Sunday, September 24, 2006

Coerced Paths in Berlin

Carl Bildt has a post about the remarkable exhibition Erzwungene Wege. Flucht und Vertreibung in Europa des 20. Jahrhunderts ("Coerced Paths - Escape and Expulsion in Europe in the 20th Century") now on at the Kronprinzenhalle in central Berlin. As he writes, the exhibition, while controversial from many points of view, throws light on the damage that was done to Europe in the 20th century, both by itself and by outside powers.

The Finnish daily Helsingin Sanomat has some more:
One of the stories detailed in the exhibition is exceptional.

The fate of Finland's Karelians in the Second World War was more humane, and their escape route was no death-march. Nevertheless, more than 400,000 Karelians had to leave their homes during the war years, and in 1944 the displacement became permanent, when the territories were annexed to the Soviet Union. The tragedy directly affected more than ten per cent of the Finnish population.

"The fate of the Karelians is interesting in many respects", says Dr. Doris Müller-Toovey, who is responsible for the Karelian section in the exhibition.

"The people left of their own free will. What is also exceptional is that it all happened not once but twice."

When studying the events, which were quite new to her, Dr. Müller-Toovey was also impressed at how successful Finland was at settling the Karelian population in other parts of Finland.

The exhibition places the Karelian displacement story within a European framework in a completely new way. It is also exceptional that any interest is shown in the Karelian issue in Central Europe.

"It is not known that anything like this would have happened previously in exhibition activities", says Mervi Piipponen, cultural secretary of the Karelian Association.

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