Winter War losses -- a short historiography

Discussions on the Winter War and Continuation War, the wars between Finland and the USSR.
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Yuri
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Post by Yuri » 25 Jun 2006 17:50

Hi,

Jarkko Hietala wrote:This post is totally off-topic this thread is about winter war losses not political reasons for winter war or winter war territory demands. Could you please stay in topic only.


Excuse, but I that just and wish to leave from policy.
To translate discussion on political rails others try, but not I.

My question far not political.
At me greater doubts on number of losses of the Finnish army.
These doubts have under themselves the firm logic basis.
I also have stated this basis

/

udachi! / Good luck!

Yuri

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Harri
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Post by Harri » 25 Jun 2006 20:36

Yuri wrote:At me greater doubts on number of losses of the Finnish army.
These doubts have under themselves the firm logic basis.


Sorry, but your doubts are based on totally wrong information and conclusions (described earlier in this thread), so I don't see any logic there unless you have really strong proves that there would be something wrong with the Finnish figures. So far we have not seen anything such. Official Finnish information published already since 1940's is available at any time for anyone who is interested in.

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Post by Sami_K » 25 Jun 2006 20:51

Yuri wrote:Hi,

Jarkko Hietala wrote:This post is totally off-topic this thread is about winter war losses not political reasons for winter war or winter war territory demands. Could you please stay in topic only.


My question far not political.
At me greater doubts on number of losses of the Finnish army.


As it happens, the following stat has the Finnish population on 31 Dec 1940 (after the Winter War)
http://www.vaestoliitto.fi/mp/db/file_l ... -20041.pdf
You can find that the proportion of the Finnish male population was in Dec 31 1940 48,5% of the total population, and numbered 1793 (thousands).

From the database available here:
http://pxweb2.stat.fi/Dialog/varval.asp ... ne/&lang=3


This is the data I picked up of the Finnish males
year 1935 1936 1937 1938 1939 1940 1941
males total 1,751,500 1,763,100 1,777,200 1,793,600 1,804,800 1,792,600 1,785,082
%-diff. to prev year 0,7 % 0,8 % 0,9 % 0,6 % -0,7 % -0,4 %
#-diff. to prev year 11,600 14,100 16,400 11,200 -12,200 -7,518

Cheers,
Sami

P.S. By the way, don't stare "just" the number of killed. It was a pretty short war after all. In a war as long as the GPW a man might be wounded several times and return to the front, but during the Winter War, within the last few weeks when the Finnish army was sustaining mounting casualties, the wounded taken back to hospitals were effectively off from frontline strength. If eg. the Finns lost around Vyborg, say 500 men killed on day X of March, you can safely do the usual calculation of killed x 2 = the number of wounded, meaning that the Finnish frontline units around Vyborg lost at least for a short while 1,000-1,500 men (500 killed and 500 - 1,000 more or less badly wounded). The wounded back in hospitals who would be fit to fight again in a few weeks were of little use in the early March when the situation was tight.

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Hanski
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Post by Hanski » 25 Jun 2006 21:53

Just to emphasize a special aspect of the population statistics presented in Sami_K's link:

Most countries of the world even today cannot produce accurate annual statistics of their population, counting single persons, but only rough estimates of varying accuracy.

The Finnish population statistics are exceptional in that they are based on a long tradition of very accurate population records, dating back to the times when Finland was "Österlandet" of the Kingdom of Sweden. The Swedes introduced everywhere their highly organized system of local government, with everybody being taxed as one of the central aims!

The Lutheran Church was responsible of keeping track of every person baptized, confirmed, married, and buried, and the clergymen were meticulously punctual in performing their duties. This habit was systematically followed for centuries in a country with one of the highest rates of literacy worldwide, in a culturally homogenous, stable population with little migration, and it was later extended to cover also the members of the Orthodox church as well as those outside of religious communities. The routines were unbroken during the period when Finland was a Grand Duchy of the Russian Czar in 1809-1917, and after Finland gained her independence. The result is probably the most accurate population data anywhere in the word, held with manual data processing but kept updated as soon as the register keepers were informed of any event to anyone "in the Church books". There was no such thing as babies being born and living into adulthood without being entered in the records, because in the highly integrated society it would have come to the attention of the authorities sooner or later. The rule of law was taken literally, and deaths were also verified and recorded with care, and even if all people were not reliable or truthful, the well-educated authorities certainly were to the extent that it is humanly possible. Causing a false entry into a public register has in itself been a criminal act, treated with all seriousness.

