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Part 12. End of Hostilities

Finland’s Two Wars with the Soviet Union in the 1940s
Why did they start, why did they end in the way they did?
Could they have been avoided?

These extensive articles were written by Jan-Christian Lupander and represent his views on the background and politics of the Winter War and the Continuation War. Mr. Lupander is a frequent contributor to the Nordic Boards Forum and has graciously allowed us to reprint his articles here.  Each section is extensive and very well written and we want to thank Mr. Lupander for allowing us to use them on this website. - mkregel (webmaster)

Sub Menu:

Part 1. Winter War, the background   

Part 2. Negotiations and War starts

Part 3, The Rescue Plan

Part 4, International military aid

Part 5. End of the Winter War

Part 6. Could it have been avoided?

Part 7. The road to war again...

Part 8. Enter the Germans...

Part 9. Conquest, Re-conquest or both?

Part 10. Peace Feelers and the Big Battle  

Part 11. Remarkable results for the Finnish Army  

Part 12. End of Hostilities   (you are here)

Part 13. Was the Continuation War Unavoidable?

 

End of Hostilities

 

After the midsummer crisis the Finnish army had regained its power. Modern anti-armour weapons had been introduced and the artillery had gained tremendously in power due to finally implementing a new and revolutionary fire control system (Note). Enough ammunition was available and everyone realized that there was no meaning in being stingy with it, either the Russians were stopped now or there would be no use for any left-over ammunition. The German reinforcements increased the fighting power even more. The Russians had made repeated attempts to break through on three different points but had been repulsed every time. In late July the attempts stopped and most of the Russian troops were sent south to the central front for deployment against the Germans.
With the Russian and the German troops fully occupied with fighting each other there now was the right time for Finland to disengage from the war.

President Ryti resigned and was replaced as president by Marshal Mannerheim on August 4.
Finland was no longer bound by any agreement with Germany and negotiations were quickly started with the Russians.

After the events during the past summer the Finnish population was ready to once again accept the hard terms of the Moscow peace treaty.

Before the negotiations had finished the last major battle of the war was fought. North of Lake Ladoga two divisions of Russian troops tried to advance towards the Finnish city Joensuu and had some initial success. The fairly worn out Finnish defenders were then reinforced by troops released from the Carelian Isthmus and under leadership by one of the grand masters of “Motti”-warfare, Major General Erkki Raappana, proceeded to isolate, cut up and destroy the invaders. Finally the Russian survivors had to try to reach their own lines in the east the best they could on foot through the woods, leaving all their equipment, guns, tanks and logistics train behind. This battle, which was very costly for both sides, has a unique position in the history of the Continuation war. Not only was it the only major battle fought on land that still remains Finnish but for some unclear reason it has mostly been neglected by the historians. Furthermore the historians don’t even seem able to agree on the significance of the battle! Some say it was an embarrassment for the Finnish leadership which thought it would upset Stalin and make him either terminate the ongoing cease-fire negations or on the very least demand even more concessions from Finland. Others, more recent, tell the absolute opposite; Stalin explicitly referred to this battle when he said that he had decided to relent on some of the conditions previously demanded, as “the Finns were so stubborn”. The latter view seems the more plausible, Stalin always understood determination and two divisions lost was neither here or there for him at that stage of the war but the additional 20 or so needed to fully conquer Finland would be. The negotiation table provided a far cheaper way to achieve satisfactory results.

Early in September the negotiations resulted in a ceasefire agreement. The Finnish leaders were very aware that only a week earlier the Russians had reneged on a similar agreement with Rumania and interned the Rumanian army. Thus the Finnish front line troops got orders to keep their positions and retain full battle readiness. The ceasefire was called for the morning of the 4th but quite a number of Russian units didn’t comply until a day later. Almost a hundred Finnish soldiers were killed during those 24 hours.
But on the 5th of September all weapons finally fell quiet.
Finland had for the second time in four years lost a war but won the peace.

The peace terms were even harsher than those of 1940. Not only was the Petsamo area with its nickel mines and Finland’s only ice-free harbour lost but a sky high war-retribution should be paid to Russia and the Hanko area lease was replaced by the Porkkala Peninsula, within artillery distance of Helsinki.
Furthermore all German forces should be out of Finland within two weeks and finally those “responsible for the war” should be punished, if necessary through the use of retroactive laws.
All this just had to be accepted, otherwise…. . “Vae Victis, Losers beware”

Eventually the Finnish army had to turn against it’s erstwhile allied and eject the German army from Finland by force, a most unwelcome, costly and distasteful task.

In 1946 ex-president Ryti was sentenced to ten years of penal servitude by a Finnish court, closely overseen by the Russians.


Note.
The Finnish artillery had developed a revolutionary fire-control concept. Through it any front-line observer could quickly call down fire from any number of guns, as long as they were within range of the target. This together with the realization that 80 % of the damage to the target was done in the first two minutes resulted in the Finnish artillery easily delivering highly efficient 3-minute barrages by multiple gun batteries within minutes of recognizing a target.
The same basic system was in developed form implemented in quite a number of armies, including the US, after the war.

jcl

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