View Full Version : Larry A. Thorne, a Finnish-American Jaeger

09-03-06, 05:09
Larry A. Thorne, a Finnish-American Jaeger

This little tribute is not for Larry Thorne's political views - since my own are more akin to those of Mauno Koivisto (who served under Lauri Törni in Detachment Törni). It is a tribute to his personal courage; and his life of "duty, honor, country".

Jaeger (Ger. Jäger, Sw. Jagare, Fin. Jääkkäri) means "hunter". Here, "manhunter" is more accurate.

The most famed Finnish-American Jaeger was MAJ Larry A. Thorne (1919-1965), who was baptised Lauri A. Törni, son of Jalmari Törni (a Baltic coastal captain) and Rosa Kosonen, at Viipuri (Vyborg) in southeast Finland (now part of Russia). Lauri joined the Finnish army in 1938 and served as a patrol NCO during the Winter War (1939-1940). He was promoted 2/LT (9 May 1940).

After that war ended, he went to Germany and Austria, where he was among the early volunteers for what became the Finnisches Freiwilligen SS-Bataillon "Nordost" - and Lauri became an SS Untersturmführer (2/LT; 8 May 1941).

By the end of July 1941, Lauri was back in the Finnish Army for the Continuation War (1941-1944); he specialized in long-range reconnaisance patrols (LRRPs) and was promoted 1/LT (5 Mar 1942). In 1943, he took command of Detachment Törni, which operated behind Russian lines so successfully that the Russians put a price of 3,000,000 markka on Lauri's head.

Among his jääkärit in this "Lightning Bolt" unit, was Mauno Koivisto, future President of Finland. In truth, the future president had very mixed views of his commanding officer.

Lauri was awarded the Mannerheim Cross, the equivalent of our Medal of Honor (9 Jul 1944), and was promoted CPT (28 Aug 1944). Upon Finland's collapse to Russia in September 1944, he rejoined the Waffen SS; and fought on the Eastern Front - as an SS Hauptsturmführer (CPT; 15 Apr 1945).

His unit was isolated behind Russian lines in the last days of the war - a sure death sentence for him. But, with the help of an American airborne unit, his unit fought its way west. There, he surrendered to the Americans. Lauri was soon interned by the British, but escaped to Finland. There, he was indicted and sentenced to 6-years as an "enemy of the state". By then, the Finnish government was "pro-", if not actually, Communist.

Pardoned in 1948 (but losing his Finnish rank in 1950), Lauri fled to Sweden. He eventually jumped enough ships to end up in New York by 1951. Befriended by other Finnish officers who had joined the American army (and by "Wild Bill" Donovan, OSS head in WWII), the 1951 Lodge Act enabled Lauri to enlist in the U.S. Army - as PVT Larry A. Thorne (28 Jan 1954).

He became an NCO instructor in winter warfare and special operations; was promoted to 1/LT (9 Jan 1957) and CPT (30 Nov 1960); and commanded Special Forces A-Teams in delicate operations.

Larry served two tours in Vietnam (1963-1965), first as an A-Team commander; and then as a staff officer on a B-Team (part of the MACV-SOG "Studies and Observation Group", in charge of clandestine ops in Laos and Cambodia). His chopper crashed just over the Laotian border (18 Oct 1965) with all hands lost. Larry (recipient of the Bronze Star and 5 Purple Hearts) was promoted after death to MAJ (16 Dec 1965).

His remains were recovered by a joint American-Finnish effort in July 1999; positively identified in 2003; and buried with the remains of his South Vietnamese air crew at Arlington (26 Jun 2003).

His U.S. memorial is the Larry Thorne Headquarters Building, 10th SFG(A), Fort Carson, CO. In Finland, where Lauri is a much better-known figure, the survivors, friends and families of Detachment Törni formed the Lauri Törni Tradition Guild (1997).

Törni was preceded by two other Finnish-American Jaegers, COL Alpo Marttinen (1908-1975, from Alatornio) and COL Aito Keravuori (1910-1998, from Kajaani). Both were Winter and Continuation War heroes; fled Finland because of their anti-Communist (anti-Russian) views; served in Korea and Vietnam, as U.S. Special Forces officers; and were full ("bird") colonels in both the Finnish and U.S. armies.

For those interested in more reading on Koivisto and Törni:



Note: read the reviews on the Thorne bio before buying. Koivisto's comments on Törni are absent from the book - and Törni's SS service is minimized ("political correctness" at work ?).

The true scoop on Koivisto's views (English) & (Swedish) is at :



The Finnisches Freiwilligen SS-Bataillon "Nordost" may be a delicate subject for some. For those who have historical interest, a very complete account (actually an online book) is at:


A shorter account (well worth reading) is at:


Google gives over 300 hits on "Finnisches Freiwilligen".


Photo collage follows:

09-03-06, 22:23
Larry Thorne was also the model for the role John Wayne played in the film the Green Barets.

The sad thing about him was that he obviously wasn't able to stop fighting. He had no civilian traning, starting in the winter war as an unskilled kitchen corporal. During the winter war he was able to show his abilities as soldier, and when the war was over, most of the men returned to their civilian life. He had no education, no career to look forward to, not even a high school diploma, so he continued in the only trade he was an expert in. A true representative of the lost generation.


18-03-06, 04:28
For the sake of completeness, the Törni Detachment organization is OSASTO LAURI TÖRNI PERINNEKILTA ry.

