History of the diary of Simo Häyhä

A new exhibition for Simo Häyhä was to be held in 2018 at the Simo Häyhä and Kollaa museum. The curator and organizer then one last time contacted the relatives and associates of Häyhä on whether they would have any memorabilia for the exhibition.

Häyhä's nephew then said that he had Häyhä's guest book and another one titled "War Memories" written by Häyhä.

war memories

The handwritten diary had been stored in a drawer. Häyhä's nephew had not read it prior before bringing it up.

Researchers of Häyhä have confirmed the notebook is in Häyhä's handwriting.

In its original handwritten, notebook form Häyhä's diary is about 11 pages long. So the idea with the website was to contextualize it also for non-Finnish readers by providing information on what he wrote of or referred to. The additional Häyhä interviews, letters and stories provide access to Simo Häyhä's thoughts or what he even dreamed of.


The notebook was mainly available in separate quotes through Finnish media. Besides that copies of the handwritten notebook were being sold at the Häyhä and Kollaa museum for a few euros. 

In 2019 a history student at the University of Oulu published the thesis in PDF file format in Finnish as an appendix. Her candidate work studied the notebook and Häyhä's thoughts on the Winter War and the Russians.

a study

So the diary in Finnish at least has been already available for a few years. Although not in a very user-friendly way.

As a website

I had already created three free study websites in 2022 that were meant to be useful to the reader. So why not try creating a fourth website? Especially when prototyping the website it seemed to be already shaping far better than a couple of other attempts I had done on other topics.

I had the idea of making the diary already previously but it seemed far-fetched till I found that the whole thing was already freely available as a PDF with the permission of the museum. On my way to the summer cottage, I had driven past the Häyhä and Kollaa museum a few times but of course it would have been a whole different ordeal if the text would not have been available.

An up ear

I feel like the website's format with images and contextualization combined with the original text shaped out nicely. Hopefully humanely also. Of course, you never how people react before it is out there on the internet.

Any sort of external negotiating behind the creation of anything I think risks the vision shaping out freely through experimenting and prototyping. Feedback is course welcome and beneficial for all after there is something to critique.

The launch and visualization

The introduction of the website has at least so far been received well.

The discussions and feedback I've had for example in Reddit and Finnish forums have also helped with honing the stuff or even finding and then adding something that I hadn't come across before. So thank you for that.

I cannot perhaps yet see the website as neutrally as with time is possible. So any feedback at least makes you think if the site could be improved in any way. Although it is a longer-term realization process.

With my first flagship site in Finnish, Nopat.me, for example the site visually developed drastically through the months. You can see some of the influence on how this website is arranged as they are part of the same continuum. Although there are fewer beige rabbits around this time.

A beige rabbit

With this one too I've at least tried to make it visually interesting. Although beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And who knows how it will appear to me with the passage of time since I at least yet cannot really review all aspects of it that neutrally.


Häyhä's deeds and words belong to the free world.

While the internet might be a good way of instantly popularizing the image of someone it can easily also lead to painting less than humane pictures of that someone.

So I think it is important that also his own words and thoughts reflect the soldier, farmer and human that was Simo Häyhä.


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

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

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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

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Free online courses

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