White Death – Finnish Sniper Simo Häyhä – Sabaton History 028 [Official]

I’m Indy Neidell and i’m Joakim from Sabaton and this is Sabaton History. The most prolific sniper, in any war, was a Finnish soldier fighting in Finland’s winter war against the Soviet Union. The man is Simo Häyhä, and the Russians knew him as the White Death. Simo Häyhä was born December 17th 1905, in the small Finnish municipality of Rautjärvi, near the Russian border. His pairs described him as a friendly, mild mannered, introverted man who kept to himself, and to his daily work as a farmhand. Rautjärvi is surrounded by the tough Finnish wilderness, So although Simo grew up in quiet times, away from city life, His own life was far from easy. The harsh, unforgiving Winters forced the people of southeast Finland to come to terms with the wilderness around them Early on, Simo excelled as a naturally gifted hunter, spending most of his youth outside in the forest, shooting small game with an old bolt-action rifle. By the age of 20, He had undergone his mandatory military service, and had been promoted to corporal. He took part in several skiing and shooting competitions. He was a real biathlete, and he was especially renowned for his skills with the rifle. Like most Finnish men, he had joined the national militia after his compulsory service. This was the Suojeluskunta, a service for young men that dated back to Finland’s declaration of independence in 1917, And the Civil War the following year. The service trained men like Häyhä, to be prepared for those times when Finland most needed them. Such times came November 30th 1939, as the Soviet Union declared war on Finland. A man from a simple upbringing, like Simo Häyhä, cared little for world politics nor much about the ambitions of dictators of the time, like Joseph Stalin. But, like many Finns, he was fiercely independent and valued his and his country’s liberty above, pretty much all else. That liberty would be lost, if the Finnish people did not stand up to defend it, regardless of the size of the enemy. So as the call to arms came, Häyhä, like many of his countrymen, answered. He joined the 34th Infantry Regiment in the Kollaa region, north of Lake Ladoga. The Soviet Eighth Army aimed for a quick breakthrough across the Kollaanjoki river, but they were utterly unprepared to fight in such a region. Heavily wooded with barely any infrastracture, at the best of times, the Soviets tried to advance now, in one of the worst winters in modern history. With snow up to two meters deep and temperatures down to minus 30. Häyhä was given a Finnish Mosin Nagant M28:30, which had been in production since 1928. A bit shorter and a bit heavier than the Russian manufactured rifles. But with the typical mosin-nagant reliability and accuracy, the M28 was an excellent sniper rifle Nicknamed the Pystykorva, Pointy Ear, for the large ears on the front sight. It would perform well in the hands of an experienced marksman, like Simo Häyhä. The Finns could not hope to win against the might of the Soviet Army in a straight-up pitched battle. The Soviets simply had more of everything. Tanks, men, artillery… Instead, the Finnish Art of War relied heavily on hit-and-run tactics, With men on skis, who knew the terrain, outflanking, infiltrating and ambushing the sluggish Soviet invaders. Many of whom had no skis or did not know how to ski, ruining mobility, while the Finns were naturally familiar with the winter conditions. The Soviet forces were woefully not. Many came from the military district of Leningrad and had not even been supplied for a long, drawn-out conflict. The winters in Finland are harsh and unforgiving. And even when the Sun is out, during the short days, it is still bitterly cold. Häyhä wrapped himself in a thick and heavy snow suit, insulating himself as much as possible from the snow and the cold winds, and he wore fur mittens and a sniper mask. The white color of his clothing blended in perfectly with the winter environment and the snow-covered forest of Kola. He preferred to work alone, being accustomed to stalking the deep forests on his own and he knew to rely on his instincts. Patience was vital, as was leaving as little trace of his passage as possible. A hunter had to be cunning and precise in his actions carrying only a day’s worth of food and around 50 or 60 rounds with him. Häyhä relied on his knowledge of the wilderness to find a good spot from which he could establish his sniper’s nest. Once he found his position, he would build a little snow fort around himself to blend in with the environment. He placed his rifle on a snow bank, that both stabilized his aim and prevented any snow from being thrown up by the recoil and waited for the enemy to march into his killing field. When Soviet soldiers, struggling and freezing in the snow, would cross his path, Häyhä put a handful of snow in his mouth to hide his