Why did Finns photographed Leningrad in summer 1939?

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Re: Finnish observation posts

Post by Harri » 19 Nov 2002 09:56

Juha is right with the names of battleships. I think Sevastopol belonged to Soviet Black Sea Fleet but I have never seen any photos on it. IIRC it was moved to Black Sea before it was completed. But was it used during the WW II?
Octavianus wrote:This is a very interesting post. Thank you for posting it on this forum. I would like to give some more fuel to this discussion by asking some further questions. I hope you don't mind me doing this.
Of course not.
Octavianus wrote:a.) Did Finland have any naval intelligence surveillance stations along the Baltic Sea coastline and on the islands of Suursari, Seiskari and Laavansaari, from which it could easily monitoring the movements of the Soviet Baltic Fleet? I have read in some book some years ago that from the Finnish border town and famous sea resort before the war, TERIJOKI, today known as Zelenogorsk, you could very easily saw all the movements of the Soviet Baltic Fleet in Kronstadt and Sankt Petersburg?.
Well, not officially, but we could watch over all movements of Soviet Baltic Fleet. That was the main reason we lost Karelian Isthmus, these islands and submarines were forbidden for the Finnish Navy. Finns together with Estonians had solved the encrypting code of Soviet Baltic Fleet and could read their messages, so there was no need for observing.

All coastal batteries which could hit the sea routes to St. Petersburg and Kronstadt naval base were destroyed according to Tartu peace agreement in 1920. Also the islands of the Bay of Finland were unarmed.

Terijoki [Zelenogorsk] was not a town. There were only three towns in ceded areas: Viipuri [Vyborg], Sortavala and Käkisalmi [Priozjorsk].
Octavianus wrote:b.) If these aerial reconnaissance flights really happen, how come the Soviets were not aware of them? I mean the fact that someone could made twenty-three air missions unharmed over Kronstadt and Sant Petersburg, the second largest city in Soviet Union and the largest Soviet Naval Base in the Baltic, in such a tense time as it was 1939 is leaving me in some skepsis. Was either the Soviet air defence so badly manned and led or ..... Also, how come the Soviet spy, one Finnish officer in the Finnish headquarters did not introduce to the Soviets that such reconnaissance flights are being carried ourt over Soviet Union? Unless of course, if they were kept in absolute secrecy even in the Finnish Military Command.
They just couldn't find/reach a fast flying single plane. The flying height was 6000 m which is quite high. Not all of these flights were directed to St.Petersburg. The whole coast from the border of Estonia, Karelian Isthmus and areas north from Lake Ladoga were photographed. And not all missions succeeded. IIRC at least once plane was about to crash when there was a failure in pilot's oxygen system. Plane crossed the border at low level and it was seen by Soviet soldiers. This occasion led to the exchange of notes between Finnish and Soviet border authorities.

I'm not quite sure if there were Soviet spy(s) in Finnish General Staff, more likely they worked in the Ministry of Defence. As a matter of fact even the Commander of Air Defence Maj.Gen. Jarl Lundqvist didn't know about these missions initially. The order came from the General Staff.

Perhaps our military authorities wanted to assure that there would have been no danger of amphibious assault against the southern coast of Finland. For us Soviet troop concentrations were of course vital information.

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Re: More about camera and about the visits of the German off

Post by Harri » 19 Nov 2002 11:45

JariL wrote:Nenonen did not invent the method but he and his staff improved it a lot increasing the efficiency by 20 times compared to what it was before. This led to a situation where the army was mapping Finland 5 to 10 times faster than the civilian authorities.
I've heard of that but could not find a lot information. Do you know any good source (book)?
JariL wrote:Zeiss was not selected because it was a German company but because it was the best. And in some areas it still is. Some Japanese camera manufacturers still use lenses made by Zeiss because of their superior quality. So the fact that the equipment was "made in Germany" is not very significant.
I agree. Can you say the date (year) when this co-operation started?
JariL wrote:What comes to the visits of German officers in Finland that was the policy German government followed in Finland. The more the diplomatic relationships deteriorated the more German foreign office used the inofficial channel that soldiers provided. Because of personal relationship between many Finnish and German officers it was relatively easy to get an invitation. German political goal was to prevent Finland becoming one of the Scandinavian neutrals. Those days both Germany and Russia allowed Finland only to choose side not to stay out. From Finnish point of view, the ministery of foreign affairs did not understand how the visits of German and western, especially British, military would be interpreted in Soviet Union. Obviously Berlin understood very well how the visits would be interpreted.
I agree. Do you know if German Foreign Minister von Ribbentrop visited secretly in Finland in 1938 offering "union" against Soviet Union (Communism)? Finland woud have answered "no" because of neutrality. That would explain why Finland and Baltic States were left to the Soviet sphere of interest.
JariL wrote:Wipert von Blücher's (German ambassador in Finland) comments that have been quoted in many history books are very revealing. He clearly saw how the German influence in Finland deteriorated towards the end of the 1930's and he did his best to slow down the process. Using visits of the military was one of the ways he recommended. He also tried other measures, like inviting Finnish artists to visit Germany. Unfortunatley Olavi Paavolainen's visit turned into a disaster from Blüchers point of view. As Blücher himself noted "ten years would not be enough to make good of the damage caused by Paavolainens book" (Kolmannen valtakunnan vieraana , Guest of the Third Reich).
I have to find that book out if it is still available. As an author and later combat correspondent Paavolainen was a quite sharp observer and his book is for sure interesting.
JariL wrote:Without more information I still find it hard to believe that FAF would have photographed Leningrad area on German account given the potential consequencies of getting caught. I don't doubt that Abwehr could well have received copies of the photos through some deal.
At least Capt. Eskola believed that foreign partner was behind these flights. But what was the real reason? German's could have done that all by themselves without asking anything from Finland. They had Dornier do 17s, Heinkel He 111s and Junkers Ju 86s already in 1939. This could be the explanation: German plane in Soviet territory would have been even more dubious than a Finnish plane ("it was only lost") and our Blenheims were the fastest aircraft in the world available for that kind of job. It's not difficult to guess what for Soviet MiG-1 and -3 fighters were developed.

I think relationships between German Abwehr and Finnish Military Intelligence were rather good in the 1930's. For example Finns knew almost immediately about the secret protocol of Molotov-Ribbentrop pact. That information came from several separate sources, probably from Abwehr too.

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Post by Juha Tompuri » 19 Nov 2002 11:54


Thanks for the verification. Some pics about Sevastopol (not very good) "Suomen Laivasto 1918-1968 II" (Finnish Navy....) page 63 - Sevastopol at Helsinki spring 1917 (all the three were stationed at Helsinki most(?) of WWI. They moved 14-17. 3. 1918 to Kronstadt.
Another pic is at "Laivastokirja 1941" (Navy book) Parishkaya Kommuna at Black Sea 24. 7. 1939.


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Post by Harri » 19 Nov 2002 12:07

Then I have seen the photo of Sevastopol because I red the book Finnish Navy 1918 - 1968 last year... :oops:

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Post by JariL » 20 Nov 2002 14:57

Hi Harri,

try to answer your questions:

<I agree. Can you say the date (year) when this co-operation started?

It was in th ebeginning of 1930's, don't remember the exact year. 1931(?). Good description of this can be found in Nenonen's autobiography.

<I agree. Do you know if German Foreign Minister von Ribbentrop visited <secretly in Finland in 1938 offering "union" against Soviet Union
<(Communism)? Finland woud have answered "no" because of neutrality. <That would explain why Finland and Baltic States were left to the Soviet <sphere of interest.

I think the above refers to the non-agression pact that Finland refused togerher with Sweden.



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