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Voices of Europe Milton mair American author and broadcaster lecturer and professor in the Institute of Social Research from Frankfurt University has been recording the voices of Europeans who are alive and sensitive to the conditions that surround them. Professorial Valley Mary KOSKY of the Faculty of Law and Helsinki University Finland's leading authority on American common law was born in Karelia in that part of the Finnish province which is now lost to the Soviet Union. His wife is Swedish professorial Meri KOSKY was formally dean of the law faculty of Helsinki University and formally president of the Finnish law association. Here is Milton Mayer. Professor sorry Mary cos I have the feeling that after visiting a while in Finland that the best way for a people to be these days for a nation to be is small poor or weak. And exposed
as the Finns are. You are closer to Russia. Then any other European people. And it appears to me that perhaps the closer one is to Russia the calmer he is. Certainly the fans seem to me to be quite calm. Nudists maybe. Maybe the snow I has heard when I was in United States misstates several times suggest the same questions. Why are you so how can you be so up. And I always use to answer by telling that same study. It was a neat little episode which happened
when I left London to New York. Plane had just started from that run when suddenly maybe five six minutes late then one of the engines or the plane had caught fire. Well in some minutes five minutes may be quite safely back on that bet. What it was after my meaning. Interestingly in this episode was that there was no panic in the play no questions and I asked then why. Why does your soul and I can't explain it. I was less than that three understood everybody that we
couldn't do anything. So I should explain the situation in Finland now. Maybe you should like to say that this somehow at least or so. Back then I don't understand this episode quite in this way. Well I mean I mean the situation in Finland when you speak about. But at least you'll mean you'll understand someone who will who will not do something to help himself or only waits that call well or not well and quite so I'm in testing of how it is going now and I really think that it is not typical for Finnish be able to be at least this way. Maybe you have heard here already at the finish what she saw near
c so it is a sought for power which helps one to realize. Impossible things when it is necessary and it is said that it should be somehow typical for females got it that it is such a nation of many. Maybe that is something I know this. This word Cecil which which I have heard not only here in Finland but also abroad and I find that like so many Finnish words there is no real translation for it it seems to be somewhere between perseverance and determination and a kind of a reckless insistence upon facing the impossible ness that suggests the idea that
all it is bad that it is not only for good purposes you'll you'll see sadly come to be but yeah. Profits are a merry Koski. The thins I suppose you are saying. I have already reckoned with the worst that could happen to them and they accept such possibilities and say that they could live too. Yes I think there is just a yes and no. That's clearly a good idea to think so or as we used to think that that we all know at least personally my idea on. I try to think what is the worst possibility what is the worst that could happen and then I think that also these things are not so awfully. Then it is easier to leave them be to exist when one
knows that also also the worst thing is not what. What. And what and what broke a sorry America asking what is the worst thing as far as the Finns as a nation are concerned. What is the worst thing that you people think could happen in the in the present world situation. Well I think for a nation always the worst thing which could happen it is to do with the national debt. Yes but you have lost your initial independence. Many times I see in a in a in the in the annals of your history there have been wars between Russia and Finland at least one or two wars every century and a few little little tiffs with the Swedes too.
I don't think so I think we'll see that we have. We enter our national independence when we are Finland was not I think what Sweden it was one part of a city and somehow it was there was not stay closed as you saw that that Finland shouldn't have a problem. Good but then and then when Finland was united to it with Russia from it in hand till nineteen hundred eighteen then Finland was autonomy we had our own parliament we had our own language our own schools our own money and we were very happy then I should say till 19 when fashion began you know politic against financial that they tried to make a part don't Russia. Then it was rather be tickled. But then also
we could continue our national life. Nineteen hundred eighteen seventeen when Finland was then than it got independence all Judy. Well with this with this remarkable preservation. Of your national integrity proffer sorry Mary Koski. Do you feel that the fans would be unwilling to surrender their sovereignty their their national independence to genuine world organization. Well I also have I have to say only my own opinion but I don't think that we should be unhappy people. That trickle this way because I think for the smaller nations the only good. So you. And now what.
Principle differences. You are a man who has visited and traveled much in the United States. What principle differences do you find in the. Finnish and the American life and outlook. That's rather difficult to say. When I say what I think about this. Look Nick Such as a ration that I have met the most the most universe to be around that sort of people in the United States that somehow I have the feeling that that who should stay north and countries in Europe or such intellect you have and collect travel values are appreciate it then in the United States. I don't know if this is my my but I have had such a peak and to what do you ask arrived this difference in
attitude for us. If I think the universe people at universities and so it is only in plain land for instance still to be a protest over unity university it is very it's a very so socially very well upper CA not the tallest in America and then you know that we have too many students. Everybody wants to be a student and study and then the pinnace be speeding very much when you have travelling all the country will see very many books in all but. All the small houses everywhere. We don't need all the new rules that they buy. Oh yes and Americans. Well I think we can. Why why that happened. Yeah. Maybe just because we are not all of us you know how to become what I would be. Then my wife and I should have to ask you why are we in a hurry.
