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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revans618
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Re: Recommended books on the Winter War & Continuation War

Post by revans618 » 05 Feb 2012 03:05

Recently picked up a copy of this and will be reading it soon. Anybody else read it and what did you think?

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JTV
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Re: Recommended books on the Winter War & Continuation War

Post by JTV » 05 Feb 2012 08:43

revans618 wrote:Recently picked up a copy of this and will be reading it soon. Anybody else read it and what did you think?
(the picked thing being Lunde's "Finland's War of Choice")
I would not put that book to this section, since I most certainly would not recommend it. I heard about the book beforehand and expected it, but it proved to be quite a disappointment. It's not such a big deal that it contains obvious mistakes (not that uncommon) or that the names of persons involved and place-names often have typos (apparently no data checking concerning them before printing). The major issue is that author did not use Finnish sources basically at all, which while writing about Finnish political decisions and Finland fighting a war causes shall we say "interesting" effects. Apparently Lunde's doesn't have any language skills with Finnish or Swedish and therefore decided to go easy way and use only English and German language sources. As a result of this he doesn't really doesn't seem to understand Finnish politics and while he covers the operations in northern part of Finnish front which was a German responsibility rather well, his explanation of operations in Finnish - Soviet part of the front (with much larger troops and notably bigger battles) is so poor it is borderlines useless. The difference between Lunde's poor sources and best latest Finnish books that use Finnish and Soviet (plus also German when needed) archive materials as their sources is simply staggering. Anthony Beevor he certainly ain't. At best the book somewhat works as description of German - Finnish co-belligerence from German perspective, but does not succeed beyond that and shows once again that there is a need for good book (series) written about history of Continuation War in English.

Jarkko
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Re: Recommended books on the Winter War & Continuation War

Post by Seppo Jyrkinen » 05 Feb 2012 12:31

Kansakunta sodassa is an excellent description about Finland's wars as whole. This series tells about a nation in a war and battles have only a side role. It describes political matters, economy, food problems, society at war and other background matters.

Editor in chief is Silvo Hietanen from Helsinki University. This series has 3 A4 volumes, 1.000 pages together. Publisht 1989 - 1992. Writers are academic level but text is easy to read.

Kolmannen valtakunnan lähettiläs by Michael Jonas tells about Germany's ambassador Waldemar Blücher in Helsinki and Matti Klinge even wrote that you shouldn't tell an opinion about Finland's war time history without reading this book. I agree: an excellent book. Book has written from German perspective and has several new, interesting pieces - even big - of information to me. Contrast to Lunde's book is enormous.

Finnish edition has 450 pages and a lot of sources and references. Book is thorough written and that's why perhaps a bit boring to some readers. Available also in Germany: NS-Diplomatie und Bündnispolitik 1935-1944: Wipert von Blücher, das Dritte Reich und Finnland.

--

Winter War was the most important active war on it's time in Europe and got big publicity all around the world. Continuous War was just a puny part of Barbarossa and poorly known outside Finland. - Publishing books is business and laws of markets tells what's worth to translate from Finnish to English and publish. What big audience is willing to buy.
A word irony is baked into the word history.

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Re: Recommended books on the Winter War & Continuation War

Post by Juha Tompuri » 06 Feb 2012 08:09

Seppo Jyrkinen wrote:Kolmannen valtakunnan lähettiläs by Michael Jonas tells about Germany's ambassador Waldemar Blücher in Helsinki
Agree, that's a very good one.

I think this might be quite intersting too - the nearly 70 yrs "lost" Ryti autobiography:
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http://paasilinna.fi/ajankohtaista/rist ... ussa-2012/

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Re: Recommended books on the Winter War & Continuation War

Post by Philip S. Walker » 10 Mar 2012 14:12

@Pipps
Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, but in my searching I've found very few books (in English) covering the Finnish efforts in WWII, as opposed to the Winter War.
There is this one:

C. Leonard, "Finland in the second world war"

I remember reading it almost 20 years ago when I lived in England and got a copy from Exeter library. I've never seen it elsewhere. I remember it as a quite good introduction, considering its age (1957), but also somewhat biased in favour of the Swedish speaking minority party in Finland and its alleged opposition to the war. Having said that, it is a very long time since I read it. I found this obituary on the author, who died in 1998, perhaps giving you an idea of what to expect:
An authority on Finland

Kapten i WW2

Obituary:

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Charles Leonard Lundin, 91, professor emeritus of history at Indiana University, who specialized in Finnish history, died Saturday, Nov. 7, 1998. He was the son of the late Gustaf L. and Annette (Floyd) Lundin.
Mr. Lundin was born in Montreal and grew up in New Bedford, Mass.
He studied with renowned historian Samuel E. Morison at Harvard University, where he earned A.B. and A.M. degrees. He earned a doctorate at Princeton University, where he studied with historian Thomas J. Wertenbaker and did his dissertation on the American Revolution in New Jersey. "Cockpit of the Revolution" was published by Princeton University Press in 1940 and reissued in 1972.
During World War II, Mr. Lundin served in the Army in North Africa, England and France. His work during the war included military intelligence. He was discharged in 1945 with the rank of captain.
Mr. Lundin taught at Simmons College, Boston, then joined the history department at Indiana University, where he taught American history. He soon turned his interest to the history of Western Europe, of the Baltic Republics and Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and especially Finland, the latter having become an independent nation during World War I.
He specialized in Finnish history, and in the 1950s spent much time in Helsinki. In 1957, his work, "Finland in the Second World War" was published by the IU Press. It was later translated into Finnish and Swedish. He also wrote about Finland in his book, "Russification in the Baltic Provinces and Finland, 1855-1914" which was published in 1981.
His honors include being awarded the Frederick Bachman Lieber Prize for teaching in 1966.
He was a founding member of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Bloomington and the IU faculty drama club.
The memorial service will be at 3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 10, 1999, at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Bloomington.
Here's a newer book that I haven't got yet. Should not be confused with the other book of partly the same name. At a glance you might mistake it for being only about the Winter War, but in fact covers all the war years. Looks like one for the army and weapons buffs. Jarkko probably has an opinion on its accuracy - would be interesting to know:

Hunter Johnson, "Frozen Hell - Finland in the Winter War and beyond"

Here's a review on it from Amazon:
World War II is often depicted as a black and white struggle of good against evil. This book is an excellent introduction to one of its most interesting gray areas: Finland, co-belligerent with the evil Nazis against our Soviet allies.
Setting the stage with a short history of Finland, beginning with its independence from Russia during World War I and continuing through the events leading to its involvement in World War II, the book explains and describes the Winter War, when the Finns resisted Soviet invasion of their territory, the Continuation War, when the Finns fought alongside the Nazis to reclaim the territory they'd lost during the Winter War, and the Lapland War, when the Finns expelled the Nazis from Finland.

Later chapters explain and describe the Finnish military, the Finnish people, and the gear, weapons and vehicles that the Finns used to fight. Sidebars throughout the book cover related subjects, such as Finnish pronunciation, place names, especially influential people, peripheral issues and events, and important Finnish cultural concepts. The last chapter discusses ways to use the information in the book for roleplaying games. And the book also includes a bibliography to facilitate further research.

My only critique is that the book doesn't even mention one of the greatest combat heroes of the Winter War -- and, with over 500 enemy kills, one of the deadliest soldiers of all time -- Simo Hayha.
Another book in English that covers a broader subject but includes the Continuation War:

H.M. Tillotson: "Finland at peace & war"

An Amazon reviewer says:
Finland in Peace and War as its title may suggest, is a military history that describes the significant battles and conflicts of Finland from its Independence in 1917 through its UN missions in 1993. Despite the part Finland has played in conflicts in the 20th century, especially the Second World War, English language studies of its military history are hard to find. Plenty of works exist on the Winter War, and one can find biographies of Marshal Mannerheim, but discussions of the Continuation and Lapland wars are either superficially addressed in "Eastern Front" overviews or simply ignored. The author does a superb job of describing these important campaigns (as well as those above)linking them to ongoing political developments with both the Allies and Germany. It's probably worth stating that this is a work of military history-readers looking for a social or cultural history should look elsewhere; except as far as the Winter War was a (maybe THE) pivotal event in Finnish history. Every student of the Eastern Front should have this book in their library.
Finally, this book has (partly) the same title as C. Leonard's book but is much newer. It is highly recommended as an overview on the political and diplomatic background of all three Finnish wars, though the price on it seems to have exploded recently for some strange reason - perhaps a sign that there is an unfulfilled interest in the subject:

Professor Olli Vehviläinen, "Finland in the Second World War: Between Germany and Russia"

Regards, vely

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Re: Recommended books on the Winter War & Continuation War

