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STATEMENT 

CONCERNING 

FINNISH-RUSSIAN RELATIONS 

AND THE 

CIRCUMSTANCES LEADING TO 

THE EVASION OF 
FINLAND 

BY THE UNION OF SOVIET SOCIALIST 
REPUBLICS ON NOVEMBER 30, 1939 


Based on Official Documents published by 


HX 

632 

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland 

A1 

W9 

LONDON 

PUBLISHED BY SIMPKIN MARSHALL, LTD. 

no. 1346 

at 4 Stationers’ Hall Court, London, E.C.4 

To be purchased through any bookseller or newsagent 
Price net 








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in 2018 with funding from 
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Statement concerning Finnish-Russian Relations 

AND THE CIRCUMSTANCES LEADING TO THE INVASION 

of Finland by the Union of Soviet Socialist 
Republics on November 30, 1939. 

I. HOW FINLAND BECAME A NATION 

In order to view in their proper perspective the events which 
led to the invasion of Finnish territory by Russian military, naval 
and air forces on 30th November, 1939, it is necessary to understand 
something of the history of Finland and of her previous relations 
with Russia. 

An Individual People. 

The inhabitants of Finland are an individual people having 
neither national nor racial affinity with Russia. Her long con¬ 
nections with Sweden and Scandinavia have made Finland a 
member of the group of Northern States in every respect. Thus 
the Finns are Nordic in character. 

Two thousand years ago these early Finns began to cross to the 
Northern shores of the Gulf of Finland, which were then inhabited 
by the Lapps, and it was at the opening of the Christian era that 
the country we now know as Finland gradually began to assume 
shape. 

Under Swedish Rule. 

In the middle of the twelfth century Sweden brought Christianity 
into Finland, and until the nineteenth century the country was part 
of the Kingdom of Sweden. 

In those days all social and political rights and privileges enjoyed 
by the people of Sweden were equally enjoyed by the people of 
Finland. The kings of Sweden were also the kings of Finland, and, 
hand in hand, these two peoples built up in Northern Europe that 
civilisation which they now enjoy, and which many foreign ob¬ 
servers have declared second to none in the world. 

For hundreds of years these two states have been intensely 
democratic, and it is interesting to notice that Finland and Sweden 
are among the few countries on the Continent of Europe whose 
people have never been serfs, or anything other than free men 
and women. 

During the seven centuries in which Finland and Sweden were 
united there were many wars with the eastern nation, Russia, and 
owing to Finland’s geographical position her country was more than 
once the battleground. But until the nineteenth century the 
enemy was always thrown back. 

The Russian Conquest. 

In February, 1808, the Russian Government again sent her 


4 


troops into Finland, but on this occasion the invasion had all the 
strategy of a major war effort. It was learned afterwards that the 
attack had been agreed upon by Napoleon, Emperor of France, and 
Alexander I, Czar of Russia, at their meeting in Tilsit in 1807 and 
one of the reasons was that the Swedes and Finns had refused to join in 
Napoleon’s Continental Blockade of England. 

By 1809, after an heroic resistance by the Finns, the Russian 
conquest was complete, and Finland became a Grand Duchy 
attached to Russia, with the Czar Alexander I reigning as Grand 
Duke. The former Constitution of Finland was preserved by 
Alexander I and for nearly a century the Finns were allowed to 
retain their cultural standards and democratic constitution. This 
period of one hundred years was highly important in the develop¬ 
ment and consolidation of the Finnish nation. 

About the year 1890, however, the Czar Nicholas II began a 
systematic oppression of the Finnish people in violation of the 
Constitution agreed upon by Alexander I and all later rulers of 
Russia. 

In 1899 a manifesto asserted the right of Russia to legislate in 
Finland without the consent of the Finnish Diet, or Parliament, 
on any matter deemed to have a bearing on Russian interests. 

In 1901 the Finnish army was disbanded by order of the Russian 
Government. 

The Finnish Revolt. 

It seemed at this time that the free and independent Finnish 
people would become nothing more than a vassal state of Russia. 
But in the face of growing Russian oppression Finland began to 
resist by refusing to obey the illegal Russian decrees, and insisted 
that her constitutional rights should be respected. It was this 
period in her history which is referred to as the era of passive 
resistance. 

The collapse of Russia in the Great War gave the Finnish 
people their long-waited-for opportunity. When the Russian 
Revolution began, representatives of the former regime in Finland 
were removed and patriots who had been exiled were allowed 
to return to their own country. 

While the revolution was at its height and complete anarchy 
reigned in Russia, the Finnish Government and Parliament took 
the destiny of the country into their own hands. On the 6th of 
December, 1917, Finland declared herself a sovereign and inde¬ 
pendent state. 

Finland Becomes a Free Nation. 

It was a great day in the history of Finland. A nation which 
had so gallantly fought for her existence while under Russian rule 
and oppression was at last free to mould and shape her own destiny. 
The new independence was recognised by the new Bolshevik rulers 
of Russia and by Lenin himself on 31st December, 1917. 

Yet Finland was even then not free of the Russian yoke. 