In Finnish:


In English (more limited content):


Attached for whoever might be interested are my references and notes for the prior post (LTRefs.rtf).


01-06-07, 22:21
Hi, Hei, Hej,

Since I wrote the initial piece, the following are on-line

Lauri Törni. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (English & Finnish)



Thorne included in List of Finnish Americans. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (English)


There are a number of folks here (leaving aside the Hollywood entries), whose political views were 180 degrees from Larry Thorne's:

T-Bone Slim (1890?–1942?) humourist, poet, songwriter, hobo, and a labour activist in the Industrial Workers of the World - "T-Bone Slim (the itinerant Finnish-American worker from Ashtabula, Ohio, Matt Valentine Huhta)"

Gregory Nevala Calvert (1937–2005) National Secretary of Students for a Democratic Society in 1966–67. "Gregory Calvert was born during the Great Depression, in a squatter's shack on the slopes of the Mount St. Helens volcano. As a boy, he lived with his Finnish grandparents on a small farm - Finnish was his first language."

Gus Hall (1910–2000) labor organizer, a founder of the United Steelworkers of America trade union, a leader of the Communist Party USA and five-time U.S. presidential candidate.

Rick Halperin, Current Chairman of Amnesty International USA.

Larry Alan Thorne Special Forces Memorial Chapter 33. This is a chapter of special forces veterans named after Thorne - not necessarily people who served with him.


This webpage itself has nothing on Törni-Thorne; but links (on the page above), which are:

Larry Allan Thorne (MIA) (biography in English) (also a text version)


Lauri Allan Törni (Finnish Hero) (same biography in Finnish) (also a text version)


Source of biography: "War Hero and Adventurer" from Finnish magazine "Hymylehti", May 5, 1997



- POW/MIA Update: March 21, 2007

U.S. PERSONNEL MISSING FROM THE VIETNAM WAR: There are still 1,787 US personnel listed as missing and unaccounted for by the Department of Defense.

The identifications of four Americans previously missing / unaccounted for from the Vietnam War were recently announced:

Colonel Norman D. Eaton, USAF, OK, MIA 1/13/69, Laos, RR 12/16/05, ID 11/20/06
Lt Colonel Paul E. Getchell, USAF, ME, MIA 1/13/69, Laos, RR 12-16-05, ID 11/20/06
Major Benjamin F. Danielson, USAF, USA, MN, MIA 12/5/69, Laos, RR 11/12/03, ID 8/6/06
Sergeant First Class Lewis C. Walton, RI, MIA 5/10/71, SVN, RR 10/19/04, ID 10/23/06

The accounting for these Americans brings to 795 the number of US personnel accounted for since the end of the Vietnam War in 1975. Over 90% of the 1,787 still listed as missing were lost in Vietnam or in areas of Laos and Cambodia under Vietnamese wartime control.


Ex-UN-men, who lived wintertimes in Vietnam, tried to climb Larry Thornes helicopter-
crashsite on Dec 2006-Jan 2007.

Weather was so rainy and wet, that even move across river was hard to do.

They climbed, but they must abort and back to road.

Notice was, that they had eels every place around and they founded those even when back in Da Nang.


Larry Thorne´s three hunting gun are selling on auction 22nd of April 2007 In Helsinki, Finland.

Pic of 2 rifles and a shotgun.



June Pelo
02-06-07, 01:54
I wrote about him on Finngen some years ago. Alas, Finngen has lost their Search function, so I can't locate the article.


Gunnar Damström
13-10-07, 07:09
Some comments- Finland did not "collapse" to Russia in September 1944. September 4 an armisitce was negotiated between the Soviet Union and Finland, that was ratified in Moscow September 17. The frontier had stabilized after the Soviet summer offensive of June 1944 had subsided. The peace treaty between the Allies and Finland was signed February 10, 1947. The Finnish Government was never "communist" or pro communist. The communist party was one political party with representation in the Parliament and was one coalition partner in a Finnish Government in the 1940's. Persons who know Finnish and are intersted in the Lauri Törni story might find the book Törnin Jääkärit, by Lars Rönnquist and Anssi Vuorenmaa, 1993, ISBN 951-0-19056-x interesting.

30-08-08, 22:58
Since my last post (#4), I bought copies of J. Michael Cleverly, English version, A Scent of Glory: The Times and Life of Larry A. Thorne (Athens 2002); and Finnish version, Lauri Törni: Syntynyt sotilaaksi (Otavi 2003) (same book, pagination different).

This book seems the best researched English biography of Törni, superior in many respects to H.A. Gills, Soldier under Three Flags (Pathfinder 1998), which I also bought. Gills' book does present various insights on Törni and Marttinen's Men gained from interviews with some who served with them, as well as more emphasis on US military records. That accords with Gills' background as a graduate of The Citadel and a US Army infantry officer.

Cleverly writes from a broader geopolitical background, as a U.S. State Department Foreign Service Officer (Deputy Chief of Mission at Helsinki American Embassy, 1996-1999), and as a speaker of Finnish whose spouse is Finnish. Cleverly's book has a large bibliography of English and Finnish language sources, as well as extensive footnotes.

For some reason, he does not cite the September 1965 Stars & Stripes interview of Larry Thorne, which is excerpted in my attached file (LTRefs.rtf) to post #3. That interview presented a different story of Törni's days in spring 1945 Germany, than Cleverly's choice of the second of two alternatives listed by Cleverly at p.152, and amplified at pp.152-155. Gill (pp.74-78) chose the first of Cleverly's alternatives, but did not spcify his source(s).

