How did Finland deal with the Soviet Union after the World War?

How did Finland deal with the Soviet Union after the World War?


Get ready, put on your parkas, winter boots
and snowshoes; we are going North…waaaay North. As in, months of darkness and reindeer
and stories of Santa Claus-North. Ok, well maybe not quite THAT far north, but we are
going to start talking about the Nordic countries, whose place during the Cold War is quite often
forgotten, despite being, in some cases, literally right on the front lines of the conflict.
Today, we are going to look at Finland, a former part of the Russian Empire but also
a relatively new nation which had defeated the Soviet Union during the Winter War but
was under constant threat of being swallowed back into Moscow’s fold. I’m your host
David and this week, you get to hear me butcher names in a language renowned for having a
LOT of vowels. This is…The Cold War. “Like several hundred thousand fellow Karelians,
we became refugees in our own country as great power politics caused the borders of Finland
to be redrawn and left my home town as part of the Soviet Union.” These are the words
of Martii Ahtisaari, the Finnish politician, diplomat and Nobel Laureate. The Moscow Armistice
signed between the Soviet Union and Finland in September of 1944 created the situation
Ahtisaari is talking about. Although Finland is often recognized as winning the earlier
Winter War in 1939-1940, it suffered harsh losses during the Continuation War as Finland
fought the Soviets on the side of the Germans. The Moscow Armistice restored the terms of
the earlier Moscow Peace treaty but did have some modification. It forced Finland into
significant land concessions to the Soviet Union including ceding territories such as
Petsamo, Karelia, and Salla. The Finns were also forced to lease Porkkala to the USSR
for a 50 year term and were forced to pay a staggering three hundred million dollar
reparations bill. That is the equivalent today of four point three BILLION dollars. In addition
to these land and financial reparations, the Communist Party in Finland was officially
legalized and several prominent Finnish politicians, whom the Soviets considered to be fascists
were arrested, including but not limited to a President, two Prime Ministers and more
than several ministers. In March of 1945, Parliamentary elections
were held in Finland, and the SDKL, a broad coalition of leftist organizations came into
power, led by Juko Kusti Paasikivi as Prime Minister until he became President in 1946
after the resignation of the war-hero Baron Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim. That name is
just fun to say! The Soviet Union, for its part, gave Finland
a rather unique position in its foreign policy. Stalin certainly did not want to see the Finns
become part of the Western coalition, however, it was also content to NOT have Finland be
one of its satellite states like those being formed in through Eastern Europe. Instead,
Moscow was happy for Finland to be a neutral state, which could act as a buffer between
itself and the capitalist West. Of course, this didn’t mean that Finland
was free to do entirely what it wanted and in order to protect Soviet interests, Moscow
proposed the signing of the Finno-Soviet Treaty of 1948. This treaty would obligate Finland
to resist attacks by, quote “Germany or its allies” and also enabled Finland to
ask for Soviet military assistance in the event of an attack. Importantly, however,
it did not obligate Finland to aid the Soviet Union in the event that IT was attacked. The
treaty effectively made Finland a neutral country as it also greatly reduced the chances
that it would join any future western-based military alliances. *cough cough…looking
at you NATO* The treaty also left Finnish democratic and capitalistic structures in
place. Now, you might be asking yourself why Finland
received this preferential treatment when other countries in the Soviet sphere certainly
did not. The answer to this has to do with geography. Not only was the Finnish-Soviet
border right next to the Soviet Union’s second city of Leningrad but in the far north,
the Finnish border stretched next to the significant Soviet military region of the Kola Peninsula,
a vital strategic area for the Soviet Union. A neutral Finland greatly reduced the threat
of attack by the West through this region. But anyway, back to the Finno-Soviet Treaty.
At the time it was being signed, there was a great deal of concern among the Finnish
people. Many were watching the process of Sovietization unfold in places such as Poland,
Romania and Hungary, and they feared their own real independence would be ended. At the
time, both the Finnish Prime Minster and the Minister of Justice were openly pro-Soviet
and the ministers of social affairs and of justice were leading communists. They also
commanded the loyalty of the head of the State Police, also a communist. As you will recall,
