Academic Karelia Society
The Academic Karelia Society (Akateeminen Karjala-Seura, AKS) was a Finnish elitist
Elitism is the belief or attitude that some individuals, who form an elite — a select group of people with intellect, wealth, specialized training or experience, or other distinctive attributes — are those whose views on a matter are to be taken the most seriously or carry the most...

Nationalism is a political ideology that involves a strong identification of a group of individuals with a political entity defined in national terms, i.e. a nation. In the 'modernist' image of the nation, it is nationalism that creates national identity. There are various definitions for what...

 and Finno-Ugric activist organization aiming at the growth and improvement of newly independent Finland
Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

, founded by academics and students of the University of Finland in 1922. Its members retained influential positions in the academic life of the era as well as within the officer corps of the Army. The AKS controlled the student union of the University of Helsinki
University of Helsinki
The University of Helsinki is a university located in Helsinki, Finland since 1829, but was founded in the city of Turku in 1640 as The Royal Academy of Turku, at that time part of the Swedish Empire. It is the oldest and largest university in Finland with the widest range of disciplines available...

 from the mid-1920s right up to 1944, when the Society was disbanded in the aftermath of the Continuation War
Continuation War
The Continuation War was the second of two wars fought between Finland and the Soviet Union during World War II.At the time of the war, the Finnish side used the name to make clear its perceived relationship to the preceding Winter War...

 that to a great extent had been planned and fought in accordance with the AKS agenda.

Ideological roots

The political and philosophical ideology of the AKS had its main roots in the philosophy of the 19th century Fennophile statesman Johan Vilhelm Snellman
Johan Vilhelm Snellman
Johan Vilhelm Snellman was an influential Fennoman philosopher and Finnish statesman, ennobled in 1866.Snellman was born in Stockholm, Sweden, as son of Kristian Henrik Snellman, a ship's captain...

 who emphasized a strong national state and the need of bringing the Finnish language into the forefront of the Finnish cultural life, which was dominated almost exclusively by the Swedish language.

The nationalistic ideology of the AKS also stemmed from the common European discussion of national rights based on the 14 points of President Wilson. Also the experience of the Finnish Civil War
Finnish Civil War
The Finnish Civil War was a part of the national, political and social turmoil caused by World War I in Europe. The Civil War concerned control and leadership of The Grand Duchy of Finland as it achieved independence from Russia after the October Revolution in Petrograd...

 bolstered a deep anti-socialist sentiment in the Finnish nationalist circles of that time. One of the slogans the AKS used was "Pirua ja ryssää vastaan!" (Against the devil and the Ruskies!) where the devil is referring to the Society's main domestic enemies, the socialists and communists. Despite holding views close to the Fascist movement of Italy, there was no influence from abroad - the AKS was founded before the Fascist march on Rome
March on Rome
The March on Rome was a march by which Italian dictator Benito Mussolini's National Fascist Party came to power in the Kingdom of Italy...

 and its origins were purely domestic. The group was founded by Elias Simojoki
Elias Simojoki
Lauri Elias Simojoki was a Finnish clergyman who became a leading figure in the country's far right movement....

, Erkki Räikkönen
Erkki Räikkönen
Erkki Aleksanteri Räikkönen was a Finnish nationalist leader.Born in St. Petersburg to a cantor, he attended the University of Helsinki before taking part in the ill-fated mission to secure independence for Karelia in 1921...

 and Reino Vähäkallio.


Many of the founders of the AKS were veterans of the Karelian wars
The term in Finnish historiography heimosodat in English literally "Kindred Nations Wars", "Wars for kindred peoples" or "Kinship Wars" for Finnic kinship. It is often erroneously translated as "Tribal Wars"...

 and thus had knowledge of the plight of the Karelian-speaking population
Karelian language
Karelian language is a Finnic language spoken mainly in the Russian Republic of Karelia. Linguistically Karelian is closely related to the Finnish dialects spoken in eastern Finland and some Finnish linguists even classified Karelian as a dialect of Finnish...

 in Soviet Karelia. The Karelians were considered to be a part of the Finnish heimo (folk
The English word Folk is derived from a Germanic noun, *fulka meaning "people" or "army"...

