The Vodka Sea: Comparative History of Spirits Smuggling in the Baltic Sea

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<ul><li><p>This article was downloaded by: [Tufts University]On: 07 November 2014, At: 07:31Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registeredoffice: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK</p><p>Journal of Scandinavian Studies inCriminology and Crime PreventionPublication details, including instructions for authors andsubscription information:</p><p>The Vodka Sea: Comparative History ofSpirits Smuggling in the Baltic SeaRaimo Pullat a &amp; Risto Pullat ba Tallinn University , Tallinn , Estoniab Estonian Police and Border Guard Board , Tallinn , EstoniaPublished online: 16 May 2012.</p><p>To cite this article: Raimo Pullat &amp; Risto Pullat (2012) The Vodka Sea: Comparative History of SpiritsSmuggling in the Baltic Sea, Journal of Scandinavian Studies in Criminology and Crime Prevention,13:1, 64-73, DOI: 10.1080/14043858.2012.670471</p><p>To link to this article:</p><p>PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLE</p><p>Taylor &amp; Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all the information (theContent) contained in the publications on our platform. However, Taylor &amp; Francis,our agents, and our licensors make no representations or warranties whatsoever as tothe accuracy, completeness, or suitability for any purpose of the Content. Any opinionsand views expressed in this publication are the opinions and views of the authors,and are not the views of or endorsed by Taylor &amp; Francis. The accuracy of the Contentshould not be relied upon and should be independently verified with primary sourcesof information. Taylor and Francis shall not be liable for any losses, actions, claims,proceedings, demands, costs, expenses, damages, and other liabilities whatsoever orhowsoever caused arising directly or indirectly in connection with, in relation to or arisingout of the use of the Content.</p><p>This article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes. Anysubstantial or systematic reproduction, redistribution, reselling, loan, sub-licensing,systematic supply, or distribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden. Terms &amp;Conditions of access and use can be found at</p><p></p></li><li><p>The Vodka Sea: ComparativeHistory of Spirits Smuggling in theBaltic SeaRAIMO PULLAT1 AND RISTO PULLAT2</p><p>1Tallinn University, Tallinn, Estonia2Estonian Police and Border Guard Board, Tallinn, Estonia</p><p>Abstract</p><p>Introduction</p><p>James Finckenauer argues that the nature of</p><p>organized crime means that it is not studied</p><p>from a close range. They are dangerous</p><p>people. And you cant just send out a self-</p><p>report questionnaire (Finckenauer 2009).</p><p>Analysing smuggling of spirits during</p><p>Prohibition we can rely on archives, on</p><p>memoirs of smugglers or bystanders, or on</p><p>illustrative material published in the press.</p><p>Considering the alcohol policy, the</p><p>countries of the Baltic Sea belong to the</p><p>vodka countries. Hence, the Baltic Sea could</p><p>also be called the Vodka Sea, just as the</p><p>modern Baltic Sea has been referred to as</p><p>Mare Narcoticum (Blomberg 2009:71). The</p><p>historical-criminological issue of spirits</p><p>smuggling in the countries of the Baltic Sea</p><p>is still topical, since it is directly linked with</p><p>organized crime, which is, as we know, one of</p><p>the most complicated global problems in</p><p>todays human society. Drug smuggling is</p><p>especially distressing and destructive, and its</p><p>roots go no doubtback to the relatively recent</p><p>past of the countries troubled by alcohol</p><p>prohibition laws. We know that Estonian</p><p>police persistently fought with cocaine and</p><p>morphine dealers already since the beginning</p><p>of the 1920s (Krikk 2007:109). It has to be</p><p>underlined that former treatments of Esto-</p><p>nianFinnish spirits smuggling had certain</p><p>limitations and a national romantic under-</p><p>tone. The authors and several other research-</p><p>ers (e.g. Johansen 1985; Kula 1999;</p><p>Andersson 2001:144; Filpus 2001; Ylikangas</p><p>2001:5557) claim that smugglingof alcohol</p><p>hasbeen theprincipal typeoforganizedcrime</p><p>in the Baltic Sea region during Prohibition.