A chance that Stalin would have occupied Finland in 1944?

Discussions on the Winter War and Continuation War, the wars between Finland and the USSR.
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j.north
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Post by j.north » 06 Dec 2002 13:54

Hello,

Hope all is well in Finland. Just one question, was there a chance that Stalin would have occupied Finland in 1944? If not, why did he not choose to do so, given that in 1939 it seemed that the Soviets really wanted to.

By the way, I think many Russians are more upset in the Finnish alliance with Nazi Germany, post-Barbarossa. Why would a democratic state align itself with the Nazis? Was it just pay-back-time?

Sorry for these basic questions.

Thanks!

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Antti V
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Post by Antti V » 06 Dec 2002 14:27

j.north wrote:Hello,

Hope all is well in Finland. Just one question, was there a chance that Stalin would have occupied Finland in 1944? If not, why did he not choose to do so, given that in 1939 it seemed that the Soviets really wanted to.

By the way, I think many Russians are more upset in the Finnish alliance with Nazi Germany, post-Barbarossa. Why would a democratic state align itself with the Nazis? Was it just pay-back-time?

Sorry for these basic questions.

Thanks!
Yes, I think Stalin wanted occupy Finland in 1944. He just hadn´t enought time to do that because of race to Berlin. Stalin demanded that Finland surrenders unconditionally during June-July 1944 during massive counter attack by Red Army but after Finns were repelled all major attacks by Soviets he was ready to do conditional peace in September 1944.

Reason why Finns were "allied" with Germany was simple: Either Soviet Union or Germany.
During Winter War Soviets attacked to Finland without declaration of war and they also forced Finland give up land for 35.000km2 and 400.000 Finn was evacuated from areas given to Soviets. Now that doesn´t make people happy. Otherwise Germany was also allied with Soviet Union during Winter War preventing ammo and material trasnportations in Germany´s areas. From two bad must choose lesser evil for Finland.
Germany could give us now guns and ammos, thing what Finland needed very badly because of the threat of Soviet Union after Winter War. With Germany´s help Finland would be able to conquer back areas what she was lost 1.5 years earlier. That is very big factor in this thing.
Most funny thing is fact that Britain and USA did congratulate Finland for her victories in 1941 over Soviets in back captured areas. That war was Finland´s own war, known as Continuation War.

We can ask why democratic countries like USA or Britain allied with dictator Stalin. :wink: Every country had their own reasons.

Happy Independence Day to 85 years old Finland. :D

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Hanski
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Post by Hanski » 06 Dec 2002 20:03

Hello j.north,

Antti V already gave you answers but I would like to add some points.
was there a chance that Stalin would have occupied Finland in 1944? If not, why did he not choose to do so, given that in 1939 it seemed that the Soviets really wanted to.
Stalin did certainly not choose to abstain from occupying Finland in 1944, but he did give his best shot at it with his best offensive troops and overwhelming numerical superiority. The result was the largest military battle of all times in the history of Northern Europe, fought on the Karelian Isthmus. The battle involved more men and material than for example the Battle of El Alamein. Few people know this on the Allied side, because Finland had to fight her Continuation War on the "wrong" side from the Allied point of view, and post-war publicity has been much dictated by the winners. And we Finns happen to speak a language that others claim difficult to understand...

The battles at Tali and Ihantala were the second time in world history when a full-scale strategic offensive of the Red Army was successfully checked -- the first time in history was the Winter War. Can anybody name other times?

Certainly, Finns were helped materially by Germans, and strategically by the beginning race for Berlin as Antti mentioned. But the decisive element was the concentrated Finnish artillery fire which annihilated the spearhead of the Russian attack. The Finnish Army was far from beaten at this moment, although it is beyond doubt that it could not have continued the war for ever.
By the way, I think many Russians are more upset in the Finnish alliance with Nazi Germany, post-Barbarossa. Why would a democratic state align itself with the Nazis? Was it just pay-back-time?
Thieves may certainly become upset if the rightful owners return to get back what was stolen from them. Who else could the Finns have aligned with? We did not hear offers from Britain or the U.S. to help us get back Karelia that the Russians had robbed, or to defend us when the Soviets started the Continuation War by bombing Finnish cities in 1941.

----

Finland made separate peace with the USSR on heavy terms in September 1944. One of the peace terms was the internment of the German Army in Finland -- it required a third war, against the comrades-in-arms of the Continuation War. It became the Lapland War, which is discussed on another thread of this forum. It was certainly no phoney war or playing games, but bloody and destructive warfare. Finland fulfilled her obligations to the detail and fought it to the bitter end in April 1945.

Then was the turn to fulfil the rest of the peace terms. Already, Allied Control Commission (ambitious Russians led by A.A. Zdanov, and disinterested British officers) was in Helsinki, dictating terms, demanding information to meticulous detail, and inspecting the demobilisation of the Finnish Army to an extent that makes ridiculous any comparison to UN actions in Iraq after the Gulf War. Finland had to meet strict schedules in providing enormous "war compensations" to the USSR as industrial products.

The previously illegal Finnish Communist Party now came in daylight, backed up by the threat of Soviet invasion any time, and the fate of Czechoslovakia was a clear example how the events might have developed by the worst scenario. Finns had prepared themselves for a final showdown by hiding large amounts of infantry weaponry in secret caches all around the country, and this leaked into publicity.

The years until 1948 are commonly referred to as "The Years of Peril" in Finnish political history; a Communist revolution could have destroyed everything that the Finns had saved by fighting for their lives. The Western Allies probably couldn't have cared less if that had happened. Well into the 1980's Finland appeared as a strange "grey zone" in NATO maps, and odd beliefs prevailed about the neutral Finland being nearly a Warsaw Pact country, because she had a Treaty of Mutual Friendship and Assistance with the USSR (which had totally different content from a military alliance).

Well, today is indeed the 85th anniversary of the Independent Finland, and Finnish troops have once again marched their traditional Independence Day ceremonial parade. This is possible against all odds, only because of the sacrifices of our veteran generations of the three wars 1939-45.

Cheers,

Hanski

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