Juho Kusti Paasikivi
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|Valtioneuvos (Counselor of State), President
Juho Kusti Paasikivi
|7th President of Finland|
March 11, 1946 – March 1, 1956
|Prime Minister||Mauno Pekkala
|Preceded by||Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim|
|Succeeded by||Urho Kekkonen|
|Prime Minister of Finland|
November 17, 1944 – March 9, 1946
|Preceded by||Urho Castrén|
|Succeeded by||Mauno Pekkala|
|Chairman of the Senate of Finland|
May 27, 1918 – November 27, 1918
|Preceded by||Pehr Evind Svinhufvud|
|Born||Johan Gustaf Hellsten
November 27, 1870
Koski, Grand Duchy of Finland
|Died||December 14, 1956
|Political party||National Coalition Party|
|Spouse(s)||Anna Matilda Forsman (desc.)
Allina (Alli) Valve
|Children||Annikki, Wellamo, Juhani and Varma|
|Alma mater||Imperial Alexander University (now University of Helsinki)|
|Profession||associate professor, civil servant|
Juho Kusti Paasikivi ([ˈjuɦo ˈkusti ˈpɑːsiˌkiʋi]; November 27, 1870 – December 14, 1956) was the seventh President of Finland (1946–1956). Representing the Finnish Party and the National Coalition Party, he also served as Prime Minister of Finland (1918 and 1944–1946), and was generally an influential figure in Finnish economics and politics for over fifty years. He is particularly remembered as a main architect of Finland's foreign policy after the Second World War.
He was born as Johan Gustaf Hellsten in 1870 at Hämeenkoski in Päijänne Tavastia in Southern Finland, the son of August Hellsten, a merchant, and Karolina Wilhelmina Selin. He Finnicized his name to Juho Kusti Paasikivi in 1885.
Early life and political career
Paasikivi was orphaned at the age of 14 and was raised by his aunt. The young Paasikivi was an enthusiastic athlete and gymnast. He received most of his elementary education in Hämeenlinna, where he exhibited an early appetite for reading, and was the best pupil in his class. He entered the University of Helsinki in 1890, graduating with a Bachelor's degree in 1892, and as a lawyer in 1897. That year he married his first wife, Anna Matilda Forsman (1869–1931). They had four children, Annikki (1898–1950), Wellamo (1900–1966), Juhani (1901–1942), and Varma (1903–1941). In 1901, Paasikivi became a Doctor of Law, and was associate professor of Administrative Law at Helsinki University 1902-1903.
He left this post to become Director-in-Chief of Treasury of the Grand Duchy of Finland, a position he retained until 1914. For practically all of his adult life, Paasikivi moved in the inner circles of Finland's politics. He supported greater autonomy and an independent Cabinet (Senate) for Finland, and resisted Russia's panslavic intentions to make Russian the only official language everywhere in the Russian Empire. He belonged, however, to the more complying Fennoman or Old Finn Party, opposing radical and potentially counter-productive steps which could be perceived as aggressive by the Russians. Paasikivi served as a Finnish Party member of Parliament 1907-1909 and 1910-1913. He served as a member of the Senate 1908-1909, as Head of the Finance Division.
Independence and Civil War
During the First World War Paasikivi began to have doubts about the Fennoman Party's obedient line. In 1914, after resigning his position at the Treasury, and also standing down as a member of Parliament, Paasikivi left public life and office. He became Chief General Manager of the Kansallis-Osake-Pankki (KOP) bank, retaining that position until 1934. Paasikivi also served as a member of Helsinki City Council 1915-1918.
After the February Revolution in Russia 1917, Paasikivi was appointed to committee that began to formulate new legislation for a modernized Grand Duchy. Initially he supported increased autonomy within the Russian Empire, in opposition to the Social Democrats in the coalition-Senate, who in vain strived for more far-reaching autonomy; but after the Bolshevik October Revolution Paasikivi championed full independence — albeit in the form of constitutional monarchy.
During the Civil War in Finland Paasikivi was firmly on the side of the White government. As Prime Minister May–November 1918 he strived for continued constitutional monarchy with Frederick Charles of Hesse (a German Prince) as king, intending to ensure Finland of German support against Bolshevist Russia. However, as Germany lost the World War, monarchy had to be scrapped for a Republic more in the taste of the victorious Entente. Paasikivi's Senate resigned, and he returned to the KOP bank.
Paasikivi, as politically conservative, was a firm opponent of Social Democrats in the cabinet, or Communists in the Parliament. Tentatively he supported the semi-fascist Lapua movement which requested radical measures against the political Left. But eventually the Lapua movement radicalized further, assaulting also Ståhlberg, the Liberal former President of Finland, and Paasikivi like many other supporters turned away from the radical Right. In 1934 he became chairman for the Conservative Kokoomus party, as a champion of democracy, and achieved the party's rehabilitation after its suspicious closeness to the Lapua movement and the failed coup d'état, the Mäntsälä Rebellion.
