How did Finland remain independent after forcing out the Germans in the Continuation War?

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This is going to be somewhat complicated, as these things are. So bear with me

Forcing out the Germans from the Lapland wasn’t in the Continuation War, but a different war called the Lapland War, althought they overlapped several days (Continuation War ending in september 19th 1944, Lapland War starting september 15th 1944 and ending april 27th 1945).

In the closing days of the Continuation War during peace negotiations, Allies and especially Soviets, demanded that Finland break diplomatic ties to Germans and disarm or expel remaining German forces from the country. Germans and Finns had a secret pact that saw orderly retreat of the German forces while Finns “gave chase”, but Soviets started to suspect such pact and demanded that Finns step up the offensive or they will occupy Finland. This threat from the Soviets escalated the war and the Finns made a daring amphibious assault to Tornio.

Moscow Armistice stated a rapid demobilisation of Finnish troops, so the Lapland War was fought by green conscripts against around 200.000 retreating germans that used scorched-earth tactics and lay mines all over the place. Demining lasted to the 1970’s.

Why Finland remained independet after the Lapland War? There are many speculations but I think mostly because the Soviets race to Berlin. Soviets started to shift troops from Finnish front around summer 1944 and it would have been a pain to fully occupy Finland since they had showed a tenacious resistance. And since they were already beaten and ready to submit, there were no need for occupation.

Soviets gained a lot of political influence in the Finland political circles and the Finnish Communist Party held a strong position. Also Finnish security police was under communist control for a while. After the wars Finnish position as an independent country was still uncertain and Finnish politicians and military officers were wary in their dealings with the Soviets as not to angry them or give them any excuse for occupation. One most prevelant case was the Weapons Cache Case, where several high-ranking officers started to stockpile weapons and ammunition around the country for over 35.000 men in case of a Soviet occupation immediately after the Continuation War. It started to unravel in 1945 and it is said that the Soviet officials were impressed from the will to resist even against the odds.

World political field changed drastically post-WW2 on the onset of Cold War and nuclear weapons, so occupation of Finland wasn’t anymore needed for military purposes. Soviets returned the Porkkala military base near Helsinki in 1956 (not 1994, as first stated in the peace treaty), probably because it wasn’t needed anymore. Also Finland was closely tied to the Soviets due to the Finno-Soviet Treaty of 1948 (The Agreement of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance) and there were a time called “Finlandization” meaning one powerful country makes a smaller neighboring country abide by the former’s foreign policy rules, while allowing it to keep its nominal independence and its own political system. This was seen in the reign of president Kekkonen (president from 1956 to 1982), where the presidential elections (by parliament) were decided by the presidents trustworthiness to Soviets and other candidates didn’t have a chance and might drop out. In 1961 there were Note Crisis, where Soviets ensured Kekkonen’s re-election in 1962. Here’s a short clip of vote counting in the Finnish parliament in 1978: Kekkonen wins the election. It wasn’t always that the Soviets intervened, most decisions in Finland were made thinking about Soviets and how they would think or react.

I hope this answers your question. Or if it raised more, please ask and I shall try to answer them as best as I can. I tried to answer more broadly to give light how Finland might have remained independent after WW2 and as you can see, it is a long story.


Thanks for the exhaustive reply, I was most interested in the period following the war as many countries had fallen in the sphere of influence of the USSR (Baltic states, Romania, Hungary etc) and wondered how Finland, as an former enemy, had remained independent. Seems it was less independent as I thought. Thanks again for that info.

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Soviet interference wasn’t as heavy handed as in other Warsaw Pact countries. Of course things waned and ebbed along with the new Soviet leadership and Finland was allowed to join the UN in 1955. Core tenet in Finland was strict neutrality as to not aggravate Soviets, but also to stay independent and neutral in the eyes of the west. One case was in 1978, when Soviet Defence Minister Ustinov proposed a joint military exercises, friends as they were, but the request was softly outmanouvered by Kekkonen in a traditional finnish saunameeting. Many decisions and negotations were made in these saunameetings during the Cold War, I recommend to read this article as it is interesting. So it was walking in a fine line and there were things that were unacceptable to appease the Soviets. Finland kept a sizable conscription army to bolster its claims of neutrality and to deter any Soviet “help”.

So, it was complicated to say the least.