meaningless image. Thus this article also looks at the boundaries between social generations in their understandings of Finnish history and territory.

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  • * Acknowledgments: Chloe Wells's research is funded by working grants from the Karjalan Kulttuuriraha (...)
  • 1 See A. Paasi, “Dancing on the graves: independence, hot/banal nationalism and the mobilization of m (...)
  • 2 A. Paasi, op. cit., p. 23.
  • 3 S. Moisio, “Finlandisation versus westernisation: Political recognition and Finland's European Unio (...)
  • 4 Ibid.

1Finland's national identity narratives and ongoing state building processes are based on Finnish territory having been geopolitically positioned between, and variously ruled by, Sweden and Russian for seven hundred years and on the Finnish nation-state's subsequent separation from the nascent Soviet Union at the end of 19171 to form an independent Republic. Finland's relationship with neighbouring Russia is usually conceptualised in Finland as “eternally complex in terms of geopolitics”2. The 1300km border Finland shares with Russia (and previously with the Soviet Union) “has shaped the political culture of Finland in a fundamental way [...] making the Eastern neighbour an important constituent of Finnish political tradition”3. Since Finland's independence the Soviet Union / Russia “has been portrayed as a political problem for Finland”4.

  • 5 A. Paasi, op. cit., p. 25.
  • 6 Ibid
  • 7 Ibid. See also F. Billé, “Territorial phantom pains (and other cartographic anxieties)”, Environmen (...)
  • 8 A. Paasi, op. cit., p. 23.

2The “politico-ideological border with Russia has been at the core of the narration of [Finnish] national identity since 1917 and even earlier”5. The Finnish state “as a national ‘We’ has typically been constructed in exclusive terms in relation to Russia/ the Soviet Union (‘The Other’)”6. The memory of the events of World War II (hereafter WWII) are central to Finnish national identity construction. After two wars against the Soviet Union Finland maintained its independence as a sovereign state but ceded roughly 10 % of its territory to its Eastern neighbour. The ceded areas in the transborder Karelia region, an area central to Finnish nation building from the nineteenth century on, and which included the city of Vyborg (in Finnish Viipuri) “became highly important for national narratives, heritage and collective memories [...] and a sore object of emotional ‘territorial phantom pains’”7 on a national level. In Finland today particular and selected “narratives, events, monuments and nationalized landscapes” are used to commemorate and recall the “past struggles and political memories”8 of the wartime era.

  • 9 Ibid.
  • 10 See M. Hirsch, “The Generation of Postmemory”, Poetics Today, Vol. 29, # 1, Spring 2008, pp. 103-12 (...)

3In this article we look at one particular narrative, that of Finnish Vyborg, and one particular monument within this real and imagined townscape – Vyborg castle. Our sources for the dominant or established narrative are Finnish tabloid magazines and other selected sources (see below). We argue that popular Finnish representations of Vyborg “[enmesh] ordinary people as participants in hegemonic, homogenizing national narratives”9 about the town. However our research also shows that there are firm boundaries between different generations in their acknowledgement and adoption of Finnish narratives of Vyborg. We have questioned different generations about what Vyborg means to them through questionnaires and focus groups (see below). Narratives of Vyborg primarily take the form of memories and so examination of the (ab)uses, transmission and circulation of collective and postmemories10 of Finnish Vyborg within Finland are central to our study.

  • 11 A. Paasi, op. cit., p. 22.
  • 12 B. Anderson, Imagined Communities. Reflections on the Origins and Spread of Nationalism, London, Ve (...)
  • 13 K. Kosonen, “Making maps and mental images: Finnish press cartography in nation-building, 1899-1942 (...)

4Finland's political-territorial structures came into being via various nation-building practices begun in the nineteenth century and which are still on-going. We need to bear in mind what the political-territorial arrangement of “Finland” means and represents and especially how past representations, the imagined Finnish nation state of the past, impact on present-day representations and understandings. Since territories are socially and politically constructed nation-statehood “is not an unchanging given but evolves both inside and across existing territorial borders”11. Building on Anderson’s definition12, Kosonen, in her study of the uses of cartographic representations of Finland in national identity construction, argues that “Finns ‘imagined their community’ […] their unity in time and space, through a variety of factors”13. Certain built structures can therefore be made important in mental constructions of Finland. Vyborg castle would be one such example.

  • 14 A. Paasi, op. cit., p. 24.
  • 15 K. Kosonen, op. cit., p. 28.

5Vyborg castle is an example of the “institutionalization of Finnish territory, independence and nationalism”14. One way in which this institutionalizing is done is through repeated use of certain images of and texts about the castle. These texts and images and their contextualisation grant the castle symbolic meanings. These include: the castle as a fortress outpost of “the West against the East”, mirroring the Finnish nation-state's Western alignment, and, more specifically, the castle as Finland or Karelia's “lock” against the Eastern threat. The castle can symbolise and represent materially the perceived “differences between the Finnish and Russian nations, between the ‘Civilised West’ (Finland, ‘us’) and the ‘Barbarian East’ (Russia, ‘them’, the Other)”15.

Changes of Direction: a Brief History of Vyborg and its Castle

  • 16 The strip of land between the Gulf of Finland and Lake Ladoga. Since after WWII the Isthmus has bee (...)
  • 17 The Swedish Empire, the Novgorod Republic, the Russian Empire or Tsardom, independent Finland, the (...)
  • 18 M. Tandefelt, “Vyborg: Free trade in Four Languages” in Aspects of multilingualism in European Lang (...)
  • 19 See Y. Shikalov, “Russian, Lost, Fairy-tale: Images of Vyborg from the 1940s to the 2010s” in Meani (...)
  • 20 See V. Nissilä, “Viipuri kautta aikojen” in Viipurin kirja, muistojulkaisu, J. Kivi-Koskinen, J. I. (...)

6The borderline on the Karelian Isthmus16 which nowadays divides the territories of the nation-states of Finland and Russia has been fixed by seven different peace treaties since 1323 and been decided between five different territorial-political powers17. These border changes have all “in some way [...] affected the castle and the city of Vyborg and its inhabitants”18. Today Vyborg is a small provincial town at the north eastern end of the Gulf of Finland approximately 140 km northwest from St. Petersburg. It does not have major geopolitical, financial or defensive importance for Russia. It is a marginal town in St. Petersburg's shadow. For Russian tourists it is an interesting place to visit and wonder at the remains of the medieval town space19. If we continue 40 km to the northwest, we reach the border of Finland. In Finland, Vyborg, this small provincial Russian town, is something else completely. In Finnish narratives Vyborg is a 1920s and 1930s city, the second largest in Finland, a cultural and trading center, the capital of the Karelia region and a long-standing “lock” against the eastern enemy20. All that changed in 1944 when Vyborg was occupied by the Red Army, but in a way, nothing changed. Even though Vyborg has not been a part of Finland for more than seventy years, there is no city which provokes such feelings among certain cohorts of Finns as Vyborg does. And, above all the other places in the town, Vyborg castle is the “symbol of everything”. To understand this phenomenon, we must start by taking a short tour through seven hundred years of Vyborg’s history.

