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The Winter War and Hungary

Periodical exhibition entitled ’Hungarian Volunteers in the 1939-1940 Finnish-Soviet Winter War in the Finnish Military History Museum (Suomen sotamuseo, Helsinki, Liisankatau 1) 03.13-12.31 2015.

Photos, diaries, mementoes, interviews, documentaries, documents of archives.  
During the 1939-1940 Finnish-Soviet Winter War called ’the war between David and Goliath’ the whole world followed events with sympathy for Finland but very few countries sent help on the scale Hungary did: a voluntary battalion, military equipment and humanitarian aid to the Finnish Red Cross. The image of the Finns in Hungary underwent a big change as a result of the winter  war, from then on the northern ’brother nation’ producing such an admirable military performance was mentioned as an example to be followed.

Some 350 Hungarian volunteers arrived in Finland as the first unit of the battalion to fight in defence of the related nation attacked. Although the Finnish high command didn’t put them into action, the excellently trained unit formed by  selected  soldiers  was highly appreciated. The exhibition  lays great emphasis on demonstrating souvenirs and stories of individuals belonging either to the Hungarians, who left their homeland in order to defend a remote unknown country or to the Finnish, who still remember with gratitude the fine Hungarian young men and their help. The visitors of the exhibition can learn why the Teleki-government thought it useful to help Finland, who these volunteers were and what their motives were, how they were able to get to Finland through war-stricken Europe, what experiences they gained in the remote northern country, what memories they preserved half a century later and how they are remembered by the inhabitants of Lapua, who hosted the international training camp.

At the exhibition the visitor can get acquianted with Osmo A. Wilkuna’s interviews and documentaries made after the end of communism in Hungary, Vilisics Ferenc and Niina Ala-fossi’s ’everyday stories’ collected in Lapua and photos of places and witnesses of events in the city. The political and social background in which the voluntary battalion’s mission occured was revealed by historian Gábor Richly based on contemporary Finnish and Hungarian documents of archives, a number of them  presented here.  

The periodical exhibition was arranged in order to mark the 75th anniversory of the end of the winter war and is a result of a cooperation between the Finnish Military History Museum and the Hungarian Cultural and Scientific Centre. The curators are Riitta Blomgren, Lauri Haavisto and Gábor Richly.

Supporters are the National Cultural Fund, the Pyhalahti Photo Museum, the picture archive of the Finnish army (SA-kuva), the National Széchenyi Library, the Etnography Museum, the Hungarian National Archive and the Military History Institute and Museum of Budapest. Grateful acknowledgement is made to Gabriella Frank and Juha Tynkkynent.

Opening hours of the Finnish Military History Museum: Tuesday-Thursday 11-17 hours, Friday-Sunday 11-16 hours.

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