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The Black Rudolf and the Winter War

In Finland I am called "The Black Rudolf". Thank you for the honour, but I don`t consider myself to be so black as I am painted.

Let me introduce myself: Syukiäinen Gunnar Rudolf, born in Ingria 78 years ago. In 1946 I graduated from the Moscow Diplomatic Academy as an international relations historian. If I had then known that a birch twig is a scoundrel's prize and a rope is a traitor's heritage I wouldn't have betrayed my profession and become a journalist. Unfortunately, I hadn't known it then and so I betrayed. And now this busy pace has lasted for almost 50 years with varying success.

I don't like to recall the past but under different circumstances in various situations it comes back involuntarily. Here is such a situation.

Last summer my wife and I were staying at our friend's, a manager of a company in Jyvaskyla. During those days the company was expecting a group of Russian guests, who were going to analyze and gain experience from the Finnish colleagues in company management.

We wanted the manager to put things straight, to explain the basic reasons of the beauty of Finland and in our minds we expected him to say the following:

"Dear friends and colleagues! You have come to the land of lakes, one of the most magnificent in the beautiful Finland. Everything you see around has been created by man and only with God's will. We have never received any help from other countries or international organizations. We have done everything ourselves.

During a long period of time we felt pressure from the East and the pressure expressed itself in the Winter War of 1939-40. The war, which was a disaster for us, led to the unification, stiffening of our nation, the enemy not even suspecting it. But we didn't lose the war. We only lost some border territories, but important ones, from which several hundred thousand people moved far inland, overcoming sometimes great difficulties settling in the new places. However, the most important thing for us was unification, which had been impossible before.

But history still wanted to put us to another trial, which we call the continuation of the Winter War. The way out of the situation wasn't easy. Our western neighbour demanded enormous reparations. They were so huge that the Finnish officials doubted the possibility of paying them back. But still we did and under the influence of the eastern neighbour we built a new country with the powerful metalworking and shipbuilding industries. Later on in the image of Nokia the electronic industry appeared and it also makes us feel proud of the country."

That is how last summer I wrote an article "What a Manager Should Say". It was published in two newspapers: "Keskisuomalainen" in Jyvaskyla and "Karjalan Sanomat" in Petrozavodsk. You are welcome to appraise and criticize it. Just don't shoot me.

Rudolf Sykiäinen
Special for Project, 2002

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