23 October 2007

From "The Mail," The New Yorker, July 23, 2007:

Alex Ross draws an interesting portrait of Jean Sibelius and his works ("Apparition in the Woods," July 9th). However, his statement that Finland went to war against the Soviet Union in 1941 "partly because Fascist elements had infiltrated the government and the Army, and partly because the Nazis would have taken over the country anyway" is misleading. Other than in the early nineteen-thirties, when Fascist elements unsuccessfully challenged our democratic system, Fascism did not play a significant role in Finnish politics. There were never any "Nazi-style race laws" in force in Finland, and the Finnish government's wartime policy of resisting German attempts to inspire anti-Jewish actions in Finland has been publicly appreciated by our Jewish communities. For Finland, the Continuation War of 1941-44, as it is called in our history, had its roots in the Winter War. After having attacked Finland in 1939, the Soviet Union acquired, in the Moscow Peace Treaty, important parts of Finnish territory and the right to establish a military base near Helsinki; the annexation of the Baltic countries, in the summer of 1940, demonstrated the expansive nature of the Soviet policies and left the area vulnerable to further aggression. The Continuation War, then, was a defensive struggle for my country, politically separate from the war of the great powers.

Pekka Lintu
Ambassador of Finland
Washington, D.C.

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