Ingrian Finns

Ingrian Finns
Ingrian people.svg
The Ingrian flag
Regions with significant populations
Russia, Finland

Russian, Finnish



Related ethnic groups

other Finnic peoples

The Ingrian Finns (inkeriläiset or inkerinsuomalaiset) are the Finnish population of Ingria (now the central part of Leningrad Oblast of Russia) descending from Lutheran Finnish immigrants introduced to the area in the 17th century, when Finland and Ingria were both part of the Swedish Empire. In the forced population transfers before and after World War II they were relocated to other parts of the Soviet Union. The Ingrian Finns still constitute the largest part of the Finnish population of the Russian Federation. According to some records, some 25,000 Ingrian Finns have returned or still reside in the Saint Petersburg region.




Not to be confused with Ingrian/Izhorian speaking Ingrians, Finnish speaking Ingrians originate mainly from the Savonia and the Karelian Isthmus (mostly from Äyräpää), then parts of the Swedish realm. They were Lutheran resettlers and migrant workers who moved to Ingria during the period of Swedish rule 1617–1703.[1] Others originated from more or less voluntary conversion among the indigenous Finnic-speaking Votes and Izhorians, where approved by the Swedish authorities.[citation needed] The proportion of Finns in Ingria made up 41.1% in 1656, 53.2% in 1661, 55.2% in 1666, 56.9% in 1671 and 73.8% in 1695.[2]

After the Russian reconquest and the foundation of Saint Petersburg (1703), the flow of migration was reversed.[citation needed] Russians nobles were granted land in Ingria and Lutheran Ingrian Finns left Ingria, where they were in minority, for Old Finland, i.e. Russia's 18th century gains north of the Gulf of Finland, where Lutherans were a large majority. There they assimilated with the Karelian Finns.

Developments in the 19th century

In 1870, printing of the first Finnish language newspaper Pietarin Sanomat started in Ingria. Before that Ingria received newspapers mostly from Vyborg. The first public library was opened in 1850 in Tyrö. The largest of the libraries, situated in Skuoritsa, had more than 2,000 volumes in the second half of the 19th century. In 1899 the first song festival in Ingria was held in Puutosti (Skuoritsa).[1]

By 1897 the number of Ingrian Finns had grown to 130,413, by 1917 it had exceeded 140,000 (45,000 in Northern Ingria, 52,000 in Central (Eastern) Ingria and 30,000 in Western Ingria, the rest in Petrograd).[1]

Ingrians in the Soviet Union

After the October Revolution, Ingrian Finns inhabiting the southern part of Karelian Isthmus seceded from Bolshevist Russia and formed the short-lived Finland-backed Republic of North Ingria, which was reintegrated with Russia in the end of 1920 according to the conditions of the Treaty of Tartu, but enjoyed a certain degree of national autonomy. In 1928-1939 Ingrian Finns of North Ingria constituted the Kuivaisi National District with center in Toksova and Finnish as the official language.

The First All-Union Census of the Soviet Union in 1926 recorded 114,831 Leningrad Finns, as Ingrian Finns were called.[1]

The 20th century Soviet rule, and the German occupation (1941–1944) during the World War II were as disastrous for the Ingrian Finns as for other small ethnic groups. Many Ingrian Finns were either executed, deported to Siberia, or forced to relocate to other parts of the Soviet Union. There were also refugees to Finland, where they assimilated.

In 1928 collectivization of agriculture started in Ingria. To facilitate it, in 1929-1931, 18,000 people (4320 families) from North Ingria were deported to East Karelia, the Kola Peninsula as well as Kazakhstan and Central Asia. The situation for the Ingrian Finns deteriorated further because of the Soviet plans to create restricted security zones along the borders with Finland and Estonia, free of the Finnic peoples, which were considered politically unreliable.[3][4] In April 1935 7,000 people (2,000 families) were deported from Ingria to Kazakhstan, Central Asia and the Ural region. In May and June 1936 the entire 20,000 Finnish population of the parishes of Valkeasaari, Lempaala, Vuole and Miikkulainen near the Finnish border were transferred to the area around Cherepovets. In Ingria they were replaced with people from other parts of the Soviet Union.[1]

In 1937 Lutheran churches and Finnish-language schools in Ingria were closed down and publications and radio broadcasting in Finnish were suspended.

In March 1939 the Kuivaisi National District was liquidated.

Initially during the Winter War, the Soviet policy was mixed. On the one hand, Stalin's government largely destroyed Ingrian culture, but on the other hand, the maintenance of Finnish-speaking population was desired as a way to legitimize the planned occupation of Finland. The failure of the puppet state Terijoki government led to the ultimate result: in 1941, Moscow officially decided that Ingrian Finns were unreliable, and in 1942 Ingrian Finns were mostly internally deported to Siberia. During the Finnish and German occupation of the area, Ingrian Finns were evacuated to Finland. However, after the Continuation War, most of these Ingrians, who were Soviet citizens, were forcibly returned to the Soviet Union, where they were dispersed into Central Russia. Ingrian Finns were largely forgotten during the reign of presidents Juho Kusti Paasikivi and Urho Kekkonen.[5]

After the war many Ingrian Finns settled in Soviet-controlled Estonia.

Present day

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union about 25,000 Ingrians and their family members from Russia and Estonia have moved to Finland,[6] where they are eligible for automatic residence permit in the Finnish Law of Return. In 2010 the Finnish government decided to stop the remigration and new residence seeking Ingrians will be treated similar way than any other foreigners. There are still about 15,000 people in the remigration queue.[6]

The number of people who declared their nationality as Finnish in the 2002 Russian census was 34,000 (down from 47,000 in 1989 (RSFSR).

As many Ingrian Finns, including mixed families, who moved to Finland did not speak any language other than Russian and in many cases identify themselves as Russians,[7] mostly the younger generation, there are social integration problems similar to those of any other migrant groups in Europe, to such an extent that there is a political debate in Finland over the retention of the Finnish Law of Return. On the contrary, native Finnish-speakers easily assimilate to mainstream Finnish culture, leaving little trace of original Ingrian traditions.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e Kurs, Ott (1994). Ingria: The broken landbridge between Estonia and Finland. GeoJournal 33.1, 107-113.
  2. ^ Inkeri. Historia, kansa, kulttuuri. Edited by Pekka Nevalainen and Hannes Sihvo. Helsinki 1991.
  3. ^ Matley, Ian M. (1979). The Dispersal of the Ingrian Finns. Slavic Review 38.1, 1-16.
  4. ^ Martin, Terry (1998). The Origins of Soviet Ethnic Cleansing. The Journal of Modern History 70.4, 813-861.
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b Helsingin Sanomat: Yle: Hallitus aikoo rajoittaa inkeriläisten paluumuuttoa
  7. ^ National Minorities of Finland, The Old Russians- Ex Virtual Finland Archieved at Wayback machine

External links

Articles of the - Finnish people - Its subgroups and its diaspora
Traditional groups (ie. "heimot")

Tavastians | Karelians | Ostrobothnians | Savonians | Finns (proper)


Finnish Americans | Finnish Canadians | Ingrian Finns | Sweden Finns (Tornedalians, Forest Finns) | Kvens

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