As I searched for information for a future article on the Winter War and emigration, I found an interesting thread that I decided to follow. It seems that Herbert Hoover, after his presidency in 1929-1933, still stayed active in the world scene. Particularly of interest to Finns and Finnish-Americans was his Finnish Relief Fund, Friends of Finland. Oh and yes, he was made an Honorary Citizen of Finland in 1919.
In December of 1939 Hoover was asked to run a Finnish Relief Fund much like what he was already doing for Poland. The group ran press releases, radio ads, and newsreels to promote donations to Finland for food aid. There were Spring Training Baseball games to benefit Finland. The All-Star game alone realized $22,000.
Donations were sent to 1,400 local newspapers who then published the lists of donors. (Ann Arbor, Michigan’s paper participated.) The public donated $3,546,526.11. The U.S. Congress had also appropriated $30,000,000 to Finland. Why were people so willing to donate to Finland, so far away and not known really by many today? During the Great Depression (1934) Finland continued to pay it’s war debt to the United States as other nations defaulted.
Finland Fights! was two newsreels created by Castle Films for the Finnish Relief Fund. According to an editor’s note at the beginning of the long version the crew braved 40 degree weather along with the war to film the footage. I found the two versions on YouTube:
- The long version – Is 9 1/2 minutes of footage shot in the Winter War.
- The short version – Is 6 minutes of footage about Finland as a country, more than the war, with composer Jean Sibelius and runners Paavo Nurmi (speaking) and Taisto Maki with a closing request from Herbert Hoover.
In the end, my research on Winter War refugee emigration was a bust, but finding these two videos was a real treasure.