Friday, 4 December 2009

War notes

Monday is the 70th anniversary of the Winter War between Finland and the Soviet Union, and Helsingin Sanomat is running a number of features connected with the event. In the English-language section, Anna-Stina Nykänen wonders, along with other Finns,  "if Finnish men of today could handle the conditions of the Winter War today."

There is much talk nowadays about conscripts who do not finish their term of service. Nevertheless, more than 80 per cent of those who are called up for duty complete their military service before turning 30. This is more than in the 1930s, when less than 70 per cent did so. At that time many had tuberculosis, Marjor Mälkki says.

But what is worse, malnutrition, or obesity. Before the Winter War many of the men came from such poor conditions that they were actually malnourished.

Many of today’s soldiers suffer from allergies, and there are rumours of barracks with fungus growing in the structures. However, in the 1920s and 1930s, doctors were very critical of the barracks dating back to Tsarist times, where clothes did not dry, and latrines stank.

Today’s conscripts are healthier than before, and their teeth are also.
Meanwhile, with Independence Day coming up on Sunday, members of the newspaper's HS Council respond to the question of the week: Are Finland's War Years Given Too Much Emphasis in the Independence Celebrations? The answers of the Ayes, the Nos and the Don't Knows make interesting reading, as they show how Finnish public opinion divides on the issue.

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