Sodan todellisuus II

What Went Wrong in the Stories of Otherness? Finnish Soldiers of the Russo-Turkish War on the Road to Crushing Political Borders and Crossing Cultural Barriers, 1877-1878


In 1877, Russia invaded the Ottoman Empire’s Bulgaria in order to dominate the Balkans. Finnish Life-Guard’s 3rd Finnish Sniper Battalion, a detachment of the so-called Finnish Guard in Helsinki, took part with the Russian forces from autumn 1877 onwards, fighting in some minor battles. Most of the Finnish casualties were caused by epidemics and starvation and not by actual combat. For the Finns, the Russo-Turkish war lasted one year, of which less than half involved actual fighting. The rest of the time passed near Constantinople waiting for the return home. The war memoirs written by Finnish soldiers have some interesting cultural and ideological views that changed during the war. Innumerable memories and tales about the war and encountering the local foreign cultures changed the Finnish soldiers.1


One anonymous guardsman of the Finnish Guard at the Russo-Turkish war reported the following thought in his letter published in the Finnish newspaper Helsingfors Dagblad in March 1878, at the end of the war:

Only the land and the people are left to reckon with, of which volumes of pages can be written. So extraordinary were the circumstances in many respects.2

These lines show how this soldier had difficulties in describing and understanding anything because of the sheer vastness of the flow of experiences.3 This single note leads us to the main theme of this article, namely, to discuss the various representations of alleged otherness written by the Finnish military men who took part in the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78.

The Imperial Guard’s 3rd Finnish Sniper Battalion, i.e. the so-called Finnish Guard, was ordered to join the war in a time when Russia was suffering heavy losses against the Ottoman Empire. The Finnish Guard and Finland’s leaders had not prepared themselves properly for this entry. At least, they were reluctant to send in Finnish troops because the Finnish Guard had to be reinforced to its wartime strength by recruiting untrained volunteers.4 Thus, the Finnish Guard was practically a line infantry quality fighting force which had to face battle-hardened Ottoman troops.5

Tents and stacked rifles at the Caucasus front. Source: Wikimedia Commons
Tents and stacked rifles at the Caucasus front. Source: Wikimedia Commons

The potential reluctance of the Finnish leaders to ally with Russia may be explained with the economic context. An industrialization process accelerated in the mid-1800s, stimulating international trade. Britain, Germany, France, the USA and even Sweden experienced a rapid economic growth, which provided destinations for Finnish exports. The increasing demand for lumber, pulp and paper also attracted foreign capital to forest-rich countries like Finland.6 The Anglophile Liberal businessmen in Finland did not want this positive process to be cut by a war, like it had during the Crimean War. They did not want to see their export merchandise be burnt and bombarded by yet another Anglo-French navy, just for the sake of yet another Russian megalomanic obsessive Pan-Slav Imperialist reverie of conquering Constantinople and re-establishing a new Orthodox Byzantine Empire.7 Perhaps these businessmen would rather have liked to see Russia do business with Turkey so that they could also join in global world markets, especially as we know that the Ottoman Empire was by far a great ”paper empire”, with a bureaucratic efficiency ”par excellence”, sticking to age-old penmanship of quill rather than new printing technology.8

In 1877, inside the Russian Empire, the autonomous Grand Duchy of Finland was a country that could best be described as deeply conservative, paternalistic, religious, and agrarian. The population was only two million while the population in Constantinople alone was half of that9. Finland was gradually leaving the subsistence economy structure after the tragic turmoil of the Great Famine of 1867-68 and taking its first steps to modern Industrialism and Liberal Capitalism. The elite consisting of four estates was very small, spoke mainly Swedish and lived in towns. As much as 70% of the population did not belong to these social orders, they were mostly rural Finnish-speaking people10. Finland had one of the lowest GDP per capita in Europe11 , and social problems caused by the landless surplus population and rural poor became serious. There was no serfdom like in Russia, but the lot of thousands of crofters, agricultural labourers and other poor rural people was very similar to the East European serfdom.12 Yet, the national elites were much more focused on cultural fight of languages between the Fennomans and the Svecomans than dealing with the social inequalities.13

A telling example of Finland’s backwardness can also be found in the written material of the Finnish soldiers of the Russo-Turkish war. Here is a short extract by a draftee named Vihtori Tarkkanen, from the province of Häme. Tarkkanen is keen on boasting of his social standing:

[W]e well knew how to make a question, we were not dummies [alas!] we had already been once at a church and twice in the downtown.14

The Finnish soldiers moved from this kind of Finland a long way south and to the Balkans and the Ottoman Empire and the Mediterranean hemisphere, to the lands regarded as the cradle of the Western Civilization15. One starts to wonder if there were cross-cultural encounters or events of a kind that coincided with various wartime circumstances, such as hunger, epidemics, war horrors, mental trauma, exhaustion etc. Did these lift off or transform imagined cultural barriers or build up new ones?16

The major motivation for most of the recruited soldiers, as well as for the professional NCOs and officers, was of course opportunistic careerism and adventurism in an immobile and static feudal society.17 Indeed, the increasing social problem of the landless surplus population in the Finnish society was partly revealed in the eagerness among the men to get recruited to the war.18

During and right after the Russo-Turkish War there was a veritable Orientalistic ”Turcofilia” in Finland up till early 20th century, and to some extent even up to postmodern period after WW2.19 In Finland, the moving of some one thousand Finnish men in the Ottoman Bulgaria set forth a historical and cultural change, whose many aspects are still very little known20. Only listing the examples of this popular Orientalistic exotism shows that it was strongly fuelled by the Russo-Turkish War and the collective memory was commenced by the war veterans with their war memoirs. In fact, some of these men wrote and published their texts in newspapers already during the war.21 Here we can see a list of various examples of this general ”Turcofilia”:

Pleven table game for children, boys playing war games like young Mannerheim did, Pleven Restaurant in Tampere (not the one today), Finlayson Pleven factory building, various alcohol drinks labelled ccording to Russo-Turkish War, 113 broadsheet ballads, thousands of newspaper articles, letters, reportages, popular easy-reading fiction, military music, especially after the war (for example by Aleksei Apostol, a Greek foundling boy brought to Finland by the Finnish soldiers), one reference in Oulu region Xmas play tradition, Oulu Socis Restaurant’s feast dinner in honor of Turkish surrender at Pleven, folklore oral memory, tales, sayings and war booty and souvenirs (consisting especially of fez caps, various weapons, swords, daggers, rifles, revolvers).22

The various war memoirs consist of some 10 or 11 publications, the titles and authors of which have been listed and presented in more detail elsewhere. The list is far from conclusive, yet exhaustive to research. There are also a lot of unpublished and unresearched letters, especially from the officers, and moreover, there are a lot of anonymous newspaper article-letters, reportages and other stories and folklore.23

The authors’ experiences about the foreign local cultures has been expressly categorized the ”Other” or “otherness”.24 However, in the eyes of the contemporary and posterior readers, as well as the scholars, these stories turned out to be something else, well into the 21st century. It is tempting to argue that, in a way, something ”went wrong” with these war memoirs. Something went wrong with their ideological mission, at least with their subsequent relative marginalization in Finnish history, fate of being marginalized as kind of popular military folklore.