breath. Then he pulled the trigger. It is said, that during his training in the army, he was able to hit a target 150 meters away up to 16 times a minute. So now, the marching routes were full of dead Soviet soldiers, who fell prey to the hidden marksman, without ever knowing what had hit them. Soviet positions were soon discovered deserted of the living but, packed with bodies frozen in their last positions, before being shot and killed. Sometimes they were found still standing up, and in the sub-zero temperatures, even a minor wound was often fatal, as the weakened body would have a harder time surviving the elements. And Häyhä is believed to have not missed his target very often. In his short time at the front, his kill tally would rise to unprecedented levels. Hundreds fell to his rifle, so many, in fact, that his superiors did not believe the stories at first. Apparently just before Christmas, he killed 25 soldiers in just one day. While many Finnish and Soviet snipers used modern sniping rifles outfitted with telescopic lenses, Häyhä relied on the old-fashioned iron sights. Not only did he feel that this gave him a better picture of his target, but more importantly, it would allow him to keep his head down lower, and in turn lower his whole profile, making him harder to spot. And Llenses could reflect the light, and reveal position, as was the case with many Soviet Marksmen, who were sent out to counter snipe him, and instead met their fate to his “Outdated Rifle”. But Häyhä was also trained with a nine millimeter Suomi submachine gun, and depending on the fighting at hand, he also carried hand grenades and a traditional peugeot army knife as a last resort. As a sniper, acting often alone, beyond the front lines, Häyhä had to be careful, and often forfeited obvious targets, if they would endanger his position. The Soviets began beefing up their own counter sniping activity, especially after his kill tally gained him both fame and infamy. If they suspected him of being somewhere, they would order artillery strikes, in his general direction, in the hope of finally neutralizing him. There’s even a story, that a Soviet commander asked to be sent a famous Soviet sniper to eliminate Häyhä. After that sniper had killed several Finnish soldiers and officers, he waited for Simo to react, and eventually show himself. He waited, and waited, and as the sun went down, he decided to call it a day, and was about to get up. That was when Simo Häyhä shot him right through the head. Another story was that Soviet soldiers began carrying large iron shields into the field, to help guard them from sniper fire. The Finnish Snipers, like Häyhä, were accurate enough, that they simply shot them in the kneecaps. Such stories began to circulate more and more, as Simo Häyhä became famous to friends and foe alike. The Finnish Propaganda portrayed him as a symbol that embodied the struggle of little Defiant Finland, while the Soviet propaganda called him Белая смерть, White Death. The legend of white death spoke of a ghost-like figure, that was both everywhere and nowhere, creeping tirelessly through the woods. It freaked the Soviet soldiers out and it boosted Finnish morale. On February 17th 1940, 80 days after the invasion, Simo Häyhä was officially proclaimed a hero of Finland by the Finnish government. And with hundreds of kills to his name already then, was awarded the Kollaa Cross. He was promoted and gifted a custom-made Sacco M. 28-30 rifle. But despite the legends, Simo Häyhä was not invincible and was not a ghost. He was a man, just like any other Finn manning the defenses. In early March 1940, As the winter receded, it became clear that though Finland had had astonished the world by holding off the mighty Red Army, they could not hold out forever. Soviets were learning, were gathering more firepower and more competent leaders and tactics, and as the winter ended so too did the Finnish advantage with the weather. No matter how valiantly they resisted, the numbers would eventually crush them. On March 6, Häyhä was caught up in the middle of a renewed Soviet offensive against Kollaa. Fighting with the regular troops, Häyhä had again killed at least a dozen that day, an exploding bullet hit him in the jaw, and ripped his lower face apart. Saved by his comrades, he was dragged out of the fighting and into hospital. He spent several days in a coma and when he awoke, on March 13th, peace had been signed. The war was over, for both him and his country. For around 25,000 square miles of territory, The Soviets had paid a high price. Most estimates of the Soviet dead are around 130,000 but it may actually have been as high as a quarter of a million dead men. Finland had David-and-goliathed the USSR on a scale no one imagined possible. Finnish independence had been saved. Simo Häyhä would bear the wounds to his face for the rest of his life. But otherwise, fully recovered. He