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Finland, currently the Republic of Finland, is a bourgeois state in Northern Europe. It had a communist revolution in 1918, wherein the Reds lost and the bourgeois government became established. Despite this, Finland faced pressure from the Soviet Union which manifested in leniency for communist soldiers and the suppression of texts like The Gulag Archipelago. Finland fought the Winter War against the Soviet Union between 1939-1940, which it lost, and later the Continuation War from 1941-1944, which it also lost and which resulted in the Moscow Armistice, which required Finland to break off relations with Nazi Germany and expel its forces, leading to what became the Lapland War (1944-1945) which, with Soviet support, Finland won.

Finland is a member of the EU and partners with NATO, however is not an actual member of it.[1] Finland has a long history of animosity with Russia which carried over into Soviet times, and which remains today with the modern state of the Russian Federation.


Primitive communal system (to the ninth century AD)[edit]

The earliest traces of human habitation in Finland date from the postglacial period and belong to the Mesolithic Askola culture, which flourished on the coast of Finland in the eighth millennium B.C. Archaeologists have discovered sites of the Pit-Comb culture (third millennium B.C.) and have determined that bearers of the Boat-ax and Corded Ware cultures, who were familiar with stock raising and land cultivation, appeared in southwestern Finland in the second millennium B.C. Trade within the eastern regions of Scandinavia developed at the end of the Bronze Age.

Transition to the Iron Age (beginning of the first millennium AD)[edit]

This period coincided with the first migrations of Balto-Finnic tribes from northeastern Estonia to southwestern Finland. By the mid-first millennium A.D., Finnic tribal groups had settled in certain specific areas — the Suomi tribes in southwestern Finland and the Harne tribes in the central part of the country. By the ninth century, Finnic tribes had reached Lake Saimaa, the largest lake in Finland which is located in present-day Finnish Karelia. By the end of the first millennium, the Korela tribes had settled on the Karelian Isthmus and the northern shores of Lake Ladoga, Nomadic Lapp tribes inhabited the region north of the line formed by the modern cities of Pori, Tampere, and Mikkeli. The Finnic tribes had a primitive communal society and engaged in hunting, fishing, stock raising, and land cultivation.

Rise of early class society and Swedish conquest (9th through 13th centuries)[edit]

The campaigns of the Vikings from the late 8th to mid-11th centuries did not affect Finland directly, but the general quickening of economic activity in the Baltic region had a considerable influence on the development of the Finnic tribes. In the ninth century, the important bartering center of Koroinen arose at the mouth of the Aura River, where the city of Turku is now located; Byzantine, Anglo-Saxon, and German coins have been found at the site. Trading settlements were established in other parts of Finland as well.

The clan system very gradually disappeared, and an early class society arose, as is shown by the consolidation of the hereditary power of the leaders, the social and economic stratification of the peasants (who held land in common), the imposition of tribute on the Lapps, and the intensification of the struggle against the Norwegians and Korela tribes over the possession of unsettled areas in northern Finland. The Finnish nationality gradually formed through the merger of the Suomi, Häme, and Korela tribes. Finland, however, did not achieve political consolidation, and it split into a number of regions (maakunnat).

The mid-12th century saw the beginning of the conquest of Finland by Swedish feudal lords. Their supremacy was strengthened through forcible Christianization and the imposition of a permanent taxation system on the local population. In three crusades, which took place in 1155 (possibly 1157), 1249, and 1293, the Swedes conquered all of southern Finland up to the Karelian Isthmus.

Swedish rule (late 13th century to 1809)[edit]

The genesis of feudal relations (late 13th to late 16th centuries)[edit]

The Orekhovets Peace of 1323 (also known as the Treaty of Nöteborg), which officially established the border between Sweden and Rus’ for the first time, recognized the territory of what is now Finland to be part of the Swedish kingdom. The process of conquest by Sweden was accompanied by the feudalization of the Finnish population. In the second half of the 13th century the Swedish crown assumed the functions of administration and taxation, which had previously been vested in the Catholic Church. Finland was divided into administrative units based on the old tribal divisions, and the fortresses of Vyborg (Viipuri), Tavastehus (Hämeenlinna), and Åbo (Turku) became the centers of civil administration. Privileged estates appeared, namely, the nobility and the clergy, both of which were composed primarily of people of Swedish extraction. The Finnish peasantry, while remaining personally free and retaining the right to landownership, became feudally dependent on the ruling class and was subjected by the state to new obligations, such as the building of fortresses and the maintenance of garrisons. Taxes on the peasantry accounted for the bulk of revenues sent to Stockholm.

From 1397 to 1523 the kingdoms of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden (including Finland) were united under the supreme authority of the Danish kings through the Kalmar Union. Finland enjoyed a relatively high degree of internal autonomy in this period. During the anti-Danish uprising of 1434–36 in Sweden, the Finnish nobility mediated between the warring parties. As a result, the right of the Finnish nobility to vote in the elections of the Swedish king (a right it had exercised since 1362) was confirmed. The Danish penetration into Finland was stubbornly resisted by the peasantry; uprisings took place in 1438 and 1439 in Satakunta, Tavastia, and Karelia. In 1523, Finland — the last bastion of the Danes in their struggle against the Swedish king Gustavus Vasa — came under Swedish control once again.

