The Relations of Finland and Sweden with Russia. 2nd Part.


Collateral consequences of Russia’s terrible military operations.

The poor performance of the Red Army in this winter war or Talvisota, transmitted to the whole World a very bad image of the «Red Army of Workers and Peasants».

And this decisively influenced the ideas of Hitler and the OberKommando der Wehrmatch and other German marshals and generals. As for the chances of invading and liquidating the USSR in a relatively quick summer campaign of a few months, in less than a year.

Franz Halder, to the left of the Fuehrer Adolf

Fifteen months later, the Germans would find out how adventurous and wrong their initial assumptions about the Red Army were.

At the beginning of the German invasion of Russia on June 22, 1941, Colonel General Frank Halder, head of the OberKommando der Heer (the German Army), grimly confessed in his diary on August 11: “We had estimated that they had about 200 divisions. and we have already identified 360.” «We destroy a dozen and, right away,» they put another dozen in their place.»

Behind the Red Army, in its very marrow, were the capabilities, the stoicism and the endurance of the Soviet people. That he was threatened with annihilation by the anti-Slavic extermination practices of the SS and the Gehime Statz Policei (Gestapo).

The Postwar.

In World War II, Finland was not “liberated”, nor was it occupied by the Soviet Army (it had already changed its name).

But, it was denazified and neutralized. Do the terms sound familiar to you? I mean, it was Finnish. And, he had to adjust to a harsh asymmetrical neutrality, favorable to the Soviets. Even their post-conflict assault rifles (M-1960 and M-1962) are authorized copies of the Soviet AK-47, but without wood in their structure.

What would the social political experiment be like that, when Finland has seen Ukraine’s beards shaved, has put its own to soak.

The Neutrality of Sweden.

At the beginning of World War II, Sweden became a supplier of iron ore for the Third Reich. Except for the coldest months of the year, the raw ore was shipped to Germany at the port of Lulea in southern Sweden. Where Royal Navy ships dared not approach and transport was quite safe.

Thanks to this provision for its trade with Germany, Sweden was not invaded by the Wehrmatch. By contrast, Norway was very ambivalent. On the one hand, she put a part of her fleet at the disposal of Great Britain. And, on the other, she assured the German Government that he could dispose of the ice-free port of Narvik in winter, and of Norwegian territorial waters for the transport of Swedish iron ore to German soil.

All this about the Swedish iron route motivated Great Britain to consider occupying the ports of Lulea and Narvik, to cut it off.

Narvik’s Naval Battle of the Kriegsmarine

The Germans then launched a withering offensive against Norway and on July 10, 1940 they occupied Narvik and soon controlled the entire Norwegian coast.

Sweden, on the other hand, was able to continue to be independent and neutral. In this sense, the Soviet Government already stated on April 13, 1940 that the USSR wanted to maintain Sweden’s neutral status.

With the occupation of Denmark and Norway, Germany had control of the North Atlantic in its hands. Necessary to have other locations for air and naval bases in his war with Great Britain. The Norwegian fjords were excellent havens for the German submarine fleet operating in that part of the Atlantic.

After the end of the World War, Sweden simply maintained its international status. Taking, of course, good note that, as Churchill announced, «in Eastern Europe an immense Iron Curtain had been lowered.»

Sweden, unlike the more recently neutral Finland, has a long tradition of rights, neutrality and liberality. Since the Congress of Vienna in 1815, after the Napoleonic Wars, Sweden has not participated in any of the frequent wars in the Territory of Europe. And in her idiosyncrasy those mentioned qualities are already engraved.

Sweden has twice the population of Finland, at a ratio of 10 to 5 million. But, this one has 1300 km of border with Russia and Sweden, neither.

Since the World War, Swedish society has developed towards a very open, guaranteeing and permissive social democracy. Many modern social trends had their European focus in Sweden.

But, at the end of this historical journey, the Ruscist Bear (contraction of Russia and fascist) began to show signs in Georgia, South Ossetia, Ukraine and in the expressions of its political, social and international thought, of wanting to correct the already historical tendency of «democracy and freedom for Eastern Europe«. «The greatest misfortune of the 20th century was the disappearance of the Soviet Union» is the brilliant-cut diamond of those expressions.

And, Sweden remembered its distant past of wars with Russia.

And, she sought refuge and protection for her sovereignty and freedom by other terrestrial meridians further to the West. In the heart of free and democratic Europe and in the USA, the other vibrant pole of the so-called Western Civilization.

Specifying everything in the accession of Sweden to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

The End.

The Relations of Finland and Sweden with Russia.

The USSR bled to death in Finland.