What the S&S interviewer (Bob Leary) states Thorne said was less amplified than the divergent Cleverly and Gill accounts:

"When Finland collapsed [1], Thorne was contacted by Finnish intelligence agents who asked him to a sabotage school in Germany. By the time his schooling was over, the Germans were so hard-pressed they could not get him transportation back to Finland, so he volunteered to fight alongside the German units against the Russians.

"When V-E day came", he said, "the unit was encircled far behind the Russian lines and continued to fight its way westward." It finally met an American airborne unit which began supplying it with ammunition and advised it to continue fighting "as long as you can to get your people out". "The unit then surrendered to the Americans", Thorne said, "but the Russians knew what had been going on, and demanded that all prisoners and material be handed over to them. When the Americans refused, the Russians said "well, in that case you can´t pull back either." But the Americans just said "try to stop us" and the Russians backed down."

Turned over to the British an internee, Thorne escaped and headed for home across northern Germany and Denmark, finally arriving in Finland in the fall of 1945."

See LTRefs.rtf (attached post #3). All of this is a collateral point of lesser materiality than the rest of the story.

A valuable facet of Cleverly's writing, besides presenting an in-depth view of Törni-Thorne's military careers, is the inclusion of side-bars which place Törni-Thorne's life within the context of his times. I will deal with two sidebars that I found interesting.


[1] "When Finland collapsed" were either Thorne's own words, or Bob Leary's interpretation of them. In WWII Europe, five countries (France, 1940; Italy, 1943; Rumania, 1944; Bulgaria, 1944; Finland, 1944) entered into armistice arrangements with militarily superior countries. Of the 5 named countries, only Finland was not occupied by the superior military country (an important factor). In the other 4 instances, partial occupations were in place when the armistices were signed. Finland did have to put up with the Allied (really Soviet) Control Commission (1944-1947) and the Porkkala enclave (1944-1955). The phrase "collapse of France" was used by Churchill in his speech to the House of Commons (8 Sep 1942), but may well precede that date. Whether Thorne's or Leary's wording, the "collapse" phrase does not seem absurd, given Finland's circumstances in summer-fall 1944.

[Sources; as abbreviated in the following parts]

Berry = Michael R. Berry, American Foreign Policy and the Finnish Exception (SHF, Helsinki 1987)

J&P = Eino Jutikkala with Kauko Pirinen, A History of Finland (Dorset 1988)

Mannerheim, Erinn. = C.G.E. Mannerheim, Erinnerungen (Zürich 1952)

Mannerheim, Suomen = C.G.E. Mannerheim, Suomen Marsallkka Mannerheim : Suomen Marsalkan Muistelmat (Otava 1995)

R&V = Lars Rönnquist & Anssi Vuorenmaa, Törnin Jääkärit (WSOY, Porvoo 1993)

StoB = Earl F. Ziemke, Stalingrad to Berlin: The German Defeat in the East (U.S. Army Center of Military History 1968)

SofG = J. Michael Cleverly, A Scent of Glory: The Times and Life of Larry A. Thorne (Athens 2002); Lauri Törni: Syntynyt sotilaaksi (Otavi 2003) (same book, pagination different).


30-08-08, 23:07
In spring 1944, Juho Paasikivi was interviewed by John Scott, a Time-Life reporter (with close ties in both Washington and Moscow):

"Repeating to me what he had probably told Molotov - a description of what the result would be if Russia overran Finland. Paasikivi stood up, shook a bony finger in the air and said: 'We will shoot from behind every stone and tree, we will go on shooting for 50 years. We are not Czechs. We are not Dutchmen. We will fight tooth and nail behind every rock and over the ice of every lake. I will not fight long. I am old, but others will fight.'" SofG 117, citing Berry 374.

What did Paasikivi know that compelled him to present, in Churchillian rhetoric and resolve, a plan of irregular warfare that would involve the Finnish people themselves in a bloody partisan-type war.

The problem was basic - the immediate future held no probability for Finland to deploy in the field sufficient troops and materiel to repel the anticipated Russian offensive for any extended period of time. Civil economic collapse was averted by an agreement with Sweden to provide grain, other foodstuffs and non-military supplies for a 6-month period starting Aug 1944. StoB 389.

Finland was indeed scaping the manpower barrel. 19 Jun 1944 - "Firebase Lion" (in East Karelia) was manned by a battalion of ex-convicts, taken directly from prison into the army and sent to the front as replacements. Not to much surprise, most of them took to the woods in the face of the first Soviet attack. The base had to be retaken by Detachment Törni. SofG 121, citing R&V 49-59. Still, the vast majority of Finnish soldiers most probably would have held their positions for as long as they could (cf., Viktor Käppärä of "The 30 Years' War").

During Keitel's 17 Aug visit (see next para.), Mannerheim told him that the 60,000 Finnish casualities from the Soviet summer offensives had been replaced; but that Finland could not endure a second such bloodletting. StoB 388. Earlier (18 Jun 1944) the Finns asked the Germans for 6 divisions (~ 30,000 to 60,000 troops) to take over the East Karelian front (with the Finns there to go to the VKT Line). Because of the Normandy Invasion, that request could not be considered. StoB 297-300. One German rifle division (122nd) arrived (28 Jun 1944), fought briefly (10 Jul 1944) and was soon withdrawn (29 Jul 1944). StoB 300-301, 387.