5 


Although independence had been solemnly recognised, Bolshevik 
Russia did not recall her troops. On the contrary, these troops 
commenced an agitation against the Finnish Government, and 
Finland realised that if her independence was to become a reality, 
she had to drive them out by force. 

It must be emphasised that when the Finnish Government took 
the fateful decision to use force for establishing order and the real 
independence of Finland, it acted with the whole-hearted approval 
of Parliament which had been elected on the basis of universal 
suffrage, established, with votes for men and women, in 1906. 

Military operations commenced at the end of January, 1918, 
and by the middle of May the enemy had been driven out of Finland 
and Finland had won her independence. 

In April, 1918, German troops landed in Finland. But it is 
important to record that when they arrived all decisive battles 
against Bolshevik troops had already been fought by the Finnish 
Army under the leadership of General Baron Mannerheim. 

By the Peace Treaty negotiated with Russia at Dorpat, Estonia, 
on 14th October, 1920, the centuries-old frontier between Finland 
and Russia was confirmed. The Soviet Union ceded to Finland the 
Petsamo district on the coast of the Arctic Sea to conform with a 
promise made long before by the Czarist Government. 


II. FINLAND TO-DAY 

In view of the charges against Finland made in certain quarters 
by those who try to defend and justify the Russian aggression, it 
is now necessary to state the course of events since the signing of 
the Peace Treaty of 1920. 

The Finnish Government, free to pursue its own ideals of national 
freedom and racial independence, has maintained a modern and 
progressive policy in face of the economic and political unrest 
which have beset Europe since the end of the Great War of 1914-18. 

Trade Relations with Great Britain. 

The country is economically sound, and, thanks to wise legisla¬ 
tion and a rising export trade in timber, wood-pulp, paper, butter 
and other agricultural produce to all parts of the world, has estab¬ 
lished good financial reserves. 

Before the World War, Finland’s import and export trade had 
mostly been with Russia, but in 1918, when the Russian market 
disappeared, Finland had to find new markets. 

Within a comparatively short time she managed to do this, 
and it is interesting to notice that Great Britain quickly became the 
most important buyer of Finnish goods, taking some 45 per cent, 
of the country’s exports. 

The importance of Finland and of the Northern States of Europe 
to the overseas trade of Great Britain is not, however, confined 
to their exports. Last year, these five States, Denmark, Finland, 



6 


Iceland, Norway and Sweden, bought from Great Britain goods to 
the value of some £40,000,000, an amount greater than that of any 
other country in the world, including the United States, Australia 
and India. 

Democratic Finland. 

There are no great aggregations of wealth, nor indeed is there 
any real poverty in Finland. Alone of all the countries who owe 
money to the United States, she has paid interest and part of the 
principal of her war debt regularly every year. The Finnish foreign 
debt is now so small that it totals no more than approximately £4 
per head of the population, and this is amply covered by the 
Government’s assets abroad. 

Parliamentary Government has been consolidated. Eight parties 
are represented in the Finnish Parliament, which numbers 200 
and is elected by universal suffrage. Universal suffrage was intro¬ 
duced in 1906 when women were given the right to vote and were 
allowed to sit in Parliament. The Press is entirely free, and for 
her population Finland has more newspapers and periodicals than 
any other country in the world. 

A United Nation. 

All tj^pes of workers are united in Finland. There is no class 
war in Finland and never can be. Agriculture occupies 59.6 percent, 
of the population, and every man can own his own land if he desires. 
Only 6.5 per cent, of the total land area is owned by corporations 
or companies, compared with 52.1 per cent, privately owned, 39.7 
per cent, owned by the State and 1.7 per cent, by communities. 

There is an eight-hour day, and holidays with pay for all workers 
up to a maximum—after ten years’ service—of one month. Child 
labour under 14 is unknown ; only 6 hours’ work a day is permitted 
between the ages of 14 and 15. 

The Finnish worker more often than not owns his own flat, 
cottage, or garden plot. There is no slums problem. Factories and 
mills are among the most up-to-date of any in the world. 

No Unemployment. 

Unemployment has been unknown in Finland for many years. 
The economic system built up in recent years has brought about 
such ideal conditions that there is always work for every man. 

Few countries have so high a standard of education. Among 
persons over 15 years of age only 0.9 per cent, are illiterate. There 
are three Universities in Finland, and an advanced educational 
system for the poorest child. 

The Finns are one of the most healthy races in Europe, and the 
country occupies an important place in the world of athletics. 

In the cultural field Finland has, during the last 20 years, made 
very considerable progress. Schools and hospitals have been built 
everywhere. The present Commander-in-Chief, Field Marshal Baron 
Mannerheim, has organised a Children’s Welfare Society which 


7 


now embraces the whole country. The Finnish Red Cross has under¬ 
taken many important child welfare missions of an outstanding 
character. 

Finland has paid particular attention to raising the standard 
of life of the population, particularly in the frontier districts adjacent 
to Russia. There are local hospitals in all parts of the great forest 
areas, and much has been done to improve the general standard of 
health. 

