[[caption-width-right:252:Don't let the Iron Cross fool you -- they took on [[UsefulNotes/NaziGermany Fritz]] ''and'' [[SovietRussia Ivan]], and survived.]]

->''Scarcely had he moved his eyelids,\\
Ere the pygmy, full unfolding,\\
Quick becomes a mighty giant.''
-->-- ''Literature/TheKalevala'', Rune 2

UsefulNotes/{{Finland}} as a sovereign state is a young one. The area was long obscure and unambitious in world affairs though the inhabitants were tough enough when put to it and even Vikings avoided them, apparently not being eager to send too many warriors to [[WarriorHeaven Valhalla]] all at once. During the UsefulNotes/ThirtyYearsWar and the UsefulNotes/GreatNorthernWar it fought for Sweden. Later it became subservient to Russia and fought for the Czars. In UsefulNotes/WorldWarI it fought for ''both'' sides; some took up the Russian cause, the Russians still being their FeudalOverlord, while a number of [[FightingForAHomeland nationalists]] fought for [[UsefulNotes/ImperialGermany Germany]]. When the [[RedOctober Russian Civil War]] came, Finland declared itself independent, and was recognized by Lenin in the last day of 1918. This was followed by [[WeAreStrugglingTogether a bloody civil war]], in which fought the Whites, who wanted Finland to be a monarchy with a German king, and the Reds, who wanted a communist republic allied with or part of the Soviet Union. The Whites won, but Germany had already lost the World War, and so the newborn state continued as a republic. Wounds from this conflict eased between the world wars as prosperity grew and a reasonably decent government was formed.

As the Soviet Union gobbled up the Baltic states and its share of Poland at the end of the 1930s, Finland, under the guise of its policy of neutrality and in international cooperation internationally cooperated with Nazi Germany. Lapuan liike ("Lapua Movement"), a radical-right anti-communist loosely-organized organization was formed, then proceeding to wreck printing houses and beat up communist sympathizers, culminating in the outlawing of communist activity and then in an attempted coup, the Mäntsälä rebellion, in 1932.

The Soviet Union, worried by the rise of fascism in Europe, feared an attack by Germany via Finland, and attempted to acquire several tracts of land - by exchange in some cases and by loan in others - in Finland, mainly in the South-East, in order to fortify its positions against possible invasion. The proposition was, however, denied, and the Soviet leadership figured out that Finland was allied with Germany, and proceeded to pour over the eastern border in a preemptive attack.

When a world power attacks a sparsely populated, agrarian backwood, the only possibility is a CurbStompBattle. As such, it was a shock to all concerned when the Finns got their act together and proceeded to fight the Winter War, dealing almost as much damage to the Soviets as the Soviets did to themselves. Peace broke out after three and a half months of frenzy: Finland was forced to accept the earlier offer, and also lost large tracts of valued land as a way of war reparations. It's said that one of the Soviet generals considered this roughly the amount of territory needed to bury all of their dead.

Despite this, Finns considered (and consider) this their finest hour, a storm-tossed people united into David in DavidVersusGoliath, inflicting incredible casualties with their wilderness savvy, HeroicResolve ("sisu") and ingenuity. However, due to the size of the Red Army at the time, the 125,000 dead Soviets were not as devastating as they would first appear. On the other side, the USSR discovered what happens when one purges a large portion of one's entire military brass. This mess is actually a fine lesson in force multipliers and the disconnect between theoretical force and the ability to inflict damage on the other guy: it's amazing how little help two-to-one numbers and tanks can be when both are stretched into a column on a forest road, and the enemy has winter camouflage and skis. Once the Soviets actually got their act together and put competent officers in charge of their armies, they did start to make significant progress, leading to the peace settlement.

After several months of peace Finland, with military aid from UsefulNotes/NaziGermany, attempted to reclaim territory lost in the Winter War and according to one or two historians to preempt a feared attack by Russia. This caused the Continuation War, which Finland lost. As part of the terms of peace, Finland was required to expel the Germans from its soil. This required a third war, called the Lapland War. The Finns often gave German troops notice of their attacks and allowed them to withdraw in good order while attacking their vacated positions until the Soviets twigged and forced them to attack properly. Thus Finland acquired the distinction of fighting both UsefulNotes/NaziGermany and SovietRussia.

