The Finns maintained neutrality as part of a deal which, as allies of Germany during the Second World War, allowed them to avoid being occupied by the Soviet Union. For most of the following decades they were leaning closer to being associated with the Soviet Union than with the West …
The Finns never leaned closer to the Soviet Union than the West in their hearts. The Russians/Soviets only brought death and destruction. But, Finland has centuries old good ties with Scandinavian and Baltic countries and very bad ties with the Russians.
Picking sides in WWII between Germany and Russia was a complex issue for Eastern European countries The Eastern European countries hated Russians more than Germans. But Hitler and his aggression and racist ways horrified Eastern European countries as much as Stalin and his aggression and extermination of political, military, intellectual and church leaders in countries occupied.
Russia attacked Finland without provocation in 1939:
On 30 November 1939, Soviet forces invaded Finland with 21 divisions, totaling 450,000 men, and bombed Helsinki, killing about 100 citizens and destroying more than 50 buildings. In response to international criticism, Soviet Foreign Minister Molotov stated that the Soviet Air Force was not bombing Finnish cities but rather dropping humanitarian aid to the starving Finnish population; they were sarcastically dubbed Molotov’s bread baskets by Finns. Finland brought the matter of the Soviet invasion before the League of Nations. The League expelled the Soviet Union on 14 December 1939 and exhorted its members to aid Finland.
Finns kept the Russians from overrunning the country, but they knew they could not last for long. The Germans offered to help the Finns by sending food & weapons German troops to Finland to fight the Soviet forces. This worked out for Finland in time frame of 1940 to 1944 Then Finland did not want be an ally of the Germans.
Finland was an anomaly amongst German allies in that it retained an independent democratic government. Moreover, during the war, Finland kept its army outside the German command structure despite numerous attempts by the Germans to tie them more tightly together. Finland managed not to take part in the siege of Leningrad despite Hitler’s wishes, and refused to cut the Murmansk railway.
Finnish Jews were not persecuted, and even among extremists of the Finnish Right they were highly tolerated, as many leaders of the movement came from the clergy. Of approximately 500 Jewish refugees, eight were handed over to the Germans, a fact for which Finnish prime minister Paavo Lipponen issued an official apology in 2000. The field synagogue operated by the Finnish army was probably a unique phenomenon in the Eastern Front of the war. Finnish Jews fought alongside other Finns.
Shortly after the Red Army broke through to the Karelian Isthmus in June 1944, the Finnish president, Risto Ryti, resigned. (Around this same time, the United States broke off relations with Finland after repeated demands that Ryti renounce his alliance with Germany were rebuffed.) Ryti’s successor, Gustaf Mannerheim, immediately sued for an armistice with the Soviet Union. This was signed on September 19, 1944; Finland agreed to the terms of the 1940 Treaty of Moscow and to throw all German troops off Finnish soil. The final act of capitulation came on March 3, 1945, with a formal declaration of war against the already dying Germany.