The Reflection of a Warlike Historical Culture in the Attitudes of Finnish Youths

  • Jukka Rantala


Two school shootings took place in Finland in 2007–2008, in which 20 people lost their lives. After the shootings, foreign journalists used the violent culture of Finnish men as an explanation for the tragedies. Of the old EU countries, the highest rate of capital crimes is found in Finland. The country has for a long time debated where the violence comes from. One explanation is that the historical culture in Finland glorifies war. The wars that were fought against the Soviet Union (1939–1944) have been elevated in Finland to become key elements of the national psyche, manifested in celebrations, anniversaries and through family narratives. According to this explanation, a Finn already learns as a child to accept violence which is considered to be legitimate and to behave in accordance with warlike ideals. This article examines the warlike historical culture in Finland and clarifies why war has remained a popular theme of Finnish historical culture. Further, it discusses the impact that a warlike historical culture has on the attitudes of young people.