Winter war

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Finnish soldiers on ski patrol in northern Finland in January 1940

The Winter War ( Finnish talvisota , Swedish vinterkriget , Russian Зимняя война Simnjaja woina ) was fought between the Soviet Union and Finland from November 30, 1939 to March 13, 1940 . It is also known as the Soviet-Finnish War (Russian Советско-финская война Sowetsko-finskaja woina ) or the “Soviet-Finnish War” (Russian Советско-финляндская война Sowetsko-woljandsko-finjandsko ).

In autumn 1939, the Soviet Union confronted Finland with territorial claims in the Karelian Isthmus and justified them with indispensable security interests for the city of Leningrad . After Finland rejected the demands, the Red Army attacked the neighboring country on November 30, 1939.

The original war goal of the Soviet Union was probably the occupation of the entire Finnish state territory according to the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact . However, the attack was initially stopped by the Finnish armed forces, which were considerably inferior in terms of numbers and materials . Only after extensive regrouping and reinforcements was the Red Army able to start a decisive offensive in February 1940 and break through the Finnish positions. On March 13, 1940, the parties ended the war with the Moscow Peace Treaty . Finland was able to maintain its independence, but had to make considerable territorial concessions, in particular ceding large parts of Karelia .

Around 70,000 Finns were wounded or killed in the conflict. The magnitude of the Soviet losses is controversial; it is estimated many times over. The course of the war revealed weaknesses in the Red Army, which, on the one hand, prompted the Soviet leadership to undertake comprehensive reforms and, on the other, contributed to a momentous underestimation of the military strength of the Soviet Union in the German Reich . In Finland, the military defensive successes helped to alleviate the social division that emerged in the Finnish civil war .

Course of the Winter War

Causes and starting position

Prehistory from a Finnish point of view

Finland was integrated into the Russian Empire as a Grand Duchy from 1809 . In the face of several attempts at Russification, the Finns retained their cultural independence and a certain degree of political autonomy within the autocratic system. The Finnish independence movement grew stronger after the outbreak of the First World War . When the Russian Empire sank in the Russian Civil War after the October Revolution and the Bolsheviks' seizure of power , Finland declared its independence in December 1917. Since Lenin, unlike the White Armies in Russia, did not see Finnish independence as a threat to Soviet rule, he recognized Finland as a sovereign state in January 1918 .

Independent Finland was shaken shortly after by a civil war , triggered by an attempted coup by socialist forces with the support of the Russian Bolsheviks . Civil forces under the leadership of Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim succeeded with German help in winning the war. Most of the socialist leadership fled to Russia. Bourgeois Finland interpreted the civil war primarily as a war of freedom against Russia. Relations between the two states subsequently remained tense. Efforts to create a Greater Finland and the associated territorial claims against the eastern neighbor contributed particularly to this . In several eastern war campaigns between 1918 and 1920, irregular Finnish military units tried unsuccessfully to incorporate the Soviet parts of Karelia into Finland. In 1920 both states sealed the end of hostilities in the Peace of Dorpat . The great Finnish idea lived on, however. The Academic Karelia Society (Akateeminen Karjala-Seura) founded in 1922 , to which numerous prominent figures from politics and science belonged, openly propaganda for the annexation of East Karelia.

The Finnish Foreign Minister Aarno Yrjö-Koskinen (left) and the Soviet Ambassador in Helsinki
Iwan Maiski sign the Finnish-Soviet non-aggression pact on January 21, 1932

Relations between the two countries in the period that followed were "correct but cool". In early 1932, the neighbors signed a non-aggression pact . The mutual mistrust could hardly be reduced. In the worsening conflict of interests between the Soviet Union and Germany, Stalin tried in vain to bind Finland more closely to himself through further treaties. The classification of Finland as part of the capitalist camp, the propaganda of the Academic Karelia Society and the emphatically German-friendly activities of the fascist Lapua movement contributed to the growing tensions.

In Finland the civil war and mutual terror between “reds” and “whites” had left a deep division in society. Only in the 1930s, especially after the election of Kyösti Kallio as president in 1937, did a policy of reconciliation begin to take hold in the country. In the same year, the Social Democratic Party of Finland under Prime Minister Aimo Kaarlo Cajander took part in a government for the first time since the civil war. The former “white general” Mannerheim also campaigned for the trenches to be overcome. On the anniversary of the end of the civil war in May 1933, he declared:

“A patriotic spirit, the expression of which is the will to defend and the determination to stand like a man in line when this country has to be defended, that is all we ask for and we no longer need to ask who is before fifteen Years where has been. "

The starting position from the perspective of the Soviet Union

From the perspective of the Soviet Union, relations with Finland in 1939 were tense and characterized by mistrust. Economic relations between the two countries were minimal, despite the long common border, and the Soviet government took great offense at the suppression of the Finnish communists . Inspired by the Greater Finland ideology, thousands of Finnish volunteers actively fought against Soviet Russia between 1918 and 1922 in several theaters of war . Numerous Finnish volunteers intervened in the Estonian War of Independence and undertook three military expeditions elsewhere in the Soviet Russian Karelia, some of which could only be put down after months. Finnish volunteers also supported separatist uprisings in East Karelia and North Germanland . With Nordingermanland, pro-Finnish separatists controlled an area a short distance from Leningrad for a few months in 1920 . The Soviet Union therefore saw the city as imminently endangered if war broke out. In addition, in the late 1930s, under Stalin, there was a strong increase in irredentist and revisionist tendencies aimed at regaining territory of the Russian Empire that had been lost after 1918.

