Finnish Ingenuity

We had some house guests over last night who shared some observations about the Finnish people and their incredible spirit and creativity, especially when their backs are up against the wall.

World War II was a time of extreme struggle for the Finns who found them up against the full wrath of Stalin’s Army. Out-numbered and out-gunned, the Finnish people were left with their wits, here are a couple of highlights:

Winter War – In 1940, the Finns faced a full-scale invasion of their homeland. As the Russian Army advanced on Finland in the winter of 1940, they ran into sub-zero temperatures and long nights of darkness. Using this to their advantage, small squads of Finnish troops would infiltrate enemy lines between larger divisions and set up machine gun lines pointing outward, towards each division. After short bursts to the left and right, the guerrilla squads would retreat and leave the two, recently alerted adjacent divisions to open fire upon each other thinking they were firing on the enemy when in fact they were firing upon the neighboring division.

The Bombing of Helsinki – In February of 1944, Stalin ordered bombers to flatten the city in order to break the spirit of the Finnish people. In preparation for the bombing which they knew was coming, the civil defense forces laid out a grid of signal fires out on the frozen bay and surrounding islands which roughly matched the layout of Helsinki at night. When the bombers flew towards the city, the civilians doused the lights and the bombers, thinking the lights they saw out on the bay were the city, dropped a majority of their bombs harmlessly into the water, sparing most of the city.

Don’t mess with the Finns, they’ll mess with you.

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6 Replies to “Finnish Ingenuity”

  1. Hi Ian,

    This made me laugh, both for the truth of it and for a conversation I had recently where I was telling a friend to not underestimate the Finns. The friend was expressing frustration with doing business with some Finnish folk, and I delved deep into history to explain why I thought they were kick ass, even if super quiet about it.

    Now you have armed me with more examples beyond the Swedish & Russian historical examples I knew from before. ;o)

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