Interim Peace 1940 Finnish spring

The Interim Peace (Finnish: Välirauhan aika, Swedish: Mellanfreden) was a short period in the history of Finland during the Second World War. 

The term is used for the time between the Winter War and the Continuation War, lasting a little over a year, from 13 March 1940 to 24 June 1941. The Moscow Peace Treaty was signed by Finland and the Soviet Union on 12 March 1940 and it ended the 105-day Winter War.

In the aftermath of the Winter War, both the Soviet Union and Finland were preparing for a new war while the Soviets pressured the Finns politically. 
In early 1940 Finland sued for an alliance with Sweden but both the Soviet Union and Germany opposed it. In April, Germany occupied Denmark and Norway. In June the Soviet Union occupied the Baltic states. Next year Finland negotiated their participation in the Axis invasion of the Soviet Union.

The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, and background of the Winter War and Winter War

The 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact clarified Soviet–German relations and enabled the Soviet Union to bring pressure to bear on the small Baltic republics and Finland, perhaps in order to better her strategic position in Eastern Europe in case of a widening of the war. The Baltic republics soon gave in to Soviet demands for bases and troop transfer rights, but Finland continued to refuse. As diplomatic pressure had failed, arms were resorted to, and on 
November 30, 1939, the Soviet Union began an invasion of Finland the Winter War.

The Winter War produced in Finns a rude awakening to international politics. Condemnation by the League of Nations and by countries all over the world seemed to have no effect on Soviet policy. Sweden allowed volunteers to join the Finnish army, but did not send military support, and refused passage to French or British troops, which were in any event made ready in lower numbers than promised. 

War nest, men listened to peace

Even right-wing extremists were shocked to find that Nazi Germany did not help at all, and also blocked material help from other countries

The Moscow Peace Treaty, which ended the Winter War, was perceived as a great injustice. It seemed as if the losses at the negotiation table, including Finland's second largest city, Viipuri, had been worse than on the battlefield. 
A fifth of the country's industrial capacity and 11% of agricultural land were lost. Of the 12% of Finland's population who lived in the lost territories, only a few hundred stayed, the remaining 420,000 moving to the Finnish side of the border.
After the Moscow Peace Treaty, signed on March 12, 1940, was a shock for the Finns. It was perceived as the ultimate failure of Finland's 1930s foreign policy, which had been based on multilateral guarantees for support from similar countries, first in the world order established by the League of Nations, and later from the Oslo group and Scandinavia. 
                                       Tea time, after armistice came into force

The immediate response was to broaden and intensify this policy. Binding bilateral treaties were now sought where Finland formerly had relied on goodwill and national friendship, and formerly frosty relations with ideological adversaries, such as the Soviet Union and the Third Reich, had necessarily to be eased.
                                      troops destroyed, is not excluded from the enemy use

Closer and improved relations were sought particularly with:
Sweden and Norway
the United Kingdom
the Soviet Union
the Third Reich
With exception for the case of Nazi Germany, all of these attempts turned out to meet critical obstacles, either due to Moscow's fear that Finland would slide out of the Soviet sphere of influence or due to general dynamics of the world war.

Public opinion in Finland longed for the re-acquisition of the homes of the 12% of Finland's population who had been forced to leave Finnish Karelia in haste, and put their hope in the peace conference that was generally assumed would follow the World War. The term Välirauha ("Interim peace") hence became popular after the harsh peace was announced.

To protest the Moscow Peace Treaty, two ministers resigned and Prime Minister Ryti was forced to form a new cabinet right away. To achieve better national consensus, all parties except the right extremist IKL participated in the cabinet.

                        left: Hagström, President Ryti, an adjutant, Prime Minister Linkomies, Mannerheim, and General Heinrichs

The most difficult post to fill was that of Foreign Minister, for which Ryti and Mannerheim first thought of Finland's ambassador to London G. A. Gripenberg, but as he believed himself to be too unpopular in Berlin, Rolf Witting, who was less British-oriented and more suitable to achieve improved relations with Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, was selected.