  • 21 J. Korpela, “Viipurin linnaläänin synty.” in Viipurin läänin historia II. Otava, Keuruu, 2004, pp. (...)
  • 22 J. Korpela, op. cit., pp. 84-91.

7The story begins at the end of the thirteenth century when Novgorod, Denmark and Sweden were all trying to legitimize their power and actions at the eastern end of the Gulf of Finland. After the Danes ceded their interests, the Swedes started to dominate and built a castle on the bay of Vyborg in 129321. Vyborg was an outpost of the Swedish kingdom facing towards Novgorod and later Russia. For locals Vyborgians were strangers, outsiders representing a foreign power. Nevertheless Vyborg became a sustained center of power in the area22.

  • 23 V. Nissilä, op. cit., p. 31.
  • 24 See Y. Kaukiainen, “Viipurin lääni palaa Suomeen – Suomi tulee Viipurin lääniin.” in Autonomisen Su (...)

8During the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries the town and castle faced being conquered several times, mostly by Russians, however Vyborg remained the eastern outpost of Swedish power for over four hundred years. The rulers of the town changed in 1710 when Tsar Peter the Great occupied the city during the Great Northern War. Vyborg became a Russian fortress town and its purpose was to defend the new capital, St. Petersburg, which had been founded in 1703. New, modern fortifications were built around the town, and the focus of governance and power moved into the town itself23. The significance of the castle as a military and administrative center for the town decreased. The next big change to power institutions occurred in 1812 when Vyborg became part of the new Russian Grand Duchy of Finland. As a result of the “Finnish War”, Sweden ceded the whole eastern part of their kingdom, Finland, to Russia in 1809 with so-called “Old Finland”, the Province of Vyborg, being adjoined to the new Russian Grand Duchy three years later24.

  • 25 J. Korpela, op. cit., pp 84-91.
  • 26 I. Raekallio, Wiipurin linna, sen vaiheet ja nähtävyydet, H. Sihvo (ed), Suomen Matkailuliitto, Hel (...)
  • 27 In 1870 54 % of the population was Finnish speaking, in 1890 69 % and by 1910 83 % (Y. Kaukiainen, (...)

9The castle, the symbol of the town from the beginning25, fell into near ruin during the nineteenth century. It was no longer the actual center of power, but its symbolic value remained. As a result of several fires and other accidents the castle was in very poor condition by the end of the 1870s. At this point the idea surfaced of taking the old building under the care of the town authorities. Russian officials did not at first permit this but finally, in 1888, Tsar Alexander III decided that the castle should be renewed, although it would continue to serve the needs of the Russian military26. During the nineteenth century Vyborg was not a “Finnish” town, but from the 1870s to the 1910s the migration of Finnish speaking people to the town, and thus its Finnish population, rapidly increased27.

  • 28 See M. Palokangas, S. Ahto et al., Viipurin linna, Sotasokeat ry:n kevätjulkaisu, Sotasokeat ry, He (...)
  • 29 This border was confirmed in the 1920 Treaty of Tartu.
  • 30 The Finnish Civil War was a “brief but savage [...] ideological outburst” (J. Loima, “Genocide and (...)
  • 31 K. J. Mikola, “Viipuri itsenäisen Suomen rajakaupungiksi” in Viipurin kaupungin historia V, Torkkel (...)
  • 32 Ibid.
  • 33 O. Fingerroos, “Places of Memory in the Red Vyborg of 1918”, Journal of Ethnology and Folkloristics(...)
  • 34 Archived oral history testimony cited in O. Fingerroos, op. cit. p.14.
  • 35 J. Loima, op. cit., p. 259; T. Keskisarja, "Väärin unodettu Viipuri", YLE [Online], Online since 11 (...)
  • 36 J. Loima, op. cit. p. 254.

10During the First World War Vyborg was a significant Russian garrison town and important for the defense of St. Petersburg28. The Russian era ended in Vyborg in December 1917 when Finland declared its independence from the nascent Soviet Union and the Finnish nation-state border was drawn between Vyborg and St. Petersburg with Vyborg on the Finnish side29. In the late winter and early spring of 1918 Vyborg had an important role during Finland's Civil War30. The Civil War started in Vyborg and in Karelia between the 17th and the 20th of January 1918 and after a small-scale conflict Vyborg was occupied by the anti- government “Reds”31. During the war the castle served as a cadre for the Reds and a jail for prisoners of war32. Vyborg was held by the Reds throughout the conflict but the Battle of Vyborg on the 29th of April saw victory for the Whites and their “flag was hoisted as a symbol of exchange of power [at] the tower of the castle in Vyborg at the end of April in 1918, when the Whites had won the war”33. During executions carried out by the Whites after the war between four hundred and four hundred and fifty Russians (or those perceived as Russian) were killed in Vyborg. Most were bystanders killed “only because they were Russian”34 and some of these “Russians” were actually White supporters35. J. Loima has classed such Civil War killings as acts of ethnic cleansing36.

  • 37 See Y. Kaukiainen, op. cit. pp. 74-88.
  • 38 Interview material.
  • 39 See below and also J. Karhu, L. Ryabova op. cit.; A. Koskivirta, P. Paavolainen, S. Supponen, "Viip (...)
  • 40 See e.g. Viipurin kaupungin historia V, op. cit.; M. Palokangas et. al., op.cit.
  • 41 For example in Viipurin kaupungin historia V, op. cit.; M Palokangas et. al. op. cit. See also I. R (...)

11The next period of Vyborg's history starting from after the Civil War and ending abruptly on “the last day”, the 20th of June 1944, the final Finnish loss of the city, set Vyborg and its castle within Finnish history telling and dictated how the place was represented afterwards. During the inter war years Finnish Vyborg grew exponentially37 in terms of both area and population and became a flourishing center of culture and trade. As one former Vyborgian described it life before WWII was like a fairytale38. This memory of “fairytale” like living determines the whole image of Vyborg and ceded Karelia in the post war tradition of memorizing the lost areas in Finland within a context of nostalgic longing39. The castle was the symbol of the city and the Finnish flag at the top of the tower was the most important artifact, indicating Finnishness and independence40. It is important to note that the significance of the Finnish flag being flown, being raised, or being lowered from the castle tower is presented in the literature from a military point of view, as a conclusion to battles41. The importance of the flag to the average person is more controversial and can be considered to have become more significant after WWII. Images and stories related to flag were repeated again and again in different representations of Vyborg after the war and the loss of the city. Via this process even those who were not living in or visiting the city when the Finnish flag was flown there have been exposed to, and have had the chance to assimilate, this symbol of the town.

  • 42 K. J. Mikkola, "Viipuri rauhan ajan varuskuntana ja sodissa", in Viipurin kaupungin historia V, op. (...)
  • 43 E. Parikka, "Sotien Viipuri II." in J.Kivi-Koskinen et al. (Eds), op. cit., pp. 553-558.

