YLE in English: Finnish Sports Federation apologizes after 75 years to a Finnish-Jewish runner

by , under Enrique

As Finland races into the depths of the new century and distances itself from the Winter (1939-40) and especially from the Continuation War (1941-44), I’m certain that there will be more proof about our collusion with Nazi Germany. One such story appeared Friday, when YLE in English reported on the Finnish Sports Federation’s (SUL) apology to a Jewish runner. 

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In a 1938 athletics meet, a Jewish runner of the Helsinki Makkabi sports club was placed fourth despite winning the 100-meter dash race.

The sprint runner, Abraham Tokazier, won the race but Arne Savolainen was declared the winner with Tokazier coming in fourth.

The apology by SUL took 75 years and was only possible after Finnish author Kjell Westö mentioned the incident in his new book, “Kangastus 38.”

”Any manipulation or distortion of results is shocking and against basic sporting values,” SUL chairman Vesa Harmaakorpi said in a statement. ”The judges clearly made a mistake in the 1938 meet. I would like to offer a humble apology to the athlete and his relatives on behalf of the Finnish Sports Federation.”

Leo-dan Bensky, honorary chairman of Makkabi Helsinki, said that the apology wasn’t good enough since SUL doesn’t want to retrospectively change the result of the race.

”It’s a step in the right direction, but until the result has been corrected, we don’t see the matter as resolved,” he was quoted as saying on YLE in English.

Historians like Simo Muir and Malthe Gasche state in a book called “Finland’s Holocaust” that Urho Kekkonen, the Finnish Sports Federation chairman and Finland’s president (1953-81), may have influenced the final result of the 1938 race.

Finland was allied militarily with Nazi Germany during the Continuation War. Why is it still so difficult to open up this questionable period? Was Finland Adolf Hitler’s ally because it hated and wanted revenge against the Soviet Union or was it because it generally believed in Nazi Germany’s new world order and racial policies?

Citing newspapers from the time, Muir and Gasche state that there was a drive to make sure that Finnish Jewish athletes did not participate or represent the country in the 1940 Olympic Games in Helsinki.

Helsingin Sanomat claims that there may have been high-ranking Nazi German officials at the 1938 athletics meet, which forced SUL to change the final result.