In the shadow of the Soviet Empire. Poland and Finland. Two borderlands. Studies and essays
Poland and Finland are two borderlands of the Russian Empire. Both nations benefited from the geopolitical revolution in East-Central Europe. Finland was the first nation under Russian rule to proclaim its independence on 6 December 1917. A year later, in November 1918, Poland gained independence. Indeed, both countries shared a common geopolitical destiny. The fall of Poland entailed a threat to Finland. The events of 1939, the chain of which was started by the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, showed this very explicitly. The Pact meant a sentence of extinction passed by two totalitarian powers on the new nation-states of the rebuilt Europe that emerged after the First World War.
The defeat and partition of Poland in September 1939 and the subsequent phenomenal defence of Finland in the Winter War (30 November 1939 – 12 March 1940) represent two momentous events at the beginning of the Second World War. While Poland became the first victim of the two tactically allied totalitarian powers, Finland survived. Poland became a real testing ground for totalitarian policies. Finland retained its independence. After the Second World War, Poland became a satellite state of the USSR. Finland was only forced to impose certain restrictions on itself in domestic and foreign policy – in line with the strategic interests of the Soviet Union.
In October 2016, the first – as it seems – joint conference of Polish and Finnish historians took place in Warsaw. The conference was held under the guiding principle thus expressed: “In the Shadow of Russia. Poland and Finland in the 20th Century”. The colloquium was organised in Warsaw by the Tadeusz Manteuffel Institute of History of the Polish Academy of Sciences and the Centre for Polish-Russian Dialogue and Understanding. The meeting resulted in ten studies on various problems in the history of the 20th century shared by Poland and Finland.