Matti started smuggling already in his teens, right after the Finnish Civil War. Matti’s parents defected to Soviet Russia just after he had come of age, leaving him behind to take care of his four sisters. Smuggling paid well, even though the neighbours were suspicious about Matti and the police were constantly after him.
After closing of the border between Finland and the Soviet Union on the Karelian Isthmus, smuggling was not unusual. Legitimate options for making a living were rather limited, since regular cross-border trading was prohibited. At the same time, the political atmosphere was becoming tenser, since the ideas of communism prevailing on the other side of the border were feared to be spreading to Finland.