Hence, the population statistics are not based on periodical census counts or approximate estimates like in most countries especially with a heterogenous and religiously diverse populations, with lots of migrants moving in and out, but in Finland they have been based on actual head counts that are updated continuously, with a track record of uninterrupted continuity for centuries from times way back when no one could ever even dream of anything like automated data processing. Nowadays, the uniquely accurate Finnish population records are highly appreciated among others by researchers of genetics, who can utilize them for reliably tracing back several generations of named individuals. See: http://www.genome.helsinki.fi/index.php ... &Itemid=47

If there is any society which will notice "there is one missing", it has been Finland. Consequently, highly accurate data and statistics are also available on the numbers of Finnish casualties in war. Truthful official reporting is also the norm among Finnish authorities, so biased numbers, for example for propaganda purposes, are out of the question -- they simply would not have stood the test of time and subsequent scrutiny. For anyone keen on conspiracy theories, the non-corrupt Nordic countries with their open societies are generally a very boring environment.

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Bair
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Post by Bair » 26 Jun 2006 08:15

The problem with tietokannat is that the place of death is sometimes stated very unclearly. For example, if a person was killed in Summa, his place of death can be stated as Summa, Muolaa (the parish), Munasuo, Suokanta, Summankylä... and the same with the name of the unit: sometimes it is just regiment, sometimes regiment and battalion and sometimes company and regiment... I had several hard cases and several Finnish casualties that are mentioned in war diaries (sotapäiväkirjat) but not in the database.

with best regards,

Bair

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Harri
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Post by Harri » 26 Jun 2006 11:35

I think the database is not based on the war diaries but official records of the Finnish military and civilian authorities who handled the cases of each killed soldiers. They may not have had always the most accurate information available with them, so there are of course variation in unit, place of death etc. Some soldiers served in many units (for example because companies were merged) and it is not always quite clear in which unit some soldier actually belonged to at the moment he was killed in action.

In some cases like Bair mentioned killed soldiers are for some reason missing from the database but there has been also "double", even "triple cases". War diaries may also contain mistakes: for example missed soldiers might return back later etc. To be quite accurate and correct all information should be cross-checked from several sources which is a huge job. Still there may be conflicting information which after 60 years won't be never solved. As far as I know this database is made using partly (/ mostly?) voluntary employees. For sure it contains mistakes and still lacks some information. Anyway I think it's the most accurate such record in the world.

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Post by Whiskey » 27 Jun 2006 15:13

Hi!

Yuri wrote:My question far not political.
At me greater doubts on number of losses of the Finnish army.
These doubts have under themselves the firm logic basis.
I also have stated this basis

Let's collect that basis together:
The Finnish army had 14 infantry divisions and 7 brigades.
It is considered to be, that two brigades are equivalent to one division. Then we receive, that the Finnish army had 17,5 divisions.

At the beginning of the Winter War Finnish army had 9 infantry divisions and 4 brigades. It also had 3 Field replacement divisions, which coinsisted with men without arms and with a very little training. As armaments situation improved and training progressed, these men were transported to the front, about half to replace losses and the rest forming new units.

At the beginning of the Continuation War Finnish army consisted 16 infantry divisions and 3 brigades. During the war the army was reorganized so, that in the end it consisted 14 infantry divisions, 7 brigades and 1 armored division.

Number of one Finnish division made, approximately, 18 thousand men. Hence, only one infantry Finns had had 315,0 thousand men.

As already pointed out by Martti Kujansuu, the Finnish infantry division was 14 200 men. The Soviet infantry division at the time of the Winter War was about 18 000 men.

