5 facts about the Soviet-Finnish war, you need to know

80 years ago, on 30 November 1939, Soviet troops entered the territory of Finland. Began the so-called “winter war”, which is also often called the “unknown war.”

Reasons with ovetsky-Finnish war

In the autumn of 1939 between the USSR and Finland was negotiated territorial concessions. The Soviet Union claimed to be part of the Karelian isthmus with a well-developed network of Railways and roads, Islands in the Gulf of Finland and the “rental” of the Finnish Peninsula of Hanko. In return, Finland would have to obtain a large area, but less valuable in economic and strategic terms territory in Karelia: in fact, nothing but woods and swamps.

On the Soviet side the formal reason was (and is still called) the need to move the border from Leningrad. But the scheme was, in principle, the same that had signed treaties of mutual assistance with the Baltic countries, which in the end, ended their occupation. The Finns, however, the pressure of the Soviet Union gave in. Then, again according to the approved scenario, in Terioki (now Zelenogorsk) was formed the so-called “people’s government” of Finland, the head of which put who fled to Soviet Russia in 1918 Communist Otto Kuusinen. And already it’s a puppet “people’s government”, which, of course, no one in the world has recognized, asked the Red army for “help”.

30 November 1939 Soviet troops invaded Finland. The reason for this, as announced by then Molotov was “a vile provocation of the Finnish white guards” allegedly fired on a military unit of the red army located in the village of Maynila on the Karelian isthmus. The Finns also had already proven that the attack could not be made with their site that “manelski incident” is a provocation of Moscow.

Power military confrontation between the Finns and the red army

At the beginning of hostilities the number of troops of the red army, participated in the war, more than half exceeded Finnish: 250 thousand soldiers and officers of the Finns, 425 640 – in the grouping of the invasion. Guns and mortars in the red army divisions was five times more than the Finns, aircraft – nine times more.

Armed with the Finns had only 32 tanks and two armoured cars. About 30 tanks left over from the First world war and were good in the majority only to use them as a stationary hotspot. The red army, according to the documents of Russian state military archive, possessed all over the front 2289 tanks. That is the beginning of “winter war”, as it is commonly called in Finland, the Red army had a significant numerical superiority and multiple technical advantage. Therefore, in Moscow, were convinced that the Finns will be able to defeat within a few days.

The course of the fighting the Soviet-Finnish war

But the Red army was faced with a firm and skilful resistance. The move to break through the “Mannerheim line” failed. Only after the Soviet contingent was increased to 760 thousand people, was almost three times more Finnish, the Red army pressed their advantage.

In Soviet historiography often explained the reasons for the failure of the first stage of the Soviet-Finnish war, severe frosts and deep snow. But meteorological data refute it. In December 1939, the temperature on the Karelian isthmus ranged from +1 to -23,4 degrees. Heavy snow also fell only in January 1940. In addition, cold, actually, and prevent the advancing, and defending.

In fact, the “winter war” lasted more than three months and cost the red army a significant loss, because the fighting spirit of the Finns, defending their land from invaders was very high, and the skills needed for war on its territory – is significantly higher than that of the enemy. Stalin was completely unexpected and that for their country stood all the Finnish people. In Finland, no one believed that the country will be able in case of defeat to maintain their independence. Here knew about the repressions of 1937-38 in the USSR, when there was a shot of thousands of Finns, closed Newspapers in the Finnish language, and schools with study of the Finnish language.

Played an important role, and underestimating the fighting capacity of the Finnish troops, and the fact that, in contrast to their Supreme commander, Marshal Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim, former Imperial guards and Lieutenant-General in tsarist Russia, the Soviet command had acted clumsily and spurred by Stalin, made a lot of mistakes. The Finnish fortifications and the difficult terrain nullified the advantage of Soviet military equipment, which stuck in the mud. Instead of anti-tank guns, which the Finns had very little, they were taken down Soviet tanks with Molotov cocktails, which it then received the name “Molotov cocktail”.

Peace agreements between the Republic of Finland and the Soviet Union

However, the Finns, in the end, had to agree to signing a peace Treaty with the Soviet Union: the war with such a powerful nation was to little Finland in the long run hopeless. According to the agreement signed in Moscow on 12 March 1940, Finland was forced to make territorial concessions, much higher compared to those who demanded the Soviet Union in 1939. This, in total, 11 percent of the territory of Finland from Vyborg city. To the Soviet Union withdrew Karelian isthmus, part of the coast of lake Ladoga, a number of Islands in the Gulf, for 30 years the Hanko Peninsula, which was planned to create a Soviet naval base. 430 thousand Finns lost their house.

But the most important thing for Finland was that it maintained its independence, has managed – albeit at the cost of great territorial losses to resist. The puppet “people’s government” of Kuusinen was well Stalin is forgotten, and Moscow had to deal with the government in Helsinki, which, as previously mentioned in the TASS report, the alleged long fled into exile.

The loss of the Soviet Union and Finland

During the 105 days of the “winter war” the Soviet side has lost in killed and missing nearly 127 thousand people, 246 thousand soldiers were wounded, shell-shocked, got heavy and medium frostbite. Finnish losses amounted to 26 thousand people, 43.5 thousand soldiers were wounded.

The Soviet Union suffered and tangible political damage. As “country-aggressor” the Soviet Union was expelled from the League of Nations. Hitler closely followed the course of the war and seen the blunders of the troops of the red army and its command, have come to the conclusion that the Wehrmacht is easy to cope with it. Thus, the Soviet-Finnish war that Western historians consider the part of the Second world war, was prepared by Hitler’s decision to attack the Soviet Union.


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