Finland – from the WAR to the PEACE

Finland – from the WAR to the PEACE

The Finnish Continuation War was ended by The Moscow Armistice which was signed between Finland, Soviet Union and United Kingdom on September 19, 1944. Thus this Armistice restored the Moscow Peace Treaty of 1940, with a number of changes, however.

The conditions were strict and hard. Finland has been obliged to relinquish and surrender parts of Karelia province and Salla district, a few islands in the Gulf of Finland, Petsamo province and Porkkala district, the last one as a leasehold land; all mentioned to the Soviet Union. The Cession of these territories meant that over 400000 Finns living there lost their homes. Most of them had to move from Karelia in summer 1944. All evacuees were inhabited around mainland Finland. The Porkkala district was finally returned back to the Finnish control in 1956. This offered to a few thousand of Finnish Porkkala evacuees an opportunity to get back to home.

After the war Finland had to compensate war reparations to the Soviet Union by a value of 300 million dollars (valued in 1938 level, which was higher than corresponding value in 1944). The whole war indemnity had to be paid within 6 years in such a way that the main weight of a load was remarkably heavier in the first few years. Soviet Union required Finland to make the Indemnity payments as goods. The Finnish Government anticipated that Soviet Union would like to set a priority for forestry products. The Soviet Union, however, wanted mostly modern industrial products, such as heavy metal engineering, shipbuilding and electrical engineering products. The last train to Soviet Union carrying war indemnity products finally crossed the boarder in 1952.

The war indemnity load was very heavy burden to Finland which during those years suffered from very severe economic depression. There were overall shortage and scarcity of industrial raw materials, components and consumer goods. That all made the living conditions of ordinary people very troublesome as well as production conditions of industry very challenging. The economic downturn started already immediately after the Winter War, the rate of inflation e g. exceeded over 80 %, and it took over a decade until the year 1954. It was the same year when the Finnish government decided to discontinue the rationing of coffee and sugar which brought a lot of rejoicing to Finns.

The Moscow Armistice ordered among others the demobilization of the Finnish Army. The Finnish Headquarters was apprehensive of a possible occupation of Finland as the political situation also was a bit unstable. So the Finnish colonel Mr. Valo Nihtilä initiated secretly a plan of a concealing of weapons for underground army. This proposed underground army was contemplated in consisting of 34 units ( i.e. 35000 men). The plan, however, was elicited in spring 1945. The Allied Control Commission (ACC) demanded immediate investigations which thereafter took into legal proceedings at War Court. Well over 2100 Finns were prosecuted for alleged war crimes and about 1500 of them were sentenced.

In addition Finland, according to the Armistice, also had to suspend and dissolve The Suojeluskunta and Lotta Svärd-organizations, which both were part of the Finnish Army. Based on the Soviet Union judgment those organizations were ”Hitler-minded”. De facto they were national defense organizations which offered a channel to citizens for voluntary defense activities and various kind of related hobbies. The final peace was signed in 1947 in Paris.

Text: Juho Malka and Pertti Huitu