December 12, 1939 – The League Of Nations And The View From Helsinki.
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Reports from Helsinki and Geneva this December 12, 1939 – dubbed The Winter War, the conflict between the Soviet Union and Finland was escalating at a rapid rate. The matter was taken up before the League of Nations, the precursor to The United Nations, formed at the end of World War 1 as a method of insuring the peace and stability between countries, hoping to prevent another world war, just like the one that concluded in 1918. Clearly, by this time the practicalities versus the intentions were wildly different and it cast into doubt just how effective The League Of Nations would ultimately be.
The Winter War began with a Soviet invasion of Finland on 30 November 1939, three months after the outbreak of World War II, and ended three and a half months later with the Moscow Peace Treaty on 13 March 1940. The League of Nations deemed the attack illegal and expelled the Soviet Union from the organization.
The conflict began after the Soviets sought to obtain some Finnish territory, demanding among other concessions that Helsinki cede substantial border territories in exchange for land elsewhere, claiming security reasons—primarily the protection of Leningrad, 32 km (20 mi) from the Finnish border. Finland refused, so the USSR invaded the country. Many sources conclude that the Soviet Union had intended to conquer all of Finland, and use the establishment of the puppet Finnish Communist government and the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact’s secret protocols as evidence of this, while other sources argue against the idea of the full Soviet conquest. Finland repelled Soviet attacks for more than two months and inflicted substantial losses on the invaders while temperatures ranged as low as −43 °C (−45 °F). After the Soviet military reorganized and adopted different tactics, they renewed their offensive in February and overcame Finnish defenses.
Hostilities ceased in March 1940 with the signing of the Moscow Peace Treaty. Finland ceded 11 percent of its territory representing 30 percent of its economy to the Soviet Union. Soviet losses were heavy, and the country’s international reputation suffered. Soviet gains exceeded their pre-war demands and the USSR received substantial territory along Lake Ladoga and in northern Finland. Finland retained its sovereignty and enhanced its international reputation. The poor performance of the Red Army encouraged Adolf Hitler to think that an attack on the Soviet Union would be successful and confirmed negative Western opinions of the Soviet military. After 15 months of Interim Peace, in June 1941, Nazi Germany commenced Operation Barbarossa and the Continuation War between Finland and the USSR began.
But on this December 12th in 1939 there were still attempts at negotiation and this report, from Dr. Max Jordan and Martin Agronsky via shortwave, give some idea of how effective (or ineffective) the League Of Nations was during times of crisis.