November 01, 2014

The Forgotten Winter War

The Forgotten Winter War
A Finnish mother and her children take cover in the snow following a Soviet air raid during the Winter War.

I’m trying to remember when I first heard about the Winter War between the Soviet Union and Finland. I can’t. It certainly wasn’t in school. This topic was not, apparently, worthy of the attention of Soviet schoolchildren.

Probably there were a couple of lines in our textbook, but not in the sections devoted to the Second World War. In the Soviet Union and Russian Federation, textbooks categorized (and continue to categorize) everything that happened at the front before June 22, 1941, as part of the “prewar situation.” The real war began when we were invaded. Up until then there was war in the West, but all was peaceful in the USSR. Well, almost peaceful.

Maybe I was told about it at the university? I don’t remember that either. Was it mentioned in lectures on Soviet history? Probably. The lectures were so boring that nobody was really listening, if we even bothered to attend. For us students of history, the fact that Stalin and Hitler were allies between 1939 and 1941 was obscured in some sort of mist.

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