What does it imply to share a border with Russia? What is barely an summary consideration for Western Europeans has been an existential query for Finns for hundreds of years: within the 18th and nineteenth centuries, giant elements of the nation had been repeatedly occupied by Russia, and there have been two wars between 1939 and 1944 with the Soviet Union.
The recollections of this are nonetheless alive immediately, just like the comedian “Kannas” that was not too long ago printed in German. (Translation from Finnish by Stefan Moster, avant, 240 pages, 28 €) by the Finnish illustrator Hanneriina Moisseinen, which she’s going to current on September sixteenth at a panel dialogue as a part of the “Graphic Novel Day” on the Berlin Worldwide Literature Pageant (ilb).
Primarily based on her grandmother’s recollections, she talks about many households in japanese Finland who needed to flee from the Purple Military in the summertime of 1944, solely with the ability to take a couple of belongings with them. The comedian was printed in Finland in 2016 and acquired the State Prize for Comedian Artwork there.
100 kilometers on foot with out sneakers
The story takes place within the Karelian isthmus “Kannas” on the border with the Soviet Union: infinite treks of farming households trudge by the forests, pulling small wagons with baggage behind them. Some stroll 100 kilometers with out sneakers after the Purple Military burned down their homes.
The primary character is the younger shepherdess Maria, who’s ready to go away the orphaned village along with her cows. She is writing to a soldier she doesn’t know, to whose correspondence she has replied.
On the identical time, the story of a younger Karelian soldier is informed who, after an assault on his unit, was the one one to outlive and now now not is aware of whether or not he’s useless or alive. Confused, he runs by the woods as a deserter and is haunted by traumatic recollections of the battle. One night he exhibits up in Maria’s village.
Struggle as a drive of nature
There may be little plot in “Kannas”, and the political and navy background isn’t mentioned. The comedian isn’t an analytical however a poetic examination of the occasions of 1944. Moisseinen’s perspective stays totally with the bizarre individuals who expertise the battle like a drive of nature.
The disorientation and chaos of the escape are mirrored in Moisseinen’s atmospheric black and white drawings: forests, meadows and streets emerge from stressed spiral hatchings, the homeland that the refugees have to go away appears to shimmer and dissolve.
The drawings repeatedly alternate with historic pictures, creating an surprising closeness: There are dozens of snapshots of refugees, tanks, burning homes, funerals and shot-up bushes. Regardless of the whole lot, the pictures don’t seem shiny, however have the identical melancholic calm because the comedian itself. Regardless of all their grief, the folks depicted radiate plenty of dignity.
Worry, resignation, unhappiness
The cows play a really distinctive function within the comedian: they’re normally a very powerful possession of the farming households, they’re silent companions to the refugees, run alone by the forests or grow to be victims of individuals themselves. Symbolically, the harmless animals undergo the same destiny to the fleeing individuals who haven’t any affect on the occasions round them.
The pictures additionally seize the juxtaposition of individuals and animals in a touching means, for instance when a soldier milks a cow on the aspect of the street or a baby clings to a kitten. A household connection is noticeable, and that is additionally clear within the portrait pictures: each folks and cows present feelings corresponding to concern, resignation, unhappiness and helplessness on their faces.
Hanneriina Moisseinen has lengthy been an vital consultant of the Finnish comedian scene, “Kannas” is her first long-form publication in German. Studying is an effective alternative to study extra in regards to the Scandinavian comedian world and to higher perceive the strained relationship that Finland, which is now a part of NATO, had with its giant neighbor to the east.
We will solely hope that Moisseinen’s most private comedian, “Isä,” will quickly be printed in German: On this she offers with the mysterious disappearance of her father in 1989, whose destiny stays unclear to this present day.