In the 16th century the Swedish crown appropriated considerable amounts of land in Finland from the peasantry and the Catholic Church; the taking of church lands was motivated in part by the Reformation. Sweden began colonizing the northern and northeastern regions of Finland, which were declared to be possessions of the crown in 1542. The Reformation, lacking a distinct political coloring in Finland, did not result in a broad popular movement, and Lutheranism, the few successes of which were associated with the activity of Mikael Agricola, did not take root in Finland as deeply as in other northern countries. The division of the country into the dioceses of Åbo and Vyborg further strengthened royal power at the expense of the church’s authority. In 1556 the southwestern part of Finland, which was economically the most developed part of the country, was given to Gustavus Vasa’s son Johan as a duchy. Although Johan was allowed to pursue an independent policy, his attempts to achieve complete autonomy for the region ended in failure; in 1563 its status as a duchy was abolished.

Sweden’s frequent wars against Russia in the second half of the 16th century were ruinous for Finland, especially for the peasantry, which consequently staged the greatest revolt in the country’s history, the Cudgel War, in 1596 and 1597. In the struggle for power in Sweden between the Polish king Sigismund III and the Swedish duke Charles, the Finnish nobility sided with Sigismund. In 1599 the Swedes defeated Sigismund’s followers in Finland and eliminated the opposition to Stockholm.

The period of Sweden's great power status (17th and early 18th centuries)[edit]

The conclusion of the Peace of Stolbovo of 1617 was followed by a long period of peace in Finland. The absence of fighting contributed to the restoration of the country’s economy and to the development of local administration. A royal court of highest instance was established in Finland in 1623, a postal service was set up, and about ten new cities were founded. In addition, Gymnasiums and parish schools were opened from the 1630s to the 1650s, and a university was founded in Åbo in 1640.

Swedish dominance over Finland was strengthened after the mid-17th century. Under King Charles XI (reigned 1660–97) Finland was essentially a collection of ordinary provinces. From the 1630s to the 1670s, more than two-thirds of the land became the feudal property of the nobility, large manorial estates arose, the corvee system was introduced, and the peasants were partially attached to the land. The reversion of lands held by the nobility to the crown did not substantially improve conditions for the Finnish peasants but at least removed the threat of their enserfment. The Northern War of 1700–21, which is known in Finnish history as the Great Wrath or the Long Wrath, was destructive to Finland’s economy; 60,000 men, or one-fifth of the population, were drafted into the army, and one-fourth of the peasant farms were abandoned. By the Treaty of Nystadt (1721), which ended the Northern War, Sweden returned southwestern Karelia, Vyborg, and other territories to Russia.

The crisis of feudalism and the birth of capitalist relations (second quarter of the 18th to the beginning of the 19th century)[edit]

With the weakening of Sweden after the Northern War, anti-Swedish sentiments grew stronger in Finland. On March 18, 1742, during the Russo-Swedish War of 1741–43, the Russian empress Elizaveta Petrovna promulgated a noteworthy manifesto to the Finnish people. The manifesto, which contained an appeal to form an independent Finland with Russian support, had a marked effect on the formation of the Finnish national consciousness. In accordance with the Åbo Peace Treaty (1743), which ended the war, Russia gained southeastern Finland, including the cities of Fredrikshamn (Hamina), Villmanstrand (Lappeenranta), and Nyslott (Savonlinna).

In the 1750s and 1760s, with oppositional sentiments on the rise in Finland, the Swedish government was forced to enact several measures to promote Finland’s economic development. In 1765, Finnish cities on the Gulf of Bothnia received staple rights; this privilege opened Finland to the world market. The enclosure of land, which began in 1757, contributed to the development of commodity farms in Finland. In 1775 a decree was issued on the transfer of “surpluses” of land to the crown. Approximately 7,400 new peasant farms were established in the 18th century — half of them after 1775. Permission was given to divide communal peasant holdings and to establish torpat (parcels of land leased to peasants for life in exchange for their labor) on them. By 1805 these torpat numbered 25,300. The development of agriculture was promoted by the Finnish Economic Society, which was founded in 1797. The Swedish government, however, viewed Finland mainly as a source of raw materials, and the development of the few industrial enterprises that existed (iron, lumber, textiles, and glass) was retarded by guild regulations, the lack of funds, and other restraints.

In the late 18th century the economist A. Chydenius — together with K. F. Menander, P. Kalm, P. A. Gadd, and H. G. Porthan, who were professors at the Academy in Åbo — laid the ground-work for the Fennoman movement for the national regeneration of the Finnish people, which took shape in the 1820s to 1840s. The anti-Swedish sentiments of the nobility and military officers reached their height during the Russo-Swedish war of 1788–90, leading to the Anjala conspiracy in which disgruntled Swedish officers mutinied in an attempt to end the war.

