Russian Defence Ministry website criticises Finnish views of Continuation War
Article says Finland was a "satellite of Nazi Germany" and mistreated Soviet POWs
An article has appeared on the website of the Russian Ministry of Defence (www.mil.ru) concerning the Continuation War with Finland, sharply criticising Finland and certain Finnish views of history. The final conclusion that it draws is astounding from the Finnish point of view.
After first sharply attacking Finland’s actions and motivations in the war (1941-1944), the article concludes with a reference to a study conducted by the United States Library of Congress, according to which the Soviet Union could have taken over Finland if it had wanted to.
“In spite of the significant damage caused by the war, Finland managed to maintain its own independence. If the Soviet Union had considered it vital, there is no doubt that the independence of Finland would have been destroyed. Understanding this, Finland disengaged from the war, with the aim of creating new, constructive relations with the Soviet Union”, the article's anonymous writer writes, quoting the US study.
The article then gives a direct warning to Finland.
“Nowadays, many Finnish politicians (and not only Finns, and not only politicians) feel that it is better to forget the lessons of the past war. They think that modern Russia is not the Soviet Union. This is a very dangerous illusion. Russia is always Russia, no matter what name it is called by.”
After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Russia distanced itself from the traditions of Soviet history writing. However, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and President Dmitri Medvedev have criticised the “new” interpretations of history as distorted, and as downplaying the achievements of the Soviet Union.
In the article on the Russian Defence Ministry’s website, “the official Finnish view” on the Continuation War is labelled as completely different from the Russian view, which it says is “generally accepted”.
According to the article, the events of the Winter War (1939-1940) and the Continuation War are seen in Finland as being of decisive importance both for Finnish history, as well as “the whole of Western civilisation and democracy”.
“In addition, a country that fought alongside Hitler’s Germany, and which lost the war, is portrayed almost as s winner, which ‘saved Europe from Bolshevism’.”
The article maintains that it is quite clear that Finland did not fight a separate war against the Soviet Union, and that it was, in fact, a satellite of Nazi Germany, which treated Soviet prisoners of war “in a cruel and inhuman manner”. Finns are also accused of treating the Russian population in areas that the Finns occupied during the war in an “openly racist” manner, with the aim of eradication.
“Nevertheless, the view of Finland, contrary to that of modern Germany, is that these actions by the army and the occupation authorities are not recognised as crimes against humanity. Instead, the concentration camps are portrayed in Finnish history writing almost as rest homes.”
The article, which appeared on the ministry’s website already in September, was anonymous. It was placed in a section called “War encyclopaedia - less-known pages of history”.
Similar views of the Continuation War have been put forward in Russia, the old Soviet Union, and elsewhere.
“They appear from time to time. The difference with the previous ones is that during the Soviet period, all of these texts were seen as official. Now things are different, and different types of views will come”, says Dr. Alpo Juntunen of the Department of Strategy at the Finnish National Defence University.
Juntunen believes that the writer or writers could be concerned about Finland’s Western orientation, and its possible membership in NATO. “Russia wants to keep areas near its border positively disposed toward Russia”, he notes.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Seventy years ago, bombs were falling on Helsinki - anniversary of outbreak of Winter War (30.11.2009)
Russian POW returns to Finnish camp after 65 years (20.10.2009)
The call of Moscow (23.4.2009)
Finnish and Russian experts clash over wartime history (22.4.2005)
Russia takes issue with President Haloneńs views on war (7.3.2005)
The Winter War (Wikipedia)
The Continuation War (Wikipedia)