How much did censorship and self-censorship affect Finland during the cold war? The answer to that question lies in the dusty archives of Finland’s media. What kinds of editorials did Helsingin Sanomat write about the Hungarian uprising of 1956 and what did our major dailies say about what happened in Czechoslovakia in 1968? What kind of press freedom was there in a country were discussing, never mind questioning, the official foreign policy line was forbidden?
Of all the features I wrote for the Financial Times as Helsinki correspondent (1989-91), I am particularly proud of one that I co-authored with Christian Tyler. The last wall in Europe, which was published on January 26-27, 1991, was a long feature that attempted to shed light on Europe’s last wall, the Finnish-Soviet border, after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.
If there was a disgraceful period on how Finland treated foreigners, that period would be the cold war era. Even though Russian troops never took control of Finland such as countries like Poland, Hungary and others, the shadow of the for former Soviet Union hung deep in Finland. This period, 1945 to the early or mid-1990s, should never be allowed to happen again.