Russian rule and the development of capitalist relations (1809–1917)[edit]

As a result of the Russo-Swedish war of 1808–09, Finland was incorporated into the Russian Empire. The Russian government convened an assembly of representatives of the four Finnish estates in the city of Borgå (Porvoo); this diet approved the conditions under which Finland entered the Russian Empire. Taking the title of Grand Duke of Finland, the Russian emperor became the head of state of the country, which was named the Grand Duchy of Finland. The emperor was represented in Finland by a governor-general, who headed the supreme government body in Finland. In 1816 this body was named the Senate. The upper level of the administration was directly subordinate to the emperor. In St. Petersburg, Finnish questions were prepared for submission to the emperor by the Committee on the Affairs of Finland, which existed until 1891 (the committee was called the Commission on the Affairs of Finland from 1809 to 1811). From 1826 to 1857 the functions of the committee were carried out by the secretary of state (minister secretary of state from 1834) heading it. The Diet, which represented the four estates, had jurisdiction over legislation concerning domestic affairs; its competence did not extend to foreign affairs. Without the consent of the Diet the emperor could not pass new laws, abrogate old ones, or impose taxes. In addition to internal administrative autonomy, Finland had economic autonomy. For example, it had its own customs service for trade with Russia and Western European countries. The imperial treasury received no revenues from the grand duchy; between 1860 and 1878, Finland’s monetary system was gradually dissociated from Russia’s.

Finland’s special status in the Russian Empire was dictated by political and strategic considerations; as V. I. Lenin wrote, in response to the general European crisis the autocracy sought “to win over the Finns, who were formerly subjects of the Swedish king”[2] and to neutralize potential opposition by making a number of concessions. To this end, Vyborg Province was united with Finland in 1811.

Finland’s freedom from military expenses, such as the maintenance of an army, created the conditions necessary for the rapid economic development that began in the 1820s. After restrictions on trade and on the use of natural resources were lifted between 1857 and 1868, capitalist relations triumphed in Finland. Sawmilling became the leading sector of the economy; in 1890 it accounted for 22 percent of the country’s output and 21 percent of employment. Along with industrially organized sawmilling, which accounted for 20 percent of the total industrial output, it helped undermine the patriarchal character of the peasant farm. From the 1860s through 1880s, industrial output increased 16-fold, and joint-stock capital grew from 2.1 million markkaa to 33.3 million. By the late 19th century, agriculture was dominated by dairy farming. The Russian market played an enormous role in Finland’s economic development; it accounted for 30 to 50 percent of the grand duchy’s turnover in trade.

From the 1820s to the 1860s the autonomy of Finland was formally retained, but the Diet was not convened until 1863. Censorship became more severe, and in 1850 the publication of books in Finnish was prohibited, except for agricultural and religious literature. The formation of the Finnish nation ("nation" in the historical sense) was associated with the development of the Fennoman movement between the 1820s and the 1840s; although the movement became politically oriented in the 1860s, its members originally advocated the equality of the Finnish language with Swedish and the development of a national culture.

In 1863 the outbreak of the Polish Uprising of 1863–64 compelled tsarism to convene the Finnish Diet and to proclaim the equality of the Finnish and Swedish languages. The school reform of 1866 eliminated church control over primary education and introduced Finnish as a language of instruction. The Diet Act of 1869 provided that the Diet be convened every five years; after 1882 the frequency was increased to once in three years. The municipal reform of 1873 provided for elective bodies of self-government in the cities, and the military reform of 1878 created national army units which became part of the Russian Army.

The reforms on the whole satisfied the Finnish bourgeoisie and nobility. At the same time they strengthened tsarism in the grand duchy. The successes achieved by the 1880s in the development of a national culture greatly reduced the bitterness caused by the language problem. A political struggle that broke out in the late 1870s and early 1880s between the Swedish Party (Svecomans), the Old Finns, and the Young Finns. The struggle centered mainly on Finland’s status in the Russian Empire, the trade policy of the grand duchy, and tactics for dealing with tsarism. The first trade unions arose in the early 1880s, but they immediately came under the influence of the bourgeoisie. The Finnish Workers’ Party (from 1903, the Social Democratic Party of Finland, or SDPF) was founded in 1899.

After the assassination of Alexander II, political reaction increased in the Russian Empire. As a result tsarism in the mid-1880s curtailed Finland’s autonomy and in the 1890s adopted a policy aimed at completely abolishing Finland’s special status within the empire. In the February Manifesto of 1899, which V. I. Lenin called a coup d’etat (ibid., p. 356), the tsar assumed the right to promulgate laws for Finland without the consent of the Diet.

The economic upsurge in Finland continued in the early 20th century. In 1885 there were 38,075 workers in 4,333 factories in Finland; by 1905 there were 107,828 workers in 9,054 factories. Moreover, the value of the gross industrial output rose from 117 million markkaa in 1885 to 392 million in 1905. In 1897 there were 623 joint-stock companies in Finland with a total capital of 170 million markkaa; in 1910 there were 2,214 such companies with 551 million markkaa in capital. In the early 20th century German capital entered the Finnish economy and gained influence.

The development of capitalism led to changes in the class structure of Finnish society. The number of landless peasants increased to 48 percent of the total rural population in 1900, thus swelling the ranks of the proletariat. By the beginning of the 20th century more than 200,000 families belonged to the proletarian or semi-proletarian strata in the countryside. These approximately 200,000 families, which included torpparit (tenant farmers) and farmhands, tilled approximately one-half of the cultivated area, although more than one-half of the land under cultivation belonged to only 29,000 families, mainly kulaks. Out of a population that numbered 2,656,000 in 1900, more than 190,000 emigrated between 1896 and 1910, primarily to the USA.