these were all key roles in other East Bloc nations in undermining democratic systems
to replace them with comminist governments. However, the Finnish Constitution gave the
President and the Parliament the ability to block policies and even dismiss ministers.
These powers were utilized and soon, the communists in the cabinet had been ousted and the state
police were even disbanded. And what made these changes possible? Well, the loyalty
of both the regular police and the army to the non-communist forces in government of
course. In fact, both the police and the army were deployed to Helsinki at one point in
order to prevent a potential coup. Oh yeah, and of course the tacit approval of the Soviet
Union! Because Stalin was confident of the long-term neutrality of Finland, he did not
feel the need to intervene. Stalin’s instincts proved correct. The Finnish leadership, wary
of the possibility of Soviet interference, did its best to avoid the potential wrath
of Moscow. The Finnish policy that emerged has become
known as the Paasikivi-Kekkonen Doctrine, after Juho Kusti Paasikivi, President from
1946 to 1956 and Urho Kekkonen, President from 1956 to 1981. The doctrine, which was
derisively known as Finlandization in the West, safeguarded Finnish independence and
democracy in exchange for their neutrality in the Cold War. While Finland was able to
maintain normal economic trade relations with countries in the West, it was forced to reject
Marshall Plan aid, was unable to join NATO or any other overt alliance system, and even
censored anti-Soviet and anti-communist media. Although Finland was cautious about its foreign
policy, only establishing a diplomat relationship with Washington in 1954, Finland found itself
at espionage ground zero for some of the Cold Wars top intelligence agencies. Both the KGB
and the Stasi were active in Finland while the Finnish Social Democratic Party, at the
time a leading anti-communist political party received funding from the CIA in exchange
for seismic data on Soviet nuclear tests. The initial offer for Finland to join the
Nordic Council, formed in 1952, was rejected under pressure from Moscow but following Stalin’s
death the next year, Soviet policy towards Finland began to relax. Somewhat. In 1955,
the Porrkala Peninsula, under Soviet lease until 1994, was returned to Finland. Soviet
troops stationed in Finland were withdrawn and more leeway on the foreign stage was granted.
By 1955, Finland joined the United Nations and also the Nordic Council, allowing free
movement between the 5 Nordic nations and political, economic, and even cultural ties
began to be formed across the region. So, remember that quote I gave by Martii Ahtisaari,
a few minutes ago? It referred to hundreds of thousands of displaced people…so what
was that about? Well, he was referring to the approximate 400,000 Finnish refugees that
were being removed from territory seized by the Soviet Union. This, coupled with the infrastructure
damage and population loss caused by the Winter War and the Continuation War made the economic
situation in Finland extremely tough. The Finnish solution to this however, was land
redistribution for these refugees. Up to 142,000 new farm holdings were created, speeding their
integration to the Finnish economy. One of the biggest economic issues that Finland
needed to deal with however, was the reparation bill that I had mentioned earlier. That was
the $300 million dollar one. The reparation payments made from 1944 through to 1952 equalled
to an annual average of more than two percent of Finnish GDP but the strict schedule was
adhered to, as the penalties for late shipments were harsh. As the Soviets realized however,
how earnest the Finns were in maintaining the schedule, they did extend the payment
schedule an extra two years to 1956. Of course, it was all good-guy action, as Finland was
prevented in accepting Marshall Plan aid which would in all likelihood really helped out
the Finnish economy! Now, despite the Soviets trying to keep Finnish foreign relations somewhat
in check, they DID allow the United States to mediate an extension of financial credits
to Finland through to the Export-Import Bank worth more than $100million, allowing for
both economic rebuilding. And why would the Soviet Union allow any US involvement? Because
those reparation payments were needed by the Soviet economy, itself busy rebuilding. You
can make what you want of that. So, there you have it. A nation in the post-war
period that was occupied by the Soviet Union, forced to pay reparations in cash and land
but was able to retain its democratic and capitalist systems. It created a neutral ground,
one where the superpowers could meet and even try to resolve issues. But, that is material
for future episodes! We hope you’ve enjoyed today’s topic and
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Author:

100 thoughts on “How did Finland deal with the Soviet Union after the World War?”

