And welcome back to the discussion.
“Isn't this an interesting hypothesis indeed! If it were true, then if only Finland had agreed to all the demands of Stalin without opposing him, the Red Army could have peacefully entered every country in its “sphere of influence” to take its bases without a single shot being fired. The Red Army would have then lived a life of its own within its bases, and otherwise the rest of the Finnish and Baltic societies would have lived in harmony happily ever after. How sweet, what an idyllic fairytale!
anything other than misplaced irony to oppose my theory? “
Finns got plenty of practical experience of what it means to have the Russian Army in the country from 1809-1917 when she was a Grand Duchy of the Russian Czar. Finland was granted an autonomous status to begin with, and Finns remained loyal to the Emperor. Later the panslavist movement gained power in Moscow, which resulted in attempts at denial of the autonomy and periods of oppression towards non-Russian nations of the Empire. The attempts at enslaving Finns later resulted in the clandestine rebellious movement to free Finland from the Russian rule, which eventually materialized during the Bolshevik revolution, the Finnish Declaration of Independence being given on 6th December 1917. With a different Russian policy, the Finns had remained in the Empire.
Stalin’s methods of ruling the USSR with terror were well known to the Finns, including the purges in the high military staff and the fate of those Finnish communists, who had voluntarily moved to build Soviet Karelia both from Finland and from the U.S.A. It would take extreme naivety to buy the idea you are now trying to sell us, i.e. that the USSR would not
have interfered with all aspects of life in those countries where it had military bases, especially when there already was a historical precedent of the Russian Empire having ruled totally.
According to your theory, all the fake elections, communist puppet governments, and full Sovietization of the Baltic countries were necessary only to secure the Western border of the USSR against the military threat of Germany (although the western frontier for purposes of defence had already been moved to Poland, which had been split in agreement with Hitler’s Germany), and after the Finnish disobedience the Baltic nations would have been too unreliable if left living a life of their own despite the Soviet strategic bases. As you say, “we had Germany on our western frontier -was not exactly time for that”
– Now, when the threat of Germany had ceased to exist in 1945, please explain us: why was it then necessary to continue the slavery of the Baltic countries, and not use the opportunity to restore the free state they had in 1939? Let me guess – now it was the threat of NATO, wasn’t it? And if it hadn’t been for NATO, maybe the threat of the U.S., China, or the planet of Mars? Finding justification for just about anything is no problem in Stalinist interpretation of history.
Your theory makes the assumption that all other nations should happily welcome Soviet forces occupying strategic bases in their territory, maybe even be grateful for their presence. If they wouldn’t, it is hard for you to understand how they can be so stupid.
For argument’s sake, let us now assume that for example NATO would tomorrow become concerned about world security, and NATO then presented demands to the Russian Federation about having its forces occupy all the strategic naval and missile bases on the Kola Peninsula and Vladivostok, and they also would require for the next 50 years the lease of territories including all of the cities of Krasnoyarsk, Novosibirsk, Semipalatinsk, Kharkov, and Voronezh. In return, NATO would offer the Russian Federation much larger land territory in Northwest Alaska, Yukon Territory, Victoria Island, and Baffin Island, as well as some Aleutian Islands and parts of Sahara. And NATO would also promise to maintain in its occupied areas the legal system of the USSR of 1939 and its troops would behave in every respect like the Red Army of 1939. – You would happily welcome this deal, wouldn’t you?
who is father sunshine?
Unfortunately I cannot speak Russian and I don’t know exactly the original 1930’s propaganda name for Yosif Stalin, but this is a translation of the equivalent in Finnish.
naughty Fins lost the territory they were asked for anyway. Only instead getting chunk of Korelia in return, and saving numerous lives of their citizens, they suffered heavy casualties and got zilch.
