How Finns see joining NATO in Hamburg NDR.de – News


Status: 5:17 PM 5:17 PM

Finland wants to join NATO’s defense alliance in response to Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. How do women in the Finnish community in Hamburg see this development? Are you in favor of your country’s accession to NATO?

by Julia Wacket

Finnish Sailors Church © NDR.de Photo: Kristina Festring-Hashem Zadeh


The Finnish Seamen’s Church in Hamburg’s Portuguese Quarter was opened in 1966.

The Finnish Seemanskirche in Hamburg is a meeting place for Finns near the port for young and old. The Hanseatic community has been around for over 100 years. 2,500 Finns live in the Hanseatic city. Many of them came to Hamburg for their partner. Just like 83-year-old Ellamaija Gries: “In 1970, I met my husband on the beach at the Arctic Circle in Hamburg, and so I came to Hamburg.” Women have been living in Hamburg since birth, and the community center near Landungsbrücken is like a second home for them.

There is also a Finnish sauna

The door of the Finnish community in Hamburg says: The sauna is great.  Photo: Julia Wacket


The Finnish community says “The sauna is great” on these doors.

Over the years, the Seemannskirche has become an important Finnish reference point in the middle of Hamburg, not only for sailors, but also for Finns and their families living in northern Germany. The community is nothing but a regular community: the church has a kiosk with delicacies such as Finnish cinnamon rolls and Finnish beer or souvenirs with us, a library and a sauna. There are basically two saunas: one for women and one for men. This is not uncommon in Finnish churches. The sauna has a long tradition in Finland, as Timo Mäkelä, the master of the sauna, explains: “It’s a relaxation, you can forget about everyday life. For us, it’s a part of life, a kind of meeting place for everyone.”

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Sauna-Diplomacy hat Tradition

Sauna diplomacy played a particularly important role in Finnish politics in the 1960s and 1960s. Foreign guests were also invited to the sauna. The then President of Finland, Uhro Kekkonen, has always “blocked his guests”, says Mäkelä. Because if you sweat, you can’t lie and tell the truth.

“I never thought NATO’s application would come so soon”

The community has also been engaged in world politics this week: Finland has decided to join NATO. With a huge majority The Finnish parliament has approved the country’s application for NATO membership. After a two-day debate, 188 lawmakers voted in favor of membership on Tuesday, with eight voting against.

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan © Picture Alliance / AA Photo: Murat Kula

SOUND: RTErdogan continues to oppose Sweden and Finland joining NATO (8 minutes)

The younger woman, who sings Finnish children’s songs with her babies once a week in the Finnish community, is surprised at how quickly the decision was made. Many have a family in Finland and follow events like young mother Terhi: “It’s a fun time! We didn’t even think it would come so soon six months ago.”

Once the relatives fell in the war against the Russians

Especially relieved for the older ladies in the church. Some of them come from Lapland, near the Russian border. Just like Lisa Ahrens. Her loved ones still live on the Russian border. Ahrens feels “mixed feelings.” She is afraid of cyber warfare and still remembers how the Russians invaded Finland in 1939-1940. in the winter war. Many of their loved ones fell in the war against the Soviet Union. “The old fear is still very deep.”

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Joining NATO: “We should have done it a long time ago”

Ellamaija Gries also knows about the war and thinks the decision to join NATO is long overdue: “We should have done it a long time ago.” Her father died as a soldier in World War II, she was a year and a half old, a war refugee herself. Joining NATO gives many people a sense of security, especially the people of Lapland. “Southern Finland has only one border, and Lapland has Sweden, Norway and Russia. We have always had borders with other areas.”

It also took a long time for Finland to join the EU. “We’ve always kept our distance from everyone, but it won’t get us anywhere when you live near a country as big as Russia,” Gries said.

“Almost 80 percent of Finns are for NATO”

Anneli Renis her country’s accession to NATO is a historic decision. “Personally, I am very pleased that Finland has applied to join NATO.” She also noticed in northern Germany that …

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