The attacks on Finnish autonomy led to a realignment of political forces in Finland; the Old Finns adopted a conciliatory and submissive policy vis-à-vis tsarism, and the Swedish Party and the Young Finns formed the Constitutionalist Bloc, which adopted a policy of passive resistance to the tsarist autocracy. In 1904 some of the Constitutionalists founded the Activist Opposition Party, which adopted the Socialist Revolutionaries’ tactics of individual terror. The measures taken against the opposition increased in severity after the governor-general was given emergency powers in 1903; as a result, the political atmosphere in Finland was greatly embittered.

A revolutionary movement developed in Finland under the influence of the Revolution of 1905–07 in Russia. In January, October, and November 1905 meetings were held, and demonstrations and strikes of solidarity with the Russian proletariat were staged. In addition, a Red Guard was formed. On November 1, 1905, workers meeting in Tammerfors (Tampere) adopted the Tammerfors Manifesto, which set forth the Finnish proletariat’s demands for democratic reforms. The Constitutionalists demanded the “restoration of legality” — that is, the repeal of the laws the tsarist government had passed without the consent of the Diet after February 1899. On October 22 (November 4, New Style), 1905, Nicholas II signed a proclamation rescinding these laws. Faced with the pressure of revolutionary events, the tsar confirmed the new Diet Act, which the Diet had adopted on June 20, 1906. This act, which virtually formed a constitution, provided for a unicameral parliament elected by the people, with universal and equal suffrage for all citizens aged 24 or older.

New political parties arose in Finland in 1906; the Swedish wing of the Constitutionalists founded the Swedish People’s Party, and the well-to-do Finnish peasants founded the Union of the Rural Population of Finland. (The name of the union was changed to the Agrarian Party in 1908 and to the Center Party in 1965.) The SDPF led a strike movement that spread in 1906 and 1907, with the workers of the Tammerfors Manufactory striking in the spring of 1906 and the timber floaters on the Kemi River striking in the fall of the same year. Within the SDPF a left wing was formed in 1905 under the leadership of Otto Wille Kuusinen, Yrjö Elias Sirola, and others. The revolutionary events in Finland culminated in the Sveaborg Uprising of 1906; staged by Russian soldiers and sailors, the uprising found support among the Finnish proletariat. The Central Federation of Trade Unions of Finland was founded in April 1907.

The defeat of the revolution in Russia led to reaction in Finland as well. Parliament was frequently dissolved between 1907 and 1911. In addition, on the basis of the tsar’s ukase of June 17 (30, N.S.), 1910, the Russian government drafted a program between 1910 and 1914 for the complete abolition of Finland’s autonomy. As a result, pro-German sentiments increased in Finland during World War I.

In industry, which was linked to the Russian market by war deliveries, a rapid concentration of production took place; the large factories, which produced up to 77 percent of the total output, employed 79 percent of the workers. The trade unions led the workers in a struggle for an improved standard of living. More than 15,000 workers went on strike in 1910, and more than 40,000 in 1916. The influence of the SDPF increased: in the parliamentary elections of 1907 the Social Democrats won 80 out of 200 seats; in 1916 they won 103 seats.

The February Revolution of 1917 in Russia stimulated political activity in Finland. In March 1917 the Finnish proletariat founded the Helsinki diet of workers’ organizations, which played an important role in the Finnish Revolution of 1918, just as the soviets of workers’ deputies did in Russia. Similar diets of workers’ organizations were established in other Finnish cities as well. The Russian Provisional Government restored Finland’s autonomy on March 7 (20, N.S.), 1917, but strongly opposed the growing trend, supported by the SDPF, toward complete internal independence. On July 18, 1917, at the proposal of the Social Democratic faction, the Finnish Parliament adopted the Power Act, in which it claimed for itself supreme authority in Finland’s internal affairs. On July 18 (31, N.S.) the Provisional Government dissolved Parliament; new elections held in October 1917 gave the bourgeois parties a parliamentary majority.

The October Revolution in Russia brought independence to the Finnish people. On December 6, 1917, Parliament adopted a declaration proclaiming Finland to be an independent state. In accordance with the Leninist policy on nationalities, the Council of People’s Commissars of the RSFSR recognized Finland’s independence on December 18 (31, N.S.), 1917, and the All-Russian Central Executive Committee confirmed the council’s resolution on December 22, 1917 (January 4, 1918, N.S.).

The October Revolution in Russia had an immense influence on the development of the Finnish revolutionary movement. A general strike took place in Finland on November 13–19, 1917. The SDPF, however, did not take advantage of the revolutionary situation that arose in the country at the time. On November 26, 1917, Parliament approved the proposed composition of a bourgeois senate headed by Pehr Evind Svinhufvud, who undertook to suppress the revolutionary movement. A White Guard was formed and armed with Germany’s aid. On January 16, 1918, the Senate, having been granted dictatorial powers on January 12, appointed C. G. E. Mannerheim, a former general in the tsarist army, commander in chief of the White Guard.