They lost the territory all right, but unlike the Baltic States, they maintained their independence at high cost, and therefore Finland remains one of the only four European countries with uninterrupted democratic rule from 1939 to the present day (the other three are Britain, Sweden, and Switzerland; of these, only Britain had to fight WWII). Without having fought the Winter War, Finland would not have the spirit for national defence it has today.
Here we seem to agree by 100%.
This is untrue. The foreign policy of the Republic of Finland was essentially minding their own business, more than anything else, and expecting that others would allow the Finns to live in peace. This happened to the extent of gravely neglecting national defense; in hindsight, it was absolute folly of politicians who refused to listen the warnings of Marshal Mannerheim, and they failed to provide the material basics that any army would need even for its peacetime training.
Too bad they failed to convince their neighbor of that. Although, it was not like that all the time, for the sake of the truth. During the 20s Soviet military intelligence indeed came to the conclusion that Finland would probably remain neutral for all sake and purposes. However Leningrad Security was real pain in the ass for the Soviet military. For instance 1929 maneuvers were conducted with a purpose to see how RKKA and RKKF could defeat aggression launched from Finnish territory.
In my personal opinion, it was criminal naivety and negligence of Finnish leading politicians of the 1930’s to think wishfully and believe the USSR could be trusted after having signed the Tartu (Dorpat) Peace Agreement and the Non-Aggression Pact between Finland and the USSR. It is not wisdom in hindsight, because Marshal Mannerheim and the highest military lead did make their point clear, and yet the politicians nearly lost the country with their stupidity. Also, it cannot be said that Finland could not financially afford a stronger defence – the Finnish Army of the Continuation War in 1941 was far better equipped, and this was possible indeed after all the heavy material and financial losses of the Winter War.
The interplay of these and other factors in the Red Army's strategic calculations is most clearly illustrated in an exchange of internal documents between Svechin and Chief of Staff Shaposhnikov in early 1930. The dialogue between the two former czarist officers and imperial academy graduates regarding the possible contours of a future war and the army's proper strategy provides a fascinating insight into the thinking of the army's best minds. Svechin opened the discussion with a detailed report to War Commissar Voroshilov in early March. Svechin outlined a future war against the USSR as a coalition affair, led by Britain and France, in which Poland and Romania would bear the brunt of the fighting as the coalition's cat's paw in the west. To the north, Latvia, Estonia, and Finland would maintain an "armed neutrality" in order to tie down Soviet forces along their borders. The Soviet Union would enter such a war much the weaker party against opponents who possessed significant technical advantages over the Red Army and who could mobilize their forces more quickly. Svechin sharply criticized Tukhachevskii and Triandafillov for overselling the technological benefits of the army's reconstruction program and predicted that the armed forces would not achieve a technical parity with its likely enemies for another fifteen years. Nor could the USSR count on significant support from working-class uprisings within the enemy camp, he said, because these could be easily suppressed.49 Svechin predicted that the capitalist coalition would make its main effort in the south, along the Black Sea coast, with the aim of creating a continuous front from the Caspian Sea to the Pripyat Marshes. The British, according to this scenario, would land in the Trans-Caucasus, with the object of seizing the oil centers of Baku and Groznyi. The French would land in the Crimea and seize the Donets Basin and the lower Dnepr River area, while Poland and Romania would join in the attack along their own frontiers. Svechin predicted that the achievement of these objectives would put the enemy in possession of the USSR's chief industrial and extractive areas and render a subsequent advance on Moscow relatively easy, or even unnecessary.5°
Interesting! Where is this quote from?
“To the north, Latvia, Estonia, and Finland would maintain an "armed neutrality" in order to tie down Soviet forces along their borders.”
Funny, how Svechin perceived small countries maintaining armed neutrality as an almost hostile effort to “tie down Soviet forces”! Wasn’t it up to the Soviet High Command, rather than the Finns or the Balts, to decide on the Order of Battle of the Red Army, either tying down or freeing forces? Merely Border Guards would have been fully sufficient along all those borders, but when one thinks in a paranoid and aggressive mindset, it must be difficult to believe others don’t think similarly.
