Gorbachev’s visit to Oulu

Her childhood took place in Finland in the 1980s and early 1990s. Finland was not a socialist state but very closely linked to its Eastern neighbour, the Soviet Union, and to many other socialist countries, especially the GDR. I think the Soviet influence on Finland (at least frequent discussions about it) were very much present in her childhood. Still, when she tries to ponder whether she has any ”Cold War memories”, she couldn’t recall any. What she does remember from her childhood and which links her childhood to the Soviet Union, is the following event. 

It was October 1989, when Mikhail Gorbachev visited Finland. He didn't only visit Helsinki, the capital, but also her little hometown up in the North, called Oulu. It was a massive thing for them and she remembers the visit very well. It was Friday. Their teacher told them they could go down to the city centre and watch the visit or stay at school and get a day off later. She decided to go there with a couple of classmates, because she felt it was something unusual and important. She doesn’t remember who her classmates were, but she has been able to find out their names later. So, they stood there behind the rope that was dividing the crowd from the square in front of the city hall. They waited there quite a long time before anything happened and talked with a couple of Soviet journalists and a cameraman. They spoke Finnish so they might have been from Soviet Karelia. They got the impression that they filmed them, while asking questions. She cannot remember exactly what they asked them, but she remembers having shouted ”We want Karelia back!” (referring to the area Finland had lost to the Soviet Union after the second world war). Finally, black cars entered the square and Gorbachev’s entourage arrived. She doesn’t have a very clear picture or a visual memory of that moment but she thinks she saw ”the man with that thing on his forehead” with her own eyes.