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
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
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
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.
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.