Finnish aggression in 1941

Discussions on the Winter War and Continuation War, the wars between Finland and the USSR.
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SerbTiger
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Post by SerbTiger » 27 Sep 2002 11:11

I am glad that everyone has Apologised for all the hateful talk but I just have 2 more short questions before we end this talk.

1.) I thought that FINNS are Evangelical Lutheran about90% of them is this correct?

2.) Does Finland and Finnish people recognise that their aggression in 1941 was no better than Soviet aggression in 1940.

PS
Thanks for the beer.

Mark V
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Post by Mark V » 27 Sep 2002 12:46

SerbTiger wrote: 2.) Does Finland and Finnish people recognise that their aggression in 1941 was no better than Soviet aggression in 1940.

Not really. It should be clear that Finnish participation to war with Germany happened mostly because Soviet first attacked against us, a neutral and peacefull (could even say pasifistic!) nation. Because of Winter War Soviet Union effectively severed any possibilities for friendly relations with these two countries and gained one more enemy because it's own aggressive behaviour. The wounds that Soviet Union inflicted us in Winter War weren't even started to heal in one year between the conflicts, especially because Soviet Union kept pressuring us politically and economically and showed no signs that it let us be in peace. The name we use about our participation is Continuation War, and that tell's everything what it was for Finns.

I still agree that two wrongs don't make it right.

And i strongly disagree that with "co-operation" we would have gained anything. That word was unknown to Stalin. Look what happened to Baltic states, they co-operated.

On the other hand it is interesting speculation: If Soviet Union for real in 1939 would have given Finland a friendly hand and supplied us necessary raw-materials and military equipment without territorial demands and no other political demands than that this help should be used only to defend Finnish borders - and let us just live in peace. What would have happened ?? No Winter War, no invasion to Norway and Soviet Union would have had it's northern borders secured and peacefull for sure. Any attempts of Germany to invade Finland and use it's territory against Soviet Union would have been repulsed for sure. Maybe in that case a northern alliance would have emerged because Sweden would have had balls to ally with us if it would not have subjected them to the danger of war against Soviet Union.

But this is just speculation. Stalin would have never done such wise decision. It would have been a decision of statesman, not dictator.

And one last bit: I don't understand any suggestions that we Finns participated German Holocaust because Continuation War. It was part of our own battle of survival against Soviet Union. Should we have opened our own borders in 1942 or 1943 to Red Army and subject our own people to Soviet version of Holocaust, because Germany was doing wrong ?? Maybe our own jewish population showed the best example, they fought on the ranks of Finnish Army as free men, defending their own nation.

Thanks for the beer.


One pint to you also. :)

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Harri
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Post by Harri » 27 Sep 2002 13:06

SerbTiger wrote:I am glad that everyone has Apologised for all the hateful talk but I just have 2 more short questions before we end this talk.
(Damn...that "fox tail".... :roll:)
SerbTiger wrote:1.) I thought that FINNS are Evangelical Lutheran about90% of them is this correct?
I don't remember the exact figures but I think about 85% are Evangelical-Lutherans, a few percent Orthodoxes (Greek Catholics), also a few persent other Christians and maybe 10% does not belong to any Christian church.

Select "FINFO Directory" and "Religion and Churches in Finland":
http://virtual.finland.fi/

The argue between Finnish and Russian Orthodoxes was because Finnish Orthodoxes are not willing to be under the Patriarch of Russia and additionally formed a new rivaling Orthodox Church in Estonia.
SerbTiger wrote:2.) Does Finland and Finnish people recognise that their aggression in 1941 was no better than Soviet aggression in 1940.
Of course we see that but it is unfair to compare these because Finland is not a super power and we had no intention to conquer Soviet Union. These points are good to keep in mind. Soviet Union was never "a victim of Finland". There are certain facts which speak in regard of us:
- we didn't make preparations for such a large scale war in 1941
- we didn't have any plans for an attack in 1941
- our initial grouping was defensive, it was changed in July
- Soviet Union made the first move in war bombing us
- Soviet Union didn't declare war at all
- Finland declared war on 25.6.
- Soviet Union disconnected telephone/telex lines between Moscow and Helsinki before 25.6. although Finns would have liked to negotiate
- we didn't have any military or political pacts with Germany
- Finnish Chief HQ and Army were in our own control and command
- we were only in war with Soviet Union (since 6.12.1941 with Britain)
- eventually we advanced only as far as our own aims were placed after the war started
- we disbanded a large partition of our army starting in late 1941
- Murmansk railroad was not cut (it was bombed and cut occasionally many times but not permanently)
- Leningrad was not attacked by Finns during the war (we didn't partisipate in any operations against the city)
- Finland agreed all international agreements during the war although Soviet Union haven't ratified most of these and Finland some of these
- Finland was not in war with USA
etc.