Finland also is quickly earning a place for herself in European 
culture. The skill of her artists and architects can be seen in the 
beautiful new buildings and statuary which have appeared not 
only in Finland but also in Paris, London, and New York during 
the past few years. Her poets and musicians have gained general 
recognition. The genius of Sibelius is hailed the world over. 

The Finns are Free. 

It is important, in viewing the events that led to the Russian 
invasion of Finland, to stress again that there have never been any 
minority problems in this country, no oppression or capitalistic 
dictatorship, no distress or unrest among workers, and no hardship 
in working conditions. In fact, nothing whatever from which 
Finnish workers might desire to be “ freed.” 

The workers of Finland are free. Their own representatives 
are members of the present Finnish Cabinet. 


III. FINNISH-RUSSIAN RELATIONS SINCE 1920 

Since the conclusion of the Peace Treaty of 1920, Finnish - 
Russian relations have been correct. In 1932 a Non-Aggression 
Pact was concluded between Finland and Russia, in which 

it was agreed that all disputes which might arise between the two countries, 
and which could not be settled through the usual diplomatic channels, 
should be submitted to a mixed conciliation commission composed of 
four members—two representing each country. 

In this agreement both the contracting parties also declared 
that they would always settle all disputes between themselves, 
whatever their origin might be, in a spirit of justice, and only by 
peaceful means. 

This Non-Aggression Pact was reaffirmed in 1934 to remain in 
force until 1945. 

Closed Frontiers. 

The close intercourse which is usual between two neighbouring 
countries did not, however, develop even after the Non-Aggression 
Pact of 1920, owing to the fact that the Union of Soviet Socialist 
Republics kept her frontiers strictly closed against Finland except 
at the Rajajoki River where the railway connects the two countries. 

The development of political and trade relations have been 
hampered principally by the totally different constitutional and eco¬ 
nomic systems existing in the two countries—in the Union of Soviet 



8 


Socialist Republics a dictatorship with a Communist state economy, 
and in Finland a democracy with an individualistic economic 
system. 

Finnish Efforts for Friendship. 

In spite of these difficulties Finland has made every effort to develop 
closer relations. 

In the first place, from time to time, trade delegations were sent 
to Russia for the purpose of laying a foundation for the increase 
of trade, but without any positive results worth recording. 

Finnish-Russian trade shows the following import and export 


figures during the years 1936-1938 


1936 

1937 

1938 

Exports from Finland to Russia 

(of 




total Finnish exports) 

Imports to Finland from Russia 

(of 

0.6% 

0.6% 

0.5% 

total Finnish imports) 


1.9% 

1-4% 

1-2% 


At the beginning of 1937, M. R. Holsti, who was then Foreign 
Minister of Finland, visited Moscow with the intention of bringing 
about improved relations between the two countries. In view of 
the fact that through various sources, Russia had let it be known 
that she suspected Finland of conspiring against her, M. Holsti 
proposed that all questions disturbing the relations between the 
two countries should be once and for all cleared up. 

The proposal, which should have been further discussed through 
normal diplomatic channels, did not lead to any positive results, 
nor did Russia return the visit of the Finnish Foreign Minister. 
This was the nature of relations between the two countries until 
October, 1939. 


IV. CIRCUMSTANCES LEADING TO THE INVASION OF FINLAND 

On 5th October, 1939, M. Molotov, Prime Minister of the Union 
of Soviet Socialist Republics, requested Baron Yrjoe-Koskinen, the 
Finnish Minister in Moscow, to call upon him. At the meeting he 
asked the Finnish Minister to convey to his Government the desire 
of the Russian Government for Finland to send a special repre¬ 
sentative to Moscow for an exchange of views and to negotiate on 
various questions of a political and economic character which, for 
some time past, had been discussed through diplomatic channels. 

A Serious Situation. 

This desire on the part of the Soviet Government was conveyed 
to the Foreign Minister of Finland, M. E. Erkko, on the same day, 
and an official communique was issued in Helsinki outlining the 
desire of Russia and adding that the Finnish Cabinet was deliberat¬ 
ing on the matter. 

In view of developments which had recently taken place in 
Russian relations with the States of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, 
the Finnish Government could be in no doubt as to the real signifi¬ 
cance of the Russian desire for negotiations. 



9 


On 8th October the Finnish Cabinet decided to accept the 
invitation of the Russian Government. It empowered its envoy in 
Stockholm and former Prime Minister, Dr. M. J. K. Paasikivi, to 
act as the Government’s special representative in the Moscow talks. 
Dr. Paasikivi is recognised as one of the country’s most experienced 
statesmen, and was the leader of the Finnish delegation to the 
Finnish-Russian Peace Conference at Dorpat in 1920. 

In announcing the acceptance of the Russian invitation, the 
Finnish Foreign Minister made the following statement in Helsinki 
on 8th October 

£C The Russians have not specified the questions which are 
down for discussion, but it is the normal diplomatic procedure 
for one country to make to another a general proposal of this 
nature. Thus, though we are unaware what is concerned, we 
can only answer the invitation affirmatively. Dr. Paasikivi, 
therefore, only goes to take note of the Russian desires, but 
whatever these may be our position is clear. 

