My Book of Sins: War Memories by Simo Häyhä

There was already a sense of war in the air and so I was called on 10/10 1939 to the house of the Rautjärvi White Guard and from there to Huuhanmäki to the barracks of the Viipuri regiment. 

There we were assigned into companies and I was assigned to 6/JR 34 under Lieutenant (now Captain) Juutilainen's, "the Dread of Morocco's" company. The leaders of the companies were: I. Lieutenant Salo, II. Lieutenant Suuronen, III Lieutenant Lehelä and IV Lieutenant Liimatainen.

I was in III platoon and III group. The regimental commander at the time was Lieutenant Colonel Teittinen and the division commander was Colonel L Tiainen. From Huuhanmäki we went by train to Roikonkoski and from there to the terrain.

White death diary

Simo Häyhä's diary is also available in alternate visualized and contextualized form providing information on characters and events that Häyhä wrote of.

The Diary of Simo Häyhä Visualized and ContextualizedSimo Häyhä Letters and StoriesThe Battle of Kollaa Remembered

On 30/11 at 3 o'clock the Russians started firing with artillery the village of Hautavaara in Hyrsylä bend. I was in Pyhäjoki at the time.

On 2/12 Iivana attacked on 2 nights in a row, and during the three days Janne Rautio and Lauri Kustaa Leminen fell. That night the order was given to retreat to Suvilahti. After burning Suvilahti during the night we retreated to Kollaa at about 6/12. There we started the making of barbed wire barriers and positions.

When the Russians attacked on 6/12 we hit them at dusk. We were able to repulse them, gaining 1 field gun, 6 anti-tank guns, 12 machine guns, light machine guns and other munitions. To my delight, no one was even wounded. The small attacks we made were as dense as ash with our company gaining about 40 machine guns.

Before Christmas, reverend Rantamaa, the author Mika Valtari and some of the headquarters' officers visited the camp to photograph Juutilainen and me as if we were some kind of miracles.

My sin list then was 150 Russians with a pystykorva. They wanted our autographs and we were also printed in the Finnish photo magazine (Suomen Kuvalehti). Gradually Christmas arrived, when we shaved our beards and transformed from almost of a moor to more ordinary-looking.

the white sniper

Major Tapio Saarelainen who interviewed Simo Häyhä dozens of times has written a book called the White Sniper about Simo Häyhä. Which is the most authentic long-form source available in English regarding Häyhä so I can recommend it if you want to learn more.

The White Sniper

When you buy through our links, I may earn a commission. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

I myself was not in this picture, but was in the vanguard teasing the Russians snapping 20 Russians and three more on the leg. We didn't fire our artillery all day on Christmas Day at all. We spent the evening in the barracks with good Christmas food.

After Christmas, we caught a Russkie, blindfolded him, spun him all confused and took him to the Dread of Morocco's tent for a good feast. The Russian was happy to be held and when he was sent back having to return felt very repulsive to him.

A card for Christmas from Vaasa that was in a package from a stranger.

One day the Dread of Morocco said: "Let's go and see what the Russian is up to".

We crept under the cover of rocks and juniper bushes near the Russian campfire and saw them in the act of eating and stripped barefoot, drying their shoes. We unexpectedly opened fire, leaving at least half of the Iivanas by the fire, and the others panicked and fled, leaving their equipment and shoes behind.

When Captain Juutilainen noticed that even the machine gun was left behind, he ran to it and turned the barrel towards the Russians, making clear aftermath. The spoils of war were again at least several machine guns.

During the whole war I shot about 500 Russians. Around the beginning of February a rifle of honor was donated by a Swede, which was presented to me by the then head of the division Colonel Svensson, who commanded the division.

The entire regiment's casualty count was 1,667 killed and wounded.

I myself was wounded by an exploding rifle bullet on 7/3 in Kollaa while chasing Russians in the woods. I woke up a few minutes later when my comrades turned me over on my side by my arm and tied me up, screaming for the medics to come and get me.

The first place was a field hospital, 13/3 they brought me to Kinkomaa, to Keski-Suomen Sanatorium, (where I was given the Cross of Kollaa on 16/6).

28/6 I was moved to Helsinki to the Mehiläinen hospital. Already I have been operated 4 times and I am still being operated on. Now I have arrived on holiday in Karjaa at Dr Hartvall's farm in Lövkulla. 17/8 1940 [P.O. 14.8.1940].

Already I have been wondered and photographed for publicity purposes.

There even was an obituary in the newspaper about my death.


As our path took us to the battles,
where only the song of bullets plays,
we never knew as we departed,
who may ever return.
This life in the trenches is
to us only a command of the Fate
and maybe the destination of our journey
is to disappear into the din of war.

When the night arrives on the field of battles,
the silence is upon the trenches.
So droop the heads of the exhausted soldiers,
in their trenches the men can now sleep for a while in peace.

A man awake alone is remembering,
and his thoughts stray the long way home.
Mother there is probably still up at this moment
Sighing and praying on the behalf of her beloved child.


First you taught me romance, then you taught me how to love.

Now teach me how to forget. As you forgot me.

Life does not bring roses. It only allows a cold trench. Who would trade roses for tears. Who happiness for solace.

I only wandered in my dreams. I only cloaked the dreams of others. I only laughed at others always. I evaded the truth. Forgive me, my friend.


As the day turned to night,
came a moment for a brief rest,
everyone has fallen asleep,
where the bonfire grants its warmth.

I keep remembering you again,
I still see the tear on your cheek,
even if I were to fall on the battlefield,
the image of you will be my last.


Learn how the diary was found and made into a website. Discover resources and media related to Simo Häyhä, Kollaa and the Winter War.

Häyhä and The Winter War in Literature, Movies and MediaWinter War ResourcesHistory of the Diary

unknown soldier

Unknown Soldier is both the most beloved Finnish book and movie. The various humanized characters of the machine gun company can also be found in the recent modern movie adaptation of the Väinö Linna classic novel. If you ever want to truly surprise a Finn, try quoting lines from Unknown Soldier out of the blue.

Unknown Soldier

When you buy through our links, I may earn a commission. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Free online courses

If you are interested in free online courses can help. As our sister site highlights all the completely free university courses from Finland.