  • You should do similar videos on Norway, Denmark and Sweden in and the Cold War 😊 Perhaps also a video on the Swedish nuclear bomb program too.

  • Yeah, so. Just from first couple of minutes. Both wars against Soviets were not victories, but fairly good ties. Also get your Nobel laureates spelling correctly. Also Spurdo Spärde XXXDDD.

  • AΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΣ says:

    <<deafeted the soviet union during the winter war >> Wrong
    they cause great casualties to the soviets but at the end they capitulated.

  • Finland defeated Soviet Union in winter war ? They accepted Soviet demands and only thing they achived was not beeing annexed.
    Which is great success for a small nation but we can't say they defeated the Soviet Union.
    Especially for history channel who claims to be historical and sceintific.

  • I gotta say I have never once heard someone say Finland won the Winter War. Nothing about Finland’s position at the end of the war spelled ‘Victory’.

  • "Months of darkness, reindeer and stories of Santa Claus North. Well, maybe not that far North". Mate, those three things are everywhere in Finland during winter.

  • Dude – Finland lost the Winter War – that’s why they became cobelligerents ( not allies with Nazi Germany) against the USSR.
    BTW – even though Finland lost to the USSR – it was never fully occupied by the USSR as Finland ended the war with the Soviets in Fall 1944 – so the Soviets were still rather busy still fighting Nazi Germany.
    Sloppy and inaccurate writing guys

  • Finland tried to stay and keep neutral status during the ww2. But because the Finnish and Soviet relationships were so badly deteriorated duting the Winter War and the Continuation War, Stalin wanted to add Finland to Soviet block but during the Paris Peace Treaties in 1947, it was pointed that without successful conquering Helsinki, the main capital of Finland. The western allies cannot allowed to Soviets take Finland into Soviet Block. Only 11% land were given to the USSR. Petsamo, Salla, Karelia and Gulf of Finland islands and Porkkala. Over 400,000 Finnish refugees needed to be relocated. Petsoma being highly important mining ground and in Porkkala Soviets stationed garrison which mission was to maintain USSR present inside Finland. And being so close to Helsinki gather intel about any activities.
    Also Finland is the only nation in the world who managed to payed the whole 300 million dollars war reparations to the USSR.
    But as the time went forward, during 60s some relationships between Finland and the USSR got better. While Finland cannot just ignore Soviets, the word "Finlandization" was created.
    Although the Cold War, Finland maintained good relationships with the East and also was good negotiation partner between USSR and USA, including the 1975 Helsinki Accords.

    And a little joke:
    -Stalin wanna hear a joke?
    -Da.
    -Helsinki.
    -I don't get it.
    -And you never will.

  • And now Finland along with other European states effectively lost their independence by the Treaty of Lisbon and other agreements within or with the EU.

  • While Finland did indeed put up a really good fight during the winter war, they did not win it. They still lost a chunk of territory and their second largest city. They succeeded in protecting their independence so it wasn't a total defeat, but in the end they still lost. The amazing part is that they made the whole war a Pyrrhic victory for the USSR, since they suffered such terrible causalities.

  • Hello cold war thanks for start talking about the Nordic countries role in the cold war.
    Greetings from a swedish "average joe"

  • bernardobiritiki says:

    Two tings ,nobody says the fins win the winter war they didnt , secondly it should have been mention that there was alot of cooperation between the soviet and finish armed forced going to far as the fins being the first in the world to get mig21 fighter even before soviet allies had goten it

  • You made a little error at 1:48. Finland was forced to cede Karelia and Salla to the USSR according to the Moscow Peace Treaty of 1940. Petsamo was ceded and Porkkala was leased to the USSR according to the Moscow Armistice of 1944, as well as the terms of the Moscow Peace Treaty being confirmed. So, the modifications of the Moscow Peace Treaty were the ceding of Petsamo, the leasing of Porkkala and Finland being obliged to pay reparations.

  • Fascinating. Shamefully I never learned any of this painful chapter in Finnish-Russian history. Thankyou for covering it, I now need to endeavour to read up on this topic.
    We in the west should never again to allow the Baltic nations to be threatened by Russia's expansionist & dominating ambitions (as we've seen in Ukraine for example).

