Being Finnish Part 1: Winter War.

March 12th, 2010 by Jarmo Puskala

This is the first part of a series on what it means to be Finnish. If you’ve ever visited Finland you know we live in one of the greatest places in the world. But it’s not all fun an games. There are some things you just have to master to live here

Let’s get started with essential history. I could go on about the times as part of Sweden and Russia, or the fight for independence. But that’s not really important. To understand us there is one historical event you must know and that is:

The Winter War 1939-1940.

It was kind of like the battle of Hoth.

Main difference was that the Soviet tanks didn’t have legs, so instead of rope we used Molotov’s Cocktails.

How to use a Molotov's Cocktail

How to use a Molotov's Cocktail

So why are the improvised fire bombs called Molotov’s cocktails? Well, it’s a joke, obiously. Soviet Commissar for Foreign Affairs Vyacheslav Molotov claimed in radio broadcasts that the Soviet Union was not dropping bombs but rather delivering food to starving Finns, so Finns started calling the bombs “bread baskets”. Soon they responded by attacking advancing tanks with “Molotov cocktails” which were “a drink to go with the food”.

That’s pretty much sums it up. The Soviet Union attacked with half a million men and thousands of airplanes and tanks. The Finns, being short on pretty much everything, threw bottles at them. Their tanks blew up and eventually the Soviets called quits so they’d have an army left to fight Hitler.

As usual, Wikipedia has a more historically accurate description of events.

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5 Responses to “Being Finnish Part 1: Winter War.”

  1. Will Ellwood says:

    You also shot them all with rifles and then skied away.

  2. Kari says:

    Nice timing for a blog entry — tomorrow (13th of March) there’s going to be celebrations of the end of the Winter War. It ended exactly 70 years ago tomorrow.

    Here’s one of the events:
    I bet there’s similar ones around Finland.

  3. And the 70th anniversary also meant they showed “The Winter War” on tv. For long the most expensive Finnish film ever made with a budget of about 30 million FIM (somewhat south of 5 million euro).

    Also I think the only movie I was ever explicitly told not to watch by my parents when I was a kid. People who’ve seen war don’t tend to take it slightly…

  4. Svensson says:

    On the farm in Sweden where my father grew up, there was a farmhand that volounteered for service in the Winter War. He went over, participated in the Salla-Märkijärvi battles (or shall we say patrols), survived and came home – only to “go through the ice”, crack the ice while crossing a lake in winter time. He died. True story.

    His name was Gösta Sörlin. RIP.

  5. Sten says:

    Not sure if you mean fighting for indepence from Sweden. Have read a book about the Finnish guerilla war against the Russian invaders during the war 1808-09. It was commited by Finnish civilians because they wanted to remain a part of Sweden and not lose their freedom. To avoid more truble Russia let Finland become an autonomy. Russia divided Sweden into two countries, but the western part kept the old countries name. Without that, perhaps the Winter war would not have happend.