4 November 1941 – Arndt Juho Pekurinen
As a Finnish conscientious objector Pekurinen was a born pacifist and did all in his power to avoid conscription. So when he was called up for active service in the years running up to World War II he refused to bear arms or even wear the uniform.
His constant subversion led others to brand him a communist and he was bunged in jail between 1929 and 31. Pekurinen actions were seen as high treason especially in the climate of increasing hostilities in Europe.
But he had sympathisers – an international petition featuring prolific names, such as Albert Einstein and HG Wells, was sent to the Finnish defence minister Juho Niukkanen and it worked to a point. On 14 April 1931, Finland ratified an alternative to military service. But it was flawed, because it only covered peacetime.
So when World War II erupted in a blaze of fury in 1939, Pekurinen was once again slung in jail. But they needed men to fight their battles, so he was sent to the frontline two years later, where he once again refused to wear a uniform or bear arms.
To which, the army executed him without trial. Even his execution was veiled in subversion. The first two soldiers refused to shoot him so it was only when orders came through from the highest authorities in the Finnish Army that Corporal Asiainen pulled the trigger on 36-year-old Pekurinen in Suomussalmi, Finland.
After the war, his death was swept under the carpet and only came back into focus after a book was published in 1998 – Courage: The life and execution of Arndt Pekurinen by Erno Paasilinna.