As for the academic research situation, one can only say that the Russo-Turkish War has been totally overshadowed by both the earlier and subsequent Finnish political and military history. Most of the research done so far focused on general military history, with a popularized and nationalistic tone. There is no thorough research until the 1980s, and it has not developed into projects but is limited to isolated ventures. (By contrast, the EU has had large-scale research projects such as one led by the University of Graz in 2012-201625.) The first academic writings about the Finnish Guard’s Russo-Turkish War started evolved out of the contemporary wartime texts, functioning as part of the official commemoration tradition and national military service literature. Later on, they were inserted into the White Republican military tradition of the newly independent Finland in the 1920s to 1930s. In fact, the various popularized writings were copying and compiling war memoirs and other contemporary texts with very little analysis.26

A massive computerized data-mining could be done of all these war memoirs and other contemporary war stories about the Russo-Turkish war in Finland. Thus, we might be able to either show new findings of the topic, or at least discredit such a ”technocratic” approach as too rigid and unimaginative. A large quantitative statistical analysis would anyway bring variation to the general conclusions made so far. Another road is to select alternative and extraordinary topics and approaches in order to create new findings in the Finnish involvement in the Russo-Turkish War. For example, the role of animals and their representations in the soldiers’ war memoirs would show critical aspects to basic historical approach infested with othering and nationalistic heroism.27

Apart from the Finnish Guard, the Finns’ involvement in the Russo-Turkish War was much more considerable. This is indicative of how much there still remains to be studied, as we can see in a list of various Finnish connections to the Russo-Turkish War. Only a short look at the family names show that practically the whole of Finland’s elite took actively part in the war, and others of lower social background followed their path.28

Othering as static imagined identity politics

Following Benedict Anderson’s famous concept29, othering can be seen as an imagined identity politics for a given ideological and political aim. Othering is the discourse to describe a number of human things, lands, groups, cultures, religions, manners etc., by using comparison and difference, and hence by using hierarchy and value judgements. It is often the easiest way to form a priori essentialist coherence in a fuzzy world and even fuzzier past.30 A cynical view would imply that historiography is, at the last instance, narcissistic power game ruled by subjective, political and ideological opinions, decorated with best-selling fancy jargon.31

Essentialism applies especially to war in historiography, war which is so strongly anchored to the Western cultural supremacy. One form of essentialist othering is orientalism.32 Thus, following Pierre Nora, the historian as a narrator, authoritative yet open to challenge, cuts and pastes together fragments of imagined communities, dead individual selves and mythological identities to serve a social or epistemological order to which he or she subscribes33, using essentialistic othering as a key to rewriting history.

Thus, following Atabaki’s discourse, the universalist claims of Western European enlightenment ”blackmailed” non-European modernity, like that of Turkish modernity, or Arab modernity, and so on, –  in my view also Finnish nationalistic modernity. It engendered a tradition of historical writing both in the West and in the Orient, using a de-historisized and de-contextualized ”European rationality” as its scale and referent, rejecting various other aspects, such as cultural and political ethnicity, class and gender.34 In analyzing orientalism in Finnish culture, Finland should be regarded as a colony for Western cultural trends, and not as in an equal position with the great European cultural powers.35

The official Imperial Russian State discourse, its Pan-Slav Nationalism, had the key device of othering non-Slav cultures, especially its old arch enemy, the Ottoman Turks and other Muslim peoples. The Finnish war memoirs and other war stories took part in this Pan-Slav ideology or identity politics, although the authors did not seem to join it wholeheartedly. Rather, they felt clear uneasiness with a discourse so foreign to them36, and later, in the 1890s onwards, even more so, as Pan-Slavism meant Finnish Russification. Soldiers wanted to be Finnish patriots and loyal to the Emperor, not fanatic Pan-Slavs.37 However, this issue is still to be further studied. On the one hand, the military traditions in Finland were discontinuous, as Finland itself was fragmentary, the eastern Finland making part of Russia for nearly a century from the 1700s onwards, which influenced not only Finnish society and culture, but also the military traditions as being either Swedish- or Russian-oriented.38  On the other hand, the ”patriotism” explanation, related to the so-called 1917-year’s anachronism, is yet another factor which further complicates the analysis.39

War as a theme of historical inquiry often fundamentally undermines essentialist notions of ethnicity, nation, gender, state and self. There cannot be any true cohesion between the warring parts that the violence has welded against each other, neither among the comrades-in-arms, even if it is amazing how easy it is to infect men emotionally with a war fever (or something comparable that is totally different from what the ordinary civilian people feel back home). The reason for this unauthenticity of cohesion is death and dying at war: the living being defending their own existence by destroying foreign bodies.40

A suitable argumentation for criticizing one-sided rigid essentialism (such as orientalist othering) can be found, for example, with Michel Foucault, who saw in the early modern European discourses on war a shift from a philosophico-legal discourse towards a politico-historical one. The discoursive subject had to take sides about war and make it part of his or her identity.41 Thus, the a priori essentialist notions of right or wrong became constituted into a strong and imagined dichotomy between a right identity and a wrong one. War became very important to the definition of political structures, describing their authority over their subjects.42

This was also the function of the Finnish war memoirs of the Russo-Turkish War, but it was not the only function and perhaps not even the primary one. The Finnish military men, including the aristocratic Swedish-speaking officers, had to negotiate their own discourse to various contexts and social and ideological expectations, (namely: their own mind, the Finnish society, the Russian and Finnish authorities and their official line discourse, various journalists and editors), each of these expectations potentially conflicting one another.43 Especially those war-memoirs which were re-edited or created during a longer time and published later, seem to be more analytical (Schulman, Tuderus and Wallin).44

Furthermore, we can also see carnivalism in the war-memoirs, the authors trying not to break down mentally in the face of war horrors, and de-humanizing the writing soldiers’ own identity. This sarcastic, often absurd and pre-modern carnivalism functioned as a negation or negotiation to keep distance to the “disciplinary gaze” of warfare, a warfare that was becoming more and more a metaphore for the mechanized modern totalitarian racist society.

Examples of negative othering

In various representations in the war memoirs and other writings, the most prevalent mode of othering was a sort of racism and Westernism. It was more strongly articulated among the officers. For example, Wahlberg, Alfthan, Schulman or Tuderus views Constantinople or other major Ottoman cities with full of hate for anything considered Oriental, Asian, Turkish or Islamic, while anything considered European, Western, Cosmopolitan, or Classical Graeco-Roman, was highly respected and marvelled.45 However, this hate was also emanating from earlier Western enlightenment, stereotyping urban culture as corrupt and frivolous while the romantic natural and agrarian folksy ”bon-sauvage” was categorized virtuous and noble, thus not clearly pointing at Turkish orientalism:

The beaches and landing zones were dirty and water did not have its clear-blue colour but was grayish and muddy. […] port loiterers, beggars and all kinds of ragamuffins […] Very shocking was the sorrowless, pulsating life that we witnessed despite the exceptional war circumstances and the Russian army’s close presence. […] the pleasure-loving inhabitants unworryingly devoted themselves to amusements and orgies like in the ancient Babylon.46

Islam was clearly felt as one of the key sections in othering experience, but it seems that even in this area, it was not all too manifestly othered, contrary to what one might assume. There was no propagandistic fervor akin to Russian Pan-Slavism or ultra-conservatist Christianism. Representations of Islam seem rather neutral and duly or carefully informative, disinterested, even tolerant:

In my opinion, in that town [Adrianople] no other places were worth enough seeing except the numerous Mohammeddan religious people’s ovale church towers, the minarets. I heard some men tell, that at sunset a man appeared on every minaret top-window and shouted ”Allah! Allah!”. Then civilian passers-by in the streets halted and turned to the side where the sun rise, took off their hats and knelt for a while. Were the Turks that far devout worshippers of their God, I cannot say, because I did not come across to see it.47

Galata Bridge, Istanbul/Constantinople. A coloured photograph, c. 1890-1900. Source: Wikimedia Commons
Galata Bridge, Istanbul/Constantinople. A coloured photograph, c. 1890-1900. Source: Wikimedia Commons

The negative othering, like discussing Islam, was more probably articulated as folksy jovial irony and orientalist exotism and even some sort of eroticism, as with Varén’s tale in which a Turkish mullah guards women of a Turkish landlord:

After having entered the room Gatinski opened quietly the window and stiched the straw approximately to the main entrance of the beehive […] Mullah did not notice this at all  while sitting back towards the windows […] Sting after sting hurt the poor man’s face and hands. Yelling awfully he jumped from his bench and in panic felled another beehive […] Never any cat chased by a dog has jumped to a tree as quickly as did the old Mullah climb over two-fathom bench, throwing his Quran in the air far away […] Terrified by Mullah’s screaming a group of villagers and soldiers ran out of their homes to see what was going on, but everyone received to their faces the most merciless stings, the whole village was as if under siege. That day no-one had the courage to approach Ibrahim-bey’s house. The officers could freely visit their women.48

