Friends in the North? Finnish and Estonian Defense Capability in the Reports of Polish Military Attachés in Helsinki and Tallinn/Riga, 1919-1939

Piotr Wawrzeniuk (Södertörn University, Sweden)

On the eve of World War I, Finland, Estonia, and Poland were among the new states that appeared out of the fallen empires of the Romanovs,  Hohenzollerns and Habsburgs.  Using source material from Polish archives, this presentation follows the quest for security among these three states through the eyes of Polish military attachés.  Polish military analyzers held a wide view of security that ranged from state domestic politics and economy to purely military matters.  The material provides valuable insights into Polish perceptions of Finland and Estonia during the interwar period.

This paper follows the failed attempts to form a military alliance among the so-called “border states” situated between the Soviet Union and Germany.  It then analyzes the Polish evaluations of Finland and Estonia in light of their anti-Soviet fears.  Although there was no military cooperation reminiscent of a military alliance, the military elites strived to create insights into one another’s work, and there was ongoing exchange of intelligence.  While the military circles of the three countries retained a considerable degree of mutual understanding, the gap and distrust between politicians remained wide.  In a world viewed as increasingly hostile by the small states, even the slightest expressions of goodwill and understanding were evaluated in detail from the perspective of one’s own security.

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