The list is quite impressive, isn't it? I admit there is also another list against us but not that long.
SerbTiger wrote:PS
Thanks for the beer.
You're welcome.

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Antti V
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Post by Antti V » 27 Sep 2002 13:56

Continue to SerbTiger´s question no. 1 and Harri´s reply.

Here is about 55,000 Orthodoxes in Finland, mostly in Eastern Finland and in large towns. Finland has always been battlefield of western christianity (Catholic/Protestant) and eastern christianity (Orthodox). Coat-of-Arms of (Finnish) Karelia comes from that never ending battle.

The amount of Orthodoxes has fallen because of marriages between Protestants and Orthodoxes, and earlier in Finland children did always got father´s religion. So Protestants were because of that method 'in winning side' anyway. I think that has changed in early 90s and now parents can make decision what religion they wants to give their children.

Finnish Orthodox bishop is the bishop of Orthodoxes of Finland, Estonia and Karelia (Republic of Karelia). This doesn´t make Russia´s Orthodox bishop happy, thats sure.
They are always fighting for souls and regions. They does have right now (or then it did end few days ago) going on conference to make relations better because of these region conflicts between Orthodoxes. Situatuon has been this for ten years. And its origin does have in early 1920s when anti-religius Soviet Union was formed and Finnish Orthodoxes created their own bishopric because of Communists did take the control of churches and Finland was independent anti-communistic, pro-religious society. Finland´s Orthodoxes also added Estonia and entire Orthodoxian Karelia to under rule of Finnish Orthodoxes bishopric.

So here is big conflict going on in religious matters between Finland´s and Russia´s Orthodoxes :(

btw, my father is Protestant and mother Orthodox. So I does have even in that thing personal knowledge about Orthodoxes and their problems. I do also read Helsinki´s Orthodox magazine 'Ortodoksiviesti' sometimes. I am Protestant but very, very, very bad behaving Christian in religious matters :roll:

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SerbTiger
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Post by SerbTiger » 28 Sep 2002 12:49

OK thanks for the responses but I guess in the end Finland is happy with the current borders since your government is not pressing it as an issue.

Also the division among Christian churches is very silly to say the list.
I would hope that some sort of Union of All Christian churches would be established, at least it would provide for 1 less division among people and help bring a true European integration but that is a story for another day...

Well we better get back on topic as ordered.
Last edited by SerbTiger on 28 Sep 2002 13:04, edited 2 times in total.

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Topspeed
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Post by Topspeed » 27 Aug 2004 15:19

Harri wrote:- we didn't have any plans for an attack in 1941
Harri do you know that for sure !? I mean we knew that Germany was about to attack and we let them use Lappland to defend our back in case soviets try to sneak up on us. We also mined territorial waters of Estonian coast.


rgrds,

Juke T

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Harri
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Post by Harri » 27 Aug 2004 18:19

I meant "we had no "prepared plans" of attacking USSR" earlier in 1941 or together with Germans. All countries have many kinds of plans and after the Winter War most of our military efforts were directed to boost our defence abillity. If we had had plans for attacking USSR would have we built strong costly defensive line (Salpa-line)?

The attack plans were realized much later in late June 1941. The attack of the Karelian Army started on 10.7.1941 after major troop changes and movements. At that stage we already had attack plan for sure.