12The so-called Winter War between Finland and Russia began at the end of November 1939 and the Finnish Vyborg's “fairytale” ended in March 1940 when Finnish forces left the city and the Finnish flag was taken down from the castle tower. At the conclusion of the Winter War, Vyborg and the whole of the Karelian Isthmus was ceded to the Soviet Union. The entire Finnish population left Vyborg and relocated to the Finnish interior. Finland sought atonement for this loss and went to war against the Soviet Union with German backing in June 1941. Finnish forces retook Vyborg at the end of August 1941 and after a few days the very same flag that had been lowered in 1940 was again raised to the top of the castle tower42. Evacuated Finnish Vyborgians returned and started to rebuild the war damaged city43.

  • 44 K. J. Mikkola, op. cit. p. 406; E. Parikka, op. cit., pp. 585-586.
  • 45 See O. Manninen, K. Rainila, Viipuri Menetetty. Rintama horjuu 1944, Otava, Keuruu, 2014; U. Tarkki (...)
  • 46 Y. Shikalov, op. cit.

13The joy of return was short-lived. The Soviet Union launched a great offensive in June 1944 and captured Vyborg quickly on the 20th of June. Losing Vyborg without a decent battle was seen as a disgraceful situation for the Finnish army44 and the debate concerning the reasons for the loss of Vyborg and the actions of those involved is still ongoing in Finland45. Vyborg was not a Finnish place anymore, and the Soviets swiftly declared it an old Russian town which had been rightfully restored to Russia46.

Borderline changes and the location of Vyborg

Borderline changes and the location of Vyborg

Source: Antti Härkönen/Esri, HERE, DeLorme, MapmyIndia, © OpenStreetMap contributors and the GIS user community

The Lock Against the East

  • 47 H. Öhquist, "Viipuri sotilaallisena keskuksena ja varuskuntakaupunkina" in J.Kivi-Koskinen et al. ( (...)
  • 48 Moscovy was perceived as “other” in the same way as Tatars were. See K. Katajala, “Finland – the La (...)
  • 49 K. Katajala op. cit.; Korpela, 2015, op. cit. At the same time the era of independent castellans en (...)
  • 50 K. Katajala op. cit. The Swedish idea of “West against East” was also adopted as part of Finnish cu (...)

14The idea of Vyborg and its castle as the “lock” between Finland/Karelia and Russian aggression, and as an outpost of the Western world bordering the Eastern (i.e. Russian) sphere of influence was commonly used in Finland from the 1920s onwards. Military staff especially described the importance of Vyborg and the Karelian isthmus for the defense of southern Finland. From the military point of view the only way to get to the Finnish interior when approaching from the south east was via Vyborg47. The background to this way of thinking dates back hundreds of years. In the thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth centuries Novgordians and other local power institutions were not seen as an “other”, or as an “Eastern threat”. This changed after Moscow acquired the ruling position over Novgorod in 147848. Some decades later Sweden started to build a modern state and within that reformation the idea of national territory became more important49. Through this development Moscow became a threat from the East on an ideological level and Vyborg came to represent “an outpost of the Western world”. This mentality remained for over two hundred years, even after Vyborg became a Russian town in 1710, and was a splendid rhetorical tool for Finnish national romantic discourse to employ from the 1870s onwards50.

  • 51 E. Leino, “Viipurin vartio” in Painuva Päivä, Helsinki, 1914. Authors' translation.
  • 52 I. Raekallio op. cit.
  • 53 Emphasis is placed on the great successes in defending the city against invaders. This is mentioned (...)
  • 54 I. Raekallio op. cit. See also Nissilä op. cit. pp. 31-36.

15The idea of Vyborg castle as an outpost of the Western world against the East has been repeated dozens of times in different Finnish sources: in history books, magazines, novels and poetry, going back to the Grand Duchy era. The sources also show the significance given to Vyborg and its castle in Finnish nation building. The famous Finnish poet Eino Leino described how the gray wall of the town could tell the story of the destiny of the Fatherland (meaning Finland, then still a Russian Grand Duchy) and declared if “Vyborg stands, the nation stands”51. A guidebook on the castle published in 1928 describes it as a place which is related to many important events concerning the destiny of Finland52. The same book represents the Swedish era of the town and castle from glorified point of view53 and the Russian era (1710-1812) as a time of degeneration and recession54.

  • 55 Reproduced in J. O. V. Viiste, Viihtyisä vanha Wiipuri, WS Oy, Porvoo, 1958, pp. 8-9. Author's tran (...)
  • 56 B. Sandberg, H. J. Viherjuuri, Viipuri, Kustannusosakeyhtiö, Otava, Helsinki, 1936, p. 3.

16Finnish nationalistic thinking in the 1920s and 1930s used the long history of the town as a stepping stone in trying to build up a holistic idea of the Finnish nation and of Finnish Vyborg providing a bulwark against the Soviets. In a pre-war poem, Finnish Vyborgian poet Into Auer describes the castle as the most “noble” of its kind and calls it “Finland's lock”55. The 1936 book Viipuri, presents Vyborg as a focus for the common history of Sweden and Finland and, again, as being the outpost against the East and the acknowledged lock of Finland56. Vyborg is no longer the lock of Finland and is not in any way the lock of Russia, but still, in the minds of Finnish people and in postmemory, the castle and the town are seen from the perspective of the above mentioned poems. This can be seen from present day Finnish representations of the castle and in the meanings given to it.

Then and now. Vyborg castle features in a postcard from the 1900s and the castle photographed in 2013

Then and now. Vyborg castle features in a postcard from the 1900s and the castle photographed in 2013

Source : Wikicommons/Chloe Wells

Vyborg and its Castle in Finnish Representations

  • 57 B. Kuzmany, “Brody always on my mind: the mental mapping of a Jewish city”, East European Jewish Af (...)
  • 58 This is exemplified in the new Finnish documentary Vanha Wiipurimme (Our Old Vyborg) which, althoug (...)
  • 59 P. Raivo, “In this very place: war memorials and landscapes as an experienced heritage.” Thingmount (...)

17Repeated popular representations of pre-WWII Finnish Vyborg have allowed the city to “inscribe itself [...] successfully”57 in Finnish memory. It is not primarily Vyborg, the living town of today, which is inscribed but second hand, past representations of Vyborg as it once was. These representations of pre war Finnish Vyborg must be in place before the modern day town can be meaningful within Finnish memory58. The powerful affect, the strong emotions stirred for some Finns visiting Vyborg come from pre-knowledge of its past, from remembered representations and from postmemories of Vyborg, handed down the generations: without these stories and their interpretations “there are no ghosts and no sense of place”59.

  • 60 C. Kitch, “Anniversary journalism: Collective memory and the cultural authority to tell the story o (...)
  • 61 C. Kitch, op. cit., p. 47.
  • 62 A. van den Braembussche, “The Silence of Belgium: Taboo and Trauma in Belgian Memory”, Yale French (...)
  • 63 Jatkosota – 70 vuotta sodan syttymisestä, published 5.5.2011; Viipuri published 3.05.2012; Viipuri- (...)
  • 64 D. Kirby, A Concise History of Finland, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2006, p.15.

