Risto Ryti

Risto Ryti

Risto Ryti

Risto Heikki Ryti (Huittinen, 1889 – Helsinki, 1956), was a Finnish politician, fifth president of theRepublic ofFinland (1940-1944), a lawyer, who ruled his country during the crucial years of the Second World War.


Ryti study law at theUniversityofHelsinkiin 1906 and after graduation TRSs years later established himself as big business lawyer, especiualizado in trade and financial issues. In 1914 Ryti continued studies atOxford,Great Britain, having to rush back to their country before the start of the First World War. During the proclamation of the independence of Finland in 1917 and the subsequent Civil War Finnish Ryti was out of politics but this changed when in 1919, after the war, the academic Kaarlo Juho Ståhlberg was elected president of Finland and he summoned Ryti to participate in the administration.

Ryti was a member of Parliament ofFinlandseveral times between 1919 and 1929, and soon stood by proposing liberal policies, advocating reducing state involvement in the economy. Ryti was chairman of the board of the Bank of Finland and had an international reputation as monetary policy, holding principles based on the experiences ofBritainand theUnited States. During the Great Depression of the 1930s, proposed Ryti social support policies for the entire population, shaping the welfare state, while maintaining a strong distrust of the economic principles of socialism. Ryti liberal ideas and their personal experiences with the “Russification” of Finland and then the Finnish civil war, he is a strong anti-Soviet content printed their policies, but also felt a strong rejection of fascism that was beginning to emerge as political power across Europe.

When he started the Winter War ofFinlandagainst theSoviet Unionon November 30, 1939, Ryti was part of the Finnish government as prime minister, in alliance with the Finnish Social Democratic Party, as president Kyösti Kallio. When Kallio resigned for health reasons, Ryti was elected president ofFinlandon December 19, 1940.


President Ryti him devolved a difficult period in Finnish history, when, on June 25, 1941, began the Continuation War he returned to faceFinlandand theSoviet Union. Ryti was ideologically favored capitalist democracies like Britain or the United States, and felt no sympathy for an alliance with the Third Reich, but the delicate situation of the country and the political realism of Marshal Carl Mannerheim led it to accept a military aid pact with Nazi Germany, while making sure that the Third Reich did not try to influence domestic politics in Finland. As a result,Finlandturned into a transit area for the Wehrmacht forces during Operation Barbarossa, allowing the installation of a few German bases in the country, while the Finnish armed forces engaged in operations against the Red Army.

In the last phase of the war, in June 1944, the Red Army had launched a massive offensive on the northern end of the eastern front, which was about to break the Finnish defense in accordance with the Operation Bagration. In this situation, personally undertook Ryti, in a letter addressed to the German foreign minister, Joachim von Ribbentrop, thatFinlandwould maintain its military alliance withGermanyand it would not start peace negotiations without the consent of the Nazi government. For this commitment, called inFinland”Ryti-Ribbentrop Agreement”,Germanysent military aid toFinland, which helped to counter the Soviet offensive in theKarelian Isthmus.

However, it was alleged that Ryti Finland had granted the commitment on behalf of itself and an unauthenticated letter, without the consent of the Finnish Parliament and thus had exceeded the use of its constitutional powers. Upon restart the Soviet offensives and be evident total defeat ofGermanyin the Baltic Offensive, President Ryti resigned on August 1, 1944. The new regime, headed by Marshal Mannerheim himself said that the promise of Ryti could not commit toFinland, and therefore the country was freed from the military alliance withGermany. Finland and began peace talks and acts of war against the Soviets ceased in September 1944 to begin immediately the Lapland War, where the Red Army crossed Finnish territory to attack German forces in the north of Norway.

Last Years

After the war, the Soviet Union managed toFinlanddefinitively abandoned all claims onKareliaand pay a huge war indemnity, and the Soviet government demanded that the “guilty Finnish war” might be judged. In the trials in 1946, Ryti was sentenced to 10 years in prison. However, according to popular opinion inFinlandthese processes were a “justice imposed” by the victors and, when they had passed the so-called “danger years” when it was feared another invasion from theUSSR, Ryti was pardoned in 1949 by new president, Juho Paasikivi.

During the Cold War, which inFinlandresulted in some self-censorship (see finlandización) Ryti figure was forgotten, while the same Ryti again refused to participate in politics, devoting himself to academic life until his death in October 1956. From the late twentieth century political figure has been rehabilitated and has been regarded as one of Ryti politicians who savedFinlandfrom Soviet occupation, so he had to pay a heavy personal price.

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