This was part of the othering reconstruction of an imagined war experiences which was difficult to write for both the war-torn veterans and for the careerist officers. In relation to representations of sameness, i.e. of cross-cultural encounters and cultural tolerance, othering was neither coherent, consistent, logical, nor fanatical. As a whole, religions were not the most central issue in the flow of narration. Instead, the military events and circumstances were more important, as can be seen in this example, in which religion is clearly secondary to cultural and material issues and basic needs for security:

Around the village there was a bench that we needed for cooking firewoods […] but this tearing-off the bench did not seem to please the village women – there were no men there as they had been taken to Pleven, – thus a yelling similar to forest beasts they started, they screamed and yelled and lifted up their hands to sky shouting: ”Allah! Allah il Allah!” (The Turks call God as Allah); but we were hungry and did not much care about the women’s nagging.49

Perhaps the central domain of negative othering of the local cultures centered on hate for nomadic guerrilla irregulars of the Ottoman army, namely the dreaded bashi-bozuks and the Circassian horsemen:

[…] Ungheni where we met first time the ugly Turkish bashi-bozuk POWs, our boys thought of them: ’well those folks are pretty bugaboos’.50

They told having heard that four days earlier a flock of bashi bozuks had raided the village and looted all the sheep and other more valuable property. They had also killed several villagers who had tried to protect their property. Several old men murdered by the bashi bozuks were still laying around on the village road. War is war.51

Here we must note how erroneous Westernist and racist was the terminology used referring to Turks. The bashi-bozuks were not composed solely of Turks and the Circassians were totally a separate nation, and still, they were identified as Turks.52 It is erroneous to talk about Turks altogether, because the Ottoman Empire was more like a multicultural loose federation of various ethnic and religious communities, i.e. millets. The Ottoman State was not a nation-state, by contrast, Russia with its unrealistic Pan-Slavism, pretended to be.53

Multiculturality: Thessalonian/Selanikian Muslim, Jewish and Bulgarian woman, c. 1873. Source: Wikimedia Commons
Multiculturality: Thessalonian/Selanikian Muslim, Jewish and Bulgarian woman, c. 1873. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Whatever the case, the hate for Turks centered on demonizing these guerrilla irregulars. Historiography, especially non-Turkish one, has often failed to notice that these wild hordes were a constant problem even for the Ottoman Empire itself.54 Another negative othering, perhaps due to political underpinnings, was and is the negative or reluctant feelings the Finnish soldiers had about the Bulgarians, as we can see in this example:

[W]herever you saw a herd of sheep, we paid a price of them for their owners, a silver rouble if I remember. Another kind of trade was impossible for getting them. The Bulgarian fellows tried to explain: ”if we sell you our cattle and the Turks happen to […] know that we fed you with our sheep, then a terrible hanging would become our fate.55

The Bulgarians were not hospitable and they did not help with the provisioning. The Bulgarians were sometimes even so pigheaded that the Finns had to rob eats and other resources from them by force. The brotherly comradeship may well have existed, but one should accept that it has been largely deviced by the official political discourse and subsequent political rhetoric in the development of Bulgaro-Finnish relations.56

Russian soldiers (and why not Finnish as well) making themselves at home in a Bulgarian cottage. Source: Wikimedia Commons
Russian soldiers (and why not Finnish as well) making themselves at home in a Bulgarian cottage. Source: Wikimedia Commons

In addition, the representations of local cultures in the Finnish war memoirs were far more numerous about the Turks, as the soldiers were more interested in their enemy than the Bulgarians, and maybe also because the Turks did really make more often positive encounters with the Finns during outside-combat situations than did the Bulgarians. And, as noted earlier, the general ”Turcofilia” played an important role here. As we can see, the negative othering about the Turks was not clear-cut, and more likely it focused on the imagined culture or Orientalism, considered to be decadent and fuzzy. The dislike centered more on the Ottoman Empire as a political system, with the stereotypical discourse of ”oriental despotism”, a pattern much similar to the general Finnish view on Russia and the Russians57. Still, it was not coherent, maybe because Finns had not coherent ideas of orientals and Asians at all58. In the war memoirs, the othering did not focus on concrete instances of cultural encounter of real human beings, as one can see with the positive accounts about the local cultures.

Bulgarian Turkish men. Photograph was taken in the early 20th Century, but the clothing and material circumstances were hardly changed in 50 years. Source: Wikimedia Commons
Bulgarian Turkish men. The photograph was taken in the early 20th Century, but the clothing and material circumstances were hardly changed in 50 years. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Close encounters. Examples of sameness

Here is one telling example of the positive cultural encounter in Wallin’s war memoir. It occurred after the armistice at the gates of Constantinople: Turkish soldiers sell and finally give away bread to Finns who were seemingly starving (also Lindfors makes a similar case in his war memoirs):

In the morning the next day the Turkish soldiers arrived to remove their tents and at the same time empty the provisions storehouse by the railroad situated in some distance of the villa. The Turks had their jacket pockets were full of wheat cookies that I mentioned earlier, and they put pieces of them in their mouths every now and then. Seeing this bread agitated our appetite, since we had not eaten bread for a couple of days. We had at least got a fresh meat ration when leaving the village of Kalatari. By using fingers and making gestures someone among our men tried to ask for the Turks to sell us some of their cookies. The Turks agreed to the bargain and sold us their cookies four kopecks apiece. Each one who could afford at least four kopecks or more bought one cookie or two. When the Turks ran out of cookies, they brought more of it from the storehouse. There were some among us that had only four kopecks but would have liked to buy one more cookie. Someone did not have a full kopeck; someone had only two and others only one. When the Turks noticed this, they simply handed over a cookie from their pockets and were content with the kopecks they had received.59

Another example is Jernvall telling about his joyful stay at an Armenian landlord. The sequence contains many interesting points, and is perhaps the friendliest representation of the cultural encounters in the Finnish war memoirs. It shows the liminal and unclear status of Turkish identity within the set of representations used by the Finnish soldiers. Turkishness seems more like a general Ottoman cultural heritage disrespective of individual ethnicity:

At one Armenian landlord’s house; here everything was clean and tidy. Soon we made acquaintance with the household here too, we even were like family members to them. For us they gave a special chamber, which was perfectly comfortable for the reason that we did not need to disturb the family’s intimacy and that we could move along more freely. The patron called me to see his apartment (his chamber). He ordered me to sit down on a beautiful Turkish carpet, for it is not customary to use chairs here. Then with the patron we smoke together a fine pipe which had a superbly long (three cubits) tube and the smoke went through a glass bottle with water inside taking off extra strength. The tobacco really was fairly strong, it was from Asia Minor. The landlord tried to explain to me that he always brings it from there as it is better and stronger there than tobacco from the European Turkey. Then he took in the liquor bottle which had really good liquor and offered me a ’welcoming toast’. The landlady, a tubby woman, made coffee in a nice movable oven (camine) which stood on the floor and made the room warm. We drank, or should I say, ate the coffee with small coffee cups in which coffee brown, the solution and the sugar were mixed in the Oriental way; but oh how tasty and strong it was. The kind landlady also served food, it had bread, Turkish peppers in vinegar, sweet honey with beans etc. We ate it all with fingers, which I also found most pleasing, as I am not good at eating with knife and fork. The landlord tried to teach me Turkish, I tried to teach him Finnish and Russian; we tried to understand each other alright even though we hardly understood a word.60

Jernvall’s examples get most of the issues related to sameness and positive encounters with the local cultures, all of them consisting of positive communication and exchange of information and emotions. This is far from Fennomane history-writing emphasizing Finnish state-making and nation-building. In the war memoirs, the innumerable positive themes and details were painfully numerous, even obsessive: food, drink, tobacco, opium, alcohol, wine, women (also elderly ”old bags”), children, babies, animals, pets (e.g. a ”Turkish” cat), clothes, hats, refugees, POWs, music, dance, towns, cities, Constantinople, architecture, material culture, hamams, weaponry, the Turkish military might, nature, scenery, sea, their beauty, flora, fauna, for example dolphins, turtles, camels, earthquakes, the amity and humour of the Turks… even dreams and nightmares…61

Compared to the harshness of the material culture in Finland, what the Finnish soldiers saw and experienced was a cultural shock, especially seeing the magnificence of Constantinople and the Bosphorus. Only few of them actually visited the city, but many more watched it on board the ship that transported the Finnish Guard to Odessa. Others, especially the officers like Schulman, visited Constantinople for several times. For these Svecomane-Gothism oriented Swedish-speaking officers, Constantinople was imagined as the mythical Miklagård, but also a haven for their anti-Semitic and islamophobic imagery.

