Edwin Linkomies
Edwin Johannes Hildegard Linkomies (December 22, 1894–September 9, 1963, until 1928 Edwin Flinck) was Prime Minister of Finland
Prime Minister of Finland
The Prime Minister is the Head of Government of Finland. The Prime Minister is appointed by the President, who is the Head of State. The current Prime Minister is Jyrki Katainen of the National Coalition Party.-Overview:...

 March 1943 to August 1944, and one of the seven politicians sentenced to 5½ years in prison as allegedly responsible for 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...

, on the demand of the Soviet Union
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....

. Linkomies was a prominent fennoman
The Fennomans were the most important political movement in the 19th century Grand Principality of Finland. They succeeded the fennophile interests of the 18th and early 19th century.-History:...

 academic, pro-rector (administrative head) 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...

 1932–43, rector 1956–62, and the government's Chancellor of the University from 1962 until his death.

Edwin Linkomies was born as Edwin Flinck in East-Finnish Viipuri, son of a Finland-Swedish
Finland Swedish is a general term for the closely related cluster of dialects of Swedish spoken in Finland by Swedish-speaking Finns as their mother tongue...

 officer who died soon after his birth, but grew up in West-Finnish Rauma
Rauma, Finland
Rauma is a town and municipality of ca. inhabitants on the west coast of Finland, north of Turku, and south of Pori. Granted town privileges on May 17, 1442 , Rauma is known of its high quality lace , and of the old wooden architecture of its centre , which is a Unesco world heritage...

, north of Turku
Turku is a city situated on the southwest coast of Finland at the mouth of the Aura River. It is located in the region of Finland Proper. It is believed that Turku came into existence during the end of the 13th century which makes it the oldest city in Finland...

, in a purely Finnish-speaking region of Finland. He did a quick and splendid career in academia, graduated as 19 years old, wrote his dissertation as 22 years old at Finland's university (in Helsinki
Helsinki is the capital and largest city in Finland. It is in the region of Uusimaa, located in southern Finland, on the shore of the Gulf of Finland, an arm of the Baltic Sea. The population of the city of Helsinki is , making it by far the most populous municipality in Finland. Helsinki is...

), where he seven years later was appointed professor
A professor is a scholarly teacher; the precise meaning of the term varies by country. Literally, professor derives from Latin as a "person who professes" being usually an expert in arts or sciences; a teacher of high rank...

 and head of the department of Latin literature. Meanwhile he had continued his research in Germany, in Leipzig
University of Leipzig
The University of Leipzig , located in Leipzig in the Free State of Saxony, Germany, is one of the oldest universities in the world and the second-oldest university in Germany...

 and Halle, and would keep close contact with German universities for all of his life; although as a teacher and scientific leader he was known for his "Anglo-Saxon style" — clear and simplistic in his presentations emphasizing the grand lines rather than intriguing details and exceptions — but also as demanding, authoritarian, keen of the dignity of his office, and maybe too self-confident.

Linkomies was in many respect the last of his kind. Most of all, he was the last in a long line of prominent Finnish academics who were recruited from academia to important political tasks. But he was also the last to give lectures in formal academic dress
Academic dress
Academic dress or academical dress is a traditional form of clothing for academic settings, primarily tertiary education, worn mainly by those that have been admitted to a university degree or hold a status that entitles them to assume them...

, and the last to expect students and university employees to bow
Bowing (social)
Bowing is the act of lowering the torso and head as a social gesture in direction to another person or symbol. It is most prominent in Asian cultures but it is also typical of nobility and aristocracy in many countries and distinctively in Europe. Sometimes the gesture may be limited to lowering...

 deeply for their rector.

