Axel Olof Freudenthal

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Axel Olof Freudenthal

Axel Olof Freudenthal (12 December 1836 – 2 June 1911), was a Swedish-speaking Finnish philologist and politician. Infamous for his racist beliefs, he claimed racial supremacy of Swedes over Finns in a way that parallels theories of Aryan supremacy.[1]

He was born in Siuntio, and studied at the University of Helsinki where the nationalistic movement struggle between the Fennomans and the Svecomans was raging. He initiated the Swedish nationality movement in Finland and advocated complete separatism of Finland's Swedish-speaking population from influences of Finland's national awakening, the blossoming of the Finnish language, and the finnization movement.

Freudenthal was appointed a docent in 1866 in Old Norse language and wrote his doctoral thesis on the dialect of Närpes in 1878. He was a Professor of Swedish language and literature between 1878-1904. He died in Helsinki. His life's work was documented by Arvid Mörne in the book Axel Olof Freudenthal och den finlandssvenska nationalitetstanken (1927).

The Swedish People's Party in Finland considers Freudenthal to be their spiritual father, and it issues an award named after him, the Axel Olof Freudenthal Medal. Many Silver and Bronze medals have been given to individuals since 1937, but only one Gold medal has been issued - to Elisabeth Rehn in 1994.[1]. However, the party has not issued the medal since 2007 due to external criticism of Freudenthal's racial views.[2][3][4] To date, no Freudenthal Medal recipient has renounced the award.


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