Recommended books on the Winter War & Continuation War

Discussions on the Winter War and Continuation War, the wars between Finland and the USSR.
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Claes Johansen
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Re: Recommended books on the Winter War & Continuation War

Postby Claes Johansen » 21 Sep 2017 14:49

@Juha Tompuri

Borrowed from library, and just finished it.


Thanks.

A confusing experience.


Why? It's a clear and pretty strictly chronological account based on documents and facts, with which you should already be well-acquainted (in fact some of them I even learned about from your postings).

mostly probably quite OK


With your impressive knowledge on the subject I would expect you to be more precise than that. Otherwise, you yourself are raising the question of whether you are actually qualified to place a review here - but I'm sure you are, so what on Earth are you up to?

but at several points I have some doubts about facts being mixed with guesswork and fiction.


That is pretty harsh criticism, which stands totally unsubstantiated and with no examples. Is that even allowed around here? And as a moderator shouldn't you at least show a better example?

five points is a maximum, I'll give it one or two.


Bad and destructive idea, these "points" and stars and whatnot attached to reviews. Very disrespectful the the enormous work it takes to write a book. One day you should try it for yourself. Write a book about Denmark in WWII and see how it goes.

No need to purchase it for myself and can't recommend it to anyone... well... perhaps to someone who is already well aware of the USSR-Finnish history.


Because?

For to be read with care and for a peculiarity.


Hardly as peculiar as this "review". Seems more like a deliberate attempt to keep others from familiarising themselves with views that don't suit you personally.

All the best, Claes
Ystävällesin terveisin, the Tanskalainen

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Re: Recommended books on the Winter War & Continuation War

Postby JTV » 21 Sep 2017 19:48

For what it is worth I am with Juha on this. IMHO making the claim that he wrote the review just to make sure that others would not read the book also goes beyond, what I consider reasonable or just.

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Re: Recommended books on the Winter War & Continuation War

Postby Claes Johansen » 21 Sep 2017 20:53

@JTV

For what it is worth I am with Juha on this. IMHO making the claim that he wrote the review just to make sure that others would not read the book also goes beyond, what I consider reasonable or just.


I didn't "claim" anything. I said it "seems like", and indeed it does to me. Furthermore, I find it kind of funny that you feel Juha is the one who has been wronged and badly treated here.

All the best, Claes
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Re: Recommended books on the Winter War & Continuation War

Postby JTV » 21 Sep 2017 21:29

Claes Johansen wrote:I didn't "claim" anything. I said it "seems like", and indeed it does to me. Furthermore, I find it kind of funny that you feel Juha is the one who has been wronged and badly treated here.


So you are saying that Juha wronged you when he a wrote unfavorarable crique? I get critique all the time - sometimes for just reason, sometimes for no reason and sometimes for supposed reasons that don't really even make any sense. The difference is that I don't answer the critique by contanting the persons who wrote them and make any claims about their supposed motives. Why do you find my opinion on the matter funny? The way I remember it, I provided you critique already when you sent me some parts of the books while you were writing it, pointing out errors, but from the final book it is clear that you disregarded my advice.

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Re: Recommended books on the Winter War & Continuation War

Postby Claes Johansen » 21 Sep 2017 22:21

@JTV

So you are saying that Juha wronged you when he a wrote unfavorarable crique?


I'm saying he doesn't substantiate his rather coarse critique and gives no concrete examples. That is not normally an accepted way to conduct oneself on this forum, as I understand it, and nor is it actually typical for Juha himself either.

The difference is that I don't answer the critique by contanting the persons who wrote them and make any claims about their supposed motives.

Different people do things in different ways. And I have still not made any "claims".

Why do you find my opinion on the matter funny?

"Funny" in this context just means "strange" or "surprising", not ha-ha funny. I find it strange because clearly I am the part who has been wronged here, not Juha.

The way I remember it, I provided you critique already when you sent me some parts of the books while you were writing it, pointing out errors, but from the final book it is clear that you disregarded my advice.

