Words & Speeches of WW2, 2nd to 8th December 1939

Saturday, December 2nd 1939
Letter addressed to Mr Rudolf Holst, Permanent Finnish Delegate, to Mr Avenol, Secretary-General of the League of Nations:
The Union of Soviet Socialist Republic, with which Finland, since the signature of the treaty of peace at Tartu in 1920, has a maintained neighbourly relations, and signed a pact of non-aggression which should have expired in 1945, unexpectedly attacked on the morning of November 30th, not only frontier positions, but also open Finnish towns, spreading death and destruction among the evil population, more particularly by attacks from the air.
Finland has never engaged in any under-taking directed against her powerful neighbour. She has continuously made very effort to live at peace with her.
Nevertheless, alleging so-called frontier incidents and adducing the alleged refusal of Finland to acquiesce in strengthening the security of Leningrad, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics first denounced the above mentioned pact of non-aggression and then refused the Finnish Government’s proposal to have recourse to the mediation of a neutral Power.
In consequence, acting on the instructions of my Government, I have the honour to bring the foregoing facts to your knowledge, and to request you, in virtue of Articles 11 and 15 of the Covenant, forthwith to summon a meeting of the Council and Assembly, and ask them to take the necessary measures to put an end to the aggression.
I will forward in due course a complete statement of the reasons and circumstances which led my Government to request the intervention of the League of Nations on the dispute which has brought two of its members into conflict with one another.

Monday, December 4th 1939
Reply of M Molotov to League of Nations:
In the name of the Soviet Government, I have the honour to reply that the convocation of the Council of M Holst’s initiative is considered as unwarranted by my Government. The Soviet Government is not at war with Finland and does not threaten it, so that the reference to Article XI of the Covenant of the League is incorrect.
The Soviet Union has a pact with the People’s Democratic Republic of Finland which regulates all questions which negotiations with the former Finnish Government failed to achieve.
The People’s Democratic Government appealed to the Soviet Union for military assistance to liquidate the war danger created by the Former Finnish Government. Mr Holst’s application lacks a legal basis for calling the Council , since Mr Holst and his superiors do not represent the Finnish people.
The Soviet Union will not take part if the Council is convoked for December 9th…..

Tuesday, December 5th
Lord Halifax in a speech in the House of Lords:
….The toll or evil flowing from the German example and practice of aggression has grown and we have witnessed what has been universally condemned as an inexcusable act of aggression by one of the largest upon one of the smallest, but most highly civilised nations of Europe – their open towns bombarded, their women and children mutilated and done to death – on the pretext that a nation of under 4,000,000 had hostile designs against 180,000,000. The British people…..have profoundly admired the magnificent resistance of the Finns.
The Russian attack on Finland seems to me to be a direct consequence of German policy. By the agreement which he thought would give him a free hand to attack Poland was not his property to barter – the liberties of the Baltic peoples. The sequence of events has shown how wide is the damage once the floodgates are opened.
I think that events have shown that the judgement and instinct of the British Government in refusing agreement with the Soviet Government on the terms of formulae covering cases of indirect aggression on the Baltic States were right, for it is now claimed that these formulae might well have been the cloak of ulterior designs, and I have little doubt that the people of this country would prefer to face difficulties and embarrassments rather than feel that we had compromised the honour of this country and the Commonwealth on such issues……

Friday, December 8th
Statement issued by Finnish Government on the Russian blockade:
After the aggression against Finland the Soviet Union declared that a state of war did not exist. She has therefore no right now to take blockade measures, which involve not only Finland but other nations.
A blockade in time of peace is permissible only against countries which have violated retain stipulations of the League of Nations – as indeed Russia has done by invading Finland. To be legal, moreover, a blockade must be effective, as was stipulated by the Declaration of Paris of 1856, signed by all civilised countries, including Russia.
As far as is known Russia has no ship at the moment in the Gulf of Bothnia; and no ship can enter, since the Aaland Sea has been closed by mines. Hence, if the blockade concerns of Gulf of Bothnia is obviously without legal as well as without practical significance.
It is unlikely also that Russia will be able to blockade the Gulf of Finland effectively considering the length of its coast and the inadequacy of the Russian Fleet to carry out such an operations. Finland, thanks to her coastal defences, aviation, service vessels and mines can take effective measures to prevent Russia from carrying out the blockade.

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