18Posmemories of Vyborg, “particular pieces of the past”, are “resurrected and presented in a particular order and context”60 within Finnish tabloid media. Such media artifacts are “dialogic creation[s] of journalists and audiences, who together construct collective memory and a shared, national identity based on the passage of time”61. In such magazines Vyborg's Finnish past has been “amplified into an emotionally appealing myth”62. An analysis of five one-off Finnish tabloid magazines on the themes of Vyborg, Karelia and WWII published between 2011-201463 found that, in all the magazines, photos of Vyborg castle are used to represent Vyborg the defended city, withstanding battles and enduring. The castle is presented as having “symbolic value as the fortress against the east”64. Of the twenty-one photos of the castle in the five magazines, twelve show the castle during peace time and nine during WWII. The peacetime photos represent the castle as solid and enduring whilst life (traffic, boating, guard duty) goes on around it and the wartime photos similarly show the castle enduring whilst it is surrounded by bombings, destroyed buildings and battles.

  • 65 Nb. the magazines do not feature the castle to the same extent: Viipuri - Muistot and Viipuri toget (...)

19More than a quarter of the twenty-one images of the castle which appear in the five magazines65 show the castle tower flying the Finnish flag, thus clearly marking the castle and, by extension, Vyborg as Finnish. When photos of the castle flying the Finnish flag are used it is always in conjunction with, and thus serves to emphasize, the “battle for Vyborg” which took place during WWII. The best example of this can be found in the magazine Viipuri. On p. 24 the headline and subheading read: “The ruler's flag flies from the castle. 534 days, 2 hours and 15 minutes after the [Finnish] flag was lowered at the end of the Winter War the Finnish flag flies again over a liberated Vyborg.” The article below this begins “Whoever's flag flies from [Vyborg castle's] tower, rules the city”. The article is accompanied by a color photo from the Finnish Army photo archive of the castle with Finnish flag flying. The photo is captioned “The Finnish flag flies over a liberated Vyborg, September,1941”. The magazine has two pages dedicated to detailing the various lowerings and raisings of flags at the caste tower during the war.

  • 66 See C. Wells, op. cit. for examples.
  • 67 P. Nora, “Between Memory and History: Les Lieux de Mémoire”, Representation, # 26, Special Issue: M (...)
  • 68 B. Kuzmany, op. cit., p. 162.
  • 69 Ibid.

20The castle (and hence the city) of Vyborg is tagged as Finnish by the presence of the Finnish flag in the photographs despite the uncertainty of the scenes of battle or its aftermath. As the tabloid magazines demonstrate, a photo of the castle has become a short hand symbol for Vyborg and further, photos of the castle send certain messages about Vyborg: about its enduring nature and it being a Finnish place. The magazines also use photo captions and text to reinforce this message66. This turns Vyborg castle into a type of lieux de memoire67 made up of “images and texts [...] pictures and postcards” which represent the castle68. These “icons” will all “have an impact”69 on how the castle is remembered.

  • 70 A. Ahonen, "Linna on Viipurin symboli", Helsingin Sanomat [Online], Online since 29 March 2015, con (...)
  • 71 Ibid. Author's translation.
  • 72 The same photo is used for example on the home page of the website VirtualViipuri (a Finnish made o (...)

21As a fitting postscript in 2015 Finland's largest subscription newspaper, daily broadsheet Helsingin Sanomat published an article online headlined “Castle is the symbol of Vyborg”70. The article repeats the idea that the castle “protected [Swedish] territories and the trading centre [Vyborg] from attacks from the East”71. The article is filed under the “Domestic News” (Kotimaa) section of the online version of the newspaper and a well-known 1930s photo of the castle and its surroundings by Finnish Vyborgian Eino Partanen is used to illustrate the article72. Placing the article in the domestic news section and using a photograph of the castle during its brief Finnish era shows that the castle is still represented as Finnish today despite the geopolitical reality.

The Castle, the Symbol of Everything?

  • 73 Meanings of an Urban Space, Past and Present. Cross-Cultural Studies of the Town of Vyborg from the (...)
  • 74 The main questions raised were: How do people experience and see the historical layers of the build (...)
  • 75 The survey had 107 respondents; 52% were women and 48% men. Approximately half of the respondents w (...)

22As a part of an international Finnish-Russian joint project73, Jani Karhu collected survey material concerning the meanings given to places within Vyborg's physical town space74. The castle was among those places. Survey data was collected from members of Finnish societies, groups and organisations somehow connected to or interested in Vyborg75. The societies, organisations and groups involved with survey were the Finnish Literature Society in Vyborg, the Karelian Association, the Vyborg Students’ Club, and Viipuri Facebook group. The survey was also advertised in the author’s column in the Finnish newspaper Karelia. Answers to the survey were analysed using the SPSS statistical program. The responses to the survey's open questions were first analysed using content analysis and then quantified so as to be suitable for SPSS analysis.

  • 76 J. Karhu, L. Ryabova, op. cit. pp. 277-278. The age structure of those who replied shows us that th (...)
  • 77 Survey data.
  • 78 J. Karhu, L. Ryabova, op. cit., pp. 280-281.

23Respondents were asked to tell the most important places in Vyborg from their perspective and tell what kind of meanings they gave to those places. It was expected that respondents may have an emotional attitude to the subject because in many cases they had have actually lived in the Finnish city or their parents or other relatives lived there before the end of WWII, however there were only a few signs of emotional responses in the data76. Of the places mentioned in the answers to the survey, the castle was the most symbolic place of Vyborg. Respondents used phrases like: “A long-standing symbol of lost Karelia”, “The castle is a symbol of the Finnish character and freedom” and even “the castle is the symbol of everything”77. Quite often in answering on Vyborg castle the respondents also mentioned the flag of Finland78. It is interesting that an originally Swedish and now Russian castle can be seen as a symbol of Finnishness and Finnish power institutions in such an unquestioning way.

  • 79 J. Karhu, L. Ryabova, op. cit.

24In many cases, the castle was seen as an indication of the long history of the town, but the very foundation of the actual meanings leans towards the symbolic idea of Finnishness and how the castle has been seen as a Finnish “lock” against the Eastern enemy, the “lock” which is now lost. This is the viewpoint that makes narrations representing the castle as “symbol of everything” understandable79.

  • 80 J. Karhu, L. Ryabova op. cit.

25It seems that, in some people’s minds, it has always been Finland and Finnishness which the castle has defended, even if the actual history is something else completely. This image is created through the ways in which the castle and Vyborg have been represented and reminisced about in different sources after the war and as a result of the collective national trauma of losing the city during WWII. Connecting this tradition of postmemory to the tradition of regarding the castle as the lock of Finland, has turned the castle some kind of a fixed symbol of Finnishness and Finnish power. No matter the actual historical layers of the site the meanings and significance attached to them always refers back to the 1920s and 1930s, to that “golden” Finnish era of the town80.

  • 81 A. Koskivirta et al. op. cit., p.11.
  • 82 K. Lento, P. Olsson, “Kaupunki, muistot ja muistaminen”, in Muistin kaupunki. Tulkintoja kaupungist (...)
  • 83 M. Hirsch, op. cit., p. 106.
  • 84 J. Karhu, L. Ryabova op. cit., J. Karhu, “Memorialised and Imagined. Meanings of the Urban Space of (...)