Then I very much think you must remember it wrong. I have always had great respect for you because you are an objective historian with a huge amount of knowledge, who doesn't mind presenting facts that represent truths, which certain other people refuse to accept as part of the overall picture. I actually remember praising you for that in a private email. That was why I contacted you and you very kindly helped me out at the manuscript stage, for which you are credited in the preface of my book. Apart from that, I don't mind thanking you here again because you did a highly competent job. I also sent you a copy of my book as soon as it came out and you kindly wrote back that you were impressed. You did not mention then that I should have ignored any of your corrections, even by mistake, and I'm pretty sure I didn't. Like myself, you preferred a different cover design than the one that eventually ended up on the book, but that is only because the publisher wouldn't go with what I asked them to do. Perhaps that is where the misunderstanding comes in that I should have disregarded your opinion. I didn't, I just couldn't convince the publisher.

I hope this clears the air a bit and that you now truly understand how much I appreciate your assistance, which was an important factor in making the book as good and truthful as it is.

Kind regards, Claes
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Re: Recommended books on the Winter War & Continuation War

Postby Juha Tompuri » 30 Sep 2017 21:10

Sorry for the late reply.
As wished, I'll post more a more detailed critiqueat at a separate thread, based on some memos I made when going through the mentioned book.

Regards, Juha

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Re: Recommended books on the Winter War & Continuation War

Postby John T » 21 Oct 2017 13:44

The Foreign Office and Finland
Diplomatic Sideshow
By Craig Gerrard

https://www.amazon.com/Foreign-Office-Finland-Diplomatic-Contemporary-ebook/dp/B000OT7WXU

I would rate this book high.

I found it very interesting as it captures the debates within British Foreign office between the Nordic department and the higher policy makers.
But sometimes, for me as citizen of a small nordic state irritating,
until I understood that the author did just quote the discussions within Whitehall rather than making any modern day moral judgement.

Cheers
/John T

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Re: Recommended books on the Winter War & Continuation War

Postby Juha Tompuri » 27 Oct 2017 20:48

Juha Tompuri wrote:Sorry for the late reply.
As wished, I'll post more a more detailed critiqueat at a separate thread, based on some memos I made when going through the mentioned book.
The critique posted here:
viewtopic.php?f=59&t=231404

Regards, Juha

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Re: Recommended books on the Winter War & Continuation War

Postby Laurance.Robinson » 12 Nov 2017 13:46

I wrote this review on my GoodReads after finishing Hitler's Nordic Ally and I have to agree with Juha here.

"This is my first ever three star rating. I had high hopes for this book but unfortunately came away feeling a little let down.

TL;DR The Author clearly showed a massive bias against Finland and left out or downplayed numerous factors in order to present a case that isn't in line with historical facts.

The Good Points:-

The Author does look at numerous areas that have been glossed over or not well known within the larger world. This includes the invasion of East Karelia (unfortunately many, Finns included, stick to the idea that the 1939 border was never crossed), concentration camps in East Karelia, the myth of a united and strong Finnish Army in 1941-44.

The numerous maps and appendixes are very well compiled. Unless you have many books and materials upon Finland's wars, then the appendixes are entirely new (most are sourced from numerous previous books or websites). The Maps are simply and yet very informative and allow the reader to help picture the battles clearer.

His writing style is very griping, it is easy to follow and exciting enough to allow yourself to get sucked into the book and lose track of time.

Well sourced information. Especially in the first part of the book (dealing with the Winter War) the author has amassed a large amount of information and clearly states facts, referencing the sources frequently and backing up his words.

