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Säkkijärven polkka (wikipedia.org)
172 points by luu on May 6, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 56 comments

The English Wikipedia page, to me, seems to suggest that the record was played to explode the mines in a controlled fashion. In fact, according to Finnish Wikipedia, it was used to scramble the Soviet radio signals to prevent the mines from exploding, and there was a sort of radio war going on for a while.

This is the specific record that apparently was used: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gZx1zl_sVTI

The English page does say “jamming”, but I too originally read it as if they were trying to detonate them prematurely.

Anyone read Stanisław Lem's 'Fiasco'?

When I read "mine", I thought of anti-personnel landmines and was confused why you'd want to radio-trigger those.

These were demolition charges designed to destroy objects like bridges. According to https://www.quora.com/Is-it-true-that-the-Finnish-army-used-..., there were a total of 25 such mines hidden, with each containing hundreds to thousands of kilograms of explosives.

https://www.standingwellback.com/russian-ww2-radio-controlle... is also worth a read.

Another Finnish polka more known through Internet culture[0] is Ievan polka: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7yh9i0PAjck

I remember having the original Flash clip on loop on for entire days back when.

[0]: Leekspin: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B-N1yJyrQRY

The Finns contributed more to early Internet culture than we give them credit for. They invented IRC, and about half of the weirder memes on 4chan.

We forked the pedobear memes into an entirely different thing called spurdo spärde. Some of the first and most rare Pepe memes also comes from Finland, I personally created the first Feels Bad Man / Feels Batman Pepes back in January 2008 during a LAN-party at my high school.

Sometimes I wonder if I have yet to escape the Fennosphere to the real internet. All this stuff about Finland being the happiest place on Earth... Maybe it's just like the great firewall of China!

And Linux

Linux would be the biggest one since most of the Internet is built on top of it nowadays.

And Git (kind of, although that happened after Linus moved away from Finland)

MySQL in the same vein.

MySQL is actually of Swedish origin.

Well, at least Michael Widenius, the most visible head of MySQL and one of two cofounders, is finnish. He also created the MySQL's fork MariaDB. Both names came from Michael's daughters My and Maria.

And if you want a less glamorous tidbit to add to that list, OOP originated in Norway with the SIMULA language in the 60s.

How did I forget about Linux?


In case you were wondering, the lyrics are half strongly dialectal (Savonian) Finnish, and half just scat-style musical nonsense.

For a heavier version, here's the Finnish folk metal band Korpiklaani's cover of it: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=qhZpmFORHBA

I found this article about Ensiferum's "Finnish Medley", which among other things, compiles the tunes they cover in it: https://ethnomusicologyreview.ucla.edu/content/finnish-medle...

Another band, Moonsorrow, covered a song called "Valkoakaasiat" (white acacia) in a crushingly heavy mood titled "Matkan lopussa" on their Kivenkantaja album. I heard it sung by a Finnish choir and think it may have originated in Russia, from a Soviet movie. I love this stuff, and pairing the modern incarnations with their original counterparts is kind of a cool sport.

Yup. Can confirm I listened to this in loop in early 2000s.

This is great

As a finn, I did not expect to see this on the front page of HN. Ever.

But did not know about the military use of the song. Very interesting.

As somebody who moved to Finland, and hasn't learned too much Finnish, I was just pleased I recognized the language and the words themselves!

Interesting read though, regardless.

torilla tavataan!

Sakkijarven polkka is (well, was) also famous as one of standard Nokia ringtones: https://youtu.be/UYSdiQl8BQY?t=54

Interesting. This is basically an early version of the phone bomb where you get a burner phone and just call the number of the sim card to blow it up. Being able to pull that off in the 40's was impressive.

Hard to say what use it has though? Normally a "mine" is something that is triggered by an event such as a person or vehicle passing. Setting one off remotely or on a timer isn't useful.

If the mines were used to rig specific infastructure such as railways or bridges then I can see the use (blow specific bridges at specific points in time, without having to send saboteurs). I remember practicing bridge destruction in the army using dozens of tank mines, simply because they were readily available and easily handled explosives.

These were "mines" used to blow up bridges, roads and railroads. The bigger ones had thousands of kg of explosives. So more like remote demolition over radio. Idea being that you could destroy the critical infrastructure after retreating from the area and if you had vision on it when someone was on it like the first one that killed a couple officers (killed a major who was the chief lawyer for the Finnish General Staff)

Modern equivalent would be cellphone bombs in roads in Afghanistan/Iraq.

Perhaps it was just terrorism or pique? By blowing up infrastructure after the Finns think they've won and you aren't anywhere around you demoralize them. It would be a sort of trolling. The military is made of humans and humans do this.

Wikipedia articles are quickly becoming my favorite type of HN link.

> These mines were set off when a three-note chord was played on the frequency the radio was tuned to, causing three tuning forks (of which each mine had a unique combination) to vibrate at once.

so, ehm, what was the soviets' plan? to blow them all at once when the city would be taken by finns?

russian wikipedia page says the plan was to blow them periodically. But it doesn't make much sense, how would the soviets control which mines to blow? hard to imagine they would be aiming radio signal somehow

Each mine could be set to a different combination of three trigger frequencies. There weren't many of them in place (I'll write another top-level comment about this - edit: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=23089418).

Adding to that, even just six frequencies to choose from would let you have twenty distinct targets. (Six choose three.)

Nice song. Finnish language is part of the Uralic group of languages Finno-Ugric spoken by Hungarians and Estonians too.

These languages don't belong to Indo-Iranian group like every other language in Europe.

