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How did the "Continuation War" begin

Discussion in 'Winter and Continuation Wars' started by Artema, Mar 13, 2010.

  1. Artema

    Artema Member

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    There is an opinion that the "Continuation War" was begun by Soviet bombing of Finnish airfields on June 25, 1941, and that Finland could have remained neutral if the Soviet government did not performed this attack.
    I could call this opinion propagandistic, but some people are so vulnerable that I shall rather use the word "disputable".

    I would like to give some evidence supporting the idea that Finland could not and did not want to remain neutral, and as a matter of fact never was neutral in this conflict.

    1) German airplanes used Finnish airfields as bases for their flights towards Leningrad before June 25.
    2) On June 22 Hitler in his speech told Germans were fighting together with "heroic Finnish brothers in arms". He also rejected the idea of embassy exchange on the Western borders of the USSR, because "Finland and Romania were to attack Soviet Russia".
    3) German troops were distributed in Northern Finland: "Norway" mountain infantry corps was preparing to attack Murmansk and the 36th infantry corps was to advance towards Kandalaksha.
    4) On June 21 three Finnish submarines mined Estonian coast.
    5) On June 22 the Finnish headquarters ordered the troops to be ready to an offensive on June 28.
    6) On June 21 Finnish army invaded demilitarized Aland Islands (5000 soldiers with 69 artillery guns). The staff of the Soviet consulate was arrested.
    7) On June 14-18 more than 40 German warships arrived to Finnish ports.
    8) Finnish army of 475 000 was mobilized to June 20.

    To me, these facts say that Finland never planned to remain neutral, and the questions were not "begin or not to begin", but "when" and "how" to begin a war.
     
  2. hyde

    hyde Member

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    Nowadays people indeed agree with you in that. It was the older Finnish generation, which saw the war and knew the people who fought it, that tried to invent justifications and stupid "drift-wood" theories about the Continuation war. If one would come today and seriously suggest something like that, e.g. in our university, he or she would be ridiculed.

    Finland was commited to the Germans long before June of 1941 and thus was the aggressor. But I still have to ask that can anyone blame those politicians and military leaders for making such a choise in the situation they were in?
     
  3. Artema

    Artema Member

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    Me, no. I would not blame them.
     
  4. Kevin Kenneally

    Kevin Kenneally Member

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    These facts you have posted are nice. Where did you find these?

    I would like the references to use for my research about the Finn-Russian conflicts.
     
  5. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Anyway, the Finnish government would have been in a very awkward situation if the Red Army air force had not bombed the Finnish cities on the 25th June. Yes, they were joining the war with Germany but why give such an easy excuse to join the war?
     
  6. Volga Boatman

    Volga Boatman Dishonorably Discharged

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    Far be it from me to be a stick in the mud, but the Winter War of 39-40 could so easily have been avoided. The Soviet Regime turned what was essentially a neutral country into a pro-Axis minor overnight. The Winter War was a product of Stalinist paranoia...No sane government would have bowed down to the terms that the Soviets presented the Finns with.....

    Now, how many Western countries supported finland with actual fighting materials for the Winter War? German support was timely, and once the Winter War came to a conclusive finish, wouldn't it be natural to have some kind of resentment from the Finns themselves? When you lose whole tracts of territory, bases, natural resouces etc, it's only natural for your people to be more than a little ANNOYED at the results of a conflict that could so easily not have been...

    So, to my mind at least, Finnish grievances that lead directly to the "Continuation War" were certainly not ficticious. Don't portray the events between the end of the Winter War and the beginning of the Continuation War as in isolation from one another. The Lion of Finland had more than a little to be angry about with the Russian Bear, just as Soviet people were angry over the callous stab in the back from 'Barbarossa'. The Finns kept very much to themselves as far as advancing into Russian territory. They fought the Continuation War for their own objectives, and when the time came for peace with the Soviets, fired on their German allies as well to hurry them out of their country.

    Portraying the Continuation War in isolation from the events of the Winter War is simply whitewashing the truth. The Finns were not exactly willing participants in either conflict, just used by Germany then the Soviets to further their own ends.
     
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  7. edhunter76

    edhunter76 Member

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    I didn't even read other posts to this. I don't know where do you get these ideas. It is commonly known that Finland wasn't neutral in any way after the Winter war, even if they wanted to be. What the hell do you expect? Can't you understand that after the Winter war the finns hated the russians more than anything. Finland didn't get any help from nowhere during Winter war and Germany was the only one that was willing to help Finland after the Winter war.