“We stand by Northern neutrality and our unconditional 
neutrality which has been repeatedly affirmed. We threaten 
none, seek no advantage, and will not adhere to any great 
power or group. Our sole desire is to live in peace with all, 
and remain outside conflicts.” 

The Opening of the Talks. 

The Finnish delegation, led by Dr. Paasikivi and supported by 
Colonel Paasonen, formerly Military Attache in Moscow, and M. 
Nykopp, of the Finnish Foreign Office, arrived in Moscow on 11th 
October, and talks opened at the Kremlin on 12th October. 

At these first conversations it quickly became evident that Soviet 
Russia had vital territorial demands to make. After the first phase 
of exchange of views and general principles, a number of proposals 
designed to improve Finnish-Russian relations were handed to the 
Finnish representative. These proposals were as follows :— 

The Soviet Proposals. 

The Soviet Union is mainly concerned with the settling of two 
questions :— 

(a) Securing the safety of Leningrad. 

(b) Becoming satisfied that Finland will have firm, friendty 
relations with the Soviet Union. Both points are essential for 
the purpose of preserving against external hostile aggression 
the integrity of the Soviet Union coast of the Gulf of Finland 
and also of the coast of Estonia, whose independence the 
Soviet Union has undertaken to defend. 

In order to fulfil this duty it is necessary : 

1. To make it possible to block the opening of the Gulf of 
Finland by means of artillery fire from both coasts of the Gulf of 
Finland in order to prevent warships and transport ships of the 
enemy from penetrating to the waters of the Gulf of Finland. 

2. To make it possible to prevent the access of the enemy to 



Finland to 
move her 
Frontier 
back 50 
miles V 


Thesefour 
Islands to 
be ceded ^ 


Finland tofortifyv/ 
the Aaland Islands/ 


HELSINKI 


LENINGRAD 


vHango 


X X 

Finland to give Russia 
a naval base at Hango 


This peninsula 
in Petsamo 
-to be ceded 
Vi to Russia 


This is what 


U.S.S.R 


RUSSIA 
DEMANDED 
FROM FINLAND 

Ports, islands and 
land areas demanded 
Prom Finland in the 
Russian proposals 
are indicated in black 


SWEDEN 



11 


those islands in the Gulf of Finland which are situated west and 
north-west of the entrance to Leningrad. 

3. To have the Finnish frontier on the Isthmus of Karelia, 
which frontier is now at a distance of 32 kilometres from Leningrad, 

i.e. within the range of shots from a long distance gun, moved 
somewhat farther northwards and north-westwards. ( This would 
mean placing in the hands of the Soviet Union the 20 mile zone of 
frontier fortifications now generally termed the “ Mannerheim Line .”)* 

A separate question arises with regard to the Kalastajasaarento 
in Petsamo, where the frontier is unskilfully and artificially drawn 
and has to be adjusted in accordance with the annexed map. 

With the preceding as a basis it is necessary to settle the follow¬ 
ing questions by having in view a mutual arrangement and common 
interests 

1. Leasing to the Soviet Union for a period of 30 years the 
port of HangO and a territory adjoining thereto situated within a 
radius of 5-6 nautical miles southwards and eastwards and within 
a radius of 3 nautical miles westwards and northwards, for the 
purpose of creating a naval base with coastal artillery capable of 
blocking by artillery fire, together with the naval base Paldiski on 
the southern coast of the Gulf of Finland, the access to the Gulf 
of Finland. For the protection of the naval base the Finnish 
Government should permit the Government of the Soviet Union to 
keep in the port of Hango the following garrison :— 

1 Infantry regiment, 

2 Anti-aircraft batteries, 

2 Air Force regiments, 

1 Battalion of armoured cars, 

Altogether not more than 5,000 men. 

2. Granting to the naval forces of the Soviet Union the right 
of using the bay of Lappohja as anchoring berth. 

3. Ceding to the Soviet Union, in exchange for other territories, 
the following territories :— 

The islands Suursaari, Seiskari, Lavansaari, Tytarsaari and 
Koivisto, part of the Isthmus of Karelia, from the village of Lippola 
to the southern border of the town of Koivisto, and the western 
parts of the Kalastajasaarento, in total 2,761 square kilometres 
(approximately 1,066 square miles). 

4. In exchange for the territories mentioned in paragraph 3, 
the Soviet Union cedes to the Republic of Finland, Soviet Union 
territory of the districts of Repola and Porajarvi to the extent of 
5,529 square kilometres (approximately 2,134 square miles) in 
accordance with the annexed map. 

5. Strengthening the Non-Aggression Pact between the Soviet 
Union and Finland by including therein a paragraph according to 
which the Contracting Parties undertake not to join any groups or alli¬ 
ances directly or indirectly hostile to either of the Contracting Parties. 

6. Suppression of the fortified zones situated on both sides of 
the frontier between Finland and the Soviet Union and leaving 

* Explanations in italics have been added in order to clarify the text. 