Post by CanKiwi2 » 10 Mar 2012 21:04

Philip S. Walker wrote:Here's a newer book that I haven't got yet. Should not be confused with the other book of partly the same name. At a glance you might mistake it for being only about the Winter War, but in fact covers all the war years. Looks like one for the army and weapons buffs. Jarkko probably has an opinion on its accuracy - would be interesting to know:

Hunter Johnson, "Frozen Hell - Finland in the Winter War and beyond"
That one is from Steve Jackson Games and its actually a manual for role playing games.
ex Ngāti Tumatauenga ("Tribe of the Maori War God") aka the New Zealand Army

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Re: Recommended books on the Winter War & Continuation War

Post by Philip S. Walker » 10 Mar 2012 23:09

@CanKiwi

Have you got it? According to the Amazon review:
The last chapter discusses ways to use the information in the book for roleplaying games.
No more than that. But Perhaps the "last chapter" is 90 pct. of the book. In that case: damn it! I just ordered it ... :(

Regards, Vely

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Re: Recommended books on the Winter War & Continuation War

Post by CanKiwi2 » 10 Mar 2012 23:28

Philip S. Walker wrote:@CanKiwi

Have you got it? According to the Amazon review:
The last chapter discusses ways to use the information in the book for roleplaying games.
No more than that. But Perhaps the "last chapter" is 90 pct. of the book. In that case: damn it! I just ordered it ... :(

Regards, Vely
Hi Phil

No, do not have it, but I went to the publisher (Steve Jackson Games) to take a look and thats what they do - role playing games. Well, if you ordered it, it will be interesting to see what it IS like.

Cheers and good luck................Nigel
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Re: Recommended books on the Winter War & Continuation War

Post by larth » 11 Mar 2012 01:50

More on that book: http://www.amazon.com/GURPS-WWII-Frozen ... 1556346395 - SJG is a long time producer of games. GURPS is their generic system of Role Playing in different settings (practically anything http://www.amazon.com/GURPS-WWII-Frozen ... 1556346395). The quality of the content could be on any level for a topic like this.

//Lars

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Re: Recommended books on the Winter War & Continuation War

Post by Philip S. Walker » 11 Mar 2012 22:31

I've just managed to track down a copy of:

Holger Hørsholdt Hansen, "I krigets spår".
(The title in English would roughly be "In the Wake of the War".)

This book is in Swedish only and very hard to find, but if you can read that language and come across a copy, it is well worth checking out. (The way I got to read it was with the help of a friend who made me a photo copy after borrowing the book from The Workers Movement Library and Archive (Arbejderbevægelsens Bibliotek og Arkiv) in Copenhagen. I believe that means it can be ordered from any major or local library throughout the Nordic Countries.)

The author is a Danish journalist working for the American UPI, who visited Finland (seemingly several times) in the early stages of the Continuation War. He seems to have been moving around under Finnish military supervision but nevertheless reasonably unrestricted. The reportage includes visits to the front (under artillery fire), to Russian POW camps, field hospitals and infirmaries, meetings with Soviet civilians etc. Some of the stuff he sees is pretty terrifying and not exactly complementary to the Finnish side. If his guides have tried to hide much from him, you shudder to think what the uncensored truth might have looked like.

Finnish camps for civilians are mentioned as absolutely terrible, but it doesn't seem that the author has personally visited any. He does mention that they were only set up because there was a major problem with sabotage, presumably a view he has from his Finnish guides, and a view that isn't quite supported by modern research. The author uses the term "internment camps" instead of "concentration camps" - that term he reserves for the camps for political prisoners run by the Soviet authorities before the war. Some of the prisoners from these camps are also interviewed.

The book is a well-written, precise, evocative and pretty terrifying portrait of that war, which takes no sides in particular and tells no heroic fairy tales. My favourite part consists of a series of letters sent to the author from a Danish volunteer who was later killed in action in 1942, and also some comments on contemporary Danish views on this conflict (doesn't seem like the "separate war" idea had many subscribers in Hamlet's homeland), as well as personal impressions of the German-Finnish relationship. The tone of the book is surprisingly modern, almost with that existentialist undertone you find in much post War literature on similar subjects:
That war is demoralising is a truth which has been mentioned so often it almost seems banal. My experience from a close study of the effects of war is that soldiers who have participated for a longer period in these killings, and who haven't been killed themselves, return home either as life-long pacifists, as entirely amoral and irresponsible individuals constituting a danger to their environment wherever they go, as psychologically crippled humans or as revolutionaries.
p. 70

If anyone wants a brutally honest first hand description made by an outsider with a profound dislike of all wars in general, this is a book I will highly recommend. It is from 1943 (always nice to read something that isn't coloured by hindsight) and couldn't be published in Denmark due to the German occupation, hence it was translated and published in Sweden. The advantage there is, of course, that it is more accessible to Finnish readers.