17 Aug 1944 - Mannerheim told German Gen. Keitel that Finland felt that the Ryti-Ribbentrop letter agreement was nullified by Ryti's resignation as President. 26 Aug 1944 - Finland sent Germany a formal diplomatic note repudiating the letter agreement. 2 Sep 1944 - The Finnish Parliament approved a government motion to sever diplomatic relations with Germany. StoB 388-389. The German Ambassador was formally notified of that decision the same day; and that German troops had to leave Finland. SofG 134. The Germans did not leave easily.

2 Sep 1944 - Mannerheim wrote a "farewell letter" to Hitler, saying in part:

"... even if destiny does not grant success to your arms, there will still be a Germany. The same cannot be said about Finland. If this nation of barely 4 million falls to military defeat, with little doubt it will be expelled from its country or beaten into extinction. I cannot allow my people to fall under that threat." SofG 134, citing Mannerheim, Suomen 351.

18 Sep 1944 - The Finnish cabinet deadlocked on acceptance of the final terms dictated by the Soviets; but the latter demanded that the armistice be signed before noon the next day. Paasikivi's fears were close to realization.

19 Sep 1944 (early morning) - Parliament approved the armistice "after being informed that, under the most favorable circumstances, Finland could not continue the war more than another three months." The armistice was signed in Moscow that same day (shortly before noon). StoB 391, citing Mannerheim, Erinn. 532-533.

"The armistice terms did not involve negotiations, even to the extent of four years before, but were dictated; and on September 19, 1944, Finland signed the new treaty in Moscow." J&P 249.

The terms were harsh, but they avoided a Soviet occupation and eventual loss of Finnish sovereignty.

The 1944 armistice (part 13) obliged Finland to "collaborate with the Allied powers in apprehension of persons accused of war crimes and in their trial." So, Finland found itself with a number of "war criminals" in the dock:

"An emergency tribunal had to be set up and the retroactive unconstitutional law passed. And thus were President Ryti, wartime Prime Ministers J.W. Rangell and Edwin Linkomies, Foreign Minister Henrik Ramsey, Ministers Väino Tanner, Antti Kukkonen and Tyko Reinikka, as well as Minister T.M. Kivimäki, the wartime envoy to Berlin, sentenced to prison." J&P 251.

In addition, the Finns were required to remove the German forces in the north. The German withdrawal (of the 20th Mountain Army, roughly 220,000 men) to Norway from the Oulu-Soumussalmi front spanned 6 Sep 1944 - 30 Jan 1945. While it began without much Finnish-German conflict, subsequently there was conflict and Finland suffered more losses. The civilians of the North also lost heavily because the Germans employed a "scorched earth" policy. The Germans expected the Soviets to occupy everything north of the Oulu-Soumussalmi line. In fact, the Soviets limited their attacks to the far north in the territory given them by the armistice. StoB 391-403, maps 34-35.

The first encounter between Germans and Finns took place on Suursaari in the Gulf of Finland. Hitler, acting on bad intel, ordered an attack on 11 Sep 1944. The 1,400 men landing on 15 Sep were repulsed by the Finns (with Soviet air support), and 700 Germans were captured. StoB 394

Soon, the post-WWII era ensued - with further challenges.

30-08-08, 23:17
The mood and world-view in 1944-1948 was far different from that in 1968, 1988 and 2008. Thus, a young soldier wrote his parents (24 Sep 1944):

"I have very systematically studied the terms of the cease-fire and come to the conclusion that the Russians intend to take over Finland a little later. Everything is in preparation for that. It's just a question of time before the Finnish Communist Party will be established again and will start its agitation at full steam."

The writer was Mauno Koivisto. SofG 144, citing Mauno Koivisto, Koulussa ja Sodassa (Kirjayhtymä, Helsinki 1998) 214; same quote in Lauri Törni: Syntynyt sotilaaksi (Otavi 2003) 184-185:

"Olen tässä tutustunut rauhanehtoihin oikein perusteellisesti ja tullut siihen tulokseen, että kyllä ryssillä on meininki ottaa tämän Suomen omakseen vähän myöhemmin. Kaikki on vain valmistautumista siihen. On vain ajan kysymys, koska SKP perustetaan uudelleen, ja se aloittaa kiihotuksen täydellä höyryllä."

U.S.A opinion during 1945-1948 (as expressed in Time) was also very guarded:

"Conspiracy Is Not Enough"
Monday, Mar. 26, 1945

"The news from two countries in Russia's orbit made a point which too often escapes notice - even under the Hammer & Sickle, subject peoples have something to do with their own fates, and Moscow invariably takes that fact into account.


"Finland. The Finns had their first general election since 1939, their first national vote since the Red Army defeated them and their German ally in Finland last year. The issue was equally clear to the Finns and to watchful Moscow: was Finnish friendship with the Finns' old enemy, Russia, to be sincere and permanent, or tactical and temporary?

"Under the noses of a Soviet Control Commission, six political parties ran 580 candidates for 200 seats in the new Eduskunta (Parliament). U.S. correspondents in Helsinki reported that all parties and candidates had complete freedom of speech and action; Finnish voters enjoyed absolute privacy at the polls.

