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Finland to mark 80th anniversary of end of Winter War on March 13

Published : 09 Feb 2020, 22:46

  DF Report

A memorial ceremony was held in Helsinki on 30 November 2019, the 80th anniversary of the start of the Winter War. File Photo Finnish government by Jussi Toivanen.

The 80th anniversary of the end of the Winter War will be observed in Helsinki Cathedral on March 13, said an official press release.

 The event will remain open for the people where leaders of the country will take part.

Finland’s Winter War against the then Soviet Union was brought to an end with the signing of a peace treaty between the countries, which took effect on 13 March 1940.

The war had lasted 105 days.

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.

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.