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Between East and West

Between East and West: Finland in International Politics, 1944-1947

Tuomo Polvinen
D. G. Kirby
Peter Herring
Series: Nordic
Volume: 13
Copyright Date: 1986
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 376
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  • Book Info
    Between East and West
    Book Description:

    Between East and West was first published in 1986. In the summer of 1944 the forces of the German Third Reich were in retreat on both eastern and western fronts. The Soviet Union again invaded Finland, seeking to terminate the latter’s association with Germany. For Finland the handwriting was clear; led by Marshal Mannerheim, it extricated itself from the German grip and signed an armistice agreement in Moscow in September 1944. A new phase of war began, as Finland found itself forced to remove German troops from its soil. Thus began a critical period for Finland, which ended with the signing of the peace treaty in Paris in 1947. The development of the remarkable coexistence between Finland and the USSR began to take shape in 1944. When the last member of the Allied Control Commission left Helsinki in 1947, Finland, under its president Paasikivi, emerged from the tumult of the war years as one of the peacemakers’ few successes, and was on the road to a prosperous independence. Not occupied by an Allied power, its regime unchanged by war and its aftermath, and never a member of NATO or the Warsaw Pact, Finland has a recent history that is distinctly different from that of other European countries, and one that is difficult to analyze. Tuomo Polvinen has managed, however, to do just that by examining this period in terms of Soviet, British, and American roles, in addition to Finland’s own political and military moves. He has drawn from a wide range of archival material to give a clear exposition of Finnish history in a much larger framework.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-5534-2
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-viii)
    T. P
  4. Foreword
    (pp. ix-1)
    D. G. Kirby

    In the bitterly cold winter of 1939-40, the peoples of the Western nations looked on in sympathetic admiration as the Finnish Army fought, in atrocious conditions and against overwhelming odds, to preserve Finland’s independence against the assaults of the Red Army. The British and French governments saw the conflict as an opportunity, on the pretext of intervention on Finland’s behalf, to drive a wedge between the signatories of the Nazi-Soviet Pact and to deprive Germany of vital Swedish iron ore supplies. The plans for intervention were, however, to be overtaken by events. Finland was forced to conclude a peace treaty...

  5. [Maps]
    (pp. 2-4)
  6. Introduction: Finland in 1944
    (pp. 5-10)

    In common with the other states that emerged from the ruins of the eastern European empires in the aftermath of World War I, Finland was swept into the conflict that engulfed the continent some twenty years later. Unlike these states, however, its part in the war and ultimate fate were rather different. In the winter of 1939–40, Finland fought its own war with the Soviet Union. Bereft of allies, the Finns put up a stubborn resistance before being worn down by the superior forces of the Red Army. By the terms of the Peace of Moscow (12 March 1940),...


    • 1 Ceasefire (September 1944)
      (pp. 13-23)

      As Finland gradually began to edge toward the conclusion of a separate peace with the Soviet Union in the summer of 1944, the attitude of the Western powers toward the conflict remained unchanged. Both Britain and the United States saw the Soviet Union as primarily responsible for resolving the issue; for domestic reasons, however, Washington wanted the preservation of Finland’s independence as Stalin had promised at Teheran. The Western powers had no wish to become involved in the details of the peace terms, such as the frontier question and the matter of reparations—even though it was acknowledged that these...

    • 2 The Moscow Negotiations
      (pp. 24-36)

      On 5 September 1944, the British ambassador to Moscow, Sir Archibald Clark Kerr, was obliged to observe somewhat sourly to Foreign Minister V. M. Molotov that His Majesty’s Government had still not received any information of the terms of the armistice to be offered to Finland. Molotov admitted that this had now become a pressing matter. The Soviet government was at present engaged in preparing the articles of the armistice and had found this a suitable occasion to use the draft agreement with Rumania as a model.¹

      One day later, as the Finnish delegation was preparing itself for departure from...

