In nineteen thirty nine Russia invaded Finland in a conquest for land but the Finnish people were up for the fight. Finland had previously been under control of the Russians but they had won their independence from them years before. The occupation of Finland gave them a clear understanding of exactly what the Russians were capable of and they were not about to let this happen again. If the Russians were to win the war with the Finns, the people of Finland would be enslaved once again by a godless and cruel people. They were very determined to not let that happen again and put everything they had into the fight.
At the Russian front, just outside of Suomussalmi Finland, two Russian soldiers kick in the door of a little country house. Inside the house a twelve year old girl was standing in the corner of the room playing with her dolls. Startled and afraid the young girl attempted to run toward the front door in an effort to get away from the soldiers but one of them quickly stepped in front of her and slapped her across the face knocking the girl to the floor.
The girls lip began bleeding from the blow to her face and she began to cry from both pain and fear. The soldier picked the young girl up from the floor and throws her on the table. The little girl kicks and screams as she is crying, trying to get away from the Russian soldier. The soldier easily over powers the young girl and turns her over face down on the table with her legs hanging over the edge. The soldier pulls up her dress, then pulls his pants down and grabs the little girl by her pony tail pulling her head back.
A shot rings out in the room and the Russian soldier falls to the floor, his head pumping out blood to the rhythm of the last beats of his heart. Hans Gruber stands at the door with his riffle in hand. Hans is a Swedish volunteer with the Finnish army and has a burning hatred for the communists. The second Russian soldier in the room reaches for his riffle and takes aim at Hans. He shoots at Hans and the round hits Hans in the side of his chest. Hans fires at the Russian soldier as he falls to the floor and bullet from his rifle hits the Russian dead center in his chest killing him instantly.
Hans staggers over to the little girl weak from his wound and comforts her. Hans says to the girl, “Go to your mother and hide with her.” The girl runs out the door and Hans faints from his wound and falls to the floor. Hans wakes up in a Finnish hospital confused not knowing where he is. Hans asks a nurse walking past his bed, “Miss, where am I?” “You are in a hospital in Oulu, Finland,” she answered. “How long have I been here?” Hans asked. “Three days and don’t worry you are going to be fine.” The nurse said. Relieved at knowing where his was Hans relaxed and put his head back down on the pillow and quickly falls back to sleep.
Two weeks later an officer in the Finnish army presented medals to the wounded soldiers in the hospital for their heroism in combat. Hans received two awards for valor in hand to hand combat on the Russian front. Hans didn’t know it but these two little medals would later save his life. Due to his wounds Hans was released from duty with the Finnish army. Hans went back home to Sweden and was celebrated as a hero. Though Hans thought the praise was great, he was just happy to be home and away from the war.
Hans had seen a lot cruelty in the days he had been fighting the Russians. He had come to know them as a cruel and ruthless people that would kill and rape innocent women and children just for the thrill of doing so. The brutality he had witnessed ignited a burning hatred of the Russian communists and it gave him a great desire to fight them again, if he ever got the chance. Little did Hans know that he soon would?
In Germany, Hitler became chancellor in nineteen thirty three and had steadily been building his military in to one of the largest in the world. In the late nineteen thirties Hitler marched in to the Rhineland and acquired the Sudetenland on the border of Czechoslovakia then annexed Austria into the Fuhrer’s Third Reich. In nineteen thirty nine Hitler made a pact with Russia not to go to war with Germany if they invaded Poland. On September first, nineteen thirty nine both Hitler and then sixteen days later Stalin invaded Poland and divided the spoils between Germany and Russia.
A declaration of war from France and England for Germany’s invasion of Poland soon followed suite. On May tenth, nineteen forty Hitler invaded France using his blitzkrieg tactics. The German army pushed the French army and the English expeditionary force in to the sea at Dunkirk, conquering France in just weeks. All Hitler had left to do was defeat the English and the war would be over, but Hitler had greater fish to fry. The conquest of Russia was more important and England would have to wait. Hitler said. “We have only to kick in the front door and the whole rotten Russian edifice will come tumbling down.” He would find it to be a greater challenge than he expected.
On the twenty-second of June nineteen forty one Hitler with four point five million troops initiated operation Barbarossa, the invasion of Russia. Hans read about the invasion in the paper, he became excited with the prospect of finally destroying the communist regime once and for all. Hans wondered to himself what he could do to be a part of this great and noble crusade. Hans walked in to the kitchen where his mother was sitting. “Mom, did you hear about Germany invading Russia?” “Yes I did, that’s all they are talking about down at the market.” Hans’s mother said.
“I am thinking about joining the German Army to go fight the Russians,” Hans said. “Why would you go and do that, the Germans is just as bad as the Russians, fascists and communists, what’s the difference” Hans’s mother replied. “The Germans are trying to create a better world, the Russian just want to enslave it. Besides there is no work here and the Germans pay their soldiers well, at least more than I can make here.” Hans said. “You are a grown man now, Hans’s mother said. You can do as you wish.” Just be careful son, I love you.”