The Bad Points:-

Loose with facts, whitewashing and downplaying achievements. While the first part of the book is well sourced and backed up, the second half (dealing with the interim peace, Continuation War, Lapland War and aftermath) has less sources and even the ones he uses he often quotes out of context. In this part of the book he often throws words like allegedly and we can assume a lot (often several times within a page). For example he states "the group of people who were handed over was very small, apparently just eight individuals" in relations to Jews. There is no apparently. We know that 8 individuals were handed over by the Finnish government to Germany. However they were not handed over because they were Jewish but because information presented by the German government showed them to be criminals, indeed they were accompanied with 19 other individuals who Germany called criminals. While this obviously doesn't excuse the action, it does shine more light onto the situation and indeed after this incident, Finland never allowed any other German or occupied territory refugees be deported. Mannerheim also ordered the evacuation of 160 Jews refugees to Sweden in order to protect them (of Which nothing is mentioned). Another example is his downplaying of the actions that lead to the decrease of Soviet strategic bombing on Helsinki and elsewhere in 1944. He states "It seems the Russians were completely unaware of the feeble effect of these bombings. Instead, they assumed that Helsinki was lying in ruins after the attacks, which explains why the Red Air Force never bombed the city again". What he totally ignores is the Finnish Air Forces infiltration bombing raids upon the airfields of the Soviet ADD, Finnish bombers would follow Soviet Bomber formations back to their base and as the planes were landing, they would continue flying and bomb the field, causing massive amounts of damage. The Soviets were forced to pull their bases further and further back until they soon were out of range of any of the big cities of Finland.

One sided viewpoint. The Author seems to ignore Finland's precarious position in 1939-1945. It had a large superpower to its East and a large superpower in the South West. Both powers had showed aggression to the smaller, newly liberated countries of Europe and even held others to ransom. Finland saw itself violated, under siege and without allies (the USSR refused to accept a Swedish-Finnish military pact). It made a choice of the lesser of two evils (in its eyes) and sought revenge. The Soviet Union reaped what it had sown. Finland couldn't provide enough foodstuffs for its people (especially after loosing the fertile lands of Karelia) and Germany was there to offer help. Finland's war of choice was a choice between invasion and subjugation at one of the great powers or to work alongside one and achieve some kind of standing. The author clearly ignores this, he even dismisses the food crisis as an excuse, he ignores the build up of Soviet troops on the border or the annexations of the Baltics. We can see how he dedicates 5 pages to the Soviet PoWs in Finland and downplays the stretched resources and other factors that contributed to about 18,000 dead out of 65,000 (and very little mention of Mannerheim's personal intervention that saw massive improvements made to the camps). He tries to present the deaths as a result of Finnish malice and akin to the German's racial theories. He then dedicates 1 and a half pages to Finnish PoWs in the USSR which saw a mortality rate of 40% and attempts to ignore their poor treatment.


Overall the book isn't a bad one. It is just an example of how authors are not impartial, they have an agenda (normally tied to money) and that they will ignore, twist and whitewash anything that dispels their hypothesis. Anyone who wants to read this, I implore you to take everything with a pinch of salt, use this book as a resource and then research what you find interesting."

I concur with the points you have also brought forward. Overall the book does hold some merits but it isn't a book I would recommend as a good book on Finland's Military involvement during the Second World War.

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Re: Recommended books on the Winter War & Continuation War

Postby Claes Johansen » 13 Nov 2017 14:30

@ Laurance Robinson.

Thanks for reading my book and for your kind remarks on the parts of it you liked.

In regard to your critique (a word whose actual meaning you could perhaps be kind and explain to certain other people around here), I must say I find it deeply disheartening to see that I have failed so miserably to get my message through to you. The idea that I should have a "massive bias" against the Finns is so outrageous a misreading of my book I hardly know what to say.

Perhaps certain Finnish people's habit of whitewashing their country's history politically - and blow their own little war trumpet for breakfast, lunch and dinner for all the world to hear - has meant that any attempt to give a neutral and fair presentation of what actually happened up there in WWII must inevitably look "massively biased" against the Finnish people in comparison. I can't emphasise enough that I am no such thing and my sympathy during that entire affair is completely on the side of the Finnish common people (though that doesn't mean some nasty Right Wing nationalist extremists didn't do their best to exploit the situation - of course they did).