Despite the ugly backroom politicking, UsefulNotes/WorldWarII is considered Finland's greatest moment (except by those who consider it [[WarIsHell a sad and awful time]] and/or fine example of fascist imperialism). It's thought to have unified an entire people, though in truth the Finnish government never mobilized more than half of their reserves as they were afraid of another leftist uprising.

Because the Soviets were allied with Great Britain, the British were obliged to declare war on Finland during the Continuation War; with one isolated exception, in ''all those four years'' there was no fighting between these two countries and no British troops or ships were deployed.[[labelnote:*]]If you don't count one [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raids_on_Kirkenes_and_Petsamo failed raid against 4 merchant vessels...]][[/labelnote]] A side note to this history is that during the Winter War, there was actually strong consideration by Britain of joining the war on Finland's side (since at that point, the Soviets were allied with the Nazis). This might be why the Soviet Union was willing to accept a negotiated peace at the end, even though they'd just achieved a dominant position and probably could've conquered all of Finland had they kept fighting.

After the World Wars, Finland has been very active in the United Nations and Finnish soldiers have actively served in UN peacekeeping forces. Many conscripts and reservists continue their tours of duty as contract soldiers in UN service. The Finnish Navy participated in the anti-piracy operation ''Atalanta'' alongside EU fighting forces.