"Best known pro-Russian was aging (74), independent Premier Juho Paasikivi, who said in a pre-election speech: "Our policy must never again be directed against the Soviet Union." Moscow's most ardent advocate was thirtyish, fiery-eyed Hertta Kuusinen, daughter of oldtime Comintern functionary, now high Soviet official Otto Kuusinen (who stayed in Russia). Hertta Kuusinen's instrument was that familiar Communist device, a Democratic Front - composed in Finland of Communists, small farmers and a splinter of the old Social Democratic Party, once the country's biggest. Chief anti-Russian was tough Väinö Tanner, leader of the orthodox Social Democrats.

"The result was less than a triumph for Finland's Communists. Their "Democratic Union" made tremendous strides but (on incomplete returns) got considerably less than a majority of the record 1,800,000 votes and 200 Eduskunta seats. A large proportion of the vote was still divided among the old-line, conservative parties.

"This showing did not mean that either Moscow or Communism had gone democratic. What it did mean was that Moscow, as usual, had too much sense to ignore or override the internal forces at work in Finland. Stronger than ever before, but still a minority, Finland's Communists will keep on, trying."

JMM Note - This article recorded the election which led to the government of Paasikivi III (17 Apr 1945 - 26 Mar 1946). The SKDL elected 49 MP's (votes 398 618, 23.47%). When Paasikivi was elected President, the Pekkala government ensued. BTW: Passikivi was "pro-accommodation", not "pro-Russian" - and was not a "pro-communist" either. We might call him a "survivalist", as was Finland, in the long run.

And three years later:

"For a Radical Improvement"
Monday, Mar. 08, 1948


"After Czechoslovakia, Finns thought their turn had come. Last week, Finland's aging (77) President Juho Kusti Paasikivi received a handwritten letter in the scrawling script of Stalin. It was a polite but imperative summons which Finns construed as the end of their uneasy, nominal independence.

"Wrote Stalin: "I assume that Finland, not less than Rumania and Hungary, is interested in a pact of mutual assistance with the U.S.S.R. against possible German aggression. . . . Wishing to establish conditions for a radical improvement in the relations between our countries . . . the Soviet government proposes the conclusion of a Soviet-Finnish pact. . . ."

"Finns who thought of Prague could guess what "conditions for a radical improvement" might be. While Finland's leftist Premier Mauno Pekkala began packing for a trip to Moscow, others in Finland were also snapping their suitcase locks. Swarms of Baltic and Russian refugees swamped Helsinki's Swedish consulate seeking visas, and in their near-panic quest for hard currency the open market price of a dollar shot up from 700 Finn-marks to 1,000.

"Finland's Communist Minister of the Interior Yrjö Leino, boss of the "Valpo" or political police, countered with orders for tighter border control. But Finland's border remained wide open to an influx of Finnish Communist agents from Otto Kuusinen's nearby Karelo-Finnish Soviet Socialist Republic. Election of delegates to the Finnish Diet was scheduled for July. At present, in a bloc with the Socialist Union party, Communists control 51 of its 200 seats. But in recent local elections Communist candidates have been losing ground. If the Communists intended to cement control, the time to act was now."

JMM Note - The original 49 SKDL MP's elected in 1945 were later joined by 2 SSP MP's who switched parties (making the 51 cited in Time). While the SKP may or may not have acted (as opposed to plotted)to overthrow the government, the Finnish people certainly did act. The result (a few months after the 1048 Time article) was the government of K.A. Fagerholm (29 Jul 1948 - 17 Mar 1950). Yrjö Leino was sacked (by the Soviet Politburo for alcholism and revisionism; by Pres. Passikivi and Parliament for "lack of confidence" - perhaps because Leino sent 22 Finnish citizens to Soviet deaths). The VALPO was terminated and replaced by the SUPO (with new management and personnel).

30-08-08, 23:27
To Lauri Törni, the government (cabinet) of Mauno Pekkala was of most importance. We shall examine that government (cabinet) in more detail below. The executive and legislative branches were controlled by anti-Soviets (Paasikivi & Fagerholm), who were forced by the totality of circumstances to adopt a policy of absolute restraint.

The government time-frame was:

30. Paasikivi III: 17 Apr 1945 - 26 Mar 1946 (coalition caretaker)
31. Pekkala: 26 Mar1946 - 29 Jul 1948 (SKDL dominated)
32. Fagerholm: 29 Jul 1948 - 17 Mar 1950 (SDP/SSP dominated)

Törni was arrested in April 1946, convicted 10 Jan 1947, sentence affirmed 21 May 1947, pardoned 23 Dec 1948. All those events occured during the Pekkala government, except for the pardon (during the Fagerholm government, which excluded SKP and SKDL ministers).

Composition of the Pekkala government, 26 Mar1946 - 29 Jul 1948 (data below based on Government, Finland webpage):

1. Pääministeri (prime minister)
Pekkala, Mauno 26.3.1946 29.7.1948 SKDL

1a. Ministeri valtioneuvoston kansliassa (minister in the cabinet secretariat)
Kallinen, Yrjö Henrik 26.3.1946 4.6.1948 SDP (also in 5. below)
Kuusinen, Hertta Elina 4.6.1948 29.7.1948 SKDL

1b. Salkuton ministeri (minister without portfolio)
Kuusinen, Hertta Elina 26.5.1948 4.6.1948 SKDL

2. Ulkoasiainministeri (minister of foreign affairs)
Enckell, Carl Johan Alexis 26.3.1946 29.7.1948 amm.

2a. Ministeri ulkoasiainministeriössä (under minister in foreign ministry)
Svento, Reinhold Konstantin 26.3.1946 30.4.1948 SKDL (shared)
Takki, Uuno Kristian 27.3.1946 29.7.1948 SDP (shared)

3. Oikeusministeri (justice minister)
Pekkala, Eino Oskari 26.3.1946 29.7.1948 SKDL

4. Sisäasiainministeri (interior minister)
Leino, Yrjö Kaarlo 26.3.1946 22.5.1948 SKDL
Kilpi, Juho Eino 26.5.1948 29.7.1948 SKDL (succ.)

