Eugen Schauman

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Eugen Waldemar Schauman
Евгений Владимирович Шауман
Eugen schauman.jpg
BornMay 10 [O.S. 22] 1875
Died16 June [O.S. 4] 1904 (aged 29)
Resting placeNäsinmäki Graveyard, Porvoo
NationalityRussian Empire Finland (Russian Empire)
OccupationCivil servant
Known forThe assassination of the Governor-General of Finland, Nikolay Bobrikov
RelativesWaldemar Schauman, father
Sigrid Schauman, sister

Eugen Waldemar Schauman (Russian: Евгений Владимирович Шауман, Evgeny Vladimirovich Shauman; May 10 [O.S. 22] 1875 – 16 June [O.S. 4] 1904) was a Swedish speaking Finnish nationalist and nobleman who assassinated the Governor-General Nikolai Ivanovich Bobrikov.

Schauman's life[edit]

Young Schauman in 1885–1890
Schauman with his hunting dog Lucas, who was a gift from the family of agrarian official Georg Borgström. This photograph is one of the last ones taken of Eugen Schauman.[1]

Eugen Schauman was born to Swedish-speaking Finnish parents Fredrik Waldemar Schauman, a general-lieutenant in the Imperial Russian army, a Privy Councillor and senator in the Finnish Government, and Elin Maria Schauman in Kharkov, Russian Empire (now Kharkiv, Ukraine). His brother Rafael was born in 1873 and his sister Sigrid in 1877.[2]

Schauman's patriotism is rumoured to have been awakened in his childhood when his mother used to read him The Tales of Ensign Stål by Johan Ludvig Runeberg. The tales were combined with his yearning for home since the family was forced to travel because of his father's work.[2] Runeberg's tales became Schauman's most important connection to his distant homeland, which he longed after. Schauman received many letters about the Russification and oppression going on in Finland.

At the age of 8, he sent a letter to Finland from Radom, Poland, which read "Var god och emottag denna lilla bidrag (en rubel) till minnesstoden vid Juutas, Eugen Schauman, Radom 24 Maj 1883" ("Please accept this small contribution (one rouble) to the memorial of Jutas, Eugen Schauman, Radom 24 May 1883"). Schauman had heard that there was a collection going on in Nykarleby to erect a memorial to the victory over the Russians in the Battle of Jutas in the Finnish War. Inspired by Runeberg's tales, Schauman wanted to contribute to the plan.[3]

Schauman's mother died in autumn 1884[4] when Schauman was 9 years old, so he had to attend secondary school in Helsinki when the rest of the family stayed behind in Poland. The memory of his mother stayed important for Schauman for his whole life. Schauman had poor hearing and this had an effect on his studies.[3] He matriculated at the Nya svenska läroverket in 1895, graduated from the University of Helsinki with an upper degree in government studies in 1899, and got a job as a clerk in the Senate of Finland. From 1901 he worked as an assistant official at the school governing board, at a temporary job at first and at a permanent job from 1903.[5][3][1]

In addition to his job at the Senate, before the assassination Schauman also arranged a series of marksmanship courses for local students in Helsinki. These courses later became a part of the White Guards.

Political activism[edit]

Language manifesto[edit]

Nylands Nation gathering names for the Great Petition in 1899 (Schauman fourth from the right)

Schauman had to observe and experience the Russification of Finland, which the people thought was illegal. Schauman's father Waldemar Schauman left his job as a senator in summer 1900 as a protest against the language manifesto, which made the Russian language a compulsory subject in Finnish schools. This awoke the young Eugen Schauman's hatred towards the Russians and their acts of oppression. At first Schauman acted against the oppression like other students: joining protests at the Runeberg statue, spreading leaflets calling for will to battle and hatred towards the Russians, and gathering names for the Great Petition in Uusimaa.[6]

Shooting practice[edit]

Gradually Schauman, like other students and activists, started to move from passive resistance to active resistance. He organised shipments of weapons from abroad by shipping American rifles to Finland with the help of the Finnish Hunting Association, which were then dealt among students. In addition to this, he organised shooting clubs around the Helsinki area, which taught marksmanship to students and other youths. Soon Schauman, among with other activists, started planning an armed revolution. After Bobrikov's assassination, a home search conducted at Lieutenant General Waldemar Schauman's house found a plan to found general shooting clubs. As well as his father's dismissal from his job, Schauman was angered by the dismissal of his uncle, Colonel Theodor Schauman from the command of the Finnish Dragoon Regiment in December 1901. Bobrikov had not been satisfied with this unit from Lappeenranta after having made a failed visit to it.[6]

Draft riot[edit]

Schauman became personally involved with the Russian authorities along with the riots in Helsinki connected to the draft strikes on 18 April 1902. Thousands of Finns participated in demonstrations at the Senate Square angered by the draft conducted at the Russian Guard Barracks, and the Governor of the Uusimaa Province Mikhail Kaigorodov sent the cossacks to dispel the demonstration. Schauman was returning from work to his home on Koulukatu, but went to see what was happening on the Senate Square. A group of a few cossacks came to meet him on Hallituskatu, pushed him against a wall and started to whip him on the head. One cossack already went for his sabre, when Schauman took his knife and hit him on the chest. The blade of the knife twisted when it hit a metal part of the cossack's uniform. The cossack was thrown off his horse and Schauman escaped to the stairway of the chemistry laboratory of the university. According to a witness he was shivering with anger.[7]: 189–191 