) and their fate was of utmost importance for the AKS. The Academic Karelia Society's program was centered around their main demand: the acquisition of East Karelia
East Karelia
East Karelia , also rendered as Eastern Karelia or Russian Karelia, is a name for the part of Karelia that since the Treaty of Stolbova in 1617 has remained Christian Orthodox under Russian supremacy. It is separated from the western part of Karelia, called Finnish Karelia or historically Swedish...

 from Soviet Russia
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 and the liberation of the Karelian kinfolk. The work towards this goal was mainly done by propagandist efforts to keep the matter in the public eye.

AKS also organized aid to Finnic
Finnic peoples
The Finnic or Fennic peoples were historic ethnic groups who spoke various languages traditionally classified as Finno-Permic...

 minorities in Soviet Russia and refugees from there and promoted cultural efforts to help the Finnish-speaking minorities of northern Sweden
The Tornedalians are descendants of Finns who in some point in history settled to the areas of today's Northern Sweden near the Torne Valley district and west from there.-History:...

 and Norway. They also tried to cultivate friendship between the newly independent states of Finland and Estonia (and, to a lesser degree, Hungary).

Domestic policies of the AKS

Domestically the AKS was an emphatic proponent for a strengthened army and for strict restrictions against Socialists
Socialism is an economic system characterized by social ownership of the means of production and cooperative management of the economy; or a political philosophy advocating such a system. "Social ownership" may refer to any one of, or a combination of, the following: cooperative enterprises,...

, although it at the same time stressed the need of improving the lot of the working classes in the interest of the national community. It also promoted the rights of the Finnish language to become the first language in the country, especially in the Universities and in the bureaucracy of the state. Initially the group was ambiguous to democracy
Democracy is generally defined as a form of government in which all adult citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Ideally, this includes equal participation in the proposal, development and passage of legislation into law...

 but under the chairmanship of Vilho Helanen
Vilho Helanen
Vilho Veikko Päiviö Helanen was a Finnish civil servant and politician....

 it came to oppose the concept.

In the 1930s, the AKS was an ally of the ultra-right Patriotic People's Movement
Patriotic People's Movement (Finland)
Patriotic People's Movement, abbreviated to IKL), was a Finnish nationalist and anti-communist political party. IKL was the successor of the previously banned Lapuan liike...

 party. AKS also maintained close ties with a militant secret society
Secret society
A secret society is a club or organization whose activities and inner functioning are concealed from non-members. The society may or may not attempt to conceal its existence. The term usually excludes covert groups, such as intelligence agencies or guerrilla insurgencies, which hide their...

 called Vihan Veljet
Vihan Veljet
Vihan Veljet was a militant clandestine group within the Akateeminen Karjala-Seura . They swore a blood oath to foster and uphold hatred toward the Russian people....

. Some authors claim that Vihan Veljet was actually a group inside the AKS, not a separate organization, but there is not much evidence either way.

Legacy of the AKS

After the end of World War II, the organization was labeled "fascistic" and officially disbanded on the order of the Allied Control Commission, and the archives of AKS were hidden or destroyed.

Prominent former members include quite a few academics, bishops, business leaders, generals and politicians (e.g. president Urho Kekkonen
Urho Kekkonen
Urho Kaleva Kekkonen , was a Finnish politician who served as Prime Minister of Finland and later as the eighth President of Finland . Kekkonen continued the “active neutrality” policy of his predecessor President Juho Kusti Paasikivi, a doctrine which came to be known as the “Paasikivi–Kekkonen...

). Many officers of the Finnish army during the wars of 1939–1940
Winter War
The Winter War was a military conflict between the Soviet Union and Finland. It began with a Soviet offensive on 30 November 1939 – three months after the start of World War II and the Soviet invasion of Poland – and ended on 13 March 1940 with the Moscow Peace Treaty...

 and 1941–1944
Continuation War
The Continuation War was the second of two wars fought between Finland and the Soviet Union during World War II.At the time of the war, the Finnish side used the name to make clear its perceived relationship to the preceding Winter War...

were members of the Society.
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