tammisaaren-vankileiri-1.jpg

BEARING WITNESS TO THE PRISON CAMPS OF THE FINNISH CIVIL WAR OF 1918

BEARING WITNESS TO THE PRISON CAMPS OF THE FINNISH CIVIL WAR OF 1918

LUE SUOMEKSI

RETREAT   July 2nd – 5th 2019

This years edition of our Bearing Witness retreat here in Finland will take the participants to four different locations, a different site for each day. Finland has amazing conditions during the retreat as the nights are only few hours long in the summer. We will spend quite a bit of time in the nature meditating outdoors in the Island fortress of Suomenlinna and in the Civil War memorials, of which some are located deep in the forest. 

The retreat will take place this summer from July 2nd to 5th 2019. 

We offer a discount price for early birds until May 15th and we will also give scholarships for people coming from less affluent backgrounds. 


From July 2nd – 5th 2019, we’ll come together—from different countries, cultures, and religions—in Helsinki, the capital of Finland. From there we will proceed to different locations where the first concentration camps in Europe were established during the Finnish Civil War in 1918. This retreat in the spirit of the Three Tenets of the Zen Peacemakers is organized by the local affiliate group Peacemakers Finland to Bear Witness to the dreadful past, which is a largely untold part of the history of this peaceful country, and how it affected us all. 


Schedule: July 2nd – 5th 2019 

Main location: Helsinki, Finland

´Information: peacemakersfinland@gmail.com


It has been over one hundred years since Finland was torn in half by two opposing forces, the Whites and the Reds. The brutal conflicts and mistreatment of the prisoners soon ended, but the legacy of this tragedy that claimed one per cent of the whole population has continued to this day. 

Over eleven thousand people died in the Prison Camps hastily established for the Red captives waiting for their trials. The poor maintenance and lack of supplies resulted in thousands of unnecessary deaths. These camps were guarded by Finnish and German officers, and often there were mass executions even for the women and children.


During this retreat we will explore what happens, when we fail “to see others as ourselves”, when we shut our eyes to the despair of others. That’s the danger of history repeating itself, when the whole process begins anew: children crying out for their parents, young boys killing their neighbors, people trying to recognize their missing loved ones from piles of unidentified corpses. 

By bringing local people together with international participants, we face the complexity that arises when we try to locate the “other” in ourselves. During this retreat we want to remember all the victims. Is there any distinction between the suffering of the victim and the perpetrator? What is the result of silencing the suffering of the victims? What is the result of the perpetrators rewriting history to hide their shame? Entering this complexity requires a lot of listening and acceptance. 


Although this tragedy took place one hundred years ago, Finland still bears the marks of those events. The memorials for the Red victims are located outside the city. The memorial for the Suomenlinna Prison Camp is almost impossible to find, although there were over 8,000 prisoners, of which over 1,500 died. 


We travel to these places to Bear Witness to what is not so long past, but to what resonates now. Against the backdrop of recent socio-political developments in Europe, this project takes on new meaning. Our attitude towards the recent civil wars around the world can change when we Bear Witness to our own history.

During the retreat we will bring a diverse group of people together and explore the different aspects of the conflict.


The retreat is organized by Peacemakers Finland, which is a Regional Affiliate group of the Zen Peacemakers International. Maija and Mikko Ijäs will serve as primary organizers will be the contact people for all participants.
Belgian Zen teacher Frank De Waele Roshi will be the Spiritual Director of the retreat. Finnish Lutheran priest Maika Vuori will serve as a local Spirit Holder of the retreat.

Checklist:

Roshi Frank De Waele studying the map of Suomenlinna Prison Camp
Roshi Frank De Waele studying the map of Suomenlinna Prison Camp
press to zoom
Fellman Fields concentration camp
Fellman Fields concentration camp

22,000 Red Guards and supporters who surrendered to White forces in Lahti in spring 1918. Image: Yle Arkisto

press to zoom
Participants visiting Hennala Prison Camp
Participants visiting Hennala Prison Camp
press to zoom
Roshi Frank De Waele speaking with Maija Myosho Ijäs at Hennala Prison Camp execution site
Roshi Frank De Waele speaking with Maija Myosho Ijäs at Hennala Prison Camp execution site

This wall of a small prayer room served as an execution wall. Hennala (Lahti)

press to zoom
Historian Sari Näre speaking about Suomenlinna Prison Camp
Historian Sari Näre speaking about Suomenlinna Prison Camp
press to zoom
tammisaaren-vankileiri-1.jpg
tammisaaren-vankileiri-1.jpg
press to zoom
Participants bearing witness to the mass grave of Hennala Prison Camp in Lahti
Participants bearing witness to the mass grave of Hennala Prison Camp in Lahti
press to zoom
Västenkvarn execution site memorial
Västenkvarn execution site memorial

Västenkvarn memorial, which was built to commemorate the Red victims who were executed on this site in 1918.

