Antique Jewish Cemetery

18.05.2008 at 20:58 | Posted in History, Walk Route | 10 Comments
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According to Jewish tradition cemeteries are established for eternity – they cannot be removed nor can the graves be exhumed. This old Jewish graveyard, located within the large Hietaniemi cemetery, is fenced off and not in use any more. In theory it can be accessed from Lapilahdentie street but the gate was locked shut so I had to photograph from behind the fence. As I read on the website of the Jewish Community in Helsinki “Finnish Jewish history effectively began in the first half of the 19th century when Jewish soldiers (so-called cantonists), who served in the Russian Army in Finland, were permitted to stay in Finland by the Russian military authorities following the soldiers’ discharge.” The cemetery can’t thus be older than 200 years. Before that Jewish settlement on Finnish territory was forbidden in conformity with Swedish law.

The old Jewish graveyard is nowadays contained within the Islamic cemetery which was officially established in 1871 and was then the first Islamic cemetery in Finland. Currently the oldest grave on the Islamic side dates from 1916 and belongs to a Cossack named Gafur Kangachlin. He served in the 5th sotnia of the 8th Orenburg cavalry regiment. [Re-edited 22.05.]

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  1. You are wrong about Kazakh. Russian text there says about Cossack (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cossack), whose name was Gafur Kangachlin. He served in 5th sotnia of 8th Orenburgean cavalry regiment and has died on 2th July of 1916.

  2. Sorry, June, not July

  3. Ah yes, I was mislead by the Finnish words kasakka/kazakki.

    Thanks a lot for the correction!

  4. Somehow i missed the point. Probably lost in translation :) Anyway … nice blog to visit.

    cheers, Algorithm!!!

  5. You write: “Before that Jewish settlement on Finnish territory was forbidden in conformity with Swedish law.”

    Maybe it would be appropriate to mention that the legislational xenophobia of those times was not restricted to forbidding Jewish settlement. Between years 1634 and 1741, all people in Sweden (including Finland) were officially required to profess Evangelical Lutheran Christianity, and nothing else. In practice, the law was much stricter towards potential immigrants (such as Catholics, Jews, and Muslims) than traditional minorities (such as Karelian Orthodox Christians). Between 1741 and 1923, the restrictions were gradually shifted. Allowing Jewish settlement in the Russian era, when Finnish legislation remained based on the Swedish heritage, was one step in this long progress.

  6. Thanks for the valuable info!

  7. I am the great grandson of a cantonist who served in the Duchy of Finland through 1868 when he was discharged and settled in Viipuri with his wife and fathered 9 children .His descendants some well known now live in Finland , Sweden , the United States and possibly elsewhere
    You may contact me for discussion purposes at :

  8. please tell wher it is i cant see

  9. Here are the coordinates:
    60.164833, 24.915500
    You can copy/paste them e.g. into GoogleMaps search field.

  10. I have learned from a visitor to Viipuri (Vybrg)where much of the Finnish Jewish community lived until about 1939-40 when the Karelia penninsula was absorbed by the USSR (now Russia) The Jewish Cemetery there was leveled by order of Stalin a hater of sll Jews.


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