Courtesy Reuters

Finland Takes Stock

FINLAND may be described as a corner of Europe insulated through much of the year by ice. Historically, she was a prize and a battlefield for Sweden and Russia -- until the Germans replaced the Swedes as the principal enemies of the Russians, when she became a flank for the new battlefield. The Finns never had much political instinct. They looked to brave or astute leaders to defend them in their unfortunate geographical position.

The Finns migrated into Finland -- it is now supposed from the northern Caspian country -- late in the first millennium, driving the Lapps into the Arctic. Swedes colonized Finland in the twelfth century, and established themselves as an ascendancy. They kept to themselves, calling themselves Swedish Finns. There has been a certain amount of intermarriage, and some Finns "turned Swedish" and vice versa, changing even their names. Culturally and in language the Swedish Finns remain a race apart, like the Anglo-Irish in Ireland, with whom they share psychological characteristics. Finland is their "fatherland," and like the Anglo-Irish they are sometimes sharp in their criticism of the country of their origin. Like the Anglo-Irish they have produced many of the great national leaders of the country. They are not universally popular among Finnish Finns, although their position is now better than it was during the "Second Campaign" (1941-44), as it is called. For reasons partly of language, they were better informed at that time than Finnish Finns. They could read the Swedish press, and they could understand broadcasts from London in Swedish and Norwegian, and generally also in Danish and in English.[i] The Swedish Finns never supported the Second Campaign wholeheartedly and, with the left-wing of the Social Democrats, advocated peace. They form about 10 percent of the population. Now that Finland is moving somewhat toward Russia, while retaining her independence, they are more important than ever as a link with Scandinavia and the west.

For about 800 years before 1918, Finland was under foreign tutelage -- first that of

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