What If-Finland had been prepared for the Winter War?

Discussions on the Winter War and Continuation War, the wars between Finland and the USSR.
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Revised Part3a Continued

Post by CanKiwi2 » 24 Dec 2010 21:19

From Tampere to Final Victory

By 24th of March the city of Tampere was besieged by the White forces, with a 12,000 strong Red garrison and most of the civilian population trapped inside the pocket. Since Tampere was (and still is) the largest inland city of Finland, the ensuing battle soon turned into bitter urban warfare. The eastern parts of the city were ravaged by artillery fire as the White forces gradually pushed the determined and stubbornly resistant Red defenders back into the inner parts of the city.
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Tampereen kaupungin Tammelan kaupunginosaa Suomen sisällissodassa keväällä 1918 käydyn Tampereen taistelun jälkeen / Tammela district of the City of Tampere after the Finnish Civil War in 1918

Despite local counterattacks and fanatical resistance in some blocks of the city, by the 6th of April 1918 it was all over, and the remaining defenders surrendered. While Mannerheim had now proved that the White forces were more than capable of gaining decisive victories in the Civil War, but the Senate had nevertheless made an official request for help to German government that was once again fighting against the Bolshevik regime in Russia after truce negotiations had broken down. Units of the famous Ostsee-Division, having specifically trained for amphibious warfare and led by Graf Rüdiger von der Goltz hit the beaches in southern Finland on April 3rd 1918. On April 7, 1918, the German Brandenstein Brigade or Detachment landed in Finland, made up of 3,000 German troops under the command of German officer Colonel/Oberst Otto Freiherr von Brandenstein, and seized the town of Loviisa. Major German units and detachments then rapidly advanced towards Helsinki, which was taken by German troops on April 13.
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German troops advancing on Helsinki

The Germans advanced quickly, meeting only sporadic resistance from Red forces as the majority of reserves had been transferred to delay the advancing White forces in the north. Helsinki was captured ten days later, and a smaller detachment of German forces cut the escape route of retreating Red Guard forces at Lahti a day later on April 19th. With the last West-to-East railroad line cut, the Red Guard forces were effectively split in two and soon forced to lay down their arms. Most of the Finnish Red Guard members ended up in POW camps but some managed to escape to Russia. The Civil War ended on the 5th of May 1918, but the situation in Finland remained restless for several years subsequently.
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Saksalaiset lääkintäsotilaat kantavat haavoittuneen Punaisen sotilaan pois Pasilan kallioilta Helsingissä / German medics carrying wounded Red soldier to hospital from Pasila´s rocks in Helsinki

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German soldiers after the fall of Helsinki in the Finnish civil war 1918. TheRed Guard Headquarter Smolna´s flag thrown to the street

While it was clear that the battle of Tampere had broken the back of the Red war effort, the swift German intervention had clearly hastened the defeat of the Red forces and tied Finland firmly into German political orbit. On 18th of May the last Russian garrison forces and remaining Red militias had moved across the border to Russia, and White army marched triumphantly through the streets of Helsinki. The fate of the Red Guards was sealed.

Wars are rarely clean, but the Finnish Civil War was as ugly as civil wars can be. In general, Suojeluskunta members saw the Russians as enemies of Finland and Finnish Reds as traitors who had betrayed their own country. Volunteers of the Suojeluskuntas wanted an independent Finnish State. For them the Russian military was an occupier and the Red Guards, who had allied themselves with the Bolshevik government, were a threat to Finnish independence. During the Civil War the White Army didn't have a real chain-of-command for the Suojeluskunta. The Advisory Committee of the Commander in Chief, which had representatives from the various Suojeluskunta, was intended as the connection between the local Suojeluskunta and Mannerheim’s HQ, but it didn't take part when it came to the actual commanding of troops. Also the military chain-of-command for frontline units was unclear, giving higher headquarters poor control of their troops.

During the civil war, the White Army and the Red Guards both perpetrated acts of terror, the Red and White terror respectively. The main purpose of the Red and White terror was to destroy the power structure of the opponent, clear and secure the areas governed by the armies since the beginning of the war and the areas seized and occupied by the common units during the conflict. Another goal of the terror was to create shock and fear among the civil population and the opposing soldiers. The lack of combat skills of the common soldiers in the both armies created the opportunity to use terror as a military weapon. Terror achieved some of the intended military objectives, but also gave additional motivation to each side to fight against an enemy perceived to be inhuman and cruel. The propaganda of the Reds and Whites utilized the terror acts of the opponent effectively, which increased the local political violence and the spiral of revenge.

The Red Guards executed the representatives of economic and/or social power in Finland, including politicians, major landowners, industrialists, police officers, civil servants, teachers, and leaders and members of the White Guards. Servants of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland (ten priests) and the labour movement members (90 obviously moderate socialists) were executed also, but they were not the main targets of the terror. The two major sites of the Red terror were Toijala and Kouvola. There 300–350 Whites were executed between February and April 1918. In total, 1,400–1,650 Whites were executed in the Red terror. Without straying into the whys and wherefores, the road to further carnage was paved by the Suinula mass-murder by the Reds of Suojeluskunta POWs, the incident that became widely known as the "Suinula massacre"
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Viipuri Prison 1918: A farewell from the Red Guard. Red Guard prison guards executed their prisoners in this prison before leaving town. Once the White Army had taken the city of Viipuri its soldiers organized mass-executions of Reds and Russians in Viipuri castle as a payback

Nationalism and hatred of the Russians being typical opinions of Suojeluskunta members, it wasn't surprising that many of them didn't like taking orders from the ex-Russian Army General Mannerheim and his Staff, many of whom were either Finnish born officers who had earlier served Russia, or Swedish officers. The lack of a clear command and control structure offered a convenient opportunity for the settling of old scores and the taking of revenge for lost friends and relatives of Suojeluskunta members when they returned to their old villages, towns and cities. Suojeluskunta members of the Civil War can be roughly divided into three types of members. Those willing to fight both in their own local area and in other parts of the country, those willing to fight or maintain order only in their own area and supporting members, who supported the Suojeluskunta with finances and/or supplies without personally participating in battle. At end of the year 1917 and during the Civil War, "Lentävä Osasto" ("flying detachment") type units were established from those willing to fight in other areas of the country.
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Devils of Kuhmoinen: "Kuhmoiset Pirut" (Devils of Kuhmoinen) was nickname given by Reds to one of the Suojeluskunta Flying Units lead by Estonian Captain Hans Kalm. The unit gained notorious reputation during the Civil War. Captain Kalm is marked with a small X below his feet in the photo. Photo taken in February of 1918

The Whites responded in kind, and as the White Army won the war, its units and members naturally did most of the killing, murdering or executing 7,276 people.
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Suojeluskuntas Soldiers executing Red Guard members - 1918

With regard to the executions and murders, many Suojeluskunta units also gained a worse reputation than the average White Army unit. There were probably good reasons for this. Their members had volunteered for personal and/or ideological reasons, this combined with weaker discipline and lack of an effective chain-of command didn't exactly improve the odds that they would treat POWs more humanely. Often the executions had nothing to do with justice or due process, people were executed for old personal grudges, hate, revenge and convenience. As the war continued, executing prisoners of war often become the standard method for troops of both sides. After the War, Red prisoners of war were kept in POW camps, where hunger and pestilence (like the influenza of 1918 and typhoid) killed almost 11,700 of them.


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Prison camp in Suomenlinna, Helsinki. More than 11,000 people died in such camps due to hunger, disease, and executions.

Mannerheim resigned soon after the Red Guards had been defeated, and the winners of the bloody Civil War begun to argue about the future course their country should take. And while the war on Finnish soil was finally over, new challenges awaited Finnish Nationalists in Estonia, Eastern Karelia - and Ingria.

The Finnish Civil War of 1918 left festering wounds among Finns and it is open to question if the wound, even nowadays, is fully healed. For part of the Finnish population the Suojeluskunta were the heroes that liberated Finland, while the other part still called them by their old nickname "lahtari" (butcher) or “Lahtarikaarti” (Butcher Guard) used by the Reds during the 1918 war. This is what made the public reconciliation in 1930 between the Suojeluskunta and the Social Democratic Party (SDP) such an epochal event in Finnish history.

