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Risto Heikki Ryti is Born

Today in Masonic History Risto Heikki Ryti is born 1889.

Risto Heikki Ryti was a Finnish politician.

Ryti was born in Huittinen, Satakunta, Finland. He would attend Helsinki University graduating with a law degree in 1909. He would also go to get a Masters of Law in 1912 and would travel to Oxford to study maritime law. When World War I started, he would return to Finland.

Immediately following the Finnish Civil War, Ryti would enter politics. He would be one of the youngest members of parliament in 1919. He would serve in parliament from 1919 to 1924 and from 1927 to 1929. During the gap from parliament he would serve as a member of the Helsinki City Council.

In late 1939 Ryti was made Prime Minister, a job he tried to refuse. When the Winter War started in November of that same year, Ryti took over the position. His hope was for a quick end of the war. Using connections that he had established with Western allies, Ryti was able to force the Soviet Union to the negotiating table. Eventually he would convince other cabinet members to accept the Moscow Peace Treaty. The treaty was considered a crushing blow to Finland giving up large amounts of land and forcing the resettlement of 400,000 refuges.

In 1940 Ryti went from Prime Minister to the fifth President of Finland. Ryti had many issues before him, not the least of which were issues with the Soviet Union. Finland had always traded with Great Britain and Ryti was a convinced Anglophile. Unfortunately the Baltic Sea was controlled by the Soviet Union and Germany and Finland needed a trading partner so Ryti turned to Germany. Ryti had no illusions about what the German government was about. Probably why there was limited space in Finland given to the Nazi German propaganda and ideology.

Ryti saw an alliance with Germany as strategic at the time. It would give Finland the opportunity to regain territories that it had lost in the Moscow Peace Treaty, this assumed that rumored attack by Germany on the Soviets was true. In 1941 Germany began it's assault on the Soviet Union and Ryti had troops in position ready to retake the lands it had lost. Ryti waited until after the attack on the Soviet Union had begun and the Soviet Union had used it as an excuse to start air bombardment of Finland before launching his planned offensive. This was the start of the Continuation War.

In August 1944, help the peace process, Ryti would resign as President of Finland.

In 1945 Finnish Communists and the Soviet Union demanded that Ryti be tried as "responsible for the war". At the insistence of the Soviet Union Ryti was found guilty, along with several other members of his government, and sentenced to 10 years in prison. In prison his health deteriorated. In 1949 he was pardoned by the President of Finland.

Ryti died in 1956.

Ryti was a member of Freemasonry in Finland and was raised in 1924. After his conviction as "responsible for the war" he resigned from Freemasonry.