Finland and World War II, 1939-1944

Finland and World War II, 1939-1944

Finland and World War II, 1939-1944

Finland and World War II, 1939-1944

Excerpt

The 110 years that Finland existed as an autonomous part of Imperial Russia were, with the exception of the final period of that union, a time of friendly relations between the small nation and the great Power. The Russian government honored Finland's special position and her laws, and Finland was able to continue her development along the path of western European civilization so freely that the traces of Russian influence in Finland remained infinitesimally small. The period of Nicholas II (1894-1917), however, brought a change which altered the Finns' attitude toward Russia and the Russians. When the Russian government started its Russifying policy in Finland in 1899, breaking the Finnish constitution and violating the Tsar's solemn declaration to honor the law of the land, the Russians came to be looked upon as enemies of Finland.

In the constitutional struggle which ensued, the Finns looked for help outside their borders. Some sought and found generous help in Western Europe; others established contacts with Russian revolutionary circles which have continued to the present day. The ties with the West were the stronger. The moral support from the West gave the nation courage in its fight against Russia and at the same time retarded the tempo of Russian oppressive measures. In connection with the latter, it is worth mentioning that when the Russian government, just prior to the first World War, was considering the incorporation of the Karelian Isthmus border parishes of Uusikirkko, Kuolemanjärvi and Kivennapa into Imperial Russia, the plan fell through primarily because of the unfavorable publicity the idea aroused in Western Europe. Later, Finland's war of independence in 1918 was fought on the one hand against the rebellious Finnish Left, born under Russia's influence, and against Russian garrisons who had remained in the country in spite of the fact that the newly created Soviet government had already recognized the independence of Finland. Finland thus had to purchase her independence with a . . .

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