In the next section, we’ll look at the immediate post-Civil War events within Finland, the Heimosodat (Kinship Wars) and then the Suojeluskunta through the 1920’s and the Rise of the Lapua Movement.
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Part 3b - The Kingdom of Finland

Post by CanKiwi2 » 24 Dec 2010 21:36

The Monarchists make their move

When Finland has first declared her independence in December 1917, the new country had declared itself a republic without any serious debate or alternative proposals. When the Eduskunta officially assembled in May 1918 for the first time after the Civil War less than a year later, the situation was drastically different. During the declaration of independence the SDP had had 92 representatives in parliament, but after the Civil War 40 of them had fled to Russia and 50 of them had been imprisoned. As a result the post-Civil War Eduskunta had only one Social Democratic representative and was thus dominated by Conservatives, who now sought to secure their victory and consolidate their power within the country. While all Conservative parties agreed on this goal, they were divided between monarchists and republicans.

Monarchists, who had joined forces by creating the Committee of Security of New Finland as their coalition organization, sought to turn the country into a monarchy primarily for reasons of Realpolitik. By creating strong monarchist ties to Germany they sought to counterbalance the position of Finland against foreign threats - during this time the Russian White's who were fighting the Bolsheviks with British, French, American and Japanese backing refused to acknowledge the independence of Finland and the Bolsheviks had recently supported the revolution against the current Finnish government. As the Finnish economy was also firmly tied to Germany by a new trade agreement signed right after the Civil War, many former republicans and influential Finnish politicians had quickly turned their coats to support the idea of a German king - future presidents Svinhufvud and Paasikivi among them. During the summer of 1918 the issue had become the key political question in the country and the supporters of republic had also united their ranks by creating the Central Organization of Republicans. Since Monarchists had a parliamentary majority, they were initially able to dictate the course of events.
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The Crown of the King of Finland and Karelia, Duke of Åland, Grand Prince of Lapland, Lord of Kaleva and the North

On June 1918 the Senate represented a draft of a new monarchist constitution to the Eduskunta. It was otherwise virtually similar to the old republican constitution draft represented on December 1917, the sole difference being that the position and powers of President would be replaced by a King. Even though this draft gained majority support, it didn't receive enough votes to be implemented immediately but was instead shelved until new parliamentary elections could be arranged. Since the monarchists knew that they now fielded much more power than their true democratic support would ever give them in a fair elections, their leaders decided to act before it would be too late. Soon they demanded that the country should quickly elect a new monarch, based on the still formally official 38rd Paragraph of the (old Swedish) Constitution of 1772, stating that if the ruling dynasty should die out the Diet should assemble to elect a new one. Since Nicholas II had abdicated and none of his relatives had taken the throne, the monarchists argued that this was just the kind of the situation the constitution was referring to - after all, the powers and missions of the old Diet had been transferred to the Eduskunta in 1907. This polical gamble seemed to work, since the Eduskunta approved the actions of Senate on the 9th of August.
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Friedrich Karl of Hesse, the would-be King Freedrik Kaarle I.

By now the republican opponents of a monarchy were increasingly determined to stop the monarchists at any costs. Many imprisoned SDP MPs suddenly found out that their charges of treason had been canceled and they were rushed back to resume their work in Eduskunta - just in time to vote against the new draft constitution. As the legal process of creating the new kingdom was thus temporarily blocked, the monarchists opted for pressuring some uncertain Conservative politicians to support their proposal. By October 1918 their gamble had paid off - after a whole summer of inconclusive elections, 64 votes (a full quorum of the Eduskunta had 200 seats) against 61 managed to elect Friedrich Karl Ludwig Konstantin Prinz und Landgraf von Hessen-Kassel, the brother-in-law of Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany as the King of Finland. Republicans boycotted the elections.

Now the country had a Finnish Regent, a German King and a dubious legal situation with an old Swedish-era constitution dating back to 1772 being still officially in force. But as the monarchists were busily planning the crowning ceremony, the geopolitical changes elsewhere in the world finally affected the situation of Finland. While the Finns were electing their king, the German war effort was crumbling on the Western Front and on the 11th of November 1918 the guns of the Great War fell silent in the trenches of Belgium and France. A month later Friedrich Karl wrote a formal letter of resignation to the Finnish Senate. In the backlash of their political defeat the Monarchist Senate left office, and a new State Council was assembled to lead the country. The State Council summoned Mannerheim to temporarily lead the country as Regent until the first Presidential elections could be organized in the following summer.

Next - The Heimosodat, or Finnish Kinship Wars
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Re: What If - Finland had been prepared for the Winter War?

Post by thebristolbloke » 26 Dec 2010 18:22

CanKiwi2 - Sorry to interrupt this fantastic thread but could you please contact me via e-mail? I would really love to find out more about Gustaf Johannes Lindbergh but cant find a contact option for you?

Many thanks in advance!


phil

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Re: What If - Finland had been prepared for the Winter War?

Post by CanKiwi2 » 29 Dec 2010 21:00

thebristolbloke wrote:CanKiwi2 - Sorry to interrupt this fantastic thread but could you please contact me via e-mail? I would really love to find out more about Gustaf Johannes Lindbergh but cant find a contact option for you?

Many thanks in advance!

phil
Hi Phil,

Hey,no worries about the "interruption," comments and questions are more than welcome. OK, Gustaf Johannes Lindbergh was an invented persona. But the martial arts techniques I gave him the credit for developing were real and come from Krav Maga.

Krav Maga was derived from street-fighting skills developed by Imi Lichtenfeld, who made use of his training as a boxer and wrestler, as a means of defending the Jewish quarter during a period of anti-Semitic activity in Bratislava (Czechosolvakia) in the mid- to late-1930s. In the late-1940s, following his immigration to Israel, he began to provide hand-to-hand combat training to what was to become the IDF, developing the techniques that became known as Krav Maga. With the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, Lichtenfeld became the Chief Instructor of Physical Fitness and Krav Maga at the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) School of Combat Fitness. It has since been refined for both civilian and military applications. Some refinements include, but are not limited to, the incorporation of elements from traditional Asian martial arts. A variant of Krav Maga is also apparantly used by some US special forces. Generally, there are no rules in Krav Maga.

Basic training is a mixed aerobic and anaerobic workout. Protective pads and other personal protection equipment may be used during initial training. Scenarios are used to train personnel for situations typically encountered in street patrol or combat situations. Training scenarios teach students to ignore distractions. Other training methods to increase realism might include blindfolding or exercising trainees to near exhaustion before dealing with a simulated attack, as well as training outdoors on a variety of surfaces and restrictive situations.

So as you can see, I based "Lindbergh" very loosely on Lichtenfeld. The Japanese bit in my ATL is pure invention. The combat psychology stuff is again all real, but OTL it's all post-WW2. The shooting analysis was done by a US military guy by the name of Marshall (you can read all about this and the psychology of combat in a couple of books by Lt.Col. Dave Grossman - "On Killing" and "On Combat" - pretty much required reading for anyone in the military these days. Brilliant stuff. I've attributed this to Lindbergh in my scenario as well, the end result is you have "shooters" who have been trained by the stimulus-response method to aim and shoot quickly and automatically, depersonalizing the killing process to a certain extent. Not that Finnish soldiers were particularly hesitant but there were cases of Finnish soldiers cracking after mowing down wave after wave of Russians.

Back to Krav Maga, it's pretty brutal and highly effective. Got a couple of friends that train, been to watch them and Karate or Judo it ain't. If you want a good practical unarmed combat technique to take up, look around, it's taught outside of Israel and the US but there's no official organization and you have to watch out for instructors who are "fakes".

Cheers........Nigel
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The Heimosodat - Part 1

Post by CanKiwi2 » 29 Dec 2010 23:17

I'm including this section on the Heimosodat ("Kinship Wars") as it's a pretty good background to the strongly nationalist feelings among a fairly large sector of the Finnish population at the time, and thus somewhat relevant to my scenario as it progresses. It's also a bit of Finnish history not many people outside of Finland have every heard of.

