What happened with Finland in the Second World War? I realise with some embarrassment that I don’t know. Kari fills me in, reminding me, true scientist that he is, that he may be biased.
Finland was given independence by Lenin in 1917, but when the Second World War broke out Stalin, so Finns insist, had a plan to take over Finland in 10 days. A scuffle between Russians and Finns led the Russians to invade, and the bitter Winter War of 1939/40 followed. Although the Russians outnumbered the Finns ten to one “and had tanks when we had horses,” the Finns held off the Russians, mainly because the winter was so severe and many of the Russians were from the South. The Finns, I reflected, did to the Russians what they did to Napoleon and subsequently Hitler.
When Russia’s pact with Germany failed the Finns allied with the Germans, not, I think, because they supported Hitler’s ambitions but as a means to hold off the Russians. German troops occupied Finland, but, so Kari thought, Jews, gypsies, and homosexuals were not rounded up (perhaps because there weren’t many in Finland). During the alliance with Germany Finns pushed way into what is now Russia to lands where people had long spoken Finnish. Finnish nationalists were excited.
But as the Germans began to suffer defeat Finland broke with Germany, and Hitler ordered his troops to burn Finland and do as they wanted. The troops were concentrated in the North, and they did burn many of the buildings and raped women. Many Laplanders have German fathers they never met. The Germans eventually left. The Russians had, however, pushed back, and Miss Finland (as she is known because her map had looked like a woman in a skirt with two outstretched arms) had lost her Eastern arm, about 20% of the country.
After the war came Finlandisation, a time when Finland seemed to be independent but couldn’t do anything of which the Russians disapproved. It has never joined NATO and joined the European Union during the time when Russia was in chaos.
I hope that I’ve got this mainly right. Kari’s bias is one problem, but only a small one: more of a problem is my memory.