The War Illustrated No 32 Vol 2 April 12th 1940

351 The War Illustrated Apr!' nth ,1940 Finland’s Brave Front in the Aftermath of War Though it was in 2 mood o f bitter resignation that the Finnish people received the news o f the hard terms exacted by Moscow as the price o f peace, they soon set to work to heal the oscars f war and make anew Finland no less worthy than the Bold. they end of March the Red flag flew overall those portions of Finnish territory which were ceded to Russia under the Moscow peace treaty of March 13. Beneath its folds were gathered the men of the Red Army, and of the Red Army alone it was credibly reported that not a single Finn had chosen to remain under Bolshevik rule. From Hango its 8,000 citizens had all quitted the city and moved back across the new frontier and to Viipuri, which before the war boasted a population of 80,000, no Finns returned save to fetch such of their household goods as they could carry away. There were two districts in which the tide of evacuation was reversed. In the far north the Russians were given until April 10 in which to complete their with­drawal, as the Arctic conditions w'hich were still prevailing made it impossible to effect an earlier departure. So at Petsamo they shivered in the huts beside the harbour waiting for the ships which were to take them to Murmansk and Archangel. Then at Kuhmo, 300 miles to the south, in Finland’s “waist,” the Russian 54th Division staggered from the positions where for weeks past they had been beleaguered by the-Finns. For them the armistice had come at the right moment abut few days more and they would probably have shared the fate of their comrades at Suomussalmi. “We opened the gate for them,” said Colonel Siilasvuo, the victor of Suomussalmi, but only 10,000 of the 18,000 w Tho had crossed the frontier before Christmas were able to make the return journey nearly half their number were left behind forever in the Finnish snows. As soon as the news of the armistice was received by the trapped Reds they started to sing and play their concertinas in their dug-outs, while some scrambled over the outworks and greeted the Finns in the most effusive fashion. While the double evacuation was instill progress the process of establishing the host of evacuees in their new homes was pushed 011 at utmost speed. In a country so rich in timber it was not very difficult to re-house the refugees, and as far as possible the people w T ere kept together in their social units. Each village was established in its own clearing under the guidance of its own priest and mayor, schoolmaster and doctor. Everything possible was done to convince the migrants that they were not strangers in a strange land, but friends and ¦neigh­ bours who for reasons far beyond their control had been forced to leave their old homes and seek new ones in what was still a corner of Finland, where social habit and religious faith, everyday custom and political rule, were those to which they and their fathers had been so long accustomed and attached. ^Meanwhile, in the villages and towns which for nearly four months had dwelt beneath the shadow of the Red bombers, there was a revival of life, even of laughter. In Helsinki in particular the change from war to peace w r as apparent. There were lights in the streets after dusk, and the people remarked one to another how good it was to hear the voices of children once again— children not crowded in the darkness of the air-raid shelters, but playing unconcernedly beneath the blue sky. Women exchanged theii trousers for the frocks which they had put away when the first of the bombers came—frocks which were perhaps a little crushed and out of fashion,, but would serve until the shops were restocked from Stockholm or Copenhagen. In the dance In Helsinki, now that there is no fear o f Russian bombs, life is gradually returning t o norm al. But the transition is not yet comp le te,as these photo­ graphs show .The trio o f h ou sew ives discussing their bargains have not relinquished the use o f tro use rs, even though they are no longer engaged on war duties. O then right, Finns in the border tow h o f V iro la h ti are removing a signpost pointing toY iip u ri— now reverted to Russia. .Photos, Fox and Kevstone
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