28 MAY 1948, Page 1

Courage in Finland

The determination with which the Finnish Government and people have resisted the Communist attempt to dominate the police force—an attempt which was successful in every other Eastern European country brought under Russian domination—prompts speculation as to what might have happened had those countries shown as much courage in the defence of their integrity. The Finns already know, through the terrible burden of reparations placed upon them, just how savage Russian vindictiveness can be. They also know, through their close proximity to the Soviet Union and the presence of Russian troops on their own soil, just what are the chances of physical resistance. And yet last Februany the Finnish Parliament refused to accept a broad hint from Mr. Stalin himself that a treaty should be concluded on the same lines as those already made between the Soviet Union and Hungary and Rumania ; by April the President had averted the threat to the country's military and cultural integnity and signed a relatively mild pact with Russia ; and last week the Cabinet expelled the Communist Minister of the Interior. This remarkable display of tenacity and courage has been maintained during the past week in the face of Communist strikes and the first ominous gathering together of revolutionary forces in action committees on the Czech model. It cannot be said that the tension has been finally relaxed now that a new Minister of the Interior has been appointed who is only a Communist in name. He will soon be reminded by his nominal comrades that he has real obligations, and it is by no means certain that the July elections will be free. It is still possible that the Finns may once again escape with such indepen- dence as they have. They are at close quarters with the Russians and although a bold they are not a foolhardy people. Consequently they would hardly run the risk of Russian displeasure unless they felt that their chances of success in their latest bid for freedom were discernible. Moreover, they have undertaken of their own free will to resist any attack on the Soviet Union from the north-west, and there is every reason to believe that they would honour their bond. It only remains to be seen whether the Russians will be content to accept, for once, the word of free men or whether they will insist on the obedience of unwilling subjects.