press to zoom
Peacemaker Maija Myosho Ijäs bearing witness to Suomenlinna Prison Camp
Peacemaker Maija Myosho Ijäs bearing witness to Suomenlinna Prison Camp
press to zoom
Participants bearing witness to Dragsvik Prison Camp in Tammisaari
Participants bearing witness to Dragsvik Prison Camp in Tammisaari

Many people died lining for food which was served outside this building that built as a Russian orthodox church.

press to zoom
Participants having a ceremony at the Mass Grave Memorial in Tammisaari
Participants having a ceremony at the Mass Grave Memorial in Tammisaari
press to zoom
Participants gathering for meditation in Suomenlinna Prison Camp Memorial
Participants gathering for meditation in Suomenlinna Prison Camp Memorial
press to zoom
Bosnian former prison camp guard Esad Landzo sharing his experiences as the perpretrator
Bosnian former prison camp guard Esad Landzo sharing his experiences as the perpretrator
press to zoom
Mornign Council at Ryhmäteatteri in Helsinki
Mornign Council at Ryhmäteatteri in Helsinki
press to zoom
Fellman Park memorial
Fellman Park memorial

Monument to Red prisoners of the 1918 Civil War was made by sculptor Erkki Kannosto and it was erected in Fellman Park in 1978. The Monument is located on the site of the Fellman Fields Concentration camp

press to zoom
Participants bearing witness to the execution wall in Dragsvik Prison Camp in Tammisaari
Participants bearing witness to the execution wall in Dragsvik Prison Camp in Tammisaari
press to zoom
Prison Camp memorial at Suomenlinna
Prison Camp memorial at Suomenlinna
press to zoom
Participants bearing witness to the Hennala Prison Camp
Participants bearing witness to the Hennala Prison Camp
press to zoom
Suomenlinna
Suomenlinna

Suomenlinna, an island fortress just outside Helsinki was used as a prison camp in 1918. About 8,000 Red prisoners were sent here to wait for trials. It was functional for 11 months and during this time over 1,500 people were killed. Most of them died in diseases, hunger, and exposure, but at least 80 of them were officially executed. Some of them were shot to death trying to escape or steal food.  This picture shows prisoners of the prison camp at Susisaari. Reference: Suomenlinnan rakennusten historia, pp. 42.

press to zoom
Peacemaker Maija Myosho Ijäs and Spirit Holder Maika Vuori bearing witness to Suomenlinna Prison Cam
Peacemaker Maija Myosho Ijäs and Spirit Holder Maika Vuori bearing witness to Suomenlinna Prison Cam
press to zoom
Execution wall, Dragsvik
Execution wall, Dragsvik

The back wall of the Sauna building used for executions in 1918. The Sauna itself was used to delousing the incoming prisoners as they entered the camp. Dragsvig Garrison, Tammisaari

press to zoom
Engravings on prison wall, Dragsvik, Tammisaari
Engravings on prison wall, Dragsvik, Tammisaari

Engravings with inscriptions 1919, when the prison was still fully operational and the work "punikki" which was a derogatory name for the Reds during the Civil War. Dragsvig Garrison, Tammisaari

press to zoom
Visiting the execution site of the Hennala Camp
Visiting the execution site of the Hennala Camp

This wall of a small prayer room served as an execution wall. Hennala (Lahti)

press to zoom
Hennala, Lahti
Hennala, Lahti

Buildings of the Hennala area in Lahti, former Hennala Garrison Prison Camp in 1918-1919

press to zoom
Peacemakers Maika Vuori and Maija Myosho Ijäs
Peacemakers Maika Vuori and Maija Myosho Ijäs
press to zoom
Hennala, Lahti
Hennala, Lahti

Buildings of the Hennala area in Lahti, former Hennala Garrison Prison Camp in 1918-1919

press to zoom
Mass grave memorial at Tammisaari
Mass grave memorial at Tammisaari

The memorial at the Tammisaari mass grave, which is the biggest of its kind in Finland. A burial place for more than 3000 prisoners. Dragsvig Garrison, Tammisaari

press to zoom
One of the execution sites at Suomenlinna Prison Camp
One of the execution sites at Suomenlinna Prison Camp
press to zoom
The group setting up a circle to bear witness to Johanna Hammarberg's sound piece on Prison Camp let
The group setting up a circle to bear witness to Johanna Hammarberg's sound piece on Prison Camp let
press to zoom
Picture of the Red Memorial in Helsinki with graffiti "Finland is White"
Picture of the Red Memorial in Helsinki with graffiti "Finland is White"
press to zoom
Execution site at Suomenlinna Prison Camp
Execution site at Suomenlinna Prison Camp
press to zoom
27913066_528860517496201_3959150031792756572_o.jpg
27913066_528860517496201_3959150031792756572_o.jpg
press to zoom

EMAIL

Thanks for submitting!