Ambassador in Stockholm
Widowed in 1931, he married Allina (Alli) Valve (1879–1960) in 1934 and resigned from politics. However, he was persuaded to accept the position as Ambassador to Sweden, at this time regarded as Finland's most important embassy. Authoritarian regimes seizing power in Germany, Poland and Estonia made Finland increasingly isolated while the Soviet Union threatened. After the gradual dissolution of the League of Nations, and as it turned out that France and the United Kingdom were uninterested, Sweden was the only regime left who possibly could give Finland any support at all. Approximately since the failed Lapua coup, Paasikivi and Mannerheim had belonged to a close circle of Conservative Finns discussing how this could be achieved.
In Stockholm Paasikivi strived for Swedish defence guarantees, alternatively a defensive alliance or a defensive union between Finland and Sweden. Since the Civil War the relations between Swedes and Finns had been frosty. The revolutionary turmoil at the end of the World War had in Sweden led to Parliamentarism, increased democracy, and a dominant role for the Swedish Social Democrats. In Finland, however, the result had been a disastrous Civil War and a total defeat for Socialism. At the same time as when Paasikivi arrived in Stockholm, it became known that President Svinhufvud retained his aversion for Parliamentarism and (after pressure from Paasikivi's Conservative Party) had declined to appoint a Cabinet with Social Democrats as Ministers. This didn't improve Paasikivi's reputation among the Swedish Social Democrats dominating the government, who were sufficiently suspicious due to his association with Finland's Monarchist orientation in 1918, and the failed Lapua coup in 1932.
Things actually improved, partly due to Paasikivi's efforts, partly since President Kallio had been elected. As President, Kallio approved of Parliamentarism and appointed Social Democrats to the Cabinet. But the suspicions between Finland and Sweden were too strong: During the Winter War Sweden's support for Finland was considerable, but short of one critical feature: Sweden neither declared war on the Soviet Union nor sent regular troops to Finland's defense. This made many Finns, including Paasikivi himself, judge his mission in Stockholm to have been a failure.
Ambassador in Moscow
Prior to the Winter War, Paasikivi became the Finnish representative in the negotiations in Moscow. Seeing that Joseph Stalin did not intend to change his policies, he supported compliance with some of the demands. When the war broke out, Paasikivi was asked to enter Risto Ryti’s Cabinet as a Minister without portfolio—in practice in the role of a distinguished political advisor. He ended up in the Cabinet's leading triumvirate together with Risto Ryti and Foreign Minister Väinö Tanner (chairman of the Social Democrats). He also led the negotiations for an armistice and the peace, and continued his mission in Moscow as an ambassador. In Moscow he was, by necessity, isolated from the most secret thoughts in Helsinki, and when he found out that these thoughts ran in the direction of revanche with Germany's aid, he resigned. Paasikivi retired for the second time.
Prime Minister and President
In the summer of 1941, when the Continuation War had begun, he took up writing his memoirs. By 1943 he concluded that Germany was going to lose the war and that Finland was in great danger as well. However, his initial opposition against the pro-German politics of 1940-41 was too well known, and his first initiatives for peace negotiations were met with little support both from Field Marshal Mannerheim and from Risto Ryti, who now had become President.
Immediately after the war, Mannerheim appointed Paasikivi Prime Minister. For the first time in Finland a Communist, Yrjö Leino, was included in the Cabinet. Paasikivi's policies were realist, but radically different from those of the previous 25 years. His main effort was to prove that Finland would present no threat to the Soviet Union, and that both countries would gain from confident peaceful relations. He had to comply with many Soviet demands, including the War Crimes trial. When Mannerheim resigned, Parliament selected Paasikivi to succeed him as President of the Republic. Paasikivi was then age 75.
Paasikivi had thus come a long way from his earlier classical conservatism. He now was willing to co-operate regularly with the Social Democrats and, when necessary, even with the Communists, as long as they acted democratically. As President, he only once accepted his party, the Conservatives, into the government, and even that government lasted only about six months and was considered more a caretaker or civil-servant government than a regular parliamentary government. He even appointed a Communist or a People's Democrat, Mauno Pekkala, as Prime Minister in 1946.
Paasikivi's political flexibility had its limits, however; and this was shown in the Communists' alleged coup attempt or coup plans in the spring of 1948. He ordered some units of the army and navy to Helsinki to defend the capital against a possible Communist attack. Any attempt at a takeover failed before it had even started, and the Communists were defeated in the next parliamentary elections.
Most modern Finnish historians deny that most Communists wanted a violent coup, especially not without Soviet support. Later in the spring, when the Parliament passed a no-confidence motion against the Communist Interior Minister Leino, because of controversy about the treatment of prisoners whom he had ordered to be deported to the Soviet Union (they were mostly Russian White emigrants), Paasikivi had to dismiss Leino who refused to resign at once. After the 1948 parliamentary elections, when the Communists dropped from the largest to the third largest party, Paasikivi refused to let them into the government; and the Communists remained in opposition until 1966 (See, for example, Seppo Zetterberg et al., ed., "A Small Giant of the Finnish History" / Suomen historian pikkujättiläinen, Helsinki: Werner Söderström Publications Ltd., 2003).
