|Regions with significant populations|
|Helsinki (80% of the Finnish Jewish community), Turku (13%), Tampere (3%)|
|Finnish, Swedish, Hebrew, Yiddish, German, Russian|
|Related ethnic groups|
|Ashkenazi Jews: notably Russian Jews, Ukrainian Jews, and others.|
The history of the Jews in Finland goes back to at least the 1700s. Finnish Jews are Jews who are citizens of Finland. The country is home to approximately 1,800 Jews, of which 1,400 live in the Greater Helsinki area and 200 in Turku.Most Jews in Finland have Finnish or Swedish as their mother tongue, and many speak Yiddish, German, Russian and Hebrew. Jews originally came to Finland as Russian soldiers who stayed in Finland in the 19th century after their military service ended (knows as Cantonists). There are Jewish congregations in Helsinki and Turku with their own synagogues built in 1906 and 1912. The Wiborg Synagogue built 1910-1911 was destroyed in air bombings during the first day of the Winter war in 30th November 1939. There has been relatively little antisemitism in Finland.
The first Jew said to have settled on Finnish soil was Jacob Weikam, later Veikkanen, in 1782, in the town of Hamina, which was at that point under Russian rule. During that time, most of Finland was included in the Kingdom of Sweden. In Sweden, Jews were allowed to reside in a 3 towns — all of them outside the territory that is now modern-day Finland. In 1809 Finland became part of the Russian Empire, as an autonomous Grand Duchy, but Swedish laws remained in force, meaning Jews were still unable to settle in Finnish territory according to the Judereglementet.
Despite the legal difficulties, during the period of Finnish autonomy (1809–1917) Russian Jews established themselves in Finland as tradesmen and craftsmen. As Jews were in principle prohibited from dwelling in Finland, almost all these Jews were retired soldiers from the Imperial Russian army. Being cantonists, forced into the Russian army in childhood, they were required to serve at least 25 years. After their term expired, they had, however, the right to remain in Finland regardless of the Finnish ban on Jewish settlement, a right forcefully defended by the Russian military authorities. It was only after Finland declared independence in 1917 that Jews were granted full rights as Finnish citizens.
Jewish youths in Helsinki founded in 1906 the sports association IK Stjärnan (later Makkabi Helsinki) that functioned without permits for its first 12 years. That the society is founded in 1906 makes it the oldest Jewish sports club in the world that has an uninterrupted history.
Finland's involvement in World War II began during the Winter War (30 November 1939 – 13 March 1940), the Soviet Union's invasion of Finland prior to Operation Barbarossa (launched in June 1941). Finnish Jews were among those made refugees from the ceded territories.The Wiborg Synagogue was also destroyed by air bombings during the Winter War.
Following Soviet air strikes, Finland waged war against the Soviet Union in the Continuation War (1941–1944). While Germany launched Barbarossa, Finland simultaneously resumed hostilities against the Soviet Union. This resulted in Finland fighting alongside Nazi Germany. 327 Finnish Jews fought for Finland during the war, of which were 242 rank-and-file soldiers, 52 non-commissioned officers, 18 officers and 15 medical officers. Additionally, 21 Jews served in the women's auxiliary Lotta Svärd. 15 Finnish Jews were killed in action in the Winter War and eight in the Continuation War.
As Finland's forces had substantial numbers of German forces supporting their operations, the Finnish front had a field synagogue operating in the presence of Nazi troops. Jewish soldiers were granted leave on Saturdays and Jewish holidays. [ citation needed ]Finnish Jewish soldiers later participated in the Lapland War against Germany.
In November 1942, eight Jewish Austrian refugees (along with 19 other deportees) were deported to Nazi Germany after the head of the Finnish police agreed to turn them over. Seven of the Jews were murdered immediately.According to author Martin Gilbert, these eight were Georg Kollman; Frans Olof Kollman; Frans Kollman's mother; Hans Eduard Szubilski; Henrich Huppert; Kurt Huppert; Hans Robert Martin Korn, who had been a volunteer in the Winter War; and an unknown individual. When Finnish media reported the news, it caused a national scandal, and ministers resigned in protest. After protests by Lutheran ministers, the Archbishop, and the Social Democratic Party, no more foreign Jewish refugees were deported from Finland. Approximately 500 Jewish refugees arrived in Finland during World War II, although about 350 moved on to other countries, including about 160 who were transferred to neutral Sweden to save their lives on the direct orders of Marshal Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim, the commander of the Finnish Army. About 40 of the remaining Jewish refugees were sent to do compulsory labor service in Salla in Lapland in March 1942. The refugees were moved to Kemijärvi in June and eventually to Suursaari Island in the Gulf of Finland. Although Heinrich Himmler twice visited Finland to try to persuade the authorities to hand over the Jewish population, he was unsuccessful.
