Tuesday. 28.05.2024

Saturday 30 November marked the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of the Finnish Winter War.

To commemorate the start of the war, state leadership laid a wreath at the National Memorial to the Winter War at Kasarmitori Square in Helsinki. After that, 105 candles were lit at the memorial to honour the Finns, volunteers from abroad and friends of Finland from all over the world who lived at the time of the war.

Niinisto-memorial-winter-war-by-Finnish-GovernmentFinnish President, Sauli Niinistö, at the Winter War Memorial. Photo: Finnish Government.

The conflict began when the Soviet Union invaded Finland without declaring war on 30 November 1939. The war ended on 13 March 1940, after 105 days of hostilities.

25,000 Finns lost their lives

Finland paid a high price for defending its independence. More than 25,000 Finns died in the war effort and about 44,000 were wounded.

Civilian casualties numbered over 1,000. Soviet losses in the war were many times higher. Finland preserved its independence, but had to cede 11% of its territory to the Soviet Union. As a result, some 430,000 Finns, or 12% of the population, lost their homes and had to be resettled elsewhere in Finland.

Soldier-Memorial-Winter-war-by-Finnish-GovernmentPhoto: Finnish Government.

Commemorative ceremony in Helsinki

The outbreak of the Winter War was commemorated in a public ceremony, where state leaders laid a wreath at the National Memorial to the Winter War. This was followed by the lighting of 105 candles, one for every day of the war, in homage to the Finns and international volunteers who fought in the war and to the friends of Finland abroad.

The ceremony was attended by President of the Republic Sauli Niinistö, Vice-President of Parliament Tuula Haatainen, Minister of Defence Antti Kaikkonen, Mayor of Helsinki Jan Vapaavuori and Chief of Defence Command, Lieutenant­General Eero Pyötsiä.

Soldiers-Memorial-Winter-War-by-Finnish-GovernmentPhoto: Finnish Government.

Following the event in Kasarmitori square, a seminar marking the anniversary was held in the House of the Estates, where Minister of Defence Kaikkonen delivered the Government’s greeting. The commemoration was organised jointly by the Winter War Association and the Prime Minister's Office.

Old-Memorial-Winter-War-by-Finnish-GovernmentPhoto: Finnish Government.

Finns commemorated the start of the Winter War