    Obviously, the chance to gain back the territories the Soviet regime had robbed from Finland using false reasons to start Winter war was so tempting that they couldn't let that chance just go. So, they agreed to attack at the same time as germans did.

    Yes, it is fact that Finland attacked SU. Yes, it is fact that Finland fought alongside Germany. Yes, it is fact that Finland started the war. And yes, it is fact that Finland wasn't neutral at the time.

    But, there are some facts that you don't take into account here. Finnish government feared that Stalin would finish them off once he had an opportunity to do so. They were absolutely certain that another war was coming at some point by Soviets attacking again. So, while it isn't any problem for me to say that yes, Finland started the Continuation war, I really can't blame the finnish governement that they decided to attack first.

    As a proof of Finland only wanting to get the lost territories back is that while Hitler insisted finnish army to attack directly to Leningrad, Mannerheim decided to stop the attack when he felt that the lost territories had been gained back.
     
  8. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Hey Ed,

    as I know what you feel, I suggest though that we take these 1-8 as they were. It is not our fault that Germany first sold us to the USSR for the price of not attacking Hitler in the back. The Poles got it even worse.However, the Red Army got a spanking and we stayed independent, that´s the main thing. If anybody, it´s the USSR who should have been convicted in Nuremberg for creating ww2 by accepting the Ribbentrop-Molotov Treaty.
     
  9. edhunter76

    edhunter76 Member

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    You've got that rigth.
     
  10. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    The Suite on Finnish Themes (1939) is a suite by Dmitri Shostakovich.

    In 1939, before the Soviet forces invaded Finland, the Party Secretary of Leningrad Andrei Zhdanov commissioned a celebratory piece from Shostakovich, a theme to be performed as the marching bands of the Red Army would be parading through the Finnish capital Helsinki. Shostakovich finished composing on 3 December 1939, as the Red Army was advancing in the Finnish front and the puppet regime Finnish Democratic Republic was founded three days earlier.

    The only early historical source of the suite is a letter which Shostakovich sent his friend Lev Atovmyan on 5 December 1939. In the letter, Shostakovich apologizes he could not make to symphony act in Moscow, as the Leningrad military districts commissioned a suite for Finnish folk songs. The deadline was on 2 December, but he managed to finished 3 December.

    The exact commission date is uncertain, but according to the Finnish historian Ohto Manninen it was probably commissioned on 25 November, though not earlier than 23 November.

    ------------

    I don´t recall Finland had any symphonies for the takeover of Leningrad?!!
     
  11. Lotvonen

    Lotvonen Member

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    If we look further in the past than June 1941 :
    -Germany had occupied Denmark and Norway in 1940
    - Soviet Union had annexed Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania earlier in 1941
    - Soviet Union stuck to the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, exerting increasing pressure to the Finnish Government by every means
    - Getting stuck in the Soviet influence sphere would have been "the death for us" (J.K. Paasikivi, Finnish ambassador to Soviet Union 1940-1941).
    Paasikivi also said to President Ryti in March 1941: "Whatever you think about the present Germany, it is thousand times better than being under Soviet rule, that would be our death."

    The Finnish political leaders and military commanders could not remain sitting on the fence when the war between Germany and Soviet Union started.
     
  12. RAM

    RAM Member

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    The Germans did also provide the Finnish Airforce with planes. Shortly before the invasion of Norway the Norwegian Ministry of Defense had ordered 36 Curtis Hawk 75A-6 fighters. Thirteen planes had already been delivered at the time of the invasion but were still in their crates, unassembled. Nine were under way on the Norwegian freighter M/V Idefjord which was redirected to Greenock and later sold to the UK Air Ministry. The remaining planes were put on hold and later delivered as
    A75-8 to Little Norway in Canada where the RNoAF had its training camp.

    The captured Hawks were handed over to the Finnish Airforce which used them with great success.

    Curtiss Hawk 75
     
  13. AirdefMike

    AirdefMike Member

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    Actually it was about "begin or not to begin" at first. A bit later it was about "how and when + where".

    Let's get some facts straight (I'll go over your points by point):

    1. Some (about 34) German aircraft did use Finnish airfield in Utti 22. June. That SAME day Soviet aircraft attack against Finnish shipping. During Winter War, Soviet aircraft flew missions against Finland from neutral Estonia.

