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WWII: An Overview in Moving PicturesWWII: An Overview in Moving PicturesMany Voices, Many StoriesMany Voices, Many StoriesThe Home FrontThe Home FrontCritical PerspectivesCritical PerspectivesSee Everything, Hear Everything
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See Everything, Hear Everything
Watch films, excerpts and view archival artefacts—all chosen by
NFB experts—plus much more!
 
 
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Excerpt (4:26)
Letters from Karelia
2005, director: Kelly Saxberg
Canada's "Red Finns," who immigrated to the Soviet Union as...
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Excerpt (4:26)
Letters from Karelia
2005, director: Kelly Saxberg
A young Finnish-Canadian, Aate Pitkanen, found himself...
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Excerpt (4:28)
Open Secrets
2003, director: José Torrealba
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Excerpt (3:18)
Open Secrets
2003, director: José Torrealba
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Excerpt (5:32)
Through My Thick Glasses
2003, director: Pjotr Sapegin
The Norwegian resistance to Nazi occupation is commemorated...
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Excerpt (3:21)
The Pacifist Who Went to War
2002, director: David Neufeld
WWII veterans within Canada's Mennonite communities find...
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Excerpt (3:23)
The Pacifist Who Went to War
2002, director: David Neufeld
Over 10,000 Canadians were conscientious objectors during...
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Excerpt (2:15)
The Pacifist Who Went to War
2002, director: David Neufeld
Veterans returning to Mennonite communities after WWII often...
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Letters from Karelia
 

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Excerpt  (4:26) 2005, director: Kelly Saxberg
Description The film
Canada's "Red Finns," who immigrated to the Soviet Union as pioneers, were among the first victims of Stalinist purges in the early 1930s. Aate Pitkanen was one of millions who went missing during the war, when over 20 million died in the Soviet Union alone. Surprise discoveries in Finnish and Russian archives reveal his dramatic story.

More info on this film in NFB catalogue »»


Taimi Pitkanen last saw her brother Aate (AH-tay) in a Leningrad railway station in 1931.

Taimi was returning to Canada from Moscow; Aate was headed for Soviet Karelia, on the border with Finland, where his skills in electricity and languages - both English and Finnish - were badly needed.

Aate never came back. Even when the dream went sour, Aate held on, writing home until, in 1941, Hitler attacked the USSR. After that, no one in Canada heard anything more of Aate Pitkanen.

Sixty years later, the discovery of his last letters - written but never mailed from a Finnish prisoner-of-war camp - reveals his fate and brings together Taimi and Alfred, the son Aate never met.

Visiting Taimi in Canada, Alfred Pitkanen learns the dramatic story of his father's Canadian family and of "Karelia Fever," the enthusiasm that gripped so many Finnish Canadians in the 1930s. Almost forgotten now, it lured thousands to a tragic fate in the Soviet Union.

Alfred follows his father's journey from Thunder Bay, Ontario, to Karelia, from young communist pioneer to ski champion of the USSR to Soviet spy.

With him we learn Aate's fate and the story of one of the great dreams of the twentieth century.