Finland’s own tradition with anarchy and communism is varied and fascinating. Before the revolution, V I Lenin was housed in Finland over two years in various locations, before showing up in Russia AFTER the revolution was won by others.
With his hands full at the time, Lenin acquiesced & gave Finland (Dec. 6 1917) & the Baltic States (1918) their long desired Independence. He did send the Red Finns some 15,000 rifles, 2 million cartridges, 30 machine guns, 10 cannons, 6 wagon loads of cannon shot plus two reinforced Panzer vehicles. Some Soviet Russian Troops also assisted the Reds. Independence would be short lived as it had been for the Ukraine, for example. Finnish Independence failed to unite or pacify the nation: None of the parties would make compromises.
The Communist Reds, led by Otto Wille Kuusinen (originally SDP member), took military control of the entire southern half of Finland including all the five largest cities: Helsinki, Viipuri, Turku, Lahti & Tampere. The Government & Parliament escaped to Vaasa. White General C. G. Mannerheim was ordered by the President to form an army & take control of the young nation. This led to a bloody civil war that lasted for 4 months and left deep wounds in the nation’s memories still felt today. German trained Finnish White officers also had the support of Germany transporting these new soldiers & 13,000 German troops to Tornio, NW Finland. The war was particularly bloody with 37,000 dead, most at the hands of the Whites in their concentration camps. Of the already stationed Russian troops numbering 80,000, most were war-weary and returned to Russia in March 1918.
Kuusinen fled underground and went to Moscow, and the Red Finns founded the SKP in 1918: the Finnish Communist Party. Kuusinen rose in the ranks to become STALIN’s Ideological Secretary.
He had survived the 1937-8 purges and his wife was arrested; he survived the Purge Terror all the way to Brezhnev’s early Politburo 1962. Estonian Communist Theatre head, Aarne Vahtra, told me that Kuusinen was called a ”slippery snake”, because he had survived so long. Tuominen’s various books cover this subject well, as did one of Kuusinen’s daughters.
Kuusinen watched in contentment or fear, as other leading Finnish Communists were purged starting in 1935. So many good people perished, also many Red leaders: Gylling, Karhu, etc.
Kuusinen and the Terijoki government
Stalin requested through Kollontai of Stockholm that SKP Head Arvo Tuominen would be the puppet head of Soviet Finland. He refused; Kuusinen was then called to become the Puppet Head of State of the Terijoki Government; that group had never met in one room. This was set up hurriedly by Stalin & Molotov, the day after the attack of the Winter War November 30, 1939. He had advised Stalin that takeover of the stubborn Finns was imminent since Finland was ready for communism and the invasion would be over in a week-ten days.
Gen. Col. A Zdanov had already set up the occupation of Estonia & her mass deportations 1941, and all the Russians felt awkward about the successes of the Finns since Stalin had purged 40% of the Soviet officer corps. Instead of a week, the War lasted 105 1/2 days with 400,000 Russian casualties. Khrushchev thought the figure to be one million dead. Finnish casualties were 24,923.
Finland had to cede Karelia, causing an exodus of 419,000 Karelians; allow Soviet Troop to occupy the Hanko Peninsula as a Naval Base; and start to pay war reparations.
The underground secretary of Finland’s Communist Party, “Poika” Arvo TUOMINEN was disgusted by Stalin’s actions and broke off ties with Moscow. Remaining Finnish communists did NOT sabotage any part of their home country and served to defend Finland against Russia’s raping Red Army. Recent documents reveal how broad based and terrifying the activities of Russia’s saboteurs were behind Finnish lines. France and England had sent voluntary forces to help Finland, but they arrived too late: AND the fact that we ran out of bullets.
The Continuation War involved a military alliance with Nazi Germany, seen as the only way to reclaim the 13% of territory we lost seized by Russia, known as KARJALA.
We lost the war primarily because the West supported Stalin’s Rape of Europe. Without munitions support, Stalin would never have had a controlling hand of Eastern Europe. We again lost Karelia with 419,000 evacuees; Salla midway up Finland’s waist and Petsamo, with its nickel mines and access to the Arctic ocean.
After that war Finland was forced into the Lapland War, as a part of the cease-fire, to drive German troops into Norway. Germans responded by a tactic of Scorched Earth policy throughout Lapland.