could not go back to his own home though, which was now on the other side of the Soviet border. But, he found a new home and lived a long peaceful life, until his death in 2002. In later interviews, Häyhä repeatedly emphasized, that during his service in the Winter War, he simply did what he was told. But he was the best at it. And not even in a hundred days, his official score was 505 kills. Making him the most successful sniper in history. That’s just the official tally. Unofficially, it was higher. Now, of course those numbers will always be debatable, such is the nature of war, but the legend of white death is very much alive today, and not just in Finland. When asked what it was that made him such a great sniper, Häyhä simply answered: practice. So why, of all the military figures available throughout the history of humanity, did you pick Simo to write about? The story of Simo is one of the most inspiring in military history, at least for me. Personal opinion, of course, but that song and that story is kind of important for sabaton history, because without that song, maybe we wouldn’t even have the album Heroes that came later. Okay, but his song isn’t on Heroes. Oh, no, no that’s on coat of arms. That was the first time we asked our fans, that’s you guys (its a me :D), about sending in… uh… Well, basically giving us ideas for songs. Okay, but you see you guys still do that. Yes. This was the beginning? That was the first time. We got a lot. Pär’s past mailbox was you know… Totally full. That was one of the stories that really, you know, only by reading, kind of, the name makes you want to find out. Now so if they’re sending, in you know, it’s several thousand suggestions. You obviously can’t read whole biographies about all of these people, right? Oh, no, no, no, obviously, Pär is the one who is going through it all, basically. Is that right Pär? (long distance yeaaaaah) Alright. Well, i mean, Pär is sitting over there, i mean hes probably doing that right now, looking at suggestions. How many do you have per day Pär? Fifty or something? Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Pär. The latest one is this, okay, a song topic global conquest? Okay, there are many good tales of heroes and people from Portugal and Spain. Oh, this is interesting… Okay, Portuguese and Spanish explorers… Okay, Sebastian, Elcano and Magellan, right? Travelling around the world for the first time. Pizarro. That would be interesting, although… hmmm… Okay, and who sent this to you? Adrian… Adrian Chris Bo. Hey, Adrian Chris Bo! From me and from Sabaton, okay, So Pär actually is looking at your ideas, to try and figure out what they’re gonna write more songs about. Well so he chose from or he picked maybe made a short list, and you saw a white death? You thought: “I want to learn more about a guy whose nickname is the white death-” and it’s a good metal title. It really is a good metal title No, seriously though, for us at that point, i don’t think we had that many songs about a single individual. I mean we covered a lot… On the bigger scale, all the battles and stuff, but zooming in so much was really inspiring to write the lyrics. Okay. We didn’t even know we were gonna do Heroes, but me and Pär basically said the man, maybe one day we should do a more personal album, you know? Now when you were… You know reading up about Simo and stuf,f Were you also studying the winter war in general or we just really more focusing on just the individual? We’d already covered the winter war, in a way, in the song Talvisota on the art of war. Which we did an episode on. Yeah, if you haven’t seen it, check it out. And what was the reaction then, since you didn’t do really any individuals, before I mean, what was the reaction among the Finns, for example, to this? For the Finnish people, well, i mean most people in Finland would know about Simo Häyhä. However, us coming from Sweden, we didn’t. Yeah, it’s true. Every nation has its own histories. (warning, incoming indy neidell joke) Yeah, I think there’s a lot of people in Pakistan, who don’t know who Fonzie is, but I grew up with Fonzie. Important part of military history! We’re gonna do an episode on Fonzie one day. Yes. That would be kind of cool if you guys wrote it. You should have Pär play the pirate, you know as well. Oh, the pirate doing the thumbs up in the letter. Yeah, he could be bonzi! Yeah, yeah, give him a haircut and everything is fine. Alright well that was the White Death and this is Sabaton History for today. See you next time English Subtitles, brought to you, random Sabaton fan, by Peyancenda. Thanks, everybody for watching this week’s episode of Sabaton History Channel, don’t forget to subscribe to the YouTube channel, Don’t forget to support us here on patreon, and we will see each other very soon again, okay? (with a russian accent) What is that, come patreon? Better for your health.