12 


Frontier Guard troops only at the frontier. (This proposal would 
have meant the destruction of all Finland’s existing fortifications 
constructed since the Peace Treaty of 1920.)* 

7. The Soviet Union does not object to the fortifying of the 
Aaland Islands (in the Baltic Sea)* by Finland’s own work provided 
that no foreign power, Sweden included, has anything to do with 
the question of fortifying the Islands. 

What the Proposals Meant. 

In order that the real nature of the proposals may be made 
clearer in the minds of the people of Great Britain and other English- 
speaking nations, the following analogy may be of value :— 

If the proposals were being made to the Government of Great 
Britain by a neighbouring power some forty times stronger, they 
would be as follows :— 

1. Britain must cede the Channel Islands to the foreign power. 

2. The Isle of Wight must be fortified by the foreign power. 

3. Britain must hand over the port of Southampton in order 
that it might become a Naval and Air base for the foreign power. 

4. Britain must hand over the Orkney Islands, to be fortified 
by the foreign power so that it will have complete control of Scapa 
Flow and the ports of Scotland. 

5. Britain must destroy most of her important defences, leaving 
in their place soldiers with rifles. 

6. Britain must cede to the foreign power an area on the coast 
of Norfolk extending to a distance of 50 miles inland. 

As compensation, the neighbouring power would be willing to 
cede to Great Britain some hundreds of square miles of barren land 
of no strategic or economic importance. 

It is obvious that no free and independent British nation could 
accept such proposals, and whilst Finland’s size and geographic 
situation places her in an entirely different position from that of 
Great Britain, it must be remembered that she is nevertheless a 
free, independent and peace-loving people. 

The Finnish Reply. 

On 12th October the Russian proposals were conveyed to the 
Finnish Cabinet by the Finnish representative, Dr. Paasikivi. The 
proposals, far-reaching and exacting as they were, received the 
earnest consideration of the Finnish Cabinet. 

The Finnish Mission returned to Helsinki on 16th October, when 
Dr. Paasikivi had immediate consultations with the “ Inner Cabinet,” 
comprising M. A. K. Cajander, the Prime Minister, M. E. Erkko, 
the Foreign Minister, M. V. Tanner, the Finance Minister, and 
M. J. Niukkanen, the Defence Minister. 

As a result of these deliberations, the Finnish delegation returned 
to Moscow on 23rd October and were received at the Kremlin in 

* Explanations in italics have been added in order to clarify the text. 






14 


the evening of that day. On this occasion the delegation was 
strengthened by the addition of the Finnish Minister of Finance, 
M. Tanner, who is the leader of the Social-Democratic, or working- 
class party in Finland. 

It was at these meetings with M. Molotov that the Finnish Reply 
to the Soviet proposals was placed before the Russian Government. 
The reply was as follows :— 

After having carefully examined the proposals of the Govern¬ 
ment of the Soviet Union regarding the settling of the relations 
between Finland and the Soviet Union, the Finnish Government 
hereby define their attitude. 

Finland understands the efforts which the Soviet Union is 
making with a view to securing a more effective defence for the 
protection of Leningrad. As repeatedly stated, Finland wishes her 
relations with the Soviet Union to remain friendly and good. In 
order to enable both these objects to be achieved Finland on her 
part is willing to consider means for meeting the requirements of 
the Soviet Union. Naturally, this is conditional upon the require¬ 
ments of Finland’s own security being taken into consideration and 
upon care being observed to maintain Finland’s complete neutrality. 
By such a policy Finland contributes, in the best of ways, to 
strengthening the peace in Northern Europe, and this policy Finland 
also believes to be the most advantageous to her neighbour, the 
Soviet Union. 

The Finnish Government is convinced that by mutual goodwill 
it is possible, without detriment to Finland’s security and without 
violating her neutrality, to achieve the objects which are referred 
to above and which, in the memorandum transmitted by the Soviet 
Union to Finland, are indicated as the basis of the Soviet Union’s 
policy. 

For the purpose of achieving these objects the Finnish Govern¬ 
ment are prepared to agree to the arrangements indicated below, 
subject to these being approved also by the Finnish Parliament:— 

1. The Finnish Government is prepared to make an agreement 
to the effect that the following islands situated in the Gulf of 
Finland be ceded, against territorial compensation, to the Soviet 
Union, viz. : Seiskari, Peninsaari, Lavansaari and the Tytarsaari 
islands. In addition the Finnish Government is willing to discuss 
an arrangement regarding Suursaari whereby the interests of both 
parties are taken into consideration. 

2. In view of Leningrad’s vicinity to the Finnish frontier and 
in order to enable the security of Leningrad to be increased through 
a frontier adjustment, the Finnish Government is prepared, against 
territorial compensation, to make an agreement regarding the 
adjustment of the frontier on the Isthmus of Karelia on those 
points where, from the said point of view, the frontier is inconvenient 
to the Soviet Union. The frontier would run from Rajajoki east of 
Haapala, straight to the Gulf of Finland on the eastern side of the 
church of Kellomaki. Thus the so-called Kuokkala-bend would 
disappear. At the same time the frontier would be moved 13 km. 


