Today, 15 March, the National Archives of Finland and BBC:n suomenkielisen toimituksen perinneyhdistys Bush Finns ry have published the collection of the BBC World Service Finnish Section that has been established under the National Archives of Finland. It includes radio shows, scripts, instructions for journalists, administrative material, and photos.
The collection of the BBC World Service Finnish Section contains more than 2,300 digitised document pages and photographs of more than a hundred people. The material has been collected from the former editorial staff, and its digitisation has been funded by a grant from the Helsingin Sanomat Foundation.
BBC World Service Finnish Section started broadcasting radio programmes from London on 18 March 1940, only five days after the Winter War had ended. The purpose of these programmes was originally to reach out to Finland, which had lost the war and was subject to wartime censorship, with news, information and comments to quell increasing German influence in Finland and support Finland’s efforts to remain an independent country.
The Finnish Section ceased operations in 1997. After Finland had joined the EU and with the end of the Soviet Union, the British Foreign Office and the BBC saw no need to maintain the service.
Participating in the information war between the East and West
More than 150 people worked in or assisted the Finnish Section during its 57-year history. Most were Finnish journalists and other editorial staff. Many worked as significant social influencers and well-known journalists in the Finnish media.
“It was time for this – this year marks 25 years since the editorial office closed, and its work was in danger of remaining a small mention in the history books,” says Risto Uimonen, Bush Finns ry’s chair.
The BBC broadcast news about war events and the Soviet Union that Finnish newspapers and the Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE were thought to avoid. During the Cold War, the need to keep Finland part of the West and sympathetic to Britain and its culture was highlighted in BBC’s Finnish programmes.
The material gives a clear picture of the work of the Finnish Section, its role in the information war between East and West, and the BBC’s journalism. Previously, a collection by the first head of the Finnish Section, Hillar Kallas, was stored in the National Archives of Finland.
Photos from the BBC's Finnish-language editorial collection can be downloaded from the National Archives' Flickr service.
Päivi Happonen, the acting director general at the National Archives of Finland, tel. +358 50 468 8762, email@example.com
Risto Uimonen, Bush Finns ry’s chair, firstname.lastname@example.org