4a. Ministeri sisäasiainministeriössä (under minister in interior ministry)
Viding, Paavo Aleksanteri 26.3.1946 29.7.1948 ML (also 10a)

5. Puolustusministeri (defense minister)
Pekkala, Mauno 26.3.1946 27.3.1946 SKDL (1 day !)
Kallinen, Yrjö Henrik 27.3.1946 29.7.1948 SDP (succ.)

5a. Ministeri puolustusministeriössä (under minister in defence ministry)
Pekkala, Mauno 27.3.1946 29.7.1948 SKDL

6. Valtiovarainministeri (treasury minister)
Törngren, Ralf Johan Gustaf 26.3.1946 29.7.1948 RKP

6a. Ministeri valtiovarainministeriössä (under minister in treasury ministry)
Hiltunen, Onni Alfred 26.3.1946 29.7.1948 SDP

7. Sosiaaliministeri (social policies minister)
Janhunen, Matti 26.3.1946 29.7.1948 SKDL

7a. Ministeri sosiaaliministeriössä (under minister in social policies ministry)
Heljas, Lennart Albert 26.3.1946 26.5.1948 ML (shared)
Härmä, Erkki Herman 12.4.1946 29.7.1948 SDP (shared)
Peltonen, Onni Evert 26.5.1948 29.7.1948 SDP (succ. shared - 2 mo.)

8. Kansanhuoltoministeri (national services minister)
Vilhula, Taavi Nikolai 26.3.1946 29.7.1948 ML

8a. Ministeri kansanhuoltoministeriössä (under minister in national services ministry)
Murto, Yrjö Aleksanteri 26.3.1946 29.7.1948 SKDL (shared)
Härmä, Erkki Herman 12.4.1946 29.7.1948 SDP (shared)

9. Opetusministeri (education minister)
Kilpi, Juho Eino 26.3.1946 26.5.1948 SDP
Heljas, Lennart Albert 26.5.1948 29.7.1948 ML (succ.)

10. Maatalousministeri (agricultural minister)
Vesterinen, Vihtori 26.3.1946 29.7.1948 ML

10a. Ministeri maatalousministeriössä (under minister in agricultural ministry)
Viding, Paavo Aleksanteri 26.3.1946 29.7.1948 ML

11. Kulkulaitosten ja yleisten töiden ministeri (communications systems and general works minister)
Kaijalainen, Lauri Vihtori 26.3.1946 29.7.1948 ML

11a. Ministeri kulkulaitosten ja yleisten töiden ministeriössä (under minister in the ministry of communications systems and general works)
Härmä, Erkki Herman 26.3.1946 29.7.1948 SDP

12. Kauppa- ja teollisuusministeri (minister for trade and industry)
Takki, Uuno Kristian 26.3.1946 29.7.1948 SDP

Puoluejakautuma (Party Distribution):

26.3.1946, 29.7.1948
ML 5, ML 5
SDP 5, SDP 5
amm. 1, amm. 1
RKP 1, RKP 1

SKDL: Finnish People's Democratic League (Communists and Socialists, 1944-1990 > VAS), included SKP: Communist Party of Finland (1918-1990 > VAS)

ML: Agrarian League (1906-1965 > KESK)

SDP: Social Democratic Party (Fi. SSP)

amm.=no party (professional in position)

RKP/SFP: Swedish People's Party

Bare numbers, however, do not give a full picture of the threat which was latent for execution of the SovCom tactic of "salami slicing", as used in Czech, Hungary, etc.

30-08-08, 23:33
Analysis of Pekkala Government (non-coup d'état positions)

Of the 12 major cabinet posts, four ministries were assigned to SDP (Fi. SSP) and ML (Agrarian) control: 9. Opetusministeriö (education ministry); 10. Maatalousministeriö (agricultural ministry); 11. Kulkulaitosten ja yleisten töiden ministeriö (communications systems and general works ministry); and 12. Kauppa- ja teollisuusministeriö (ministry for trade and industry).

Their party affiliations do not suggest pro-communist leanings; but I am too ignorant of the individuals' precise politics to draw any conclusions. While those four ministries were obviously important to the functions of the country, they are not positions from which coups or counter-coups are usually developed.

Another ministry, 6. Valtiovarainministeriö (treasury ministry) was in the hands of Ralf Johan Gustaf Törngren (26.3.1946 29.7.1948) (RKP), and Onni Alfred Hiltunen (26.3.1946 29.7.1948) (SDP). Both Törngren and Hiltunen were carry-overs from the Passikivi III government in the same positions. The same comments apply here as to the four ministries above.

Three ministries were shared by a "troika".