The Heimosodat

The Heimosodat, or Kinship Wars (in English literally "Kindred Nations Wars", "Wars for kindred peoples" or "Kinship Wars" for Finnic kinship) were the conflicts in territories inhabited by other Finnic peoples, often in Russia or in borders of Russia, in which some 9000 Finnish volunteers took part between 1918 and 1922, to assert Finnish control over areas with predominantly Finnic populations. Many of the volunteer soldiers were inspired by the idea of Greater Finland. Some of the conflicts were incursions from Finland and some were local uprisings, where volunteers wanted either to help the people in their fight for independence or to annex the areas to Finland. When Finland declared independence, a century of nationalist agitation had created a mood where Finnish politicians viewed Eastern Karelia as nationally Finnish territory that should be included to any future administrative reorganization of the Grand Duchy and a good part of the population of the former Grand Duchy felt that they had an obligation to help other Finnic peoples to attain the same. The Finnish Civil had awakened a strong nationalistic feeling that sought tangible ways to make itself have an impact and in February 1918, Mannerheim, the commander of the Finnish White Army, wrote his famous "sword scabbard order of the day", in which he said that he would not return his sword to his scabbard until East Karelia was free of Russian control. Finland had, incidentally, for the two next decades, a relatively high citizen participation in nationalistic activities (e.g Karelianism and Finnicization of the country and its institutions).

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Greater Finland

The Heimosodat themselves consisted of a number of different conflicts that Finnish volunteers participated in. Generally, these are described as:
The Estonian War of Independence (1918–1920) – in which the Pohjan Pojat ("Sons of the North") and I Suomalainen Vapaajoukko (I Finnish Volunteer Corps) helped Estonian troops.
The Viena expedition (1918)
The Murmansk Legion
The Aunus expedition (1919)
The Petsamo expeditions (1918 and 1920)
The East Karelian Uprising (1921–1922)
The National revolt of Ingrian Finns (1918–1920)
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The Expeditions

East Karelia - 1918

Already during the Finnish Civil War the White forces had begun to prepare for intervention in the region, looking to utilize the collapse of the Russian state to fulfill the nationalist goal of unifying the "kindred nation" of Karelians with Finland. At the same time the Finnish Senate wanted to avoid direct confrontation with the factions of the Russian Civil War, and thus refused to send the official military across the border. Yet the recruitment of volunteers was never abolished, and soon various volunteer units composed of Civil War and Suojeluskunta veterans marched eastwards filled with nationalist zeal. The Entente Powers were not amused. Where the Finnish nationalists saw a long-waited fulfillment of their nationalist agenda, Britain and France saw the aggressive expansionism of a German puppet state into the strategically important territory of their former key ally whom they were doing their best to keep in the War.

On 6th March 1918 the Royal Navy landed 130 Royal Marines in Murmansk with the tasks of guarding the local supply storages and preventing the Finnish forces from reaching and cutting the Murmansk Railway. The Entente Campaign in North Russia had begun. The original goals of this operation were ambitious, hoping to create a new anti-German resistance center to the former Eastern Front in the north by providing support to local anti-Bolshevik forces. As a result of these conflicting goals, Eastern Karelia was about soon experience the chaotic summer of 1918. The complexities of the local political situation in Eastern Karelia are best explained by viewing the motives of various local factions and forces. The locals themselves were Karelians, a Finnic Orthodox ethnic group that had gradually developed their own separate distinct culture with Russian influences and some key differences to Finns in a similar way the South Slavic population of Balkans gradually separated from their common origins into Serbs, Croats and Bosnians. 19th century ethnic nationalist Fennomans saw East Karelia as the ancient home of Finnic culture, "un-contaminated" by both Scandinavians and Slavs. In the sparsely populated East Karelian backwoods, mainly in Vienan Karelia, Elias Lönnrot collected the folk tales that ultimately would become Finland's national epic, the Kalevala.

In 1918 Karelians were hungry and uncertain of their political future. During the last century they had seen widespread settlement by Russian immigrants into their formerly remote home territory due the growing importance of Murmansk, and the ever closer linking of their local economy to the city of St. Petersburg. However, due to the chaos caused by the Revolution, grain supplies from the south had been cut off and the local population was threatened with starvation. Politically the Karelian local leaders would have preferred independence, or at least autonomy from whomever would rule Russia after the Civil War. Only some of them initially supported the idea of state union with "the Swedes", as the locals referred to their Lutherian Finnic neighbors to the West.

The Viena Expedition

The Viena Expedition was the attempt by Finnish volunteer forces to annex White Karelia (Vienan Karjala). The expedition was made up of two groups. The group in the North, made up of Finnish Jäger troops, was led by Lieutenant Kurt Martti Wallenius. Initial operations in Northern Finland were successful and the Red Finns were forced to withdraw to Eastern Karelia. Wallenius and his light infantry crossed the border at Kuusamo but got bogged down in fighting the Finnish Red Guards. The low level of training and the low morale of the conscripted troops made any advance impossible and only the withdrawal of the defending Red Finns allowed the White Finns to advance a small distance until the troops again mutinied at the goals of the operations having passed the state border. In the end the force was withdrawn back within the Finnish borders and performed only small incursions into East Karelia.
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Volunteer force of the Vienna Expedition crossing the border into Eastern Karelia, Summer 1918

The Finnish southern Viena Expeditionary Force was more sucessful at first. This group was led by Lieutenant Colonel Carl Wilhelm Malm and consisted of about 350 volunteers. By 10 Apri 1918l, Malm's group had advanced as far as the coastal town of Kem on the White Sea. Malm was unable to capture the town and retreated to Uhtua where he began defending western White Sea Karelia. The Finns now switched tactics and adopted a village-by-village strategy of persuading locals to join the Finnish volunteer side. When the Finnish troops arrived in White Sea Karelia they noticed that the population was divided. A part of the population wanted to secede from Russia and form an independent Karelia separate from Finland. However, a larger part of the population just wanted some form of autonomy. Many thought they would get autonomy as part of Bolshevist Russia. A small minority of the population wanted Karelia to be joined to the new state of Finland.

Most importantly, for the great majority of the population, practical issues (such as ensuring having enough food) were more important than ideological issues. In the end, the proposal to join East Karelia to Finland received support in the White Karelian villages around Uhtua. Local Finnish White Guard (Suojeluskunta) militias were formed in over 20 villages in that area. In July, Malm was recalled back to Finland and in his place Captain Toivo Kuisma was placed in charge of the Finnish troops. The Finnish government could not decide whether to recall the troops or to send reinforcements.

By June 1918 the British/American Murmansk Expeditionary Force in Eastern Karelia was steadily growing in size due the active work of Colonel P.J. Woods. Woods was acting more or less independently when he decided to bolster the ranks of his hodgepodge force of British-French-Polish-Serbian units by starting recruitment campaigns among the Finnish Red Guards that had withdrawn into Eastern Karelia after the Civil War and were now continuing their civil war against the Finnish volunteer military expeditions there. Woods allowed these men to enlist in his service, and by June 1918 he had over 1,500 volunteers, of whom he chose one-third to receive British military training and weapons. Even though this unit was mocked as "His Majestys Royal Bolsheviks" by many other officers of the expedition, Woods continued his recruitment efforts, this time targeting the local Karelian population, resulting in the creation of another volunteer force, the Karelian Regiment.
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The situation of the Viena expedition began to deteriorate. The Karelian regiment stationed in Kem attacked the Finnish troops at Jyskyjärvi on 27 August. 18 men were lost. The next attack came against Luusalmi on 8 September when 42 Finns were killed. The following battles were fought at Kostamus and Vuokkiniemi in September-October. Soon Woods and his 4000-men strong "Irish Karelians" (Woods was of Northern Irish origin and the badge of the regiment, designed by Woods, consisting of a green shamrock on an orange field) were without question the strongest military force in the region, and the early hopes of Finnish nationalists were quickly fading away. Karelians were increasingly looking towards the Entente powers, especially Britain as the protector of their interests and the Finnish volunteer forces were unable to "rise the locals to revolt against their old Russian oppressors" as they had perhaps naively originally hoped. The Finnish Volunteer Forces had to offer little except nationalist propaganda, while the British provided bread and rifles to anyone willing to enlist to their service.

The British forces under Woods were able to push the Germans and Finns established in Uhtua out of White Karelia (Vienan Karjala), with the Finnish Volunteers returning to Finland on 2 October 1918. Woods success with the Karelians fostered unrealistic hopes of national self-determination which were ultimately unfulfilled, caught as they were between the Finns and Russians. The formation melted away as a transfer to White Russian command was attempted and Woods was evacuated in October 1919 with the rest of the British forces. The primary reason for the failure of the Finnish expeditions was the British intervention, which was driven by the strategic need to prevent then German-aligned Finland from cutting the Murmansk railroad.

