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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 on February 3rd, 1889. He attended Helsinki University graduating with a law degree in 1909. He went on to receive a Masters of Law in 1912 and traveled to Oxford to study maritime law. When World War I started, he returned to Finland.

Immediately following the Finnish Civil War, Ryti entered politics. He became one of the youngest members of parliament in 1919. He served in parliament from 1919 to 1924 and from 1927 to 1929. During the gap from parliament he served 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 the same year, Ryti took over the position. His hoped for a quick end to the war. Using connections he established with Western allies, Ryti forced the Soviet Union to the negotiating table. Eventually he convinced 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 gave Finland the opportunity to regain territories it lost in the Moscow Peace Treaty, this assumed the 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 began and the Soviets used it as an excuse to start an air bombardment of Finland before he was able to launch his planned offensive. This was the start of the Continuation War.

In August 1944, in order to help the peace process, Ryti resigned as President of Finland.

In 1945 Finnish Communists and the Soviet Union demanded 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.