Excerpt the minutes of the Parliament:
Urho Kekkonen, MP, speaks about the Moscow Peace Treaty
in the closed session of the Finnish Parliament, March 15, 1940
Deputy K e k ko n e n: The present Government was confronted with a harder decision than any other previous state organ responsible for the fate of the people of Finland. One can only imagine how hard is the approval of the present alternative, in the face of which the Parliament and the people of Finland now stand as powerless witnesses. But choosing the other alternative, continuing the war, had neither been an easy one. Despite of this, I venture to believe that the people of Finland had still chosen the latter alternative, if it had been in the position to give the decisive opinion, how hard this ever might have been. During the hard days of war, an ever stronger belief in our just cause grew constantly among our people, expressed also by growing will to sacrifice everything for our righteous cause. It is just this preparedness to fight until the very end, and reluctance to any compromises when the vital interests, and moreover, when the very existence of the nation is at stake, is in my mind a clear expression of the strong spiritual basis of our people. This basis we must keep strong. Therefore, we should avoid teaching a philosophy of submission as an excuse for making peace. If this kind of philosophy would be adopted as the official philosophy of the state and people, the very spiritual backbone for keeping up the will of independence will be broken.
Every Finn hopes deep in his heart that the road now chosen by the Government will be the right one, if ever a peace coerced by violence can be a right one. In this case, either, no secure guarantees can't be seen. I, as a member of the Diet's Committee for Foreign Affairs, was privileged to express my opinion, before adopting the peace, before its reading here. My explicit opinion is that the Moscow dictate should not be accepted and that the struggle for independence should be continued. After this, no new facts have changed my opinion. That my opinion is no adventurist policy is witnessed by the fact the Government has considered it in full seriousness. But now, as the Diet stands in front of a fait accompli, any criticism against the road chosen by the Government, and setting forth contradicting arguments were only of historical interest, so I let them be. But may it be considered as appropriate, if a member of the Parliament, who has opposed this peace treaty at a stage when this still might have had influence on the outcome, may abstain from approving it. But, however, one cannot either suggest that it should be defeated. The Government has carried it into effect, well, against the indisputable rules in the Constitution, but for justifiable reasons and after finding out the Diet's prospective opinion. The fact is that though the Diet has a formal right to reject the peace treaty, it is outside my comprehension if a deputy, in full seriousness, would suggest rejecting the peace treaty.
When we last Autumn were forced to this war, a unanimous oath was devotedly sworn by the people: in front of violence we will not give up our Fatherland, for it we will fight to the last man. "To the very end and even beyond it", those words by Prime Minister Ryti described the mood how the people met and fought its struggle, and this mood has not until this day changed at front or neither among the population behind the lines. No sacrifice was considered as too high in carrying the struggle through up to a victorious end. Rather death than submission, was the parole up to the end. Still last Tuesday, the same day when Finnish names signed that fateful paper, a provincial newspaper wrote: "In the case the aggressor with its mass power could after years of struggle break our resistance, it would be a desolate country it will conquer." And the writer was a man who himself had seen, what the destruction, caused by the enemy, means and had personally experienced that. We all know that at the moment of peace we had a victorious, fully invincible army and we still possessed the people's unyielding will of victory, no fear feeling, and a mood ready for struggle and sacrifices. As we put these elements against this horribly harsh peace, it makes this peace totally incomprehensible to the majority of our people. The Field Marshal's convincing order of the day gives us a reliable picture of the fact that our army was not on the brink of a catastrophy. The last bulletin of the Head Quarters is really a rare piece of history: "All enemy attacks were repelled." But in spite of that, we now have here a peace, which transfers the eastern border of our territory to the very center of the Finns' Fatherland. Densely populated areas, throughout the history inhabited by Finns, never laid under an enemy foot, and, as our soldiers behind the Lake Ladoga and on the Karelian Isthmus can clearly prove, were neither threatened by a foreign foot in any near future, will now to be ceded to the enemy. The peace does not reflect that what happened in the war. It falls short of the deeds of the Finnish soldier, it is no answer to the sacrifices of the families of the fallen or to what the whole nation so heroically accompliced.
Even if there is no general consent to the Moscow peace, and even though I see any efforts to reach this as wrong, we all have to submit to this as it is made by state organs authorised to do this. Our nation has during the war lived a serious and dangerous time. The time after war is, in a sense, even more serious and dangerous. The situation in the foreign and defense policy, now created by this Russian peace, requires from our people such self-control and calmness that only the people of Finland, even after all that happened in the war, can possess the very endurance to do that. Iron-strong public order must be maintained in these days and it will be kept only by national self-discipline. The admirable tranquility and peace of mind that kept the will of victory strong even under the worst terror air raids, is now needed to meet the shock brought about this peace now delivered to us, and whose effect is, perhaps, described best in what an old woman uttered, "Better a hundred air raids than a peace like that."
The people of Finland has in its biggest grievances always been able to grow up to the measures needed. The task set by the concluded peace to our country is equally obliging with the one in the war. In these aggravated circumstances we have to be capable in safeguarding our independence and sovereignty, we have to be able to heal the wounds inflicted by the war, to give a new piece of the Fatherland to those hundreds of thousands from whom this peace took it away. All this can be attained only by the same readiness to make sacrifices and the unanimity that brought us success in the war. These tasks can draw the people of Finland together, despite the disagreeing opinions concerning the conclusion of the peace. The confidence of victory, unshakable until these fateful days, must be redirected into equally strong, equally unshakable confidence of our ability to reconstruct, with unyielding effort and the right social mood, our shrinked Finland to a common Fatherland of all Finns. We may not, after this all, be able speak about a happy Fatherland, but we should to work so that we can speak about a Fatherland, firmly believing in finding happiness and a better future.
Source:The minutes of the Parliament (closed session), Helsinki 1941.
Urho Kekkonen (1900-1986) was a long-time president (1956-1981) of Finland. Translation from Finnish by Pauli Kruhse, 2011.
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