Comments 100

  • This episode is one of the most frequently requested songs for Sabaton History. And while the story of Simo Häyhä is a compelling story, the Winter War was about much more than the deadliest sniper of World War Two. We have made an earlier episode about the Winter War, based on the Sabaton Song 'Talvisota', which is Finnish for Winter War. You can watch that right here: https://youtu.be/6grVeu3EWis. If after that, you're keen to dive even deeper into the history of the Winter War, I suggest you check out Indy's 'World War Two' channel, where he covered the Winter War (and everything before and after that) week by week. You can check that out right here: https://www.youtube.com/c/worldwartwo

  • This is a huge internal conflict for me, a Russian. The truth is, Stalin controlled all the opinions in the USSR and manipulated Soviet people into committing invasions. Some of them inevitably were violent imperialists, but only as an exception. Soldiers thought they were doing good. To avoid repeat of that we need to be regularly searching for information on our own. That's why we need the internet!

  • Yo Sabaton could you help a channel known as Knight SGC. He makes excellent music videos for your songs but YouTube has taken his channel down twice and has deleted all his videos

  • 10:50 dang y’all poor Russian just wanted to play his guitar and be left alone in the middle of the fight.

  • And he also died the year I was born pretty cool in my opinion

  • Simo Häyhä – ABSOLUTE MAD LAD

  • I wonder if they'd make songs on either the American Revolution or the French Revolution? Both are rather similar in concept, but one involved a war that ended with a declaration while the other focused on the executions of millions with an absolute uprising. Yes, both revolutions happened in the same time, practically, but what's funny is that King Louis XVI helped the American revolution by funding them, and then a little while later, got his head chopped off as a result of a French Revolution. Very interesting topic to make music from.

  • Downed Soviet soldier:FUCKING AMBOT BLYAT

  • Who wants a video of them just sitting and talking about history for like 30 minutes to an hour long?

  • you know, you should do a song about Raoul Wallenberg

  • Please do an episode on the Night Witches!

  • No scope farmer killed you. Good luck.

  • I love this channel. I like how Sabaton turns the spotlight on national heroes from all over the world and all sides of conflicts. Brazil, Finland, Japan, Swedes… I love it. Finland's struggle with the USSR is absolutely glorious. The Finns earned their nation for sure! As a Canadian, though, I am extremely proud that Sabaton chose not a glorious Canadian battle (there are a few!) or famous Canadian warrior or unit (again, there are many. The Maple Leaf Forever) but closed The Great War with In Flanders Fields. It's the definition of reverence. Thanks for making this channel happen. I'll see the Sabaton guys in Vancouver in October!!!

  • You should do an episode about Witold Pilecki – Inmate 4859!!!

  • Another incredible history and a great video of a great soldier. Thank you Indy and Sabaton! 🤘

  • Simo Häyhä is from Fihland and i from Finland.

  • The full quote is "I simply did what I was told, as well as I could".

  • They need to a song about Nobunaga Oda The Demon King and Zhuge Liang the sleeping dragon. The battle of Nagashino aka the first record of volley fire for guns in Japanese history

  • Best non-native pronounciation of the dude's name I've heard

  • Someone know what is the email address to send suggestions for futures songs?

  • The Winter War was the reason Hitler believed Russians aren't good on winter warfare.

  • I wanna se Pär as Fonz!!! Eyyyyyyy

  • Death to all communist scum, R.I.P. Simo

  • 1905, near Russian board?
    But the Principality of Finland at that time was part of the Russian Empire

  • You guys need to write a song / talk about rudder's rangers and the cliffs Of Pointe Du Hoc. History hard on material.