I should perhaps also mention that my book originally came out in Denmark and was meant for a Danish audience only. Important things to remember when you write for a Danish audience are:

1. They absolutely detest people who are lying.
2. They themselves are extremely critical and embarrassed about their own country's collaboration with Nazi Germany in WWII - still, they don't regard it as an either-or issue but more a question of degree.
3. They have no time for people who are endlessly making up excuses for themselves.
4. Being fellow Nordics they know the Finns quite well as a people and realise they are only human beings like everyone else, so there is a limit to the kind of fairy tales you can get away with telling them.
5. They know the system in the Soviet Union was absolutely horrible and don't need to have it explained to them on every page of a book like mine in order to understand the jam the Finns found themselves in during WWII.

I hope this clears things up a bit.
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Re: Recommended books on the Winter War & Continuation War

Postby Laurance.Robinson » 14 Nov 2017 08:19

Claes Johansen wrote:@ Laurance Robinson.

Thanks for reading my book and for your kind remarks on the parts of it you liked.

In regard to your critique (a word whose actual meaning you could perhaps be kind and explain to certain other people around here), I must say I find it deeply disheartening to see that I have failed so miserably to get my message through to you. The idea that I should have a "massive bias" against the Finns is so outrageous a misreading of my book I hardly know what to say.


I do not believe one can state that I have misread the book. It would be akin to me saying that your disliking of an item on my menu is a mistasting.

Claes Johansen wrote:Perhaps certain Finnish people's habit of whitewashing their country's history politically - and blow their own little war trumpet for breakfast, lunch and dinner for all the world to hear - has meant that any attempt to give a neutral and fair presentation of what actually happened up there in WWII must inevitably look "massively biased" against the Finnish people in comparison. I can't emphasise enough that I am no such thing and my sympathy during that entire affair is completely on the side of the Finnish common people (though that doesn't mean some nasty Right Wing nationalist extremists didn't do their best to exploit the situation - of course they did).


Yes some people do have a habit of whitewashing the history of Finland and blowing that War trumpet, but it is no similar to Danes who attempt to excuse their country's collaboration with Germany. The actions of a few, loud folks shouldn't be taken as a representative of the whole. There are many neutral and fair presentations of what actually happened in Finland during World War II but I do not feel yours is one of them and I have listed the reasons why. I understand that you may feel this is personal, considering you are the author, but an author should also be prepared to realise their mistakes. It seems that you dismiss any negative crictism of your work as being whitewashing or dismissal of Finland's role in WWII.

Claes Johansen wrote:I should perhaps also mention that my book originally came out in Denmark and was meant for a Danish audience only. Important things to remember when you write for a Danish audience are:

1. They absolutely detest people who are lying.
2. They themselves are extremely critical and embarrassed about their own country's collaboration with Nazi Germany in WWII - still, they don't regard it as an either-or issue but more a question of degree.
3. They have no time for people who are endlessly making up excuses for themselves.
4. Being fellow Nordics they know the Finns quite well as a people and realise they are only human beings like everyone else, so there is a limit to the kind of fairy tales you can get away with telling them.
5. They know the system in the Soviet Union was absolutely horrible and don't need to have it explained to them on every page of a book like mine in order to understand the jam the Finns found themselves in during WWII.

I hope this clears things up a bit.


We should never generalise or excuse. If you book was originally intended for a Danish audience, it still doesn't excuse the words you have written. To make sweeping, generalise statements like Danes absolutely detest lying or that they know Finns because they are Nordic too is just silly. It isn't academically sound nor does it help support you.

You highlight about the Danish national consciousness of Guilt in regards to their collaboration with the Third Reich. Maybe this has coloured your book, as Finland was not a collaborator nor was it conquered by a foreign power and had full control of its Government throughout the time period. Maybe it is a small form of envy, an attempt to deflect.

No one is asking you to explain the horridness of the USSR on every page, but that you show a fair and equal presentation. For example, your 5 pages dedicated to the Soviet PoWs in Finland, where you dismiss the stretched resources the Finns were under, fail to mention Mannerheim's personal involvement to better the camps, the numerous investigations that were opened between 1942-44 into Camp guards by Finland. Then for the Finnish PoWs, which suffered a higher rate of mortality, you only dedicate 1 and a half pages and your conclusion boils down to Finland mistreated them after the war.

