Living Suitcase (Lenin in Finland)

lenin-1“In the manner of Arkady Rylov, Difficult Journey. Oil on Canvas. Pargas Local History Museum. [Vladimir Lenin] was one of the ‘living suitcases’ of Finnish smugglers. Lenin fled to Finland just before Christmas 1907 after an unsuccessful attempt to begin a revolution in Saint Petersburg. Before continuing to Sweden, he spent a couple of nights hiding in Parainen, in the Kirjala manor. He introduced himself as ‘Doktor Müller,’ a German geologist. The Pargas Local History Museum received this work for its Lenin memorial room in 1969 from the Finland-Soviet Peace and Friendship Society.” The painting is currently on view at the South Karelia Art Museum in Lappeenranta, Finland, as part of the exhibition Barefoot: 10 Lives in the Karelian Isthmus, which runs until January 2016. Photo by Comrade VZ. Quoted text, above, reproduced from the exhibition signage


lenin-4“V.I. Lenin spoke at a conference of Russian social democrats in this building in August 1907.” Kotka Concert Hall, August 2015. Photo by Comrade VZ

lenin-5“This building, designed by Eliel Saarinen, was completed in 1907. It was destroyed in a bombing raid on July 6, 1941, and rebuilt in 1954.” Kotka Concert Hall, August 2015. Photo by Comrade VZ

800px-Kotkan_konserttitalo_2Kotka Concert Hall. Image courtesy of Wikipedia

A Journey Back in Time to the Isthmus

Old Pictures of the Isthmus Can Be Admired on the Net
Riina Nokso-Koivisto
May 30, 2015

Lappeenranta eighth-graders Elina Lattu, Karoliina Suomalainen, Aino Keijonen, Henna Muukka, Henna Helsiaho, Edith Kauppinen, and Sofia Östman were involved in planning the online exhibition. Photo by Mika Stranden


The South Karelia Museum and the South Karelia Art Museum have opened a new online exhibition on the topic of the Karelian Isthmus. It can be accessed at

Extensive information on the Isthmus region—for example, old photographs and maps—has been assembled for the exhibition.

The exhibition is primarily intended to cater to school children, which is why young people’s views have been solicited since the beginning of the design process. A group of eighth graders from Lappeenranta’s Kesämäenrinne School and their teacher, Anu Sihvo, promised to help.

The students hoped, among other things, that instead of long texts the online exhibition would contain lots of pictures.

“In addition, we proposed that some games would be involved,” Elina Lattu says.

“And questions on the topic, which you can use to revise what you have read,” Henna Muukka adds.

The exhibition, Time Travel to the Isthmus, is based partly on the major exhibition Barefoot: 10 Lives in the Karelian Isthmus, which is currently on view at the South Karelia Museum and South Karelia Art Museum. Scripted by Anna Kortelainen, Barefoot is based on ten life stories, which are also recounted in the online show. The online exhibition has been scripted by Pauliina Veijalainen.

Time Travel to the Isthmus, however, will function independently.

“In a traditional show, the perspective must be strictly limited. In the online show, we have, instead, the opportunity to present broader knowledge of the Isthmus region,” says curator Mona Taipale.

On the Time Travel to the Isthmus website one can find, among other things, old photographs from all over the Isthmus, drawn from the South Karelia Museum’s collection. The history section, for example, contains a map of the parishes or rural municipalities (pitäjät) that made up the Isthmus during the period of Finnish rule.

Pitajarajat-karttaThe parishes of the Karelian Isthmus under Finnish rule. Map courtesy of

Online exhibition texts will also be available in Russian and English. Hence they can be used in history and language curriculum locally, nationally, and internationally. When the actual Isthmus exhibition wraps up early next year, the online exhibition will continue to function.

The site adapts to different environments, so it can be used on a tablet or smart phone in addition to a computer.

Translated from the Finnish by the Russian Reader. The text of the article has been slightly enhanced in a couple of instances to make it more comprehensible to non-Finnish readers.