It has been said that much of this positive gaze was a sort of touristic exotism, Orientalism, in the style of 1000 and One Nights,62 or fantastic gargantuan münchauseaids63. However, in my view, many of the positive encounters and representations seem to be totally normal everyday encounters or wartime hardships, related in folksy and colorful style, as I have tried to demonstrate in the examples. They form a sort of cultural sameness or tolerance in the fin-de-siècle-Europe, in an age of modern racist and totalitarian intolerance and media agitation.

Moving away from politics. Change of mentality?

In these war memoirs, the various representations of positive or at best neutral encounters of the local cultures witness a duly process of cultural transformation in the Finnish soldiers’ identity. We can also call it a cultural barrier crossing, or liminality of these barriers, in the midst of the destructive liminality of war, as might be expected by these words by Tuderus:

We were not only morally but also physically and materially worn out.64

The Russian failures at the siege of Pleven and the surprisingly hard defence of the Turkish troops, were also considerable factors for creating this positive all-European ”Turcofilia” in the war memoirs. The ”sick man of Europe” turned out to be relatively healthy, at least in military terms.65 The Finnish war-memoirs even imply that we should question the down-looking of Turkey.  As for the late 19th-century Ottoman Empire and the Hamidian reign, they were often represented very negatively, but despite this, Abdülhamid III did continue Tanzimat reformism in Turkey.66 By contrast, the Finnish state was rather weak, especially if one looks at the disaster of the Great Famine, awkward economic and social development, or the initial issues such as the tardive creation of the national military service system and national army, or the poor support for the Finnish Red Cross ambulance in the Russo-Turkish War.67

By crushing and moving political and ethnic borders, i.e. liberating the Bulgarians from the Ottoman rule, the Finnish soldiers and officers, both those of the Finnish Guard as well as those in other units in the Imperial Russian Army, were taking part in the Russian great power politics. The contemporaries in Finland did make initial critical remarks about this, especially the Anglophile Liberals, who had not forgotten their sufferings during the Åland Islands War, i.e. the Crimean War. Nobody wanted a sequel to this. The Crimean War affected gravely the Finnish economy and society, both in good and bad. Material losses triggering the great famines during the 1860s were the negative effects, the positives ones were the gradual economic and social reforms.68

Even though a change of mentality is difficult to show, the narrative and discoursive disharmony in the war memoirs, between the political issues and the other ones, is an indication of a change of mentality. Feeling otherness faraway from home caused a mental move, an existential crisis, realized through reflection of one’s wartime experiences. The abnormal situations in the soldiers’ mind, transformed into war narratives.69 Here we should seek more proof from the unpublished letters and memoirs. For example, describing the civilian sufferings, especially towards the end of the war, was very difficult and painful for the Finnish soldiers:

More than this I do not intend to and even am not able to tell of the history of these refugees who suffered a poor fate. Be it noted however, that a Viennese war reporter in the named war campaign has told and described more vastly the misery of these refugees. He says in his recount, that the road between Filippopel and Adrianopel should be named ”The Road of Death”. When I saw those refugees under horrible fate it reminded me of the words I heard in my childhood from an old Finnish soldier from the Swedish era: ’You’d better be in the forefront of the war and not trampled by it.’70

Bulgarian Turkish refugees during the First Balkan War in 1912. Very similar scenes could be seen during the Russo-Turkish War. Source: Wikimedia Commons
Bulgarian Turkish refugees during the First Balkan War in 1912. Very similar scenes could be seen during the Russo-Turkish War. Source: Wikimedia Commons

This discourse is very similar to the more general conventions of describing and discussing poverty and human suffering; a similar patriarchal, pathetic style was used about the Finnish famine victims earlier in the 1860s, and even earlier during the Russian invasions during the Swedish era.71 The hybrid element in the war journey of the soldiers’ mind can be seen in this example by Tuderus, with both negative and positive representations on Turks:

Contrary to what was the case earlier, had a big part of city’s [Adrianople / Edirne] Turkish inhabitants – despite the incoming Russian troops – remained in their homes. That is why we were greatly noted to be careful when visiting the city and especially in darkness not to make promenades in the deserted parts of the city; because one could not trust on the fanatic Turkish people’s mentality. […] By large, with its narrow and crooked streets and its vastly expanded street markets, Adrianople gave a perfectly orientalistic impression. What was most worth seeing the city had was without doubt its notorious enormous mosque, built in the 16th century by the Sultan Selim. […] Until we returned to our camp were we in a position to use the grand Turkish bath which the city had. That the bath was known to be beautiful and requisite is something one can easily understand.72

Even for the cosmopolitan careerist officers, the Russo-Turkish War was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. For many soldiers, the war journey was their first trip abroad, and perhaps the first trip at all. And for many who survived it, it was to become the only trip abroad, and the only trip to see a large urban metropole similar of which has never existed in Finland. Tuderus has a positive and thoughtful imagery on Constantinople:

Constantinople’s peerless beauty has so often been described and sung by distinguished authors and poets that it would be both futile and unnecessary to try to add anything to its elogy. I will only underline the enrapturing feeling Constantinople induce when approached from the Marmara Sea, one gets affirmed that the amphitheatre-formed city with its countless mosques and minarets lit with a brilliant sunshine will necessarily exert even for a most insensate person an outstanding imposing and unforgettable impression.73

An urban view of Istanbul/Constantinople from the Galata Tower, c. 1880. Source: Wikimedia Commons
An urban view of Istanbul/Constantinople from the Galata Tower, c. 1880. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Schulman is even more infatuated with mystical romanticism and orientalism in his account of his and his colleagues visiting Istanbul, in a way, facing the real otherness in trying to describe something strange and alien:

The trip at sea was benefited by the most beautiful weather, the moon had just risen and the sea was smooth reflecting surface, moreover we had the chance to be able to watch how the whole sea was lit by a peculiar phosphor-looking shine. This peculiar phenomenon which was caused by billions of small ciliates that sometimes exist in the southern seas was for me and apparently for most of us something new. It left of it all a magical and fairy-tale spirit.74

The change of mentality must be seen in the light of narrative and discoursive negotiation. Finnish soldiers had to construct a relation of themselves vis-à-vis the Russians and the Turks, who, in turn, took the place of the Swedes in the Finnish eyes. In addition, the Finnish soldiers had to identify themselves with the liberated but inferiorly categorized Bulgarians, but they did this identification with clear disinterest, disdain and even outright dislike. The same did not go for the Turks, even though they were enemies and attributed negatively as oriental and Muslim75:

After reaching the peace there has been between us and the Turkish soldiers the so good an agreement that in lines we visit[ed] one another and smoke cigarrettes.76

There they [the Turks] their cavalry troops were standing on both sides of the road and they watched our passing-by really curiously. I doubt that we ever before had watched each other so close, although we did have many times ”greeted” one another from a distance.77