The Communist party was re-established again in 1944 after a 15 year absence. Many returning communists had been trained in various areas of sabotage and infiltration through Stalin’s aggressive expansionist policies.
The VALVONTAKOMISSIO, Occupation Commission, was set up by Stalin, was mainly Russian, with a few French & English members. They were led by Gen. Col. Zdanov (architect of Estonia’s Occupation) and Gen Savonenkov, his right hand man. With this group, and the 15,000 Russian troops stationed this time in Porkkala, just NW, outside Helsinki; and Molotov’s visits in Helsinki, Stalin was able to influence Finland’s domestic and foreign policies. We were told not to accept any part of the Marshall Plan.
We were forced to install Communists into government and have more access for communist reps to be heard all over the country.
Most Nationalistic organizations were banned: Lotta Svard (Female Auxiliary), Aseveli-Liitto (War Vets), AKS (Academic Karelian Society); and some right wing organization aligned with fascists IKL (Isamaan Kansan Liike: Nationalist People’s Movement), Lalli Liitto, etc.
Over 1100 books were confiscated & burned. Magazines & newspapers were shut down. Even the Boy Scouts and Girl Guides were scrutinized.
Trade Unions flourished everywhere and agitators were promoted. (My father hated Helsinki politics at this time: He left working on a ship looking to other shores) Dissenters were arrested. Interrogations and forced confessions were taken.
In 1948, Communist Hertta Kuusinen’s famous speech stated: “Czechoslovakia’s road is our road” (to communism.) She later denied this but many eye witnesses have come forward.
Communists were filling Cabinet posts: Reinhold SVENTO held the Foreign Min; Mauno PEKKALA held the defense Min; Johan HELO & Eino PEKKALA, education; Yrjo MURTO, transportation; Matti JANHUNEN, Social Min; all under Juho PAASIKIVI (PM), had been a VANHA SUOMALAINEN party member during the Russian GRAND DUCHY, before the revolution. Mannerheim served as President, in declining health, lived much of his last years in Switzerland. Both Mannerheim and Paasikivi spoke Russian. Most Finnish politicians thought this useful.
State supported terror
Interrogations and state supported terror began. Aggressive attempts to disarm the returning military and store every weapon under the Main Cathedral led to suspicions in the military and police.
Asekatkentajuttu (arms hoarding) showed that Finns believed that Soviet Russia was hell bent on occupying Finland and evacuating large masses into Siberia like their related Ingrians, Karelians, Estonians and other Finnish peoples. Actual plans have turned up in recently opened KGB & Politburo archives showing the exact measure taken against the massed, especially the intelligencia.
Weapons and supplies for up to 35,000 soldiers, were buried in people’s homes, farms, in forests and any place imaginable involving 5000 people. Communist spies searched for any info leading to the arrest of nationalistic Finns and wanted those weapons for themselves. Trials ensued: charged were Lt GENs A. F. AIRO & MAKINEN, COLs NIHTILA & TAHTINEN, Lt COLs HAAHTI & PIETARINEN, MAJs AIRAS & ARIMO & VIRKKUNEN. Lt GEN AIRO (head of operations directly under Mannerheim) sat in jail 32 months: Later found NOT GUILTY!
The War Crime Trials ensued, followed by the imprisonment of President Risto RYTI (PM: 8 yrs); Vaino TANNER (For Min:); Henrik RAMSAY (For Min); Jukka RANGELL ( PM); Tyko REINIKKA (Fin Min); Antti KUKKONEN (Ed Min); Edvin LINKOMIES (PM); Toivo Mikael KIVIMAKI (Fin Amb. to Germany: freed). This group of Patriots were called Sijaiskarsijat: Those that suffer with us.
The Internal Minister, Yrjo LEINO, married to Hertta KUUSINEN (Otto Wille K’s daughter) had control of the Internal State Police VALPO filled with communists. Communists were getting more & more power in Finland. Mauno Pekkala became Prime Minister and visiting Stalin in Moscow, apologized for Finland’s actions taken in the Winter War. Stalin retorted: “Nonsense! You have Mannerheim, a great military leader, and you should be proud of that!”
Communists were demanding a military alliance with the Soviet Union. During the spring of 1948: Vaaran Vuodet/dangerous years; a communist takeover was thwarted by President Paasikivi, Police Chief GABRIELSON, and Head of Army, Gen. SIHVO. This is fascinating reading from Paasikivi’s diary.