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Topspeed
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Post by Topspeed » 27 Aug 2004 20:33

Harri,


Ok now we are on track again. Right it took time before the spurt to take back what was ours was taken.

I hope I don't have to correct many of these "little" inaccuracies.

Finland was convicted for an attack on USSR alongside with Germany.


regards,

Juke T

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Harri
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Post by Harri » 27 Aug 2004 21:29

Topspeed wrote:Ok now we are on track again. Right it took time before the spurt to take back what was ours was taken.
To made myself quite clear: there was not single universal attack plan connected to Barbarossa plan made together with Germans.

Attacks in Petsamo, Salla and Kiestinki - Uhtua directions were although pre-planned but the final plans were ready just prior to war and based in very inaccurate reconnaissance information. The first two followed Germans' plans and the last one was Finnish made. Hostilities didn't although start there on 22.6. but after 25.6. about the turn of June and July. Initially all troops were in defensive positions and the attacks realized one by one, not simultaneously - partly due to lack of German aerial support in the north.

All Finnish troops there were subordinated to Germans, but in practise - like we later saw - Finnish Supreme HQ had much stronger hold on these Finnish troops as could have been.
Topspeed wrote:I hope I don't have to correct many of these "little" inaccuracies.
Don't even try... :P
Topspeed wrote:Finland was convicted for an attack on USSR alongside with Germany.
Not as much as the other German partners. There are many good reasons for that.

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Jari
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Post by Jari » 27 Aug 2004 21:38

Harri wrote:If we had had plans for attacking USSR would have we built strong costly defensive line (Salpa-line)?
Just as a side note, building the Siegfried line never prevented Germans from having attack plans (Fall Gelb). You can draw similar conclusions by looking at the Soviets. So, building of Salpa didn't mean that Finnish leadership couldn't have had desire and intentions for revenge. It could be seen as an intermediate stage needed to secure the situation while more troops were being made ready for an offensive.

(Disclaimer: that there were ready attack plans is not what I'm saying.)

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Harri
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Post by Harri » 27 Aug 2004 22:42

Jari wrote:[Just as a side note, building the Siegfried line never prevented Germans from having attack plans (Fall Gelb). You can draw similar conclusions by looking at the Soviets. So, building of Salpa didn't mean that Finnish leadership couldn't have had desire and intentions for revenge. It could be seen as an intermediate stage needed to secure the situation while more troops were being made ready for an offensive.
Good point. In Finnish scale Salpa line was a huge construction project, the most expensive in Finnish history and well comparable to French Maginot line in this sense. If Finland had seriously prepared to attack USSR earlier in 1941 I think we wouldn't waste our money to any defenses but re-equipped our whole army with attack weapons. The constructing continued until summer 1941 and continued again in the summer 1944.

Our defense budget was so small even during the war that in that situation it would have been waste of money to construct anything like Salpa line. It would have been a much better solution to buy new and more weapons to Army. German Siegfried line was better comparable to our Mannerheim line which was much cheaper than Salpa line.

At least my conlusion is that in 1941 Finnish Defense Forces was still preparing for the defense, not for an attack. The latter option was selected rather late, and the attack plans were made or completed after that decision.

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Post by Tero » 28 Aug 2004 06:52

IMO the timing of the Finnish attack deserves attention. To me the delay signifies at least one thing in particular: the Finnish leaders wanted to see if the initial Barbarossa would succeed or not.

Had the Finnish forces crossed the border at the same time with the rest of the Barbarossa it would have meant that if the Germans had been beaten back from the get go the Finnish forces would have had been left with their collective arse hanging in the breeze against a far superior enemy with no distractions to draw resourses from the Finnish front.

By the same token the Finnish forces stopped their advance when they had reached the defensive lines they were after before the Germans failed to take their prime objectives (Leningrad and Moscow). To me this was common sense prudence at its purest.

In addition to that there were signs of severe problems with the troop morale already when the old border was crossed in Ladoga Karelia. Going beyond the river Svir would have been a bad move because the Finnish troops would have not believed the "we are not attackers, we are defending what is rightfully ours" routine and would have just packed it in by the company. Perhaps even by the regiment.