15 


westwards on this point. Finland is unable to consider an adjust¬ 
ment of the frontier to the extent mentioned in the proposal of 
the Soviet Union, because Finland’s own position and security 
would be endangered thereby. In addition the territory in question is a 
very densely populated district of ancient Finnish habitation and the cession 
thereof would mean destruction of the homes of tens of thousands of 
Finnish citizens and their removal elsewhere. 

3. With reference to the port of Hango with adjoining territory 
and the bay of Lappohja the Finnish Government are bound to 
uphold Finland’s integrity. The cession of military bases to a 
foreign Power is already incompatible with unconditional neutrality, 
as this is being conceived in Finland and elsewhere. The idea that 
armed forces of a foreign Power would be stationed on Finnish 
territory permanently and for a long period cannot be accepted by 
Finland ; these forces could also be used for attack upon Finland. 
Such an arrangement would continuously create disagreement and 
unnecessary irritation and this would not contribute to improving 
the relations between the two countries, which is the aim of the 
present arrangements. 

4. The Soviet Union has notified her wish to consolidate the 
Non-Aggression Pact between her and Finland in such a way that 
the Contracting Parties would undertake not to join any groups or 
alliances of States which directly or indirectly are hostile towards 
either of the Contracting Parties. However, the Finnish Govern¬ 
ment are of the opinion that Article 3 of the said Non-Aggression 
Pact, prohibiting the adherence to agreements of every kind being 
openly hostile towards the other Contracting Party and formally or 
materially in contradiction to the said Pact, does already contain 
everything which States having mutually friendly relations can 
reasonably claim from each other in this respect, without endanger¬ 
ing their good relations to other States and their attitude of strict 
neutrality. The Finnish Government is prepared, if the Soviet 
Union so wishes, at any time to give a further assurance that it 
will honestly fulfil the said obligation. With reference to Article 2, 
paragraph 1, of the said Non-Aggression Pact, in which paragraph 
the Contracting Parties undertake to observe neutrality in cases 
where the other Contracting Party becomes the victim of aggression 
on the part of a third State, the Finnish Government in order to 
show its goodwill, could agree to the said paragraph being made 
clearer and confirmed in such a manner that the Contracting Parties 
undertake in no way to support such an aggressor State. By “ sup¬ 
porting ” should not, however, be understood any such attitude 
which is in conformity with the general rules of neutrality such as 
continuance of normal exchange of goods and transit trade. 

5. The Finnish Government note with satisfaction that the 
Soviet Union does not object to the fortification of the Aaland 
Islands by Finland’s own work. On account thereof the Finnish 
Government state that it has always been its intention that this 
fortification should be carried out by Finland’s own work and at 
her own expense and to the extent required for maintaining the 


16 


neutrality of the said islands, thereby taking into consideration the 
neutrality obligations of the Convention of 1921 which are still 
in force. 

Continued Talks. 

Following this reply, the Soviet Union made it clear to the 
Finnish representatives that she was insistent on Finland leasing 
to her the port of Hango and ceding a considerably larger area of 
the Karelian Isthmus than Finland had agreed to. The Soviet 
Government stated that it was unable to withdraw this proposal 
for placing a naval base at the disposal of the Soviet Union at 
Hango because it considered this proposal an absolutely indispens¬ 
able minimum for safeguarding the defences of Leningrad. 

Up to this moment, it may be stated, the conversations were 
of an entirely friendly and amicable nature, and the representatives 
of Finland had no reason whatever to assume that the difficulties 
and problems contained in the Soviet proposals and Finnish counter¬ 
proposals could not be settled in a spirit of justice and by means 
of peaceful arbitration. 

It must be strongly stressed that at no time was any third 
power consulted in regard to the Russian proposals. Indeed, 
conditions of the greatest secrecy were maintained by the Finnish 
Cabinet during the long period of discussions. 

Many Visits to Moscow. 

On 24th October the Finnish Delegation again returned to 
Helsinki in order to receive fresh instructions, and thereafter, for 
almost a month, the Finnish representatives made repeated 
visits to Moscow in an attempt to reach a fair and honourable 
solution to the problems that confronted the two countries. 

End of the Talks. 

On 13th November, the Finnish representatives left Moscow 
for the last time, and at that moment a deadlock had been reached. 
Finland was willing to accede to almost all the Russian proposals, 
which had now assumed the nature of demands, but she could not 
find it possible to accede to the Soviet request for a naval base at 
Hango, which would have meant the complete strategic dominance 
of Finland and in turn the loss of Finnish independence. 

There followed a period of silence, during which Finland main¬ 
tained strict and careful relations with Russia and neighbouring 
powers, and every safeguard was taken to prevent any incidents 
or aggravation of the situation. 

Moscow Propaganda Campaign. 

A Russian campaign of abuse against Finland was commenced 
in the press and on the radio on 15th November. It was alleged 
that the Finnish ruling classes did not desire an agreement with 
the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, while the working classes, 
on the other hand, were most anxious to secure friendly relations 
with the Soviet Union. 


17 


Throughout the negotiations the people of Finland repeatedly 
demonstrated that they were at one with their Government, and 
were as concerned with the safeguarding of their freedom and 
independence as the Finnish Government itself. There was never 
at any time in Finland a lack of confidence in the Government and 
Cabinet, except perhaps the fear that the Cabinet might offer too 
many concessions to the Soviet Union. 