  • 12 dislikes are soviets

  • Live at russia would be awkward

  • My grandfather's brother Erik Lehto fought in the continuation war. I had no idea for perhaps 20 year who he was, but then at his funeral his sons showed me pictures of him and his company standing on top T-34 tanks and cheering.

  • Par: "Yeaaaaahhhhhh"

  • There were lot of targets!

  • This is the song that introduced me to Sabaton and pretty much metal. So good.

  • 4:21 its a finish solider not simo hayha

  • 13.kd

  • Do they have a song about Gustav Vasa? If not, it'd make for a good song idea. Gustav was not only a significant figure in Swedish history, but in Finnish history too (since Finland used to be the eastern half of Sweden, for those who don't know). He basically ended the Kalmar Union and did numerous other things, for example he made Sweden (and finland along with it) protestant and took away the Catholic churches power in the north. And he's actually the founder of the city of Helsinki, now capital of Finland. It's sort of sad that many people in both Finland and Sweden have have completely forgotten pretty much all of our common history, even though Finland was part of Sweden for almost 700 years. There's so many figures from that time period that have affected pretty much all of the Nordic countries' histories during times of war.

  • An absolute beast.

  • "On 2 November 1940, Hellenic Air Force pilot Marinos Mitralexis shot down one Italian Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 bomber, then, out of ammunition, brought another down by smashing its rudder with the propeller of his PZL P.24 fighter. Both aircraft were forced into emergency landings, and Mitralexis threatened the bomber's four-man crew into surrender using his pistol. Mitralexis was promoted in rank and awarded medals." Kickass song about ww2 pilots maybe?

  • where I can suggest song theme? I would like to suggest Bohemian General Jan Žižka (Jan Zizka or John Zizka)

  • What a nice surprise to see indy 🙂

  • Roll down you’re sleeves 😂🤦🏻‍♂️ you have an adult body with kid arms so nothing to show off.

  • Fuck, that was a good suggestion!

  • Hope Sabaton could compose also the Battle in Mactan, between Ferdinand Magellan and Datu Lapulapu.

  • I finally learn how to say his last name!

  • The reason he didn't use a scope was also because scopes of that day often fogged badly in the weather conditions. Thus, he just used iron sights.

  • Can we get a F for his chin.

  • I also love how Simo lived 11 years longer than the USSR

  • The main reason that the Soviets were not prepared for the winter war was because their soldiers in this conflict came mostly from Ukraine, the only part in Russia (at the time, need to say that before I trigger someone) that doesn't suffer severe winters. This was mainly because Ukraine was a historical hotbed for rebellions and Stalin wanted to thin out their fighting age men on top of conquering Finnland.

  • Soviets trying to go to sleep in the vile and cold terrain of Finland in the 1939

    Also soviets: You may not rest now, there is a monster near you

  • Did Joakim just threaten me at 16:02 lol

  • Songs about heroic animals, such as Wojtek of the Polish 22nd Artillery Supply Company.

  • The whole story is bullshit.


  • Song suggestion: Area 51

  • That's amazing they are becoming youtubers !
    Will you make gaming one day XD ?

  • Didnt expect my country's name said randomly lmao. Love from Pakistan

  • I like to think that the Soviets only signed a treaty once they heard that the “White Death” was shot but recovered, and feared he would seek revenge.

  • And for what? Why did the Russians think they needed that land? I suppose they thought they needed it for strategic reasons, but it cost them exactly what they wanted that land to prevent that very cost.. if they left Finland alone, they wouldn’t even have needed any soldiers on the border to begin with

  • The ironsight of the m28 rifle apparently reminded the finnish soldiers of dog ears, hence "pystykorva". https://fi.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pystykorva
    For most of them, probably the finnish spitz. https://fi.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pystykorva#/media/Tiedosto:Finnish_Spitz_600.jpg

  • So Hayha and his war buddies basically had the same attitude as Americans circa 1770-1812: Don't tread on me.

  • You're in the Fonzie's sight
    The first hit tonight
    Time to comply

  • It takes some balls for a Swede to praise a Finn. Respect, Sabaton.