Hans wanted to enlist in the German army but he wasn’t sure he wanted to do it alone. He went to his friend Sven Eriksson’s house to see if he would be interested in joining him on this great adventure. Sven had fought with Hans against the Russians during the Winter War of nineteen thirty nine and like Hans would love to get the chance to fight the Communists as well. Sven had a great distain for the Bolsheviks and wanted to kill as many of them as he could, that is if he ever got the chance.
Hans got to Sven’s house and knocked on the door, there was no answer. Hans knocked again this time harder and yelled, “Sven, get your ass up.” Sven slowly made it to the door and opened it. “What the hell do you want at this hour of the morning?” Sven asked. Hans could tell that Sven had been drinking all night, he does it quite often. Hans told Sven that he needed to talk to him so they went in to the kitchen and sat at the table. Sven, holding a bottle of vodka asked Hans, “Would you like a shot?” Hans said. “No, we don’t have time for that nonsense now we need to have a serious talk.”
“The Germans have invaded Russia.” Hans told Sven. “Really, I thought the Germans and the Russians had a pact not to go to war with each other?” Sven said. “It’s true. Hans said. Do you want to go fight? We can enlist in the German army. All we have to do is to travel to Norway and enlist there.” “That sounds like a good idea, said Sven. My family could use the money.” “Let’s leave this following Monday, Hans said. That will give us time to say goodbye to everyone.”
There is someone in particular Hans wanted to make sure and say goodbye to, his girlfriend Carina. Carina and Hans had been a couple since elementary school and had planned to be married next spring. This would now have to be put on hold if Hans was going to war and Hans hoped that Carina would understand that he had to do this and that she would have to wait for his return before they could marry.
Hans walked down the dirt road to Carina’s house, kicking stones along the way talking to himself trying to figure out what he would say to her. “I have to plan out how I am going to tell her, Hans said to himself. I will have it all together when I talk to her and hopefully she will understand.” Hans thought. Hans reached Carina’s house and knocked on the door. Carina answered. “Well, what a pleasant surprise. Come in and sit with me and have some tea.”
“Carina I must talk to you about something that is very important to me.” Hans said, “What is it?” Carina asked. “The Germans have invaded Russia and I think I want to join the German army to be part of this. It will be a chance to finally rid this world from communism, Hans said. The Germans will pay me well and you know I haven’t been able to find work here in over a year now and we desperately need the money.” All the while he is explaining Hans is thinking that he couldn’t wait to kill some of those communists but he would dare not say that to his Carina. Hans didn’t want her to think he was cruel in any way.
“When would you leave?” Carina asked. “We will go first thing Monday morning, Hans said. Would you wait for me? Hans asked her. It will only be a few months and I am sure the war will be over soon and I will have a little money to get a place for us.” “Yes, I would wait for you but don’t make me wait too long buster.” Carina said “Don’t be afraid, Sven is going with me, Hans said. We can keep each other out of trouble.” “I am more worried about Sven getting you in trouble.” Carina said.
“It’s getting late why don’t you spend the night.” Normally it would not be acceptable for a young man to spend the night with an unmarried young woman but Hans has occasional been staying the night there since they were both playmates in elementary school. Carina’s parents didn’t mind, he was already like a son to them. It was just a matter of formality to make it official.
The following morning Hans rose early to get started on the day. He kissed Carina on the cheek as she lay sleeping leaving her a note on the pillow. Hans got dressed and slowly creeped out of the door and walked down the road towards home. Hans needed to grab a few things for the trip and say goodbye to his mother. When Hans got to the house and opened the door, his mother was sitting in her rocking chair knitting a sweater for Hans. “Mother, I need to tell you something.” Hans said.
His mother said that she already knew that he was there to say goodbye. “How did you know?” Hans asked. “A mother knows these things my love.” “I love you mamma and I promise to come home soon.” Hans said. Hans went to his room and grabbed a few things to take with him then went to the kitchen and took two apples a half loaf of bread and some butter for the trip. Hans went to his mother and kissed her on the cheek, “I love you momma and I will be careful.” Hans took his mother by the hand and walked to the door with her and his mother said “I love you too sweetheart. Please be careful.” “I will momma, I promise. Hans walked out the door, as he did he yelled back, I will be ok momma, don’t worry. I will send money.” Hans blew his mother a kiss and was on his way.
As Hans walked away his mother fell to her knees sobbing knowing that this may be the last time she ever sees her boy again. She had gone through this nightmare before when he had joined the Finnish Army in the winter war of nineteen thirty nine. She prayed, “God please take care of my son,” her hands grasped together in front of her as if she were begging her master and sat there crying as she watched her baby boy walk off to war.