    2. Hitler can say anything he wants...he rarely made any sense though. Finland announced that it will fight a separate war independent of German war aims. Finland announced that the same day it started military action, so the term Continuation War is no after thought (which is a commie invention). Finnish government was pissed at Germans for announcing this "alliance" which never was.

    3. The German troops in far north in Lapland were not to attack until Finland would commence its attack (if it would, this wasn't sure yet). This was agreed by the Germans.

    4. Finnish submarines mined Estonian coastal waters on the 23rd of June after Finnish shipping was attacked by Soviet aircraft.

    5. The Finnish GHQ issues FIRST orders concerning impending war between Germany and Soviet Union on 23rd of June. The orders are for Reconnaissance Companies. June 24th Finnish subs are ordered to engage all foreign subs in Finnish waters (this of course means Soviet submarines).

    6. How can Finland invade its' own territory? Demilitarized or not, the Aland Islands are Finnish territory and as such are to defended by Finland in case of a impending war. In order to be defended, it has to be "militarized" first. Lord, this was really the most incredible one.

    Btw, The Finnish forces, 1 Infantry regiment and 1 artillery battalion arrive 22nd of June. Soviet naval aircraft attack escorting Finnish warships at Sottunga and bomb the coastal fort at Alskar (near Aland Islands). So, I guess it was only sensible that Finland took the precaution?

    7. German warships? Did you use the word "warships" on purpose? June 7th German troopships arrive at Turku and various ports in Pohjanmaa area. Troopships are not warships in the sense that they don't do combat.

    8. Finnish politicians talk about the future war which seems to be imminent. President Ryti expects the war will start 23rd of June. The Finnish parliament is being told on June 25th!!! that in the light of recent Soviet air attacks Finland is at war again with Soviet Union.

    So what can we learn from this...technically it can be said that Finland was preparing for a possible war but the Soviet drew the first blood. If the Soviet air attacks of 22nd - 25th of June weren't casus belli, the event that happened during the Interim peace provided enough casus belli.

    The gist is...that Soviet Union broke the peace treaty first.

    And yes I am convinced that Finland wasn't that neutral towards SU. The behaviour of Soviets made the Finns expect another invasion.

    The truth is that Finland didn't or hasn't never tried to downplay anything without the consent of Soviet Union. It's because of SU Finland couldn't accuse the Soviets for starting the war of 39-40 during the Cold War -era.

    Remember, it was only in 1988 when the Soviet Union finally admitted the SU was the invader in 1939 and the Mainila shots were staged.
     
  14. edhunter76

    edhunter76 Member

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    Great post, thanks for this.
     
  15. Sloniksp

    Sloniksp Ставка

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    Welcome to the forum AirdefMike. This is an interesting portrayal of what occurred, however; I too have some questions regarding your post (just as you had with Artema's) which I would like to have cleared up ;)

    In no particular order...

    "How can Finland invade its own territory?" This seems more of a philosophical/idealogical question and I will have to agree with you in saying that you cant invade your own territory. Unfortunately for Finland, the question was not of morality but of a treaty. Not only did Finland violate the Moscow Peace Treaty but also a decree set by the League of Nations in 1921 which forbade the militarization of the Alan Islands. Mauno Jokipii wrote the same thing in The Continuation War. "The occupation of the demilitarized islands along with the arrest of the Soviet consulate's personnel there violated the Soviet-Finnish agreement on the islands".
    On the same day June 22, 1941 when the Germans launched Barbarossa, the Finnish troops launched Operation "Regatta" a violation for which they have been preparing for several months now.

    Mauno Jokipii - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Yes you are correct about the German planes, however; again you skip over some parts. These German planes mined the Leningrad harbor and the Neva river and returned to Utti to refuel. Surely, the Germans knew their own planes' fuel consumption? such a notion helps point to the fact that Germans might have asked Finland's permission to use their soil prior to the raid and received permission ahead of time (unless of course you think that Germany took a chance and hoped Finland would say yes after the raid was complete). Such a move alone can be considered a virtual declaration of war by some countries today let alone between two countries which have a fragile "truce".

    As you say, "this was really the most incredible one".

    Do you know what "Finnish shipping" the Soviet aircraft were attacking?
    The Soviet aircraft were attacking "Regatta". The Soviet airplanes flew over and fired upon the Finnish troops which were heading for the demilitarized zone. Although no Finnish troops suffered casualties, the "truce" was over.