The Revolution of 1918[edit]

In the early morning of January 28, a workers’ revolution began in Finland. Acting on appeals from the leaders of workers’ organizations, the proletariat of Helsinki seized government institutions and banks. The resistance of the Whites in the southern part of the country was quickly broken. However, the north and most of central Finland, where the members of the bourgeois government had taken refuge, were occupied by the White Guard. Civil war ensued. A revolutionary government, the Council of People’s Commissioners, was established on January 28. The council formulated a democratic program but proceeded to enact a series of socialistic reforms. It nationalized large private estates and many industrial and commercial establishments, replaced the bourgeois state apparatus, assumed management of the Bank of Finland, instituted state control over private banks, established workers’ control at factories, and gave free land to the tenant farmers. Soviet Russia rendered considerable assistance to revolutionary Finland. On March 18, 1918, with V. I. Lenin present, representatives of the two countries met in Petrograd and signed a treaty strengthening friendship and brotherhood between the RSFSR and the Finnish Socialist Workers’ Republic (so designated in the text of the treaty at Lenin’s proposal).

The counterrevolutionary forces called on the German imperialists for help in suppressing the revolution. Treaties between Svinhufvud’s government and Germany were signed in Berlin on March 7, 1918; these treaties made Finland politically and economically dependent on Germany. In early May the revolution was suppressed with the aid of German troops that had landed in Finland. Although the revolution was defeated, it had a considerable influence on the history of the country and the further development of the working-class movement. Learning from its lessons, the most perceptive Finnish Social Democrats realized the necessity of forming a truly revolutionary Marxist-Leninist party; as a result, on August 29, 1918, the left wing of the SDPF founded the Communist Party of Finland (CPF).

1918 to 1945[edit]

The suppression of the revolution in Finland was followed by the establishment of a regime of White terror. On May 15, 1918, Parliament voted to break relations with Soviet Russia. In August the Finnish government declared that peaceful relations between the two countries would be established only after Karelia and the Kola Peninsula had been incorporated into Finland. Moreover, Parliament passed several laws to aid the formation of a political alliance with Germany; it voted on August 1, 1918, to make Finland a monarchy and on October 9 to elect the German prince Friedrich Karl of Hessen as king of Finland. The German revolution of 1918 and Germany’s defeat in World War I saved Finland from becoming a vassal of Germany. Finland was proclaimed a republic on July 17, 1919, and Kaarlo Juho Ståhlberg was elected president of the bourgeois republic.

From 1918 to 1920, Finland supported the interventionist plans of the imperialist powers, although it did not actually take part in the intervention. The victories of the Red Army, the growth of the working-class movement in the country, and economic difficulties forced Finland to accept the peace proposals of the Soviet government. A peace treaty between the RSFSR and Finland was signed on October 14, 1920. Nevertheless, Finnish foreign policy retained an anti-Soviet bias that was consistent with the class interests of the bourgeoisie and with the desire of the reactionary circles to create a Greater Finland. White Finnish “volunteer” detachments made frequent raids on Soviet Karelia until 1922, and political, economic, and cultural ties with the USSR were at a minimum.

In domestic politics, restrictions were placed on the activities of democratic forces. The CPF, which had been an illegal organization since its inception in 1918, continued to work among the masses. Its parliamentary and public activity in defense of the working people’s interests was carried out through the Socialist Labor Party (in existence from 1920 to 1924), the trade unions, and other legally functioning left-wing workers’ and youth organizations. Finnish domestic politics in the 1920s were not marked by stability; the government (Council of State) changed 14 times between 1919 and 1930.

The period from 1920 to 1928 saw some improvement in the economy, especially in the lumber and wood-products industry, but the standard of living of the Finnish workers remained one of the lowest in Europe. The trade unions led strikes involving 2,000 workers in 1924, 13,000 in 1927, and 37,000 in 1928. The world economic crisis of 1929–33 considerably weakened the Finnish economy. Between 1928 and 1931 industrial output declined by 32.5 percent and unemployment exceeded 100,000 persons; large numbers of peasants became impoverished.

Using the myth of a “communist threat,” the bourgeoisie attacked the rights of the working people. The fascist Lapua Movement arose in the fall of 1929. In 1930, Parliament was dissolved, its left-wing members associated with the working-class movement were arrested, and the Central Federation of Trade Unions of Finland was outlawed. In 1930 and 1931 the country was ruled by the right-wing bourgeois government of Pehr Evind Svinhufvud, who served as president of Finland from 1931 to 1937. In October 1930 the newly elected Parliament adopted a number of anticommunist emergency laws. The Patriotic People’s Movement, a fascist party, was founded in 1932 and continued to exist until 1944. Laws passed in 1934 and 1935 curtailed civil liberties, and a political police was established in 1936. Reactionary circles demanded Lebensraum (living space) and the extension of Finland’s territory to the Urals.

A nonaggression treaty between Finland and the USSR was signed in 1932. In 1935 Parliament declared that Finland would pursue a foreign policy of neutrality. This neutrality, however, was purely formal; in actuality, the ruling circles remained anti-Soviet. In the mid-1930s Finland adopted a policy of rapprochement with fascist Germany, although Finland also maintained close ties with Great Britain, France, and the USA. From 1937 to 1939, Aimo Cajander of the National Progressive Party (founded 1918) headed the government, into which he brought a number of Social Democrats. Nevertheless, the general orientation of Finland’s policies did not change, even though the parliamentary elections of 1936–37 had registered a marked shift of Finnish public opinion to the left as a result of the vigorous efforts of the CPF to establish a popular front against the threat of fascism and war.

