Swedish Volunteers in the Russo-Finnish Winter War, by Martina Sprague

By Martina Sprague

Sandwiched among Nazi Germany and the "Russian Bear," Sweden walked a diplomatic tightrope whilst choosing if and the way it can help Finland's reason in the course of the Russo-Finish wintry weather conflict. Social and political forces inspired the Swedish management to advertise neutrality and keep away from respectable army engagement, whereas while the Swedish Volunteer Corps and similar teams comprised the most important such strength in any glossy warfare. analyzing the usually missed function of the greater than 8,000 Swedish volunteers, this publication discusses the political history of the wintry weather warfare and the occasions previous the clash; the reports of volunteers taken captive in Soviet legal camps; setbacks the volunteers suffered as a result of climate and terrain; and the ubiquitous worry that battle could come to the Scandinavian Peninsula.

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Additional resources for Swedish Volunteers in the Russo-Finnish Winter War, 1939-1940

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Political Background of the Winter War 39 taneously, he was utterly aware of the dismal shape of the Finnish armed forces and knew that a war with Russia would have devastating consequences. At the time of the invasion, Finland’s defensive forces stationed along the frontier amounted to approximately thirteen thousand troops. In relation to the breadth of the area that had to be defended, they were so few and would have to spread themselves so thin that they would be unable to halt a determined Russian advance, even if they simply guarded the terrain without engaging in actual combat.

While he acknowledged that negotiations had begun with Finland, he called the accusation that the Soviet Union might attempt to lay claims on Viborg, the northern part of Lake Ladoga, and the Åland Islands an outright lie and fabrication. The Soviet Union, he assured, would ask only for the absolute minimum territorial concessions it would need to successfully defend against outside aggression while continuing to maintain friendly relations with Finland. Establishing military bases on some of the Finnish islands would not only provide for the security of Leningrad, it would simultaneously serve Finland’s security needs.

130 As a new member of the League of Nations, the Soviet Union meant that it had equal interest in the defense of the islands’ neutrality. (The Soviet Union was expelled from the League of Nations for its aggression toward Finland in late 1939. 131 Thus, the debate continued. Although certain military leaders argued that Sweden ought to prepare for war by mobilizing parts of the coast artillery and the navy and send Swedish troops to the islands, others favored a more pacifist approach — propagating the view that since Sweden had been able to remain neutral throughout World War I when both Finland and the Åland Islands were part of Russia, why worry about the islands now?

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