A little over two years ago, an amazing pictorial resource was opened to historians of both the academic and armchair varieties: the Finnish Wartime Photograph Archive. Contained within the site are more than 160,000 scanned photographs from 1939 to 1945, offering a fascinating glimpse (from a Finnish perspective) into one of the most destructive periods of human history.

The Finns took part in no less than three separate conflicts during the Second World War. First, they fought the Soviets from 1939 to 1940 in the Winter War. Following that, the Finns fought alongside the Germans during Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union. Finally, after concluding a separate peace with the Allies in 1944, the Finnish Army chased retreating German forces out of northern Finland in what is known as the Lapland War.

As an armchair World War Two historian and a collector of Finnish military surplus guns, I jumped at the chance to browse the archive. It contains many previously unreleased photos, a great number of which show rare and almost-forgotten firearms in action. Shown below are just a few of the stunning pictures available on the site. I’ve included details about when each of the photos was taken, if it was provided, along with some of my own commentary and information from the archive’s caption. Most have been resized to allow the page to load faster.

If you’re interested in World War Two history, do yourself a favor and browse the archive.

A Finnish crewman sits atop the cannon of a German-made StuG III assault gun. The blue Finnish swastika was not related to the ideology of Nazi Germany. It was discarded in 1944, however. Date taken: June 23, 1944.
A Finnish crewman sits atop the cannon of a German-made StuG III assault gun. The blue Finnish swastika was not related to the ideology of Nazi Germany. It was discarded in 1944, however. Date taken: June 23, 1944.
A Finnish marksman with a Mosin-Nagant rifle. Date taken: August 4, 1941.
A Finnish marksman with a Mosin-Nagant rifle. Date taken: August 4, 1941.
A Finnish airman inside the dorsal turret of a Bristol Blenheim bomber. Date taken: July 31, 1941.
A Finnish airman inside the dorsal turret of a Bristol Blenheim bomber. Date taken: July 31, 1941.
A Finnish soldier with a KP-31 submachine gun. Date taken: July 30, 1941.
A Finnish soldier with a KP-31 submachine gun. Date taken: July 30, 1941.
Finnish soldiers resting before an attack. An older Mosin-Nagant rifle (indicated by its curved rear sight leaf) is leaned against the earth on the left. Date taken: July 30, 1941.
Finnish soldiers resting before an attack. An older Mosin-Nagant rifle (indicated by its curved rear sight leaf) is leaned against the earth on the left. Date taken: July 30, 1941.
A Finnish patrol leader's kit, including a KP-31 submachine gun, grenades, and a Luger pistol. Date taken: August 2, 1941.
A Finnish patrol leader’s kit, including a KP-31 submachine gun, grenades, and a Luger pistol. Date taken: August 2, 1941.
Two Finnish soldiers with a Maxim machine gun. Date taken: August 2, 1941.
Two Finnish soldiers with a Maxim machine gun. Date taken: August 2, 1941.
A Finnish soldier aims a captured Soviet-made SVT-38 rifle.
A Finnish soldier aims a captured Soviet-made SVT-38 rifle.
A Finnish soldier with a KP-31 submachine gun with a box magazine.
A Finnish soldier with a KP-31 submachine gun with a box magazine. The Finns’ use of the KP-31 “inspired” the Soviet Union to revive its submachine gun development, resulting in the iconic PPSh-41.
A Finnish soldier aims a German-made Panzerschreck anti-tank rocket launcher. Date taken: July 13, 1944.
A Finnish soldier aims a German-made Panzerschreck anti-tank rocket launcher. Date taken: July 13, 1944.
A Finnish soldier aims a German MP-40 submachine gun. Date taken: July 13, 1944.
A Finnish soldier aims a German MP-40 submachine gun. Date taken: July 13, 1944.
A soldier with a Finnish-modified Mosin-Nagant rifle during the Battle of Vuosalmi. Date taken: July 13, 1944.
