Claes Johansen wrote:@ Laurance Robinson.
Thanks for reading my book and for your kind remarks on the parts of it you liked.
In regard to your critique (a word whose actual meaning you could perhaps be kind and explain to certain other people around here), I must say I find it deeply disheartening to see that I have failed so miserably to get my message through to you. The idea that I should have a "massive bias" against the Finns is so outrageous a misreading of my book I hardly know what to say.
I do not believe one can state that I have misread the book. It would be akin to me saying that your disliking of an item on my menu is a mistasting.
Claes Johansen wrote:Perhaps certain Finnish people's habit of whitewashing their country's history politically - and blow their own little war trumpet for breakfast, lunch and dinner for all the world to hear - has meant that any attempt to give a neutral and fair presentation of what actually happened up there in WWII must inevitably look "massively biased" against the Finnish people in comparison. I can't emphasise enough that I am no such thing and my sympathy during that entire affair is completely on the side of the Finnish common people (though that doesn't mean some nasty Right Wing nationalist extremists didn't do their best to exploit the situation - of course they did).
Yes some people do have a habit of whitewashing the history of Finland and blowing that War trumpet, but it is no similar to Danes who attempt to excuse their country's collaboration with Germany. The actions of a few, loud folks shouldn't be taken as a representative of the whole. There are many neutral and fair presentations of what actually happened in Finland during World War II but I do not feel yours is one of them and I have listed the reasons why. I understand that you may feel this is personal, considering you are the author, but an author should also be prepared to realise their mistakes. It seems that you dismiss any negative crictism of your work as being whitewashing or dismissal of Finland's role in WWII.
Claes Johansen wrote:I should perhaps also mention that my book originally came out in Denmark and was meant for a Danish audience only. Important things to remember when you write for a Danish audience are:
1. They absolutely detest people who are lying.
2. They themselves are extremely critical and embarrassed about their own country's collaboration with Nazi Germany in WWII - still, they don't regard it as an either-or issue but more a question of degree.
3. They have no time for people who are endlessly making up excuses for themselves.
4. Being fellow Nordics they know the Finns quite well as a people and realise they are only human beings like everyone else, so there is a limit to the kind of fairy tales you can get away with telling them.
5. They know the system in the Soviet Union was absolutely horrible and don't need to have it explained to them on every page of a book like mine in order to understand the jam the Finns found themselves in during WWII.
I hope this clears things up a bit.
We should never generalise or excuse. If you book was originally intended for a Danish audience, it still doesn't excuse the words you have written. To make sweeping, generalise statements like Danes absolutely detest lying or that they know Finns because they are Nordic too is just silly. It isn't academically sound nor does it help support you.
You highlight about the Danish national consciousness of Guilt in regards to their collaboration with the Third Reich. Maybe this has coloured your book, as Finland was not a collaborator nor was it conquered by a foreign power and had full control of its Government throughout the time period. Maybe it is a small form of envy, an attempt to deflect.
No one is asking you to explain the horridness of the USSR on every page, but that you show a fair and equal presentation. For example, your 5 pages dedicated to the Soviet PoWs in Finland, where you dismiss the stretched resources the Finns were under, fail to mention Mannerheim's personal involvement to better the camps, the numerous investigations that were opened between 1942-44 into Camp guards by Finland. Then for the Finnish PoWs, which suffered a higher rate of mortality, you only dedicate 1 and a half pages and your conclusion boils down to Finland mistreated them after the war.
You state about Danes absolutely detesting lying, lying is the act of withholding the truth, correct? As stated, the incident involving the handover of 8 Jews (not apparently as your state in your book) doesn't mention the circumstances surrounding it. It fails to mention how the Finnish VALPO were given evidence that these 8 Jews, alongside 11 others, were actually criminals. Now, whether this evidence was fabricated or not, or whether the head of the State Police, Arno Anthoni, who authorise the deportation, a known anti-Semitic and Nazi supporter, did this for favour, we do not know but context is always everything.
I believe that my reading of your book wasn't a misreading but a difference in interpretation. As stated, the book isn't a bad one, but I do feel that you lean more to justifying the actions of the USSR and want to paint Finland in a more negative light. Maybe this is down in part of the how the Danish National Consciousness is one of Guilt for their role in WWII, but Finland has a different history, a different story, and thus doesn't require the same negativeness.
I do feel that a good author is one that doesn't attempt to push the blame for the negative viewpoints on their work onto the reader but one that acknowledges the flaws in their work and endevours to improve upon them.