The Aunus Expedition

The Aunus expedition was an attempt by Finnish volunteers to occupy parts of East Karelia in 1919. Earlier attempts in 1918 to take Petsamo and White Karelia (the Viena expedition) had failed, partly due to the passive or even hostile attitude of the Karelians. During the summer of 1918, the government of Finland received various appeals from Eastern Karelia to join the area to Finland. Especially active were the inhabitants of the parish of Repola, which had held a vote to join Finland. The Finnish Army occupied the parish in the fall of 1918. In January 1919 a small expedition of volunteers occupied the parish of Porajärvi, but was quickly repulsed by Bolshevik forces. Porajärvi held a vote on January 7 and also voted to join Finland.

In February 1919 Mannerheim made clear to the Western powers and the White Army that Finland would attack the Bolsheviks in Saint Petersburg if it would receive material and moral support. During the same time the plans for the Aunus expedition were prepared and the Jaeger-Major Gunnar von Herzen was chosen as the commander of the troops. He thought that the expedition would succeed with a thousand Finnish volunteers, but only if the Karelians would join the fighting. Mannerheim approved the plan, but demanded that Britain would also have to approve of it before it would proceed.
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Finnish Volunteers of the Aunus Expedition on the assault in East Karelia

The expedition crossed the border on the night of April 21, 1919. The goals were to capture Lodeynoye Pole, Petrozavodsk and the Murmansk railroad. The troops were divided into three groups and were made up of 1000 volunteers. The southern group advanced to Lodeynoye Pole in just three days, but was pushed back behind the River Tuulos by Bolshevik troops. The northern group captured Prääsä. At this time it became obvious that there weren't enough troops to achieve the goals of the expedition. A new round of recruiting for 2000 new volunteers was started and Mannerheim made Aarne Sihvo the new commander of the expedition. Major Paavo Talvela's regiment started an attack aimed at Petrozavodsk on June 20, but was beaten by Bolsheviks and Finnish Red Guard forces just outside the town after Trotsky sent in fresh Bolshevik reinforcements.

The British troops that operated along the Murmansk railroad were quite close by, but did not participate. The Finns had hoped that the Karelian population would have joined the troops as volunteers but only a few did and their morale was never very high. The initiative now passed to the Bolsheviks. On June 26 over 600 Finns of the Red Officer School in Saint Petersburg made a landing at Vitele across Lake Ladoga behind the Finnish lines. The southern group was forced to retreat to Finland after suffering heavy losses. Talvela's group was also forced to retreat back to Finland, with Finnish volunteer forces remaining only in the two border parishes of Repola and Porajärvi.

The East Karelian Uprising

In the treaty of Tartu in 1920 Finland and Soviet Union agreed on their common border. Repola and Porajärvi were left on the Soviet side and the Finnish troops had to be withdrawn before February 14, 1921. During the treaty negotiations, Finland proposed a referendum in East Karelia, through which its residents could choose whether they wanted to join Finland or Soviet Russia. Due to opposition from Russia, Finland had to withdraw the initiative. In return for ceding Repola and Porajärvi back to Russia, Finland acquired Petsamo and a promise of cultural autonomy for East Karelia. However this promise of cultural autonomy was not met. The young police chief in Repola, Bobi Sivén shot himself in protest.

The East Karelian Uprising began in November 1921 and ended on March 21, 1922 with the Agreements between the governments of Soviet Russia and Finland on the inviolability of the Soviet–Finnish border. The motivation for the uprising was the East Karelians' year long experience of the Bolshevik regime – not respecting promises of autonomy, food shortages, the Finnish nationalist “kindred activists” desire to amend the results of the "shameful peace" of Tartu, and the wishes of exiled East Karelians. Finnish kindred activists, notably Jalmari Takkinen, the deputy of Bobi Sivén, the bailiff of Repola, had been conducting a campaign in the summer of 1921 in order to rouse the East Karelians to fight against the Bolshevik belligerents of the ongoing Russian Civil War. The pivotal moment in the uprising was the council meeting of the Karelian Forest Guerrillas (Karjalan metsäsissit) in mid-October 1921. It voted in favor of secession from Soviet Russia. The key leadership was formed by military leaders: Finnish-born Jalmari Takkinen, aka. Ilmarinen, Ossippa Borissainen and Vaseli Levonen aka. Ukki Väinämöinen, who had prominent Karelian features and a general resemblance to the Finnish mythical character, Väinämöinen – and as such was deemed suitable for his role as an ideological leader.
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Finnish and East Karelian soldiers figting side by side against Russians in the East Karelian uprising

Some 550 Finnish volunteers joined the uprising, acting mostly as officers and squad leaders. Most famous of them was Paavo Talvela and Erik Heinrichs, who later served as high ranking staff officer in the Winter War. The uprising is a peculiarity among the heimosodat at this time as the initiative was not taken by Finnish insurgents, but by East Karelian separatists, and Finnish government remained officially passive. The uprising began with the immediate summary execution of anyone who was or was suspected of being a Bolshevik. The uprising escalated into military engagements over October–November 1921. The 2,500 Forest Guerrillas were initially fairly successful, despite their lack of proper equipment and by the autumn of 1921 a major part of White Karelia was under their control.

The East Karelian rebels got some publicity in international media, but they had expected Finland to intervene with its defence forces. However, the Finnish government refused any official participation, but it did not prevent private Finnish volunteer activists from crossing the border. Finland also agreed to send humanitarian aid to the East Karelian rebels, taking the risk of provoking a war with the Soviet Union. Russian historians, however, stipulate that the Finnish government did support the uprising in a military manner, and was intervening in an internal conflict. In Northern White Karelia the smaller Vienan Rykmentti (Viena Regiment) was formed. On November 6, 1921 the Finnish and Karelian forces began a new incursion into East Karelia. According to Finnish historians, on that day Karelian guerrillas and Finnish volunteer forces attacked in Rukajärvi. Russian historian Alexander Shirokorad claims this force was 5,000–6,000 strong, which is twice the total strength of East Karelians and Finnish volunteers combined according to Finnish records.

Command of the Battalion in Olonets Karelia was first taken by Gustaf Svinhufvud and thereafter by Talvela, at the middle of December 1921. By the end of December 1921, the Finnish volunteers and Karelian Forest Guerrillas had advanced to the Kiestinki Suomussalmi – Rukajärvi – Paatene – Porajärvi lines. Finnish support of the uprising with volunteers and humanitarian aid caused a chill in Finnish-Russian diplomatic relations. Leon Trotsky, the commander of the Red Army, announced that he was ready to march towards Helsinki and Soviet Russian troops would strike the East Karelian rebels with a 20,000 strong army via the Murmansk railway. Meanwhile, approximately 20,000 troops of the Red Army led by Alexander Sedyakin reached Karelia and mounted a counterattack. The Red Army also had Red Finns within its ranks. These Finns had emigrated to Soviet Russia after their defeat in the Finnish Civil War.

At the onset of winter the resistance of the Forest Guerrillas collapsed under the superior numbers of the Red Army, famine, and freezing cold. The rebels panicked, and their troops started to retreat towards the Finnish border. According to Shirokorad, the troops of the Red Army had crushed the main group of the Finnish and Karelian troops by the beginning of January 1922 and had retaken Porajärvi and Repola. On January 25th 1922 the northern group of the Soviet troops had occupied Kestenga and Kokkosalmi, and by the beginning of February occupied the settlement Ukhta. During the final stages of the uprising, the Red "Pork mutiny" occurred in Finland, sparking a hope among the rebels and Finnish volunteers that this would cause the Finnish government to intervene and provide military aid to the insurgents. This did not happen; on the contrary, the minister of the Interior, Heikki Ritavuori, tightened border controls, closed the border preventing food and munitions shipments, and prohibited volunteers crossing over to join the uprising.

The assassination of Ritavuori on February 12, 1922 by a Finnish nationalist activist did not change the situation. The last unit of the uprising, remnants of Viena Regiment, fled Tiirovaara on February 16, 1922 at 10.45 am and reached the border at 1 pm. On June 1, 1922 in Helsinki, Finland and Soviet Russia signed an Agreement between the RSFSR and Finland about the measures providing the inviolability of the Soviet–Finnish border. Both parties agreed to reduce the number of border guards and to keep those who did not reside permanently in the border zone from freely crossing the border from either side to the other. Towards the end of the uprising some 30,000 East Karelian refugees evacuated to Finland.
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A 1922 Bolshevik propaganda poster: "We don't want war, but we will defend the Soviets!"

Next – Estonia and Ingria
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CanKiwi2
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Petsamo and The Estonian War of Independance and Finland....

