Finland against USSR (1939-1945)

Jun 2017
462
maine
There were about 7000 foreigner (non-Finns) volunteers fighting in the Finnish Army during the Continuation War.
Thank you--that I didn't know (I've been focused on the Norwegian home front). Who were they? But surely they weren't part of any international brigade after the armistice in 1940.
 
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Larrey

Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
5,771
Just going to support the observation that "international "brigades" (and also "white") is a misnomer when it comes to the Finnish Winter War 1939-40 (and for the Continuation War 41-44).

There were no international brigades fighting in Finland. Foreign volunteers were organised in official Finnish Army formations.

It was also a fairly short war, so even if there was rather a lot of international support for Finland, and potentially a fairly large potential for foreign volunteers, they still hade to make it to Finland in time to take part in the Winter War. Most just didn't arrive in time for it.

Geographical proximity pretty much guaranteed that it was mainly Swedish volunteers who made to Finland in time. There was apparently very considerable Hungarian support for Finland, and a large group of volunteers who announced themselves to Finnish authorities, but did not manage to make it to Finland before the war was over in 1940.

As for the "white" aspect (that's somehow seems like a kind of left-over from the Soviet propaganda about the Winter War), Stalin might actually have been convinced (by himself) that the former Finnish revolutionaries, and their sons, from the Civil War of 1918 would join the Soviets. What was striking was however the Finnish national cohesion that was shown against a foreign aggressor. Which is to say that among the Finns "the Reds" joined the fight as readily as the "the Whites".

Returning to the Swedish volunteers in 1939-40. Their appearance was made magnitudes more simple by the fact that the Winter War was they only conflict part of WWII where the Swedish government didn't declare itself neutral. Consequently unlike all other parts of WWII it was legal for Swedish nationals to join the Finnish armed forces. It also is part of the explanation as to why the Swedish volunteers forces in the Continuation War was radically smaller.

(Arguably the most significant support Sweden lent Finland in the Winter War, was the Swedish government signing a huge check on the Finnish government's behalf, which put credit equivalent to about a year's worth of Finland's GDP the Finnish disposal to pay for troops, buying arms etc. It still left the Finns disappointed, since what they had really hoped for was for Sweden to join in the war itself.)
 

Larrey

Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
5,771
There were about 7000 foreigner (non-Finns) volunteers fighting in the Finnish Army during the Continuation War.
This the official Finnish army website dedicated to the veterans of WWII, the page discussing the foreign volunteers:Arvet efter Veteranerna - Ett Självständigt Fosterland - Utländska frivilliga i Finland

What it says about the Winter War is that the only foreign troops that actually had time to take part in the fighting was the 8000 Swedes, bolstered by a group of 700 Norwegians and 1000 Danes, on the Salla Front. (Allowing experienced Finnish troops to be shifted to the much harder fighting over Vyborg on the Gulf of Finland.)

Apart from the Scandinavians, 341 Hungarians, 350 Finnish-Americans and 228 British took part in the fighting.

The number of volunteers that could have taken part had the war gone on was primarily 8900 British, 5000 Italians, and 25 000 Hungarians.

In the Continuation War some 7000 foreign volunteers served, breaking down thusly:
3 273 Estonians
1 694 Swedes
777 Ingrians
204 Danes
All other nations 74.

Add to that about 1000 Finnish-ethnicity Soviet citizens taken as POWs who volunteered to fight for Finland.
 
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Jun 2017
462
maine
Just going to support the observation that "international "brigades" (and also "white") is a misnomer when it comes to the Finnish Winter War 1939-40 (and for the Continuation War 41-44).

There were no international brigades fighting in Finland. Foreign volunteers were organised in official Finnish Army formations.

It was also a fairly short war, so even if there was rather a lot of international support for Finland, and potentially a fairly large potential for foreign volunteers, they still hade to make it to Finland in time to take part in the Winter War. Most just didn't arrive in time for it.

Geographical proximity pretty much guaranteed that it was mainly Swedish volunteers who made to Finland in time. There was apparently very considerable Hungarian support for Finland, and a large group of volunteers who announced themselves to Finnish authorities, but did not manage to make it to Finland before the war was over in 1940.

