Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with Eric Fleisher
FLEISHER: They kept a low profile and they did so for a while. And so did wwe didn't have to do anything. The anti-Soviet atmosphere was clearly in the air.
Q: I know all over Western Europe that was a shock and it led to a lot of things the Soviets didn't want. What were Finland's relations with Sweden during this period?
FLEISHER: Finland's relations with Sweden were good. It's a very complicated relationship because it's both a family relationship and a Swedish and Finnish ethnic relationship. Finland was part of Sweden until 1808 when it was ceded to Russia and became a grand duchy within the Czarist Empire. But the ties with Sweden were very strong. The Swedish families who ran most of Finland maintained very close contact with Sweden. The Swedish language is spoken in much of Finland. Even when I was there, it was one of the official languages, as French is in Canada. Yes, and during World War II, many Finns, particularly children, were evacuated to Sweden. A good number of Swedes volunteered to fight in the Finnish army, especially during the Winter War.
Q: They did against Russia.
FLEISHER: Yes. So, it was a very close personal relationship. Still, there was a vast difference between the Swedes who comprised the upper class and the Finnish speaking lower classes. So, there was a class antagonism there. Of course, the official relations were very good. They coordinated their foreign policy with the other Nordics. For example, we would make representation for our positions at the foreign office before the opening of the UN General Assembly. Every year we tried to sell our view on Communist Chinese recognition and member ship in the UN. Our Finnish interlocutors would say, “We'll take you views under consideration and we will discuss them at the Nordic ministers' meeting.” When we would go back later after the Nordic ministers had met they'd say, “Well, the Nordic ministers decided thus and so and there isn't very much we can do about things now. It wasn't our decision.”
Q: They had you there. There was not much you could say about that. And how about with the other Scandinavians, with the Danes and the Norwegians?
FLEISHER: With the Norwegians the relationship is personally a very good one because they are both stepchildren of Sweden, so to speak. With the Danes, it was more distant but very friendly, yes.
Q: So no real problems. FLEISHER: No real problems.