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Post by Harri » 28 Aug 2004 18:48

Tero wrote:IMO the timing of the Finnish attack deserves attention. To me the delay signifies at least one thing in particular: the Finnish leaders wanted to see if the initial Barbarossa would succeed or not.
That is for sure one reason. But it also took some time to arrange troops for an attack because initial grouping was defensive. Finns also waited until Soviets moved some of their reserves away from Karelian Isthmus (for example parts of strong 1st Armoured Corps). Finns and Germans also agreed that Finnish troops don't attack before German Heeresgruppe Nord has reached certain goals in the Baltic States. After that for example 17th Division which was at Hanko Peninsula was moved away in mid July.
Tero wrote:Had the Finnish forces crossed the border at the same time with the rest of the Barbarossa it would have meant that if the Germans had been beaten back from the get go the Finnish forces would have had been left with their collective arse hanging in the breeze against a far superior enemy with no distractions to draw resourses from the Finnish front.
In this Finns obeyd Germans wishes. If the Finnish attack in the south had started earlier it should have happened in Karelian Isthmus because this direction was the most threatened. Waiting until Germans are in the Baltic States weakened Soviets chances for counter measures against Finland. That made the attack north from Lake Ladoga possible in July and the attack in Karelian Isthmus was launched about a few weeks later.
Tero wrote:By the same token the Finnish forces stopped their advance when they had reached the defensive lines they were after before the Germans failed to take their prime objectives (Leningrad and Moscow). To me this was common sense prudence at its purest.
Stopping the Finnish advance was Mannerheim's clear order. He made the decision after discussing with high political (for example Ryti) and military leaders. It was against Germans wishes and a very good proof that Finland had its own separate policy during the war.
Tero wrote:In addition to that there were signs of severe problems with the troop morale already when the old border was crossed in Ladoga Karelia. Going beyond the river Svir would have been a bad move because the Finnish troops would have not believed the "we are not attackers, we are defending what is rightfully ours" routine and would have just packed it in by the company. Perhaps even by the regiment.
I think the main problems behind these incidents were weak supply, lack of sufficient rest and hard fights which lasted longer than was promised. All these things had an affect on morals. It was of course wise to cross the river Svir so that it would have looked like we are perhaps going to continue our attack. Soviets had to take this direction more seriously.

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Post by Tero » 30 Aug 2004 21:49

By Harri
That is for sure one reason. But it also took some time to arrange troops for an attack because initial grouping was defensive. Finns also waited until Soviets moved some of their reserves away from Karelian Isthmus (for example parts of strong 1st Armoured Corps). Finns and Germans also agreed that Finnish troops don't attack before German Heeresgruppe Nord has reached certain goals in the Baltic States. After that for example 17th Division which was at Hanko Peninsula was moved away in mid July.
Agreed.
In this Finns obeyd Germans wishes. If the Finnish attack in the south had started earlier it should have happened in Karelian Isthmus because this direction was the most threatened. Waiting until Germans are in the Baltic States weakened Soviets chances for counter measures against Finland. That made the attack north from Lake Ladoga possible in July and the attack in Karelian Isthmus was launched about a few weeks later.
I wonder. A strong attack along the Isthmus towards Leningrad would surely have drawn Red Army units from South. With the main thrust going in late and in the "wrong", less critical, direction was contrary to German objectives.
Stopping the Finnish advance was Mannerheim's clear order. He made the decision after discussing with high political (for example Ryti) and military leaders. It was against Germans wishes and a very good proof that Finland had its own separate policy during the war.
Agreed. It is interesting to note the motives for stopping were clearly political but the actual decision was expressly military. Some forum members will throw a fit about this factoid about Mannerheims supposed leanings and how they contradict his "facts". :lol:
I think the main problems behind these incidents were weak supply, lack of sufficient rest and hard fights which lasted longer than was promised. All these things had an affect on morals. It was of course wise to cross the river Svir so that it would have looked like we are perhaps going to continue our attack. Soviets had to take this direction more seriously.
But there had been refusals already when the old border was crossed. Going over Svir would have been a clear indication to the troops the "three isthmus defence" was not for real.

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