The soldiers have shown not only proof of battle courage but also noble courage towards the defeated enemy as well as prowess and goodwill towards the peaceful part of the enemy nation. After taking the village Dolnii Kamarzi from where a considerable group of prisoners were taken, the victors were seen scrupulously sharing their tobacco and their bread with their prisoners and in Sofia they were gladly seen guests in the homes of the lesser Turkish population.78

These examples show the power of the media factor behind the construction of collective identity in relation to either otherness or sameness. The role of media has been strongly stressed by Suistola, who even claims that the Russo-Turkish War was one of the first aggressive media-wars that the newspapers were crucially producing the Russo-Turkish War, its hostile discourses, backgrounds, frames of reference, even influencing the war itself, its events and results.79 The truth was deliberately deformed politically and ideologically, both then and even today. In Finland, one important factor was that the Finnish people was, for the first time ever, attaining a good general education and people were eagerly reading everything. In the Protestant-Lutheran North, everybody learned to read and write.80  People wanted to get out of their social, cultural, economic and regional barriers, which emerged as an interest in oriental exotism, much similar, maybe totally same continuity, than existed in the 20th century Finland.81 What is not well known, is that this exotism, escapism, orientalism, ie cultural essentialism, had begun earlier through the elites. We can assume that the 19th century oriental cultural imprint in Finland came from these hundreds, even thousands of Finnish men and women, who served or worked in Russia and Russian Orient, and brought it back to Finland.82

The Finnish elites (or rather, the elite) used its cultural power by forcing the media to produce and reproduce hegemonic discourses. The elite owned the history, so to speak, by possessing access to publications and access to publish, causing the fate of selective amnesia of an immense and uncharted sea of homeless texts scribbled by ordinary common people.83 The reality of war and its traumas could not overcome this power, the power and glory of the nationalistic heroic discourse.

An example of this aberration of literary publicity were the so-called war memoirs written in the 1890s by Johan Varén, an officer serving in a Russian unit. His two-part publication consists of half-factual and half-fictional short stories about and around the Russo-Turkish War. These entertaining ’low-brow’ reading stories, sort of bibliothèque bleue for popular reading masses, are full of clichéed stereotypes, caricatures, frivolous characters of softcore eroticism, blunt racism and Orientalistic exotism. But this was also in line with the contemporary fashion for entertaining story-telling, travel stories and the like that became widespread in the age of urbanization and mass-tourism, railroads and industrialization84. As time went on and the incident of the Finnish Guard’s and other Finnish military men’s war gradually faded into the past, what mattered most was the orientalistic exotism and carnivalism that started to live its own fantastic life.

Varén, or whoever the author was, seems to cleverly mock the Russo-Turkish War, including the Pan-Slav ideology. For example, below we see the use of a foundling motive which is a variant of the famous when-you-scratch-a-Russkie-you-find-a-Turk -stereotype. It ironizes Russians but it is also a parody of philantropism, questioning racist cultural attitudes: a Russian officer saves a Turkish foundling baby who will supposedly become a rich heir, in a way ironizing Russia’s foolish imperial search for the mythical Roman heritage:

God bless that beautiful child, how big and bright eyes it has! And how about that dark curly hair. This is like providence for me. I am a rich man, and my wife and me, our most solemn wish has been to get an heir, but we just have not got one… Oh well, my old wife will be overjoyed to receive such an angel to look after.85

These passages mixing the ’media game’ with individual personal witnesses suit well to what has been thought of as developments in war historiography. War veterans have memory, not necessarily the makings of history, and as they attempt to make sense of war in their lives, that memory can indeed have many areas of darkness. Supremely aware of the panoramic memory of the battles, the novelists and war reporters, poets and politicians, ideologues and scholars, they all can afford improbable tricks of which the veterans can only dream.86

Conclusions. What went wrong in the stories of otherness?

What went wrong with the stories of otherness in the Finnish war memoirs of the Russo-Turkish War? This must be linked to the war experiences. The cross-cultural encounters were and partly still are seen as stories of otherness. There was, however, no otherness in these stories. The soldiers wanted to revive, relive and relate their life’s turning point. The change of soldiers’ mentality was what went wrong, as they were supposed to write war stories glorifying Russian identity or Finnish identity, not tell jovial münchausean87 stories of local cultures, least of the Ottoman Muslim Turks. Posterior historiography has deliberately or accidentally overlooked this side of the war memoirs. And the relative oblivion of vast corpus of unpublished written material is maybe another ’error’ the writing soldiers suffered. It is parallel to new (military) historiography’s concern about its disuse of oral history88.

A textualist approach in historiography and in studies of literary production during the wars show that, first, national spatial boundaries might become so blurred and liminal that only texts can recreate some of this space or these imaginary borders, i.e. cultural imagery. Secondly, wars are pre-eminently times of population movements and mixing which blend people and do not allow for settled essentialist identities.89 Thus, the idea that the Finnish national identity, Finnish State and the Finnish people grew stronger through the Russo-Turkish War lends too much for the nationalistic tendencies. By contrast, we can argue, that the Finnish State was rather weak.

Being on the constant move of physical, mental, geographical, political and even ’digestive’ change, one cannot avoid the assumption that the so-called ”otherness” also was obviously changing amidst the war experiences, and even more so after the war, back home at the writing desk with the compiling of the war memoirs.

A major aspect of all these war memoirs is their ambiguous dualism of immobility and mobility. There is the static immobility and uneven mobility, and both of these are feathered with almost irrational anomalies, all of which make any otherizing discourse too rigid to suit this complex totality of written and imagined reality. Othering means immobile historical structures, while moving geographically and mentally as well as ideologically and socially means dynamic change. The soldiers try to demonstrate the element of moving on through the horrors of war. The basic theme is about moving on from one odd situation to another. Sublime to patriotism, to the emperor and to the Mother Finland, these Finnish men end up moving around in that distant war zone of exotic cultures, and they do not want to leave it behind. They have to reconstruct it by writing and publishing their new identity in the war memoirs. This imbalance is shown, for example, in the minimal narration about the moving to the Balkans and later again about the returning back home. Action caused situations of collective memory and individual significations of new cultural identities.

The Finnish soldiers, with their ’stories of otherness’, supposed to be a major issue in these memoirs, depicting constant change of mentality, failed to create a coherent otherness about the local cultures and landscapes. It came out to be rather the contrary, a sameness and a guest for understanding and even tolerance, especially vis-à-vis the enemy Turks. Most of the Finnish military men in the Russo-Turkish War underwent a profound cultural transformation, partly unnoticed by the contemporary society. Not all of these men show it coherently in their war memoirs.

The cultural history of the Finnish involvement in the Russo-Turkish War has not been thoroughly studied. Reasons for this are many, both scientific and historical. Crushing national and political borders with military force and raising new barriers in ideological indoctrination have been too much on the agenda. Nationalism and the language struggle in the 19th-century Finland politicized the topic of the Russo-Turkish War. Cultural barriers and encounters became an underrated issue within this set. It is only now that we start to learn, through reading the various war memoirs and other written accounts, how these Finnish military men did not cross but rather crush cultural barriers.

Jyrki Outinen is a PhD student in the University of Turku, department of Cultural Studies (Cultural History) preparing a PhD on Finnish soldiers of the Russo-Turkish War 1877-1878.