However, in the Finnish army there were still special parts: artillery, an antiaircraft artillery, sappers, connection, supply and so forth. We shall add here military pilots and military seamen, and as frontier guards. It is necessary to remember and about spare and accessories.

Like Sami_K and Harri pointed out, most of the artillery, sappers(engineers), signal and supply were part of divisional structure. There were only 8 separate artillery batallions and 8 separate batteries which were under the corps command. The navy was 33 200, but it is including some of the army's units, as one infantry regiment was given to navy. The air force consisted only 300 planes, of which almost 200 were for training, and the total personnel was around 11 000.

All in all, Finnish armed forces were about 200 000 in the beginning of the war, and rose to 250 000 to the war's end, when foreign voluteers arrived and replacement units were trained and equipped.

It is impossible to forget and about, so-called, foreign volunteers whom was 11,5 thousand men.
Thus, when Molotov spoke, that the Finnish army totaled about 600,0 thousand men he most likely, has underestimated number of the Finnish army, than has overestimated.
Actually, in 1939 the Finnish army totaled more, than 600,0 thousand men.

Could you please cite a source about this claim?

This figure finds confirmation in the book "World war". In this book Vermaht's general-lieutenant Ditmar writes, the truth, about the Finnish army of the sample of 1941. However it is improbable, that the Finnish army of 1939 and the Finnish army of 1941 could strongly will distinguish.

Like Sami_K and others had pointed out, the Finnish army of 1939 was totally different from the army of 1941. After the Moscow peace treaty, Finns had over the year to train men and purchase equipment, so in the July 1941 the armed forces fielded 475 000 men, of which army had 353 000.

General-lieutenant Ditmar writes, that the population of Finland made 3,8 million person, and in lines of armed forces 18 % from an aggregate number of the population of the country that gives figure 684,0 of thousand men have been called.
It is possible to not doubt that the mobilization potential of Finland in 1939 was above, than in 1941. Hence V. Molotov was right, when spoke, that in 1939 the Finnish army totaled 600,0 thousand men.

Ditmar gives a little bit too high number for 1941, as the real numbers are 16% and 610 000 persons in war related jobs. Only those 475 000 were in armed forces, the rest were managing hospitals, offices etc. they included 43 000 women volunteers, 17 000 workers building fortifications and 97 000 reserved for civil defence like fire brigades, field fire defence, guarding bridges etc. (Some of those works were overlapping, why the numbers don't sum up.)

P. S. If, how us here assure, the Finnish army in Winter war has lost only 24,0 thousand killed there is a reasonable question and why, as a matter of fact, then the Finnish army capitulated on March, 12th, 1940? In fact, at Finns still more more than 600 thousand military men?

As was presented above, Finns didn't have more than 600 000 men. They had only 250 000 and were short of arms and ammunition.

To the beginning of March, 1940 against Finland were 46 divisions of Red Army are directed in total. This grouping had 800,0 thousand soldier and officers. From this 46 divisions of Red Army have taken participated in operations no more than 35 Soviet divisions.
Further, to the beginning of March, 1940 the Red Army has lost killed, missing, wounded and freezed more than 350,0 thousand person. Hence, in the beginning of March, 1940 against the Finnish army with number more than 600,0 thousand men operated no more than 450,0 thousand soldier and officers of Red Army.


The number of divisions is a little bit low, as Prof. Semirjaga had counted 52 divisions against Finns. The above number also miss 4 divisions of Finnish Democratic Republic, 10 brigades and number of separate regiments which were used.

Here I have to make query to Bair and other with more knowledge of Red Army: Didn't the Red Army receive replacement troops at all during the war?

Certainly, in Winter war of loss of the Finnish army there were less, than losses of Red Army. But the difference could not be so big as to us here draw.