26In collective and personal memory, it is always a matter of what is remembered and how and, on the other hand, what is forgotten81. Most important of all is which interpretations of the past gain the dominant role for and within the community82. At least for the wartime generation and the “generation after”83 and for those who “feel the loss” of Vyborg and Karelia, Vyborg castle as a place with rich historical layers mainly provides an exciting and beautiful stage for meanings and memories, in which the town is flourishing and the Finnish flag is at the top of the tower, even though in reality it was there for fewer than twenty-five years84. The fixed and in many ways imagined Finnish image of the castle and town started to rise to prominence in the decades before WWII and really escalated after the war. This image can be is considered a generational product.

“A Longing that Crosses the Generation Gap”85?

  • 85 M. Itkonen, “The Finland of poetry revisited four snapshots”, Procedia – Social and Behavioural Sci (...)
  • 86 C. Wells, op. cit., J. Karhu and L. Riabova, op. cit., J. Karhu, op. cit.
  • 87 Although again this is not as clear cut as it seems: a “vicarious Vyborgian” may be anyone of any a (...)
  • 88 U. Virkkunen, “Viipurin muistoja, joita en muista" Viipuri – muistot, 14 February 2013, p. 45. This (...)

27As we have demonstrated via a study of Finnish media representations of Vyborg and via previous research with those interested in Finnish Vyborg86 the “generation after” those who were forced to leave Vyborg may be dubbed the “vicarious Vyborgians”87. They are the whole-hearted inheritors of the story of Finnish Vyborg and of familial memories and postmemories of the Finnish city; they feel that the stories, images and memories circulating about Vyborg belong to them. They are the group catered to and represented in Finnish popular media portrayals of Vyborg. With this group we witness the phenomena of “memories of Vyborg, which I don't remember”88, the balancing act of those who simultaneously admit that “their” memories are adopted or postmemories and assert that these memories form a legitimate part of their individual and collective identity. But what about the generations after that? What about those coming of age in Finland today, over seventy years after Vyborg ceased to be a Finnish place in reality if not in imagination? What will they make of the circulating collective, postmemory of Vyborg? What does Vyborg castle, the “symbol of everything”, mean for them?

  • 89 Wells, op. cit.

28Earlier research89 indicates that Finnish North Karelian teens aged 14-16 have not yet even become aware of Vyborg. Only a small minority (8 %) recognised Vyborg castle, the most well used symbol of Vyborg.

29Chloe Wells has conducted focus groups with Finnish High School students (aged 16-19) in different cities around Finland to understand this age group's knowledge and opinions about Finnish Vyborg. The usual response of this cohort to being shown a picture of Vyborg castle at the very start of the focus group and being asked “Where is this?” was “I have no clue” (student, city of Oulu). One group member even responded humorously that: “Nobody knows it. It can't be [a] real [place]” (student, Oulu).

30After being shown the photo of Vyborg castle the participants were asked to write free association lists in answer to the question “What comes to mind when you hear the word 'Vyborg'?” Only 25 % wrote down that they thought of the castle. And perhaps this can be explained by the fact they had just seen a picture of it (one list from Oulu says this explicitly). It is interesting that seeing a photo of the castle did not jog any memories or stories about it – as this is the effect it had for the respondents in Jani Karhu's study (see above). In their lists the vast majority of teen participants who did mention the castle wrote only “castle” / “Vyborg castle.” A few others elaborated a little; describing the castle as “kinda old” (student, Jyväskylä), “old-fashioned” (student, Turku) and fine or fancy (student, Turku). Again, however, these are things they could have gleaned from the photograph. One list from Oulu mistook the castle for one in Helsinki (“Vyborg castle. Is it the same thing as Suomenlinna [in Helsinki]? Yes”). Errors of geography occurred a few times in the lists with teens in Oulu (2 lists), Jyväskylä (1 list), Turku (1 list), and Rovaniemi (3 lists) all writing that Vyborg was somewhere in Finland. We could speculate that these are an expression of the mixed messages about Vyborg that circulate in Finland: that it is Russian but still, somehow, Finnish.

31The lists were also examined to see if the castle was understood as a symbol of West vs. East, as “Finland's lock” as it is presented this way in Finnish tabloid media and is seen this way by some older respondents in Jani Karhu's survey (see above). Only six lists (of 260) mentioned the castle's defensive role and none linked this to wider ideas of West vs. East. Three lists stated that the castle offered protection or a defence against Russia, with one specifying that it offered Sweden protection. One list said that the castle defended Vyborg proper. Two lists mentioned a specific historic event which occurred at the castle: the so-called “Vyborg bang”. One list went into this in detail and was by far the most detailed answer given about the castle: “Vyborg castle and the big bang, when Finland, as a part of Sweden, defeated Russian troops in a siege [...] Vyborg castle was built on the Swedish and Russian border as a defence” (student, Lahti). Another list (from Rovaniemi) simply mentioned the “bang” and listed (incorrectly) the war during which it happened. These answers show the very faint signals, picked up only by a very few, about the castle as “defender” which have gotten through to this age group. These exceptions mean we cannot make a blanket generalisation about the teens' knowledge of and interest in the castle. Overall, however they seem to attach no emotional significance or meaning to it as a national symbol.

Meanings of the Castle

  • 90 P. Raivo, “Karelia lost or won – materialization of a landscape of contested and commemorated memor (...)
  • 91 Even though the castle's Swedish era takes up a large stretch of time in this narrative of East aga (...)

32Despite the apparent indifference shown towards it by young Finns Vyborg castle can still be regarded as a Finnish monument which, in the same way that a purpose built monument such as a war memorial would, “serve[s] to construct and maintain [Finnish] narratives of nationalism, identity and community”90. As most representations, narratives and memories related to the castle frame it as border marker in the eternal conflict between East (Russia) and West (Finland) the castle is a nationalistic monument91. As many narratives also link the castle to WWII it is also, in a sense, a war memorial for Finns.

  • 92 Karhu & Ryabova op. cit. p. 268-275; Shikalov op. cit. 2016b , p. 259-262.

33For Russian Vyborgians, the castle is also an important landmark and a remnant from the times of medieval knights; for Russian tourists the castle is mainly understood as an interesting “medieval” destination. On average, Russians surveyed demonstrated perceptions of the town environment as a cultural whole, without distinguishing Russian/Swedish/Finnish elements within it. On the other hand, Russian officials have used the castle as one way of trying to enforce certain interpretations concerning the history of Vyborg; that Vyborg is an old Russian town, with the castle as one aspect of this history92.

  • 93 P. Raivo, op. cit., p.64.
  • 94 The unchanging nature of Vyborg castle is in sharp contrast to many other Finnish era buildings and (...)
  • 95 P. Raivo, op. cit., p. 64.
  • 96 Ibid.

