Book Review: Finland in World War II: History, Memory, Interpretations


by Tiina Kinnunen & Ville Kivimäki, editors

Leiden & Boston: Brill, 2012. Pp. xx, 576. Illus., maps, tables, notes, biblio., index. $243.00. ISBN: 9004208941

An excellent look at a small democracy caught between competing dictatorships.

This collection of over a dozen essays, all never before seen in print, opens with an overview of the historiography of the Finnish experience in World War II, during which the tiny republics twice fought the Soviet Union (1939-1940, 1941-1944) and then fought Germany (1944-1945).  Essays are grouped into four broad categories, “Politics and the Military,” “Social Frameworks, Cultural Meanings,” “Ideologies in Practice,” and “Wars of Memory.”  While only one essay is directly devoted to operational matters, the others explore the problems of a small country during a superpower conflict.  These include the problem of coalition warfare in an unbalanced relationship, societal mobilization, and domestic politics in a democratic nation under siege.  Other essays deal with civilians under Soviet occupation, prisoners-of-war, memorialization and the lack of it, and the long term political, diplomatic, cultural, and social impacts of the war. 

A volume in the Brill series “History of Warfare,” Finland in World War II will prove useful reading for anyone interested in the fate of small nations in great wars, democratic institutions in wartime, or the Eastern Front in World War II.


Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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