A soldier with a Finnish-modified Mosin-Nagant rifle during the Battle of Vuosalmi. Date taken: July 13, 1944.
Finnish soldiers in position. The man in the background appears to have a later model Soviet M91/30 Mosin-Nagant rifle. Date taken: July 7, 1944.
Finnish soldiers in position. The man in the background appears to have a later model Soviet M91/30 Mosin-Nagant rifle. Date taken: July 7, 1944.
A tank crew with its "mascot." Date taken: July 2, 1944.
A tank crew with its “mascot.” Date taken: July 2, 1944.
A Finnish soldier with a Panzerfaust disposable rocket launcher. Date taken: June 30, 1944.
A Finnish soldier with a Panzerfaust disposable rocket launcher. Date taken: June 30, 1944.
Finnish soldiers with Panzerfausts during the battle of Tali-Ihantala. Date taken: June 30, 1944.
Finnish soldiers with Panzerfausts during the battle of Tali-Ihantala. Date taken: June 30, 1944.
Finnish soldiers near Taipale. The two men in the foreground appear to have older Mosin-Nagant rifles, judging by their front sight blades. Date taken: June 22, 1944.
Finnish soldiers near Taipale. The two men in the foreground appear to have older Mosin-Nagant rifles, judging by their front sight blades. Date taken: June 22, 1944.
A Finnish soldier with a Lahti-Saloranta M/26 light machine gun. Date taken: June 21, 1944.
A Finnish soldier with a Lahti-Saloranta M/26 light machine gun. Date taken: June 21, 1944.
A Finnish soldier looks out from a fortified position. Date taken: June 21, 1944.
A Finnish soldier looks out from a fortified position. Date taken: June 21, 1944.
A Finnish soldier with a light machine gun. Date taken: June 28, 1944.
A Finnish soldier with a light machine gun. Date taken: June 28, 1944.
Sergeant V. Kärkkäinen with a KP-31 submachine gun and a Panzerfaust. Date taken: June 28, 1944.
Sergeant V. Kärkkäinen with a KP-31 submachine gun and a Panzerfaust. Date taken: June 28, 1944.
Finnish soldiers taking a break during a march. An M/26 can be seen on the left, while an M/39 Mosin-Nagant lays upside down nearby. Date taken: Jun 25, 1944.
Finnish soldiers taking a break during a march. An M/26 can be seen on the left, while an M/39 Mosin-Nagant lays upside down nearby. Date taken: June 25, 1944.
Finnish officers with what appear to be Lahti L-35 pistols. Date taken: July 8, 1942.
Finnish officers with what appear to be Lahti L-35 pistols. Date taken: July 8, 1942.
Finnish soldiers with canine companions. Both soldiers appear to be equipped with Finnish-modified Mosin-Nagant rifles. Date Taken: July 8, 1942.
Finnish soldiers with canine companions. Both soldiers appear to be equipped with Finnish-modified Mosin-Nagant rifles. Date Taken: July 8, 1942.
A Finnish soldier in winter kit with a KP-31 submachine gun. Date taken: December 7, 1941.
A Finnish soldier in winter kit with a KP-31 submachine gun. Date taken: December 7, 1941.
A Finnish soldier with a Browning Automatic Rifle variant. Date taken: August 7, 1941.
A Finnish soldier with a Browning Automatic Rifle variant. Date taken: August 7, 1941.
A Finnish soldier walks past a burning Soviet tank. The tank appears to be a BT-7. Date taken: August 5, 1941.
A Finnish soldier walks past a burning Soviet tank. The tank appears to be a BT-7. Date taken: August 5, 1941.
A Finnish soldier with a Carcano rifle. Date taken: August 1, 1941.
A Finnish soldier with a Carcano rifle. Date taken: August 1, 1941.
A Finnish soldier aiming an M/26 machine gun. Date taken: August 4, 1941.
A Finnish soldier aiming an M/26 machine gun. Date taken: August 4, 1941.
A KP-31 at rest on a motorcycle.
A KP-31 at rest on a motorcycle.

All images courtesy of the Finnish Wartime Photograph Archive

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One thought on “31 Unique World War Two Pictures from the Finnish Wartime Photograph Archive

  1. Great stuff. The Finns fought the Soviets to a standstill in 1939, and it was only Soviet air superiority that finally forced them to surrender.

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