Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Finland tromps the Soviets

One of my friends at Northwestern University sent me a link for a wikipedia picture depicting the statistics for a war between Finland and the Soviet Union in 1940. As I glanced over the list, I was sure that it was a hoax because the results were so ridiculous. It turns out, however, that the Finnish army was a force to be reckoned with.

The Soviet Union had been looking to occupy Finland in a joint agreement with Germany, which would have split Eastern Europe between the two powers. The Soviets demanded that the Finns give up large portions of their country in exchange for a small portion of worthless Soviet lands. The Finns refused, and the Soviets launched an offensive.

Several factors led to the Finns rousing success. Primarly, the Soviets leadership had recently undergone vast purges by Stalin. This resulted in approximately 50% of all officers being killed. When the Soviets attacked, they did so with very inexperienced officer corps and unmotivated soldiers. Secondly, the Finns had local knowledge of the area and worked with the surrondings. i.e. white camoflauge, ski brigades, etc. They also devised a highly effective, petrol-based anti-tank bomb.

Never underestimate the enemy!

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