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In November 1939, the Soviet Union invaded Finland, its smaller neighbor. Given the might of the Soviet military, they expected to make quick work of taking over the country, or at the very least securing certain areas under the pretext of security reasons. Sounds familiar! However, the Finnish fought valiantly for their country (again, a familiar story). Finland repelled the Soviets and retained most of its territory when the Moscow Peace Treaty was signed in 1940, though over 400,000 Finns were forced to move. In 2017, the National Memorial of the Winter War was unveiled in Helsinki‘s Kasarmitori Square, commemorating those who fought & gave their lives for Finland.

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The National Memorial to the Winter War is located in Kasarmitori near the waterfront in central Helsinki, not far from the Vanha Kauppahalli food hall and the ferries to Suomenlinna. The Ministry of Defence of Finland is located across the street.

The monument is also near several hop-on, hop-off bus routes. Since the Winter War National Memorial is in a public square, it’s accessible 24/7. With the way it’s lit up at night, it’s worth checking out multiple times.

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Finnish artist Pekka Kauhanen created the stainless steel sculpture, which is officially called “He Who Brings the Light.” Peer into the holes of the metallic base, and you can see 105 photos taken during the Winter War. It’s an ingenious way of incorporating more historic background into the artwork. The holes in the sculpture symbolize how Finland still stood despite the invasion. You can see all of the Winter War Memorial images here.

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The National Memorial of the Winter War is a beautiful remembrance of those who fought for Finland against the Soviet Union. For more nearby history, visit the Helsinki City Museum and the Bank of Finland Museum.

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