  • sounds like Stalin just laundered american money through Finland to rebuild Russia, also when are we gonna get to Africa? particularly South African's Border War and the Rhodesian Bush War.

  • You did not mention that the Finnish military had hidden away everything needed for a drawnout, large scale guerilla war, something the Soviets did learn about and probably didn't like the thought thereof, battle hardened troops ready to operate through out the entire country against the Soviets. A bear doesn't like to put it's head into a hornet's nest … This was one of the reasons why several military officers were sentenced to prison on demand by the Allied control comission …

    You ought to make an episode about Sweden, their chain of concentration camps bossed over by later PM Erlander, Sweden's role regarding nationalsocialism ( developement of eugenics etc and how the 3rd Reich partybrass did regard Sweden as a model ), Sweden's demand that the 3rd Reich stamped the infamoud J* stamp in passports so that Sweden did get a simple way to keep German Jews from entering Sweden etc

  • Your opening remarks beg the very important question – what did Santa do during the Cold War? Were his elves Communist and his giving of gifts to The People Marxist in nature, or was he simply playing the part of a wealthy philanthropist – after utilizing sweatshop industrial labor like a Capitalist? Or were the elves laboring in gulag to produce those toys? Important history to cover!

  • Can you please do a video on how the sino-indian rivalary developed?
    Since india was closely allied to the soviets and pakistan was supported by the US however china still supported pakistan essentially fucking up the entire geopolitics of South Asia

  • If Soviets treated all other countries like that, situation in Central and Eastern Europe would be much better. But instead they were greedy, they created puppets with communist governments and today they are surprised that people in Central and Eastern Europe hate the USSR.

  • Couple mistakes and things you didn't mention:
    -Finland didn't win the Winter war,
    -Finland had to kick/ drive 200 thousand Germans from Lapland (the Lapland war),
    -Finland lost its second largest city Viipuri to Soviet Union
    -Finland wasn't occupied,
    -Finland paid it's final war reparations in 1952,
    -Finland held the summer olympics in 1952(very important),
    -Martti Ahtisaari is also the former Finnish President 1994-2000,
    -Finland was still a democracy, but there was self sencorship( aka people didn't do or publish anything that they thought would anger the Soviets),
    -And most importantly Santa Claus lives in Finland(Lapland)

  • I watched the whole video and there was no mention of Finland's most important contribution to the world stage during the Cold War: Formula One and World Rally Car drivers!

  • It's also interesting that despite Finland's interesting situation they eventually got loads of new Soviet tanks, APCs, trucks, guns, and jets before many Warsaw Pact countries.

  • Finland was used by Soviet Union to keep Sweden outside NATO. If Sweden had joined NATO Finland would have been turned into a Soviet satellite state. Also if Soviet Union had turned Finland into a satellite state Sweden would have probably joined NATO and/or finished its nuclear program. Stalin was clever he got a long peaceful border and neutralising Sweden.

  • Having the communist occupy certain ministries, wasn't totally bad. In this way the Soviets could keep an on the Finnish military. What they saw was massive amounts of weapons being stored away and spread around the hinterlands, forest etc. It served to increase deterrence of sorts, there would have been no way for the Soviets to rapidly and peacefully occupy the country.

  • Paasikivi was a member of rightwing party National Coalition and goverment formed after 1945 elections was an coalition goverment formed by social democrats, agrarian league, SKDL and few smaller parties.

  • 7:46: Soviet troops of course meaning the troops in Porkkala. 3:15 Other reasons would be that the war ended with armistice (not unconditional surrender) as Soviets offensives were halted in 1944, coupled with the fact that Finland had respected the armistice by fighting the Lapland War with Germany. While other countries in East had been occupied. Without wanting to star a new unnecessary war (soviet interest had been fulfilled enough by ceased lands), Stalin would only make reasonable demands.

  • Finns were brave, skilled negotiators and very LUCKY – Stalin respected and trusted them. Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim was an exceptional man. People in Poland/Czechia/etc should study Finnish 20th century history and learn from it. I am from Czechia, Czech 20th century politicians we such fools in comparison.