Valpo’s head, Erkki Olavi TUOMINEN (Com. Died in Moscow in 1964 at 60), admitted to wanting control over the weapons cache. Leino had come to Sihvo and spread rumors about a right wing return to fascism. Leino’s Autobiography stated later that he told them about the Communist takeover! (I republished this book through photocopies in 1986 and only sold one copy to Swedish Estonian Prof. Hain Rebas)
Gen. Sihvo said that he spoke to an old lecturer who had heard Soviet Military ask “When is it going to happen?”
By this time Churchill’s descriptive IRON CURTAIN was descending over Europe from the Adriatic Sea to the Arctic Ocean. It was only a matter of time. One had to act. ROOSEVELT seemed to side with STALIN.
A huge miracle
We had to wait until we got the Paris Peace Treaty out of the way first, the Occupation Commission left & then it happened. A huge miracle, based on a rumour. Paasikivi ordered the Military on to Red Alert and had the Army fully armed, had the tank corps surround Helsinki, the small remaining Air Force on stand by and the Navy had battleships point their guns at the Presidential Palace’s door. This action served to galvanized nationalistic Finns from ever trusting Communists again; and had the effect of not allowing Communists into key cabinet posts ever again.
But, one problem was the post of Education and Culture. Since the end of the war, steady influence of a leftist, self-serving and anti-nationalistic policy ruled. Any strong outward demonstration of nationalism was labeled ‘Nazi’ or ‘fascist’ or ‘blood thirsty war monger/peace hater’ and nothing could be done.
Even President Kekkonen (1956-91) preferred censoring the press with so called letters called ‘myllykirjeet’/’millstones’ figuratively thrown around reporters necks and cast into wells. Kekkonen had accepted and formed the policy of self-censorship, and claiming national security. I believe Kekkonen played the international card, or security, to stay in office as a ‘kinder’ dictator. He rigged the 1962 elections also, against Olavi HONKA, using the Nootti Kriisi/Note Crisis with expected Moscow pressure to drive Honka underground: He never published memoirs of this. He seemed to disappear.
President Koivisto (1991-98) even went so far as to discourage Finns from making jokes about the Russians. (I lived there at that time) This shocked many Finns, knowing that Koivisto had served as paratrooper deep behind enemy lines during the war.
Don’t ask about Karjala
Questions about the illegal annexation of Karelia, were not tolerated. I recently learned about a Secret Presidential Law enforced by Kekkonen (probably) that Every Finn President asked the Soviet/Russian Leader if we can negotiate the return of Illegally Annexed Karelia. Every reply was: Don’t Ask. Catherine the Great had a famous quote about this: St. Petersburg sleeps well, when Vyborg is in Russian Hands.
A while back, Prime Minister Matti VANHANEN stated to the mayor of St Petersburg that “Finns don’t even dream about getting Karelia back!” This is shocking given the gravity of Finland’s loss.
Today, the youth know Karelia only as a brand of beer. This is not an accident.
This is intended and follows that even after Glasnost and Perestroika, freedom of speech is limited; and the demands for the end of the illegal occupation of Karelia, be taken to the UN, falls on deaf ears. Karelia Liitto and Ita Karjalan Seura have tried to bring the discussion into the media.
KGB’s Vladimir Putin is Content. Russians are happy the Communists have regrouped in Finland: they are called VASEMMISTOLIITTO (Leftist Coalition.) I wrote them about the history of Communist Crimes in Finland and asked WHY DO YOU EXIST TODAY? I have yet to receive a reply.
I had just scandalized the Finnish Establishment yet again. The First time was when the Secretary of the PM came to the University of Toronto and I asked why a Lithuanian who got through the Soviet Karelian border was sent back to Moscow twice and suffered in psychiatric prisons. Amnesty International also took sides. The third time this Lithuanian got through the land mined “No Man’s Land” border, he spoke to a farmer and got driven to Sweden. After that all my Academic mail from the University of Helsinki was stopped for over 6 months. Everything.
They probably never heard of the Terijoki Government & SOVIET FINLAND.
Is it inevitable? I think there’s lot of work ahead.
First written in 2003-2004, updated and improved in 2013
Finland’s History with Communism (3)