Scandinavia and the World

Comments #9639930:


Living Hell 28 5, 1:09am

@Nisse_Hult @HerraKarhu #9604885

Actually, in this case I think you, Nisse, might be wearing a bit of rose-coloured glasses about current Finnish views on the Swedish times. Not that I agree it's as bad as HerraKarhu claims, mainly because his last post contain some historical errors, but so does yours.

Firstly, Nisse, while it is true that Finland was an integrated part of the Swedish empire unlike those areas that were conquered later, the Eastern parts were far away and did gain a lot less favours than the main area, e.g. the merchants guild didn't let Finnish cities trade directly with foreign powers, instead all the products had to go through Stockholm, which led to a lot of wealth being drained from Finland. So while Finland had a lot of freedom, from early on there was also a sense of "little brother" - in theory integrated, in practise not as much.

Secondly, the eastern boarder of Finland (then Sweden) towards Russia has varied through time, first only the southwestern part (about half) of modern Finland was part of Sweden, then during the 17th century most of the rest and a little bit more was conquered from Russia in various wars, then in the 18th century Sweden started loosing bits of Finland to Russia - at times all of Finland was also occupied by Russia despite being Swedish territory (1713-1721, 1742-1743). The last occupation in 1808 led to the rest of Finland (the largest part) moving from Swedish rule to Russian rule.
What area of land that actually made up Finland was only determined properly once Russia created the Grand Duchy of Finland based on parts they had conquered 1721, 1743 and 1809.

Thirdly, HerraKarhu, the reason Finland had it so well during the Russian period 1809-(1881/)1917 is because Russia let almost all Swedish laws stand, unlike it did with other parts conquered from Sweden (example Livland, which today is mostly Estonia).
In a way the rise of Finnish nationalism was at part bolstered by Russia to lessen the remaining Swedish influences in their new protectorate.

Proper Russification (venäläistäminen, förryskning) however started first (1881/)1899-1905 ( which ended with the 1905 Russian Revolution/general strike (due to the fact the Russia lost the war with Japan). During that time the Finns fought back to keep their laws and privileges. For a few years things remained status quo, then from 1908 Russia again started diminishing Finnish freedoms, intending to integrate Finland into the rest of Russia. Again - despite Finnish resistance - it ended due to internal Russian politics: the February Revolution. At this point Finnish socialists wanted to secede, but the conservatives held back. After the October Revolution (i.e. the Bolshevik Revolution) the conservatives got with the program and Finland declared independence (and devolved into civil war).

So in short, no, the "good" years didn't last till communism, and if Nikolai II had gotten his way there would be no Finland left.

Now, unlike what HerraKarhu inferred, the antagonistic attitude towards Russia/Soviet didn't come with WW2. Actually Finnish politics between WW1 and WW2 were quite antagonistic towards the Soviet Union - possibly because the "whites", the more conservative side, won the civil war, possibly going even further back as Finland often had been the battle field between Sweden and Russia and endured Russian occupation/military rule (
At this point Finland held no fear regarding upsetting the Soviet, and even though relations thawed somewhat this held true through the 30's (probably also part of the underlying factors for the second war, the Continuation War, against Soviet in 1941-1944, or at least some decisions made during it).
As such, Finland rejected all Soviet demands 1938-1939 (mainly to station troops on Finnish soil or ceding territory), unlike the Baltic states who were in a much more difficult geographic situation in between Germany and the Soviet Union.
While this led to the Winter War in 1939, with the facts of history at hand it is very possible the Soviet would have attacked Finland anyway at some point, and who knows how that would have played out if there had been Soviet troops already on Finnish soil.

So while "ryssäviha" (literal translation Russian hatred, but the term is somewhat broader than just that) was inflamed due to the wars, the roots are much further back in time.