Linkomies ideologic development may for later generations seem remarkable, but among his contemporaries it was not unheard of to have been ardently nationalist, anti-Scandinavian, monarchy minded, anti-Socialist and anti-democrat, only to shred these opinions one after another. His memoirs describes his astonishment over how the Socialist half of Finland's population turned out to be equally patriotic defenders as the non-Socialists after the Soviet Union's attack in November 1939. According to his own account, he was also one of the first Finns to realize the troubling nature of the Nazis
Nazism, the common short form name of National Socialism was the ideology and practice of the Nazi Party and of Nazi Germany...

 — at least among his fellow Conservatives.

During the interbellum, much of Linkomies' rhetoric and political energy was directed against the Finland-Swedes
Swedish-speaking Finns constitute a linguistic minority in Finland. They maintain a strong identity and are alternatively seen either as a distinct subgroup of the Finnish people or as a separate ethnic group or even as a distinct nationality...

, and the remnants of their privileges and dominance in the society; but also against Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

 and Scandinavia
Scandinavia is a cultural, historical and ethno-linguistic region in northern Europe that includes the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, characterized by their common ethno-cultural heritage and language. Modern Norway and Sweden proper are situated on the Scandinavian Peninsula,...

, that he perceived as both too Socialist and too eager to dominate Finland. However, in the 1950s, after the disappointment over Sweden's limited support during the wars
Sweden and the Winter War
The Winter War was fought in the four months following the Soviet Union's invasion of Finland on November 30, 1939. This took place three months after the German invasion of Poland that triggered the start of World War II...

, he contributed energetically to inter-Nordic
Nordic countries
The Nordic countries make up a region in Northern Europe and the North Atlantic which consists of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden and their associated territories, the Faroe Islands, Greenland and Åland...

 contacts and cultural exchange, and may be credited for the at least partial healing of the rupture between Conservatives in Finland and Scandinavia, that had its background in fennomania and the Åland Crisis
Åland crisis
The Åland crisis was one of the first issues put up for arbitration by the League of Nations on its formation. The Åland Islands' population's demand for self-determination was not met and sovereignty over the islands was retained by Finland, but international guarantees were given to allow the...


An assessment of Linkomies’ roll as politician is complicated by the fact that he at, at least, two critical moments in Finland’s history deliberately spoke and acted against his own conviction, if one is allowed to believe his account in his memoirs.
  • In the early 1930s, he argues that his ambition was to steer Finland’s Conservative party, Kokoomus, in democratic
    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...

     direction after its entanglement with the semi-fascist Lapua Movement
    Lapua Movement
    The Lapua Movement , was a Finnish radical nationalist and anti-communist political movement founded in and named after the town of Lapua. After radicalisation it turned towards far-right politics and was banned after a failed coup-d'état in 1932...

    . But in order to achieve this, he appeared conform to the lesser evils of anti-parliamentarism, militant anti-Socialism
    Anti-communism is opposition to communism. Organized anti-communism developed in reaction to the rise of communism, especially after the 1917 October Revolution in Russia and the beginning of the Cold War in 1947.-Objections to communist theory:...

     and authoritarianism
    Authoritarianism is a form of social organization characterized by submission to authority. It is usually opposed to individualism and democracy...

  • During the Continuation War, after the Wehrmacht
    The Wehrmacht – from , to defend and , the might/power) were the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the Heer , the Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe .-Origin and use of the term:...

    ’s defeat at Stalingrad
    Battle of Stalingrad
    The Battle of Stalingrad was a major battle of World War II in which Nazi Germany and its allies fought the Soviet Union for control of the city of Stalingrad in southwestern Russia. The battle took place between 23 August 1942 and 2 February 1943...

    , he was appointed prime minister with peace on the top of his agenda, but neither in deeds nor in words would the government led by him and president Ryti reveal this aim, fearing the majority of the Finns to be unprepared, and the German co-belligerent still too strong. Furthermore, he did not dare to establish contacts with the growing domestic opposition against the war, and only very cautiously and hesitantly with countries that probably would have been inclined to support the peace process, notably the United States
    United States
    The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

    , Sweden
    Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

     and Britain
    United Kingdom
    The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

    , if they had had confidence in Finland’s wish for peace.
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