The radio salutation of the president of Finland Kyösti Kallio
to the Finnish Defence Forces, Dec. 17, 1939

Defenders of our independence!

Through the radio I want to salute Finnish soldiers, who now stand at a multitude of front-lines in protection of liberty of our Fatherland and peace at our homes.

At the very first, I cordially wish to express my salutation to you, the commander-in-chief of our defence forces, Field Marshall Mannerheim. In spite of your advanced age you assumed the highly responsible duty to act as the commander-in-chief in the most difficult time. This certainly was the unanimous wish of the Finnish people as your patriotism, extensive war experience, your vast knowledge and natural leadership are so widely recognized. This made all eyes turn on you, respected Field Marshall Mannerheim.

This trust in the leadership of our defence forces was further inreased with the awareness that the corps of officers in our country, who now performs important duties in various positions, have all the time during our independence done serious work in training itself and our army to an effective guardian of our Fatherland.

I present you, gentlemen officers, my respectful salutation.

And with the same respect and gratitude I also salute the non-commissioned officers and rank-and-file soldiers of our defence forces. Them who led by officers have withstood with insuperable courage and success the severe test they have been put through over a two weeks' time. With admiration the whole world looks on you, who in defending the independence of our country against a superior aggressor, at the same time defend the most elevated human values common to all civilized nations.

This way our army has shown that even a small country can with pure weapons and awareness of her duty can successfully fight for these values against violence.

The army of the aggressor finds it inconceivable why they are insisted to attack but every Finnish soldier understands that our homes, freedom, religion and the whole social order will be destroyed if our defence breaks down and the enemy, with its Bolshevik doctrines, takes the master's place. You, frontline soldiers, who have acquainted yourselves with the enemy's manpower, can draw your own first-hand conclusions in assessing what kind of fate our people might meet in the Bolshevik society.

There is no need for us to prove our innocence in the breakout of this war, because the League of Nations, consisting of 49 countries, unanimously identified the aggressor and 40 of its members convicted the Soviet Union to loose its membership in the League of Nations. We have noted this by great satisfaction and now wait for the measures that the member states of the League of Nations are going to take against the aggressor.

We are deeply grateful for the economic aid and unbounded sympathy we have met, but it is clear to all that a modern war is determined only by appropriate defences and their users, so that we need more active support than we yet have received. As our cause is common to all the civilized world we believe that civilized nations cannot leave us on our own devices on this frontline.

But even in this very case, now beyond our expectations, the people of Finland cannot give way in front of violence, because we do understand that if the principles of justice are left to despotism then the human life is worthless and the old Western civilization has lost its very cornerstone.

We do not deny that closest to our hearts are our own homes, our Fatherland, our civilization and the whole social order we have grown onto and which now are targeted for destruction. But it is just through these values we ourselves have given our contribution to the human culture and, therefore, we dare to hope that these common civilized values and principles of justice will also find a united protection.

These are guarded by the Finnish defence forces who now stand against an aggressor who aims to destroy, along our independence, also these common values.

Will the civilized nations allow this to happen?

We are posing this question and salute our own army who is aware of its duty and will unanimously fulfil this.

You soldiers there at the front can every day see, as well as we here at home can hear to our surprise, how the hand that leads life gives you strength to stand against violence and to win even then when you are met with by far superior numbers.

The Fatherland and the families join you in the great grief and feelings of respect for those heroes who fell in protection of our Fatherland. We are comforted by knowing that they personally gave precedence for an honorable death over the life that Bolshevism was bringing here.

The respect for our forefathers and future generations obliges us now to defend this country unto death.

I thank you, officers and the ranks, for your bravery and steadfastness to the Fatherland.
Source: The greatest peasant of Finland. A commemorative publication for Kyösti Kallio. WSOY Publishing House, 1941. Translated here by Pauli Kruhse.

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