Courtesy Reuters

Finland Maintains Democracy

THE Finns of old were famed as wizards--and there has been more than a touch of wizardry in the way the Finnish people have rebuilt their country since the war. In paying Russia reparations valued at at least $570,000,000, in the eight years up to last September,[i] they achieved the seemingly impossible. The feat has attracted much attention, which is indeed deserved. But in focusing admiration on that achievement, the West has tended to overlook an even greater one--the maintenance of democracy in Finland. In the critical months of early 1948 the Finnish position was so grossly misinterpreted that in some quarters it was considered knowing to say "Czechoslovakia last week, Finland this week." And up to the time of the Olympic Games it was not uncommon to hear Finland described as virtually a Russian satellite, with the implication that if outspoken protagonists of the Western way of life ventured into Finland, they did so at their peril.

In the tense and dispiriting spring of 1948 morale in Western Europe was low as a result of a combination of economic and political setbacks. When, therefore, on February 26, Stalin addressed a personal note to the Finnish President, Juho K. Paasikivi, stating that he desired a "radical improvement" in Russo-Finnish relations and a Russo-Finnish "treaty of friendship, coöperation and mutual assistance analogous to the Hungarian-Soviet and Rumanian-Soviet treaties" everyone expected the worst. The now classical pattern of Communist domination seemed almost complete. The Prime Minister, Mauno Pekkala, was a fellow-traveler. The Minister of the Interior, Yrjö Leino, was a leading Communist, married to the most dangerous tactician in the Finnish Communist Party, Mme. Hertta Kuusinen-Leino, daughter of Otto Kuusinen, the President of the Finno-Karelian S.S.R. and onetime head of the inglorious puppet government set up by the Russians when they attacked Finland in November 1939. Her first husband, Tuure Lehen, an authority on street fighting, now a Russian citizen and Red Army brigadier, was training "barricade squads." The reorganized State Police were being developed

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