    Mauno Jokipii, writes the same...

    As for your "possible war" is concerned. You are correct in stating that Hitler talked a lot. He sure did :lol: I too agree that Finland was not about to launch Operation Barbarrossa along the lines of which Germany wanted her to. But Finland was very aware of what was about to occur, and this just might have been Finlands' biggest opportunity (of course I am only speculating here). Finland had been in talks with Germany for months prior. On the 6th of June for example, preparations for securing sea lanes were discussed, and the Finnish army was to start mobilizing in the middle of June. With the guarantee of Finnish independence, grain deliveries and at least entry to the "former" borders (prior winter war), Finland signed on as Germany's ally.

    This helped Great Britain's resolve declaring war on Finland, Dec. 6th.
     
  16. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Interesting though that Great Britain was rather reluctant to declare war to Finland, it just took almost six months since the beginning of Barbarossa... It seems Finland´s position was not clear even to the Allied. And we know that FDR and the US had a major impact on Mannerheim and his decisions. So it seems Finland was actually playing its part for both sides however knowing the balance was a very delicate matter. And Finland refused to fulfill several of Hitler´s wishes starting from putting the attack´s main point away from the Karelian isthmus (towards Leningrad). In a way weird but still understandable, as many say Mannerheim could see to the future and did not put all his eggs in the same basket.
     
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  17. edhunter76

    edhunter76 Member

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    The threat of new war (Myllyniemi, Elfvengren, Kurenmaa 1996)

    After the Moscow peace there were many issues that disturbed the peace. There were arguments about marking the new border line in the new border terrain, SU's demands for the Petsamo nickel mine and its production, the island of Ålands fortifying and militarization, SU's demands for Finland to compensate the property and posessions that were lost or transferred to Finland or demolished in the region that Finland lost to SU after the Winter War and the building of Vuoksi power plant.

    Finnish government was also very annoyed about the fact that SU tried to interfere all the time to Finland's internal politics and the relations between Finland and other nordic countries (Sweden and Norway mostly).

    Finnish government was very aware of the future threat when Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania were announced as Soviet republics and were annexed into SU summer 1940. While Germany invaded Norway spring 1940, Finland felt really isolated from the rest of the world and was living under constant threat from the east.

    SU made a proposition to Finland in July 1940 that they could transport by Soviet trains troops and war material to the city of Hanko which is at the coast of southern Finland. The Soviet train was supposed to have finnish escort. This treaty was made because there weren't a way to decline it or finnish government didn't want to displease the SU. About the same time Finland was proposed by the Germany that they could transport troops and war material to Norway across northern Finland. Finland agreed to this because Sweden had made the same decision earlier. This agreement had many effects as it made a lot easier to Finland to make arms deals with Germany, but on the other hand it surely made German influence stronger in Finland.

    In Finland as in elsewhere in the early 1941 was seen possible that Germany's and SU's interests are going to clash at some point and the war is inevitable. These thoughts got very real as finnish group of high ranking officers visited Germany in May-June 1941. German group of officers also visited Finland and there were talks about the possible outbreak of war. The first clear sign of this was when German transports of troops and war material were getting a lot bigger at that time.

    Finnish government was certain that the threat of war in the nordic region was also high. Finnish troops near the borders were increased from the reserves in 9.6.1941. In 17.6.1941 extra military rehearsals were executed in the whole country and that meant basically mobilization of the whole army.

    About 600 000 men and women were drafted and the Finnish army was bigger than ever. Ground forces consisted of 16 divisions, two jaeger brigades and one cavalry brigade.

    As the Germany started the Barbarossa, Soviet air forces made several air attacks on Finland. Finland remained neutral. Soviet air forces bombed very hard some finnish cities on 25.6.1941. Finnish Brewster and Fiat fighters shot down 23 soviet air crafts.

    During that same day finnish prime minister declared that Finland is in war with the SU. Finnish supreme commander Mannerheim decided on 27.6.1941 that finnish army would attack. The main goals for the operation was to support German attack towards Leningrad, to gain back lost territories and to advance a bit further from the old borders to occupy the possible Soviet attack installations.

    Finnish government decided that Finland had a separate war with SU beside Germany, not allied with Germany. Therefor there were no any political treatys committed between Finland and Germany.

