Finland Defeated Soviet Explosives With The Power Of Polka

They kept the polka going for five months.
Finland Defeated Soviet Explosives With The Power Of Polka

Finland fought against the USSR during World War II. They also, as the war went on, ended up fighting against Germany as well. So, pretty tough time for the Finns, all told. Over 2.5 percent of the population died in the war—for comparison, the war killed only 0.35 percent of the people in Norway, 0.16 percent in Denmark, and less than 0.05 percent in Sweden. 

Finland might have lost even more people. But they had a secret weapon: polka music. 

During the war, the Soviets laid down landmines that they could detonate remotely, using radio waves. The way they set it up, the mines were all tuned to the same radio frequency, but each one of them could be triggered by its own unique series of chords. In time, Finland would figure out how to disarm them, but till then, there was always the risk that any mine would blow as soon as the Soviets played the brown note on their unseen keyboards.

What the Finns needed to do was to jam the radio signals. Unfortunately, radio jammers, as we know them, didn't exist. Today, we've got jammers that cut shut down signals at long ranges, but to give you an idea how complicated that is, consider that the price tag for 50,000 of them during the Iraq War was over $17 billion. 

So, 21st-century jammers weren't an option, and sticking short-range jammers next to every single not-yet-found mine also wasn't quite practical. But the Finns could drown out the trigger signal using their own broadcast. They'd have to broadcast without pause, and—for reasons that should be obvious—the broadcast needed accordion music. So the Finns chose to constantly counter the mines using a recording of "The Säkkijärven Polkka."

They kept the polka going for five months. Maybe we shouldn't call it a polka, though, because this genre has its own name: humppa music. It’s pretty similar to what you might have heard called "ooh-pah-pah" music, but it's called humppa, in honor of the Soviets getting screwed. 

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Top image: Väinö Oinonen

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