As for the "white" aspect (that's somehow seems like a kind of left-over from the Soviet propaganda about the Winter War), Stalin might actually have been convinced (by himself) that the former Finnish revolutionaries, and their sons, from the Civil War of 1918 would join the Soviets. What was striking was however the Finnish national cohesion that was shown against a foreign aggressor. Which is to say that among the Finns "the Reds" joined the fight as readily as the "the Whites".

Returning to the Swedish volunteers in 1939-40. Their appearance was made magnitudes more simple by the fact that the Winter War was they only conflict part of WWII where the Swedish government didn't declare itself neutral. Consequently unlike all other parts of WWII it was legal for Swedish nationals to join the Finnish armed forces. It also is part of the explanation as to why the Swedish volunteers forces in the Continuation War was radically smaller.

(Arguably the most significant support Sweden lent Finland in the Winter War, was the Swedish government signing a huge check on the Finnish government's behalf, which put credit equivalent to about a year's worth of Finland's GDP the Finnish disposal to pay for troops, buying arms etc. It still left the Finns disappointed, since what they had really hoped for was for Sweden to join in the war itself.)
Perhaps you are confusing the Winter War with the brutal Finnish Civil War. The former, with its international brigades, was aimed at the Russian invasion and not social democrats (the Reds--ironically). Americans and Canadians were unlikely to travel all the way to Finland in order to support the nobility. I believe that the brigades did fight in their own units; for example, because the Norwegian government refused to release any officers, the Norwegians fought with the Swedes (who did have officers).

All in all, the Finns surely had a hard time of it!
 

Vaeltaja

Ad Honorem
Sep 2012
3,693
Perhaps you are confusing the Winter War with the brutal Finnish Civil War. The former, with its international brigades, was aimed at the Russian invasion and not social democrats (the Reds--ironically). Americans and Canadians were unlikely to travel all the way to Finland in order to support the nobility. I believe that the brigades did fight in their own units; for example, because the Norwegian government refused to release any officers, the Norwegians fought with the Swedes (who did have officers).

All in all, the Finns surely had a hard time of it!
It doesn't seem like Larrey would be confusing much of anything on what he posted. He was not discussing the Finnish Civil War apart from how it affected (divided Finland) during the interwar years and how the Soviet threat united the country against a common threat. And like Larrey and others posted the volunteers very rarely fought fully in their own separate units (be they 'brigades' or 'legions'). They may have had their own subunits (regiment, battalion) formed for them but they still were strictly integrated into the Finnish military. The units consisting of foreign soldiers were trained and taken as part of the Finnish military - like the 200th Infantry Regiment consisting of Estonians. Estonians also formed around 10% of the manpower of the Finnish Navy (which was small, but still) and certainly didn't have their own ships. The Swedish force taking part to the Winter War was a clear exception to this rule.
 

Nemowork

Ad Honorem
Jan 2011
8,464
South of the barcodes
Hello dear specialits.Did the Finlandeses troops utilized white international brigades (swedish,italians etc...) like Franco.
Some, but they turned away a lot more.

You have to remember that Finland has brutal weather, even surviving out in the front lines was a full time job you had to know how to do it. The Russians didnt and they suffered appalling casualties, the Finns did either using locally specific tactics like warming rooms in their trenches or locals used to moving and hunting like Simo Hayha

Foreign volunteers just didnt have the skills to survive on the front lines never mind fight even before you add in the communication problems. They could be used in the rear lines but the war didnt last long enough to be worth training them.
 
Jun 2017
462
maine
As I have written. perhaps it is the original title and opening question that may have caused confusion. The title give the years 1939-45 but the opening question had to do with international brigades. The international brigades were limited to the Winter War and all those other statistics seem to have to do with the entire period. I am interested in the Winter War from a genealogical perspective but there is a much more scholarly study of that period--and only that period, 1939-1940-- by Dr. Norman Berdichevsky: The Other Forgotten International Brigade. While his politics indicate a slant on more recent topics, his work here seems solid.