WOI Strategy Contest: Risto Ryti

Petriv, who hails from Finland, nominated Risto Ryti in the official WOI strategy contest.  Though not as famous (or infamous) as Napoleon, Talleyrand, or Metternich; Ryti is still a notable choice, based on his perspicacity, staving off encroachment by both Germany and the USSR.

Take it away, Petriv:

I’m nominating Risto Ryti, President of Finland during second World War. Ryti’s cleverness guaranteed reasonable starting point for peace negotiations between Finland and Soviet Union, thus ensuring us independence, albeit with heavy terms.

After Winter War it became obvious that an alliance against Soviet Union was needed and therefore Finland joined Third Reich in an uneasy and much debated agreement. However, the high command saw in 1943 that Germans would end up losing and thus Finland sought attempts to distance itself from Germany and negotiate a separate peace with Soviet Union.

However, at the same time materiel aid from Germany was needed to stop Soviet attacks: if Soviets would’ve breached the Karelian Isthmus, the Finnish heartland would’ve been wide open and the nation decapitated.

Enter Ryti, who tricked Germans into an agreement (2) where Finland would receive military aid while promising to stay by Germanys side. Ribbentrop and German high command didn’t however realize that an agreement made by President and Government was not legally binding: only Parliament can make decisions on war and peace.

Ryti knew this and when the time was right, he resigned from presidency thus voiding the agreement and Finland was able to seek peace. Ryti also knew that he might receive a death penalty after the war. This did not happen but ultimately he paid a heavy price in war crimes tribunal, which was largely dictated by the winning state.

I consider this as a successful grand strategy which looked beyond the war to ensure possibility for our nation to prosper alongside it’s former enemy, thus avoiding the fate of Soviet satellite states.

About Crispin Burke

US Army Aviator, Military Blogger. Self-described as a "Pocketful of Awesomeness". Does not represent the views of the Department of Defense.
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