You state about Danes absolutely detesting lying, lying is the act of withholding the truth, correct? As stated, the incident involving the handover of 8 Jews (not apparently as your state in your book) doesn't mention the circumstances surrounding it. It fails to mention how the Finnish VALPO were given evidence that these 8 Jews, alongside 11 others, were actually criminals. Now, whether this evidence was fabricated or not, or whether the head of the State Police, Arno Anthoni, who authorise the deportation, a known anti-Semitic and Nazi supporter, did this for favour, we do not know but context is always everything.

I believe that my reading of your book wasn't a misreading but a difference in interpretation. As stated, the book isn't a bad one, but I do feel that you lean more to justifying the actions of the USSR and want to paint Finland in a more negative light. Maybe this is down in part of the how the Danish National Consciousness is one of Guilt for their role in WWII, but Finland has a different history, a different story, and thus doesn't require the same negativeness.

I do feel that a good author is one that doesn't attempt to push the blame for the negative viewpoints on their work onto the reader but one that acknowledges the flaws in their work and endevours to improve upon them.

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Re: Recommended books on the Winter War & Continuation War

Postby Claes Johansen » 14 Nov 2017 11:51

@Laurance Robinson

I do feel that you lean more to justifying the actions of the USSR and want to paint Finland in a more negative light.


We can discuss whether that is the case or not, and I don't necessarily disagree completely, but basically the way you word it now is very far from how you put it from the start. You wrote that my book is "massively biased against Finland", and that is simply an outrageous claim that has no justification whatsoever. You have even put the same statement elsewhere on the net, too.

If you have truly changed you mind on this issue, as you seem to have, you owe me a big apology before we can get on with this discussion, because as you can probably see I am quite offended over the gross and profoundly incorrect accusation you initially made against me.
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Re: Recommended books on the Winter War & Continuation War

Postby Laurance.Robinson » 14 Nov 2017 12:09

Claes Johansen wrote:@Laurance Robinson

I do feel that you lean more to justifying the actions of the USSR and want to paint Finland in a more negative light.


We can discuss whether that is the case or not, and I don't necessarily disagree completely, but basically the way you word it now is very far from how you put it from the start. You wrote that my book is "massively biased against Finland", and that is simply an outrageous claim that has no justification whatsoever. You have even put the same statement elsewhere on the net, too.

If you have truly changed you mind on this issue, as you seem to have, you owe me a big apology before we can get on with this discussion, because as you can probably see I am quite offended over the gross and profoundly incorrect accusation you initially made against me.


Sorry but I owe you nothing. You are clearly extremely sensitive in regards to your work and this isn't a good disposition to be in for an author.

As I already stated, I had posted this review to GoodReads and that is the only place it has been posted. Your book does show a massive bias against Finland. As stated, your first part of the book (including the pre-war stuff) was well sourced, pretty accurate etc but once you get to the post Winter War you start loosing that confidence, you throw words like apparently, assume etc around like candy and your dismissal of Finland's situation and heavy focus upon the 'crimes' of Finland with little context or balance from the side of the USSR does lend itself to show a massive bias towards the USSR.

Even if I change my opinion, this still doesn't require any grovelling to apologize to you. I'm sorry that you have taken my criticisms so hard but I stand by my point. I also know I am not alone in this position.

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Re: Recommended books on the Winter War & Continuation War

Postby Claes Johansen » 14 Nov 2017 12:15

@Laurence Robinson

End of discussion.

Claes Johansen
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Re: Recommended books on the Winter War & Continuation War

Postby Laurance.Robinson » 14 Nov 2017 12:21

Claes Johansen wrote:@Laurence Robinson

End of discussion.

Claes Johansen


A little immature and prima Donnaish if you ask me, your right though.

However, criticism is the weight an author has to expect. It is about handling such criticism that helps mark out the character of the individual.

You cannot bully, demand or attack in order to change someone's opinion of your work.


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