It is impossible to believe that the Finnish army capitulated, having lost only 4-5 % from the aggregate number.
Perhaps that not understanding, but the one who confirms similar, offends the Finnish army and its brave the soldier.
Access to Russian archives is free. Whereas in the Finnish archives of an easy approach is not present about this day. And there, where access to the Finnish archives to eat, collect full data on losses of the Finnish army it is not obviously possible. It is necessary to think, that to Finns, unlike Russian, is what to hide.
24,0 thousand killed Finns during Winter war - this figure for propagation. Unfortunately, neither in Finland, nor in Germany, in any other country there is no capital historical work about losses armed forces. Such work is available only in Russia: it is capital work of the professor and the general-colonel G. F.Krivosheev " Russia and the USSR in wars of XX century. Losses of armed forces. Statistical research ".

In fact it is as big as presented.

The Finnish military burial tradition makes it impossible to hide excess casualties (http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?t=84704), and the database collected by veterans (http://tietokannat.mil.fi/menehtyneet/index_en.php3) provides additional support to the official numbers. It is the size of the Finnish army which is exaggerated in your numbers.

Unfortunately Finnish military archives are written in Finnish, so it isn't so easy to understand, but like Ilmarinen stated, the access there is free. Unfortunately it seems to share common habit to Red Army archive that not all material are easily accessed.

P. P. S. In the summer and autumn of 1941 the Finnish armies and German 20-th army (army " Norway ") had in total more than 800,0 thousand men.
This Finnish and German grouping was resisted by Soviet 23th, 7th and 14th armies which had in total 147,0 thousand men.
Why in this case Finns and by means of Germans could not take in top above Russian if Russian perished six times more?
It at that Russian this time was almost five times less than their opponents.

Once again, here Soviet numbers don't contain all troops available, as a lot of personnel were located in smaller units and not in front line duties, like those which were counted in when Finnish/German numbers are presented.

Could you please point out where you disagree with me? I (and others) could try to find then additional information on the issue.

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Post by MarcusaQ » 27 Jun 2006 15:27

Another interesting document directly from Soviet sources: in 29 Oct 1939 a plan compiled by Leningrad military district (Finn., Leningradin sotilaspiiri) to Soviet marschal K.J.Voroshilov:

"1. According to recon information the Finnish army has accomplished its mobilization by 21 Oct 1939. They have recruited 18 age groups between 22-40 years and the suojeluskunta troops up to 50 years. Altogether the army has mobilized 260 000 men. - - "

(Source: TsGASA, f. 25888, op. 14. , d.2, l. 1-14. Quoted it Kumanjov, G.A. Vuosien 1939-40 neuvostoliittolais-suomalaisen sodan ('talvisodan') tapahtumat uusien lähestymistapojen ja dokumenttien näkökulmasta. In: T.Vihavainen, Talvisota, Venäjä ja Suomi. Gummerus, Jyväskylä 1991. 253-273.)

This document shows that the Soviet army command had more realistic and truthful picture of the size of the Finnish army than what Molotov stated in his propagandistic speech.

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Post by Uninen » 30 Jun 2006 23:29

... this really is getting boring, doing what the Russian education system should do, which is to tell the reality and truth as objectively as possible.

600 000 finns in winter war with half of them dead or wounded and all these claims of us "losing" or and of our army being destroyed in field so on. (on both 40 and 44) Give me a break. Finnish army never lost even a comppany as eliminated, let alone battalion, regiment, brigade or god forbit a division.

Regards.

The worst unpolitenesses were removed by moderator

/Juha

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Juha Tompuri
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Post by Juha Tompuri » 01 Jul 2006 08:22

Uninen wrote: Finnish army never lost even a comppany as eliminated, let alone battalion, regiment, brigade or god forbit a division.
Depends what "lost eliminated" means.
During the island fightings (north of Lake Ladoga and Bay of Viborg) during the Winter War "we" suffered very heavy losses.

Regards, Juha

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Post by Topspeed » 03 Jul 2006 06:22

Hello what is happening here ?

Another " Finns shot the Mainila Shots themselves " -thread ?

