“Every Defeat A Victory”

“Every Defeat A Victory” (January 8, 1940)
by Charles (Chuck) Werner (1909-1997)
14 x 18 in., ink and crayon on textured paper
Coppola Collection

Charles (Chuck) Werner won the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning in 1939 for a cartoon he did for the Daily Oklahoman titled “Nomination for 1938” which allowed for the transfer of the Sudetenland to Hitler’s Germany (October 6, 1938). At age 29, Werner was the youngest person to win the Pulitzer. Werner left the Daily Oklahoman to be the Chief Editorial Cartoonist at the Chicago Sun in 1941 before leaving for the Indianapolis Star in 1947. Throughout his nearly sixty-year career, many U.S. Presidents expressed interest in Werner’s cartoons, including Lyndon B. Johnson and Harry Truman requesting cartoons for their presidential libraries.

At the outbreak of WW2 on September 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland and they carved up the spoils based on their secret agreement with Stalin. Three months later, in late November, the Soviets went after Finland in what is called The Winter War. The terms for carving up Europe were all, as we would learn much later, spelled out in that agreement with Germany, the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.

Finland repelled Soviet attacks for more than two months and inflicted substantial losses on the invaders while temperatures ranged as low as −43 °C.

The Battle of Raate Road was a battle fought during the Winter War, January 1-7, 1940.

During January 6, heavy fighting occurred all along the Raate Road as the Finns continued to break up the enemy forces into smaller pieces. The Soviets attempted to overrun Finnish roadblocks with armor, losing numerous tanks in frontal attacks, but were unsuccessful.

The Soviet commander, Vinogradov, ordered retreat back to the Soviet border. The despairing Soviet troops began to escape, but many soldiers froze to death without proper clothing or supplies. The Finnish army captured a tremendous amount of materiel in this battle.

Vinogradov and two of his chief officers, Volkov and Pahomov, retreated in the middle of crucial battles. According to reports, this act had a fatal influence on morale. As they reached the Soviet lines four days later they were court-martialed, found guilty and sentenced to death; the executions were carried out immediately.

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