The Russian Connection

(Article supplied by Stefan Kinert, Sweden — E-mail address: )

All of my childhood I have heard stories about my ancestors from my Russian grandmother Maria.. One of these stories concerns our family name. She told me that the name was not Russian, Finnish or Swedish, but that her husband (Vladimir) and mother-in-law had told that the name originated from Scotland and was Kinnaird. Maria married my grandfather (Vladimir Alexandrovitj Kinert) in 1914.

The story tells how the name changed in the 17th century to Kinert when the family came to live on a small German island called Rügen. The "...ert" name ending is typically German.

She also told us that an ancestor in 1628 was shipwrecked outside the German island Rügen when he - as a mercenary - was on his way to enforce the Swedish army led by King Gustavus II Adolphus in Germany.

Further research shows that in 1629 Lord Mackay's regiment of Scots, levied for service under Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden, was shipwrecked off Rugen Island while on their way to join the Swedish forces. The island administration was opposed to the Swedish king and the Scots took over the isle and held it for more than two months until relieved by Colonel Hepburn. In the meantime Mackay's Highlanders had crossed to the mainland and had pushed on in their advance and captured many towns.

Some of the Kinerts were hanged, accused of being pirates. Others went on east, part of the Great Swabian Migrations they came to Russia in 1764, during Katherine the Great's Reign. Some of these Russian families became families of nobility. The oldest ancestor I've been able to trace is Feodor Kinert who must have been born around 1800 in Russia.

My father Aleksander (his nickname was Dickie ) was the oldest Kinert until two years ago when he unexpectedly passed away. He was born on 25 of May 1917 in Tsarsoye Selo (the Tsars Village), south of Saint Petersburg, just about the time when the revolution started. As the family in Russia was of Nobel decent, there were two alternatives - either to become a Bolshevik and betray all your valuations, or to run. Vladimir, Maria and family fled to Karelska Naset (Karelen) a Russian area just near the in eastern border of Finland (this area was once part of Sweden), where they had a summer residence at Lake Suulajarvi (called Tabor). They stayed there until the outbreak of World War II when once again they were forced to flee. This time to Helsinki in Finland.

My father, an Officer in the Finnish army at the time, met my mother, Doris, on a train during the Second World War. He was on his way to Helsinki from the frontline. She was going to meet her family in Borga. My father sat down next to her to protect her from soldiers that hadn't seen a beautiful woman in months. They got married in a hurry only shortly after because my father, Aleksander, had to go back to the front line, and because of his profession sometimes even behind the lines into enemy territory. Only a year after they were married their new home was bombed in Helsinki. My eldest brother, Jorma, was a baby at the time and my second brother, Bo-Lennart, was on his way, but fortunately they, together with my mother, where in a shelter when the bombs fell.

My father worked for the Secret Intelligence and was not very popular with the Soviets as he caused them a lot of problems. So much so that when the war was coming to an end there was a lot of retributions. The Russians put pressure on the Finnish government to hand over the intelligence staff among others. My father along with 2.000 other Intelligence men from Finland were invited to move to Sweden in order to start what came to be the Swedish Radio Intelligence (Försvarets RadioAnstalt - FRA). In 1944, three overcrowded ships (6.000 people altogether) with a lot of radio equipment arrived at three different cities along the Swedish coastline. These cities were for Gävle, Sundsvall and Härnösand. There was one very stormy night during the operation. It was called "Stella Polaris". This episode has been described in books, films and TV-programs. My own family came to the city of Härnösand. Later they moved to the suburbs of Stockholm and that's where I was born. There were five male siblings, Jorma, Bo-Lennart (nick named Bosse), Christer (died 1994), Stefan and Maj-Len).

My father made it quite well in the new country. He spent the rest of his life working in FRA as a code expert. He also worked for the Secret Police as an interpreter. He was fluent in Russian, Finish and Swedish, and understood and spoke every day German and English.

His mother Maria died in 1986 in Järfälla outside Stockholm,. She was 100 years old and is the source for many of the stories I know about my ancestors. She moved to Sweden when her husband Vladimir died in 1957 and lived with our family all my childhood.

Being refugees several times, there is little documentation left. Some details may have been distorted along the way. My grandmother died in 1986 (100 years old) and I blame myself for not being more interested when she was alive.