Winter War

Despite the fact that Finland was by all accounts the underdog, once Soviet Union forces initiated a territory invasion, Finland was determined to meet the challenge as best they could. Military forces amounted to 450,000 Soviets for 180,000 Finland troops. The Soviet Union possessed 6,541 pieces of military equipment compared to 30 for Finland and Finland a mere 130 aircraft as opposed to 3,800 for the Soviet Union. Under the leadership of Finland's Marshal Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim, the Soviet Union led by Marshal Krill Meretskov anticipated a quick defeat; however, the Soviets were not prepared for the amount of resistance they encountered or the fact that Finland's troops were in possession of more weather-worthy equipment and supplies.

Finland's strategy was to use logs and Molotov Cocktails to disable Soviet tanks. Ultimately Finland's casualty count was 250 compared to 17,500 for the Soviet Union. Failure on the part of the Soviet Union to accomplish their goal led to the replacement of Marshal Meretskov with Joseph Stalin. It could be said that February 11th of 1940 was a red letter day for the Soviet Union when Mannerheim and his Finish forces left the battle scene. In the aftermath, Allied troops already engage in World War II offered to send 135,000 military personnel to assist Finland in its effort. A fly entered the ointment so to speak as Adolph Hitler objected to the passage of these forces through a portion of Sweden where Nazi supplies were situated.

Peace negotiations

Up against the wall in a sense, in early March 1940 Finland sent military personnel to Moscow seeking the institution of peace negotiations. Formally drawn up on March 12, 1940, Finland ended up losing control of Vipuri, its second biggest city resulting in some of that city's residents ultimately becoming citizens of the Soviet Union.


The question relative to which side of The Winter War suffered more is somewhat debatable. For the Soviet Union, 126,875 men were killed, 264,908 were wounded and approximately 5,000 declared captive. In terms of equipment, the Soviet Union lost 2,268 tanks and other vehicular equipment, while Finland's loss amounted to an estimated 26,662 declared dead and 39,996 wounded. It could also be said that Hitler and Germany reaped a bounty when Finland began assisting them with their war effort.


Ironically on November 30, 2009, Finland paused to observe the 70th anniversary of The Winter War. In the opinion of Russian military veteran Viktor Lavskiy, the fact that Finland troops were more familiar with the battlefield's terrain and the severe weather conditions gave them somewhat of an advantage. According to Russian Academy of Sciences Historian Alaksandr Golubev, the Soviet Union was the aggressor.

During this commemorative event, special recognition was given to living Finland veterans of The Winter War. Many modern day Finns firmly believe that their country was saved by the valiant efforts of their forefathers during The Winter War.