Attempted Nordic Defence Alliance   Scandinavian defence union
During the last days of war, Väinö Tanner and Per Albin Hansson had mentioned the possibility of a Nordic Defence Alliance, possibly including also Norway and Denmark, to stabilize the situation in the region. On March 15, this plan was published for discussion in the parliaments. However, on March 29 the Soviet Union declared that an alliance would be in breach of the Moscow Peace Treaty, stalling the plan, and Germany's invasion of Denmark and Norway killed even the option of a smaller Scandinavian defence union, that would benefit Finland even if she wasn't a party to it.

Although the peace treaty was signed, the state of war was not revoked because of the widening world war, the difficult food supply situation, and the poor shape of the Finnish military. Censorship was not abolished but was used to suppress critics of the Moscow peace treaty and the most blatantly anti-Soviet comments.
The continued state of war made it possible for President Kyösti Kallio to ask Field Marshal Mannerheim to remain commander-in-chief and supervise the reorganization of Finland's Armed Forces and the fortification of the new border, a task that was critically important in the unruly times. Within a week after the peace treaty was signed, the fortification works were started along the 1200 km long Salpalinja ("the Bolt Line"), where the focus was between the Gulf of Finland and Lake Saimaa.

                                    rag collector, a 10-year-old girl dispose of rags Center site

During the summer and autumn, Finland received material purchased and donated during and immediately after the Winter War, but it took several months before Mannerheim was able to present a somewhat positive assessment of the state of the army. Military expenditures rose in 1940 to 45% of Finland's state budget. Military purchases were prioritised over civilian needs. Mannerheim's position and the continued state of war enabled an efficient management of the military, but it created an unfortunate parallel government that from time to time clashed with the structures of civilian government.
                                   troops marching home, after the war

On March 13, the same day that the Moscow Peace Treaty came into effect, British Ministry of Economic Warfare (MEW) asked Foreign Office to start negotiations with Finland as soon as possible to secure positive relations with Finland. 

Under-secretary of MEW, Charles Hambro was authorized to form the war trade treaty with Finland, and he traveled to Helsinki April 7. He had already exchanged letters with Ryti, and they reached quickly to the basic understanding of the contents of the treaty. Finns were eager to start trade, and from the first meeting the preliminary treaty was created, which Finns accepted immediately, but Hambro needed the approval of his superiors and that it would be considered official immediately until the final treaty was negotiated. In the treaty Finland gave control of her strategic material exports to Britain in exchange of armaments and other necessary materials.

The next day, Germany attacked Norway, making the treaty obsolete, as England cancelled all trade with the region.

After Nazi Germany's assault on Scandinavia on April 9, 1940, Operation Weserübung, Finland was physically isolated from her traditional trade markets in the west. Sea routes to and from Finland were now controlled by the Kriegsmarine. The outlet of the Baltic sea was blockaded, and in the far north Finland's route to the world was an Arctic dirt road from Rovaniemi to the ice-free harbour of Petsamo, from where the ships had to pass a long stretch of German-occupied Norwegian coast by the Arctic Ocean. 
                                                   War quiet post-artists

Finland, like Sweden, was spared occupation but encircled by Nazi Germany and Soviet Union. With direct support by Marshal Mannerheim a volunteer unit was formed and sent to Norway to help the fight against the Nazi army. The ambulance unit participated in the war until the Germans conquered the area in which it was serving. The volunteers returned to Finland.
                                                   homecoming after the war (ruins)

Especially damaging was the loss of fertilizer imports, that, together with the loss of arable land ceded in the Moscow Peace, the loss of cattle during the hasty evacuation after the Winter War, and the unfavourable weather in the summer of 1940, resulted in a drastic fall of foodstuff production to less than two thirds of what was Finland's estimated need. Some of the deficit could be purchased from Sweden and some from the Soviet Union, although delayed deliveries were then a means to exert pressure on Finland. In this situation, Finland had no alternative but to turn to Germany for help.

