The Charlotte News

Saturday, October 14, 1939


Site Ed. Note: For a literary take on the plight of war-ravaged Finland after the Russian invasion, read Robert Sherwood's There Shall Be No Night There, a 1940 play which won a Pulitzer which Sherwood declined to accept.

And "To a T" has the strange bedfellow of Cash hopping in, though tepidly, with Hugh "Ironpants" Johnson, but on a worthy subject for today and the last 25 years of American political life, the anti-democratic notion posed by political action committees. Though Cash was not so sure then, we think he would be sure today. Money cannot buy freedom of speech: it can only, and will eventually, destroy any last chord thereof in an age where most information is conveyed not in print, as in Cash's day, but through the handy-dandy of television's flicker-scan soapflakes seller.

Get some verbal mass-hypno-shite leader, A. Schickelgruber, let's call him for want of a better moniker, give him a microphone and a few million to pass around, and voila! A., with a warm, appealing grin, is on your tv telling you we need to recoup our national pride and dignity after the humiliating defeat in Vietnam. Andů

Sibelius Land

Something About A Country Red Russia Threatens

It is one of the great ironies of the present European situation that Finland was helped to her freedom by Germany. The former duchy of Russia declared its independence of that country on Dec. 9, 1917. France at once recognized the action, and Sweden followed shortly afterward. But France cannot come to the aid of the struggling new country and Sweden wouldn't.

Then General Mannerheim, the Finnish leader, turned to the Germans who were clamoring for the chance, in order to further bottle up Russia. A total of 40,000 German troops were landed at Hango and the fight was soon over, with the Russians well beaten. The German prince Karl Frederich of Hesse, was elected king of Finland in October, 1913, but next month Germany surrendered to the Allies, the German troops were withdrawn from Finland, and General Mannerheim was made regent. The present Republic was set up on July 17, 1919.

Finland has a land area of about 132,000 miles, and a population of somewhat less than 4,000,000. The whole country is dotted with lakes, some of which are very large. One of these, Lake Salma, serves as the principal part of the system of waterways giving access to the center of the country from the Gulf of Finland--an ominous fact from the standpoint of the possibility of invasion.

In the north there are some hills which go up to a height of 4,000 feet. But the country generally is flat or made up of rolling hills smoothed down by glacial action to a maximum height of about 500 feet. The climate is extremely cold in Winter, hot in Summer, but very healthful.

Only seven per cent of the land is fit for agriculture, though two-thirds of the people make their living at that occupation. Rye, barley, oats, potatoes, and hay--these are the crops. Most of the cereals (breadstuffs) used by the country have to be imported. Butter and cheese, however, are largely exported. But the great resource of Finland is her timber.

Forests, mainly of pine and spruce, cover three-fourths of the land. Wood-working plants employ over half of all industrial workers, and their products make up 75 percent of the country exports.

Most Finns are Lutherans, like their Scandinavian neighbors and the Northern Germans. But racially and linguistically they are very different from these neighbors. They appear to belong at least in part to a Mongol stock and their language is basically a member of the Ural-Altaic group--the group to which the Mongol languages, including that of the Turks, all belong. Apparently, they were dwelling on the Volga until the beginning of the eighth century, when they took possession of their present territory, then occupied by the Lapps, perhaps because their own lands had been taken by still stronger tribes. In the thirteenth century, after a hundred years of struggle, the Swedes finally succeeded in converting them to Christianity--by the sword. In the sixteenth century Finland was made a grand duchy of Sweden, and the country was often a battleground for the long wars between Sweden and Russia. Under Swedish rule, the Swedish language came into use by the upper classes, is still spoken by many people, and has profoundly modified the original Finnish tongue.

Under the peace of Fredricksham in 1809, Sweden ceded Finland along with the Aland Islands to Russia. For long the country remained virtually autonomous, but in the 1890's the Russian Government initiated an attempt to Russianize the duchy completely and to stamp out its local culture altogether. For that Russia was to pay with the loss of the territory when the opportunity came in 1917.

