Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




The West's image of Finland and its policy towards Finland during World War II and the Cold War has been thought to be an exception to the framework of power politics and diplomacy. This thesis will seek to determine the validity of this assumption in the United States and Great Britain by examining the popular press of each country. This thesis will also explore what differences if any existed between the Anglo and American press. This thesis will attempt to understand the analysis, judgments, and opinions of the Anglo and American press regrading Finland and their impressions as to what the appropriate responses of Great Britain and the United States should be towards Finland. This thesis discusses how accurate their observations and assessments were and within that context determines whether or not Finland can be considered a special case.

The Winter War between Finland and the Soviet Union was widely covered in the Anglo and American press. The foremost common theme was an almost universal sympathy and admiration for the Finns. The press response to Finland was due partly, but not exclusively, to its sentiment toward the Soviet Union. The Winter War created the image of "Valiant Finland," wdth the press portraying Finland as a defender of Western Civilization, particularly democracy and Christianity. The Winter War and the press coverage of it created a substantial reservoir of goodwill for Finland. This combined with Finland's already positive image as an honest debt paying nation.

During the Continuation War Finland fought as a co-belligerent of Nazi Germany against the Soviet Union, but only to regain the territory it lost in the Winter War. Finland was trapped in a tricky geopolitical and diplomatic situation. As the war continued the Anglo and American press became more and more critical of Finland's role, but distinguished between the actions of the Finnish government and the Finnish people. After World War II the Anglo and American press paid little attention to daily life in Finland. The events that brought attention to Finland were often events in which Finland appeared to be exceptional when compared to other nations thought to be in similar circumstances. Finland's image evolved through the years. The Anglo and American press recognized Finland as a functioning democracy, but they did not altogether regard Finland as neutral. The press stressed the image of "Honest Finland" as the Finns completed their reparation payments to the Soviet Union in 1952. The press described Finland as a democratic nation that shared Western values but that circumstances did not allow it to exercise a pro-West foreign policy.

Although the United States and Great Britain were allies in World War II and the Cold War, some differences occurred in their respective coverage of Finland, as their national interests diverged. Given the geopolitical reality that placed Finland in political alignments that did not support British and American interests, the Anglo and American press coverage of Finland revealed an unmistakable reservoir of goodwill and sympathy for the Finnish people. The Anglo and American press coverage of Finland between 1939 and 1955 was indeed an exception to the conventional framework of power politics and diplomacy. Finland was a special case.