Since the mid-1930s, with the resurgence of Japan and the rise of Hitler in Germany , the Soviet leadership was convinced of the coming of a new war between the great powers. The military and political leadership of the Soviet Union saw the Baltic States and Finland as strategically important. The Gulf of Finland and the coast of the Baltic States were seen as a potential gateway for foreign powers to the second largest city, Leningrad . Stalin was also convinced that any coastal fortifications of Finland and the Baltic states could severely limit the ability of the Soviet Baltic fleet to operate in the Baltic Sea in the event of war. In the event of a land war , the leadership of the Soviet Union saw the Baltic states as a necessary marching area for their troops to be deployed against potential opponents in Central Europe and the Finnish part of Karelia as a possible deployment area for foreign powers against Leningrad. Stalin also suspected Finland as a possible basis for air strikes by a foreign power against Soviet territory.

Until the conclusion of the German-Soviet non-aggression pact in August 1939 and its implementation in the attack on Poland, the Soviet leadership tried to neutralize the strategically important area through non-aggression pacts with neighboring countries, including Finland. However, when Poland was broken up as a state, the balance in Eastern Europe had changed. Stalin tried to integrate Estonia , Latvia and Lithuania into the defense system of the Soviet Union through alliances and the stationing of Soviet troops. The small neighbors agreed to these alliances in the autumn of 1939 after brief negotiations accompanied by military threats.

Negotiations with Finland and outbreak of war

Return of the Finnish negotiating delegation from Moscow on October 16, 1939.
Juho Kusti Paasikivi, head of the delegation, second from the left

On September 11, 1939, the Soviet Union began a new round of negotiations with Finland. Stalin justified his demands with the impending danger of war and the need to secure Leningrad through new strategic regulations. To this end, Finland was to cede the southern part of the fortified Karelian Isthmus in exchange for other Karelian areas. The future Finnish-Soviet border was to be extended to about thirty kilometers from the city of Wiborg (Viipuri), Finland's second largest city. This would have meant the abandonment of all Finnish defenses along the so-called Mannerheim Line . Stalin also demanded the leasing of the Hankoniemi peninsula around the city of Hanko , the transfer of islands in the Gulf of Finland and the fishing peninsula on the coast of the Arctic Ocean . To compensate for this, the Soviet Union offered Finland the cession of areas in Karelia that were about twice as large in area. The Finnish government under Prime Minister Cajander was initially divided over acceptance of the Soviet demands, but ultimately rejected them. As a concession, the Finnish government offered the Soviet Union the assignment of the area around the town of Terijoki , which the Soviet Union rejected as being completely inadequate. Finland then initiated a partial mobilization of the army and tried unsuccessfully to ally with Sweden . A request to Germany for diplomatic support was also unsuccessful. The negotiations lasted until November 13th without an agreement being reached.

Since the Finnish intelligence service said the Red Army was not ready for action, the Finnish Foreign Minister Eljas Erkko assumed that the Soviet Union would not start a war. The government's assessment that parliament would not approve any land transfer also contributed to Finland's opposition.

However, the Soviet side had already considered a military option before the end of the negotiations. On November 3, 1939, the Soviet Foreign Minister Molotov imputed warlike intentions against the Soviet state in Pravda Finland. On the same day the Baltic Fleet was ordered to stand by and prepare final plans for an invasion of Finland. The same thing Stalin ordered the Leningrad Military District of the Red Army on November 15. On November 26th, the Red Army staged a border incident in the village of Mainila ( Russian Майнило ) in which Soviet troops were allegedly shot at by Finnish artillery ( Mainila incident ). When the Finnish government rejected these allegations, Molotov broke off relations with Finland and terminated the existing non-aggression pact. Without the Soviet Union having made a formal declaration of war , the Red Army crossed the border in the early morning of November 30, 1939. In the afternoon, President Kallio formally stated that the country was at war. Cajander's government, whose assessment of the danger of war had proven inaccurate, resigned that evening; it was followed the next day by a broader parliamentary government under Risto Ryti , the previous head of the Finnish Central Bank .

Finnish defense

The Finnish army was inferior to the outbreak of war not only because of the low population numbers, but ill-prepared and materially for war. In the pre-war years, the military and the political leadership had found themselves in constant dispute over what the former considered completely inadequate military budgets . In particular, the two strongest parties, the anti-militarist Social Democrats and the thrift-conscious Landbund , blocked an increase in arms spending even under the impression of the worsening international situation. In August 1939, Prime Minister Cajander, who headed a coalition of both parties, expressed his joy that Finland had used its funds for more useful things instead of quickly becoming obsolete war materials. In addition, the government preferred the domestic armaments industry, which was being established, to foreign manufacturers. This, in addition to the lack of funds, slowed the modernization of armed forces' stocks.

