«It is not my spring
My spring will come with thunder.
With bounce cavalry, under the rustling of flags,
With hatred and love to distraction,
Of the wounded screaming and shouting camps...»
Yuriy Horlis-Horskyi

In the spring of 1939 the Moscow Bolshevik Josef Stalin made plans for the annexation of Finland. This was initiated peace talks on exchange of territories that during September and October 1939 were held in Moscow and had to force Finland to cede the Karelian Isthmus and Petsamo Area in favor of the USSR. However, the Finns took an uncompromising stance on disability to review the state borders, fearing that territorial concessions to Moscow violate the internal unity of the country. Moreover, these concessions have led to the disappearance from the map of Europe, Czechoslovakia and Poland. By November of 1939 the Soviet-Finnish peace negotiations on a new international border impasse, out of which there was only one – the war!

At night between 26 and 27 of November 1939 an armed unit of the NKVD secretly crossed the frontier and carried out the shelling of USSR border from Finland (accident well known as the Shelling of Mainila). This successful provocation was organized by the Soviet side to have a pretext for the denunciation of the treaty of non-aggression with Finland to further its annexation... Flywheel military aggression launched: in 30 of November 1939 troops of the Red Army were ordered to move into the attack on Finland. On the same day the President of Finland declared war against the USSR, which later historians of both countries will be called Winter War or Talvisota, which lasted 105 days heroic for Finnish people.

However, in our view, wrongly forgotten page of the Winter War was the participation of Ukrainian side in the Finnish Army led by former chieftain of Kholodnyi Yar, Lieutenant Colonel of the UNR Army, Yuriy Horlis-Horskyi. On the number and fate of Ukrainian volunteers in Finland remained very little information; much more is known about the Ukrainian military unit commander – Yuriy Horodianyn-Lisowski better known aka “Horlis-Horskyi”. After the occupation of Ukraine by the Bolsheviks in 1920th a former rebel chieftain of Kholodnyi Yar – Yuriy Horlis-Horskyi continued to struggle in the underground. In December 1939, after the start of the next Russo-Finnish War Yuriy Horlis-Horskyi goes to Helsinki, which forms a military detachment of Ukrainians, not only of those who was captured at the start of the Winter War, but also the members of the OUN, committed to become volunteers in the fight against Bolshevism and the USSR.

In December 1939 the 44th Kyivska of the Red Banner Rifle Division of Nikolai Shchors in full was transferred by rail from Ukrainian Polissia (Zhytomyr Region) to Eastern Karelia. Hence Ukrainian soldiers were to attack towards the Finnish town of Suomussalmi together with detachments of the 163th Infantry Division from Russian Tula. The military command of the Red Army gave the order to go on the offensive in the New Year's Eve, which was one of the frozen for all the Winter War (to -45/-50°C!). Participants of the events that survived and were captured by the Finnish Army and later became a volunteer in the squad Yuriy Horlis-Horskyi, recalled: “A terrible darkness Karelian forests where winter is transformed into a very solid without mist morning and evening deprived of many Ukrainians in Red Army were crazy! But the beauty of the Northern Lights perceived by us as ominous ghostly lights... The situation reinforced the complete unpreparedness of our divisions to conduct combat operations in the harsh Finnish winter”. As you know, to December 1939 the permanent place of deployment of the 44th Rifle Division was Zhytomyr Region of Soviet Ukraine, and in Karelia it was transferred without warm winter clothing. Given the assumption of command of the Soviet 9th Army in Karelia serious failures in the management of this renowned, thus the 44th Rifle Division numbering of 17 thousand soldiers was surrounded by Finns and lost in the battle of Suomussalmi between 1 and 7 of January 1940. Along the way as known Raatteen tie of the 44th Rifle Division lost 70% of personnel, 1,200 soldiers and commanders found themselves in captivity, a large number of soldiers suffered frostbite. Overall troops of the Red Army in Suomussalmi lost up to 23 thousand soldiers, whereas the Finnish Army in the area lost only 800 men.

That's what corresponded of Kremlin leaders and military elite of the Red Army after the tragic events in Suomussalmi [quoted in the original language!]:

1) Excerpt from the telegram on 5 of January 1940 to the commander of the Soviet 9th Army: «IMMEDIATELY on the direct line! The matter worsens in Suomussalmi. Order you to take all necessary measures without delay and immediately throw all the forces of the 44th Rifle Division, in order to prevent the enemy to surround and capture 2 regiments of the 163rd Infantry Division. Quit all aircraft... The direct management and responsibility for the conduct of combat action to assist personally assigned to you. Be careful with the staff! There is information on the recruitment of Ukrainians in Red Army by the Finns spies! Be warned that a possible catastrophe for the capture Suomussalmi will meet you in person. Immediately inform about your actions and orders!