  • Another great video! Really fascinating to hear about how complex the Finnish story is (I got a glimpse of it and the Ben Macintyre book “The Spy And The Traitor”). Really flies in the face of the notion of The Cold War being a purely Black and White, East vs West conflict.

    Also I’d like to put in a suggestion some time for a video the small but fascinating story of the Tibetan guerrilla war campaign against Communist China.

  • Just today while watching Indy Niedell video about the winter war I thought you know you never hear what happened with Finland after they signed the Moscow armistice and the cold war. Ask and you shall receive. Thanks for video, its peeking my interest in the history of the non-aligned nations during the cold war more videos like this

  • Finland did NOT win the winter war. They gave up land and money a clear sign they lost. They better than expected but so did Germany in both world wars but it doesn’t mean they won…

  • Paasikivi was not pro-russian nor left-wing. During the war, Finland had a small but significant peace-opposition who believed that the war was a mistake and Finland should sue for peace as soon as possible. The leaders of peace-opposition were Paasikivi and Kekkonen, two right-wing politicians. After the war, they were seen as having been right, and they were also acceptable for the Soviet Union. Paasikivi despised SU immensely, but his political credo was that Finland cannot change Geography, and therefore good relations were the only choice.

  • I had a Finnish mate when I started high school (the town I lived in had the highest Finnish population in the world outside Finland – Finns out there will probably know where I mean). By that stage I already had an interest in languages. It was all my brother and I could do not to laugh when he and his mother were talking in Finnish. Damn it sounded funny.

  • gregory orlando says:

    Wait what finland won the winter war of 39-40?While they inflicted massive damage and there performance was incredible truly punching above there weight.A victory it was not they also suffered terribly and lost the mannerheim line as well as there 2nd biggest city vipuri(vyborg today in russia).I would say as a result of there will to fight they avoided being swallowed up into the ussr.

  • Haven't watched this yet but this is actually something I've been waiting for awhile because while I'm generally knowledgeable about post-war Europe I actually don't know that much about the situation in Finland.

  • Jörn Kessler PFM says:

    Guys, check you footage. I believe Walter Ulbricht is shown around 6:30 instead of a finish guy. Or there is a serious doppelgänger on the loose.

  • Just wanted to let everyone at the cold war team how much I appreciate you! Best part of my Saturday morning. Keep up the good work.

  • Finland had a great opportunity to join NATO while Yeltsin was bumbling around drunk. But old fearful farts and nationalists blocked it.

    I'd feel a lot safer as part of NATO. We should still fear Russia especially now that the U.S is compromised and weakening.

  • This is why I don't like this channel compared to it's WW1 and WW2 counterparts. You imply Finland won Winter War despite ceding it's territiory to USSR. I mean, it's just stupid, don't teach history if you don't know it.

  • I am incredibly thankful for our leaders who guided us trough The Cold War. Without them things would be quite different.

  • Jobins Puthiyaparambil says:

    You lost your credibility when you said Finland won the Winter war. The winter war ended on Soviet terms. They got what they demanded.

    It's not a football match to declare winner based on counts. As per your standards it was Germany was the winner of the world war.

  • 1:27 Eh what, Finland lost the Winter War too. The peace terms were dictated by the Soviet Union and they were not that different from the peace terms after the Continuation War. Finland had some strategic victories and was able to retain independence against all the odds, but that's not the same thing as victory. 😉

  • Finland was not occupied. As a Fin the amount of mistakes in this video makes me grince. I just hope you do better research, so you don't spread miss information unintentionally.

  • Despite some inaccuracies I'm thankful you made this episode. After all, just as you stated, Finland indeed was in the frontier of the Cold War and yet remained independent and became stronger against all the odds. Hoping to see more content about my 102-year-old home country in the future!

  • You need to improve your delivery style, pal. Stop leaning back your head when speaking, speak more assertively and stop raising your voice mid-sentence. It'll make a big difference.

  • Might have been a simple cost benefit calculation. Better to have finns helping the soviet economy than invade the country and be bogged down in a long guerrilla war.

  • The great sausage wars, where Russian soldiers would attack empty pots of boiling sausage water already fed to Finnish soldiers and left as diversionary tactics.

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