  • A 900mm smg? That's brutal as fuck

  • I am from finland

  • Sabaton History
    I have read many times that Häyhä had a bounty placed on his head but i have never heard how large of a bounty it was or what it was.

    Also in a finnish documentary it was said that Soviet called the Finnish snipers cuckoos (or käki) caused they believed that Finnish were hiding in the trees cause they could not find Finnish snipers after searching them after been attacked.

  • Gotta say while the Finish M 28/30 is harder to find, and heavier than a typical Mosin. I can see why Simo loved it. I'm still getting the surplus kinks worked out of mine via a gunsmith, but after a thousand rounds I love it.

  • Now we have only the white debt

  • gets entire squad taken out by one Finnish guy
    Fuck! Throws controller

  • You guys need to make a song about Fonzy.

    "The man that jumped the shark".

  • History and Heavy Metal 🤘 sick…my old high school history teacher is a brick compared to this channel.

  • Hunters make the best snipers but if y'all want insperation for a good metal history song white feather deadliest Vietnam sniper from the Marine Corp

  • Indie what a nice tshirta.I want one!

  • Love the stories.the best way to preserve history! Thank you!

  • Haha AK47. How sweet 🙂

  • I really want this t-shirt!!!

  • Sabaton white death

  • Dang, Chris got fatter over the years…

  • My both grandgathers were socialists. Born in Lapland and killing so many Russians. And crying for it. My father was a war child in Sweden. (war child was a little bit different back then, my dad was 4 years old).

  • Great channel. Because we are relatives. Samma på svenska.

  • I loved your comment at the end Joakim I laught my ass off!!!!!

  • Suomi perkele

  • They should do a song on Chesty Puller

  • Which would you rather encounter…. trees speaking vietnamese or snow speaking Finnish?

  • That T-shirt… Can we buy it somewhere?

  • Hayha couldn't return home because his home was in soviet hands but he found a new home.
    Lauri Torni had the same story but he wouldn't find a new home. He would take revenge and tirelesly fight against the people who stole his home by joining the waffen ss and the the american army in vietnam just to fight communists………ok then

  • Every scope manufacturer: Am I a joke to you?

  • You know he was bad-ass and respected when the nickname the enemy gives you is a good one

  • Pretty sure the crowd from a Sabaton show could conquer Europe as long as the band kept playing. Need to send them that speaker truck from Fury Road.

  • Its not HEYHEY , HA-Y-HA
    English speaking people misspelling non-english names since ancient times.

  • Wrong rifle bozoo…..get ur facts straight bud DNT talk history wen u only read the popular shit

  • Ta av dig glasögonen

  • You should sing about the First Fleet arriving in Terra Nullius

  • You know you're tough when the Russians give you a badass name instead of just insults

  • If you ever want to write a song about a Spanish hero without delving in the… let's leave it as polarizing… matter of Pizarro and the "conquistadores", you should look at the figure of Agustina de Aragón. Hell, the whole First Siege of Zaragoza (with special mention to Spanish commander General José de Palafox) during the Peninsulan War would make for a great song.

  • Russians: Lets start carrying shields

    Simo Hayha: Ok, you do that *Proceeds to knee cap the Russians*

  • Good vid. Finnish military trained here..

  • please please please PLEAAAASE!!! Make a mini documentary about all the fighters on this list here: http://www.meh.ro/2011/04/28/5-soldiers-who-make-rambo-look-like-a-pussy/

  • If you liked Simo Hayna, please check Yogendra Singh Yadav, Jack Churchill, Alvin York, and Audie Murphy too! And please help me get these awesome guys to do a short documentary like this one about them too!

  • Man it must have sucked to be a russian line soldier in that conflict. Undersupplied, yet in superior numbers so your officers expect you to make ground and progress. Sending you out there into the frozen snowy wastes only to meet the white reaper in the woods. Actually meeting isn't the right word when your entire squad gets picked of one by one from god knows where.

  • Soviets- I don't fear slack death
    Simo- how about white one

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