* AcePilot: Ilmari Juutilainen (94 kills). Hans Wind (78 kills with five kills on five separate missions). 102 others, amongst them Jorma Sarvanto, who shot down six DB-3 heavy bombers in four minutes in his Fokker D.XXI.
** The Finnish Air Force produced more ace pilots than any other nation in relation to the size and number of pilots of the air forces.
* AdventurerArchaeologist: When Mannerheim was young, the Czar sent him on a "scientific expedition" into territory in Central Asia that [[PlausibleDeniability he happened]] to have political interests in.
** The expedition ''did'' actually produce remarkable scientific results on ethnography.
* AtopAMountainOfCorpses: Or as one Russian officer said, "We have won enough ground to bury our dead."
* AnAxeToGrind: A considerable number of the Finnish soldiers were lumbermen in peacetime. Also the combat engineer NCOs are issued an axe instead of entrenchment tool. The combat engineer officers are issued a billhook.
* BadassArmy: With hardly any tanks, planes, or artillery pieces, and with almost World War I technology, facing many times their number.
* BadassBoast: During the Winter War, one Finnish officer said, "The wolves will eat well this year."
** ''Qualitas potentia nostra'' of the Finnish Air Force: "Quality is our might."
* BadassBookworm: Finnish reserve officers, who often were college students conscripted to the army.
* BlueBlood: GustavMannerheim, Ruben Lagus, and Adolf Ehnroth.
* CannonFodder: The Red Army
* CatchPhrase: Kollaa Kestää (Kollaa Will Hold). According to the legend, this phrase comes from one officer asking another whether the defense line in Kollaa will hold. The response was, "It will hold unless we are told to run."
* ColdSniper: Both literally (given the climate) and figuratively.
** SimoHayha, AKA [[NamesToRunAwayFromReallyFast the White Death]], greatest sniper ever. After having collected 522 confirmed kills with his Mosin-Nagant M28 rifle with no scope (he didn't trust scopes; the lens could frost up in the cold and sunlight reflecting off it could give away his position) and at least 200 confirmed with his Suomi M31 SMG in 96 days (a record 48 over Christmas, no time for celebration)[[note]]Yes, he really did average killing 7.5 men a day.[[/note]], having survived Soviet army snipers sent to assassinate him, artillery barrages designed solely to kill him, and air strikes to his position, the Soviets got lucky, and he was shot in the face by an explosive munition. He woke up from the resulting coma nine days later, the same day hostilities stopped. Simo then withdrew to a peaceful life of hunting moose and breeding dogs and living to be above 90 himself. Simo was so much of a {{Badass}} that it is hard to believe, when asked how he could kill so many, he replied "[[CharlesAtlasSuperpower practice]]".
*** Though, it is important to notice that Finns tend to be very factual and to-the-point culturally and linguistically. Mr. Häyhä was a hunter before the war (as were great many Finnish men back then), so he had previous experience in handling a weapon, thus stating matter-of-factly his previous occupation. Not that it diminishes his awesomeness one bit.
* {{Conscription}}: The Finnish Armed Forces are even today based on it. Almost every Finnish adult male is a soldier - in theory, at least.
* ConservationOfNinjitsu: The Red Army vastly outnumbered the Finns and still lost on the battlefield.
* CoolGun: The ''Suomi'' M31. This ugly submachine-gun had a tremendous rate of fire. It was very useful for creeping up to a Russian encampment, blazing away at point-blank range, and disappearing into the woods. The name "Suomi" is a testament to how important the weapon was: it's the Finnish word for "Finland".
** Seeing their effectiveness, the Russians eventually made the [=PPSh-41=], another CoolGun, with the explicit goal of matching its capabilities. The [=PPSh=] has the same rate of fire and the same magazine capacity, so that goal was met.
** A common tactic in the almost roadless wastes of northern Finland was to divide the huge Russian columns into small "motti" (a cubic metre of firewood) pockets by such strikes and taking out their field kitchens; in - 40 C, no food is a bad thing- a VERY bad thing.
** Lahti L-39 ''Norsupyssy'' ("The Elephant Gun"). A 20 mm anti-tank rifle later employed as super-heavy sniper rifle.
** The modern Finnish Army uses the RK-62 rifle, a licensed version of the AK-47. It was used in turn as the basis of the Galil assault rifle by the [[IsraelisWithInfraredMissiles Israeli Army]], including the integrated bottle opener.
** The Sako TRG42 Lapua Magnum is in widespread use amongst specialist snipers around the world. The Danes use them too in Upper Gheresk Valley, Helmand, to great effect.
* CrouchingMoronHiddenBadass: The Finnish reserve lieutenants were mostly high school and college students conscripted to service - and they made a legend.
* DavidVersusGoliath: This is what it was all about. They failed both times against the Soviet Union, despite putting up quite a fight, and only succeeded against the Nazis because they evacuated most of their troops anyway. They only had a few troops in Finland in the first place, and they were needed to slow the rampaging Soviet Army.
* DecontaminationChamber: Field saunas were almost a necessity, not just to keep men warm enough to fight, but to kill lice.
** The Finnish army still uses sauna tents as an extra luxury for the soldiers. It is claimed the first building the Finnish UN troopers erect after the GHQ is always a sauna. ''Even in the desert'', as witnessed at Suez and the Golan Heights.
* DeterminedHomesteader: Any homesteader in Finland has got to be determined. These were the basis of Finland's BadassArmy.
* DeusExMachina: The battle of Tali-Ihantala 1944, where Finnish Air Force and Luftwaffe Detachment Kuhlmey turned the tables and enabled Finns to successfully counterattack.
