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December 04, 2004

Comments

captainblak

The Russian Empire had its largest territorial expanse right before WWI. After that disaster and the Bolshevik ascendancy, the job of the Soviet Union became a quest to regain the territories lost - to Rumania, Poland, Baltic Republics and Finland. This job did not end at the end of WW2, it continued right upto the breakup in 1991.
Finland could always be reincorporated into the Soviet Union but after the 3 wars (Finnish Civil War, Winter War and Continuation War) the Russians learnt that they would have to do this at VERY HIGH cost.

So the arrangement with the Soviets after WW2 served to give a modicum of independence to the Finns while making sure the Gulf of Finland was friendly waters. Finnish conduct during WW2 probably served to re-assure the Russians that all that the Finns really wanted was independence as they refused to help the Nazis beyond the pre-war borders.

Ken Hirsch

There was a disparaging term for this during the cold war: Finlandization.

curious

"I see very little here to set Finland apart from East Germany or Poland. There too the leadership could reject some of the most outrageous proposals from Moscow, but that didn't mean they were in any sense independent."

The major difference,of course, was that nobody was imprisoned or tortured for their opinions, and while self-censorhip was common practise and being "anti-Soviet" could be as serious impediment to your career such opinions could nonetheless be freely expressed and vocal opponents of communism were even elected to the Finnish parliament. I suppose you must be aware of this but unfortunately many foreigners are not.

Pekka Nykänen

You have face to use the term "The Soviet Republic of Finland". Finland was never occupied by soviet army. Stalin tried in two times. In winter war 39-40 and again summer 1944. Even Britain had declared war against Finland as an ally of the dictator Stalin and Stalin got even weapons from England and US. To the honour of president Roosevelt The United States never declared war against Finland even if Stalin asked.
Contrary to Finland Germany has been occupied by Soviet Union, US, Britain and France after the second world war.
Finland has had his own army and no foreign army on her area since the year 1956.
These are facts. In your article you seriously underestimate the independence of Finland the sacrifice which ten thousends of young finnish men made for their country and western democracy.

Abiola Lapite

"You have face to use the term "The Soviet Republic of Finland". Finland was never occupied by soviet army."

Seeing as English isn't your first language, it's understandable if you misread my use of hyperbole; I'm thoroughly conversant with both of the Finno-Soviet wars, and am a great admirer of both Marshal Mannerheim and the Finnish fighters who held out over long odds.

That said, it still is true that post-war Finland was to all respects little more than a Soviet satellite where foreign policy was concerned, and that various Finnish governments gave the final word to Moscow both on foreign and domestic affairs in a manner that few Westerners would find difficult to believe. Neither Adenauer nor his successors had to go seek permission from the US ambassador before deciding who to appoint to run political parties!

The only thing I can liken the Soviet veto over Finnish politics to is the strong grip the US had over South Korea after the Korean war armistice, and even that American control over Korean politics faded well before the collapse of the Soviet Union; Park Chung Hee, Chun Doo Hwan and Roh Tae Woo leaned heavily on the USA for defence against the DPRK, but they apparently enjoyed a lot more freedom to employ their power as they pleased at home and abroad than did a supposedly "independent" Finland, which I think is quite revealing.

Alon Levy

Be careful here, because this can falsify the arguments made by many anti-communists about the Cold War and freedom. There are many examples of Western bloc dictatorships, such as South Korea till 1987 and most (in)famously Chile under Pinochet, and now there's a democratic borderline Soviet satellite. It creates big holes in the argument from democracy for Cold War aggressiveness, as opposed to, say, mass Finlandization of disputed countries. As for German independence from the USA, I am interested in seeing how it compares to British independence, given the close links between Britain and the USA.