The people are a hardy and independent breed, of low stature, with the flat features, high cheekbones, slanting eyes and sparse beards of the Mongols. Ninety-nine percent of the population is literate. There is no great wealth, little real poverty, no unemployment.

Executive powers is vested in the President elected for six years by 300 electors, themselves elected by direct vote of the people. The single chamber Diet, elected by popular vote, exercises legislative power.

In 1930 a strong movement to eradicate Communism from Finland arose, resulted in widespread lawlessness and the rise of Fascism, ended in the passage of laws suppressing the Reds. Afterward, when the Fascists attempted to put down labor unions, too, the Government, which had been elected with their support, had to suppress them also, and sent a number of the leaders to prison. On April 5, 1939, Finland repealed a prohibition law which had been in effect for thirteen years.

But the things she is most famous for on this side of the water, of course, are (1) that she is the country and the home of Jan Sibelius, and her eerie winds and blooming forests and the quiet Summer sunlight on the lakes the inspiration for his music; and (2) that she alone among the European nations regularly meets the installments on her debt to us. Skoal Finlandia!

To a T

What Ironpants Says About Ham Applies Equally To Bob

We wonder if Bob Reynolds reads after General Hugh Johnson. If so, we wonder what Robert thought when Old Ironpants pitched into the Hon. Ham Fish for organizing an extra-official committee of Congressmen to "keep America out of foreign wars," for making his secretary, a Federal employee, treasurer of that committee, and for soliciting funds on his official stationery with which to enable the committee to function.

Said the General:

Members of Congress are paid by the public to represent majorities in every Congressional district and the people as a whole, and the constant debate and strategy for the fixing of laws. But it is no part of the proper duty of any of them to organize partisan political pressure blocs in both the country at large and Congress itself, and in any typical Father Coughlin technique, solicit contributions, large and small, from the public for the plain purpose of propaganda and emotional ballyhoo.

We don't know whether we agree with that or not. But if Ham is to be condemned for it, then Robert is to be condemned for it.

His V-i-n-d-i-c-a-t-o-r movement is all the things and more that Johnson says about Ham Fish's anti-war movement. And given the same set of circumstances, a logical mind would have to find the same answer.

Strange Sources

Coming From Moscow, This Rings A Little Phony

The curious thing about those stories that the Scandinavian countries, Finland, and the Baltic states are pleading with Britain and France to make peace in the West so Germany may be free to block further Russian expansion, is that they come to us exclusively through dispatches from Moscow and Berlin

Indeed that is more than curious. The normal origin point for such rumors would be some neutral country. In this case, Holland would be the most likely, but Amsterdam knows nothing of them. In fact, if these countries were actually making such a play, there is no good reason why they themselves should not let the cat out of the bag, at least through "unofficial channels." On the contrary, it would be calculated to aid them, by stirring up sympathy in powerful neutral lands like the United States.

On the other hand, about the last place on earth you expect to find this rumor being put out by "authoritative sources" is Moscow. For it is to say that Moscow looks with such a friendly eye on having Germany turn into its enemy and blocker that it actually aids it by letting that story go to the world, so as to picture Russia as the real menace and arouse sympathy for laying off Germany!

What is the meaning of this nonsense? We don't know certainly, but we have our guess--that it is just another part of the war of nerves. As Dorothy Thompson points out in her column today, it is quite unlikely that Hitler has any thought of turning against Russia if he gets "peace." It is too late, now that Russia has occupied her new strategic positions. Hitler's only chance for conquest lies in destroying England, something Russia heartily favors. But both these countries would like to have breathing space to consolidate their gains and get themselves into position to work on England with a better chance of success. The notion that the little nations want Hitler to save them from Stalin is admirably adapted to befuddling a lot of people, and winning that breathing spell.

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