During the next few days the Russian campaign of abuse and 
threats against Finland continued with greater force through the 
medium of the press and radio and by means of hastily-called 
public meetings. 

The Frontier Incident. 

On 26th November it was announced in Russia that Finnish 
artillery on the Karelian Isthmus fired seven rounds which fell 
on Soviet territory, killing one N.C.O. and three men of the Red 
Army, and wounding one officer, one N.C.O., and seven men. 

On the evening of that day, the Russian Commissar of Foreign 
Affairs, M. Molotov, handed a note to the Finnish Minister, Baron 
Yrjoe-Koskinen, demanding that Finnish troops should be removed 
twelve to fifteen miles from the frontier with the object of avoiding 
a repetition of such incidents. 

The story of this frontier incident was a deliberate distortion of 
the truth. Sensible of the importance of avoiding frontier incidents, 
the Finnish Government had moved all its artillery many miles 
back from the Finnish-Russian frontier at the beginning of November, 
and on 26th November there were no guns in the region stated 
which could possibly have reached Soviet territory. The most 
advanced Finnish artillery unit, consisting of a light field battery, 
stood 20 kilometres, or 12.4 miles, from the frontier on 26th November. 

Any Further Negotiations Rejected by Russia. 

On the evening of 26th November, M. Molotov handed a note 
to the Finnish Minister in Moscow referring to Finnish mobilisation 
on the Karelian frontier as a hostile act against the Union of Soviet 
Socialist Republics, culminating in the alleged incident on the 
frontier on that day. He demanded that the Finnish troops should 
be removed by some 10 kilometres, or 6.2 miles behind their forward 
line of defences. 

The Finnish Government replied to this note on 27th November, 
but was not able to accept the demand, on the ground that the 
situation compelled the defence of the Finnish frontier in Karelia ; 
the alleged frontier incident was emphatically denied. 

It should be pointed out that Russia had begun mobilisation in 
the Leningrad district as far back as September, 1939, and remained 
mobilised while negotiating the demands for Finnish territory. 

The Finnish note of 27th November was conciliatory in tone 
and restrained in wording, and the Cabinet suggested that the 
alleged frontier incident should be examined jointly by Soviet and 
Finnish experts. 


18 


Even at this late hour Finland expressed her willingness to 
settle the Finnish-Russian problems by any method of peaceful 
arbitration which Moscow was ready to suggest, and there was a 
firm belief in Helsinki that there would be no difficulties in the 
path of reaching a successful conclusion to the unfortunate dispute 
between the two countries. 

Denouncement of the Non-Aggression Pact. 

The Non-Aggression Pact, which had been drawn up between 
Finland and Russia in 1932 and reaffirmed in 1934 to stand inviolate 
until December, 1945, was suddenly and without official notice 
denounced by the Soviet Union on 28th November. 

At the same time Soviet abuse of Finland through press and 
radio reached its height in wildness and fury. Meetings of night 
workers, hurriedly arranged, were held in order to invoke popular 
hatred against the people of Finland who were now represented as 
about to attack Russia. 

America’s Bid for Peace. 

On the evening of 29th November, M. Molotov, the Soviet 
Prime Minister, announced that his Government had broken off 
diplomatic relations with Finland, and that the Red Army and 
Navy must be ready for any eventuality. 

At the same time the United States Minister in Helsinki, Mr. 
Schoenfeld, and the United States Charge d’Affaires in Moscow, 
Mr. Walter Thurston, transmitted to the respective Governments 
of Finland and Russia, the willingness of the United States of 
America to extend their good offices for the settlement of the dispute 
between Russia and Finland. 

The Finnish Foreign Minister expressed to the United States 
Minister, Finland’s readiness to accept the United States’ offer, 
especially since communications with the Soviet Government had 
ceased. 

In Moscow, the Vice-Commissar of Foreign Affairs, Potemkin, 
gave no hint that the good offices of the United States were desired, 
but said that the communication would be conveyed to M. Molotov. 

Russian Invasion and Aggression. 

Three hours after the United States Minister had visited the 
Finnish Foreign Office in Helsinki, in the early hours of 30th Novem¬ 
ber, 1939, Russian artillery began to bombard Finnish territory. At 
dawn on that day Soviet Air Forces attacked Finland, brutally 
bombing and machine-gunning 14 Finnish towns and localities, 
and ruthlessly killing civilians, including women and children. 

The invaders came out of the sky, on a clear sunlit morning, 
without notice or warning, and commenced their aggressive war of 
destruction. 

Finland’s Readiness to Arbitrate. 

Even when the bombs were dropping about her cities, and her 


19 


people were lying dead and wounded in her streets, Finland still 
expressed her willingness to negotiate with the Soviet Government. 

Through a radio announcement, the Finnish Government made 
one further effort to negotiate, and expressed its willingness to 
accede to all Russian demands and requests which were not in¬ 
consistent with Finland’s policy of strict neutrality, which did not 
threaten her national defences, and which would not affect her 
freedom and independence as a sovereign State. 