As the Russian oppression tightened, Eugen Schauman together with the underground passive resistance organisation Kagal saw in 1903 that it was time to move to stronger acts of battle. After the cossack riots, Bobrikov had become convinced that Finland was undergoing a kramola, meaning a secret rebellion. Because of this, he got dictatorial powers, when the Tsar gave him the so-called dictatorial decision in 1902. Passive resistance was no longer effective. For example, in 1902 over half of the age class had skipped the draft to the Russian army, which had been made mandatory for Finns. In 1903 the draft strike was no longer as effective, and only 22 percent skipped the draft. "Emergency measures", meaning assassination, was accepted as a new way to act against the strengthening Russification. Many leading Kagal members had already been exiled at this point. At first, the plan was to strike against Finnish politicians agreeing with the Russification, but soon the activists, the Kagal and Schauman it was best to strike against the Governor-General Nikolai Bobrikov, who was seen as the leader and main activist of the oppression politics.[6]


A drawing of the assassination (artist unknown)

The assassination of Bobrikov was a topical question among the Finnish activists of the time. Other activist groups are known to have planned an assassination but Schauman convinced them to give him two weeks before they would intervene.[2]

When Bobrikov came to the Senate house on 16 June, Schauman shot him three times, and then himself twice in the chest, using a FN Browning M1900 pistol.[8] Schauman died instantly. Two of the bullets that hit Bobrikov ricocheted off his decoration, but the third bounced back from his buckle and caused severe damage to his stomach. Bobrikov did not die immediately but was taken to the Helsinki Surgical Hospital. Surgeon Richard Faltin [fi] attempted to save his life, but Bobrikov died the following day at 1:10 a.m.[9][2][10]


The grave of Eugen Schauman in the Porvoo cemetery
The Memorial of Eugen Schauman in the Malmi cemetery

Schauman left a letter in which he stated that he justified his actions as a punishment for Bobrikov's crimes against the people of Finland. He addressed the letter to the Tsar and wanted him to pay attention to the problems in the whole of the Russian empire, especially in Poland and the Baltic Sea region. He also claimed he had acted alone and emphasized that his family was not involved in the assassination.[11]

Schauman's body was taken to an unmarked grave in the Malmi cemetery in Helsinki. After the political situation eased up he was reburied in the Schauman family grave in the Porvoo cemetery [fi] and a monument was built on the grave.

Schauman's legacy[edit]

Schauman became something of an icon for the resistance to Imperial Russia and many Finns still consider him a hero. His fame can be characterized by his ranking as the 34th greatest Finn of all time in the 2004 Suuret suomalaiset (Greatest Finns) television poll. In the place of the assassination in the hallway of the Council of State there is a memorial plaque that states Se Pro Patria Dedit ("Given Himself for His Country"). Jean Sibelius composed the funeral march In Memoriam in memory of him.[12]

However, the importance of Schauman in history divides opinions.[13] In the summer of 2004, a hundred years after Bobrikov's murder, Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen condemned the act, calling Schauman a terrorist.[14] According to him, events like the assassination of Bobrikov are not appropriate to celebrate in the era of the war on terror.[15] A discussion arose from the statement, in which Unto Vesa, amanuensis of the Peace and Conflict Research Institute, agreed with Matti Vanhanen.[16]


  1. ^ a b Seppo Zetterberg: Kuka oli Eugen Schauman?, pp. 96–97, in Osmo Apunen: Itsenäisen Suomen historia 1: Rajamaasta tasavallaksi. Weilin+Göös 1991.
  2. ^ a b c d Niinistö, Jussi (11 October 2000). "Schauman, Eugen (1875 - 1904)". Kansallisbiografia. Retrieved 29 June 2020.
  3. ^ a b c Jussi Niinistö: Suomalaisia vapaustaistelijoita, pp. 13–18. Nimox Ky, Helsinki 2003.
  4. ^ Schauman, Fredrik Waldemar, Suomalaiset kenraalit ja amiraalit Venäjän sotavoimissa 1809–1917. Biography centre, Finnish Literature Society.
  5. ^ Eugen Schauman. Ylioppilasmatrikkeli 1853–1899. Online publication of the University of Helsinki.
  6. ^ a b c Risto Niku: Ministeri Ritavuoren murha, pp. 30–42. Edita, Helsinki 2004.
  7. ^ Seppo Zetterberg: Viisi laukausta senaatissa: Eugen Schaumanin elämä ja teko. Otava, Helsinki 1986. ISBN 951-1-09266-9
  8. ^ Gunwriters' Handloading Subsonic Cartridges, Part 2, P.T. Kekkonen, 1999. Accessed on 12 May 2011.
  9. ^ Järvenpää, Eeva (17 March 2007). "Lahjakas kirurgi yritti pelastaa Bobrikovin". Helsingin Sanomat. Retrieved 29 June 2020.
  10. ^ "KORJAUS: Uutinen Suomen kenraalikuvernöörin ampumisesta levisi nopeasti aina Honolulua myöten". Keskisuomalainen. 19 October 2019. Retrieved 29 June 2020.
  11. ^ "Schaumanin kirje". Helsinki. Retrieved 29 June 2020.
  12. ^ "Other orchestral works / In Memoriam". Jean Sibelius. Finnish Club of Helsinki. Retrieved 2017-12-07.
  13. ^ Toivonen, Hannu (September 20, 2015). "Eugen Schauman: Sankari vai terroristi? Mikä Olli Immosen idoli oli miehiään?". Seura (in Finnish). Retrieved March 2, 2021.
  14. ^ "Oliko Eugen Schauman terroristi?" [Was Eugen Schauman a terrorist?]. Helsingin Sanomat (in Finnish). June 16, 2004. Retrieved March 2, 2021.
  15. ^ "Bobrikovin murha kuohutti Suomea sata vuotta sitten" [Bobrikov's murder shook Finland a hundred years ago.]. Helsingin Sanomat (in Finnish). June 15, 2004.
  16. ^ Ruotuväki 8/2006, Joonas Nordman: "Pahat pojat ja tytöt". (in Finnish)

External links[edit]