    • 3 The War in Lapland
      (pp. 37-54)

      In September 1944, the German 20th Mountain Army in Lapland, under the command of Gen. Lothar Rendulic, comprised three corps—nine divisions in all. TheXIX Geb. Korps(commanded by Gen. Ferdinand Jodl) operated on the Arctic Ocean front around Kalastajasaarento and Litsajoki. TheXXXVI Geb. Korps(commanded by Gen. Emil Vogel) was stationed as it had been since 1941 on the so-called Verman line east of Salla, on both sides of the railway line leading to Kantalahti. TheXVIII Geb. Korps(commanded by Gen. Friedrich Hochbaum) was farther south, around Kiestinki and Uhtua. In addition, the Mountain Army was...


    • 4 The Early Days
      (pp. 57-77)

      After Prime Minister Hackzell suffered a stroke in Moscow on 14 September, it was obvious that a new government had to be formed. Protracted negotiations ensued, and the cabinet headed by the president of the Supreme Administrative Court, Urho Castrén, was able to take office on 21 September. The usual statement of aims was not issued by this government because it was taken for granted that its main task would be the carrying out of the armistice agreement, signed two days previously. The new government did not greatly differ in its composition from its predecessor. Carl Enckell continued as foreign...

    • 5 The Question of American Representation in Finland
      (pp. 78-82)

      Ambassador Averell Harriman’s reports from Moscow gave the State Department good cause to believe, by the autumn of 1944, that the Soviet Union was unlikely to welcome the arrival in Helsinki of political representatives of other U.N. countries, although the establishment of consulates might be permitted. In accordance with its general policy of regarding the preservation of good relations as paramount, Washington decided not to risk annoying the Soviet Union and dropped the question of representation for the time being.¹

      This policy soon began to encounter obstacles, mostly of a practical nature. The legation in Stockholm had difficulties in obtaining...


    • 6 From Yalta to Potsdam
      (pp. 85-101)

      At the Teheran conference in 1943, the question of the western borders of the Soviet Union was settled, in principle, in a manner acceptable to Stalin. The experiences of the world war had strengthened the unbending resolve of the Soviet leader to ensure that his country’s security needs were met. The borders of 1941 were to be regarded as the basis for territorial settlements, and Stalin seems to have thought that there would be no question of a revival of the political, military, and economiccordon sanitairearound Russia that had prevailed throughout the interwar period. The Atlantic Charter, with...

    • 7 The Finnish Parliamentary Elections of 1945
      (pp. 102-114)

      Maxwell Hamilton had been appointed as United States political representative in Finland by President Roosevelt on 11 November 1944; he was preceded to Helsinki by Randolph Higgs from the American legation in Stockholm, who arrived on 16 January 1945 to organize the setting up of the mission.¹ At a meeting with Higgs on 25 January, Paasikivi, the Finnish prime minister, emphasized the importance of the war guilt question as Finland’s major outstanding problem.² Pressure on the government on this issue had been steadily growing.

      The question of the possible implications of Article 13 of the armistice agreement, concerning the punishment...

    • 8 The Problem of Military Cooperation
      (pp. 115-126)

      Finland’s wartime army was demobilized, as set down under the terms of the armistice agreement, by 5 December 1944. The plan for the reduction of the navy, which was presented separately to the Control Commission on 4 November, envisaged a force comparable to that existing in 1939; a figure of 4,481 as the total strength of naval forces was accepted by the ACC on 26 November. The navy’s internal organization, however, was subjected to significant modifications by the Commission: in particular, coastal defense forces were limited to a total strength of one artillery regiment and two separate coastal batteries — 1,616...

    • 9 Toward Normality
      (pp. 127-140)

      The turnout at the polls in the parliamentary elections held on 17-18 March 1945 proved exceptionally high for the period (74.9 percent). The Finnish People’s Democratic Union (SKDL), capturing 49 seats, emerged as a major new party; the Social Democrat’s share of seats, previously 85, was reduced to 50, giving the nonsocialist parties a slender parliamentary majority with a total of 101 seats. There was a large number of first-time members, 92 in all, – the “new faces” Paasikivi had referred to in the days before the election – the majority naturally sitting for the People’s Democrats. The other parties also had...