In 1942, an exchange of Soviet POWs took place between Finland and Germany. Approximately 2,600–2,800 Soviet prisoners of war of various nationalities then held by Finland were exchanged for 2,100 Soviet POWs of Baltic Finn nationalities (Finnish, Karelian, Ingrian, or Estonian) held by Germany, who might have volunteered in the Finnish army. About 2000 of the POWs handed over by Finland joined the Wehrmacht. Among the rest there were about 500 people (mainly Soviet political officers) who were considered politically dangerous in Finland. This latter group most likely perished in concentration camps or were executed as per the Commissar Order. Based on a list of names, there were 47 Jews among the extradited, although they were not extradited based on religion.
Jews with Finnish citizenship were protected during the whole period. Late in the war, Germany's ambassador to Helsinki Wipert von Blücher concluded in a report to Hitler that Finns would not endanger their citizens of Jewish origin in any situation.According to historian Henrik Meinander, this was realistically accepted by Hitler. Yad Vashem records that 22 Finnish Jews were murdered in the Holocaust, when all died fighting for the Finnish Army.
Three Finnish Jews were offered the Iron Cross for their wartime service: Leo Skurnik, Salomon Klass, and Dina Poljakoff. Major Leo Skurnik, a district medical officer in the Finnish Army, organized an evacuation of a German field hospital when it came under Soviet shelling. More than 600 patients, including SS soldiers, were evacuated. Captain Salomon Klass, also of the Finnish Army, who had lost an eye in the Winter War, led a Finnish unit that rescued a German company that had been surrounded by the Soviets. Dina Poljakoff, a member of Lotta Svärd, the Finnish women's auxiliary service, was a nursing assistant who helped tend to German wounded, and came to be greatly admired by her patients. All three refused the award.
President of Finland, Marshal Mannerheim attended the memorial service for the fallen at the Helsinki Synagogue on December 6, 1944.
Finnish Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen issued an official apology in 2000 for the extradition of the eight Jewish refugees.
Finland was the only Axis country, where synagogues remained open throughout the World War II.
During the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, about 28 Finnish Jews, mostly Finnish Army veterans, fought for the State of Israel. After Israel's establishment, Finland had a high rate of immigration to Israel (known as " aliyah "), which depleted Finland's Jewish community. The community was somewhat revitalized when some Soviet Jews immigrated to Finland following the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The number of Jews in Finland in 2020 was approximately 1,800, of whom 1,400 lived in Helsinki, about 200 in Turku, and about 50 in Tampere.The Jews are well integrated into Finnish society and are represented in nearly all sectors. Most Finnish Jews are corporate employees or self-employed professionals.
Most Finnish Jews speak Finnish or Swedish as their mother tongue. Yiddish, German, Russian, and Hebrew are also spoken in the community. The Jews, like Finland's other traditional minorities as well as immigrant groups, are represented on the Advisory Board for Ethnic Relations.
There are two synagogues: one in Helsinki and one in Turku. Helsinki also has a Jewish day school, which serves about 110 students (many of them the children of Israelis working in Finland); and a Chabad Lubavitch rabbi is based there.
Tampere previously had an organized Jewish community, but it stopped functioning in 1981.The other two cities continue to run their community organizations. There are also some Reform Jewish activities in Finland today.
Historically, antisemitic hate crimes have been rare, and the Jewish community is relatively safe. However, there have been some antisemitic crimes reported in the last decade[ timeframe? ]; the most common types include defamation, verbal threats, and damage to property.
In 2011, Ben Zyskowicz, the first Finnish Jewish parliamentarian, was assaulted by a man shouting antisemitic slurs.Four years later, a few campaign advertisements containing Zyskowicz's picture were sprayed with swastikas in Helsinki.
The Helsingin Sanomat , Finland's largest subscription newspaper, published a satirical cartoon depicting a 1943 scene of a German guard holding a bar of "Free Range Jew soap." However, as the author, cartoonist Pertti Jarla, points out, he was making fun of the double moralism of National Socialism, but the humor was so black that the strip was commonly misinterpreted.