Germany has traditionally been a counterweight to Russia in Baltic region, and despite the fact that Hitler's Third Reich had acquiesced with the invader, Finland perceived some value in also seeking warmer relations in that direction. After the German occupation of Norway, and particularly after the Allied evacuation from northern Norway, the relative importance of a German rapprochement increased. Finland had queried about the possibility of buying arms from Germany on May 9, but Germany refused to even discuss the matter.
From May 1940, Finland pursued a campaign to re-establish the good relations with Germany that had soured in the last year of the 1930s. Finland rested her hope in the fragility of the Nazi–Soviet bond, and in the many personal friendships between Finnish and German athletes, scientists, industrialists, and military officers. A part of that policy was accrediting the energetic former Prime Minister Toivo Mikael Kivimäki as ambassador in Berlin in June 1940. The Finnish mass media not only refrained from criticism of Nazi Germany, but also took active part in this campaign. Dissent was censored. Seen from Berlin, this looked like a refreshing contrast to the annoyingly anti-Nazi press in Sweden.
                                      Radio Control staff monitoring the situation

After the fall of France, in late June, the Finnish ambassador in Stockholm heard from the diplomatic sources that Britain could soon be forced to negotiate peace with Germany. The experience from World War I emphasized the importance of close and friendly relations with the victors, and accordingly the courting of Nazi Germany was stepped up still further.

The first crack in the German coldness towards Finland was registered in late July, when Ludwig Weissauer, a secret representative of the German Foreign Minister, visited Finland and queried Mannerheim and Ryti about Finland's willingness to defend the country against the Soviet Union. Mannerheim estimated the Finnish army could last a few weeks without more arms. Weissauer left without any promises.
The implementation of the Moscow Peace Treaty created problems due to the Soviet Vae Victis-mentality. Border arrangements in the Enso industrial area, which even Soviet members of the border commission considered to be on the Finnish side of the border, the forced return of evacuated machinery, locomotives, and rail cars; and inflexibility on questions which could have eased hardships created by the new border, such as fishing rights and the usage of Saimaa Canal merely served to heighten distrust about the objectives of the Soviet Union.

The Soviet attitude was personified in the new ambassador to Helsinki, Ivan Zotov. He behaved undiplomatically and had a stiff-necked drive to advance Soviet interests, real or imagined, in Finland. During the summer and autumn he recommended several times in his reports to the Soviet Foreign Office that Finland ought to be finished off and wholly annexed by the Soviet Union.

On June 14, Soviet bombers shot down the Finnish passenger plane Kaleva. All nine passengers and crew perished.

On June 23, the Soviet Union proposed that Finland should revoke Petsamo mining rights from the British–Canadian company and transfer them to the Soviet Union, or to a joint venture owned by the Russians and the Finns. On June 27, Moscow demanded either demilitarization or a joint fortification effort in Åland. After Sweden had signed the troop transfer agreement with Germany on July 8, Soviet Foreign Minister Molotov demanded similar rights for a Soviet troop transit to Hanko on July 9. The transfer rights were given on September 6, and demilitarization of Åland was agreed on October 11, but negotiations on Petsamo continued to drag on, with Finnish negotiators stalling as much as possible.
                      The Communist Party was so discredited in the Winter War that it never managed to recuperate between the wars. Instead, on May 22, the Peace and Friendship Society of Finland and Soviet Union was created, and it actively propagated Soviet viewpoints. Ambassador Zotov had very close contacts with the Society by holding weekly meetings with the Society leadership in the Soviet embassy and having Soviet diplomats participating in Society board meetings. 

The Society started by criticizing the government and military, and gained around 35,000 members at maximum. Emboldened by its success, it started organizing almost daily violent demonstrations during the first half of August which were supported politically by Zotov and a press campaign in Leningrad. The government reacted forcefully and arrested leading members of the society which ended the demonstrations in spite of Zotov's and Molotov's protests. The Society was finally outlawed in December 1940.

                         Presidentti Paasikivi keskellä. Kuva: YLE kuvapalvelu.

The Soviet Union demanded that Väinö Tanner be discharged from the cabinet because of his anti-Soviet stance and he had to resign August 15. Ambassador Zotov further demanded the resignation of both the Minister of Social Affairs Karl-August Fagerholm because he had called the Society a Fifth column in a public speech, and the Minister of Interior Affairs Ernst von Born, who was responsible for police and led the crackdown of the Society, but they retained their places in the cabinet after Ryti delivered a radio speech in which he stated the willingness of his government to improve relations between Finland and the Soviet Union.
President Kallio suffered a stroke on August 28, after which he was unable to work, but when he presented his resignation November 27, the Soviet Union reacted by announcing that if Mannerheim, Tanner, Kivimäki, Svinhufvud or someone of their ilk were chosen president, it would be considered a breach of the Moscow peace treaty.