    • 10 From Potsdam to Moscow
      (pp. 143-158)

      The Potsdam Conference held in the summer of 1945 had set up a negotiating body made up of the foreign ministers of the five Great Powers. This Council of Foreign Ministers was entrusted with drafting the peace treaties for Germany’s European “satellites,”—Italy, Rumania, Bulgaria, Hungary, and Finland. The Council’s first meeting was later fixed for 11 September at Lancaster House in London. The diplomatic rhetoric, which had been so much a part of the discussions at Potsdam, now had to be translated into workable political solutions.

      The American delegation, which sailed to Europe on theQueen Elizabeth,was led...

    • 11 A Delayed Peace
      (pp. 159-168)

      Throughout the world, the London conference of Allied foreign ministers in the autumn of 1945 aroused expectations of the rapid emergence of final peace treaties. The progress of the conference was, understandably, closely followed in Finland—both among the country’s political leadership and throughout society as a whole. It was hoped that the government might be able to alleviate the severity of the armistice terms insofar as they would be incorporated into the final treaty. A delegation of Karelian members of parliament, led by Juho Niukkanen, called on Prime Minister Paasikivi as early as 30 August to underline the importance...

    • 12 Domestic Tensions
      (pp. 169-188)

      Until the summer of 1945, the Soviet Union seemed content to allow Finnish authorities sole responsibility for removing from public office those who had been prominent in the country’s leadership during the war years and bringing them to trial. The Control Commission made no official comment on the parliamentary question put by the Social Democratic “Group of Six” on the issue and took no part in the debate that followed, preferring not to make use of the opportunity to assert its authority and wishes publicly. This attitude was typical of a general policy aimed at avoiding overcommitment of the Soviet...


    • 13 Hardening Attitudes
      (pp. 191-195)

      On his return to Washington from the conference of foreign ministers held in the Soviet capital in December 1945, Byrnes found himself faced with a public increasingly ill-disposed toward the country’s eastern ally. The view that Stalin was bent on a policy of unbridled Soviet expansion had gradually assumed greater currency in the United States throughout 1945, particularly in leading circles of the Republican party. Stalin, it was argued, could only be stopped by an American refusal to compromise and by recourse (if necessary) to the threat of force. For those who supported this line of argument, the American delegation...

    • 14 The Deputy Foreign Ministers in London
      (pp. 196-200)

      The conference of foreign ministers, meeting in Moscow in December 1945, had decided to hold a peace conference in Paris to consider the Italian, Rumanian, Bulgarian, Hungarian, and Finnish draft peace treaties the following spring, by 1 May 1946 at the latest. The task of ensuring that the drafts were completed and ready by the time the conference met fell to the Council of Foreign Ministers.

      The deputy foreign ministers of the four major powers met at Lancaster House in London on 18 January 1946 to begin work on the problem. James Dunn, Gladwyn Jebb, F. T. Gusev (standing in...

    • 15 The Foreign Ministers in Paris
      (pp. 201-208)

      With only a few days to go before the May 1 deadline agreed upon in Moscow was due to expire, the foreign ministers of the four major Allies met in Paris on 25 April to add their efforts to those of their deputies in completing the preparation of the five treaties. It was already clear, however, that any hopes of calling the planned peace conference by 1 May would have to be abandoned. The choice of Paris as the setting for the meeting was dictated by a general wish to allow France its turn to act as host country and...

    • 16 Finland Expectant
      (pp. 209-224)

      The communiqué issued at the conclusion of the conference of Allied foreign ministers in Moscow in December 1945,¹ confirming that the work of drafting the peace treaties for the defeated countries had recommenced in earnest, had brought some relief in Helsinki. The question of whether the Finnish authorities would be consulted as part of this process now became a major government concern. Wuori’s initial inquiries on the matter in London immediately after the communiqué’s publication yielded nothing definite and were met with a Foreign Office assertion that no decision on consultation had yet been taken.²

      The exchange of notes that...


