Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Charity: Finnish Iron Rings

Der Spiegel writes A Finnish charity is selling silver rings emblazoned with a swastika to raise money for World War II veterans. Surprisingly good article considering Germany's fear towards that symbol, due to some mistakes in the past. They had most facts correct. Only thing I'd correct is a non-historical fact about R-Kioski. They claim it is a supermarket, but as the name R-Kioski hints, it is a chain of kiosks. (Kiosk: A kiosk is a small stand where vendors sell anything from hot-dogs to souvenirs.)

The historical facts were correct. Finnish Air Force took the symbol in 1918, and it is still used by at least couple of Air bases in Finland, the largest being the base in Lapland (Lapin Lennosto). It actually is also in our flag of the President of the Republic of Finland, which I made in SVG format for our independence day. Old symbol, for good luck. Before I forget I have to thank Der Spiegel for not getting hysterical over the symbol just because in your country it carries bad karma. (Of course, if Finland would use this symbol in any new purpose, it would most likely be misunderstood, as I do in some cases. But it's mainly an issue to us westerners.)

Sotiemme Veteraanit (Veterans of Our Wars) has created a site for the Iron Ring (The name of the ring is Iron Ring.) that was given prior to the WWII to all those Finnish people who contributed to the war effort by giving their gold items to charity. Gold items could be exchanged to the Iron Ring. As a pacifist I do not really like war in general, but the sacrifices the Finnish veterans had to do was something that can be described as altruistic devotion to the Fatherland. Of course there's a flipside to this. The enemy was shipped to the battlefield from far away (be the enemy a Russian or a German soldier), but for the Finnish veterans, they were fighting on their backyards. They knew if they let anyone pass, their families and their houses would be just behind them. Gives a different motivation.

Nevertheless, they fought with great passion. Motti or Pocket was one of the most effective tactics. Only a handful of soldiers could capture entire Regiments with cunning tactics in Finnish winter landscape. Surround the Regiment, cut the service line and wait. When anyone pops their head out, shoot, relocate. With only a handful of soldiers you can fake a huge army that way. Just stay hidden. When there's a shot fired from somewhere in the woods, you can't see where the shot came from or how many shots were fired. And when it's -40 decrees of Celsius, it's better to stay in the camp. Unlike Russian soldiers in the surrounded camp, the Finnish soldiers didn't have any camp themselves. They were sitting in the snow, without any possibility to even a fire, for it would've given away the position.

One of the most victorious battles was the Battle Of Raate Road, where Finland used 6000 men to kill approximately 17 500 Russian soldiers, and capturing 1300 of 25 000 total, suffering the loss of only 250 men. Finland also captured tanks, guns, anti-tank guns, machine guns, horses, armored cars etc. Russians were planning to march through Finland, cutting it in two and have a victory party. Finnish soldiers destroyed the front tanks, the last tanks and started to cut down the enemy into smaller pieces little by little. Russians were on the road, Finnish in the surrounding forest. Again, the same tactic. Hide, shoot, relocate. Effective, as you don't see the enemy, but the enemy sees you - and when they finally give away their location, they are already on the move.

This kind of effort, considering the conditions, is one of the reasons why I would like to support the veterans by getting one of those rings. As I am living abroad, it may be difficult, but I need to see if I can still manage to get one for myself. If you live in Finland or plan to visit there, please remember to pick up one of these rings.


FlyingRhino said...

So kids, what can we learn from this story? Don't get into a war against the Finns if you don't have very warm underwear in your gear at least. ;)

Too bad that ring website is only in Finnish, and as far as I understand Finnish (not much, I can count from 1 till 10 in Finnish and I know the Finnish word for potato chips), these rings cost 60 euros each. That's a bit too expensive for someone like me that never wears rings at all anyway.

Ribka said...

I am currently trying to buy a Finnish Ring put out in 2007 but so far no luck can someone help me. email vostok@xtra.co.nz
Ian Robertson
New Zealand

Sami Rautiainen said...

Ribka: At least the capaign is over. On the Iron Ring webpage they say:

Kiitos mielenkiinnostasi!
Rautasormus-kampanja on päättynyt.

Which means: Thank you for your interest! Iron Ring-capaign has ended.

I guess it's from a 3rd party then. eBay or something.