After the economic decline of 1929–33, Finland, while remaining an agricultural and industrial country, witnessed a rapid development of industry, especially the metalworking industry, whose output increased fourfold between 1922 and 1938. Industrial output reached its prewar peak in 1938 with 231,000 people employed in industry. In that year industry accounted for 25.8 percent of the national income, construction 4.5 percent, agriculture 19.6 percent, and forestry 15.5 percent. Finland became one of the world’s leading producers and exporters of wood products and paper products. In agriculture, the country was able to fulfill all its needs for meat and dairy products and was almost self-sufficient in the production of grains. In spite of repressive measures taken by the government, the working people fought vigorously for their interests. Between 1936 and 1939 more than 19,000 Finns took part in 127 strikes.

Perceiving an increased threat of attack by imperialist powers on the USSR from Finnish territory, the Soviet government proposed to the Finnish government in the spring of 1938 that the two countries conclude a mutual assistance pact. The Finnish government, however, rejected the proposal. It also refused to join in a system of collective security. Moreover, Finland rejected proposals that the Soviet government made in the spring of 1939 for the purpose of strengthening the security of Finland and Leningrad. In addition, Soviet-Finnish negotiations held in Moscow in October and November 1939 for the purpose of strengthening mutual security were broken off by the Finnish side.

Meanwhile Finland actively prepared for war. Mobilization was carried out in the fall of 1939. On November 28, 1939, the Soviet government was compelled to abrogate the nonaggression treaty with Finland. Hostilities between the two countries began on November 30, 1939, beginning the Winter War. The war ended in Finland’s defeat, and a Soviet-Finnish peace treaty was signed in Moscow on March 12, 1940. Finland’s ruling circles, however, considered the peace treaty only a truce and resumed the policy of rapprochement with fascist Germany. Progressive Finnish organizations and activists, including members of the Society for Peace and Friendship With the USSR (founded May 1940), were subjected to repressive measures. In the fall of 1940, Finland granted German troops transit rights through Finland, and in late 1940 the Finnish and German commanders reached an agreement on cooperation in preparations for war against the USSR. A general mobilization began in Finland on June 17.

On June 22, 1941, Finland became a cobelligerent of fascist Germany against the USSR, although it did not formally declare war until June 26. On June 30, 1941, the Finnish Army took the offensive on the northern part of the Soviet-German front and occupied most of Soviet Karelia and several regions of Leningrad Oblast. Finland joined the Anti-Comintern Pact in November 1941. Great Britain broke diplomatic relations with Finland in 1941, and the USA did so in 1944. In September 1944, as a result of the victories of the Soviet Army in the Great Patriotic War, Finland agreed to a cease-fire and severed relations with Germany. An armistice and preliminary peace between Finland and the countries at war with it was signed in Moscow on September 19, 1944. In accordance with the armistice, fascist organizations in Finland were disbanded, antifascists were released from Finnish prisons and concentration camps, and the CPF and other democratic organizations were legalized. On the initiative of the CPF and left-wing Social Democrats, the Finnish People’s Democratic League (SKDL) was founded in October 1944. In March 1945, Finland declared war on fascist Germany.

Post-World War II era[edit]

The level of industrial output in Finland did not decrease markedly after Finland’s withdrawal from the war; production in 1944 was at 96 percent of its 1938 level. Output, however, did not increase, largely because of structural changes made in industry to meet the needs of the war. Agricultural output dropped to two-thirds of its prewar level, the national debt increased by a factor of 20, and the standard of living declined.

The parliamentary elections of 1945 brought success to the democratic forces. After the elections the SKDL, the Agrarian Party, and the SDPF signed an agreement of cooperation. From 1945 to 1948 governments based on this agreement were in power. During this period progress was made in restoring the economy (industrial output reached the prewar level in 1946), and a number of reforms were instituted in such areas as social insurance and labor legislation. The most important Finnish war criminals, including Risto Ryti and Väinö Tanner, were convicted in 1946. In Paris in 1947, Finland signed a peace treaty with the states it was at war with. In April 1948 the USSR and Finland signed an agreement on friendship, cooperation, and mutual assistance, which was renewed in 1955 and again in 1970. Also in 1948, the government of the USSR reduced the amount of reparations still to be paid by Finland 50 percent ($73.5 million).

After the SDPF abrogated its agreement of cooperation with the SKDL and the Agrarian Party in May 1948, reactionaries put a stop to the progressive development of the country. A one-party government headed by the right-wing Social Democrat Karl-August Fagerholm was formed in July 1948. Antidemocratic forces took advantage of this government to shift Finland’s foreign policy to the right. This change, together with a decline in the working people’s standard of living, led to a deterioration of the domestic political situation in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

The Finnish working people stubbornly struggled against the government, which was forced to resign in 1950. It was succeeded by a coalition government composed mainly of the Agrarian Party and the Swedish People’s Party and headed by the Agrarian Urho Kaleva Kekkonen. The new government adopted a foreign policy aimed at developing friendly relations and cooperation with the USSR. This policy was supported by Finland’s president Juho Kusti Paasikivi (elected March 1946) and by Kekkonen, who succeeded Paasikivi as president in March 1956; in fact, Finland’s postwar foreign policy of friendship with the USSR came to be known as the Paasikivi-Kekkonen line. An important role in the formulation and strengthening of this policy was played by the CPF, which from its creation had consistently advocated friendship between the two countries. Since the mid-1960s the SDPF has also supported the Paasikivi-Kekkonen line.