    • 17 Talks Get Under Way
      (pp. 227-233)

      The long-awaited twenty-one-nation peace conference was finally convened in Paris at the end of July 1946. Its task was to scrutinize the draft treaties drawn up for Italy, Rumania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Finland by the Allied Council of Foreign Ministers. Soldiers of theGarde Républicaine,resplendent in their red and white dress uniforms, lined the way when the fifteen hundred delegates (but not including those of the defeated countries) arrived at the official opening at the Palais du Luxembourg on 29 July. French Foreign Minister Georges Bidault formally welcomed everybody to the French capital “for the second time in less...

    • 18 The Finnish “Peace Crisis”
      (pp. 234-243)

      The second phase of the Paris peace conference began on 10 August 1946. One after another, the defeated countries presented their points of view to the assembled delegates. This done, the “ex-satellite” delegations were ushered out of the conference chamber. They were allowed no opportunity to listen to any discussion that their statements might spark off.

      The first to speak was Alcide de Gasperi, the Italian foreign minister and prime minister. He pointedly referred to the harshness of the draft treaty for Italy and to its incompatibility with earlier Allied declarations of principle. De Gasperi was critical both of territorial...

    • 19 The Commissions and the Final Decision
      (pp. 244-254)

      With the general discussions concluded, the Paris peace conference split up into five political and territorial commissions (one for each of the defeated countries), a joint military and a joint juridical commission, and two economic commissions, one to deal with Italy and the other with the economic aspects of the draft treaties for the Balkan countries and Finland.

      The political and territorial commission for Finland assembled for its first meeting on 16 August 1946. Its task was to go over the preamble, articles 1 through 12, and articles 32 through 34 of the draft peace treaty. Twelve countries were represented...


    • 20 Preparation and Signing
      (pp. 257-262)

      The recommendations of the Paris conference were to be taken up by the Council of Foreign Ministers, meeting in New York in November 1946. The Palais du Luxembourg, with its ceremonially dressedGarde Républicaine,was now to be replaced by a suite of rooms on the thirty-seventh floor of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, with 150 ordinary military policemen to look after the safety of the participants.

      Well aware of the time and trouble already spent on preparing the “satellite treaties,” all the Great Powers were anxious to conclude their work: further interruption was commonly regarded as being in no one’s...

    • 21 Ratification
      (pp. 263-274)

      On 12 March 1947, President Truman addressed a joint session of Congress at which he proposed a grant of $300 million aid for Greece and $100 million for Turkey. In February, the British government, struggling with its own economic problems, had announced that it was abandoning economic and military assistance to the governments of these countries. Although the eastern Mediterranean had traditionally been regarded as within the British sphere of interest, the resources of the British Empire, weakened by war, were no longer sufficient to bear this burden alone. It was time for the Americans to step into the breach....

  14. Conclusion: Finland and the Great Powers, 1944–1947
    (pp. 277-286)

    On the international level, the year 1944 was something of a transitional period, in spite of the world war that was still raging. The fate of the Axis powers, politically and militarily on the verge of collapse, seemed to be sealed: it was now more a matter of how long they could last before they finally crumbled. The course of events on the battlefield, in fact, imposed an indelible mark upon the overall pattern of developments in 1944. The joint front of the Western Allies and the Soviet Union had been given firmer contours at the Teheran conference at the...

  15. Appendixes

    • Appendix 1 Armistice Agreement
      (pp. 289-298)
    • Appendix 2 The Paris Peace Treaty, 10 February 1947
      (pp. 299-310)
  16. Notes
    (pp. 313-342)
  17. Bibliography
    (pp. 345-350)
  18. Index
    (pp. 353-363)
  19. Back Matter
    (pp. 364-364)