2. Ulkoasiainministeriö (ministry of foreign affairs): Enckell (no party, a professional diplomat); Svento (SKDL); and Takki (SDP). Enckell and Svento were carryovers from the Passikivi III government; but Reinhold Konstantin Svento (SDP in 17.4.1945, 26.3.1946) had jumped from SDP to SKDL. Takki had replaced Åke Henrik Gartz from Passikivi III (no party, a professional diplomat). Both Gartz and Takki held portfolios in Passikivi III's Kauppa- ja teollisuusministeriö (ministry for trade and industry), with the same non-party and SDP affiliations. The net result was an increased SKDL influence in this ministry (probably of lesser importance because of the Finnish President's power over foreign affairs).

7. Sosiaaliministeriö (social policies ministry): Janhunen (SKDL); Heljas (ML); and Härmä & Peltonen (SDP; Peltonen, also in Passikivi III, succeeded Härmä). Matti Janhunen was a long-time SKP member and leader, who was arrested with Hertta Kuusinen in 1934.

Here too, there was a shift of power to SKDL, as compared to the SPD control of that ministry under Passikivi III: Sosiaaliministeri: Kilpi, Juho Eino (17.4.1945 26.3.1946) (SDP); Ministeri sosiaaliministeriössä: Janhunen, Matti (17.4.1945 26.3.1946) (SKDL); Wuori, Eero Aarne (27.4.1945 29.9.1945) (SDP), Hiltunen, Onni Alfred (14.2.1946 26.3.1946 (SDP, succeeded Wuori); Hillilä, Kaarlo Henrik (22.11.1945 26.3.1946) (ML).

8. Kansanhuoltoministeriö (national services ministry): Vilhula (ML); Murto (SKDL); and Härmä (SDP). Yrjö Murto was a long-time SKP member and leader who spent 1935-1944 in prison.

Here too, there was now a SKDL presence (as in the foreign ministry), not present in that ministry under Passikivi III: Kansanhuoltoministeri: Hillilä, Kaarlo Henrik (17.4.1945 26.3.1946) (ML); Ministeri kansanhuoltoministeriössä: Takki, Uuno Kristian (17.4.1945 26.3.1946) (SDP); Wuori, Eero Aarne (27.4.1945 29.9.1945) (SDP), Hiltunen, Onni Alfred (14.2.1946 26.3.1946) (SDP, succeeded Wuori).

Review of the Passikivi III to Pekkala changes in those three ministries certainly suggests a fair inference that SKDL power had increased in those three ministries (with SKP members in two of them) .

While those three ministries were obviously important to the functions of the country, they are not positions from which coups or counter-coups are usually developed.

30-08-08, 23:43
Analysis of Pekkala Government (coup d'état positions)

That leaves four postions to be considered. All are positions from which coups or counter-coups are usually developed since they directly involve the country's state security and military.

4. Sisäasiainministeriö (interior ministry): Yrjö Kaarlo Leino (26.3.1946 22.5.1948) (SKDL), Juho Eino Kilpi (26.5.1948 29.7.1948) (SKDL, succeeded Leino); Paavo Aleksanteri Viding (26.3.1946 29.7.1948) (ML).

The same configuration (SKDL and ML), with SKDL in charge, existed during the Passikivi III government: Sisäasiainministeri: Leino, Yrjö Kaarlo (17.4.1945 26.3.1946) (SKDL); Ministeri sisäasiainministeriössä: Luukka, Eemil Vihtori (17.4.1945 26.3.1946) (ML).

Kilpi (Leino's SKDL successor) was a ministeri valtioneuvoston kansliassa (minister in the cabinet secretariat) (15.9.1945 26.3.1946), during the Passikivi III government, as a SDP member. He later jumped to the SKDL.

The roles played in this era by the ML under-ministers, Luukka and Viding, are a gap in my education at present.

Leino and his wife at the time, Hertta Elina Kuusinen, are central figures of this era, about whom much has been written. Both were long-time SKP members and leaders, with direct links to the Soviet Politburo.

3. Oikeusministeriö (justice ministry): Eino Oskari Pekkala (26.3.1946 29.7.1948) (SKDL), who was Opetusministeri (education minister) (28.12.1945 26.3.1946), also as SKDL, in the Paasikivi III government. Eino Pekkala was a long-time left-socialist leader who reached Parliament in 1927 & 1929 (SSTP), and was jailed (1930) in the Lapua turmoils. Earlier, he was chairman of Työväen Urheiluliiton (TUL), ca.1918-1927.

The STP or SST'P (1924-1929), Sosialistinen Työväen ja Pienviljelijäin Vaaliliitto (Socialist Workers' and Small Farmers' Election Alliance) mostly elected SKP MP's (who could not run under that label). So, Eino Pekkala was either an SKP member or an extreme left-socialist.

The issue of who was a "communist" is not without pitfalls. E.g., Tauno Saarela, Finnish and Scandinavian Communists and revolution in the inter-war years (2004), note 17:

"[17]... In Finland the movement to the left of social democrats was at all times more extensive than just the Communist Party. Therefore I use expressions like Finnish communism or Finnish communist movement in order to describe this movement as a whole."

That statement will "raise hackles" among some; and total agreement among others.

In any event, Eino Pekkala was justice minister at the time of the "arms caches" trials and the "resistance" trials (including Törni's). He was not justice minister during the "war criminals" trials (those of Ryti et al.), which took place (Nov 1945 - Feb 1946) during the Passikivi III government. The Oikeusministeri then was Urho Kaleva Kekkonen (17.4.1945 26.3.1946) (ML), under Mannerheim's presidency (which ended in Mar 1946).