In 1955, in view of the growing confidence between the two countries, the USSR renounced ahead of schedule its right to lease Porkkala Peninsula; Finland had granted the lease to the Soviet Union for the construction of a naval base in accordance with the terms of the armistice of 1944; the USSR also gave the equipment of the base to Finland free of charge and withdrew Soviet armed forces from the territory. The first long-term (five-year) Soviet-Finnish trade agreement was signed in 1950; it was the first such arrangement in the history of trade relations between socialist and capitalist countries. A Soviet-Finnish agreement on scientific and technical cooperation was concluded in 1955. In late 1955 Finland was admitted to the United Nations; on October 8, 1955, it joined the Nordic Council.

Between 1950 and 1965 the major political forces of Finland — the SKDL, the SDPF, and the Agrarian Party — had substantial representation in Parliament; on the average they polled, respectively, 22 percent, 25 percent, and 23 percent of the vote in parliamentary elections. However, lack of cooperation among them as well as the growing influence of right-wing forces contributed to continued political instability in Finland. Between 1950 and 1965, 17 governments held office. During the same period, and later as well, there were several caretaker governments. The Finnish working people fought for their rights and interests, with approximately 500,000 taking part in the general strike of 1956. The leadership of the SDPF followed a policy of anti-Sovietism and close cooperation with the bourgeoisie; as a result, the SDPF was isolated in the government, its position was weakened, and the left-wing opposition broke away from the party in 1959 to form the Social Democratic League of Workers and Small Farmers. Bourgeois coalition governments dominated by the Agrarian Party held office from 1959 to 1965.

In the postwar period, conditions were favorable for economic development in Finland. The government’s peace-seeking foreign policy and the expansion of trade and economic ties with the USSR and other socialist countries contributed to the formation of a diversified economy and to a faster growth of industrial output than most West European countries experienced. Agriculture was increasingly mechanized and intensified. The economy was marked by a high degree of centralization and concentration of capital and production.

After the parliamentary elections of 1966, which brought a majority to the workers’ parties, the Social Democrat Rafael Paasio formed a coalition government composed of the SDPF, the SKDL, the Center Party, and the Social Democratic League of Workers and Small Farmers. The same parties made up the government of the Social Democrat Mauno Koivisto (1968–70) and the government of Ahti Karjalainen of the Center Party (1970–71).

Beginning in 1968 the development of state monopoly capitalism in Finland took the form of various income policies aimed at the regulation of economic and social development. These policies met with increasing opposition from the working people. In the 1970 parliamentary election, the parties then in power received 15 percent fewer votes than in the previous election, and they lost 29 seats; in the spring of 1971, members of the SKDL were removed from the government. From 1971 to 1975 the SDPF and the Center Party were the main constituents of the coalition governments, including the one headed by the Social Democrat Kalevi Sorsa (1972–75).

The early 1970s were marked by an intensification of the crises affecting the economy and the political life of Finland. Moreover, social contradictions and interparty and intraparty struggles intensified; as a result, Parliament was dissolved in 1972 and 1975 and elections were held ahead of schedule. The cost of living rose dramatically, increasing 7.1 percent in 1972,11.7 percent in 1973, 11.4 percent in 1974, and 17.8 percent in 1975; unemployment also increased — from 2.2 percent of the labor force in 1975 to 6 percent in 1976. The combined effect of inflation and unemployment led to a mass movement of the working people. There were 838 strikes with 408,000 participants in 1971, 1,009 strikes with 678,000 participants in 1973, 1,800 strikes with 371,000 participants in 1974, and 3,200 strikes in 1976. Most of these work stoppages took place without the consent of the trade union leadership.

With the deepening crisis of the capitalist economy, the increasing integration of the world economy, and the intensification of class contradictions in the country, the primary efforts of the Finnish governments in the first half of the 1970s were aimed at strengthening the regulatory functions of the state. The measures adopted by the Finnish governments — such as temporary price controls, improvements in certain social benefits, and increases in appropriations to provide opportunities for employment — did not yield any notable results. In the mid-1970s the rate of growth of the Finnish economy slowed, the cost of living continued to rise, and the situation of the working people worsened although the monopolies continued to make large profits.

A caretaker government of nonparty officials came to power in June 1975; the new prime minister was Keijo Liinamaa. It was replaced in November 1975 by Martti Miettunen’s coalition government, which was formed by the SDPF, the SKDL, the Center Party, the Swedish People’s Party, and the Liberal People’s Party; ministerial positions were also granted to a few “experts.” In the fall of 1976 this government was dissolved as a result of disagreements over economic and social policies, and Miettunen formed a second government, which included the Center Party, the Liberal People’s Party, and the Swedish People’s Party. It lasted until May 1977 and was succeeded by a coalition government of the majority. The new government was headed by Sorsa (until May 1979) and was composed of the SDPF, the SKDL, the Center Party, the Swedish People’s Party, and the Liberal People’s Party.