34Vyborg castle links geographical space with memory both materially and symbolically. The castle is still strongly “physically and concretely present as a visible trace in the landscape”93. It is with us here (or rather there) and now. It looks almost the same as it did in the 1920s and 1930s. And its age, good condition, and the type of building it is and represents (a fortification) adds to this impression of endurance and permanence94. Its continued physical existence makes Finnish memories of the castle and of Vyborg “real, visible and tangible, in the present day”95. But the castle is more than just a material presence. It is “also symbolic in the sense [that it] has acquired cultural meanings... national or local values on the grounds of which people wish to remember it”96. The meanings given to the castle make it far more than just a physical link to the memory of Finnish Vyborg; it is also a symbolic link, representing above all claims for the Finnishness (via claims for the Westerness) of Vyborg and, especially when pairing it with the Finnish flag, Vyborg and Finland's WWII history. The memory of the castle as both a material and symbolic place of the past is perpetuated by Finnish media representations commemorating anniversaries, stories or narratives salient to the history and memory of Finnish Vyborg. These media representations use the simulacra of certain photographs of and texts about the castle to commemorate Finnish memories and meanings associated with it.

Conclusion

35As a conclusion, we suggest that Vyborg castle as a symbol of power institutions is a perfect example of how fixed generational ways of representing certain places of memory can create biased symbolic realities whereby today's foreign monuments are interpreted from the viewpoint of an imagined nationalistic past as unquestionable symbols of power institutions (Karelia and Finland) even when they have been only a vanishing part of the history of these.

  • 97 See K. Katajala, J. Karhu, “Formation and meanings of the urban space of a borderland town: the cas (...)

36Vyborg castle was founded in 1293 as a Swedish outpost and this part of its history, its distant history and foundation myths, are acknowledged in Finnish popular history. However there is also a co-opting of the castle as an important Finnish site of memory, especially via use of images of the Finnish flag flying from the castle during WWII. The lowering of the Finnish flag from the castle is a traumatic symbol of the city's loss97. The castle is seen as the primary built symbol of Vyborg. Although Vyborg castle is not recognisable to all groups of Finns for those with a connection to Vyborg the castle can be “the symbol of everything”.

37Vyborg castle is, and has been made into, a commemorative historical site for Finns through repeated (re)use of (certain) photos of it and their contextualisation via their placement next to / with certain texts and their captions. For some Finns Vyborg castle is a representation of the past in the present associated primarily with pre-WWII memories which are kept alive and reinterpreted in the present. Vyborg castle is most meaningful for those Finns with a personal connection to Vyborg. Previous and ongoing research indicates that for Finnish High School students an isolated image of the castle is meaningless. This shows that Vyborg castle needs to be contextualized and given a background story linked to Finnish nation-building and the events of WWII in order to have symbolic value within Finnish discourses. The reason for this gap in meaning may be linked to how actively the affecting postmemory of losing the city has been transferred to the younger generation. Based on a large sample of Finnish high school students we can say that feelings of sorrow and bitterness about Vyborg seem not to have been adopted or expressed by the majority of young Finns; they do not feel Vyborg is “ours” as previous generations have done.

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Notes

* Acknowledgments: Chloe Wells's research is funded by working grants from the Karjalan Kulttuurirahasto sr (Karelian Cultural Fund) and the Pohjois-Karjalan Kulttuurirahasto (North Karelian Cultural Fund). The authors would like to thank Antti Härkönen of the University of Eastern Finland for creating the map used in the this article.

1 See A. Paasi, “Dancing on the graves: independence, hot/banal nationalism and the mobilization of memory”, Political Geography, Vol. 54, 2016, pp. 21-31.

2 A. Paasi, op. cit., p. 23.

3 S. Moisio, “Finlandisation versus westernisation: Political recognition and Finland's European Union membership debate”, National Identities, Vol. 10, # 1, March 2008, p. 89.

4 Ibid.

5 A. Paasi, op. cit., p. 25.

6 Ibid

7 Ibid. See also F. Billé, “Territorial phantom pains (and other cartographic anxieties)”, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space Vol. 31, 2014, pp. 163-178.

8 A. Paasi, op. cit., p. 23.

9 Ibid.

10 See M. Hirsch, “The Generation of Postmemory”, Poetics Today, Vol. 29, # 1, Spring 2008, pp. 103-128. Postmemory is “belated or inherited memory” (M. Hirsch, op. cit., p.107). Postmemory's connection to the past is not “mediated by recall but by imaginative investment, projection, and creation (Ibid). Postmemory “is not identical to memory: it is “post”, but at the same time, it approximates memory in its affective force” (Ibid, p.109).

11 A. Paasi, op. cit., p. 22.

12 B. Anderson, Imagined Communities. Reflections on the Origins and Spread of Nationalism, London, Verso, 1991.

13 K. Kosonen, “Making maps and mental images: Finnish press cartography in nation-building, 1899-1942”, National Identities, Vol. 10, # 1, March 2008, pp. 22-23.

14 A. Paasi, op. cit., p. 24.

15 K. Kosonen, op. cit., p. 28.

16 The strip of land between the Gulf of Finland and Lake Ladoga. Since after WWII the Isthmus has been within the territories of the Leningrad Oblast, and the Republic of Karelia, Russia.

17 The Swedish Empire, the Novgorod Republic, the Russian Empire or Tsardom, independent Finland, the Soviet Union.

18 M. Tandefelt, “Vyborg: Free trade in Four Languages” in Aspects of multilingualism in European Language History, K. Braumuller and G. Ferraresi (Eds), John Benjamins Publishing Company, Amsterdam, 2003, p. 85.

19 See Y. Shikalov, “Russian, Lost, Fairy-tale: Images of Vyborg from the 1940s to the 2010s” in Meanings of an Urban Space, Understanding the historical layers of Vyborg, K. Katajala (ed), Mittel- und Ostmitteleuropastudien, Band 12. LIT, Zürich, 2016, pp. 233-249; J. Karhu, L. Ryabova, “Meanings of the Urban Space of Vyborg” in K. Katajala, Ed., op. cit., pp. 263-299.

20 See V. Nissilä, “Viipuri kautta aikojen” in Viipurin kirja, muistojulkaisu, J. Kivi-Koskinen, J. I. Koivu, A. Tuurna, T. Valtavuo (Eds), Torkkelin säätiö, Pieksämäki, 1958, pp. 37-50; J. W. Ruuth et al. (Eds), Viipurin kaupungin historia IV, Torkkelin säätiö, Pieksämäki, 1980.

21 J. Korpela, “Viipurin linnaläänin synty.” in Viipurin läänin historia II. Otava, Keuruu, 2004, pp. 64-83.

22 J. Korpela, op. cit., pp. 84-91.

23 V. Nissilä, op. cit., p. 31.

24 See Y. Kaukiainen, “Viipurin lääni palaa Suomeen – Suomi tulee Viipurin lääniin.” in Autonomisen Suomen Rajamaa, Viipurin läänin historia V, Y. Kaukiainen, R. Marjomaa, J. Nurminen (Eds), Otava, Keuruu, 2014, pp. 12-22.

25 J. Korpela, op. cit., pp 84-91.

26 I. Raekallio, Wiipurin linna, sen vaiheet ja nähtävyydet, H. Sihvo (ed), Suomen Matkailuliitto, Helsinki, Originally published 1928, reprinted 1993, pp. 92-93.

