Saturday, September 26, 2009
Captain Kirk Models the Average American's Response to a Request to Explain Finland's Role in World War II
"Uh... give me a minute... uhhhm, neutral, like Sweden?
" No? not neutral? You sure? Well, I guess maybe they were knocked out early by the Germans, like Poland?"No? Really? I know! Switched sides at the end, like Italy.
Not exactly? Huh."
[Reward for reading the rest of this post: more Kirk at the end!]
By Captain Kirk's time, this history is about 300 years old, but I bet I'm far from the only American who would flounder around hopelessly trying to answer this. Until today, when I read all about it.
(Come to think of it, I'm not entirely sure the average American would come up with the examples of Sweden, Poland, and Italy... Our movies mostly imply it's just Indiana Jones fighting the Nazis.)
I'm still confused, but I feel a little better that Wikipedia's article on Finland in WWII says Finland was in many ways unique--being, for instance, the only nation that cooperated with Nazi Germany whose army also ran field synagogues.
As I understand it, Finland's main interest was to keep out from under Stalin's aggressive Russia (USSR), right next door. (Russia used to own Finland--is "own" the right word?)
So, turns out Finland fought three wars during World War II:
1. The Winter War (winter of 1939-1940) on their own against the the USSR
2. The Continuation War (1941-1944), in which they were "co-belligerents" with Germany against the Soviet Union; Great Britain declared war on Finland, but the United States didn't (I don't know why, yet), and
3. The Lapland War (late 1944-April 1945), during which, having lost the Continuation War and now under Soviet orders, the Finns drove from their northern province of Lapland the remaining German troops, who did not leave politely.
"No fair! That's what I was going to guess next! You didn't give me enough time. "Your questions are too hard.
"I'm not playing with you anymore."
(Don't you just love him when he pouts? Let's ask him more questions about Finland!)