Swedish Volunteers in the Russo-Finnish Winter War, 1939–1940


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About the Book

Sandwiched between Nazi Germany and the “Russian Bear,” Sweden walked a diplomatic tightrope on if and how it should support Finland during the Russo-Finnish Winter War. Social and political forces motivated the Swedish leadership to promote neutrality and avoid official military engagement, while at the same time the Swedish Volunteer Corps comprised the largest volunteer combat force (more than 8,200 strong) in any modern war. This book discusses the political background of the 1939–1940 Winter War; setbacks the volunteers suffered due to weather and terrain; and the ever-present fear that war would come to the Scandinavian Peninsula.

About the Author(s)

Born and raised in Stockholm, Sweden, Martina Sprague has written numerous books in the fields of history and martial arts.

Bibliographic Details

Martina Sprague
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 259
Bibliographic Info: 62 photos, maps, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2010
pISBN: 978-0-7864-3981-2
eISBN: 978-0-7864-5753-3
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Military and Political Figures (by Country)      ix

Introduction      1

1. Political Background of the Winter War

A Brief Swedish and Finnish History      7

The Geographical Location Problem      13

The Nonaggression Treaty between Germany and the Soviet Union      15

Soviet Demands on Finnish Territory      18

Molotov’s Address to the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union      21

Sweden’s Military Preparedness      26

The Åland Ilands Question      32

The Shots at Mainila      35

The Soviet Union’s Strategic Plan      39

Finland’s Defense Plan      45

Sweden Reacts to the War      49

2. Volunteer Recruitment and Training

Popular Sentiments and Opinions      53

Material Assistance for Finland      58

Recruitment Propaganda and Motivations for Volunteering      64

Arrival and Training in Torneå      74

Continued Political Difficulties      80

The March to the Front      82

3. Combat Operations

The Finnish Army’s Perspective on the War      89

The Soviet Army’s Perspective on the War      101

The Swedish Army’s Perspective on the War      108

Overview of the Volunteer Flight Squadron      125

A Volunteer Air Base Is Setup      129

Volunteer Air Combat Missions      138

The Volunteer Anti-Aircraft Artillery at Turku      148

4. Peace Negotiations and Armistice

Political Struggles and Mediation for Peace      151

The Iron Ore Mines      156

The Allies Move Forward      159

The Grand Finale      168

Finland’s Concessions      173

Mannerheim’s Speech to the Troops      179

Wrap-Up      181

5. Analysis and Conclusions

Combat Operations in the Finnish Army      185

Combat Operations in the Soviet Army      190

Combat Operations in the Swedish Army      199

The Geopolitical Landscape      204

Swedish Neutrality      207

Afterword      213

Chapter Notes      217

Bibliography      239

Index      247