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  1. This article is based on Outinen 2015a. []
  2. ”Återstår landet och folket, om hvilka väl volymer kunde skrifvas. Så säregna äro förhållandena i många afseenden.” Helsingfors dagblad 17.3.1878, see also Suistola & Tiilikainen 2014, 254. Similar see also for example Jernvall 1899, preface. []
  3. On war reality and irreality see for example Smith 2010 and Roper 2010. []
  4. See for example Paasivirta 1981, 144; somewhat similar vision Torvelainen 2011, 39, 45-46. []
  5. Cf. Suistola & Tiilikainen 2014, 106, 108, 110-1. []
  6. Häkkinen & Forsberg 2015, 103. []
  7. On Liberal views see for example Kemppainen 1999, 82-3; Paasivirta 1981, 148-9, 152. See also Suistola & Tiilikainen 2014, 136-7. []
  8. On Ottoman “paper empire” Murphey 2008, 255-64, especially 263; see also Clogg 1979, 67-70. []
  9. However, Finns had their metropole, St. Petersburg, with a population of half a million in the middle 1800s. Vihavainen 2013, 185. []
  10. Vihavainen 2011, 82. []
  11. Cf. for example Häkkinen & Forsberg 2015, passim, but especially 99-106; Nieminen 2006. []
  12. Cf. Häkkinen & Forsberg 2015, 105. []
  13. On this for example Puntila 1944, 297-304. []
  14. ”[M]e osasimme kysyä, ei me oltu mitään tyhmiä [,] olimme jo käyny kerran kirkossa ja kahdesti kaupunkissa.” Tarkkanen s.a. in Suistola & Tiilikainen 2014, 110-1, 254. []
  15. Although the contrary is more evident, as for the rise of serfdom in ancient Greece, see Isaksson & Jokisalo 2005, 75. []
  16. Cultural barriers are as imagined concept as orientalism or oriental exotism, even with semiotics. []
  17. See several individual cases presented, such as Valdemar Becker alias Becker-bei, Axel Gadolin, Victor Tuderus, Hugo Schulman, Anton von Alfthan, Carl Krook, and last but not least, Casimir Ehrnrooth. Suistola & Tiilikainen 2014, 15, 63, 107, 145, 173, 236-8, 271; Varén’s “war-memoirs”, but also Kuula’s memoir, adventurism as motive for social prestige, although Kuula hides this beneath the religious pathetism. []
  18. Häkkinen & Forsberg 2015 and Torvelainen 2011, 54,  as for socio-economic motives. []
  19. Orientalism in popular culture, see Kurkela 1998; Metsä 2012; Miettinen 2011; Orientalist studies in Finland see works of Harry Halén, for example Halén 2011a-b and Halén 1986 / 1996. []
  20. For example Vihavainen (2013, 111, 264-8) skips the topic. []
  21. For example Wahlberg 1878. []
  22. Suistola & Tiilikainen 2014, 80-7, 266-70. []
  23. For bibliographical notes on authors and their publications, see Suistola & Tiilikainen 2014; Laitila 2003; Leino-Kaukiainen 2005. []
  24. See Laitila 2001, Laitila 2003. []
  25. Cf. Suistola & Tiilikainen 2014, 272. []
  26. On research tradition, see Outinen 2007, 2008, 2009, 2013; Leino-Kaukiainen 2005, Laitila 2001, 2003; most detailed research recently Suistola & Tiilikainen 2014. []
  27. See Outinen 2015b. []
  28. Alfthan, Aminoff, Anderson, Aspelund, Becker, Bergelin, Boije, Bremer, Brunou, Bäckväll, Daehn, Dellman, Ehrnrooth, Enckell, Ellis, Forstén, Gadolin, Grenqvist, Gripenberg, Gulin, Hausen, Harlin, Heikel, Jernvall, Jägerskiöld, Kivekäs, von Kraemer, Krohn, Krook [Crock], Kuhlström, Kukkonen, Kurth, Kärnä, Leidenius, Leistedt, Linden [Lind],  Luhtanen, Mandelstjerna, Mannerheim, Markeloff, Meinander, Melan, Mäensyrjä, Neovius, De Pont, Pehkonen, Printz, Procopé, Ramsay, Runeberg, Sallinen, Salow, Sarén, Schoulz, Sederholm, Seseman, Standertskjöld, Starck, Sten, Stenman, Stenström, Ståhlberg, Stålhane, Sundman, Sundvik, Thölberg, Tigerstedt, Tshernikov, Tudeer, Vanhanen, Varén, Weisell, Welin, Wennerström, Widbäck, Will, Wikman, Örn List of various individuals and officers and other men, as well as war journalists: cf. Suistola & Tiilikainen 2014, passim. []
  29. Anderson 1991, 199-202. []
  30. For example Richard Rorty’s ideas (Rorty 1979) of the fallacy in the misguidance of following modern essentialism. []
  31. Here, one may remember Alan Sokal’s famous hoax in 1996, mocking postmodernist structuralists, like Foucault and Derrida. []
  32. I prefer to use essentialism and avoid using orientalism, although Said 1997 is central to the analysis. On imaginary aspect of orientalism, see Taruskin 1997, 153; Said 1997, xii, 1-5, 12, 96; Kaartinen 2003, 291-3. []
  33. Taithe & Thornton 1998, 12; Nora 1996, 11. []
  34. Cf. Atabaki 2003, 10-14; Rahman 1988, 100; blackmailing see Tavakoli-Targhi 2001, 4; cf. also Hobsbawm 1990, 102. []
  35. Metsä 2012, 10. Hirvasaho 1997. In fact, for Sweden, Finland was like a poor peripheral overseas colony, Häkkinen & Forsberg 2015, 100. []
  36. See Outinen 2008; also Suistola & Tiilikainen 2014, 255-6 of which many ideas originate from me (personal communication by prof. Suistola); partly similar ideas Laitila 2001, 240. The question of whether Finns committed war-crimes is not the focus of this study. []
  37. This is noted by Laitila 2001, Laitila 2003, but also Suistola & Tiilikainen 2014, 139-40. Finnish elite opportunism in Russia, see Vihavainen 2011, 35, 69, 292; Vihavainen 2013, 21, 23-25; Officers were not interested to join the national Finnish army and the esteem of officer profession had dimmed, Torvelainen 2011, 50-51, 55, 58-59. On purposeful forgetting of the Finnish officers under Russian service during the indenpendent Finland, see Engman 2004, 298-303. []
  38. For example Torvelainen 2011, 11, 21-25, 34, 46. On Finnish society as fragmented by local provincial cultures, see Häkkinen & Forsberg 2015, 104. []
  39. On this anachronism to the Finnish historiography Jussila 2007, 7-36. []
  40. Cf. similar Taithe & Thornton 1998, 1; Einstein & Freud 1934, 12-5.  On the fuzzy irrationality and subconsciousness of war see for example Roper 2010. []
  41. Cf. similarly Taithe & Thornton 1998, 3; Foucault 1989, 86-8. Yet, Foucault should not be taken too seriously. See for example Richard Rorty’s criticism on Foucault. []
  42. Cf. Taithe & Thornton 1998, 4-5; Russell 1975; Keen 1965. []
  43. See Outinen 2008; On negotiation approach as cultural construction of self and other, see Goffman 1959 and 1961, also Swann 1987 and more precisely Trevino 2003, 35; see also Fält & Alenius 2002, 10. []
  44. Similar view on Tuderus see Suistola & Tiilikainen 2014, 161. []
  45. Such examples also see Alfthan 1879, 128; Wahlberg 1878, 210-15; Tuderus 2009, 307-8; Varén 1895 I, 26, 29. []
  46. ”Stränderna och landgångarna voro smutsiga och vattnet hade ej sin klarblåa färg, utan var grådaskigt och grumligt. Vi landade vid en brygga överfylld av hamnbusar, tiggare och allehanda trashankar vilka genast då vi kommo i land omringade oss, erbjudande sina tjänster och tiggande. […] Vi rörde oss för det mesta längs Peras gator, där de bättre butikerna voro belägna och där några uppköp gjordes. […] Det som emellertid strax frapperade var det sorglösa, pulserande liv som man – oaktat de exceptionella krigsförhållandena och den ryska arméns omedelbara närhet – bevittnade. […] den nöjeslystna befolkningen obekymrad hängav sig åt förlustelser och orgier, som i det fordna dagars Babylon.” Tuderus 2009, 307-8. []