</p><p>To this day, no state has ever been able to</p><p>win the war against smugglers, except for</p><p>when the state has been able to meet the</p><p>demands of the market-place for a scarce</p><p>commodity or has been able to seal off its</p><p>borders completely. This is also true of the</p><p>This paper examines the spirits</p><p>smuggling in the Baltic Sea region</p><p>in the inter-war period. On 1 June</p><p>1919 the Finnish Parliament</p><p>passed the Prohibition Act for-</p><p>bidding the production, transpor-</p><p>tation, sale, and storage of</p><p>alcohol which activated spirits</p><p>smuggling to Finland. Large-scale</p><p>spirits smuggling was arranged</p><p>during Prohibition by criminal</p><p>organizations through inter-</p><p>national networks. Mostly</p><p>cheap German liquor was deliv-</p><p>ered to Nordic countries and to</p><p>the United States. The represen-</p><p>tatives of organized crime in the</p><p>Baltic Sea region became rich fast</p><p>during Prohibition thanks to</p><p>limits set by countries. Contem-</p><p>porary drug smuggling and spirits</p><p>smuggling are comparable due to</p><p>similar organizational structure</p><p>and modus operandi.</p><p>KEY WORDS: Corruption, Nordic</p><p>countries, Organized crime, Pro-</p><p>hibition, Smuggling</p><p>64 Journal of Scandinavian Studies in Criminology and Crime PreventionISSN 1404-3858 Vol. 13, pp. 6473, 2012</p><p> q 2012 Taylor &amp; Francis</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Tuf</p><p>ts U</p><p>nive</p><p>rsity</p><p>] at</p><p> 07:</p><p>31 0</p><p>7 N</p><p>ovem</p><p>ber </p><p>2014</p><p></p></li><li><p>illicit tradebetween Estonia andFinland and</p><p>other Scandinavian countries. Thanks to</p><p>Per-Ole Johansen we know that the chief of</p><p>police in Southern Varanger wrote in letter</p><p>dated 14 December 1919 to the regional</p><p>commissioner in Finnmark wittily: While</p><p>other fluids follow the force of gravity and</p><p>sink vertically, alcohol has a magical ability</p><p>to spread horizontally and find invisible</p><p>ways into societys inner corners.</p><p>The trade relations between the inhabi-</p><p>tants of the southern and northern coasts of</p><p>the Gulf of Finland go a long way back in</p><p>history. Illicit trade on the coast-line has</p><p>always been widespread, and no laws have</p><p>ever been able to stop it completely. Barter</p><p>and friendly trade have, of course, been</p><p>widespread since the Middle Ages. Accord-</p><p>ing to Kustaa Vilkuna, friendly trade</p><p>(sepralaitos) between Estonians and Finns</p><p>had already begun in the 13th century</p><p>(Vilkuna 1964a:140163; Vilkuna 1964b:</p><p>619).YakovGilinskiy stressed thataban on</p><p>selling alcohol is a criminogenic factor which</p><p>gives birth to smuggling and fosters</p><p>the spread of organized crime. In the 1920s</p><p>the trade of smuggled spirits overshadowed</p><p>all other commerce in the region. Sub-</p><p>sequently, it is difficult to determine what</p><p>amounts of spirits from Estoniaand later</p><p>also fromPoland,Germany, theNetherlands,</p><p>Hungary, Memel, Free City of Danzig</p><p>(Gdansk), and Czechoslovakiawere</p><p>smuggled into Finland and other Nordic</p><p>countries during Prohibition.</p><p>The Estonian community on the north-</p><p>ern coast of the Gulf of Finland took an</p><p>active part in spirits smuggling, e.g.</p><p>inhabitants of Kabbole village near</p><p>Loviisa. Nowadays examples of such</p><p>groups are the networks of drug trafficking</p><p>that rely on alien communities in Nordic</p><p>countries. On the one hand, the criminals</p><p>take advantage of the relative isolation of</p><p>an ethnic minority for hiding their criminal</p><p>activity, while, on the other hand, they</p><p>have knowledge of the local infrastructure</p><p>(Pullat 2009:111).</p><p>Smuggling of the Baltic pestilence</p><p>On 1 June 1919 the Finnish Parliament</p><p>passed the Prohibition Act forbidding the</p><p>production, transportation, sale, and sto-</p><p>rage of alcohol. In Sweden, alcohol con-</p><p>sumption had been limited by the so-called</p><p>Bratt system. In Norway, the Prohibition</p><p>Act, which had taken effect at the beginning</p><p>of the century, remained law until 1927.