According to writer and Finnish resident Ken Sikorski, there has been an increase in anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic bias in the country. Sikorski gave a number of alleged examples in his interview with Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld in July 2013.
According to Sikorski, one example of anti-Semitism was the journalist Kyösti Niemelä writing in the Helsinki University paper Yliopisto that a Holocaust denier could teach a university class on Jewish history.[ citation needed ] Niemelä's argument was that even high school teachers can talk about controversial issues without revealing their 'political opinions.' According to Sikorski, Niemelä thus reduced Holocaust denial to a 'political opinion.'
Finally, Sikorski states that he witnessed Muslims giving the Nazi salute or shouting "Allahu Akbar!" ("Allah is great!") during pro-Israel rallies.
In 2015 the Fundamental Rights Agency published its annual overview of data on antisemitism available in the European Union. The document displays information from a report of the Police College of Finland. Since 2008, the report has covered religiously motivated hate crimes, including antisemitic crimes. The recent documented data is from 2013, when most of the incidents (six out of eleven) concerned verbal threats/harassments.
Antisemitism is hostility to, prejudice, or discrimination against Jews. A person who holds such positions is called an antisemite. Antisemitism is considered to be a form of racism.
The history of the Jews in Russia and areas historically connected with it goes back at least 1,500 years. Jews in Russia have historically constituted a large religious and ethnic diaspora; the Russian Empire at one time hosted the largest population of Jews in the world. Within these territories the primarily Ashkenazi Jewish communities of many different areas flourished and developed many of modern Judaism's most distinctive theological and cultural traditions, while also facing periods of anti-Semitic discriminatory policies and persecutions. Some have described a 'renaissance' in the Jewish community inside Russia since the beginning of the 21st century. And today, Russia's Jewish population is still among the largest in Europe.
There have been Jewish communities in the United States since colonial times. Early Jewish communities were primarily Sephardi, composed of immigrants from Brazil and merchants who settled in cities. Until the 1830s, the Jewish community of Charleston, South Carolina, was the largest in North America. In the late 1800s and the beginning of the 1900s, many Jewish immigrants arrived from Europe. For example, many German Jews arrived in the middle of the 19th century, established clothing stores in towns across the country, formed Reform synagogues, and were active in banking in New York. Immigration of Eastern Yiddish-speaking Ashkenazi Jews, in 1880–1914, brought a large, poor, traditional element to New York City. They were Orthodox or Conservative in religion. They founded the Zionist movement in the United States, and were active supporters of the Socialist party and labor unions. Economically, they concentrated in the garment industry.
The history of antisemitism, defined as hostile actions or discrimination against Jews as a religious or ethnic group, goes back many centuries, with antisemitism being called "the longest hatred". Jerome Chanes identifies six stages in the historical development of antisemitism:
The history of Jews in Poland dates back at least 1,000 years. For centuries, Poland was home to the largest and most significant Jewish community in the world. Poland was a principal center of Jewish culture, because of the long period of statutory religious tolerance and social autonomy which ended after the Partitions of Poland in the 18th century. During World War II there was a nearly complete genocidal destruction of the Polish Jewish community by Nazi Germany and its collaborators, during the German occupation of Poland between 1939 and 1945, called the Holocaust. Since the fall of communism in Poland, there has been a renewed interest in Jewish culture, featuring an annual Jewish Culture Festival, new study programs at Polish secondary schools and universities, and the opening of Warsaw's Museum of the History of Polish Jews.
The history of the Jews in Germany goes back at least to the year 321, and continued through the Early Middle Ages and High Middle Ages when Jewish immigrants founded the Ashkenazi Jewish community. The community survived under Charlemagne, but suffered during the Crusades. Accusations of well poisoning during the Black Death (1346–53) led to mass slaughter of German Jews and they fled in large numbers to Poland. The Jewish communities of the cities of Mainz, Speyer and Worms became the center of Jewish life during medieval times. "This was a golden age as area bishops protected the Jews resulting in increased trade and prosperity."
The history of the Jews in Austria probably begins with the exodus of Jews from Judea under Roman occupation. Over the course of many centuries, the political status of the community rose and fell many times: during certain periods, the Jewish community prospered and enjoyed political equality, and during other periods it suffered pogroms, deportations to concentration camps and mass murder, and antisemitism. The Holocaust drastically reduced the Jewish community in Austria and only 8,140 Jews remained in Austria according to the 2001 census, but other estimates place the current figure at 9,000, 15,000 and 20,000 people, if accounting for those of mixed descent.