As President, Paasikivi kept the foreign relations of Finland in the foreground, trying to ensure a stable peace and wider freedom of action. Paasikivi concluded that, all the fine rhetoric aside, Finland had to adapt to superpower politics and sign treaties with the Soviet Union to avoid a worse fate. Thus he managed to stabilize Finland's position. This "Paasikivi doctrine" was adhered to for decades, and was named Finlandization in the 1970s.
It should be noted that he was helped in his relations with the Soviet leaders by his ability to speak some Russian and so did not have to use interpreters all the time, as his successor Kekkonen did. Having studied in Russia as a young man, Paasikivi also knew classic Russian literature and Russian culture (See, for example, "The Diaries of J.K. Paasikivi", edited and published in Finland around 1985-86; Sakari Virkkunen, "The Finnish Presidents II"; "The Republic's Presidents 1940-1956" / Tasavallan presidentit 1940-1956, published in Finland in 1993-94; Tuomo Polvinen, "J.K. Paasikivi: The Statesman's Work of Life" / J.K. Paasikivi: Valtiomiehen elämäntyö, published in several volumes in Finland in the 1990s and 2000s).
Paasikivi stood for re-election in the Presidential election of 1950, and he won 171 out of the 300 electoral college votes. The priorities of his second term were centred largely on domestic politics, in contrast to his first term. Joseph Stalin's death made Paasikivi's job easier. As a lover of sports, and a former athlete and gymnast, Paasikivi had the great pleasure, during his second term of office, of opening the 1952 Summer Olympics held in Helsinki.
By the end of Paasikivi's second six-year term, Finland had gotten rid of the most urgent political problems resulting from the war. The Karelian refugees had been resettled, the war reparations had been paid, rationing had ended, and in January 1956 the Soviet Union removed its troops from Porkkala marine base near Helsinki (See, for example, Zetterberg et al., eds., "A Small Giant of the Finnish History").
Paasikivi did not actively seek re-election from second term ending March 1, 1956, when he was age 85. However, Paasikivi was willing to serve as President for about two more years if a great majority of politicians asked him to do so. He appeared as a dark horse presidential candidate on the second ballot of the electoral college on February 15, 1956, but was eliminated as the least popular candidate. His last-minute candidacy was based on a misunderstood message from some Conservatives which made him believe that enough Agrarians and Social Democrats would support him.
After his unsuccessful last-minute presidential candidacy, Paasikivi felt betrayed by those politicians who asked him to participate in the election. He even denied giving his consent to the presidential candidacy in a public statement (see, for example, Pekka Hyvärinen, "Finland's Man: Urho Kekkonen's Life" / Suomen mies: Urho Kekkosen elämä, published in Finland in 2000; Tuomo Polvinen, "J.K. Paasikivi: The Statesman's Work of Life", final volume - years 1948-1956). He died in December, having not yet finished his memoirs.
Paasikivi in banknotes
Paasikivi, who had strong background in banking, was featured in various Finnish banknotes. He is one of the three presidents of Finland who had appeared in markka-denominated banknotes of Finland, the others being Kaarlo Juho Ståhlberg, the first president of Finland, and Urho Kekkonen, Paasikivi's successor as president.
Awards and decorations
- Finland : Grand Cross of the Order of the White Rose (Finland)
- Finland : Grand Cross of the Order of the Lion of Finland
- Finland : Grand Cross of the Order of the Cross of Liberty
- Iceland : Grand Cross with Collar of the Order of the Falcon (24 April 1954) 
- Sweden : Knight of the Order of the Seraphim (Sweden)
- Sweden : Order of The Polar Star
- Norway : Grand Cross of the Order of St. Olav
- Denmark : Order of the Elephant (Denmark)
- USSR : Order of Lenin
- Russia : Order of St. Anna
- Prussia : Iron Cross
- France : Legion of Honour
- Poland : Ordr of st.Stanislaus
- Courtesy title in Finland for former Presidents of the Republic
- "Ministerikortisto". Valtioneuvosto.
- Laar, M. (2009). The Power of Freedom. Central and Eastern Europe after 1945. Centre for European Studies, p. 41. http://www.poweroffreedombook.com/preview_PoF.pdf
- Icelandic Presidency Website (Icelandic), Order of the Falcon, Juho Kusti Paasikivi
- Media related to Juho Kusti Paasikivi at Wikimedia Commons
- Paasikivi's greeting message for the 1952 Summer Olympics (Audio and Visual [English])
Pehr Evind Svinhufvud
|Prime Minister of Finland
|Prime Minister of Finland
Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim
|President of Finland