Urho Kekkonen

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Urho Kaleva Kekkonen (Finnish pronunciation: [urhɔ kɑlɛʋɑ kekːɔnɛn]  ( listen); 3 September 1900 – 31 August 1986) was a Finnish politician who served as Prime Minister of Finland (1950–1953, 1954–1956) and later as the eighth President of Finland (1956–1982) [1]. Kekkonen continued the “active neutrality” policy of President Juho Kusti Paasikivi, which came to be known as the “Paasikivi–Kekkonen line”. This policy allowed Finland to retain independence and trade with both the nations of the NATO and of the Warsaw Pact. Kekkonen was the longest-serving President of Finland.

Contents

Biography

Early life

Kekkonen was born in Pielavesi in the Savo region of Finland, the son of Juho Kekkonen and Emilia Pylvänäinen, but spent his childhood in Kainuu. His family were farmers (though not poor tenant farmers, as some of his supporters claimed). His father, originally a farm-hand and forestry worker, eventually became a forestry manager and stock agent at Halla Ltd. It was claimed that Kekkonen's family had lived in a poor farmhouse without a chimney; however, it was later found out that the photographic evidence to back up this claim was fake, and that the chimney had simply been retouched off the photographs depicting Kekkonen's childhood home. His school years did not go smoothly. During the Finnish Civil War, he fought for the White Guard and led a firing squad in Hamina. Kekkonen personally admitted to having killed a man in battle, but not to a mass execution of Red troops committed by his squad. However, a photograph taken at the time seems to prove that Kekkonen was there during the execution.

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