Post by CanKiwi2 » 21 Jan 2011 15:14

In addition to the expeditions into Karelia, there were a number of other conflicts involving Finnish volunteers in the years between 1918 and 1922.

The Petsamo Excursions of 1918 amd 1920

The idea of these expeditions was to bring Petsamo officially under Finnish control, and then to establish and place border guards on the Finnish - Russian border in order to solidify the Finnish claim to Petsamo, which was based on the promise of Czar Alexander II, who had undertaken to award Petsamo to Finland in exchange for the territory of the Siestarjoki / Sestroryetsk weapons factory on the Karelian Isthmus. In 1918, both Finnish Whites and Reds were interested in the Petsamo area. The Finnish Reds (People’s Commissar George Sirola) negotiated over Petsamo with the Bolsheviks, while the Finnish Whites sent an expedition to lay claim to the area.

The 1918 expedition: In the spring of 1918, the Finns sent two expeditions, which later joined together. One of these two expeditions had a strength of about 100 men and was lead by Dr. Thorsten Renvall (brother of Senator Heikki Renvall, who was the leader of the Finnish Senate aka the Finnish Government in Vaasa during Civil War). The other expedition was financed by businessmen, and was known as Lapin Rakuunat (The Dragoons of Lapland) and was also lead by a doctor - Onni Laitinen. In May of 1918 the two expeditions arrived together at Petsamo. The British North Russia Expeditionary Force based in Murmansk considered these Finnish expeditions a threat, since they were worried that the Germans might arrive in the area after the Finns and take over it for their own purposes (the major concern of the British was that the Germans might use Petsamo as a Submarine base, targeting British shipping to Murmansk and Arkhangelsk, which had become major transit ports for the transhipment of military equipment and munitions to Russia for use in fighting the Germans on the Eastern Front).
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Leaders of the first Petsamo Expedition – Rovaniemi: 1918. Pictured left to right, front (in the white hat and coat): Thorsten Renvall (CO), Johan Bäckman, Julius Niemura, Jalmari Ruokokoski. Arvi Vinberg and Hjalmar Mehring. Rear: Ellen Id, Elvi Halle, Helge Aspelund, Ester Fogelberg, who is holding the flag created for the expedition by the artist, Jalmari Ruokokoski.

On the 3rd of May 1918, HMS Cochrane brought troops to Petsamo (100 Royal Marines, 40 sailors and 40 Russian Reds, commanded by Captain Brown). The Finnish Expeditionary Force fought the British for three days until the 6th of May, when HMS Cochrane brought in reinforcements (35 additional soldiers, five Lewis machineguns plus sailors, and also landed a 12-pound artillery gun as additional support). On the 10th of May the British captured Petsamo and succeeded in repelling the Finnish counter-attack. After this, the British replaced their troops with 200 Serbian soldiers (The Allies were using Serbian soldiers, among others, in the North Russian Expeditionary Force). The Finnish expeditions headed back south. Finland and Britain exchanged diplomatic notes and Britain advised that it didn't have anything against Finnish demands concerning Petsamo. The Finnish force consisted contained mostly civilians (not such a surprise considering the timing – the Finnish Civil War ended officially on the 15th of May).
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HMS Cochrane

The 1920 expedition: This expedition in the spring of 1920 consisted of about 60 men and was led by Kurt Martti Wallenius (who was better known later as one of the leaders of the Lapua movement and then as the commander of the Lapland Group during the Winter War). From the 16th of April the expedition was lead by Major Gustaf Taucher. The Russian Bolsheviks sent a ski battalion created in Murmansk to fight against it. This expedition also failed and was forced to return south tp Finnish territory. Despite these military defeats, the Treaty of Tartu agreed that the Petsamo area would become part of Finland.

The Estonian War of Independence Nov 1918 to Feb 1920

Estonia had been subject to some sort of foreign hegemony since the 13th century and had been a province of Imperial Russia since 1710. Then, amidst the turmoil of World War I and the Russian Revolution, chaos ensued: foreign armies (Bolshevik, White Russian and German) came and went. Estonia sought independence and between 1918 and 1920 fought a war to achieve this. The war attracted a diverse range of participants. Estonian efforts to achieve independence were augmented by White Russian soldiers fighting to restore the Russian Empire, by Finnish, Swedish, and Danish volunteers, and by a British naval presence. Estonia also fought a bloody battle on its southern border against a Baltic German military force. There was a great deal of battlefield realignment, and front lines moved dramatically as each side’s fortunes rose and fell: at one point, Soviet forces came within 35 kilometers of Tallinn; at another, Estonian forces conquered Pskov and got quite close to St Petersburg (then called Petrograd).

By the time it was over, the 14-month war had claimed 3,588 Estonian lives and left 13,775 Estonians injured. Estonian and Soviet Russian negotiators met in Tartu, Estonia’s second-largest city, to negotiate peace. In the resulting Tartu Peace Treaty, signed on February 2nd, 1920, Soviet Russia recognized Estonian independence and forever renounced claims on Estonian territory. The Soviets also agreed to pay Estonia restitution in the amount of 15 million gold rubles. But between the Bolshevik Revolution and the Taru Peace Treaty, a great deal had occurred.

In November 1917, on the disintegration of the Russian Empire, a diet of the Autonomous Governorate of Estonia, the Estonian Provincial Assembly, which had been elected in the spring of that year, proclaimed itself the highest authority in Estonia. Soon after, the Bolsheviks dissolved the Estonian Provincial Assembly and temporarily forced the pro-independence Estonians underground in the capital Tallinn. A few months later, using a moment of time between the Red Army's retreat and the arrival of the Imperial German Army, the Salvation Committee of the Estonian National Council, Maapäev, issued the Estonian Declaration of Independence in Tallinn on February 24, 1918 and formed the Estonian Provisional Government. This first period of independence was extremely short-lived, as the German troops entered Tallinn on the following day. The German authorities recognized neither the provisional government, nor its claim for Estonia's independence, viewing them as a self-styled group usurping the sovereign rights of the (Germanic) Baltic nobility.

However, after the capitulation of Imperial Germany in November 1918, the situation in the Baltic became increasingly chaotic. The Russian Empire had collapsed and was in the throes of Civil War. Estonia, Latvia amd Lithuania has been granted nominal independence by the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, but Lenin had also declared: "The Baltic must become a Soviet sea," and unleashed his forces across the region. German garrisons held many of the major cities, few of them were inclined to obey their government's order to return home. And in Latvia and Estonia, White Russian forces were gathering, bent on retaking the Bolshevik stronghold of Petrograd and rebuilding the Russian empire. In Estonia, the representatives of Germany formally handed over political power to the Estonian Provisional Government. On 16 November 1918, the Estonian provisional government called for voluntary mobilization and started to organize the Estonian Army, with Konstantin Päts as Minister of War, Major General Andres Larka as the chief of staff, and Major General Aleksander Tõnisson as commander of the Estonian Army, initially consisting of one division.
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Brothers, Hurry to Join the Nation's Army!: Estonian Army Recruiting poster in 1918

The Estonian War of Independence began a few days later, when on 28 November 1918 the Bolshevik 6th Red Rifle Division attacked units of the Estonian Defence League (which partly consisted of secondary school pupils) and the German Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 405 who were defending the border town of Narva. The Red’s, with their force of 7,000 infantry, 22 field guns, 111 machine guns, an armored train, 2 armored vehicles, 2 airplanes, and the Bogatyr class cruiser Oleg supported by 2 destroyers captured Narva almost immediately (on the 28th of November 1918). The Red force then advanced to the Tapa railway junction by Christmas Eve, later advancing to 34 kilometers from the capital Tallinn. Estonian Bolsheviks declared the Estonian Workers' Commune in Narva. The German Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 405 withdrew westwards. At the same time, the 2nd Novgorod Division opened a second front south of Lake Peipus with a force of 7000 infantry, 12 field guns, 50 machine guns, 2 armored trains, and 3 armored vehicles. The 49th Red Latvian Rifle Regimen took Valga railway junction on 18 December and Tartu town on Christmas Eve. By the end of the year, the 7th Red Army controlled Estonia along a front line 34 kilometers east of Tallinn, west from Tartu and south of Ainaži.
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Front line Estonian Soldiers in the trenchs fighting for independence

The Red Army attack starting at the end of 1918 hit Estonia in an extremely difficult situation. The administration and army of the young republic were only then being formed, and had very little experience. The army lacked sufficient weapons and equipment. Food and money were scarce and the population of the towns were in danger of starvation. Although the majority of the population did not support the Bolsheviks, their faith in the survival of the national state was not high. People did not believe that the Republic of Estonia would be able to resist the attacks of the Red Army. The Estonian government nevertheless decided to oppose the Bolshevist aggression, hoping for help from the Western countries (i.e. the former Russian allies in World War I) and Finland.