* [[DistractedbyTheShiny Distracted by The Field Kitchen]]: The so called Makkarasota (Sausage War). An entire Soviet offensive was delayed because the saboteur team was too busy trying to steal food from the Finnish field kitchen and got gunned down.
* DontGoInTheWoods: A Real Life TropeMaker. Many hostiles which enter in the Finnish forests never come back.
* EagleSquadron: Swedish volunteers, especially fighter squadron Flygflottilj 19, which flew Gloster Gladiator fighters and Hawker Hart light bombers.
** Volunteers came from all over Europe. Among those who served was a 17-year old Creator/ChristopherLee.
* FourStarBadass: A number. Mannerheim is the best remembered.
* FriendlySniper: Simo Häyhä.
* GoodOldWays: Marshal GustavMannerheim. He was a very old-fashioned aristocrat. [[AmbiguouslyGay And possibly a homosexual]].
* [[GreatWhiteHunter Great Finnish Hunter]]: Finns were some of the hardiest people in Europe and knew the frozen woods like the back of their hands.
* GrimUpNorth
* HadToBeSharp: Both Finns and Russians, considering [[{{Deathworld}} the area they lived]]. However Russians suffered tremendously from TheWorfEffect in this war. In part because Stalin [[WhatAnIdiot feared that Northern Russians would be too sympathetic to their Finnish neighbors, and thus sent mostly units from the southern Soviet republics that had much less experience with harsh winters]].
* HeroicResolve: The Finns call theirs ''Sisu''. It can be pretty hard to translate, but the closest one would probably be "to have guts" or "[[SelfDeprecation idiotic single-mindedness]]."
* ImprovisedWeapon: Among other tactics, the Finns would jam tank tracks with rocks or pieces of firewood, then torch them with Molotov cocktails.
* InitiationCeremony. Many. One of the most remarkable is Kirkkojärvi March, an all-day cross-country force-march/combat competition of Reserve Officer Academy (RUK) students.
* ItsRainingMen: ''Laskuvarjojääkärikoulu'', Parachute Ranger School, is comprised of select volunteers. They are considered the cream of the crop of each year's conscripts. ''Everyone'' receives either NCO or officer training.
* KillItWithFire: Molotov Cocktails.
* KillItWithIce: Mining the river, lake, and seashore ice.
* KnifeNut: The Finnish Army does not issue knives to the conscripts because (paraphrased from the Soldier's Handbook) "Finnish people are taught how to handle knives from childhood. It would therefore be pointless to issue knives to people who already have their own knives that they are used to handle." The traditional Finnish knife is the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puukko puukko]], with Finns often making their own or at least carving their own handle.
** Conscripts that go through NCO or Reserve Officer School get knives for their graduation. That's right, in some countries you get a class ring, in Finland you get a knife!
** The practicality of puukko is clearly seen in the widespread Russian use of the design, who call it the ''finka'' or ''finsky nozh'' (Finnish knife). It was closely associated with criminals, who favored the knife for its good handling and lethality. The catch? Said popularity was born long before the Winter War, in the late 19th to early 20th century. After WWII, though, the effectiveness of the puukko was considered in the design of the new army bayonet. And criminals still loved it and considered it their trademark weapon – especially since "Finnish knives" were specifically named in the law about illegal edged weapons. To this day, if you can name a knife design that is universally known in Russia (such as Bowie knife is in US), it is the finka.
* LetsGetDangerous
* [[LittleHeroBigWar Little Country Big War]]
* TheLostWoods
* MachoMasochism: One Finnish General showed off how tough he was by [[CrazyAwesome walking around the battlefield with his shirt open in the middle of the winter.]]
* MolotovCocktail: While they were first used in the Spanish Civil War, the Finnish turned their use into an art. Since high-proof liquor was an excellent material for the Cocktails, a state brewery that produced 191-proof vodka became the main producer.
** Indeed, the Finns were the TropeNamer. Soviet Foreign Minister [[AssInAmbassador Vyacheslav Molotov]] dismissed other countries' condemnation of Soviet bombing of Finnish towns by [[BlatantLies saying that they were dropping food.]] With characteristic Scandinavian BlackHumor, the Finns came up with a drink to go with the food.
* MoreDakka: Russian artillery toward the war's end. Some Finns were found dead with no external signs of injury because their brains had been shaken to pieces from the inside ''by the noise''.
** [[http://patriatyrannus.deviantart.com/art/Oh-well-138316737 "Oh, well... at least it'll be difficult to miss...]]
** Finnish and Russian weapons generally do employ the same ammunition; often the Finnish soldiers would simply plunder any Soviet dead for their ammunition. Likewise, all captured ammunition was soon put into action against their former owners.
* MotherRussiaMakesYouStrong: Except they weren't so strong this time. [[GenreBlindness Killing all their officers]] did not make for effectiveness. [[InVinoVeritas But give them enough vodka]] and...
* MustHaveCaffeine: Coffee was even more of a "fuel" for the Finnish Army than it was for the US Navy.
** Coffee is colloquially called ''petroli'' ("kerosene") in the Finnish Army, implying it is the fuel on which the army runs.
** Also amphetamine, though that got less advertisement. Finland's drug policy stayed decades behind its neighbours due to addictions gained during the war.
** Amphetamine was called ''vauhti'' (literally "speed") and ''höökipulveri'' ("pep powder") in the Finnish Army. It was commonly used amongst the rangers and Jägers, who managed to stay awake without sleep for a week or so with it. That gave them an edge in the long range operations.
* NewMeat: In 1940 and 1944, the youngest of the conscripts were hardly eighteen.