I like to speculate the language came to northern Europe with Huns who, according to Procopius (I believe it was him) controlled Scandinavia too and there are many sagas of Norsemen fighting Huns there, such as Hlöðskviða.

The modern Finns show Nordic genetic, yet the language is Uralic and perhaps the first Finns were only the ruling class as it was often the case with Huns.

Obviously, there are other more widely accepted theories.

Honestly, it’s rather appalling for you to go off theorizing about the Finns originating from Huns, as if there hasn't been solid work by archaeologists and linguists for a long time (well over a century now) on these matters. There is really no room any more for the proverbial man on the street to contribute any insights based on his own intuition. It is rather like when laymen post on discussions about dark-matter physics "Hey, what if...?", when actual scientists have long since considered the possibility and rejected it.

The Uralic languages (namely the Finnic and Saamic branches of the family) were already spoken in what is now Finland, northwestern Russia and Estonia in the centuries BC. The Uralic languages had spread gradually over the area both through migration of a hunter-gathering population from Central Russia and language shift to Uralic from substrate populations around the eastern Baltic Sesa.

The Huns, on the other hand, were a federation of steppe pastoralists pushed into migrating west by climate and demographic factors. They spoke different languages entirely, and as steppe pastoralists, they were not very interested in the areas where Finnic and Saamic were spoken. They were hardly even interested in areas of Central Russia just north of their path of migration.

And most other languages in Europe belong to the Indo-European family, not the "Indo-Iranian group" (though there is a Central Asiatic and Indian-subcontinent top-level branch of the Indo-European family known as Indo-Iranian).

Uralic isn’t likely related to the Huns.

The Huns didn’t had a single language depending on the timeframe their tribes would’ve used Turkic, Romance and Germanic languages, while they possibly had some Uralic tribes in the mix too the timeframe doesn’t makes sense.

Ugric/Uralic languages could have spread form the Eurasian Arctic and Sub-Arctic regions and while Finnish and Hungarian are Ugric/Uralic they aren’t actually directly related which might mean a different starting point.

Hungarian for example is closer to Khanty than to Finnish suggesting a path of migration that leads them into modern day Russia and then back into Eastern Europe.

The exact origins are unknown there is strong evidence for both European and Siberian origin theories however the languages existed in Europe well before the Huns came so what ever the original homeland was the Huns are not the source of these languages in Europe or Russia.

I'm curious to learn what time frames do you have in mind.

Ptolemy already wrote of Khunnoi (possibly Huns) in second century.

Huns were heterogenous groups of many subjugated tribes of various races and ethnicities. What they had in common was that the ruling elite claimed tradition with Xiongnu or their political system resembled it.

What I thought Finns were Tacitus's Fenni, who were likely Germanic and have somewhat acquired the language from their conquerors who came from steppe. I'm not referring to Attilla's huns. There were nations coming from steppe for centuries prior.

I speculate, we may never know for sure of course.

~4000 years.

The Huns or any other tribal group brining things through conquest doesn’t makes that much sense.

Finnic/Baltic-Finnic languages (Finnish and Estonian), Sami languages and (true) Ugric like Hungarian and Khanty are distinct groups that while might have had a common ancestor that would be predating the Huns even further (~7000 years ago) then you have Samoyedic languages which are also Uralic but tend to be looked at even more separately due to the differences despite Samoyedic meaning Sami people.

Samoyedic is the language used by the native Siberian and Russian Arctic tribes basically the Inuit/First Nations of Russia.

If anything I would bet on the fact that it’s more likely that the Uralic languages spread from the Eurasian Arctic south into Siberia and the Ural during say the last ice age than they were brought into Europe by the Huns circa -+couple of centuries 0AD.

> These languages don't belong to Indo-Iranian group like every other language in Europe.

Eh, not quite: The Indo-Iranian group is one sub-branch of the Indo-European language family, and very few European languages are in that sub-branch. Further, there is at least one other non-Indo-European language in Europe: Basque, which is a linguistic isolate, with no known relationships to any other language, living or dead.

Sorry but that is quack. Replace "Finnish" with "Aryan" and it's almost directly from the 1930s Nazi occultism book.

It just says that the Finns are genetically closely related to Swedes and linguistically a universe apart.

>Aryan language is part of the Uralic group of languages Finno-Ugric spoken by Hungarians and Estonians too.


No, I mean more generally terms like "Nordic genetics" and proposing fringe linguistic and ethnic theories about modern nationalities.

I'm sorry to ruin your imaginations but genetics, linguistics and history are real sciences concerned with tangible facts. Unlike some political theories with no right to claim credibility other than calling themselves "modern." Aryan (term I didn't use) simply means Iranian, regardless of whether nazis abused the term or not. You may find it useful to know that.

(It’s often extended to mean Indo-Iranian: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aryan)

I do agree with your more general point but I think we shouldn't dismiss changes in usages of words over time. Aryan doesn't simply mean Iranian in a modern western context, just like the swastika isn't just a sign from Buddhism or Hinduism. Both have strong associations with one of the most defining wars of the 20th century and the genocidal regime that started said war. That can't be easily ignored.

The Black Death killed a hundred million.

Blood flows like a river.

I think you could use a bit of reading up on real modern linguistics.

If you're unfamiliar with Finnish traditional music, they have some great polkas. Frigg are good fun. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=77lw3hp9q7M

THAT polka.

This reminded me about the Ride of the Valkyries scene in Apocalypse Now.

I guess you haven't heard the action-scene version of Sakkijarven polkka on a kantele; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F1PAy4JZfrE

Bonus violin edition by Linda Lampenius; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o-Skam8GUUU

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