Aimo Koivunen

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The Scene:

Aimo Koivunen was a WWII Finnish soldier in 1944. At that time, Finland was fighting their neighbors, the USSR.


1939: August 23: Germany and the Soviet Union sign the Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact.


Germany broke it’s pact with Soviet Russia and Germany invaded on June 23.

But Germany’s army was no match for the Soviet Army… and Russian winters… and then the Soviets joined the Allies.

In 1942 the battle of Stalingrad begins on August 21 and goes until Germany’s surrender on February 2, 1943

What was happening in 1944:

    • June 6: D Day (the day the beaches of Normandy were stormed)
    • July 20: failed assassination attempt of Hitler
    • August 4: Anne Frank and Family are discovered
    • August 25: the Allies liberate Paris

Finland had been at war with the USSR since 1939. The dispute was mainly over ownership of ports up north in St. Petersburg.

Luckily for Finland, Stalin was a little preoccupied in joining Hitler and his “cause”.

While the world was at war, Finland was concerned with keeping what they considered was theirs.

The USSR still managed to find time to drive back Finland after about 900 days

It was at this time that Aimo Koinunen and his unit are on the third day of their mission… when they’re surrounded by the red army

What Happened:

So we have Aimo Koivunen in Murmansk, Russia, in March of 1944, on the third day of their mission his unit surrounded by the red army

They’re all on skis as far as I can tell

Aimo and some of his comrades manage to escape, so obvious the red army gives chase

Apparently, they escape for hours, on skis, and Aimo is getting tired (he’s the one in front breaking the snow for everybody), and it’s getting dark. And the Russians are still after them.

Desperate, Aimo has an idea. He was carrying his units supply of Pervitin, an early form of amphetamine 


Today, amphetamines are known for treating Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Some popular amphetamines are Ritalin or Adderall

Extended use can cause (if not taken as prescribed) increased body temperature, blood pressure and pulse rates, insomnia, loss of appetite, physical exhaustion

Chronic abuse produces a psychosis that resembles schizophrenia: paranoia, hallucinations, violent and erratic behavior

Stimulants like amphetamine could potentially cause sudden death, stroke, or a heart attack in people with preexisting conditions such as high blood pressure or heart disease.

Amphetamines can cause psychosis in those who have experienced mental illnesses, such as depression or bipolar disorder.

Important to note: while this can be prescribed and successfully treat certain diagnosis, this is a habit forming controlled substance. Ask your doctor. I am not your doctor.

Common street names: Bennies, Black Beauties, Crank, Ice, Speed, Uppers, ICE, crystal meth, meth, whip, goey, shards, rock, uppers, whizz and dexies.

Can be taken orally or intravenously (crystallized methamphetamine is smoked)

Best description on how it affects the body: like cocaine, but a more controlled release over a longer duration

Back to German Amphetamines

One website called Pervitin the “German Granddaddy of Crystal Meth and was apparently very popular among German soldier, and was used by many Nazi officials (but not Hitler, although he liked to try pretty much everything else).

Pervitin was invented by the Temmler pharmaceutical company in Berlin, and was marketed as a magic pill for alertness and anti-depression, briefly being available over the counter for a short time

This drug was widely used by German soldiers to be able to march longer and need less sleep, a

Anyway… back to the skis

So Aimo has been under pursuit for hours, on skis, and he is le tired… and is also carrying Pervitin.

So he has an idea, he should take some of this drug.

So because he’s under pursuit, on skis, he’s wearing gloves. The plan was to take one Pervitin, but due to his gloves, he poured the entire bottle into his hand (around 30 pills) and opened the hatch

Aimo had a short burst of energy that was shortly followed by a delirious state, shortly after which he passed out

When he woke he was alone, with no supplies expect his rifle, some water, and what he was wearing

Aimo still feared being caught, so he pushed forward. He eventually ended up stepping on a landmine, injuring himself (sources are vague on how he was injured).

He chilled in a ditch for a couple of days (some sources say up to a week), after it was obvious no one was coming for him, he hopped back on his skis and kept going

Thought the amphetamine suppress his appetite, he did munch on some pinestraw and managed to capture a Siberian Jay to eat (both of which he consumed raw)

Did I mention it was freezing? Cause it was about -20C (-4F)

Aimo ended up traveling about 250 miles from his point of origin. After being found, he was taken to a hospital where his heartbeat was measured at 200 beats per minute, weighing only 94lbs

Despite all this, Aimo Koinuven died in 1989 at the age of 72