* Neologism: ''Desantti'' for an infiltrator. Russian ''desantnik'' means a paratrooper. Russians paradropped spies and infiltrators to Finnish home front. Due to their poor training, they usually were caught very quickly.
* NoSwastikas: Averted. The emblem of the Finnish Air Force was a vertical blue swastika. This of course has politically UnfortunateImplications, but in fact has little to do with ThoseWackyNazis.
** Some military flags and emblems ''still have them''.
* PintsizedPowerhouse : At a national level, but averted at a man-to-man level. Finns tended to be taller then Russians since they were much better-fed before the war.[[note]]Finland c. 1900-1920 was a lot more prosperous than most of the USSR had been at the equivalent time. Childhood nutrition has a powerful effect on height, and nutrition is strongly correlated with economic prosperity. Thus the 18-40-year-old Finns who fought in the war were better-fed as children than their Soviet opposite numbers, with the correlating effect on height.[[/note]]
** Simo Häyhä was 5'3''/160, a small fellow you did not want to mess with.
*** During the war there was a (propagandist) saying that one Finn equals ten Russians.
* ScreamingWarrior: ''Hakkaa päälle!'' (Translation: "Cut them down!")
* TheScrounger: Finland had to dig up weapons wherever she could get them, many of them obsolete.
* ShellShockedVeteran: Drug abuse and mental disorders were commonplace during the post-war years, and Finland ignored many anti-narcotics treaties and imposing such laws because of this for decades.
* SnowMeansDeath
** Food for thought: The word "motti" is used a few times on this page. A cubic meter (a cube 3'4" on edge) of firewood was a '''common''' unit, even for small households.
* TakeThat: One Jewish major in the Finnish army was offered the Iron Cross for rescuing a number of German soldiers. He promptly refused.
** Story goes that Hitler demanded that one of the highest ranking German commanders in Finland (who also happened to be a nice guy) delivered the Cross himself (it was and still is one of Germany's highest honours after all). After landing on a frozen lake in the middle of nowhere and walking a couple of miles through deep snow in dress uniform he and his retinue arrived at a small tent. Inside was a group of bearded, ragged soldiers. When asked who their CO (the person about to receive the Iron Cross) was, one of them replied in perfect German, "That would be me." When complimented on his good German, he merely said, "That's because my native language is Yiddish." After a brief, awkward silence, the German officer said, "Personally I have nothing against your people. I salute your courage. Good night, gentlemen," and left.
** Another time some Finnish Jews deliberately had their synagogue service within earshot of the German camp just to remind ThoseWackyNazis that they couldn't do anything about it.
*** Many Finns volunteered in the Israel War of Freedom 1948. Both as to honour the Jews who served in Finnish wars, and also because Stalin supported the Arabs.
* TheseHandsHaveKilled: Some Finnish machine gunners actually killed so many Russians that they got sick with PTSD after a few hours and had to be replaced.
* ToThePain: Finns would photograph Russian corpses lying in the snow and drop them inside Russian encampments as a means of "moral discouragement".
* TrappedBehindEnemyLines: A ''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salients,_re-entrants_and_pockets#Motti motti]]'' (a Finnish lumberman's term for one cubic meter of firewood) was a pocket of Russians subjected to this fate.
** The image of the word ''motti'' seems to be of mundane and inglorious danger. Like splintery stuff left around after a chainsaw had done its work. Non-lumberjacks might think a better metaphor might be having to clean up broken glass with one's hands. Of course, the Finns preferred to let winter [[KillItWithIce do that job]] for them.
* UndyingLoyalty: One German officer told a story from the Continuation War when he was attached to a unit of Finns. The Russians abducted a wounded Finn and subjected him to ColdBloodedTorture to lure his comrades to come to his aid and walk into an ambush. The Finns instinctively grabbed their weapons and walked into the forest, knowing perfectly well what the Russians were up to. Another time, at the beginning of the Winter War, a party of Finnish soldiers went to the house of an old peasant woman and told her that the Russians were coming and had to be [[KillItWithIce deprived of shelter]]. She went into her hut, solemnly cleaned and swept it, and then lit the fire herself. She said, "This is my gift to Finland."
* UnfortunateImplications: After 1948, when Israel opened its borders to all Jews living abroad, quite a few Finnish Jews who wanted to move there were met with some skepticism. After all, they had technically been fighting on the same side as the Nazis.
* ZergRush: Common Soviet tactic especially early in the Winter War. This lead to mentioned TheseHandsHaveKilled to machine gun operators.

!! The Puolustusvoimat in fiction:

* In ''Manga/{{Jormungand}}'', Major Sofia Velmer aka Valmet had been with the Finnish Rapid Deployment Force stationed in Africa as part of a UN peacekeeping mission before her unit was wiped out in an attack led by Chen Guoming. Valmet is the SoleSurvivor, lost her right eye in the battle, and was saddled with a humiliating stain on her military service record. This makes her leave the Finnish Army and join [=HCLI=]. Living up to the Finnish Army's reputation, she is very much a KnifeNut who in a true CrowningMomentOfAwesome late in the series [[DualWielding dual wields]] a [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karambit karambit]] and Bowie knife, and also yells "hakkaa päälle", the famous Finnish battle cry ("cut them down!").