</p><p>In 1927 the Prohibition Act was abolished</p><p>under the economic pressure of the wine</p><p>countries (France, Spain, and Portugal).</p><p>In Denmark, Germany, and Poland, the</p><p>governmental policies regarding alcohol</p><p>regulated its consumption through heavy</p><p>taxation; these policies were obviously</p><p>made ineffective by, among other things,</p><p>the free ports in Hamburg, Danzig, and</p><p>Copenhagen. In short, that was the inter-</p><p>national political situation at the time of</p><p>the Finnish Prohibition.</p><p>Inhabitants on the coast-line reacted</p><p>quickly and decisively at the onset of</p><p>Prohibition. In the autumn of the 1921,</p><p>there was a revival in spirits smuggling.</p><p>This was an observation made by Finnish</p><p>customs (Harjunpaa; TA. Kertomus [Tale]</p><p>1929, s. 1. Finnish Customs Museum</p><p>Archives). Even before Prohibition there</p><p>had been active spirits smuggling, although</p><p>to a much smaller extent. Now Finns and</p><p>Estonians began to smuggle spirits pro-</p><p>duced in Estonian distilleries into Finland</p><p>in small boats along the coast-line.</p><p>One could ask if the Estonian spirits were</p><p>alone to be blamed for the Baltic pestilence.</p><p>PULLAT &amp; PULLAT: HISTORY OF SPIRITS SMUGGLING IN THE BALTIC SEA</p><p>Journal of Scandinavian Studies in Criminology and Crime Prevention 65</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Tuf</p><p>ts U</p><p>nive</p><p>rsity</p><p>] at</p><p> 07:</p><p>31 0</p><p>7 N</p><p>ovem</p><p>ber </p><p>2014</p></li><li><p>The facts refute this assertion. Estonian</p><p>spirits were in comparison to Central</p><p>European spiritsin particular German</p><p>and Polishconsiderably more expensive.</p><p>German liquor was delivered not only to the</p><p>United States and Norway, but also, in part,</p><p>to Sweden and Finland. During the Prohibi-</p><p>tion it reached Rum Row beyond the</p><p>maritime limit of the United States, from</p><p>where it was smuggled ashore by organized</p><p>criminal groups. German liquor firms in</p><p>Hamburg and Lubeck were famous in the</p><p>Scandinavian countries. This same German</p><p>liquor had been brought in large quantities</p><p>into Estonia as well. Moreover, it was well</p><p>known that the whisky, cognac, liqueurs,</p><p>champagnes, red and white wines, as well as</p><p>mulled clarets, which the Finnish intelligen-</p><p>tsia consumed in large quantities, did not</p><p>originate from Estonia. In particular, very</p><p>little of Estonian spirits reached the coast of</p><p>the Gulf of Bothnia. At the same time</p><p>German liquor was very widespread. In</p><p>Tallinn it was possible to order cognac and</p><p>other sorts of liquor from Germany by</p><p>telephone (KA, Ulkoasiainministerion</p><p>arkisto. [Archive of Foreign Ministry]</p><p>Tallinnan lahetyston poliittiset raportit</p><p>[Political Reports of Embassy in Tallinn],</p><p>r. 5C 12, k. 20, rap. 61, 5.02.1930. Finnish</p><p>National Archives).</p><p>The trade of liquor smuggling had caused</p><p>increasing dissatisfaction among certain</p><p>groups in Germany. In a letter from the</p><p>Hamburg Association of the German Order</p><p>of the Templars to the German Reich-</p><p>skanzler from 15 March 1923 it was</p><p>demanded that the smuggling of spirits</p><p>into Scandinavia be stopped (KA, Sosiaali-</p><p>ministerion raittiusosaston arkisto [Archive</p><p>of Temperance Department of Ministry of</p><p>Social Affairs]. Ha 1. Finnish National</p><p>Archives). It was clear from the context that</p><p>Polish spirits, which were exported from</p><p>Danzig, were also being referred to. In the</p><p>port of the Free City of Danzig there was a</p><p>large spirits factory, the Baltische Sprit-</p><p>werke AG. German spirits were also</p><p>shipped by a German syndicate, which</p><p>employed the female Russian emigrant</p><p>Wulfsohn as a middleman. The firm was</p><p>called Holm Export und Handelsge-</p><p>sellschaft mbH and was managed by Th.