But there was no reply f 


Finland will Fight. 

On 1st December the 
confidence in the Cabinet 
seen expressions of the per- 
the Government, and th 
aggressor. 

On the same day, the 
clearly stated that this m( 
way betokened surrender 
The Cabinet resigned in i 
of all parties in the Finn! 
the united defence of the 
The following pronou 
Minister, M. Ryti, in a 
attitude to the Russian ir 
“If we must fight, we 
The Russians will not ha\ 
will defend every inch of 
Russian aggressors will n 
“ For a successful figh/j r "| 
We Finns have a high ami ^ 
ence and our very existejjj. 
and for the future of 
We fight for human j 
makes life itself worth 


HX 



33 


nn 


UNIVERSITY LIBRARY 



632 Al W9 no.1346 

World communism in the 20th 


cen tur y• 


Printed in England by G 


0172047A MAIN 


P 













18 


Even at this late hour Finland expressed her willingness to 
settle the Finnish-Russian problems by any method of peaceful 
arbitration which Moscow was ready to suggest, and there was a 
firm belief in Helsinki that there would be no difficulties in the 
path of reaching a successful conclusion to the unfortunate dispute 
between the two countries. 

Denouncement of the Non-Aggression Pact. 

The Non-Aggression Pact, which had been drawn up between 
Finland and Russia in 1932 and reaffirmed in 1934 to stand inviolate 
until December, 1945, was suddenly and without official notice 
denounced by the Soviet Union on 28th November. 

At the same time Soviet abuse of Finland through press and 
radio reached its height in wildness and fury. Meetings of night 
workers, hurriedly arranged, were held in order to invoke popular 
hatred against the people of Finland who were now represented as 
about to attack Russia. 

America’s Bid for Peace. 

On the evening of 29th November, M. Molotov, the Soviet 
Prime Minister, announced that his Government had broken off 
diplomatic relations with Finland, and that the Red Army and 
Navy must be ready for any eventuality. 

At the same time the United States Minister in Helsinki, Mr. 
Schoenfeld, and the United States Charge d’Affaires in Moscow, 
Mr. Walter Thurston, transmitted to the respective Governments 
of Finland and Russia, the willingness of the United States of 
America to extend their good offices for the settlement of the dispute 
between Russia and Finland. 

The Finnish Foreign Minister expressed to the United States 
Minister, Finland’s readiness to accept the United States’ offer, 
especially since communications with the Soviet Government had 
ceased. 

In Moscow, the Vice-Commissar of Foreign Affairs, Potemkin, 
gave no hint that the good offices of the United States were desired, 
but said that the communication would be conveyed to M. Molotov. 

Russian Invasion and Aggression. 

Three hours after the United States Minister had visited the 
Finnish Foreign Office in Helsinki, in the early hours of 30th Novem¬ 
ber, 1939, Russian artillery began to bombard Finnish territory. At 
dawn on that day Soviet Air Forces attacked Finland, brutally 
bombing and machine-gunning 14 Finnish towns and localities, 
and ruthlessly killing civilians, including women and children. 

The invaders came out of the sky, on a clear sunlit morning, 
without notice or warning, and commenced their aggressive war of 
destruction. 

Finland’s Readiness to Arbitrate. 

Even when the bombs were dropping about her cities, and her 


19 


people were lying dead and wounded in her streets, Finland still 
expressed her willingness to negotiate with the Soviet Government. 

Through a radio announcement, the Finnish Government made 
one further effort to negotiate, and expressed its willingness to 
accede to all Russian demands and requests which were not in¬ 
consistent with Finland’s policy of strict neutrality, which did not 
threaten her national defences, and which would not affect her 
freedom and independence as a sovereign State. 

But there was no reply from Moscow . . . 

Finland will Fight. 

On 1st December the Finnish Parliament recorded a vote of 
confidence in the Cabinet, and all over Finland there were to be 
seen expressions of the people’s solidarity, their own confidence in 
the Government, and their determination to stand up to the 
aggressor. 

On the same day, the Finnish Cabinet resigned, but it must be 
clearly stated that this move meant no change in policy and in no 
way betokened surrender as was freely suggested at that time. 

The Cabinet resigned in order that a War Cabinet, representative 
of all parties in the Finnish Diet, might immediately be formed for 
the united defence of the country. 

The following pronouncement was made by the new Prime 
Minister, M. Ryti, in a broadcast speech outlining the Finnish 
attitude to the Russian invasion :— 

“If we must fight, we shall fight to the end—and even after. 
The Russians will not have a parade march through Finland. We 
will defend every inch of our land, and every step taken by the 
Russian aggressors will mean heavy losses for them. 

“ For a successful fight a nation must have an honourable cause. 
We Finns have a high and sacred cause. We fight for our independ¬ 
ence and our very existence. We fight for our homes, our families 
and for the future of our children, and of generations to come. 
We fight for human justice against brute force, and for all that 
makes life itself worth while.” 


Printed in England by Gee & Co. (Publishers) Ltd., C Kirby Street, London, E.C.l. 



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