Otto Wille Kuusinen
Humanist of the day

Otto Wille Kuusinen

Otto Wille Kuusinen is one of the most controversial 20th century Finnish figures – attracting both severe criticism and admiration. He is perhaps best known for his political role in the Finnish Civil War of 1918, his leadership of the so-called Terijoki Government of 1939–40 and his work with the Communist Party of Finland. Kuusinen was nevertheless more than a mere ideologue; he was also a poet, a sensitive, multitalented product of the Jyväskylä Lyceum who in his youth was even considered destined for a career as a professor.

Otto Wille Kuusinen

Otto Wilhelm (Wille, Ville) Kuusinen
Born October 4, 1881, Laukaa. Died May 17, 1964, Moscow

Bachelor of Arts (philosophy, aesthetics, art history) 1905, Imperial Alexander University

Journalist 1901–02, Suomalainen newspaper
Assistant 1904–06, journalist 1907–16, Työmies newspaper
Founder 1905, editorial secretary 1906–08, Sosialistisen Aikakauslehden
Secretary of the central office of the Finnish Social Democratic Party (SDP) 1916–17
Underground work for the Communist Party of Finland in Finland and Sweden 1919–21
Member of the secretariat of the Comintern Executive Committee
President of the Karelo-Finnish Soviet Socialist Republic 1939–56

SDP member of parliament (constituency of Uusimaa) 1908–09, 1911–13, 1917
Chairman of Finnish Social Democratic Party 1911–17
Education secretary of the Finnish People’s Delegation 1918
Prime minister and foreign minister of the Finnish Democratic Republic, Terijoki 1939–40
Member of the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union 1940–64, Presidium member 1940–57
Member of the Politburo and Secretariat of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union 1957–64

Member of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR

Hero of Socialist Labour 1961
Order of Lenin (decorated three times)

Eponymously named:
O.W: Kuusinen Foundation 1964, Petrozavodsk State University, Russia
A street in Moscow and Petrozavodsk

Photo: Kansan Arkisto
Written by Tiia Niemelä
Translated by Matthew Billington

Otto Wille Kuusinen began writing at an early age. As was the case with many of his contemporaries, the first outlet for the young poet was his school newspaper. At the end of the 1890s, he adopted the pseudonym Otto Näre to write for Oras, the newspaper of Jyväskylä Lyceum.

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Otto Wille Kuusinen was a well-known as something of a philanderer and married three times in his life. His first wife, Saima Dahlström (1873-1950), was the sister of a former schoolmate. The two met when Kuusinen visited the Dahlström family estate in Luhanka. Saima Dählström was eight years his senior…

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