HELSINGIN SANOMAT international

Culture - Tuesday 27.1.2004

State Prosecutor says Finnish introduction to book on Russian Revolution is criminally anti-Semitic

By Heikki Hellman

A book on the last phases of the Russian imperial family is leading to charges of incitement to ethnic hatred being filed in Vantaa District Court. State Prosecutor Jorma Äijälä says that the introduction of the book defames the Jews as an ethnic group and libels the Jewish religion.
   
According to the indictment, the text constitutes both incitement against an ethnic group, and violation of the sanctity of religion. Prosecutions for either crime are quite rare in Finland.

The work is the Finnish translation of The Last Days of the Romanovs By Robert Wilton. It appeared in Finnish in 2000. The book is published in Finland by a group called Tabernaculum Dei, which operates in the southwest of the country. The book's translator who wrote the introduction to Finnish edition uses the pseudonym Jakim Boor.
   
The Ministry of Justice found that the text of the introduction was criminal in its content and called for charges to be filed already in February last year. The State Prosecutor drafted an indictment in late May and the issue will soon come up in Vantaa District Court.
   
The upcoming prosecution was made public on the web site of the publication Kirjastolehti (Library Journal), published by the Finnish Library Society. According to the publication, several libraries have already pulled the book from their shelves, or are in the process of doing so.

The introduction drafted for the Finnish version of Wilton's book claims that the Jews are a threat to other ethnic groups, and especially Christians. The piece also lists a number of wars, acts of violence, and crimes, which the Jews have supposedly committed throughout history. Similar material is also contained in Wilton's book, which was originally published in 1920. For instance, a web site favoured by neo-Nazis claims that the book proves that the Russian Revolution was, in fact, the work of Jewish Bolsheviks.

Tabernaculum Dei claims to base its activities on the theology and philosophy of Emanuel Swedenborg (1688 - 1772). The pseudonym Jakim Boor has been used before: in the 1940s and 1950s the name was used by Spain's dictator Francisco Franco for some of his writings. Robert Wilton, meanwhile, served as the Russian correspondent of the British newspaper The Times from 1902 to 1919. In addition to his book on the last days of the Romanovs, he wrote another one entitled Russia's Agony (1918). Both have been published in several languages.

Helsingin Sanomat has learned that the edition of 1,000 copies has been fully sold out, or distributed. The publisher has sent copies to all Members of Parliament, for instance.
   
The book has been distributed both through book stores, and through companies dealing with the distribution of books to public libraries. The Finnish translator of the book is also known to have personally marketed the book to libraries.
   
No copies of the book were to be found in Helsinki's two main bookstores, the Akateeminen kirjakauppa and Suomalainen kirjakauppa on Friday, but it can be ordered through both bookstores.
   
Libraries in Espoo took the book off their shelves in December, following negative feedback from customers. In Vantaa the two copies held by the city's library network have not been available since the autumn of 2000.
   
The book has never been acquired by Helsinki's libraries, but it can be found in many of Finland's provincial libraries; last week it was still available in most of them.
   
"We are surprised that the work has been available at libraries at all", says Dan Kantor, a spokesman for Helsinki's Jewish Congregation.
   
His congregation originally filed a complaint to the ministry of justice over the book. "Many libraries heard of it at that stage, and we understood that the book was being removed from the shelves."
   
According to the Ministry of Education, it is up to individual municipalities to decide what measures to take with respect to the book. This past week provincial governments have informed libraries on the issue and reminded them that distributing the book could be a crime.

Helsingin Sanomat / First published in print 24.1.2003

More on this subject:
 State Prosecutor says Finnish introduction to book on Russian Revolution is criminally anti-Semitic
 BACKGROUND: Incitement is a rare crime


HEIKKI HELLMAN / Helsingin Sanomat
heikki.hellman@sanoma.fi

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