Did Svechin actually have any evidence to support his belief of a capitalist coalition, involving Britain, France, Poland, and Rumania, or was it only his logic based on the Marxist theory of world revolution, with an automatic assumption of capitalist hostility towards a socialist state?
”Finland raised question of East Karelia in 1934 when USSR applied for membership in the League of Nations – that was classified as interdiction into Soviet internal matters.”
A funny interpretation again. Alternatively, it can be seen as an effort to discuss matters of national interest openly and transparently, instead of seeking hostile solutions in secret -- it was glasnost! The League of Nations was specifically intended as a forum to raise questions like this, much the same way the General Assembly of the United Nations discusses world affairs today. Whatever the outcome of that discussion, Finland was ready to accept it thereafter and abide with it.
“Mannergeim visit to Germany in the same year and then in 1935 did not help much either. “
How terrible! Travel tickets must always be regarded as conclusive evidence of a conspiracy!
To illustrate it – 1935 Finland again was put in the ranks of “most probable enemies” – alongside with Germany, Japan, and Poland. Soviet military intelligence concluded that Baltic region was the most likely place for German aggression against USSR to take place, and in that occurrence Germans could sent at least 2 divisions in Finland for such purposes.
Thank you for illustrating this, Oleg – here the Soviet General Staff really promoted Finland to the company of great powers, in regard of the respective populations and war potentials. Very unfortunate that they had a misbelief like this, though in reality Germany would have never been given an opportunity to send any divisions on Finnish soil, had it not been for the Winter War. Finns would have expelled them, like they did in the Lapland War.
During 1937 Holsti’s visit to USSR Litvinov told him that USSR was wary of idea that third party could use Finnish territory as foothold for the aggression against USSR. And so on and forth. The idea that Leningrad security question just popped out of nowhere is far from the reality.
I agree the Finnish politicians seemingly did not understand the difference between their thinking and that of their Soviet counterparts.
The Finns took for granted that states respect binding legal commitments like signed Treaties, according to the tradition followed in Finland.
For example, after the First World War, many European countries borrowed money from the United States to manage surviving the effects of the post-war economic recession. Finland kept faithfully paying it back, unlike any other country. Respectively, when the Tartu (Dorpat) Peace Treaty and the Non-Aggression Pact with the USSR were signed, Finns naively believed both parties will thereafter respect the borders and refrain from aggression against the other party. When Finland had made peace with the USSR in September 1944, the obligation of fulfilling the peace terms was followed to the point, despite that it cost the fighting of another war against the Germans. The enormous "war reparations" were provided literally by the deadlines, and as a gesture of goodwill Stalin gave some relief to it after having seen the Finns again had a serious intention of keeping their commitments.
Finns did not realise how the security of Leningrad could be any different from, say, the security of Viipuri, and because they did not know about any plans to threaten Leningrad, they did not buy this paranoid delusion.
The Soviet viewpoint was based not on legality, but the real politics of raw military power, and it also took in account third parties, who might not respect the Sovereignty of Finland without sufficient backup of military power. If the Soviet side would genuinely have wished the Finns to understand their view of power politics and if they had trusted the Finns, they could have started negotiations well in time years before, pointing out the need to reinforce the Finnish defence capability to make it credible in the eyes of outsiders, and allowing time to build it up (wasn’t this in fact what the USSR did in 1961, in the context of the so called Note Crisis?).
To improve the security of Leningrad in the 1930’s, the Soviets could also have built a mirror-image of the “Mannerheim line” on their side of the border, if needed multiplying the number of bunkers and reinforcing it with minefields if you like, and maintaining sufficient forces to counter the perceived German threat.
But their aim was not defensive
– being a bully superpower, they arrogantly and offensively just demanded territory for themselves, using the Leningrad security question as a pretext to occupy the country.