Throughout World War II, countless countries fought against one another. While the majority of the battles pitted the Allied Forces against the Axis Powers, other nations entered conflicts with these two predominant forces too. It was truly a conflict that consumed the entire world – yet today, more than half a century after the fighting ceased and peace treaties were signed, we often forget that unaligned countries were yanked into the war.
While you might think that the Scandinavian countries such as quiet Sweden, and unassuming Finland remained well out of the way of any wartime battles, this wasn’t the case. Finland, in particular, joined WWII as a force to be reckoned with, and the northern nation proved it wouldn’t stand for invasions on its territory.
Eventually, Finland joined the fight against Nazi Germany with a declaration of war against its former ally. That’s right: even unassuming Finland fought a war against Germany, even though it never aligned with the Allied Forces.
Finland Formed an Ally Before WWII Began
Before the outbreak and total international involvement that occurred during WWII, a significant struggle was happening in Finland. In the late 1930s, the world watched as Adolf Hitler and his Army stormed into Poland. Rumblings and fears regarding this sudden takeover began spreading, and they were perhaps the loudest in the USSR as Josef Stalin began to worry about the German intentions for Leningrad.
Concerned that Hitler would target Leningrad in the coming weeks and months, Stalin wanted to protect his city – so he decided to fight back by building up his territories and armed forces. The Soviet leader began demanding that Finland, the USSR’s western neighbor, allow his military to control certain portions of its land.
Finland didn’t want to get involved in a potential war – and the nation certainly didn’t want to experience a military occupation similar to Poland’s. So, the country refused Stalin’s demands and pushed back, announcing its intent to keep its land for Finland alone. Stalin and the USSR didn’t like that response.
On November 30, 1939, the Red Army enacted its ability to invade any nation in its “sphere of influence” as detailed in the non-aggression agreement signed by Germany, Russia, and other nations (including Finland). The USSR military stormed into Finland, taking control of those highly desired lands.
Yet the Red Army found itself stunned when Finland responded with a strong defensive attack, sending the Soviets back with trained resistance. Unfortunately, the Finnish resistance lost power quickly, and the country found itself involved in an unexpected war. Fortunately for Finland, Germany was growing increasingly angry with the USSR.
The Nazi-controlled nation formed an alliance with Finland, offering aid in the form of money and military power. German troops entered Finland and fought alongside its soldiers, helping to push the Red Army back. As Finland succeeded, so too did its alliance with Germany strengthen.