1. Many of Finland’s good small arms were ironically provided by the Soviet Union because of Stalin’s nasty tendency to put “friends” in charge who proved to be quite incapable of understanding the enemy. Thousands of years earlier, the Chinese warrior philosopher Sun Tzu said something along the lines of “if you know yourself but not your enemy or vice-versa, you have only a 50% chance of winning. If you do not know your capabilities or those of the enemy you will surely and most epically fail to win!” Indeed, the Russians sent to Finland did not know how to fight in the woods (they may as well have tried hunting Predators) and by dying by the thousands (if not millions), they ended up giving their guns and ammunition (to say nothing about airplanes forced to crash-land in nearly perfect shape and abandoned tanks) to Finland for free… Does anyone have anything else to add to this analysis?

    • The exact quote from Sun Tzu is,

      <em.Know your enemy and know yourself, and in one hundred battles you will never be in danger.

      He also said,

      To win one hundred battles in one hundred encounters is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without having to fight him is the acme of skill.

      There are many others in “The Art of War”, but they all boil down to the necessity of knowing what you can do, and what your enemy can do and intends to do, while keeping him from finding out your intentions and capabilities.

      Generally speaking, in the Winter War and the Continuation War the Soviets failed miserably at all of the above, while the Finns were largely successful at them.

      It’s probably not a coincidence that in fighting the Wehrmacht from 1941 to 1945, the Red Army eschewed subtlety and “maneuver warfare” for sheer brute force. Which they hadn’t really been able to do in Finland simply because the terrain didn’t allow it.

      Also, the Finns, being both the ones being invaded and having nowhere to retreat to, practiced what Sun-tzu advised about the different kinds of “ground”;

      In communicating ground, keep moving.

      In encircled ground, devise stratagems.

      In death ground, FIGHT!



      • When comes to Great Patriotic War victory, I heard from person who lived that time and was able to hear and comprehend Hitler’s speeches (those which were public or went out) was that he BLAMED Stalin for massive ‘undeclared’ human resources.

        When in my late teen we travelled thru are od Carpathian operations and some eye witnesses still lived. They told us: “Russians were coming on in mass often just with stick in their wand and drunk. German gunners were going crazy from that.”

    • “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

      There is one trick though, at lest from West’s point of view: tarnishing thy enemy. That’s the way it works at least in terms of populace served propaganda. The Kaiser , Fuhrer and now Putin are very personification of evil. Of course – how could you entangle people into war otherwise?

    • Uh…yeah. The Finns lost the Continuation War. They made the Russians bleed and suffer. But the Finns lost. Gave up land and had to pay money too. Like Clausewitz said there is no substitute for victory.

  2. Polish and Baltic States in 1930 eyars was a passageway for wehrmacht but Finland was not.
    The aim of the Winter war for USSR was move-on soviet-finlands border to the west from the Leningrade to tne about of 30 km. When the soviet`s cannons and bombers had crashed fortifications of the “Mannergaim line”, war was ended.
    Before the Winter war USSR offered Filand to sell territory (that later in 1940 was captured). Finland refused.

  3. There’s an old Winter War joke that goes as follows:
    Soviet troops are marching through the woods when they hear a voice call out from beyond the trees, “A Finnish soldier is as good as ten Russians.” The Russian commander orders ten men forward. Shots and screams are heard, then nothing. The voice calls out again, “A Finnish soldier is as good as a hundred Russians.” The Russian commander orders one hundred men to advance … same thing … shots, screams, then silence. The voice calls out again, “A Finnish soldier is as good as a thousand Russians.” The Russian commander, now furious, orders a thousand men forward … once again, shots and screams, but this time, one badly wounded Russian soldier crawls back from the woods. He then says to the commander, “Don’t send any more men. It’s a trap. There are two of them.”

    • Nice fairy tale… now, we are facing that horrific situation in East Ukraine. This time its not all the same; Novorussia claims loss of several hundred fighters while Ukraine (Kiev) military + militias lost in rate of 30-40k dead and disabled. Do not try to find exact numbers, nobody will reveal them, not soon for sure.

      One time Soviet union and Russian (federation) of today are two different entities.

      • The Russians have a talent for using brute force and show little concern for what the rest of the world thinks about their actions. Combined with ample supplies of decent hardware and tough men, it makes them a very formidable foe. While the West is concerned with “collateral damage” and “nation building,” the Russians know that the main purpose of military action is to kill people and break things, and they are very good at it. You don’t have to like them, but you have to respect them, as they are not a force to be trifled with.

        • I might be willing to debate this, But not here. in meantime you can check broader scope of sources to your advantage. Understanding background principles takes sometimes whole of lifetime, but is achievable. Take care!

  4. When you murder the bulk of your own competent commanders, you shouldn’t be surprised if you don’t do too well when you try to go to war shortly thereafter. This is especially so if you pick an enemy who won’t just wet himself like a whipped dog at the first sight of the enemy. This is even more the case if your chosen enemy is more concerned with killing YOUR officers than his own.

    • An excellent comment about the enigmatic Stalin and one of his many paranoia-driven follies ; also, an equally-excellent and all too true commentary about some of the donkey’s backsides on one’s own side, purporting to be one’s officer corps, whom one would probably shoot in time of war before one would be inclined to shoot the erstwhile enemy. It is to the credit of the Finns that they had good leadership and a responsible officer corps — with whom they could identify with and rally under — at a time when they really needed them.

  5. This observation may or may not imply much, but I did notice that the three weapons in the photograph appear to be in virtually mint condition with few, if any, signs of handling and the sort of cosmetic wear to the finish one would normally expect ( at the very least ) of battlefield pick-ups.

    What do you guys think?

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