1919-1944 1948-1969

Finland 1944-1948

Peace Conditions : The conditions for Finland;'s continuing independence were formulated in the treaty of 1948, a treaty with originally was to be renewed after 10 years. The treaty required Finland not to engage in any alliance directed against the USSR, to hand over refugees from the USSR or other socialist nations. The Finnish government had to accept the Finnish communists as a junior partner in government. At Hanko and Porkkala the USSR was to operate naval bases on Finnish territory. Eastern Karelia, Petsamo again were ceded to the USSR.
On the positive side, the treaty allowed Finland to preserve its independence, to avoid the fate of having a People's Republic imposed over them. Finland remained a parliamentary democracy and a capitalist economy.

Foreign Policy : The Paris Peace Treaty of 1947 and the Fenno-Soviet Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance of 1948 reestablished Finland's authority to conclude international treaties.
Finland, on the international stage, pursued a policy of conciliation with the USSR, in order not to jeopardize her independence - "Finland stood out as the only surviving democracy in what is popularily known as the Soviet sphere of influence" (Britannica BoY 1949). An application for membership in the UN was denied in 1947.

The Economy : Finland maintained her capitalist system. Priorities of her government in the later 1940es lay with reconstruction. In 1946, a trade agreement was signed with the USSR; Finland had to pay reparations to the USSR. A U.S. credit of 35,000,000 $ alleviated the burden.
1946 and 1947 saw inflation at a considerable level; prices in 1947 were 5.5 times the level of 1938. 1948 saw a considerable improvement.
In 1945, Finland produced 0.78 million metric tons of potatoes, in 1948 1.95 million, while the production of wheat was 0.265 million metric tons in both 1945 and 1948 (IHS p.267).

Political History . Finland was forced to stage war crime tribunals; a good number of respected politicians had to face accusations. Prior to the elections of 1948, Interior Minister Yrjö Leino (Communist) was compelled to resign; the elections of 1948 were fair and free; the communist SKDI gained 38 seats (out of 202), a loss of 11. A minority government, without participation of the Communists, was formed.

Social History : The population estimates for Finland in 1945 and 1948 are 3.82 and 3.91 million respectively (Lahmeyer).
The cession of Petsamo, Viipuri (Vyborg) and Karelia resulted in the migration of the population of these areas, c. 400,000, into the remainder of Finland, where they had to be provided with shelter, integrated into society and economy.
There was the issue of a large number of orphans and children victims of extreme poverty; Pelastakaa Lapset (Save the Children) was an organization, which with the help of donations (mostly from Sweden) took care of the problem. Over 10,000 Finnish orphans were adopted by Swedish foster parents.

Cultural History : In 1948 the Finnish Academy of Sciences was established. Finnish athletes won 8 gold medals at the London Summer Olympics in 1948 (athletes from Germany, Austria, Japan were not permitted to participate).
Following the cession of Karelia to the USSR, the archiepiscopal see of the Finnish Orthodox Church was moved to Helsinki.

Articles Juho Kusti Paasikivi, C.G.E. Mannerheim, Allied Control Commission : Finland, War Responsibility Trials in Finland, Moscow Armistice, Weapons Cache Case, Agreement of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance (Finland-USSR, 1948), Evacuation of Finnish Karelia, Finnish War Children, Finland at the 1948 Summer Olympics, Finland at the 1948 Winter Olympics, from Wikipedia
Library of Congress, Country Studies : Finland
Karelians and other Finns from former Finnish Karelia, from Genocides and Ethnic Cleansings of Central and Eastern Europe ..
Pelastakaa Lapset - Save the Children
Finnish Orthodox Church,
DOCUMENTS List of Finnish Presidents, Prime Ministers etc., from Finland, by Ben Cahoon
Historical Population Statistics : Finland, from Population Statistics (Jan Lahmeyer)
Paris Peace Treaty for Finland 1947, from Australian Treaty Series
Olympic Games 1948, Final Medal Standings, from Olympic Museum
Finnish banknotes, from Ron Wise's World Paper Money
DOCUMENTS IHS : B.R. Mitchell, International Historical Statistics. Europe 1750-1988, NY : Stockton Press 1992 [G]
Article : Finland, in : Britannica Book of the Year 1945 pp.284-285, 1946 pp.309-310, 1947 pp.322-324, 1948 pp.307-308, 1949 pp.266-267 [G]
Article : Finland, in : Americana Annual 1945 pp.117-119, 1946 pp.126-129, 1947 pp.254-255; 1947 Peace Conference and Pacts pp.542-546 [G]
Article : Finland, in : Funk & Wagnall's New Standard Encyclopedia Year Book 1946 pp.162-164 [G]
Anthony Upton, Finland, pp.133-151 in : Martin McCauley (ed.), Communist Power in Europe 1944-1949, London : MacMillan 1977 [G]

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2000, last revised on November 25th 2009

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