Jews outside Europe under Axis occupation suffered greatly during the Holocaust and World War II. There was no exception to the Nazis' policy of racial discrimination and physical annihilation of the Jews. As stated by Yehuda Bauer, academic advisor at Yad Vashem, "regarding the Jews, the perpetrators were equal opportunity killers."
The history of the Jews in Latvia dates back to the first Jewish colony established in Piltene in 1571. Jews contributed to Latvia's development until the Northern War (1700–1721), which decimated Latvia's population. The Jewish community reestablished itself in the 18th century, mainly through an influx from Prussia, and came to play a principal role in the economic life of Latvia.
The history of Jews in Sweden can be traced from the 17th century, when their presence is verified in the baptism records of the Stockholm Cathedral. Several Jewish families were baptised into the Lutheran Church, a requirement for permission to settle in Sweden. In 1681, for example, 28 members of the families of Israel Mandel and Moses Jacob were baptised in the Stockholm German Church in the presence of King Charles XI of Sweden, the dowager queen Hedvig Eleonora of Holstein-Gottorp, and several other high state officials.
The history of the Jews in Argentina goes back to the early sixteenth century, following the Jewish expulsion from Spain. Sephardi Jews fleeing persecution immigrated with explorers and colonists to settle in what is now Argentina. In addition, many of the Portuguese traders in the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata were Jewish. An organized Jewish community, however, did not develop until after Argentina gained independence from Spain in 1816. By mid-century, Jews from France and other parts of Western Europe, fleeing the social and economic disruptions of revolutions, began to settle in Argentina.
The history of the Jews in Belgium goes back to the 1st century CE until today. The Jewish community numbered 66,000 on the eve of the Second World War but, after the war and the Holocaust, is now less than half that number.
There have been different opinions among historians with regard to the extent of antisemitism in America's past and how American antisemitism contrasted with its European counterpart. Earlier students of American Jewish life minimized the presence of antisemitism in the United States, which they considered a late and alien phenomenon that arose on the American scene in the late 19th century. More recently however, scholars have asserted that no period in American Jewish history was free of antisemitism. The debate about the significance of antisemitism during different periods of American history has continued to the present day.
Antisemitism —prejudice, hatred of, or discrimination against Jews has experienced a long history of expression since the days of ancient civilizations, with most of it having originated in the Christian and pre-Christian civilizations of Europe.
Antisemitic incidents escalated worldwide in frequency and intensity during the Gaza War, and were widely considered to be a wave of reprisal attacks in response to the conflict.
Antisemitism in the United Kingdom signifies hatred of and discrimination against Jews in Britain. Discrimination and hostility against the community since its establishment in 1070 resulted in a series of massacres on several occasions and their expulsion from the country in 1290. They were readmitted by Oliver Cromwell in 1655.
Antisemitism in Greece manifests itself in religious, political and media discourse. The 2009-2018 Greek government-debt crisis has facilitated the rise of far right groups in Greece, most notably the formerly obscure Golden Dawn.
Evidence for the presence of Jewish communities in the geographical area today covered by Austria can be traced back to the 12th century. In 1848 Jews were granted civil rights and the right to establish an autonomous religious community, but full citizenship rights were given only in 1867. In an atmosphere of economic, religious and social freedom, the Jewish population grew from 6,000 in 1860 to almost 185,000 in 1938. In March 1938, Austria was annexed by Nazi Germany and thousands of Austrians and Austrian Jews who opposed Nazi rule were sent to concentration camps. Of the 65,000 Viennese Jews deported to concentration camps, only about 2,000 survived, while around 800 survived World War II in hiding.
This timeline of antisemitism chronicles the facts of antisemitism, hostile actions or discrimination against Jews as a religious or ethnic group, in the 20th century. It includes events in the history of antisemitic thought, actions taken to combat or relieve the effects of antisemitism, and events that affected the prevalence of antisemitism in later years. The history of antisemitism can be traced from ancient times to the present day.
Holocaust inversion is the antisemitic act of portrayal of Jews as Nazis, crypto-Nazis, Nazi sympathizers, genocide perpetrators, or Holocaust copycats, thus making Jews out to be morally equivalent to or worse than the perpetrators of the Holocaust, or in some cases blaming them for the Holocaust as well. It is a rhetorical staple of anti-Zionism in relation to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.