Opposing the two Red Army Divisions was an Estonian military force consisting of 2,000 men equipped with light weapons and about 14,500 poorly armed Estonian Defence League (Home Guard) soldiers. The end of November 1918 also saw the formation of an Estonian Baltic battalion, made up of volunteers belonging to Estonia's Baltic German minority. This battalion was thus one of the first fighting units of the Estonian Army, and stayed loyal to the authorities of the republic, unlike the Landeswehr in neighbouring Latvia. External help was essential, but it would have been insufficient without Estonia’s own decisive steps. Active organisational work was conducted, and new army units were formed. On 23 December 1918, the energetic Colonel Johan Laidoner was appointed Commander in Chief of the Estonian armed forces, and recruited 600 officers and 11,000 volunteers by 23 December 1918. He reorganized the forces by setting up the 2nd Division in Southern Estonia under the command of Colonel Viktor Puskar, along with commando type units, such as the Tartumaa Partisan Battalion and Kalevi Malev. At the first opportunity he planned a counter-attack and forced the Red Army out of Estonia.
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Colonel Johan Laidoner, Commander in Chief of the Estonian armed forces

Meanwhile, the British government had been uncertain how to handle the unstable situation in the Baltic. The British agreed with the principle of supporting the newborn states in their independence and were now opposed to the Bolshevik’s, in general supporting White Russian and Independence movements throughout the former Russian Empire.
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But the British, after four years of carnage in France, feared the political fall-out a prolonged infantry campaign in Russia would cause. Spurred by the First Sea Lord, Admiral Wester "Rosy" Wemyss, a man who believed in extending the "freedom of the seas" principle to the Baltic, the British Government decided to send a naval task force "to show the British flag and support British policy as circumstances dictate." On Nov. 22 1918, the Sixth Light Cruiser Squadron - five light cruisers and nine destroyers plus supporting vessels - sailed for the Baltic under the command of Rear-Admiral Edwin Alexander-Sinclair. First blood was soon shed: the squadron was passing northwest of Saaremaa, heading for Tallinn, when the cruiser Cassandra struck a German mine and sank with the loss of eleven hands. It was an ill-omened start, but the British soon recovered.
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The flagship of British Admiral Kelly in Tallinn harbour. The Royal Navy took part in the Estonian War of Independence from the end of 1918, and was a considerable help in securing victory for the Estonian Army. The extensive British assistance was not, however, totally selfless — it was also an attempt to keep Estonia in an anti-Bolshevist coalition, which in the end did not succeed; the separate peace treaty of the Republic of Estonia with the Soviet Union caused much dissatisfaction in Western countries

The British intervention had some immediately beneficial impacts on the Estonian fight for independence. On arrival at Tallinn on 31 December 1918, the Squadron delivered 6500 rifles, 200 machine guns and 2 field guns to the Estonian Army. Soon after reaching Tallinn they sailed again, steaming to Narva to bombard the Bolshevik positions there. Their actions infuriated Trotsky, who ordered: "They must be destroyed at any cost." On Dec. 26 1918 a Soviet task force left the Kronstadt naval base. One destroyer was sent to Tallinn to lure the British into an ambush, but when the British left harbor the destroyer began firing so wildly that it wrecked its own charthouse, concussed its helmsman and ran aground, signaling "All is lost. I am pursued by the English." By the end of the night two Soviet destroyers (the Spartak and the Avotril) had been captured (and were then donated to the Estonian navy, who renamed then Vambola and Lennuk), and the commissar of the Soviet fleet, F.F. Raskolnikov, had been found hiding under 12 sacks of potatoes and taken prisoner.
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Estonian Destroyer Vambola (ex Spartak)

Viron Avustamisen Päätoimikunta / Committee to Aid Estonia
Meanwhile, in addition to assistance from the British, Estonia also obtained assistance from Finland. Estonia had made a number of requests for help to Finland in 1918 and public support for the provision of assistanc to Estonia (which linguistically and culturally is closely related to Finnish) was growing within Finland. On December 5th, 1918 Finland delivered 5000 rifles, 50 machineguns and 20 field guns together with ammunition. In addition, Finnish women’s groups organised clothing, bandages and medicine for export to Estonia.

Within Estonia, the situation continued to worsen through December and in Finland, right-wing newspapers were increasingly strident in their calls to assist Estonia. The Viron Avustamisen Päätoimikunta was founded on the 15th of December 1918 by Senator Oscar Wilho Louhivuori. Louhivuori was elected chairman of the Committee in Helsinki on the 20th December 1918, the Vice Chairman was Santosh Ivalo. Other members included figures with significant political and social influence within Finland, with representatives from all political parties except the Social Democrats. The committee’s main task was to organise the recruitment of volunteers for Estonia, for which permission was receieved from the Government and from the Regent (CGE Mannerheim).

Recruitment points were set up across the country and an agreement was reached with the Estonian Government on 18th December 1918 that a total of 2000 Volunteers would be sent, formed into two different volunteer forces. The leaders of these two forces were to be the Swedish Major Martin Ekström and Estonian Colonel Hans Kalm (both of whom had served in the White forces in the Finnish Civil War).
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Hans Kalm
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Martin Ekstrom

The Finnish government gave overall command of the Finnish Volunteers to Lieutenant General Martin Wetzer. The Committee registered a total of 10,000 volunteers through the recruiting points that had been set up, but of these only 4,000 were sent to Estonia (a number which was, however, twice the number of volunteers originally agreed between the two countries). It was also agreed however that if the situation in Estonia should further worsen, the remaining “reserve” of 6,000 volunteers would be sent. Of the 4,000 volunteers, almost all ended up fighting at the Front. The committee also arranged for other foreign volunteers to go to Estonia, notably a group of Swedish Volunteers and a further group of 175 soldiers and 16 Officers from Denmark (the Danish volunteers arrived in Helsinki from Copenhagen on 1 April 1919 and on 3 April arrived in Tallinn. The Danish volunteers fought in southern Estonia and northern Latvia, and many were decorated with various Estonian military medals. The commander of the Danes, Richard Gustav Borgelin, was promoted to lieutenant colonel for his services rendered in the War of Independence, and was given the manor of Maidla in recognition of his services.
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Danish Volunteers in Estonia

The Swedish volunteer unit to support the Republic of Estonia in the Estonian War of Independence under the command of Carl Mothander was formed in Sweden in early 1919. In March 1919, 178 volunteers took part in scout missions in Virumaa. In April, the company was sent to the Southern front and took part of the battles near Pechory. By May 5 there was 68 men left in the company. On May 17, the company was disbanded by the order of the Estonian Minister of War. Some of the volunteers returned home in Sweden, some joined the Estonian Army, some the Danish volunteer unit. Other commanders of the Swedish volunteers in Estonia included C.G. Malmberg and L. Hällen
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Major Carl Axel Mothander, Commander of the Swedish volunteers in the Estonian War of Independence (where he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel)

The start of the war had not been successful for Estonia. On 29 November 1918, the Estonian Workers’ Commune was declared as an independent Soviet Estonian Republic, in occupied Narva. This was essentially a Soviet Russian puppet state, established in order to present the events in Estonia as a civil war. At the same time underground communist agitators continued their subversive activity in the Estonian rear and in the army throughout the War of Independence. The militarily more numerous Red Army had managed to conquer about half of mainland Estonia by early January 1919. Only about 30 km separated them from the capital, Tallinn. BUT … on 2 January 1919, a Finnish volunteer unit of 2000 men arrived in Estonia, escorted and partially transported by a Royal Navy Baltic detachment, incidentally at the same time as other Finnish volunteer units were fighting against British-sponsored forces in East Karelia (proof of the confused situation and political complexities in the Baltic and on the periphery of the now-imploded Russian Empire).
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Finnish volunteers arrive in Tallinn Estonia in December 1918 – these consisted of two volunteer units, Pohjan Pojat ("Sons of the North") and I Suomalainen Vapaajoukko (Ist Finnish Volunteer Corps).

