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Armas Äikiä

Armas Äikiä

Armas Äikiä (1904–1965) was a Finnish communist writer and journalist. He wrote the Anthem of Karelo-Finnish SSR. A citizen of two countries, who had several collection of poems published in the Soviet Union. Back in Finland, when the Communist Party was banned, he spent years in prison and wrote defiant poems.

Armas Äikiä
Pyhäjärvi, Grand Duchy of Finland, Russian Empire
Died1965 (aged 60–61)


Armas Äikiä was born in Pyhäjärvi, now Otradnoye on the Karelian Isthmus as the son of Matti Äikiä, a tailor, and Eeva (Koskinen) Äikiä. He was educated at an elementary school. At the age of 19 he moved to Helsinki, where he joined the Finnish Communist Party and worked as a chief editor at the Communist newspapers Liekki, Itä ja Länsi, and Tiedonantaja. Äikiä published his early poems in the anthology Vallankumousrunoja (1928). Between the years 1927–1928 and 1930–35 he was imprisoned at the Tammisaari prison camp because of political activities. During these years Äikiä wrote many of the poems, which were published in the 1940s in several collections.

From 1935 to 1947 Äikiä was a political refugee in the Soviet Union in the Russian Karelia, where he edited the magazine Punalippu. Äikiä also published poems in magazines, and his works were widely introduced to the public. In 1941 he wrote Laulu Kotkasta, which centered on the Communist leader Toivo Antikainen, and Kaksi Soturia drawing its subject from the Winter War of 1939–1940. Kalterilyyra (1945) presented Äikiä's vengeful prison poems, which originated in the Tammisaari penitentiary in 1927–28.

During these years, when Finland was fighting against Soviet aggression, Äikiä was a member of the Soviet-backed Terijoki government in Karelia. Its head was the emigrant communist Otto Wille Kuusinen. The puppet-government tried to appeal to every Finn to join in the struggle against Fascism. In a popular song, 'Jesli zavtra voina', Äikiä associated the Red Army with the emergence of light: "Oli tähdetön Pohjolan taivas, / oli synkeä Suomemme yö. / Valo tulkohon siis, / tuli leimahtakoon, / Puna-Armeija lahtarit lyö!" (from Taistelulauluja, ed. by S.K. Hel'man, 1941) Äikiä also served as a propaganda officer and he was a well-known radio voice. Much later Mauri Sariola portrayed him in a comic light in Armeija piikkilankojen takana (1970), which dealt with Finnish prisoners of war in Carelia. One of the prisoners says, hesitating after his agitation, that Äikiä is like a radish – but perhaps white and Finnish inside.

In 1945 Äikiä wrote the anthem of the Anthem of the Karelo-Finnish Soviet Socialist Republic.

After the Continuation War (1941–44) Äikiä returned to Finland in 1947 with other emigrant Communists (Tuure Lehén, Inkeri Lehtinen etc.). The political climate in the country had swung to the left. The Finnish Communist Party (SKP), outlawed since 1918, was legalized. Äikiä became a columnist at the newspaper Työkansan sanomat and director of the press agency Demokraattinen lehtipalvelu (DLP), which was organizationally under the new left-wing electoral alliance, SKDL (The Finnish People's Democratic League). As a columnist he used in Vapaa Sana and Työkansan Sanomat the pseudonym 'Liukas Luikku' (roughly "slippery slinker"). Until 1948, Äikiä's books appeared only in the Soviet Union, but in 1948 the Finnish publisher Kansankulttuuri printed his collection of poems, Henkipatto centering on the defeat of Nazism in the Eastern Front by the Soviet Union, and of Finland after the collapse of the Finnish-German war pact. In the poem 'Maiju Lassila', from Henkipatto about the famous working class writer killed in the Civil War (1917–18), Äikiä identified with the writer.

Opposition and criticism

As a strict communist, Äikiä did not accept free verse. He was a strong advocate of the Soviet art theory and Socialist realism. Due to his orthodox opinions Äikiä was in confrontation with a number of writers, especially with Arvo Turtiainen, the chairman of the influential literary organization Kiila (the wedge). Turtiainen rejected Stalinism, and was concerned with Äikiä's self-made position as the foremost poet of the Finnish Communist Party. The Marxists literary historian Raoul Palmgren, Turtiainen's close friend, became also Äikiä's opponent from the late 1940s. When Äikiä attacked Jean-Paul Sartre's play Dirty Hands, performed at the National theater in Finland, as hostile to the Soviet Union, Palmgren criticized him for bourgeois moralizing and was supported by Hertta Kuusinen, Otto Ville Kuusinen's daughter.

Äikiä's literary production consists also of non-fiction, translations from Russian, and at least one book written in Russian. Äikiä died in Helsinki on 20 November 1965. His fiction is mostly forgotten, partly due to its ideological content, and wooden, declamatory expression. Äikiä's Mayakovsky translations have been praised, but a number of notable writers and critics such as Raoul Palmgren did not like elements of vulgarity which often appeared in his work.

Äikiä's funeral took place in Malmi Cemitary in Helsinki in a tight police protection only present by leaders of the party Aimo Aaltonen, Ville Pessi and president Urho Kekkonen. Äikiä's grave is a communal grave of Finnish Communist Party members.

Bibliography of works

  • Vallankumousrunoja, 1928 (anthology with other writers)

  • Kaksi Soturia, 1941 (published in Petroskoi, U.S.S.R.)

  • Laulu Kotkasta, 1941 (published in Petroskoi)

  • Tulikehässä, 1943 (published in Petroskoi)

  • Iskelmiä, 1943 (published in Petroskoi)

  • Kalterilyyra, 1945 (published in Petroskoi)

  • Tulikantele, 1947 (published in Petroskoi)

  • Henkipatto, 1948 (published in Finland by Kansankulttuuri)

  • Kolmas Tie, 1948

  • Vladimir Majakovski, 1950

  • Lotta Hilpeläinen, 1952 (as Viljo Veijo)

  • Sinisten Silmien Tähden, 1952 (as Viljo Veijo)

  • Tänään ja Vuonna 1965, 1959

  • Laulaja Tulvoren Juurella, 1962

  • Stihotvorenija, 1963

See also


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Sep 26, 2019, 1:35 AM