Pekka Nykänen

Dear Abiola Lapite.
Thank You for the kind words about Marshal Mannerheim ja his troops. My uncle August Autto was killed one week after the beginning of winter war in 1939 when finnish troops occupied back the village of Suomussalmi in northern Finland. My two other uncles Aarne and Kalle Autto were killed in summer 1944 in Karelian isthmus when Stalin concetrated his elite forces against Finland to be sure about occupation but he did not succeed.
You have to understand that after WW2 Finland had to negotiate with a superpower which has power enough to challenge even USA. You remember that Hungary was occupied by soviet troops in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968. And Cuban crisis in 1962 when WW3 quite near. In those labile conditions Finland in the leadership of president Kekkonen managed to maintain Soviet army outside the borders with clever diplomacy and even develope our economy so that Finland in recent years has been in economic competitivity on first place ahead of other western countries.
One has not to be so naive that everything what is written on a paper is the truth. Think the facts and the final results.

Abiola Lapite

"You have to understand that after WW2 Finland had to negotiate with a superpower which has power enough to challenge even USA."

I understand that very well, and my intention wasn't to pass judgement on Finns for the course you took; as I said in the post, it worked out for the best in the end, so it evidently was the correct road to follow. My intention was more to highlight the true nature of a Soviet regime which still has quite a few apologists today, and to point out the continuities in thinking between the old Soviet government and today's Russian regime.

Pekka Nykänen

"My intention was more to highlight the true nature of a Soviet regime which still has quite a few apologists today". You are right. Soviet Union tried in 1970's to bind Finland in a military manner more tightly. As you said they suggested mutual military exercise but Finland did not accept the proposal. I ask: Can a puppet state refuse such a proposal.

radek

Well, aside from the greater extent of civil liberties
in Finland vis-a-vis the Western Pact nations, as
mentioned above, a big difference between these was
that Finland got a helluva better economic system.
This is something definetly not to be discounted.

The kind of status that Finland enjoyed was essentially
the goal of many dissidents in Poland of the 70's and
80's. Alas, as it turned out "Finlandization" was at
the time an impossible dream.

Randy McDonald

More to the point, Finlandization was achieved only after Finland fought two hard-fought wars with the Soviet Union and was given autonomy by a Soviet Union that didn't want to bother. To be Finlandized, would Poland have held off the Soviets militarily?

Pekka Nykänen

This is Finland's independence day 6. december. Finland declared himself to independent state 6. december 1917.
Soviet Union's dictator Lenin accepted the independence and after WW2 our president Kekkonen emphasized to the new leaders of Soviet Union very often that Lenin had given the independence to Finland even if Lenin was forced to it in the end of WW1.
After all I think that Finland's independence is a miracle which can be compared with ancient Greek stories and texts of Bible.
Abiola, I hope that You this day will light a candle at Your window to the honour of our democracy. Good luck.

captainblak

Finland's autonomy worked the same as it always did before WW2. Let's not forget that the Grand Duchy of Finland when it was transferred from Sweden to Russia, became autonomous to a very high degree, including the fact that Finnish taxes stayed in Finland. Russification at the end of the 19th century wasn't pursued heavily.
I think it comes down to the fact that after 1809, Sweden ceased to be the arch-rival of Russia. This meant that the defence problem of Russia shifted from the northwest to the west. The Russians kept the nations of Eastern Europe as a buffer during the Cold War but Russophobia seems to blind people into not seeing things from their point of view. One of the reasons Barbarossa was so successful is because terrain-wise the Soviet Western border had no natural defenses. Let's not forget that Churchill wanted the US and Great Britain to roll eastwards right after beating Germany.

Pekka Nykänen

You are right. During Alexander II (1855-1881) finnish became an official language and Grand Duchy of Finland got her own money "markka". Grand duchy got rights which were impossible to get under king of Sweden. As a sign of goodwill, Alexander I (1809-1825) allowed swedish law to continue in Finland. It is pity that Alexender II became assassinated and after him begun russification in Finland. Perhaps russification was the main reason why Finland wanted and got her independence.
Hitler and Stalin made their famous packt in 23.8.39 after which Stalin had free hands to Finland's capitulation. When Stalin in winter war lost hundred thousands of soldiers thought Hitler perhaps that occupation of Soviet Union is an easy case.

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