5. Puolustusministeriö (defense ministry): Pekkala, Mauno (26.3.1946 27.3.1946) (SKDL) (1 day !), Yrjö Henrik Kallinen (27.3.1946 29.7.1948) (SDP) (successor to Pekkala). Pekkala was Puolustusministeri (17.4.1945 26.3.1946) (SKDL) in the Paasikivi III government. In his own government, he continued as Ministeri puolustusministeriössä (under minister in defence ministry) (27.3.1946 29.7.1948) (SKDL).

Yrjö Henrik Kallinen, socialist, pacifist and Zen Buddist philospher, was self-educated and very involved in the rural co-operative movement. In the Civil War, he tried to mediate between the Reds and Whites; and was sentenced to death for his troubles. The sentence was stayed and he was released from prison in 1921.

Kallinen was the first (and only ?) pacifist to hold such a post. He publicly promoted the idea of Finland’s unilateral disarmament to set the world an example. An idealist might well call this a good idea. A cynic might well call this a good example of the Soviet "Peace Offensive" propaganda.

Since Kallinen was definitely not military; and most likely would not have ordered a shot fired in anger, Mauno Pekkala in effect was his own minister of defense. That was consistent with the policy of de-militarization dictated by the Soviets in the 1944 armistice.

1. Pääministeri (prime minister): Mauno Pekkala (26.3.1946 29.7.1948) (SKDL). Pekkala jumped from the SDP to the SKDL, for whom he served as defense minister in the Passikivi III government.

Closely connected to Pekkala was Yrjö Henrik Kallinen, the ministeri valtioneuvoston kansliassa (minister in the cabinet secretariat) (26.3.1946 4.6.1948) (SDP) (he continued to serve as defense minister).

Eyebrows must have raised by Kallinen's successor, Hertta Elina Kuusinen (4.6.1948 29.7.1948) (SKDL), who a few days before was appointed salkuton ministeri (minister without portfolio) (26.5.1948 4.6.1948) (SKDL). That was especially disturbing to some (and a joy to others) because of the "The Agreement of Friendship, Coöperation, and Mutual Assistance between The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and The Republic of Finland" (signed 6 Apr 1948); the adoption of the "Constitution of the People's Democracy of Czechosloivakia" (9 May 1948); and Edvard Benes' resignation (7 Jun 1948).

I am not asserting that Mauno Pekkala was a "political action agent", or even an "agent of influence", run by the "KGB" or "GRU" - because I have no proof.

I am ignorant of any VENONA-type intercepts or Soviet archives that might prove or disprove that point.

I also do not go so far as to assert (following Saarela's logic) that the SKDL was all "communist". The estimates of SKP membership in the overall SKDL membership ran from 1/3 to 1/2+ to 9/10 (depending on when the estimate was made and by whom). As many as 38 SKP members may have been among the 49 SKDL MP's elected in 1945.

It does strain belief to conclude that Pekkala (and any others who were not SKP members) did not know what he was (they were) getting into when he (they) jumped from the SSP to the SKDL.

The question of whether the SKP in early 1948 was really planning to overthrow the government, or simply using "strong" electoral tactics for the SKDL, was contested even by U.S. intelligence sources. Carolyn M. Ekedahl (CIA open-source intellegence report, 20 Aug 1972) concludes "plot to overthrow". Kevin Devlin (RFE, Radio Free Europe, open-source RAD Background Report/281, 30 Sep 1981) concludes "no serious plot to overthrow".

Finally, the Mauno Pekkala government was not the only political factor in 1946-1948. The President, Juho Kusti Paasikivi (11 Mar 1946 - 1 Mar 1956) (KOK: National Coalition Party - Conservative), was not "pro-communist"; although he certainly had to be "pro-accommodationist" to the Soviets. The Speaker of Parliament, Karl-August Fagerholm (1945-1948) (SDP/SSP), was certainly not "pro-communist" - and the Russians eventually forced his government's removal.

30-08-08, 23:51
We have reviewed various materials regarding Mauno Pekkala (SKDL), Yrjö Leino (SKP), Hertta Kuusinen (SKP) (Leino's wife and d/o Otto "Wille" Kuusinen - President of the Karelian SSR and Soviet Politburo member); and other government ministers; the SKP, the SKDL and their inclusion in Pekkala's government; the 1948 Friendship Treaty; and a number of historical reviews of that period.

At this time, I see no reason to change my opinion that Pekkala's government was "pro-communist, if not actually communist".

All that having been said, all this ancient history is irrelevant - what did happen, did happen; what did not happen, did not happen. We all might agree on the following:

"Who said we lost the war ? We're free, aren't we ?

Toivo Impola, Siikijoki family reunion 1986, from Richard A. Impola's dedication to his translation ("Storm Over The Land"; FATA, New Pfalz 1993) of Kalle Päätalo, Myrski koillismaassa (1963).

A Finnish poll in 2004, naming famous Finns, came up with 25. Hertta Kuusinen, 52. Lauri Törni, aka Larry Thorne and 63. Yrjö Henrik Kallinen. Go figure.

31-08-08, 21:41
A list with the names of the Finnish volunteers that served in SS-regiments Nordland and Westland can be found in url http://www.genealogia.fi/hakem/luettelo065s.htm.


01-09-08, 02:33
Thank you for the extensive list, where I do find:

Vapaaehtoiset, joiden nimi ei ole komppanialuetteloissa
Törni, Lauri Allan, 28.5.19

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