Russian Deserters to Sweden in World War I

Monday, November 9, 2015
12:00 PM - 1:15 PM
  • Mart Kuldkepp

The fate of a soldier serving in the Russian army in the First World War largely depended on luck and circumstances. But even though his own means of influencing his fate were limited, there were available certain active choices – such as shirking and desertion – that could turn his life around in both positive and negative ways. For Russian civil and military authorities, of course, desertion was a nuisance that was fought against by all available means. Sometimes, such as with physical punishment, these means only succeeded in lowering the already low morale and increasing the number of deserters.

Dr. Mart Kuldkepp's presentation will focus on a small and somewhat exceptional group of deserters from the Russian army: the soldiers who served in the border guard regiments in Northern Finland and deserted alone or in small groups over the border to neutral Sweden. He will consider their motivation in doing so, and their subsequent fate, as much as it is known. At the same time, he will also look at how Sweden administratively handled this very unforeseen phenomenon and how the deserters were treated by Swedish authorities.

Mart Kuldkepp completed his PhD dissertation at University of Tartu, Estonia, in 2014 and joined University College London in 2015. Dr. Kuldkepp has been active as an academic in the field of Scandinavian Studies since 2007. Dr. Kuldkepp’s primary research focus is on 20th century Scandinavian political history, with a particular interest in contacts between the Scandinavian and the Baltic states, but also has interest in the history of secret services and espionage and Old Norse-Icelandic literature and culture. His teaching has mostly concerned the history of Scandinavian culture, society, and politics from the earliest times up to today. He has taught subjects related to Old Norse studies and overview courses in humanities.

Organized by the Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies and co-sponsored by The Europe Center and Stanford University Libraries