Just 80 years ago, Finland had an asymmetric Homeland Defense War against the USSR in the cold winter of 1939-1940. It is known as the Talvisota.

In 1939, Stalin demanded from Finland the «cession» of some strategic territories around the Baltic, for the better defense of Leningrad.

Helsinki rejected the request. And on November 30, without prior declaration of war, as was used at that time, and breaking the Non-Aggression Treaty signed with Finland in 1934, the USSR attacked it at 06:50 on November 30. An imposing mass of 450,000 Soviet soldiers crossed the common border, from Lapland in the north to the Karelian Isthmus in the south, preceded by a large artillery preparation and supported by some 2,000 tanks and a thousand planes. The Soviet order of battle was made up of 4 armies, made up of 23 divisions of very different quality.

Marshal Carl Mannerheim

The plan of attack was very simple: From the south, the 7th Army would break through the Mannerheim line and take Viipuri (Viborg), the country’s second largest city. Surrounding Lake Ladoga from the northeast, the 8th Army would advance on the area of ​​the smaller Finnish lakes, cutting off the Karelian Isthmus. In the center of the front, the 9th Army would break straight towards the port of Oulu, in the Gulf of Bothnia, about 225 km from the border, cutting Finnish territory in two parts; its next operational objective could be to reverse attack the main Finnish positions around the Gulf of Finland. In the extreme north, the 14th Army would advance in the direction of Petsamo and Nautsi.

The Finnish army, under the command of Marshal Carl Gustav Emil Mannerheim, totaled some 265,000 men and 20 tanks, concentrated above all on the land defense of the area of ​​the Gulf of Finland and the fortifications of the Karelia isthmus.

First development of hostilities.

The large invasion columns were stranded in the middle of their advance routes, due to lack of supplies, breakdown of their transport and a very poor transitability (bad on going) of the wooded land. That tied them to existing roads. And, that made them easy prey for Finnish raiding forces on sleds and skis. Strong in a reinforced light infantry company. And equipped with many infantry mortars and anti-tank grenades and light machine guns. Mercilessly fleecing the exposed flanks of the stopped units. And that retreated without defending their attack positions.

Finnish Light Infantry Patrol

The Soviets had to make a painful retreat to their starting bases.

Brief analysis of the initial development of the war.

Between the east of the Ladoga and the Arctic Ocean, the common border of Finland and Russia appeared extensive and vulnerable on paper. It was truly a tangle of lakes and forests, ideal for setting traps, ambushes, targeted harasses and flanks and rear attacks, in a light infantry’s flexible mobile defense repulse plan. The terrain of operations, wooded and broken, provided numerous natural obstacles that narrowed and boxed the Soviet forces in the approach paths and favored the defense. The Soviets did not take into account the characteristics of the climate and terrain of Finland, where they were going to use their motorized columns.

The relative concealing heights, to the right and left of the aforementioned Finnish roads, provided by the sinuosities, the terraces, the holes, the ravines and the surrounding groves, allowed the temporary concealment of small Finnish units, which awaited their opportunity to attack alone or in coordination with others, depending on the type of action decided upon. The general quality of the Soviet troops did not allow them to send forward a competent reconnaissance with combat capabilities and artillery support. That would operate on terrain that is difficult to pass through, parallel to the advance routes. And capable of acting from the flanks of the «marching groups» with the support of their security, detecting possible dangers for them and even repelling the enemy, frustrating their intentions.

Badly damaged Soviet motorized column.

The Soviets did not carry out adequate logistical preparation, amassing enough of their extensive resources for such a powerful offensive. In addition, its only railway line in that area was the line from Leningrad to Murmansk, which in its 1,300 km of travel only had one branch in the direction of Finland, to supply all its troops on campaign.

The Soviet counterattack.

General Semion Timoshenko was immediately appointed the new commander of the Northwestern Front and for 6 weeks he re-equipped, reorganized and trained his battered armies. When the Soviets attacked again in the first week of February, they did so with new tactics, organization, and troops. But, they were neither brilliant nor exemplary.

General Timoshenko

They used the attrition and wearing tactics of Grant, at the end of the American Civil War, and of Foch, in 1918. These are specifically applicable when the means are far superior to those of the enemy, the own commanders are mediocre and, above all, without imagination, and the political superiors only ask the military for victory. The Soviets then steadily hammered the Finnish positions until they were demolished and their defenses breached. And to maintain the frontal effort, they continually rotated their front-line units.

The Finns had to accept the conditions for peace presented by Viajeslav Mijailovich Molotov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the USSR. By the Moscow Treaty of March 12, 1940, Finland ceded the Karelian Isthmus with the fortified city of Viipuri to the USSR and leased Hangoe for 30 years.

(To be Continued)