27 In 1870 54 % of the population was Finnish speaking, in 1890 69 % and by 1910 83 % (Y. Kaukiainen, Viipurin suomalaistuminen” in Monikulttuurisuuden aika Viipurissa. Viipurin Suomalaisen Kirjallisuusseuran toimitteita 17, P. Paavolainen, S. Supponen (Eds), VSK, Helsinki, 2013, pp. 76-77.)

28 See M. Palokangas, S. Ahto et al., Viipurin linna, Sotasokeat ry:n kevätjulkaisu, Sotasokeat ry, Helsinki, 1976, pp. 120-121.

29 This border was confirmed in the 1920 Treaty of Tartu.

30 The Finnish Civil War was a “brief but savage [...] ideological outburst” (J. Loima, “Genocide and ethnic cleansing? The fate of Russian “aliens and enemies” in the Finnish Civil War in 1918”, The Historian, Vol. 69, # 2, 2007, p.254) during which so-called “White” government-backed forces subdued an uprising by “Red” working class socialist and communist sympathizers in a number of urban battles.

31 K. J. Mikola, “Viipuri itsenäisen Suomen rajakaupungiksi” in Viipurin kaupungin historia V, Torkkelin säätiö, Lappeenranta, 1978, pp. 7-13.

32 Ibid.

33 O. Fingerroos, “Places of Memory in the Red Vyborg of 1918”, Journal of Ethnology and Folkloristics, Vol. 1, #2, 2008, p.13.

34 Archived oral history testimony cited in O. Fingerroos, op. cit. p.14.

35 J. Loima, op. cit., p. 259; T. Keskisarja, "Väärin unodettu Viipuri", YLE [Online], Online since 11 December 2015, connection on 27 January 2017, URL: http://yle.fi/aihe/artikkeli/2015/12/11/vaarin-unohdettu-viipuri.

36 J. Loima, op. cit. p. 254.

37 See Y. Kaukiainen, op. cit. pp. 74-88.

38 Interview material.

39 See below and also J. Karhu, L. Ryabova op. cit.; A. Koskivirta, P. Paavolainen, S. Supponen, "Viipurin historiankirjoitus: politiikkaa, teemoja ja aukollisuuksia", in Muuttuvien tulkintojen Viipuri, A. Koskivirta, P. Paavolainen, S. Supponen (Eds), Viipurin suomalaisen kirjallisuusseuran toimitteita 18, Helsinki, 2016, pp. 7-17.

40 See e.g. Viipurin kaupungin historia V, op. cit.; M. Palokangas et. al., op.cit.

41 For example in Viipurin kaupungin historia V, op. cit.; M Palokangas et. al. op. cit. See also I. Raekallio op. cit.

42 K. J. Mikkola, "Viipuri rauhan ajan varuskuntana ja sodissa", in Viipurin kaupungin historia V, op. cit. pp. 381-408; M Palokangas et al., op. cit.

43 E. Parikka, "Sotien Viipuri II." in J.Kivi-Koskinen et al. (Eds), op. cit., pp. 553-558.

44 K. J. Mikkola, op. cit. p. 406; E. Parikka, op. cit., pp. 585-586.

45 See O. Manninen, K. Rainila, Viipuri Menetetty. Rintama horjuu 1944, Otava, Keuruu, 2014; U. Tarkki, Miksi menetimme Viipurin?, Kirjayhtymä, Helsinki, 1990.

46 Y. Shikalov, op. cit.

47 H. Öhquist, "Viipuri sotilaallisena keskuksena ja varuskuntakaupunkina" in J.Kivi-Koskinen et al. (Eds), op. cit., pp. 278-298.

48 Moscovy was perceived as “other” in the same way as Tatars were. See K. Katajala, “Finland – the Last Outpost of Western Civilization?”, Comtemporary Church History, Vol. 27, # 2, 2014, pp. 299-309; J. Korpela, “Suomen uusi keskiaika”, Tiede, # 10, 2015, pp. 38-45.

49 K. Katajala op. cit.; Korpela, 2015, op. cit. At the same time the era of independent castellans ended and the era of minions under the command of the king began. See Raekallio op. cit.

50 K. Katajala op. cit. The Swedish idea of “West against East” was also adopted as part of Finnish cultural speech (Ibid).

51 E. Leino, “Viipurin vartio” in Painuva Päivä, Helsinki, 1914. Authors' translation.

52 I. Raekallio op. cit.

53 Emphasis is placed on the great successes in defending the city against invaders. This is mentioned several times.

54 I. Raekallio op. cit. See also Nissilä op. cit. pp. 31-36.

55 Reproduced in J. O. V. Viiste, Viihtyisä vanha Wiipuri, WS Oy, Porvoo, 1958, pp. 8-9. Author's translation.

56 B. Sandberg, H. J. Viherjuuri, Viipuri, Kustannusosakeyhtiö, Otava, Helsinki, 1936, p. 3.

57 B. Kuzmany, “Brody always on my mind: the mental mapping of a Jewish city”, East European Jewish Affairs, Vol. 43, # 2, 2013, p. 162.

58 This is exemplified in the new Finnish documentary Vanha Wiipurimme (Our Old Vyborg) which, although focusing on the modern day town, began with a reminder of Vyborg's Finnish past by including footage from the 1940 film Meidän Viipurimme (Our Vyborg).

59 P. Raivo, “In this very place: war memorials and landscapes as an experienced heritage.” Thingmount working paper series on the philosophy of conservation, University of Lancaster, Department of Philosophy, 1999. p.4

60 C. Kitch, “Anniversary journalism: Collective memory and the cultural authority to tell the story of the American past”, Journal of Popular Culture, Vol. 36, # 1, 2002, pp. 50-51

61 C. Kitch, op. cit., p. 47.

62 A. van den Braembussche, “The Silence of Belgium: Taboo and Trauma in Belgian Memory”, Yale French Studies, # 102, Belgian Memories, 2002, p46.

63 Jatkosota – 70 vuotta sodan syttymisestä, published 5.5.2011; Viipuri published 3.05.2012; Viipuri- Muistot, published 14.2.2013; Karjala, published 30.5.2013; Suurhyökkäys – Neuvostojoukot iskevät suomeen kesällä 1944, published 22.5.2014. All 5 were published by Finnish national tabloid newspaper Ilta-Sanomat. For a detailed analysis of these magazines (except Viipuri) see C. Wells, Vyborg: a borderland town remembered and forgotten, Masters Thesis published at the University of Eastern Finland, 2014. pp. 32-48 and especially pages 39-41 regarding use of images of Vyborg castle.

64 D. Kirby, A Concise History of Finland, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2006, p.15.

65 Nb. the magazines do not feature the castle to the same extent: Viipuri - Muistot and Viipuri together contribute 17 of the 21 photos.