The democratic forces, which advocate the progressive development of Finland and a strengthening of its peace-loving foreign policy, are struggling for the establishment of effective cooperation among the major political forces representing the working strata of the population — that is, the SKDL, the SDPF, and the Center Party. In the parliamentary elections of 1975 (held ahead of schedule), these parties received 18.9 percent, 24.9 percent, and 17.7 percent of the vote, respectively. Proposals for a program of cooperation were adopted at the Seventeenth Congress of the CPF in May 1975.

The good relationship between Finland and the USSR and the desire to develop and expand mutually advantageous forms of cooperation have found expression in several agreements signed in the 1960s and 1970s. These include agreements on cultural cooperation (1960), on the lease by Finland of the Soviet part of the Saimaa Canal (1962), on the formation of a permanent intergovernmental commission for economic cooperation (1967), on the development of economic, technical, and industrial cooperation (1971), and on cooperation in the natural and social sciences (1975). In 1974 agreements were concluded on certain legal questions, on cooperation in energy, navigation, and the construction of the Kostomuksha Ore-dressing Combine, and on long-range scientific and technological programs. A long-range program extending to 1990 for the development and expansion of cooperation in trade, economics, industry, science, and technology was signed by Finland and the USSR in Moscow in May 1977. Cooperation is developing not only between governmental agencies of the two countries but also between public organizations. Relations with the CPSU in addition to those of the CPF, were established by the SDPF in 1968 and by the Center Party in 1970. In May 1973, Finland concluded an agreement on cooperation with the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (COMECON).

Finland maintains close relations with the Western countries, especially Sweden, the Federal Republic of Germany, Great Britain, and the USA. It became an associate member of the European Free Trade Association in 1961 and joined the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in 1968. In 1973 it concluded an agreement on free trade of industrial goods with the European Economic Community (EEC). Finland declared, however, that the agreement would not bind it politically or affect its foreign policy, which advocates the development of Finnish-Soviet relations in accordance with the Agreement on Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance of 1948 and the Soviet-Finnish Declaration of April 6, 1973 (adopted on the 25th anniversary of the 1948 agreement). The Finnish government also stated that Finland would abrogate the agreement with the EEC if the agreement damaged Finland’s relations with the USSR. In 1973, Finland concluded an agreement with the European Coal and Steel Community.

Finland has undertaken a number of important initiatives for ensuring peace and security in Europe. In 1963, 1967, 1974, and 1978 it joined in declarations maintaining northern Europe as a nuclear-free zone, and in 1965 it concluded an agreement aimed at ensuring peace on the Finnish-Norwegian border. On August 8, 1963, Finland signed the Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty, and on July 1, 1968, it became a party to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. In 1969, Finland declared its readiness to help organize the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, the first and third sessions of which were held in Helsinki in July 1973 and in July and August 1975, respectively. On August 1, 1975, President Kekkonen signed the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe on behalf of the Finnish Republic.[3]

Depression of 1991-1993[edit]

Finland had a depression in the early 90s that was one of the country's worst economic crises, worse even than the Great Depression.[4] Besides a 13% decrease in GDP and rise in unemployment from 3.5% to 18.9%, the depression also affected the cultural and sociopolitical atmosphere.[5][6] Though the economy has recovered since, it never recovered the state of nearly full employment it had before.

One cause for the depression was overheating of the economy in the latter 1980s, when a law passed in 1986 made foreign credit, which was cheaper, easier to obtain. The strength of the Finnish central bank was thus undermined, being able to do less about the economic bubble forming. Deregulation of consumer credit also led to a brief period of rapid growth, however it was unsustainable. The so-called "casino economy" came crashing down in November 1991, which was exacerbated by the collapse of the Soviet Union, with which Finland had done 15-20% of its foreign trade with. Bad political decisions also negatively affected Finland's currency, the markka, which weakened Finnish international competitiveness.

On 1 January 1995, Finland, along with Sweden and Austria, joined the EU. Finland and ten other countries adopted the Euro when it was introduced on 1 January 1999.


There are two main communist parties in Finland, the Communist Party of Finland (SKP) and the Communist Workers' Party (KTP). Neither of them, however, are registered, as they are too small and are thus not allowed to register. Because they are not registered, they may not nominate candidates for election, however they may and have elected officials to be members of city councils.

The KTP is an old hard-line Marxist-Leninist party that has difficulty getting new blood in its ranks because much of their activity is concentrated just in the Helsinki metropolitan area, where they distribute magazines and take part in protests like many Trotskyites do. They originated from the original Communist Party of Finland after the dissolution of the USSR. TheFinnishBolshevik belongs to this party. The SKP, on the other hand, is full of Eurocommunists which follow Gorbachev's line of thought, further supporting the dissolution of the USSR and repeating liberal Cold War propaganda about Stalin and other socialist leaders. They also participate in the same identity politics circus as other mainstream leftists, but despite this they still claim to have the working class's interests at heart, although most of the difference between them and the Left Alliance and them is rhetoric.


Finnish companies arrange for and benefit from unfair economic agreements. For instance, On 17 October, Metsä-Botnia, a company in the forestry industry, got the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) to announce that they will ask their Boards of Directors to approve IFC financing and MIGA guarantee support for Metsä-Botnia's Orion pulp mill project in Uruguay.[7] In December 2009, the Finnish UPM-Kymmene Oyj became the sole owner of the pulp mill.[8][9]