All of this reminded the public heavily of how the Baltic Republics had been occupied and annexed only a few months earlier. It was no wonder that the average Finn feared that the Winter War had produced only a short delay of the same fate.
British disregard
Compared to the early spring, during the summer of 1940, Finland wasn't high in importance in British foreign policy. To gain support from the Soviet Union, Britain had appointed Sir Stafford Cripps, from the left wing of the Labour Party, ambassador to Moscow. He had openly supported the Terijoki Government during the Winter War and he wondered to Ambassador Paasikivi 'didn't the Finns really want to follow Baltic Republics and join the Soviet Union?'. He also dismissively called President Kallio "Kulak" and Nordic social democracy "reactionary". The British Foreign Office had to apologize for his language to Ambassador Gripenberg.
                                 The all Brewster fighters are home now finally, 1939 purchased USA and assembled in Sweden

Britain opposed Finnish-Swedish cooperation and provided support for the Soviet Union to scuttle the initiative, until it became apparent in late March 1941 that it had driven Finland in the direction of the Germans, but by then it was already too late. Finnish foreign trade was another critical issue as it was dependent on British navycerts and the Ministry of Economic Warfare was extremely strict when issuing those so that even Finnish trade (and relations) with the Soviet Union suffered from it.

During the nickel negotiations the Foreign Office pressured the license owning British-Canadian company to "temporarily" release the license and offered diplomatic support to Soviet attempts to gain control of the mine with the precondition that no ore would be shipped to Germany.

Improved relations with Nazi Germany
Unbeknownst to Finland, Adolf Hitler had started to plan his forthcoming invasion of the Soviet Union (Operation Barbarossa) now that France had collapsed. He had not been interested in Finland before the Winter War, but now he saw the value of Finland as an operating base, and perhaps also the military value of the Finnish army. In the first weeks of August, German fears of a likely immediate Russian attack on Finland caused Hitler to free the arms embargo. 
                                  home it's coming all rest fiat fighters who finland's purchased 1939 ...
The arms deliveries stopped under the Winter War were resumed.
All their weapons supplies that Hitler had been stopped by the ports in the autumn of 1939, was released and sent to the Finnish, but also all the French in 1939 Morane machines were donated by email. whether or not the delivery of hitler was stopped by the ports in 1939
The next visitor from Germany came on August 18, when a representative of Hermann Göring, arms dealer Joseph Veltjens, arrived. He negotiated with Ryti and Mannerheim about German troop transfer rights between Finnmark in Northern Norway and ports of Gulf of Bothnia in exchange for arms and other material. At first these arms shipments were transferred via Sweden, but later they came directly to Finland. For the Third Reich, this was a breach of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, as well as being for Finland a material breach of the Moscow Peace Treaty—that in fact had been chiefly targeted against cooperation between Germany and Finland. It has been disputed in retrospect whether the ailing President Kallio was informed. Possibly Kallio's health collapsed before he could be confidentially briefed.

From the campaign to ease the Third Reich's coldness towards Finland, it seemed a natural development to also promote closer relations and cooperation, especially since the much-disliked Moscow Peace Treaty had, in clear language, tried to persuade the Finns not to do exactly that. Propaganda in the censored press contributed to Finland's international re-orientation—although with very measured means.
Soviet negotiators had insisted that the troop transfer agreement (to Hanko) should not be published for parliamentary discussion or voting. This precedent made it easy for the Finnish government to keep a troop transfer agreement with the Germans secret until the first German troops arrived at the port of Vaasa on September 21. The arrival of German troops produced much relief to the insecurity of average Finns, and was largely approved. Most contrary voices opposed more the way the agreement was negotiated than the transfer itself, although the Finnish people knew only the barest details of the agreements with the Third Reich. 

