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Author, film researcher and member of the Swedish Military History Commission.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Winter War Photos and Guide

The new book WINTER WAR: Forgotten Images is more than a collection of unpublished images from the Soviet-Finnish Winter War of 1939-40.

WINTER WAR: Forgotten Images contains a bunch of images that henceforth will not be forgotten, such as the gruesome cover image from 1941 of the Taipale battlefield. But the book is more than unpublished photographs, bunker blueprints and magnificent paintings from the Winter War.

WWII historian and professional guide Bair Irincheev is the author of a recent Osprey guide about the Mannerheim Line. Being Russian but living in Finland since many years he has had great opportunities to get to know the main scenes of Winter War fighting and has taken many tourists and some TV-teams to the most interesting WWII sites in the region.

Now Irincheev is openly disclosing much of his most valuable finds in Russian and Finnish archives and on the blood-soaked Karelian isthmus itself. His new book, a 190 page hard cover in large format, is a truly unique collection of unpublished photographs - not only Soviet ones - maps and bunker blueprints. The paintings from the Winter War as well as the contemporary photos are in colour.

Above all the images speak of what the Karelian battlefield really looked like at the time - I have never seen any book doing it as well as this one - and what it looks like today, including from above (aircraft).

For the historian and history enthusiast WINTER WAR: Forgotten Images has one extra important and very modern feature: GPS coordinates of the featured bunkers. BTW there are some fascinating photos of stalactites and stalagmites that have formed in some of the bunkers.

The book is not just trilingual, it is in four languages, English, Russian, Finnish and Swedish. This was made possible by the type of book, the text consists mostly of captions. I find that the English is fine, the Russian perfect and many of the Swedish captions are lacking in quality. About the Finnish I can say nothing.

My main complaint would be that the Salla and Petsamo sectors of the Winter War are lacking, or have perhaps some of those very interesting images of Soviet ski troops been taken between Kandalaksha and Märkäjärvi?

Swedish volunteers are also not covered, sadly, but there is one large-size awesome Soviet colour painting in the book, showing a Swedish Bofors 37 mm gun in Finnish use against attacking Soviet troops.

Finally it is noteworthy that part of the money earned from the sales of the book will be donated to the construction of a Karelian Isthmus war museum - a subject that I hope Bair can comment on below. For instance I think all readers would like to know what the time frame is?

For information on ordering WINTER WAR: Forgotten Images, visit Bair´s website.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Lars,

    thank you for your post! Some comments:
    1. I could not spot any images from Sall and Märkäjärvi in Russian archives.
    2. We were doing the Swedish texts in great haste, and it turned out very hard to find a proper Finnish-Swedish translator in Finland!
    3. About the museum: the plan is to complete it by 2014, when it will be 70th anniversary of end of all wars between Finland and Russia.

    With best regards,