Monday, May 16, 2016

The Talikka/Weser story continues

The epic of the Talikkas and Wesers seems to have remarkable legs.

While researching my first mystery novel, Season's Revenge, published in 2003, I found a snippet in the Ontonagon (Mich.) Herald about a group of Finnish immigrants, including Mr. and Mrs. Simon Talikka and Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Weser, who had been enticed by the Comintern to return to the Soviet-held province of Karelia in Finland during the Depression.

I put the entire clipping into the novel without changing the names. It provided a possible motive for murder.

In 2009 a relative of the Talikkas and Wesers (actually Wesa) living in California wrote to me after reading the novel. The Wesas, the relative said, had disappeared into the Gulag during Stalin's purges, and asked if I had any further information. Sadly, I had none. But I put the letter into a 2009 blogpost as a comment, hoping that someone also looking for the family would come across it using Google Search.

In 2012 still another relative of the Talikkas found the blogpost and the comments, and wrote that he had discovered evidence that Simon Talikka indeed had been sentenced to a NKVD labor camp in Orenburg, and may not have survived.

Over those years Doug Karttunen, a local historian and friend of mine, commented at length on the blogpost, filling in the gaps with considerable historical knowledge about the events and the times.

And just yesterday Doug posted still another comment: the old blogpost had led relatives of the Talikkas in Finland seeking their lost U.S. kin to contact him—and he helped reunite the American and Finnish branches of the family.

Doug's new revelation is at the bottom of the old blogpost. Read the whole story here.

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