Well and that I can explain a profound sorry Mary KOSKY if I insisted I know you would not like to do this if I insisted that that you give one piece of advice to Americans. What would it be. I know I know that that you would hesitate since you are not an American and at the same time perhaps you who live in Europe see us much more clearly than we see ourselves. That's a very difficult story difficult for me this question and I would like to comment on politics at all especially because I have read somewhere the politics of this. If you see this only cheating between war period stop fighting so it's not my life but better if I had to say something about that then I.
I should say it saw that that America is very far away from Europe and we understand very well here that you can you are so far away that you cannot see Europe on problems until they acknowledge specially the thin thin opinion that you can see them in the same way than we see them and it is not only the question nor But it is also the question of question do we. So we have this all day but we see in the many always seem a different way. I'm a big one and then I if I would have to come in in good results in this life then life then I think it would be very good to have more contact between America and Europe than you.
Hell just on both sides will understand difficult Sunday the problems of other nations. Thank you very much. Proper sorry America. The man in Finland who ought to know more about the burden of war and its aftermath than any other is listen sati awful Bukhari lecture uneconomic administration at Helsinki University in Helsinki business school. The sense of people carries expertness is not entirely in the theoretical area of economics however. He was executive secretary of Finland's National Community Chest. All of its relief work during and after the Second World War. Here is Milton mair. The sense out the gari what we Americans know best about Finland is that it pays its war debt to the United States.
Yes. Professional rate our dept door isn't really a warm damp I'd say it was a food dept under kind of one our dept because we got after the first world war. Americans helped us very in a very valuable way but who were doubtless in his memoirs. Which game to go. How the Finnish delegation came in 1990 in a glass case of an exemption for grain and he told them that the grain boats already on their way they have been sent to Finland. So the Finns could eat all that grain they had in their hands then without without pressure having any and if not a future. The Finnish delegation was small though. One day the sun was quite packed with sentiment that meeting
lacked then Mr. Hoover in his memoirs goes on to tell how the spark of humor released the sentiments then because a delegation came back after a few minutes and wanted to know what the crane would cost them. They might not have enough money to pay for it. And Mr Hoover told them that he did not know the price of the grain then but if they could not marry for it he would create for them and the Finns said that we will pay our people or can't and will who will pay our debts. That's how it started. And I take it then the name of Herbert Hoover is remembered very happily in Finland. As a matter of fact who very is in Finnish it means foreign help for him to leave and an interview individual can speak about
getting home area getting help from from outside from America. The sense here at the very. How heavy actually was the burden of the Finnish debt to the United States. No not really it wasn't as heavy as some of the war debts of logic on the contrary. Right now we have a 14 million dollar goal unites states you know coming in about half a million dollars every year but it sometimes would have been quite difficult during the war for a lead to people of 4 million to pay half a million dollars a year. And why have you gone on during this whole period since 1919 paying your war debts when it became a law of course it was not literally a war debt.
Paying these international debts when it became so fashionable for everybody not to pay them well it hasn't ever been fashionable in Finland we have an old robber would say that a man's given water is as much a part of him as on the horns of an ox. And we wanted to keep our hearts Dr say. And now since the. First world who are you fans of had some further experience with debts and reparation Astro production and the our loss of the they war of 1941 44 with Russia has also involved a different kind of war debt and how much of our war debt is this and what is its
effect on the Finnish economy a lot of professional armistice agreement signed in Moscow on 19 September just they're just not important for us. Even this year 9 September. In one to number 44 when the war ended which has had claimed every 75 years and made a great stand up on Finland we agreed to Soviet Union or reparations to the value of 300 million American gold dollars shall we call them they are really thirty eight dollars an idea that the dollars you have information go in a market you know and we call them gold dollars and in the street disarmed him punished in 47 and we. This punishment was decided to be ineffective
in manufactured goods in six years but later on when we told us of it union agree it was impossible for us to mate in six years. We got the time decided for eight years so we had the US to pay these 300 million dollars and this is the last year as you know. Now listen they carry what is the exact amount or I won't say the exact amount the approximate amount per year in American gold dollars which this country of 4 million people has been paying in war reparations to the Sauvie Union has been decide to divide it in eight so that we have to pay exactly thirty seven and a half million dollars worth of goods every every year
since 44 and this thirty seven and a half million dollars. These of course are. The Roosevelt dollars they are actually that would be or I would guess about between 50 and 55 million dollars at least because some of the goods valued very low and we had to buy very costly raw materials for them and what part of the Finnish export trade do the south the reparations paid to the savviest Union play. Well that started us really heavy in forty five when we started we had to pay 65 percent of all our exports we had to send them out of the country without any payment at a time when we really needed foodstuffs and textiles. What
