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Weather decides the outcome of a war

Posted August. 07, 2018 07:41,   

Updated August. 07, 2018 07:41

한국어

This summer, Korea is experiencing the highest temperature since meteorological observation started in 1907. The heatwave not only hit Korea but also countries around the world. A sudden climate change can make people helpless and frightened. In the past, experiencing an abnormal climate or moving to a place with a totally different climate was a matter of survival.

Let us take a break from this sweltering heat by talking about the Winter War in 1939. The Soviet Union invaded Finland in November 1939. This war is called the Winter War but it would be safe to call it the Arctic war.

Cold weather was not a problem for the Soviet soldiers. Both Hitler and Napoleon invaded Russia in the summer, but they all ended up in failure due to severe cold in Russia. The cold weather in Finland, however, was on another level. Soviet soldiers froze to death in the cold weather of the Arctic. Vodka was no use. Soviet soldiers found it difficult to tell land from lakes due to heavy snow and got lost in coniferous forests.

On the other hand, Finnish soldiers had no problem staking out in the cold weather. Their snipers shot many Soviet soldiers dead. The most unexpected military operation of Finland involved ski. Finnish ski troops launched guerrilla attacks, gaining victories against Soviet soldiers. Soviet skies were no use on the rough ground of Finland. Finnish troops laughed at the brittle skies of Soviet Union and used the captured skies as firewood.

The Soviets, who failed to get used to the cold weather and the rugged terrain of Finland, experienced a shocking defeat. But Finland struggled when the Soviets attacked Finland again with its greater military strength and the right strategy. As a result, Finland was forced to cede territories to the Soviet Union in the Moscow peace treaty. But the Soviet Union failed to annex Finland or make it their satellite state due to Finland’s heroic resistance.

Did Finland achieve glory because of its cold weather? To be sure, support from Germany played a role in the victory. But what was more impressive was the undaunted spirit of Finland that they would never lose their independence again. Finland had long been under the control of Sweden and Russia since mid-12th century until it gained independence in 1917. It seems that the Soviet Union reached a conclusion that it would be hard to control both the people and the land of Finland while fighting the war. A lesson learned from this story is that both physical and mental resistance is necessary to run a country.


Won-Joo Lee takeoff@donga.com