2) Excerpt from the telegram on 13 of January 1940 to the Chief of General Staff: «…Something, that happened in Suomussalmi showed the inability of the commanders of the operational response, individual military units, primarily of the 44th Rifle Division, make a counter-offensive. Lack of preparation of personnel for the Finnish winter played a dirty trick with us... Information on the recruitment of the Red Army that the natives with the Zhytomyr, Kyiv and Novograd-Volynskyi confirmed! Espionage, propaganda and recruited to carry out from the Finnish side did the Ukrainian bourgeois nationalist as well known our agents in Europe as Yuriy Horlis-Horskyi. Our intelligence reports that the Red Army prisoners from Ukraine allowed to form his regiment. Cowardice and shamefully treacherous behavior of the command of the 44th Rifle Division in the face of division commander, brigade commander Vinogradov, head of the political division of the regimental Commissioner Pakhomenko and divisional chief of staff Colonel Volkov that instead of showing the commander's will and energy in the guide parts and tenacity in defense, rather than take measures to the conclusion parts, weapons and materiel, meanly threw division at the critical period of the first fight and went to the rear, to save his own skin. I recommend apply to the cowards and traitors to the Soviet Motherland capital punishment! Someone has to make up for our losses... 


It is worth noting that the commander of one of the few weak and technically equipped Finnish divisions General Hjalmar Siilasvuo, his fighters defeated the Soviet division near Suomussalmi was incredibly impressed by the resistance soldiers taken prisoner from Soviet Ukraine. Unlike the Russians, who were ideologically imbued with Bolshevism and imperial chauvinism captured Ukrainian soldiers contrary were free in their thoughts and as “a great success” the news of voluntary entry into squads by Yuriy Horlis-Horskyi. But modern Ukrainian researcher Anton Makarenko in his article underlines the fact that until now preserved evidence of several soldiers of the 44th Rifle Division, in which they express their lack of understanding of the purposes of the war against Finland reluctance to fight for the Bolshevik power and the futility of such heavy casualties among the Red Army. The heroic resistances of the Finns, the reluctance to become another “Republic of Soviet Union” as, according to many Ukrainian prisoners were due to the fact that the Finnish people knew what led mass collectivization in the USSR and Ukraine in particular.

So, that the Ukrainian unit of Yuriy Horlis-Horskyi was created at the end of January 1940, its population reached nearly Regiment (variously estimated staffing consisted of 450 fighters in January to 850 in March 1940, but in any case it is obvious that the number of Ukrainian division soared in just the last 2 months of the Winter War). It is known that Ukrainian were dressed in Finnish uniform and different from other groups Ukrainian hat “mazepynka” to which was attached a metal sign Trident and some Ukrainian soldiers have round icons diagonally divided into blue and yellow stripes. Blue and yellow army insignia not used as such had volunteers from Sweden, who formed their own regiment. Ukrainian soldiers got into Finns captured almost immediately admitted that they are Russians, namely Ukrainian. Passing an original squad selection of regiment by Yuriy Horlis-Horskyi, Ukrainian prisoners volunteers talked about the terrible state of affairs not only in the Soviet Ukraine, but also in the ranks of the Red Army.

This almost nobody knew until now, but today the information is not available too, that effective Ukrainian regiment led by Yuriy Horlis-Horskyi was involved on the Karelian Isthmus, near Lake Vuoksajärvi between villages Kiviniemi and Riitasaari, in early March 1940. The fighters of Ukrainian Regiment by Yuriy Horlis-Horskyi destroyed the Bolshevik invaders methods of Zaporizhzhia Cossacks and rebels of Kholodnyi Yar – with pre-prepared ambush fighters carried out the attack “lava”, the main objective was fighting his exhaustion and demoralization of the enemy, so to this end, the camp was created reserves that the decisive moment had cause sudden stroke. Bulk girth enemy from the flanks, output it to the rear despite the difference of Ukrainian Karelian landscape, creating a pool and ambushes, surprise strike and skillful use of terrain and swampy woodland Finnish Karelia were the characteristics of the art of war Ukrainian volunteers.

Information about the Ukrainian Regiment in Finnish Army to the military command of the Red Army and the party leadership of the Bolshevik Party of USSR reported recruited agents among Finnish Communists. Kremlin propaganda knowing about the mass surrender in captivity Ukrainian Finnish Red decided to end the war, because large-scale flight of soldiers with weapons the enemy could play a bad joke with discipline in all other combat-ready units Red Army. It is known that Ukrainian soldiers from the 44th Rifle Division fought against the Finns without all kinds of enthusiasm, but Finnish cards and ideological propaganda squad of Yuriy Horlis-Horskyi did their job – the rest of the bayonet turned toward the hated Kremlin. Yuriy Horlis-Horskyi as a skilled conductor and instructor of the Ukrainian prisoners from Red Army unprincipled few weeks ideological and military training regiment made a real battle-worthy, equivalent to Swedish detachments of volunteers, fighters who now had an idea – to overthrow Bolshevism!