66 See C. Wells, op. cit. for examples.

67 P. Nora, “Between Memory and History: Les Lieux de Mémoire”, Representation, # 26, Special Issue: Memory and Counter-Memory, Spring 1989, pp. 7-24

68 B. Kuzmany, op. cit., p. 162.

69 Ibid.

70 A. Ahonen, "Linna on Viipurin symboli", Helsingin Sanomat [Online], Online since 29 March 2015, connection on 29 January 2017. URL: http://www.hs.fi/kotimaa/art-2000002812509.html

71 Ibid. Author's translation.

72 The same photo is used for example on the home page of the website VirtualViipuri (a Finnish made online database representing Finnish Vyborg “as it was” in September, 1939) (VirtualViipuri, “Home” [Online] nd, URL: http://www.virtuaaliviipuri.tamk.fi/en).

73 Meanings of an Urban Space, Past and Present. Cross-Cultural Studies of the Town of Vyborg from the 16th century to the 21st century. The results of the project were published in K. Katajala, Ed., op. cit.

74 The main questions raised were: How do people experience and see the historical layers of the buildings and places of Vyborg? What kinds of meanings are given to these places and buildings? How do these meanings appear? What are the factors affecting these memories, experiences and points of view? The questionnaire consisted of three different sections: background questions, questions about Vyborg in people’s minds and memories, and questions on the meanings of the places and buildings of Vyborg.

75 The survey had 107 respondents; 52% were women and 48% men. Approximately half of the respondents were aged between 51 and 70, 30% were over 70 years old and 20% were under 50 years old. Middle-aged women were most interested in the questionnaire. Some respondents had actually lived in Finnish Vyborg: 15% of respondents were born in the town and 17% had lived there at some point in their life. See J. Karhu, L. Ryabova, op. cit. for more about the study.

76 J. Karhu, L. Ryabova, op. cit. pp. 277-278. The age structure of those who replied shows us that they may have personal memories of Finnish Vyborg, or memories inherited from their parents or other relatives with personal memories: 30 % of respondents were over 70 years old and only 20 % were under 50 years old.

77 Survey data.

78 J. Karhu, L. Ryabova, op. cit., pp. 280-281.

79 J. Karhu, L. Ryabova, op. cit.

80 J. Karhu, L. Ryabova op. cit.

81 A. Koskivirta et al. op. cit., p.11.

82 K. Lento, P. Olsson, “Kaupunki, muistot ja muistaminen”, in Muistin kaupunki. Tulkintoja kaupungista muistin ja muistamisen paikkana, K. Lento, P. Olsson (Eds.), Helsinki, SKS, 2013, p. 19.

83 M. Hirsch, op. cit., p. 106.

84 J. Karhu, L. Ryabova op. cit., J. Karhu, “Memorialised and Imagined. Meanings of the Urban Space of Vyborg”, Modern History of Russia, # 3, 2017

85 M. Itkonen, “The Finland of poetry revisited four snapshots”, Procedia – Social and Behavioural Sciences, # 174, 2015, p. 365. Itkonen has predicted that the ceded territories, “the Karelia that was lost”, will “live on in people’s minds as a longing that crosses the generation gap. It will not disappear even though the number of those who remember has indeed diminished.” (Ibid.) If we believe Itkonen the story of Finnish Vyborg will continue uninterrupted “told and passed on from one generation to another.” (Ibid.)

86 C. Wells, op. cit., J. Karhu and L. Riabova, op. cit., J. Karhu, op. cit.

87 Although again this is not as clear cut as it seems: a “vicarious Vyborgian” may be anyone of any age or generation who adopts as postmemories the memories and stories of Finnish ex-Vyborgians.

88 U. Virkkunen, “Viipurin muistoja, joita en muista" Viipuri – muistot, 14 February 2013, p. 45. This storyteller was born in 1937 and freely admits “I myself do not remember anything” but she then goes on to talk about the “sweet summer” of 1939 as if she does remember it (Ibid).

89 Wells, op. cit.

90 P. Raivo, “Karelia lost or won – materialization of a landscape of contested and commemorated memory”, Fennia, Vol. 182, # 1, 2004, pp. 61-72.

91 Even though the castle's Swedish era takes up a large stretch of time in this narrative of East against West, it has quite a negligible role in the survey data and in the larger picture of how people in Finland understand and see the history of Vyborg. The Swedish era comes up mainly in discussion of the question of the founding of Vyborg castle. In history books and documents the Swedish history is usually explained and the importance of it is acknowledged, but, in the larger picture, confrontation of the other (The East ie Russia) dominates, and in that discourse Swedes are perceived as a category of “us”, even though this is an anachronism or at least an over-simplification (see for example: Nissilä, op cit; I. Raekallio op. cit.). In Russia the medieval history of the town has been used to try and attract tourists, but it is not the actual Swedish medieval history but some kind of imagined fantasy of “medieval times” which is used in Vyborg’s marketing and which is thus present in people’s minds. For some Finns, today's Vyborg has been an interesting and beautiful stage for those memories and imaginations going back to the Finnish era of the town (See Y. Shikalov, “Viipuri 1940-luvulta 2000-luvulle: neuvostoliittolainen, suomalainen, venäläinen”, in Muuttuvien tulkintojen Viipuri, A. Koskivirta, P. Paavolainen & S. Supponen (Eds); Viipurin suomalaisen kirjallisuusseuran toimitteita 18, 2016b, p. 243; Shikalov op. cit. p. 238-243; Karhu & Ryabova op. cit. p. 268-275).

92 Karhu & Ryabova op. cit. p. 268-275; Shikalov op. cit. 2016b , p. 259-262.

93 P. Raivo, op. cit., p.64.

94 The unchanging nature of Vyborg castle is in sharp contrast to many other Finnish era buildings and places of memory in the ceded territory, such as graveyards and purpose built memorials, which have been neglected and / or (sometimes repeatedly) destroyed (see P. Raivo, op. cit.).

95 P. Raivo, op. cit., p. 64.

96 Ibid.

97 See K. Katajala, J. Karhu, “Formation and meanings of the urban space of a borderland town: the case of Vyborg.”, Paper presented at the XII International Congress for Finno-Ugric Studies, Oulu, Finland, 18.8.2015, [Online], connection on 29 January 2017. URL: https://www.academia.edu/18841967/Formation_and_meanings_of_the_urban_space_of_a_borderland_town_the_case_of_Vyborg, p. 6.

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List of illustrations

Title Borderline changes and the location of Vyborg
Credits Source: Antti Härkönen/Esri, HERE, DeLorme, MapmyIndia, © OpenStreetMap contributors and the GIS user community
URL http://journals.openedition.org/pipss/docannexe/image/4339/img-1.jpg
File image/jpeg, 924k
Title Then and now. Vyborg castle features in a postcard from the 1900s and the castle photographed in 2013
Credits Source : Wikicommons/Chloe Wells
URL http://journals.openedition.org/pipss/docannexe/image/4339/img-2.png
File image/png, 453k
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References

Electronic reference

Jani Karhu and Chloe Wells, « Vyborg Castle as a Symbol of Power Institutions », The Journal of Power Institutions in Post-Soviet Societies [Online], Issue 18 | 2017, Online since 17 January 2018, connection on 21 September 2018. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/pipss/4339

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About the authors

Jani Karhu

University of Eastern Finland

Chloe Wells

University of Eastern Finland

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Copyright

CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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