The Town Hall in Viborg (Viipuri), the multilingual city
Commerce and Industry converse in Viborg
Villa Golicke was the summer residence of the Colliander family of St Petersburg. The poet Tito Colliander (1904 -1989) was born in St Petersburg, probably considered Swedish his mother tongue and was of the Greek-Orthodox faith. Like many other Finns, he left St Petersburg with his family during the Russian revolution, returning with a cosmopolitan outlook to the Isthmus, which was now part of independent Finland.
At Villa Golicke, he entertained Finnish poets who wrote in Swedish such as Gunnar Björling, Elmer Diktonius, Rabbe Enkell, Hagar Olsson, the Parland brothers and Edith Södergran. Villa Golicke was a “linguistic cluster” of the relatively few Swedish speaking literati on the Isthmus. There they met not only each other but formed a network with Finnish-language colleagues as well as one with prominent poets from Sweden such as Johannes Edfelt, Gunnar Ekelöf, the 1964 Nobel Laureate Eyvind Johnson and Erik Lindegren. As a multi-lingual and multi-cultural meeting place for artists and writers in the inter-war period, Villa Golicke became the cradle of literary modernism in both Finland and Sweden.
Can this be Villa Golicke?
Sand as far as the eye can see
How many wind-sailors can this house sleep?
A more expensive alternative for spending the night
The poets Elmer Diktonius and Gunnar Ekelöf (middle) with Edith’s mother in front of the Södergran house one year before it was destroyed. Photo: Berndt Flygare, Nordiska Museet
The rebuilt Villa Penaty - once a home now a museum for Ilja Repin
The artist’s study in Villa Penaty
From Kuokkala we drove northwest along the sandy coast, feeling as though we were on the Riviera. We entered the town of Terijoki proper and saw to our surprise a well-kept Lutheran Church, right in the middle of it. It was built in 1909 in Jugend Style with Josef Stenbäck as the architect. We felt right at home.
The exceptionally well-kept Lutheran Church in Terijoki
A life-saving pharmacy in Terijoki
Large and brackish summerhouses owned by affluent St Petersburgers sprout like mushrooms in the forests and meadows of the Isthmus. You will find no pictures of these in this blog. The closer we came to St Petersburg, the more security cars and gated communities we observed. These pretentious buildings appeared to be grafted on to a foreign body.
Neo-Stalinist architecture is well-preserved
Already in the 1890s, Russia proposed incorporating the increasingly Russian speaking suburbs of Terijoki and Kivinebb (Kivennapa) into St Petersburg’s municipality, but without success. The numerous attempts then to Russify the Grand Duchy, met with strong opposition, including the assassination of the Russian Governor General Nikolaj Bobrikoff in 1904 by Eugen Schaumann. Today, the whole of the Isthmus is incorporated in St Petersburg Oblast. The economic pull from St Petersburg will inevitably incorporate the southern Isthmus even more into Russia, eliminating the last traces of cultural diversity that once characterised it. That era was ended in two steps. First, the Soviet Union closed the border in 1918. Second, it moved the border north in 1944 to include the whole Isthmus in the Soviet. Thereby, it became the dead-end and the provincial backwater that it is today.
The Officers’ Casino in Terijoki – a haunted house
|Otto Kuusinen signing the pact establishing the "People's Democratic Government of Finland"|
The Casino – utopia restored?