. . . or click on the link here for Audio Player – Finnish Foreign Minister Väinö Tanner – March 15, 1940 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection.
Unless you were studying the history of World War 2 and the events leading up to it, you may have missed this war between Russia and Finland which lasted from November 1939 to March 13, 1940. It was initially thought to be an easy conquest for Russia, who invaded the country on the precept that lands claiming to belong to Finland actually belonged to Russia. And, like the Germans who laid claims to lands in Poland belonging to Germany, Russia thought it would flex its military muscles too.
And even though Finland was vastly outnumbered in troops and ordinance, the Finns put up fierce resistance and it led to Russia settling for an armistice and a negotiated peace settlement. The reason for the surprising show of Finnish troops was the fact that Stalin, in his wisdom, held a purge in 1937 and virtually gutted the Soviet Army of much needed leadership, with more than 30,000 of its high-ranking officers either imprisoned or executed. So even though they had the strength, they lacked the leadership and this didn’t bode well for Russia’s future, as would be made abundantly clear some months later. In the end, the Finns conceded lands to the Russians over concerns of a protracted war. Russia suffered great embarrassment and their reputation as a Military Power dimmed considerably in the eyes of the world.
So a truce was declared on March 13, 1940. Foreign Minister Väniö Tanner went before microphones to give the news to the Finnish people, and later addressed the English-speaking world in a Shortwave broadcast on March 15, 1940.