Sotamuseon - Helsinki - Finland

Address: Maurinkatu 1, Helsinki (See map)
Telephone: +358 (0)9 18126387

Shop: small shop present
Restaurant/refreshments: not available
Size of the museum/site: small
Year of visit: 2007
Overall rating:

Description: Sitting there quietly at the northern edge of Europe, covered in snow with only a handful of people per square kilometre, you'll probably think Finland has seen as much military action as Disney World. But you're wrong there! Squeezed in between two land-hungry neighbours, it constantly had to fight to stay alive.

It resisted the invading Soviet forces single-handedly during the Winter-war of 1939-1940, when the whole world was amazed the Finns managed to hold their own against a force which outnumbered them 4 to 1 in men, 200 to 1 in tanks and 30 to 1 in aircraft. Later on Finland teamed up with Nazi Germany invading the Soviet-Union, which wasn't a 'really cool thing to do', but the ever threatening Russian oppression wasn't such a tempting alternative either... Eventually, when Stalin's armies backed the Germans off, the Finns had to sign a peace-treaty with the Russians and had to kick German forces out of its northern territories in Lapland.

The Military museum of Finland tries to tell the story of these and other military operations, but fails to really grip the visitor's attention and imagination (the Panssarimuseo in Parola does a better job). The museum is housed in the former barracks of the 1st Uusimaa Finnish Rifle Battalion, built in 1883. It features a few larger guns and vehicles in the courtyard and various smaller arms, documents, photos and uniforms inside.

The impressive entrance to the museum.

German built Sturmgeschütz used by the Finnish army during WWII. (Yeah, we know: some cunt parked his motorbike right in front of it, but we could'nt shift it without setting off the alarm...)

Genial commander Mannerheim, who led the Fins during their fight against Soviet invasion.

Various rifles.

Finnish 1940's mounted trooper.

Map of the Mannerheim-line, designed to halt the marauding Russians.

Soviet soldier in battle-dress ready to capture Viipuri.

German forces accompanied by some of their most famous weapons: the panzerfaust and panzerschreck.