Department/School of the Primary Author

History and Government


Winter War, Russo-Finnish War, World War II, Russian Revolution, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Treaty of Dorpat, Nazi-Soviet Pact, Operation Barbarossa




The Russo-Finnish War of 1939-1940, also known as the Winter War, forms a curious portion of World War II history that bears further study. Occurring during the “Phony War”—the period of calm following Hitler’s invasion of Poland—the Winter War offers a glimpse into the attitudes of the major powers as the growing necessity of the coming war becomes increasingly clear during 1939 and 1940. Specifically, the Winter War provides insight into Soviet imperialism and its concerns over German aggression, and forms a crucial portion of the German decision to invade Russia in the summer of 1941. Without consideration of the Winter War and the conclusions drawn from it by the major world powers, it is difficult to form a satisfactory explanation of each power’s behavior in the Second World War. Therefore, though it was a relatively brief conflict, the Winter War is crucial to a proper understanding of the events of World War II as a whole.

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© 2018 Ethan D. Beck. All rights reserved



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