Things now took a sudden turn for the better – on 7th January 1919 the now reorganized Estonian troops (15,000 men), together with the Finnish volunteers began a counter-offensive. Within three weeks all of Estonian territory was liberated from the Bolsheviks. A significant role was played by the volunteer units, the highly motivated armoured train crews, and the Julius Kuperjanov Battalion (Julius Kuperjanov was an Estonian who had graduated from the Tartu Teachers’ College in 1914. In 1915 he was conscripted into the Russian Army, completing the School of Ensigns and served as CO of an infantry regiment’s recconnaisance unit. In late 1917 he joined the national armed forces of Estonia. During the German occupation in 1918 he helped to organise secret military groups that were to form the basis of the Estonian armed forces once the German occupation was over.

In November 1918 Kuperjanov was appointed the head of the Defence League in Tartu County. After the War of Independence had started, he assembled a battalion in December 1918 which took his name – the Kuperjanov Partisan Battalion. In the January 1919 battles he stood out for his brave, energetic and successful actions. Kuperjanov also demanded strict discipline, not allowing his men any alcohol or playing cards. On 31 January 1919 Kuperjanov was fatally wounded at Paju Manor near Valga when he led his men in the attack. In the Republic of Estonia in the twenties and thirties he posthumously became a national hero, a paragon of bravery and self-sacrifice. The regiment formed by Kuperjanov demonstrated an excellent fighting spirit throughout the rest of the War of Independence, and a battalion bearing his name has been restored in today’s Estonian army).
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Julius Kuperjanov

An added factor in the Estonian success was that both the Estonian Army and the Finnish volunteers supporting the Estonian Army had the open support of both the Finnish Government and of the Royal Navy task force operating in the Baltic at the time (now under the command of Rear-Admiral Sir Walter Cowan, who had replaced Sinclair in January 1919). And unlike in Eastern Karelia, the Finnish volunteer forces achieved major successes in the fighting in Estonia, Western Ingria and Northern Latvia. The 1st Suomalainen Vapaajoukko captured Narva shortly after their arrival in Estonian in an amphibious assault (another operation supported by the Royal Navy) to the rear of the Red Army units - Trotsky himself was reportedly inside the city organizing the defense at the time the Finns stormed the city in a surprise attack. The defense collapsed, and Trotsky managed to get out before being captured.
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Lt. Eskola of 1st Suomalainen Vapaajoukko in Narva

In February 1919 the Estonian government and army command set the military objective as being push the frontline as far from Estonia’s borders as possible. To this end they hoped that the Russian Whites (who had formed the Northern Corps - later the North-Western Army) would come to power in north-western Russia and the local nationalists in Latvia. In February 1919, as part of an agreement with the Latvian government, Latvian troops were formed in Estonia. Repeated attempts by the Estonian army to push the Red Army out of Estonia and fight the war in Russia and Latvia failed until May 1919, when Estonian troops together with the Northern Corps started an offensive towards Petrograd, pushed the frontline beyond the borders of Estonia and conquered a large territory east of Lake Peipsi. Forcing the enemy out of the country increased faith in the authority of the state, and enabled a further mobilisation that was crucial in continuing to fight the much larger Red Army. At the same time the Red Army had considerably supplemented its forces fighting against Estonia (between February and May, 6-8 percent of the Red Army forces or about 80,000 men were active on the Estonian Front) and carried out their own (unsuccessful) offensives.

In May the Estonian Army consisted of about 75,000 men, by the end of the year the number had increased to 90,000 – and this, combined with the new frontline beyond the borders, considerably reduced the danger of another Bolshevik invasion (in August, however, the troops retreated in order to protect the Estonia’s borders). Another key factor in the continuing success of the war was the foodstuffs, military equipment and weapons provided by Great Britain and the USA throughout 1919. Ongoing communist propaganda was seriously undermined by the revelations about the mass murders committed by the Bolsheviks while they had temporarily held power (among others, they had killed the Estonian Orthodox bishop Platon in Tartu). On 23 April 1919 the Estonian Constituent Assembly gathered in Tallinn. Its greatest achievement was the adoption of a Constitution and of land reform legislation. On the basis of the latter, a radical land reform program was carried out in 1920, mainly aiming to nationalise the lands of the German-owned manors and to distribute this land to the peasants, especially those who were takingt part in the War of Independence.

To a certain degree, the radical character of the land act was influenced by the so-called Landeswehr War waged in June and July 1919. In the course of that war, Estonian troops defeated the German army group based in Latvia and headed by Major-General Rüdiger von der Goltz, which consisted of many representatives of the Baltic German nobility from Latvia and Estonia. As a result of the Landeswehr’s defeat, the government of Kārlis Ulmanis came to power in Latvia, and Estonia now enjoyed a friendly neighbour to the south. As eastern Latvia was still occupied by the Red Army and the army of the Latvian Republic needed some organisation, the Estonian military command partly undertook the protection of the front there (until December 1919).

For the British, the situation in the Baltics had been complicated by the arrival of German Major-General Rudiger von der Goltz, and for the whole of 1919, Rear-Admiral Cowan's greatest challenges were to keep the Soviet fleet penned in Kronstadt and to stop the Germans overrunning the Baltics. His success was spectacular. The Soviet fleet had been reorganized following the loss of its two destroyers, and Trotsky had given the blunt instruction: "The Revolution must put the British fleet out of action." At first, fortune favored him: mines damaged the British cruiser Curacoa and sank the submarine L-55 and the minesweepers Myrtle and Gentian with the loss of over 50 lives. But despite these losses, the British managed to keep the Soviet navy from intervening in Estonia's war for independence, but failed to cause material harm until June 1919.
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Major-General Rudiger von der Goltz

In that month, a single 40-foot coastal motor boat commanded by Lieutenant Augustus Agar (based out of Finland) penetrated the Kronstadt minefield and sank the cruiser Oleg. The action inspired Cowan, and on Aug. 17 he sent eight CMBs into Kronstadt. These small motorboats, armed only with torpedoes and machine guns, entered the main harbor basin and sank the Soviet fleet's two chief battleships and a store-ship. In the hail of fire that followed, three CMBs were sunk with the loss of 15 lives; but as Cowan commented of the Soviet fleet: "Nothing bigger than a destroyer ever moved again." Although a Soviet submarine later sank one British destroyer and a mine sank another, the Soviet naval threat to Estonia's flank was permanently lifted.

In Latvia, meanwhile, the situation was more complex. The largest armed force there was Goltz' German army, and Goltz was bent on conquest. To further his dream he repeatedly sabotaged the creation of a Latvian army, arranged a Baltic German coup, built a wall along Liepaja quay to keep Latvians and British apart (the British waited until the wall was finished, then simply moved their ships around it) and accused Karlis Ulmanis of having Bolshevik sympathies. The Latvian leader took shelter on the Latvian ship SS Saratov, and for the next few months his government lived under the protection of the Royal Navy's guns. When Goltz was forced to resign in September 1919, he was replaced by the Russian adventurer Paul Bermondt-Avalov, whose army promptly attacked Riga.
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Pavel Bermondt-Avalov

Latvia's nascent army deserves all the credit for stopping them; but throughout the battles, Cowan's ships and a French flotilla provided artillery support and transport, enabling Latvian forces to capture the fortress of Daugavgriva and turn the enemy flank. In the process, HMS Dragon was struck by German artillery with the loss of nine lives. Soon after, Avalov's forces attacked Liepaja, and again the Allied ships acted as floating batteries, covering the Latvian counter-attack that drove the Germans out of the city.
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HMS Dragon in action

The Bolsheviks decided to make peace with Estonia and thus exclude it from among the enemies of Soviet Russia. In August Moscow officially offered peace to Estonia. The Estonian politicians and the higher military were divided in two on this matter, trying to work out whose victory in the Russian Civil War (Whites or Reds) would be more advantageous for Estonia. The majority thought that the Whites, who were reluctant to recognised Estonian independence, constituted a bigger threat. In autumn 1919 it was realised that the Russian Whites were going to lose, so the only chance of getting the economically struggling Estonia out of the gruelling war was to make peace with the Bolsheviks. Another factor supporting this decision was that throughout 1919 the Republic of Estonia had failed to get de jure recognition from the Western countries.
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Signing the Tartu Peace Treaty

Peace talks with Soviet Russia started on 5 December 1919 in Tartu. The simultaneous offensive of the Red Army aiming to influence the talks did not produce the desired effect. An armistice was announced on 3 January 1920. On 2 February the Tartu Peace Treaty was signed – the Republic of Estonia and the Soviet Russia recognised each other, declared the end of the war and determined the post-war cooperation plans. The War of Independence had cost the Estonian troops about 2,300 men killed, about 13,800 were wounded (including about 300 killed and 800 wounded in the Landeswehr War), plus the losses of foreign volunteers and allied forces.

