60 years after the war reparations
The year 2012 marks the 60th anniversary of Finland's war reparations payments. The last train transporting reparation deliveries crossed the border at the Vainikkala border station on 19 September 1952.
The reparations required great effort from Finland. In addition to paying reparations, Finland had to re-house evacuees from territories ceded to the Soviet Union, conclude the Lapland War, compensate the Soviet Union for property transferred during the war, and pay off the receivables it owed to Germany. To illustrate the scale of the reparations, a total of 141,490 carriages delivered reparation goods to the Soviet Union in 1944–1952. The total amount of reparations rose to 500 million US dollars, at the value of the dollar in 1953. Finland was the only country to pay war reparations in full.
The list of goods demanded in war reparations bore little correspondence to pre-war Finnish industrial production. Finland was to deliver, for example, shipbuilding and metal industry goods, whose manufacture in the country had never been performed or even envisaged. The reparations called for a significant adjustment of our industrial production. In the long-run, however, the Finnish companies benefited from the situation. While expertise improved as new products were manufactured, the reparation schedules forced the concentration and streamlining of deliveries. In addition, the production of reparation goods offered employment in the country recovering from war.
On 7 November, the Prime Minister's Office and the University of Helsinki held a seminar on Finland's war reparations 1944–1952 at the House of the Estates. Keynote addresses by renowned experts in the field provided information on the backgrounds, implementation and consequences of the reparations. A brochure on the war reparations is available on the Prime Minister's Office website at www.vnk.fi.
Inquiries: Hannu Rautkallio, Adjunct Professor, tel. +358 40 512 9022 and Henrik Meinander, Professor, tel. +358 9 191 22874, University of Helsinki