  47. ”Muuta ihmeellistä nähtävää ei ainakaan minusta kaupungissa [Adrianopolissa] ollut kuin monet kymmenet Muhamedin uskoisten soikeat kirkkojen tornit, minareetit. Kuulin joiden kuiden miesten kertovan, että auringonlaskun aikana kaikkien minareettien yläluukuille ilmestyi mies, joka huusi: ”Allah! Allah!” Silloin kadulla kulkevat  siviilihenkilöt pysähtyivät ja kääntyivät auringon noususuuntaan ja ottivat päähineen päästään ja laskeutuivat hetkeksi polvilleen. Olivatko turkkilaiset näin hartaita jumalansa palvojia, en voi sanoa, kun en sattunut näkemään.” Wallin 2005, 249-50. []
  48. ”Huoneeseen tultuaan aukaisi Gatinski hiljaa ikkunan raolleen ja pisti kaislan raon läpi, suunnaten sen pään likipitäen mehiläispesän kulkureikään […] Mulla ei huomannut tätä ollenkaan kun istui selin ikkunoihin […] Pisto piston perästä sattui onnettoman naamaan ja käsiin. Kauheasti parkuen hyppäsi hän penkiltään ja hätäpäissään survaisi vielä uuden pesän kumoon […] Ei koskaan ole kissa koiran edessä puuhun niin sukkelaan kuin vanhanpuoleinen mulla kiipesi toista syltä korkean pystypäisen aidan yli, koraaninsa kimposi kauaksi […] Mullan huudosta ja parkumisesta säikähtyneinä juoksi joukko kylän asukkaita ja sotamiehiä ulos asunnoistaan katsomaan mikä oli hätänä, vaan jok’ikinen heistä sai armottomimmat iskut naamaansa, koko kylä oli kuin piiritystilassa. Ei kukaan uskaltanut sinä päivänä lähestyä Ibrahim-bein asuntoa. Upseerit saivat rauhassa käydä morsiantensa luona.” Varén 1895, 89-91. []
  49. ”Kylän ympärillä olevan aidan tarvitsisimme keittopuiksi, […] mutta tämä aitain repiminen ei näyttänyt miellyttävän kylän akkoja – miehiä ei ollutkaan, ne olivat Plewnaan viedyt, – sillä metsänpetojen mieleen johduttavan metelin nostivat he tästä, ulvoivat, parkuivat, kohottivat kätensä kohden taivasta, huutaen ”Allah! Allah il Allah! (Allah’iksi nimittävät turkkilaiset Jumalaa); mutta me olimme nälissämme, emmekä ottaneet kuuleviin korviimme akkain meluamista.” Lindfors 1975, 8-9. []
  50. ”[…] Ungheni, jossa kohtasimme ensikerran rumia Turkin baschibotsukeja sotavankeina, meidän pojat arvelivat: ’kyllä nuot ovat aika mörköjä’.” Jernvall 1899, www. []
  51. ”Sanoivat kuulleensa, että neljä päivää aikaisemmin oli lauma baschiboschukkeja käyneet ryöstöretkellä kylässä ja ryöstäneet kaikki lampaat ja muuta kalliimpaa kalua. Olivat myös surmanneet useita kylän asukkaita, jotka olivat yrittäneet suojella omaisuuttaan. Baschiboschukkien murhaamia kylän ukkoja makasi vielä kylätiellä useita. Sellaista on sota.” Wallin 2005, 244. []
  52. See for example Suistola & Tiilikainen 2014, 144, 160. []
  53. Cf. issues pointing to this Vihavainen 2011, 37-38, 43-47, 69-70. []
  54. On bashi-bozuks, see for example Suistola & Tiilikainen 2014, 146. []
  55. ”Lampaitakin oli hankittava seuraavalla omituisella tavalla: lähetettiin näet 12-miehisiä partiokuntia läheisiin kyliin, […] missä vaan näkivät lammaslauman ja antoivat niistä hinnan omistajilleen, muistaakseni hopearuplan kustakin. Muulla kaupalla ei niitä ollut mahdollinen saada. Bulgarian äijät koettivat vaan selittää: ’jos me myymme teille karjamme ja Turkkilaiset sattuvat […] tietää että olemme teitä lampaillamme ravinneet, niin olisi hirveä hirsipuu meidän poloisien osaksemme tuleva’.” Jernvall 1899, www. []
  56. Comprehensive analysis of the Finnish views on Bulgarians see for example Laitila 2001, see also Suistola & Tiilikainen 2014, 256-7. []
  57. On Russians and Finns during the autonomy, see Vihavainen 2013, 23-25, 183—93. []
  58. On this incoherent orientalism or plain lack of it, Kemiläinen 1985, 500-501. []
  59. ”Aamupäivällä seuraavana päivänä Turkin sotamiehet saapuivat korjaamaan pois telttojaan ja samalla tyhjentämään jonkun matkan päässä huvilasta radanvarrella olevaa muonamakasiinia. Turkkilaisilla oli nutunpovet täynnä ennen mainitsemiani vehnäkeksejä, joista pistivät tämän tästä paloja suuhunsa. Tuo leivän näkeminen kiihotti nälkäämme, sillä leipää emme olleet maistaneet parina päivänä. Tuoreen liha-annoksen olimme sentään saaneet Kalatarin kylästä lähtiessä. Sormipelillä ja viittomalla koetti joku miehistä esittää turkkilaisille, että myisivät meille keksiä. Turkkilaiset suostuivat kauppaan ja myivät meille keksinsä neljästä kopeekasta kappale. Kukin mies, kellä vain oli neljä kopeekkaa tai useimpia, osti keksin tai pari. Kun turkkilaisilta keksit povesta loppuivat, noutivat muonamakasiinista toisia. Oli joukossamme muutamia miehiä, joilla ei ollut rahaa kuin neljä kopeekkaa, mutta olisivat halusta ostaneet vielä toisen keksin. Ei ollut täyttä kolmea kopeekkaa, toisilla vain kaksi ja toisilla vaan yksi kopeekka. Kun turkkilaiset huomasivat sen, niin työnsivät näille keksin povestaan kouraan ja tyytyivät niihin kopeekkoihin, jotka näillä olivat.” Wallin 2005, 257. []
  60. ”[…] Armenialaisen taloon; täällä myöskin oli kaikki siivoa, puhdasta. Pian tutustuimme täälläkin talonväen kanssa, olimmepa taas niinkuin yhden perheen jäsenet ainakin. Meille he soivat eli antoivat eri kamarin, joka oli mainion mukava sentähden ettei tarvinnut häiritäksemme talonväen rauhaa, ja itse saimme liikkua vapaammin. Isäntä kutsui minun eräänä päivänä hänenkin asuntoansa (isännän kamaria) katsomaan. Hän käski istumaan laattialle kauniille turkkilaiselle matolle, sillä näet täällä ei ole tapana ensinkään käyttää tuoleja. Yhdessä sitte vetelimme isännän kanssa savuja kauniista piipusta, jossa oli mainion pitkä varsi (kolme kyynärää) ja savu kulki ensin lasisen pullon lävitse, jossa oli vettä, puhdistaen tupakasta pois liian väkevyyden. Tupakka olikin aika väkevää, Vähän-Aasian tupakkaa. Isäntä koetti minulle selittää, että sieltä hän aina tuottaa tupakkansa, koska se siellä on parempaa ja väkevämpää kuin europalaisessa Turkissa. Sitte veti hän viinapullon esiin, jossa oli oikein hyvän makuista viinaa ja tarjosi minulle ”tuloryypyn”. Talon emäntä, tölleröinen, keitti kahveeta mukavassa siirtouunissa (kamiinissa) joka seisoi laattialla ja josta samalla tuli lämmin huoneeseen. Kahveen joimme eli oikeammin sanoen söimme pienenlaisista kahvekupposista, joihin poro, liemi ja sokeri sekoitettiin sekaisin itämaan tavan mukaan; mutta kyllä se oli hyvän makuista ja voimakasta. Kiltti emäntä tarjosi vielä ruokaakin, siinä oli leipää, turkin karvaita pippuria etikan kanssa, sekä makeata mehiläishunajata pööniruuan seassa y.m. Sormin söimme kaikkia, joka oli minustakin vallan mieleistä, koska en liioin ole mikään mestari syömään veitsellä ja kahvelilla. Isäntä koetti opettaa minulle turkinkieltä, minä hänelle suomen ja venäjän; hyvin me olimmekin ymmärtävinämme toinen toisemme, vaikk’emme siitä oikein selville tulleet.” Jernvall 1899, www. []