Next: Finnish Volunteer Units in Estonia: Pohjan Pojat ("Sons of the North") and I Suomalainen Vapaajoukko (Ist Finnish Volunteer Corps) – and the Ingrian Uprising
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Mika68*
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Re: What If - Finland had been prepared for the Winter War?

Post by Mika68* » 21 Jan 2011 17:15

The area in first map is right. That is really ground of
Finland.
So, Finland had get back areas lost 1940-44 and additionally Estonia, Carelia, Kola peninsula ans eastrern part of
Swedish Lappland and also Petsamo and part of Ice Sea.

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Slon-76
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Re: What If - Finland had been prepared for the Winter War?

Post by Slon-76 » 21 Jan 2011 17:50

CanKiwi2 wrote:What If – Historically, Finland lost the Winter War in large part due to an ill-equipped military (who did amazingly well with what they had) and politicians who failed to see the writing on the wall and act.
Hi!
You are mistaken. Finland has lost because the USSR had army in 15 times more, than Finland. Any arms could not change a situation essentially. Any a measure cannot level the huge superiority of the USSR in artillery and aircraft.
100 fighters P-35 - not a "wunderwaffe". Yes, it would aggravate war in air, but would not break a situation for the benefit of Finns. Pair new IAPs Soviet Air Forces, thrown on front, would restore the "status quo".
At Finland in single combat from the USSR "in private" chances to leave the winner it was not simple.

Yours faithfully to you...

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Re: What If - Finland had been prepared for the Winter War?

Post by CanKiwi2 » 21 Jan 2011 18:25

Slon-76 wrote:Hi!
You are mistaken. Finland has lost because the USSR had army in 15 times more, than Finland. Any arms could not change a situation essentially. Any a measure cannot level the huge superiority of the USSR in artillery and aircraft.
100 fighters P-35 - not a "wunderwaffe". Yes, it would aggravate war in air, but would not break a situation for the benefit of Finns. Pair new IAPs Soviet Air Forces, thrown on front, would restore the "status quo".
At Finland in single combat from the USSR "in private" chances to leave the winner it was not simple.

Yours faithfully to you...
Hi Slon-76

Ah-ha. Think about that a bit more. While the Soviet military enormously outnumbered Finland's, the USSR had to maintain forces along the frontier with the Germans (especially post-Sept 1939) and facing off the Japanese along the border with Manchukuo. Not inconsiderable forces either. The USSR could never afford to have other than a percentage of their forces facing off against Finland, which in the greater scheme of things was small change. The challenge Finland faced was to make themselves something similar to a porcupine. Yes, you can kill it, but it's gonna be damn painful to do it. A similar challenge faced the Swiss in WW2 - they were better prepared and hence survived.

Also keep in mind that in 1939 the Red Army was woefully unprepared for a real war. Stalin's purges of the Officer Corps saw to that. An unexpected advantage for the Finns. Also, the whole Winter War scenario. Stalin didn't expect the Finns to fight, the Red Army went in completely unprepared for winter warfare. In summer uniforms no less and at minus forty. Aircraft - look at the kill ratio the Ilmavoimat achieved against the Red Airforce with Fokker DXXI's and later with Brewster Buffaloes. Give the Ilmavoimat 100 P-35's and you're talking an advantage out of all proportion to what the numbers indicate.

The challenge of this particular "What-if" is to figure out what level of forces would be painful enough, what could the Finns hope to achieve and how might it work out. Of course, I'm going to throw in a few wild cards as I move forward with this one - KKT was one, "stimulus-response" training was a second, there's a few more to come. Feel free to dive in and take a bite :D whenever you disagree. And keep in mind, this is an ATL and therefore fictional, this early part is more by way of background and scene setting. You will note from the early posts on the development of the Finnish economy that Finland has a much higher GDP than in reality (about double, altho that's a bit of a guesstimate) and a lot stronger industrial base. And a Navy that's more realistically matched to the challenges Finland faced. Army, Air Force and military-industrial complex still to come.

Enjoy........Nigel
ex Ngāti Tumatauenga ("Tribe of the Maori War God") aka the New Zealand Army

Mika68*
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Re: What If - Finland had been prepared for the Winter War?

Post by Mika68* » 21 Jan 2011 18:50

I'm Finnish and I say there was not statpunkt in German language on Finnish railways during civil war.
Otherways the story is true.

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Baltasar
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Re: What If - Finland had been prepared for the Winter War?

Post by Baltasar » 21 Jan 2011 18:55

Statpunkt doesn't have a meaning in German either...

Mika68*
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Re: What If - Finland had been prepared for the Winter War?

Post by Mika68* » 21 Jan 2011 19:12

CanKiwi2 wrote:
Slon-76 wrote:Hi!
You are mistaken. Finland has lost because the USSR had army in 15 times more, than Finland. Any arms could not change a situation essentially. Any a measure cannot level the huge superiority of the USSR in artillery and aircraft.
100 fighters P-35 - not a "wunderwaffe". Yes, it would aggravate war in air, but would not break a situation for the benefit of Finns. Pair new IAPs Soviet Air Forces, thrown on front, would restore the "status quo".
At Finland in single combat from the USSR "in private" chances to leave the winner it was not simple.

Yours faithfully to you...
Hi Slon-76

Ah-ha. Think about that a bit more. While the Soviet military enormously outnumbered Finland's, the USSR had to maintain forces along the frontier with the Germans (especially post-Sept 1939) and facing off the Japanese along the border with Manchukuo. Not inconsiderable forces either. The USSR could never afford to have other than a percentage of their forces facing off against Finland, which in the greater scheme of things was small change. The challenge Finland faced was to make themselves something similar to a porcupine. Yes, you can kill it, but it's gonna be damn painful to do it. A similar challenge faced the Swiss in WW2 - they were better prepared and hence survived.

Also keep in mind that in 1939 the Red Army was woefully unprepared for a real war. Stalin's purges of the Officer Corps saw to that. An unexpected advantage for the Finns. Also, the whole Winter War scenario. Stalin didn't expect the Finns to fight, the Red Army went in completely unprepared for winter warfare. In summer uniforms no less and at minus forty. Aircraft - look at the kill ratio the Ilmavoimat achieved against the Red Airforce with Fokker DXXI's and later with Brewster Buffaloes. Give the Ilmavoimat 100 P-35's and you're talking an advantage out of all proportion to what the numbers indicate.

The challenge of this particular "What-if" is to figure out what level of forces would be painful enough, what could the Finns hope to achieve and how might it work out. Of course, I'm going to throw in a few wild cards as I move forward with this one - KKT was one, "stimulus-response" training was a second, there's a few more to come. Feel free to dive in and take a bite :D whenever you disagree. And keep in mind, this is an ATL and therefore fictional, this early part is more by way of background and scene setting. You will note from the early posts on the development of the Finnish economy that Finland has a much higher GDP than in reality (about double, altho that's a bit of a guesstimate) and a lot stronger industrial base. And a Navy that's more realistically matched to the challenges Finland faced. Army, Air Force and military-industrial complex still to come.

Enjoy........Nigel
I'm Finnish and I say you are right. That's the way it was.
Finnish prepared for the war, but government gave too small money to develope the army.
We Finnish lost lot of troops early ages of Winter war dueing government politics before the war.

Mika68*
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Re: What If - Finland had been prepared for the Winter War?

Post by Mika68* » 21 Jan 2011 19:19

Baltasar wrote:Statpunkt doesn't have a meaning in German either...
I meant haltpunkt. So german word in Finnish railways is curious.

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Baltasar
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Re: What If - Finland had been prepared for the Winter War?

Post by Baltasar » 21 Jan 2011 20:15

Using Haltepunkt in context with a railstation would be... unfamiliar.

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CanKiwi2
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Re: What If - Finland had been prepared for the Winter War?

Post by CanKiwi2 » 21 Jan 2011 20:43

Baltasar wrote:Using Haltepunkt in context with a railstation would be... unfamiliar.
I picked that photo up from a discussion thread somewhere where it was pretty much pinpointed to a location in Helsinki. I'll track it down and post a link.

Cheers............Nigel
ex Ngāti Tumatauenga ("Tribe of the Maori War God") aka the New Zealand Army

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