“Toivo Antikainen – fearless fighter, talented human being” by Mirjam Tiilikainen

Source: SKP – Taistelujen tiellä (1945). Translated by ML-theory blog.

When we speak about the Finnish communist party’s path of struggle, we cannot neglect speaking about Toivo Antikainen, an exemplary revolutionary, fearless fighter and honest comrade. There were no peaceful idle days, no rest, no carefree times in the life of Toivo Antikainen, Toiska, instead there was work and struggle, heroic deeds of bravery and devotion to our dear cause, the struggle for the welfare and happiness of our people. It is exactly because of his determination in struggle, never wavering, and because of his burning devotion, that Toivo Antikainen has meant so much for our party and is so liked, not only in Finland, but also beyond our borders.

It is futile to even attempt in a short article, to fully describe the life and work of Toivo Antikainen. It has been too rich in experience and too complicated. He was born in Helsinki in 1898 to an upholsterer [furniture textile maker] family. Already at the age of 7, Toivo had to take part in providing for the family by selling newspapers. At a very young age he joined “ihanneliitto” [social-democratic children’s organization] and social-democratic youth league where he soon became a frontline fighter due to his burning energy and motivation. Toiska participated in the 1918 revolution with all the energy of his youth, by organizing red guard divisions, inspiring the youth with his fiery speeches to rise to battle and to be resilient in it, and by taking part in a variety of different activities.

After our revolution suffered defeat, Antikainen moved to Soviet-Russia, where he immediately joined the military of the new socialist state – the Red Army – to continue fighting for freedom and workers’ rights. He understood that the young soviet state was the friend and support of the workers in our country, and that’s why he took part in defending it with his full enthusiasm. Antikainen participates in the defense of Petrograd against Yudenich, repels invasions by Finnish white guards in Aunus in 1919, goes after plunderer invaders in the North with the Finnish VI regiment etc.

Antikainen is the first student in the Finnish red officer courses, where he graduated in 1919 as a commander. He gets additional education in the International military school as head of a machine gun command committee, is steeled and earns experience on the front against Yudenich, in Aunus, Karelia and again in Aunus. His troops fought bravely and fearlessly, and those who were with Toiska in battle never forget his courage, initiative and sense of humor, which was present even during the worst attacks. Toiska managed to cheer up his own troops, to make the enemy ridiculous. There probably aren’t as many stories and jokes about any other Finnish fighter then Toiska. Old revolutionaries, partisans and military school students still tell them to each other, smiling.

– – –

Winter 1921-22. Again the Finnish white guards attack Soviet-Karelia, conquering by surprise large areas. The leadership of the Red army makes a bold plan, which the commander of the Karelian military region, A. Sedjakin, gives to a ski company, formed from the students of the International military school and lead by Toiska, to carry out.

According to the plan, the ski troops of Antikainen were to enter enemy territory, and once there, destroy enemy units that came in their way, discover the locations of the enemy command and destroy them, capture Repola and from there advance to Kiimasjärvi without delay. There was no information regarding the enemy’s strength in Repola or Kiimasjärvi. Only one who knows the nearly impenetrable Karelian forests, tall ridges and harsh winter can understand all that this mission involved. Nobody expected the Red army to embark on such an impossible mission, and thus it came as a total surprise to the white guards. The forces of Antikainen travelled 1000 km on skis on unmarked paths, fought a dozen battles, destroyed the enemy command and supplies, and thus caused their resistance to break. Crossing Kiimasvaara was the most dangerous part of the mission. Carrying their skis, wading in the deep snow, in the darkness of night and snowstorm, becoming more exhausted every minute, the forces heroically advanced forward. Toiska inspired and encouraged his troops, helped carry burdens of the most tired and organized support for them. They advanced from stone to stone, every step ahead was a victory. Some went missing during that bleak, dark winter night, but most made it. In the greyness of dawn the peak of Kiimasvaara was conquered. The village of Kiimasjärvi, where the white guards, completely oblivious, were carrying out their morning routines, was visible. The ski company rested for a while, until Toiska’s command was heard: on your skis, towards the enemy. At that moment these excellent skiers and brave fighters flew down the slope of Kiimasjärvi like a snow fall, and the white guards were completely taken by surprise. The village was taken, one of the most beautiful stories of heroism, and legendary missions of the Soviet civil war, ended victoriously. Toivo Antikainen and the 26 other participants of the mission were awarded with the highest honor of the time – the Red Flag medal. Many songs have been made in honor of that mission. Gennady Fisch wrote a novel about it [Падение Кимасозера / The fall of Kiimasjärvi / Kiimasjärven valtaus, 1933] and Lenfilm made the movie “For the soviet motherland” [За Советскую Родину (1937)].

