THE WINTER WAR IN FINLAND
Years: 1939-1940 | Est. deaths: 90 000
Published prior to 2013
The Winter War (also known as the Russo-Finnish War) broke out when the Soviet Union attacked Finland on November 30, 1939, three months after the start of World War II. As a consequence, the Soviet Union was expelled from the League of Nations on December 14th. Stalin had expected to conquer the whole country by the end of 1939, but Finnish resistance frustrated the Soviet forces, which outnumbered them three to one. Finland held out until March 1940, when a peace treaty was signed ceding about 10% of Finland’s territory, and 20% of her industrial capacity, to the Soviet Union.
"We gained 57,000 km² [22,000 square miles] of territory. Just enough to bury our dead." – a Soviet General
Franco-British preparations for support of Finland through northern Scandinavia (the Allied campaign in Norway), intended to occupy the Northern Scandinavia with its iron ore mines at the same time, became a strong reason for Nazi Germany’s invasion of Denmark and Norway within a month after the war (Operation Weserübung). Furthermore, it has been persuasively argued that the poor showing of the Soviet forces had a significant effect on Adolf Hitler’s decision to attack the Soviet Union in 1941 (Operation Barbarossa).