Saturday, March 13, 2010

Flag Day! Anniversary of the End of the Winter War

Today is a Flag Day. March 13 is the anniversary of the end of the Winter War. The Winter War ended on March 13, 1940, with the Moscow Peace Treaty.

The Winter War is an extremely important part of Finnish history and a source of national pride. The Winter War was also important in unifying Finland after its civil war.

The Soviets attacked Finland on November 30, 1939, just after the start of World War II. Even though the Soviets had 3 times the manpower as the Finnish forces, Finland managed to hold off the Soviet offensive far longer than anyone could have imagined. Finland had to cede a large part of its territory (Karelia) to Russia as part of the peace treaty, but maintained its sovereignty.

Here is Mannerheim's Order concerning the Moscow Peace Treaty. It is interesting and stirring to read.

Mannerheim issues Order of the Day Nr. 34

Soldiers of the glorious Finnish army!

Peace has been concluded between Finland and Soviet Russia, a harsh peace in which Soviet Russia has been ceded nearly every battlefield on which you have shed your blood on behalf of everything we hold sacred and dear.

You did not want war; you loved peace, work and progress; but you were forced into a struggle in which you have achieved great deeds, deeds that will shine for centuries in the annals of history.

I have fought on many a battlefield, but never have I seen such warriors as you. I am as proud of you as if you were my own children; I am as proud of the man from the northern fells as of the son of Ostrobothnia's plains, of the Karelian forests, the hills of Savo, the fertile fields of Häme and Satakunta, the leafy glades of Uusimaa and Varsinais-Suomi. I am equally proud of the sacrifice of the factory worker and the poor crofter as of that of the wealthy.

With joy and pride my thoughts dwell on the women of the Lotta Svärd - on their spirit of self-sacrifice and untiring work in myriad fields, work which has freed thousands of men to fight at the front. Their noble spirit has given inspiration and support to the army, and they have thoroughly earned our gratitude and respect.

A place of honour has also been earned by the thousands of workers who, often as volunteers and during air raids, have worked on their machines to provide the army with vital supplies, and those, too, who have laboured unflinchingly under fire to strengthen our defensive positions. On behalf of our native land, I thank you all.

I found Mannerheim's declaration at this web site: Talvisota 1939-1940.

As a result of the Moscow Peace Treaty, 500,000 Finns living in Karelia were evacuated and resettled in the rest of Finland. It is estimated that 1 million people living in Finland today trace their roots to Karelia.

When Chris and I went to the kauppatori we bought some hernekeitto from a veteran's group to eat for our own celebration of the end of the Winter War.

This article, What if the Winter War Broke out Now, in the Helsingin Sanomat is also interesting.

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