End of Winter War to be commemorated on 13 March

Government Communications Department 7.2.2020 12.43 | Published in English on 7.2.2020 at 13.02
Press release
Talvisodan kansallinen muistomerkki sijaitsee Helsingin Kasarmitorilla.

Finland’s Winter War against the Soviet Union was brought to an end with the signing of a peace treaty between the two countries, which took effect on 13 March 1940. The war had lasted 105 days. This year marks the 80th anniversary of the end of the Winter War. To commemorate this, a national memorial service will be held in Helsinki Cathedral on 13 March at 10.00–10.30. The event will be attended by the country’s leaders and is also open to the public.

Bells will ring out in all of Finland’s Lutheran, Orthodox and Catholic churches at 11.00, the precise moment when, 80 years ago, the peace treaty came into force. On the steps of Helsinki Cathedral 105 candles will be lit – one for each day of the Winter War.

In Senate Square, in front of the Cathedral, coffee will be served between 9.00 and 12.00, and there will also be music, short speeches and discussions.

Heavy price paid

The Winter War began on 30 November 1939, when the Soviet Union attacked Finland without a declaration of war.

In a secret protocol to the Treaty of Non-Aggression between Germany and the Soviet Union (the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact), signed in August 1939, Finland was consigned to the Soviet sphere of interest. The Treaty was among the main factors that led to start of the Winter War.

Defending Finland’s independence came at a heavy cost. More than 25,000 Finns lost their lives, and about 44,000 were wounded, in the Winter War. Civilian casualties numbered over 1,000. Soviet losses in the war were many times higher. Finland retained its independence but had to cede 11% of its territory to the Soviet Union. As a result, some 430,000 Finns, or 12% of the population, lost their homes and had to be resettled elsewhere in Finland.

A memorial ceremony was held in Helsinki on 30 November 2019, the 80th anniversary of the start of the Winter War. The event commemorated the Winter War and honoured the defenders of the country’s independence.

Inquiries: Tiina-Kaisa Laakso-Liukkonen, Production Manager, tel. +358 29 516 0220, tiina-kaisa.laakso-liukkonen(at)vnk.fi, and Aapo Riihimäki, Communications Specialist, tel.  +358 50 471 3020, aapo.riihimaki(at)vnk.fi, Prime Minister's Office