How Finns sabotaged Red Army retreat with Polka music

The war between Finland and the Soviet Union was cold, not only in terms of the temperatures on the ground during the fighting, but also in terms of the feelings each side had for each other.

Before World War II broke out in Europe, the Soviet Union invaded Finland in a war of expansion. He was finally able to secure concessions from the Finns before a peace treaty was imposed on Finland.

The treaty gave eight percent of Finland to the USSR, and the Finns were not happy with it, considering that they were inflicting so much damage on the Red Army. Finland was determined to recover these lost areas one way or another. The 1940 peace deal lasted 15 months, until Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union in Operation Barbarossa. Finland joined the Germans in what it called the Continuation War.

The Continuation War was just as harsh as the Winter War (or the First Soviet-Finnish War, whichever story you choose). The Finns inflicted a surprisingly asymmetric number of casualties on the Soviet Union, with the highest estimates reaching nearly a million Soviets killed, wounded and missing, compared to a quarter of that of Finland.

Many casualties on both sides are due to the brutality of the fighting itself. It was the war where Finnish troops and partisans perfected the Molotov cocktail, where the Finns exposed trapped Russian soldiers so they could shoot at the soldiers who tried to help, and the Finns divided and slaughtered wholesale Red Army units in motti attacks.

Foreign press in Mainila, where a border incident between Finland and the Soviet Union escalated into war. (Wikimedia Commons)

The Karelian Isthmus was one of the places the Finns wanted to reclaim. Karelia was, according to them, taken away from them by the Moscow peace treaty of 1940, and this traditionally Finnish region was keen to return to Finnish hands.

When the Soviets were forced to withdraw from the Karelian city of Viipuri (now Vyborg), they scattered radio-controlled anti-personnel mines throughout the city. The Finnish army, taking the city, discovered the mines, but not the means to detonate them. To the Finns, it seemed like the explosions were happening almost at random.

At first they thought the mines were triggered by timing devices, but after a 1,200 pound bomb was discovered under the Moonlight Bridge, Finnish engineers began a suddenly urgent mission to find ways to detonate the mines. To begin with, they began to interrogate Soviet prisoners of war.

These prisoners of war revealed that the Red Army could detonate mines from a distance with a three-string radio transmission signaled at a specific frequency. The Finns, in order to disrupt Soviet transmissions, rigged a broadcast car with the Säkkijärvi polka – also known as the Karelian-Finnish polka “- which would disrupt incoming Soviet signals.

Soon the mines became less threatening, but the Soviets began to transmit their signals in triplicate. The Finns soon discovered that the Soviets transmitted on three frequencies, so the Finns had to get another broadcast signal to play the polka.

For three months, the wave polka battle continued as Soviet troops attempted to destroy the city from a distance and Finnish engineers attempted to dismantle the Red Army mines, all in the midst of a stream. constant disturbing polka music. Ultimately, even if the engineers could find and finish all the mines, the mines would run out of battery. The Finns won the day with the polka.


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