March 10, 1940 – Helsinki Calling . . .
Finnish Radio English Service – Address by Foreign Minister Eljas Erkko – March 10, 1940 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
In what became known as The Winter War, the Soviet Union launched an invasion of its neighbor Finland in November of 1939, weeks after Nazi Germany’s invasion of Poland and the beginning of World War 2. The war was brought on by the Soviets ostensibly to gain territories in exchange for land elsewhere from the Helsinki government. Territories which the Soviets claimed was in the interest of security, primarily of Leningrad which was some 20 miles away from the Finnish border.
The Soviet army had vastly outnumbered the Finns, but in recent months Stalin had instigated a purge of his military and eliminated most of his Generals and Commanding officers to the point where Russia had an army, but with virtually no one to lead it.
The Finns, on the other hand, had high morale and a well trained and led army. And Soviet attempts at staging a full-on invasion of Finland were repeatedly repulsed and the invasion proved costlier and took much longer than expected.
When the Soviet Army did finally get organized and succeed in gaining ground, including the disputed lands, the Finns had had enough. And rather than face a protracted War, agreed to the land swap and a treaty was quietly signed, ending the siege which lasted 3 months 1 week and 5 days.
Although Finland gave over some 11% of its land area and 13% of its economy, the Winter War proved to be a huge embarrassment to the Soviet Union, leading many to fear that, should Germany decide to go back on its peace treaty with Russia, an invasion and conquest might be an easy prospect.
So on March 10, 1940, three days before the signing of the Moscow Peace Treaty ending the war on March 13th, Foreign Minister Eljas Erkka addressed the world from Helsinki to explain what had been going on during this 105 day war and to give Finland’s side of the conflict.
Here is that address, as it was relayed from Radio Finland to Mutual Broadcasting on March 10, 1940.