</p><p>Schultheiss and Anton Klemm. There was</p><p>nothing known about the owners of the</p><p>firm. Nonetheless, it was considered to be</p><p>the centre of spirits export in Danzig.</p><p>Besides German spirits the firm arranged</p><p>the sale of Czech, Dutch, and Hungarian</p><p>alcohol. The main office of the firm was in</p><p>the Lange Str. 19 (Paevaleht [Daily News-</p><p>paper] 13 December 1929).</p><p>It may be the case that the large group of</p><p>German smugglers operating until 1924 is</p><p>directly related to the inflation in Germany</p><p>at the time. The value of the German mark</p><p>dropped, and German goods seemed stun-</p><p>ningly inexpensive. This activated the</p><p>export of spirits. A Finnish archival</p><p>document states that most of the spirits</p><p>smuggled into Finland came from Germany</p><p>and that the Estonian share of the total illicit</p><p>trade was only 15% (KA, Ulkoasiainminis-</p><p>terion arkisto [Archive of Foreign Minis-</p><p>try]. Tallinnan lahetyston poliittiset raportit</p><p>[Political Reports of Embassy in Tallinn],</p><p>r. 5C 12, k. 13. rap. n:o 9, 2.01.1924:</p><p>Suomen ja Viron kauppasopimus [Finnish</p><p>and Estonian Trade Agreement]: Eraita</p><p>nakokohtia [Some Standpoints]. Finnish</p><p>National Archives). Another document</p><p>states precisely that Germany was the</p><p>country from where most of the spirits</p><p>smuggled into Finland originated. Per-Ole</p><p>Johansen confirms that German smugglers</p><p>shipped German inexpensive spirits from</p><p>PULLAT &amp; PULLAT: HISTORY OF SPIRITS SMUGGLING IN THE BALTIC SEA</p><p>Journal of Scandinavian Studies in Criminology and Crime Prevention66</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Tuf</p><p>ts U</p><p>nive</p><p>rsity</p><p>] at</p><p> 07:</p><p>31 0</p><p>7 N</p><p>ovem</p><p>ber </p><p>2014</p></li><li><p>Hamburg and other northern German</p><p>harbours also to meeting-points in inter-</p><p>national waters off the Norwegian coast</p><p>from where the Norwegians undertook the</p><p>task of bringing the cargo ashore (Johansen</p><p>2005:190191).</p><p>Political background of the spirits smuggling</p><p>It is important to remember that Finnish</p><p>foreign policy towards Germany was</p><p>cautious. In general, the smuggling of</p><p>spirits by Germans into Finland was not</p><p>discussed (Paasivirta 1968:84). The Fin-</p><p>nish government did not want to spoil their</p><p>good relations with Germany. For this</p><p>reason they sacrificed their Estonian neigh-</p><p>bour. This, of course, does not lessen the</p><p>negative influence of Estonian spirits on</p><p>Finnish society during Prohibition. How-</p><p>ever, Finnish decision-makers could have</p><p>been somewhat more objective and could</p><p>have refrained from making Estonia</p><p>responsible for the entire problem.</p><p>The real reason for this posture by the</p><p>Finnish government was that the heads of</p><p>the Finnish Farmers Union did not like the</p><p>import of the inexpensive Estonian agricul-</p><p>tural products. It was supposed to have</p><p>interfered with the agricultural develop-</p><p>ment in Finland. In light of the fact that the</p><p>population was forced to buy these inex-</p><p>pensive products, it was inappropriate</p><p>publicly to attack the import of Estonian</p><p>potatoes and meat. Special cellars for</p><p>export of potatoes were built on the</p><p>Estonian northern coast. While agricultural</p><p>imports were also a topic for discussion, the</p><p>smuggling of Estonian spirits became the</p><p>focal point instead. The Farmers Union did</p><p>not attack German spirits. It was as if Finns</p><p>had never been intoxicated by German</p><p>spirits, just by Estonian (EAA, f 2389, n 2,</p><p>s 387, l 1. Estonian Historical Archives). By</p><p>1923 Estonian newspapers had reported</p><p>quite intensively on the German ships</p><p>smuggling spirits in the gulfs of Finland</p><p>and Bothnia. For the most part, smaller</p><p>steamboats, weighing between 500 and 600</p><p>tons, were involved in smuggling (Paevaleht</p><p>[Daily Newspaper] 27 July 1923).</p><p>International factor...</p></li></ul>


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