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Post by Tero » 03 Jul 2006 07:05

Juha Tompuri wrote:
Uninen wrote: Finnish army never lost even a comppany as eliminated, let alone battalion, regiment, brigade or god forbit a division.
Depends what "lost eliminated" means.
During the island fightings (north of Lake Ladoga and Bay of Viborg) during the Winter War "we" suffered very heavy losses.

Regards, Juha


I think you know he means no Finnish formation above company level were destroyed so completely it was permanently stricken from the force roster. That includes encirclements and "conventional" annihilation battles.

Having them remanned several times over with replacements and consolidating companies to the strenght of a depleated platoon from several depeated platoons is what you are referring to but that is not quite the same.

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Juha Tompuri
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Post by Juha Tompuri » 03 Jul 2006 13:54

Tero wrote:
Juha Tompuri wrote:
Uninen wrote: Finnish army never lost even a comppany as eliminated, let alone battalion, regiment, brigade or god forbit a division.
Depends what "lost eliminated" means.
During the island fightings (north of Lake Ladoga and Bay of Viborg) during the Winter War "we" suffered very heavy losses.

Regards, Juha


I think you know he means no Finnish formation above company level were destroyed so completely it was permanently stricken from the force roster. That includes encirclements and "conventional" annihilation battles.
To be exact Uninen wrote Company or more.

Having them remanned several times over with replacements and consolidating companies to the strenght of a depleated platoon from several depeated platoons is what you are referring to but that is not quite the same.
Actually that's not what I referred to. I ment events like what happened at Island Petäjäsaari on 6th March 1940.

Regards, Juha

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Post by Tero » 03 Jul 2006 20:37

By Juha Tompuri

To be exact Uninen wrote Company or more.


To be exact he said:

Finnish army never lost even a comppany as eliminated, let alone battalion, regiment, brigade or god forbit a division


That statement is open to a variety of interpretations, I give you that. But if we leave out the obvious hyberbole (~25k KIA does add up to the equivalent of two and a half divisions worth of troops) and the fact there were units with less than 10% of their original complement standing at the end of the war the only interpretation I draw is what is more or less the statement I made about the unit roster and how many entire formations from company level upwards was stricken off the roster as annihilated/disintegrated/disbanded/destroyed.

Actually that's not what I referred to. I ment events like what happened at Island Petäjäsaari on 6th March 1940.


Was the unit in guestion stricken off the roster after that engagement ?

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Juha Tompuri
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Post by Juha Tompuri » 03 Jul 2006 21:57

Tero wrote:By Juha Tompuri

To be exact Uninen wrote Company or more.


To be exact he said:

Finnish army never lost even a comppany as eliminated, let alone battalion, regiment, brigade or god forbit a division


That statement is open to a variety of interpretations, I give you that.
Is it?


Tero wrote:But if we leave out the obvious hyberbole (~25k KIA does add up to the equivalent of two and a half divisions worth of troops) and the fact there were units with less than 10% of their original complement standing at the end of the war
Were the units short of men only because of the KIA?

Tero wrote:the statement I made about the unit roster and how many entire formations from company level upwards was stricken off the roster as annihilated/disintegrated/disbanded/destroyed.

Actually that's not what I referred to. I ment events like what happened at Island Petäjäsaari on 6th March 1940.


Was the unit in guestion stricken off the roster after that engagement ?
Is the criteria "not destroyed before stricken of the roster" just your own idea or do you have anything to back up it with?



During my conscription service IIRC the artillery had their "calculation system" where 50% casualities to the enemy forces ment the enemy unit was destroyed (the surviving were not at condition to operate ), 30% casualities ment the unit was lamautettu, stunned.



Tero wrote:
Actually that's not what I referred to. I ment events like what happened at Island Petäjäsaari on 6th March 1940.


Was the unit in guestion stricken off the roster after that engagement ?
I don't know.
The information I've read about that case is a bit controversial.
For instance:
viewtopic.php?t=26468&start=15 mentions 139-141 KIA & POW from 149 men at that single battle.
Kansa Taisteli magazine 3/1978 mentions from that same battle: +200 KIA & POW from 220men. From the "less than 20 survivors" most were wounded


Regards, Juha

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