other consumer goods bought after what it has gone down and the high prices for power plant brand have asked. So not in the later years it has been between 10 and 20 percent of our annual exports. Still quite an amount and what's the effect of reparations on your economy as a whole. Well we have to go without some of the goods we will surely surely consume in other countries even I mean food stuff and things like that. Some children in Finland they first are in trouble when they were 10 years old but there were some good effects tool we didn't have any high unemployment after right after the war because after all lost the war we had to start working and somehow we
kept. Organized all the time and working really hard and I don't think the economic effects weren't so bad as for some other countries. As a matter of fact we have had kind of over employment. We do our very long weeks and and pay accordingly. Right now we come with and shorten the work week end and have a social effect. One of our being. Then this is a start of your your war reparation is really constitute a sort of pump priming. That's true and then we have developed quite a large metal industry and we hope that we have developed markets for our boats and jeeps in Soviet Union and then you are trading just as freely with the union as with any other nation has suddenly
haggling over the prizes all the time. Right now we have a delegation in Moscow negotiating about the next trade agreement and sometimes they have to come back and then who can't. When you factor any prefabricated houses more we had to sell our lumber rush lumber the other countries. Why that's I think that's one think you'll have wanted to have for a date instead of five year plans and I think that the the things in the Finnish government are not then I gather interest in l lining Finland commercially with either the eastern or the Western nations. Sutton did not believe in free trade and free markets and getting the best for our products and buying when we can buy buy our grain and ours from a cheap plea on Africa.
They really only believe in a trade between east and west and differences political differences still leave you in the position of having to sell and buy where you can sell and buy gas through the American justice and much national times today I don't know if that's when I figured my bad. One last question the sense you're out there. And that is use Bill spoke of the beneficial effects of the. Reparations requirements on the Finnish economy all of course it meant a very hard standard of living for your people. And this kind of pump priming you might also achieve by if you did not have to pay reparations by a great public works program or by an armaments
industry by Finnish rearmament as the peace treaty. Our army must set many a very mobile number 0 men and only then thousand of Navy and so on. Moments don't produce anything anyway so if you think that when we can build more roads and so on we will get our standard of living higher. Now I can well understand that if you had to if you were able to choose you would choose A. Program of public works whose consequences are beneficial within your own country and not to some other country. But let me ask you the meanest question I can think of. If you had to choose between paying reparations to the salvia Union on the one hand yeah.
And building armaments. Yeah for a Finnish army and navy on the other hand which would the thins choose. Well I guess I suppose 75 percent of the Finnish people would know this meaning question by deciding that we'd keep the place out so our work home. But really I don't think the Finns after living very very good on fighting. I must tell you profession that after the war in our first government we we would not have a minister secretary a war crime. You are a Quaker friends might like to hear. Well as a matter of fact when we speak of Quakers I must tell you about
a good thing they have done last year after we have kept on paying our debt fora for quite a lot of Yash a good friend of Finland an American Quaker David Hinshaw Indios don't think you are bashing each of the finished educational mill unemotionally by the United States Congress and this bill provides public law provides that Finlands future payments to the United States its first world war debt which I moaned to nearly 14 million right now still amounts of that amount shall be used for further education of our young people in American colleges and universities and we really expect to send a few thousand young Finnish man and woman over for America to study the next decades.
Thank you very much Lee Sensi out a pro-Kerry. The program you have just heard has been made possible under a grant from the fund for adult education an independent organization established by the Ford Foundation. These programs are prepared and distributed by the National Association of educational broadcasters in the interests of better international understanding. This program was introduced by Norman McKee and this is the end E.B. tape network.
Voices of Europe
Veli Merikoski and Dr. Arvo Puukari
Producing Organization
National Association of Educational Broadcasters
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
Interviews with Professor Veli Merikoski and Dr. Arvo Puukari about Finland during World War II and its aftermath.
Series Description
Interviews with noted Europeans on a variety of subjects, conducted by Milton Mayer, American author and broadcaster, lecturer and professor in the Institute of Social Research at Frankfurt University.
Broadcast Date
Global Affairs
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Interviewee: Merikoski, V. (Veli), 1905-1982
Interviewee: Puukari, Arvo
Interviewer: Mayer, Milton, 1908-1986
Producing Organization: National Association of Educational Broadcasters
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 52-37-36 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:19
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Chicago: “Voices of Europe; Veli Merikoski and Dr. Arvo Puukari,” 1953-01-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed December 4, 2023,
MLA: “Voices of Europe; Veli Merikoski and Dr. Arvo Puukari.” 1953-01-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. December 4, 2023. <>.
APA: Voices of Europe; Veli Merikoski and Dr. Arvo Puukari. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from