Team: Jarmo Vellonen, Timo Virtala, Marikki Hakola, Epa Tamminen
Production Year: 2021
Genre / Type: Drama Documentary, 3-channel Video Installation for five rooms
Master Format: ProRes422HQ (16:9) Stereo
Subtitles: English, Swedish, German, Russian
Commissioned work by Centre of War and Peace MUISTI
Arndt is inspired by the installation of Jarmo Vellonen, ”Arndt elää” 2018.
Script: Jarmo Vellonen, Timo Virtala, Marikki Hakola, Epa Tamminen
Directing, Editing: Marikki Hakola
Camera: Marikki Hakola, Jarmo Vellonen, Ilari Vanhatalo
Sound Design: Epa Tamminen
Voices: Jarmo Vellonen, Arja Pekurinen
Music : Antti Hytti
Olga Pekurinen’s Newspaper Clip Archive
Jarmo Vellonen’s Picture Archive
Marikki Hakola’s Picture Archive
Commissioned work by Centre of War and Peace MUISTI / Tilaaja Sodan ja rauhan keskus MUISTI
Producer / Tuottaja: Marikki Hakola
Production Company / Tuotantoyhtiö: Kroma Productions Ltd. 2021
Arndt Pekurinen was a convinced pacifist, who refused to serve in the army, in war, and to participate in any sort of action that would support the army. Pekurinen saw warfare as brutishly cruel and offensive to higher values of life. Refusing to serve in the army was, however, against the law in the days Pekurinen lived in. For his ideology, Pekurinen was condemned three times to imprisonment in the time period of 1929-1931.
“I am certainly ready serve my fatherland with useful work, if I am allowed to perform it as civilian work distinct from the institution of armed forces,” Arndt Pekurinen wrote in his defence speech as he was waiting for his third prison sentence. “Instead of military service, I am ready to perform such work even for a much longer period of time than the actual time of service in the armed forces is.”
The prison sentences given to Pekurinen aroused much international attention. Professor Albert Einstein and writers H.G. Wells and Henri Barbusse wrote to Niukkanen, the Finnish minister of defence: “Considering that both Your country and ours have accepted the Paris Treaty, we think that it would be a pleasant task to free a person whose only crime is his faithfulness to his principles of peace.” Einstein also wrote that “morality and moderation require insisting that conscientious objectors are used only for such work that has no connection whatsoever to the armed forces.”
The public discussion aroused by Pekurinen’s case and appeals signed by Albert Einstein and other prestigious Europeans finally led, on 14.4.1931, to the birth of Lex Pekurinen, the first law regulating civilian service. This law made it possible for those conscripts who were prevented by reasons of conscience to serve in the army to perform civilian service instead.
Due to this civilian service law, Pekurinen was allowed to live in peace for eight years, to work and start a family. However, this law did not apply in the time of war, with fateful results for Pekurinen. After the start of Winter War, Pekurinen was again ordered to military service. He refused for the fourth time and was put to prison for the fourth time, this time for two years.
Aleksandra Pekurinen, Arndt’s wife, wrote on 6.3.1940: “No field is ever cleared, no country is ever saved, unless there are brave pioneers, men who defy obstacles with their deeds and level the way for others.”
In the Continuation War, Pekurinen was order to service for the fifth time. For the fifth time he also refused and for the fifth time he was condemned and ordered to be executed. Arndt Pekurinen was executed at the Suomussalmi front, during the Continuation War, on the 5th of November 1941.
Starting points of the work and makers’ thoughts
The story of Pekurinen has made an unforgettable impression of the makers of drama documentary Arndt Pekurinen. Here are some thoughts by the members of work team.
Sculptor Jarmo Vellonen: “After having performed civilian service in the 1980s I was not aware of Arndt Pekurinen, who had made possible my civilian service too. In 1998 I read from a paper that Erno Paasilinna had written a book about Pekurinen. I asked my mother if he was related to us, since he had been born in the same county as our granny. My mother answered that he was. No one had spoken anything about this to me before. I want to honor the memory of Arndt Pekurinen, his convictions and his example as a pioneer of peace movement.”
The drama documentary Arndt Pekurinen draws inspiration from an earlier installation made by Jarmo Vellonen, ‘Arndt lives’ from 2018.
Sociologist, nonfiction writer Timo Virtala. “I became acquainted with the life of Pekurinen after I started working at the civilian service center in 1999. His timeless wisdom and courage to walk the path he considered to be right one made a huge impression on me. I wrote a lecture play for the civilian service center, where it is still being presented. Obviously Pekurinen’s story is also a part of my book The power of nonviolence – stories about courage, which was published last spring.”
Sound planner Epa Tamminen: “The starting point of sound planning is to bring strong emotional atmosphere, color, and sense of life to this work. The world of sound lights up and brings to life the photographs and video images used in the visualization of the work and brings the levels of everyday routine, family and working into the story. It also refers to the thoughts and feelings that reflect from the texts written by Pekurinen. The music composed by Antti Hytti also has a significant role in creating atmosphere in the dramatic moments of the work.”
Media artist, director Marikki Hakola: “What has touched me in the story of Arndt Pekurinen has been especially his courage and pacifistic conviction. The work describes the traits of Pekurinen as an ideological, hard-working, reading, thinking person, as well as a family father and husband. There are only very few photographs about Pekurinen and his family. We ended up using, in the spirit of drama documentary, using other imagery of the time period in the visualization, and also the picture archives of Vellonen and myself. The installation ‘Arndt lives’ by Vellonen has also been shot for this work.
Pekurinen’s own voice is in central role in this work. His universal thoughts about war and peace are relevant and important for our own time as well. I hope that Pekurinen’s legacy, the message of peace, is transmitted through our work to the people of this day and age.”