a memorial for all wars: the Polynational War Memorial


The Winter War in Finland

Years: 1939-1940
Battle deaths: 151,798 [1]

Nation(s) involved and/or conflict territory [note]
Finland, Soviet Union

Published prior to 2013 | Updated: 2013-08-15 10:00:12
The Winter War (Finnish: talvisota, Swedish: vinterkriget, Russian: Зимняя война, tr. Zimnyaya voyna) was a military conflict between the Soviet Union and Finland. The conflict began with a Soviet offensive on 30 November 1939—two months after the start of World War II and the Soviet invasion of Poland—ending on 13 March 1940 with the Moscow Peace Treaty. The League of Nations deemed the attack illegal and expelled the Soviet Union from the League on 14 December 1939.

The Red Army aimed to recover the Grand Duchy of Finland territory lost during the Russian Civil War in 1917, during which Finland had declared independence from Russia. The Soviet Union demanded the territories for security reasons, primarily to protect Leningrad (now Saint Petersburg), which was 40 km from the Finnish border.

The Soviets possessed more than three times as many soldiers as the Finns, thirty times as many aircraft, and a hundred times as many tanks. The Red Army, however, had been crippled by Soviet leader Joseph Stalin’s Great Purge of 1937, reducing the army’s morale and efficiency shortly before the outbreak of the fighting. With more than 30,000 of its army officers executed or imprisoned, including most of those of the highest ranks, the Red Army in 1939 had many inexperienced senior and mid-level officers. Because of these factors, and high morale in the Finnish forces, Finland was able to resist the Soviet invasion for far longer than the Soviets expected.

Hostilities ceased in March 1940 with the signing of the Moscow Peace Treaty. Finland ceded 11% of its pre-war territory and 30% of its economic assets to the Soviet Union.

Source: Wikipedia, published under the GNU FDL. Retrieved 2013-08-15


Notes on fatalities

[1] Battle deaths: Correlates of War, Inter-State War Data v4.0

More about sources


NOTE! Nation data for this war may be inconlusive or incomplete. In most cases it reflects which nations were involved with troops in this war, but in some it may instead reflect the contested territory.



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