The second half of the book is treading water a bit with its slightly surprising enthusiasm for the way things had been run in East Karelia prior to the war. While not exactly pro-Soviet, you sense a journalistic obligation to create a positive image preferred by his every-day employers (the US being of course an ally of the Soviet Union by this time), but I can't see that it should not be taken with any more of a grain of salt than what the Finnish propaganda tried to promote.

Some Finnish historians have tried to make it out as if this book presents a shocking view of the conditions in the Finnish POWs camps. It don't think it really does, and in fact the author emphasises that though these camps were terrible, they were probably no worse than the camps run by any other belligerent powers at the time. But neither is he trying to glorify the Finnish military in the way that contemporary Swedish reports often did, and he is highly critical of certain brutal and Chuvinist Finnish attitudes and actions he experiences on his way. All in all, this book is a unique contemporary source and document and one of the closets things I have seen to a non-biased portrayal of this horrible war. All the same, it is hard to read it and not ask yourself afterwards if the Finnish invasion of East Karelia was really justifiable with all its horrendously destructive consequences for the civilian population, not to mention the Finnish loss in international reputation even to this very day.

Regards, Vely

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Re: Recommended books on the Winter War & Continuation War

Post by St.George » 21 Mar 2012 01:20

ImageHandler.ashx.jpg
"Karelska näset 1944" by Johan and Christian Lupander.

I can really say its Is the best Swedish language book about the Soviet offensive 1944.

It use both Finnish and Soviet sources.

I highly recommend this book.
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Re: Recommended books on the Winter War & Continuation War

Post by Juha Tompuri » 21 Mar 2012 19:23

Congratulations to both Johan and Jan-Christian ( also a AHF member)

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Re: Recommended books on the Winter War & Continuation War

Post by Anne G, » 22 Mar 2012 21:39

I just noticed that Finland in World War II has been already mentioned. Sorry!

Some comments:

5. Meaningless Death or Regenerating Sacrifice? Violence and Social Cohesion in Wartime Finland
Ville Kivimäki & Tuomas Tepora

A very interesting theory why the wars are so important even now in Finland: a new myth of “the birth of the nation” was needed to replace the flawed one in 1918 (because of the Civil War). Also tells how the Red offers in 1918, though defeated, could be given a positive meaning and taken as a part of the national memory.
Tepora has written his doctoral thesis about the same subject Sinun puolestas elää ja kuolla )To live and die for you, a line of song about the Finnish flag).

8. Limits of Intentionality: Soviet Prisoners-of-War and Civilian Internees in Finnish Custody
Oula Silvennoinen

Basic facts and balanced view. Only the question of having help outside is lacking.

10. Shifting Images of “Our Wars”: Finnish Memory Culture of World War II
Tiina Kinnunen & Markku Jokisipilä

Shows that claim that the war veterans were “silenced” after the war isn’t true or at best one-sided. Instead, there were “simultaneous phenomena of memory conflicts, contested meanings and continued patriotic heritage”. Also strong criticism towards “neo-patriotism” after 1991, mostly with good cause.

General observation: though f.ex. The unknown soldierby Väinö Linna is dealt, it would have been good to have an article about the war novels and films, because many subjects were first dealt in these and rather early at that.

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Re: Recommended books on the Winter War & Continuation War

Post by CanKiwi2 » 28 Mar 2012 18:43

Freedom, Faction, Fame and Blood: British Soldiers of Conscience in Greece, Spain and Finland (Sussex Studies in Spanish History) [Hardcover] by Elizabeth Roberts

Has a good section on the British volunteers for Finland and some useful information I hadn't come across before on the Finnish Aid Bureau. Horribly over-priced but a good book and very informative for all that.

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Re: Recommended books on the Winter War & Continuation War

Post by Juha Tompuri » 28 Mar 2012 19:51

Thanks Nigel,

Looks interesting.

Here a Finnish aid related poster:
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http://www.onslows.co.uk/catalogues/Ps020503/page13.htm

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