    Finnish army occupied the city of Viipuri (Vyborg) 29.8.1941 in the south east. Old border was reached in 2.9.1941 and this was the line where Mannerheim stopped the finnish attack. Special order was issued to all of the finnish troops in that region that it wasn't allowed to bomb or shoot artillery fire to the city of Leningrad at all.
     
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  18. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    I´d also like to remind that during WInter War the German political view was totally on the Soviet side. For instance Göring publicly recommended to Finland to give in to all the Soviet demands. He might have secretly added that later on things might change back but this does not change the fact that Germany was not on Finland´s side before late 1940 , on the contrary. I would have been as a Finn rather suspicious about Hitler´s plans as his political view changed so quickly. The German attitude was totally dependent on the benefit they were expecting.
     
  19. AirdefMike

    AirdefMike Member

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    to Sloniksp:

    As a sovereign state, Finland has the MORAL and LEGAL responsibility to defend its' territory and the safety of Finnish citizens despite of any existing treaty in case of a war and also to prepare for it in case of a possible war.

    That right or responsibility cannot be overridden by a peace treaty. That's also my philosophy and for sure it was the Finnish goverment's too...even during the Winter War.

    Or do you consider that Finland wasn't a sovereign state? And if so, was that because of the peace treaty with SU?

    Kinda funny that you use the word "violation"...as there was a war looming between Nazi-Germany and Soviet Union, 2 of the worlds biggest tyrannies not really known of abiding international treaties and international law.

    14 Ju 88s of KG806 flew from Eastern Prussia to mine the waters in front of Kronstadt (22.6.). These planes then headed to Utti for refueling and returned then to their base in Germany.

    Another 20 or so German planes bombed airfields around Leningrad and mine the river Neva, then they fly to Utti for refueling and are to bomb the Stalin canal next day. The mission is cancelled and the already airborne planes are sent to bomb Hanko.
    Bad maps cause these planes to ditch their payloads into the sea.

    Finnish planes monitor the Germans but do not take part. All this is to my understanding in full agreement with the Germans.

    I wonder if the Finns considered Estonia as a hostile country when Soviet aircraft flew missions from their Estonian bases during Winter War? But it is nice to meet a Russian who finally recognise that peace was just "a fragile truce" as you say.

    Yes, I do know it was the "regatta". There were no Finnish casualties and they shouldn't be no Soviet casualties either since Finns DIDN'T return fire.

    It would be extremely interesting if this incident was really the reason why the Soviets started and later continued their air attacks into Finnish territory and that "the truce was over", don't you think?

    I guess in retrospect Finland's biggest opportunity came in the early 90s when Jeltsin supposedly offered to sell the captured areas back to Finland. This is still a rumour and unconfirmed (very alive though in Finland and Sweden).
    The Finnish president, Mauno Koivisto supposedly refused because it would have come too expensive.

    Yes, the Finnish government and the Finnish military leadership was full aware of the developing situation. Hell, they even smelled the rotten fish during Winter War.

    Yes, we know all that. It's public knowledge here. Funny though that you mentioned the "guarantee of Finnish independence". Now, why would only Nazi-Germany offer that to Finland? Why didn't the USA do that? Why didn't Great Britain and France do that? Why didn't Soviet Union do that?

    These are very interesting questions, don't you think?

    Would you be so kind and produced the full alliance treaty between the Republic of Finland and the Nationalsocialistic dictatorship of Germany so that we all can finally have "a looksee"? I mean some ppl really tout that so aloud...

    Would you be so kind and inform me why is the British commonwealth's dow against Finland so important to Russians and commie apologists? Is it because this feels like it gives you somekind of credibility or does it give the Soviet actions somekind of legality?

    Would you then be able to list all the British bombing campaigns into Finland and list the huge land operations that the Brits planned?

    Next in line would be the list areas the Brits wanted from Finns to be ceded and thus added to their capitalistic warmongering empire?

    Finns usually joke that if Churchill would have waited for only 1 day, the Brits maybe wouldn't have dowed Finland at all.

    End of sarcasm from my part.

    Thank you. I hope that I'll learn alot and I'll be able to share something here.
     
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  20. edhunter76

    edhunter76 Member

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    Please, be specific here. Finland never signed on as German ally. Finnish official intent was to fight separate war beside Germany, not with or for Germany. This is the thing that many people get confused with as Hitler talked all the time about Finland being German ally. This however isn't the truth as there were no treaty between Finland and Germany. As said before, Germany betrayed Finland in a way by calling Finland as an ally.
     

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