The presence of German troops was seen as a deterrent for further Soviet threats and a counterbalance to the Soviet troop transfer right. The German troop transfer agreement was augmented November 21 allowing the transfer of wounded, and soldiers on leave, via Turku. Germans arrived and established quarters, depots, and bases along the rail lines from Vaasa and Oulu to Ylitornio and Rovaniemi, and from there along the roads via Karesuvanto and Kilpisjärvi or Ivalo and Petsamo to Skibotn and Kirkenes in northern Norway. Also roadworks for improving winter road (between Karesuvanto and Skibotn) and totally new road (from Ivalo to Karasjok) were discussed, and later financed, by Germans.

Ryti, Mannerheim, Minister of Defence Walden and chief of staff Heinrichs decided October 23 that information concerning Finnish defence plans of Lappland could be given to the Wehrmacht to gain goodwill, even with the risk that they could be forwarded to the Soviet Union.

When Soviet Foreign Minister Molotov visited Berlin on November 12, he demanded that Germany stop supporting Finland, and the right to handle Finland in a similar way to Baltic states, but Hitler demanded that there should be no new military activities in Northern Europe before summer. Through unofficial channels, Finnish representatives were informed that "Finnish leaders can sleep peacefully, Hitler has opened his umbrella over Finland."

Attempted defence union with Sweden
On August 19, a new initiative was launched for co-operation between Sweden and Finland. It called for a union of the two states in exchange for a Finnish declaration of satisfaction with the current borders. The plans were primarily championed by the Swedish Foreign Minister, Christian Günther, and Conservative party leader Gösta Bagge, Education Minister in Stockholm. They had to counter increasing anti-Swedish opinions in Finland; and in Sweden, Liberal and Socialist suspicions against what was seen as right-wing dominance in Finland. 
One of the chief objectives of the plan was to ensure greatest possible liberty for Sweden and Finland in a presumed post-war Europe totally dominated by Nazi Germany. In Sweden, political opponents criticized the necessary adaptations to the Nazis; in Finland, the resistance centred on the loss of sovereignty and influence—and the acceptance of the loss of Finnish Karelia. However, the general feeling of Finland's dire and deteriorating position quieted many critics.

The official request for a union was made by Christian Günther on October 18, and Finland's approval was received on October 25, but by November 5, the Soviet ambassador in Stockholm, Alexandra Kollontai, warned Sweden about the treaty. The Swedish government retreated from the issue but discussions for a more acceptable treaty continued until December when, on December 6, the Soviet Union and, on December 19, Germany announced their strong opposition to any kind of union between Sweden and Finland.

7 kommenttia:

  1. Great post, I seem to learn a lot from your posts. What do you think would of happened if Germany did not invade Russia in 1941 do you think Russia would have invaded Finland for a second time, and what would you imagine would have been the outcome

    1. Hi.
      thanks for the comment
      Asked difficult, but apparently obvious event.
      Winter War hykkäys was almost three times as large as the Normandy.
      Pause (peace) meant perhaps the closest that the Soviet Union "wanted to examine the situation in a massive military defeat and equipment
      Think about the causes and clarify the situation in occupied areas.

      Stalin got the desired, part of the Finnish (Pechenga Nickel) Baltic and Polish, Romanian Bessarabia and Bukovina

  2. I think Stalin was waiting for since the English and the French prefer Finnish
    Churchill and Mannerheim were close ystäviä.ja with the Finnish Trade English.
    a long tradition of wood, tar, and board stuff
    Churchill had always been the biggest opponent of communism (since 1917) in Europe
    Hitler could not by attacking the English language over the sea.

    He had plans to attack Soviet Union, but musollinin attack
    greece confused the plans and the attack was delayed for months.
    Both Stalin and Hitler had good spies headquarters of both countries
    Stalin's spy only was much better and very close to Hitler
    Similarly, stalin spies were also English and French.
    Means, stalin knew since the attack begins, it still surprised.

    1. I forgot to say that the sympathies of Mussolini was the Finnish side

  3. Vastaukset
    1. Hi, Rodger.
      Thank you.
      The classic comparison of the winter war and Normandy, a little bit "limping"
      As the Finnish border line was 1300 kilometers long,
      Normandy beach was a very short

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