As known, the process of legalization of Ukrainian prisoners from Red Army and volunteers from the regiment by Yuriy Horlis-Horskyi as colonel of the UNR Army in the ranks of the Finnish Army promoted close cooperation with local nationalists. To establish contacts with the Finnish government and the Finnish Army Staff helped Yuriy Horlis-Horskyi the 1st Ambassador of Finland in Kyiv – Herman Gummerus. In aid colonel of the UNR Army and became a member of the OUN Bohdan Kentrschynskyi, which in March 1940 organized the Aid Committee for the Soviet Ukrainian prisoner, whose members were expected to be the backbone of the regiment Yuriy Horlis-Horskyi and later became the basis of the Ukrainian Diaspora in Helsinki and Stockholm. Travel to the country of thousands lakes – Suomi – Yuriy Horlis-Horskyi recorded a two great articles “Finland” and “Travel zigzags”, which extolled the greatness of the Finnish nation rose up in defense of their identity, being and state independence.

Desperate attempt chieftain of Kholodnyi Yar and Lieutenant Colonel of the UNR Army Yuriy Horlis-Horskyi create owner Ukrainian troops consisting of the Finnish Army yielded extremely useful fruits... It was an unique situation arose – Ukrainian found themselves on both sides of the front in Finnish Army by Mannerheim and Red Army by Stalin. And it was dangerous that Ukrainian become the catalyst for the fall of morale in the ranks of the Red Army. Productive activity Ukrainian regiment led by Yuriy Horlis-Horskyi became a threat to further military escalation Kremlin on the eve of a true grinder of World War II in Europe. Cooperation Yuriy Horlis-Horskyi with Finnish nationalists proved to the officials in Helsinki that despite the Soviet occupation morale Ukrainian nation is indestructible.

Winter War or Talvisota was ended 12 of March 1940 signing of the peace agreement in Moscow, despite the tactical victory of the USSR, Finland won strategically, though was forced to cede their own territories. There was also an area that the Russians captured during the war, which remained in Finnish hands according to the Peace Treaty: Petsamo. However, the peace treaty also stipulated that Finland would grant free passage for Soviet civilians through Petsamo to Norway. Finland also had to cede a part of the Salla area, the Finnish part of the Kalastajansaarento (Rybachi peninsula) in the Barents Sea, and in the Gulf of Finland the islands of Suursaari, Tytärsaari, Lavansaari, Peninsaari and Seiskari. Finally, the Hanko Peninsula was leased to the Soviet Union as a naval base for 30 years at an annual rent of 8 million marks. Contrary to common belief, the Soviet troop transfer rights by railway to the Hanko base were not granted in the peace treaty, but they were demanded first on 9 July, after Sweden had acknowledged railway transit of Wehrmacht troops to occupied Norway.

From the above factual circumstances, there is every reason to believe that it is the Ukrainian risk factor led to the complete demoralization of Soviet troops in Finland. The situation in which some Ukrainian essentially dedicated avoided active war against the Finnish Army, and the other on the opposite front gave them the example and the opportunity to fight on the side of justice, the next moment could turn into total catastrophe of the Stalinist regime. Through awareness Bolshevik Red Army looming threat of complete demoralization and stop Stalin led war in Finland! After all, he did not care to numerous casualties, he could put many lives as would be needed for the occupation of the entire country, but Stalin was afraid to risk the moral and fighting spirit of his troops before planned for next year a great European campaign. And that Ukrainian soldiers on both sides of the Finnish front created these risks Muscovy, and thus protected may not only Finland and other Scandinavian countries, and thereby prevent the domination of the Soviet empire around the Baltic Sea and Scandinavia!

The contribution of Ukrainian Regiment led by Yuriy Horlis-Horskyi in the Winter War overemphasized, because long silence the Kremlin propaganda and deliberate neglect have made the business – the Ukrainian volunteers on long forgotten for half a century. However, the Soviet era was over, there are independent Ukraine as well as the independent Finland, but Moscow Colossus with feet of clay yet collapsed, as evidenced by today's and Putin's agony. Stalin campaigning and party propaganda did not mention Ukrainian volunteers in the Finnish Army, because Soviet officials did not want publicity and feared that “slaves khokly” will not only raise new national revolts and uprisings, how to surrender enemies Moscow and return hostility toward Bolsheviks. Similarly, historians on both sides of the border do not dare to tell the truth about the participation of Ukrainian Helsinki on the side, not only in Moscow, it is understandable in view of the current geopolitical situation in Europe. But Ukrainians remember the heroic work of their ancestors Europe soon learns and remembers his desperate Ukrainian rescuers!

Glory of the Hero of Ukraine and Finland, Yuriy Horlis-Horskyi!

Thanks to Ukrainian Regiment in Finnish Army!

P.S. In summer 2010 the descendants of Ukrainian prisoners-volunteer from regiment led by Yuriy Horlis-Horskyi, made initiative by grandson of killed Ukrainian fighter in the Winter War, the inhabitants of the city of Korostyshiv in Zhytomyr Region, head of the charity organization “Pamiat” Leonid Kostyuk, with the assistance of the Embassy of Ukraine to the Republic of Finland, on the site where Ukrainian soldiers died in January 1940 near Suomussalmi under a monument in memory of their heroic life. Today representatives of the Ukrainian Diaspora in Finland annually visit this place with flowers and the singing of the national anthem honor fallen Ukrainian unforgotten heroes.

by Denis KOVALIOV & Yuriy YAKUBA