– – –

The military career of Toivo Antikainen steeled him into a fearless fighter. At the same time he immersed himself to Lenin’s theory, he became a communist. The success and development of the Finnish workers’ movement was always on his mind. Toiska loved our country in his own unselfish way. When fighting in the ranks of the Red Army on different fronts, he was inspired by the thought that while fighting against white guards of different countries, especially Finnish, he is fighting against the enemies of the Finnish working class, who are bringing our nation to disaster with their adventurist and warlike policies. But Toivo Antikainen knew that the Finnish working class had to create the basis of their happiness and well-being through their own struggle. He took part in founding the Finnish Communist Party and organizing the revolutionary youth movement in Finland. It’s understandable that youth organizing was especially close to him. Toivo Antikainen also enthusiastically takes part in the work of the Comintern and receives recognition and responsibilities. The Comintern Executive Committee recommends him to leading party work and in 1923 Toivo Antikainen is elected into the C.C. of the Finnish Communist Party, and he has consistently, as much as circumstances have permitted, been participating in the party’s leadership. Toiska’s untiring work ethic, initiative and energy have been an antidote of the best kind against all stagnation. His sharp political intellect, theoretical clarity as well as his revolutionary fighting will and activeness made him the closest comrade in leadership to Kuusinen and Sirola. It was a joy seeing Toiska fighting for the party’s line against distorters and opportunists. His clever points and sense of humor quickly convinced even the most wavering to side with the party’s line. When needed, Toiska didn’t hesitate to step into the most dangerous position – leadership of the immediate work of the party.

6th of November 1934, the State Police managed to capture Toivo Antikainen. We remember the stages of the court case, lying accusations, pressuring (even murder – Rask) of witnesses, lying under oath, the campaign of slander by the newspapers, and the other methods by which they tried to make a murderer out of Antikainen, and thus weaken the trust of the working class and the people in him and the party. But Toivo Antikainen didn’t surrender. Proudly rang his words:

“Who am I, what do I aim for? I am a bolshevik, a responsible worker in a party belonging to the Communist International. I have kept as the principles of my work, the teachings and instructions of Marx and Engels, of their most devoted students, further developers of their thought, builders of socialism and leaders of the world proletariat – Lenin and Stalin, program and decisions of the Comintern, instructions and decisions of the Finnish Communist Party.”

Because of the brave presentation of Antikainen, which was so much above that of his lowly accusers, and due to the trust he had earlier won by working among the working masses, the case garnered a lot of attention both in our country and abroad. Here, in Sweden, America, France, Norway and Denmark there was a large campaign for his release. However, Toiska was given a life sentence.

Six years he had to be separated from his comrades, among criminals or in a lonely cell. Even in prison he won the trust and admiration of his fellows because of his honest and down to earth conduct. Toiska’s health suffered much during these years, but when in 1940 he was released at the demands of the Soviet government – and due to the ceasefire agreement he was able to move to the Soviet Union – he once again began taking an active part in the work, his enthusiasm and energy were the same.

The people of Karelia, who had not forgotten their heroic liberator, showed him their confidence by electing him to the Supreme Soviet of the Karelo-Finnish Soviet Republic. When German-Finnish troops attacked the Soviet land, Antikainen again embarked on the familiar path of struggle. During the war that has now ended, he worked as a liaison officer on the Karelian front, and taught new cadres with all his enthusiasm. The words of the famous Danish author Martin Andersen Nexø from the time of the Antikainen court case fit him most excellently:

“He is one of those extraordinary people who inspires souls wherever he is. Over the whole Karelia he worked like a beacon light, wherever he plunged to visibility. . . Stories were told about him, he became a creature of legend, which he deserves. Good fortune in battle and ingenuity in battle came to life in him. An awesome volcano, fearless fighter, and exceptionally talented human being.”


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