  61. See Outinen 2007, 2008, 2009 and also 2013, also Suistola & Tiilikainen 2014. On animals in the Russo-Turkish war see Outinen 2015b. Equally I have an unpublished conference paper on the war-memoirs, more centering on the literary style and composition, Outinen 2010. []
  62. Laitila 2001, Laitila 2003 []
  63. Suistola & Tiilikainen 2014, 268. []
  64. ”Vi voro icke allenast moraliskt, men även fysiskt och materiellt utslitna.” Tuderus 2009, 292. []
  65. As a comparative remark, we should remember that only a few year later the Brits would have their humiliating failures in the Zulu Wars and the First Boer War. []
  66. Atabaki 2003, 12; Zürcher 1993, 81. See also on the Ottoman reform policy as countering Balkan separatism Suistola & Tiilikainen 2014, 17, 27. []
  67. Cf. Häkkinen & Forsberg 2015, 99-100; Torvelainen 2011,  59, 63-4; see also Screen & Syrjö 2003, 139; Kronlund 1992, 19; on the Finnish Red Cross ambulance see Rosén 1977 / 2002, 47-61. []
  68. Cf. Häkkinen & Forsberg 2015, 103-104. []
  69. This seems parallel to studies on psychological narratives and existential rites of passage,  Gennep 1960; Sarbin 1986. []
  70. ”Tämän enempää en yritä enkä kykenekään esittämään näiden kurjan kohtalon uhreiksi joutuneitten pakolaisten historiaa. Olkoon sentään huomautettu, että silloisella sotaretkellä mukana ollut Wienin lehden sotakirjeenvaihtaja on laajemmin kertonut ja kuvaillut mainittujen pakolaisten kurjuutta. Hän sanoo kuvauksessaan, että Filippopelin ja Adrianopelin välisen tien pitäisi saada nimi ”Kuoleman tie”. Nähdessäni noita kauhean kohtalon alaiseksi joutuneita pakolaisia muistuivat mieleeni poikana eräältä vanhalta ruotsinaikuiselta suomalaiselta sotamieheltä kuulemani sanat: ”Parempi olla sotarinnassa kuin sodan jaloissa.” Wallin 2005, 242. []
  71. On lament and patriarchal tone in Finnish sufferings, Häkkinen & Forsberg 2015, 112; Wunsch 2004, 65-74. []
  72. ”I motsats till vad fallet varit tidigare, hade en stor del av stadens [Adrianopol / Edirne] turkiska befolkning – oaktat de ryska truppernas intåg – kvarstannat i sina hem. Det var oss därför noga pålagt att iakttaga försiktighet vid våra besök av staden och i synnerhet att under mörker ej företaga promonader i ödsliga delar av denna; ty man kunde ej lita på den fanatiska turkiska befolkningens sinnelag. [Med sina till största delen smala, krokiga gator och sin vittubredda gatuhandel, erbjöd Adrianopel en fullkomligt orientalisk prägel. Det mest sevärda staden hade att bjuda på var tvivelsutan dess beryktade, enorma moské, uppförd på XVI hundratalet av Sultanen Selim. […] Innan vi emellertid återvände till lägret voro vi i tillfälle att begagna oss av den ståtliga turkiska badinrättning staden bestod sig. Att badet kändes skönt och var behövligt kan man lätt förstå […]” Tuderus 2009, 288-9. []
  73. ”Konstantinopels oförlikneliga skönhet har så ofta beskrivits och besjungits av framstående skriftställare och poeter att det vore både fåfängt och onödigt att försöka tillägga något till dess lovsång. Jag vill endast understryka den hänryckande känsla Konstantinopel framkallar, då man nalkas det från Marmorahavet och bekräfta att den amfiteatraliskt uppförda staden med sina otaliga moskéer och minareter belyst av ett stålande solsken ovillkorligen måste utöva på även den mest känslolösaste – ett enastående imponerande och oförgätligt intryck.” Tuderus 2009, 307. []
  74. ”Färden på sjön gynnades av det härligaste väder, månen hade just gått upp och havet låg spegellugnt; dessutom hade vi turen att få skåda, huru hela havet lyste av ett egendomligt fosforliknande sken. Denna egendomliga företeelse, som förorsakades av miljarder små infusionsdjur och som stundom förekommer på de södra haven, var för mig, och antagligen för de flesta av oss, någonting nytt. Det förlämnade det hela en trolsk, sagolik stämning.” Schulman 1955, 166. []
  75. On this issue apart from my earlier articles and unpublished conference papers, see also Suistola & Tiilikainen 2014, 253-7. []
  76. ”Rauhan jälkeen on sowinto meidän ja Turkin sotureiden wälillä ollut niin hywä, että jääkäriketjulla käymme toistemme luona tupakalla.”(anonymous guardsman sniper soldier, beginning May 1878 Karjalatar newspaper, in Suistola & Tiilikainen 2014, 256. []
  77. ”Siinä heidän hevosväkensä seisoi kahden puolen tietä ja oikein ihastuksella katselivat meidän tuloamme. Tuskimpa montakaan kertaa katselimme toisiamme näin läheltä, vaikka kyllä monesti olimme tervehtineet toisiamme vähän kauempaa.” Ahomäki 1890, 38. []
  78. ”[S]oldaterna ej endast ha visat prof på mod i strid, utan ock ädelmod mot en besegrad fiende samt på godmod och välvilja för den fredliga delen af den fiendtliga nationen. Efter intagningen af byn Dolnii Kamarzi hvarest man tagit ett betydligt antal fångar, sågos segrarene redligen dela sin tobak och sitt bröd med fångarne och i Sofia voro de gerna sedda gäster i den lägre turkiska befolkningens hem.” Anonymous, in Helsingfors dagblad 17.3.1878. []
  79. Suistola & Tiilikainen 2014, 80-7. []
  80. On good level of literacy among the Finnish conscripts compared to the low one in Russia see for example Torvelainen 2011, 53-4; Screen 2000, 47; Suistola & Tiilikainen 2014, 140-1. []
  81. On this 20th century orientalism see Kurkela 1998, 300. []
  82. Here are many elements too large for this study. For example, Metsä 2012 fails to notice the cultural imprint of Russian-oriented officers and civilians, not mentioning at all Russo-Turkish War as a factor for Finnish orientalism. Instead orientalism is seen to come to Finland from Paris or Berlin. Another field of historical research, agriculture, fails to notice Finnish agricultural developments with simultaneous processes in Russia, as focus is only European influence in Finland, for example Husmandi-movement, see Mäkinen 2015; Toivio 2015. And now I really understand why academic oriental studies, especially Turcology, has always been on the brink of extinction in Finnish Academia. Equally Kemiläinen (1985, 500) misses this point. []
  83. On these issues see Nieminen 2006, or Laitinen & Mikkola 2013. []
  84. Cf. Vihavainen 2011, 83-86. []
  85. ”Herra siunatkoon tuota kaunista lasta kuinka suuret ja kirkkaat silmät sillä on! Entäs tuo kihara tumma tukka. Tämä on kuin sallimus minulle. Olen varakas mies, ja vaimoni ja minun hartain halu on ollut saada perillinen, vaan sitä emme ole saaneet… Kyllä eukkonikin ihastuu, kun saa tuommoisen enkelin hoidettavakseen.” Varen I 1895, 3-4; also quoted in Suistola & Tiilikainen 2014, 269. []
  86. Cf. similar Taithe & Thornton 1998, 11-2. []
  87. Expression coined by Suistola in Suistola & Tiilikainen 2014, 268. []
  88. See Taithe & Thornton 1998, 11. []
  89. Cf. Taithe & Thornton 1998, 12; Harris 1983, ix-40. []


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