At the beginning of the war, the Finnish army comprised 250,000 soldiers, 130,000 of whom defended the Karelian Isthmus and 120,000 the rest of the eastern border. However, due to the lack of weapons, the actual operational strength decreased by 50,000. Heavy armament was even scarcer. The Finnish army only had thirty tanks available, and they had only been in service for a few weeks. There was also a lack of automatic weapons. The whole army had a total of only one hundred anti-tank guns , imported from Sweden. The soldiers therefore often had to resort to improvised solutions in the anti-tank defense, such as incendiary devices made from bottles, to which they named Molotov cocktail . Many units of the artillery were from the First World War and had a short range. There were only 36 guns per division; there was also a shortage of artillery ammunition. The Finnish Air Force comprised only a hundred aircraft. No anti-aircraft guns (flak) could be issued to the combat troops themselves , as the 100 available were used to defend the cities against bombing attacks.

The Mannerheim Line was the main line of defense for the Finns on the Karelian Isthmus

In the pre-war period, the Finnish High Command regarded the Soviet Union as the only realistic opponent of war. That is why the Karelian Isthmus was fortified by what the press later called the Mannerheim Line . There, the command under Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim , who had taken over the leadership of the army again in 1939, saw the decisive front of the war, as the fastest route to Viipuri and Helsinki led into the Finnish heartland. The line, which had been built since the 1920s, consisted of around a hundred concrete bunkers. Structurally, however, they were often weak; only the newest were made of solid reinforced concrete . The bunkers were densest in the area around Summa , which was on the one hand dangerously close to Viipuri and in which the treeless heathland also favored a tank attack. The line was also reinforced by field fortifications built by the troops . The border was already shielded by four cover groups during peacetime. Mannerheim reinforced it with five divisions, divided into the 2nd and 3rd corps of the army. Overall, the commander on the isthmus, Hugo Österman , had around 92,000 soldiers under his command.

There was also enough infrastructure on the northern bank of Lake Ladoga to enable an offensive by a modern army. To defend this flank of the Mannerheim Line, the Finns posted the 4th Corps there under Woldemar Hägglund . The 4th Corps had two divisions with a total of around 28,000 soldiers. According to the assessment of the Finnish High Command, the remaining part of the approximately one thousand kilometers long border with the USSR was impassable for an army due to the dense forest and the lack of roads. That is why only improvised smaller units were used there to block the few traffic axes. This Northern Finland group was under the command of General Viljo Tuompo . As Commander in Chief of the Army, Mannerheim himself held back two divisions as reserves.

Soviet invasion plan

During the ongoing negotiations, Stalin assigned the Chief of the General Staff of the Red Army, Shaposhnikov , to work out a plan to invade Finland. Shaposhnikov outlined an operation lasting several months that would have required a large part of the army. This Stalin refused and delegated the work to the commander of the Leningrad military district Merezkov . This general held out the prospect of an operation that was only planned for a few weeks and, with regard to the land forces, only envisaged the use of troops from the Leningrad military administrative area.

Merezkov's plan focused on the Karelian Isthmus and thus on the Mannerheim Line. This bottleneck represented the shortest route to the Finnish capital Helsinki. Furthermore, the road and rail connections there were best developed. The 7th Army under Vsevolod Yakovlev was supposed to break through the Finnish fortification line with the help of 200,000 soldiers and 1,500 tanks . The 8th Army under Khabarov was supposed to bypass the Finnish fortifications north of Lake Ladoga and stab the defenders of the line in the rear. 130,000 soldiers and 400 tanks were available for this. Further north, two more armies were to carry out attacks on the almost uninhabited border between the two countries, which was barely accessible by roads, in order to cut off transport links and tie up Finnish troops. In addition, the 9th Army under Duchanov was north of the Soviet 8th Army. It represented the link to the 14th Army under Frolov , which was to advance to Petsamo . The two armies on this side front had a total of 140,000 men and 150 tanks at their disposal. Their goal was to occupy the entire Finnish territory.

The Baltic Fleet was supposed to fulfill several missions in this plan. The neighboring countries were to be monitored by submarines and Finland's sea connections cut off. Marine infantry was to take the small islands in the Gulf of Finland; the naval aviators were supposed to support the land forces on the main front. In addition, a Soviet naval formation with three battleships was to provide artillery support to the ground troops on Lake Ladoga. Overall, the Red Army had an advantage over soldiers by three to one, by artillery by five to one, and by tanks by eighty to one.


Destruction after the Soviet air raid on Helsinki on November 30, 1939

The first Soviet attack in 1939

In the early morning hours of November 30th, the Red Army marched its divisions along the front from Petsamo to Karelia. After a Soviet plane dropped leaflets over Helsinki at 9:20 a.m., nine Soviet bombers attacked Helsinki at 10:30 a.m. In the course of the day there were further air strikes on Helsinki with a total of 91 civilian deaths, Vyborg , the port of Turku , the hydroelectric power station in Imatra and a gas mask factory in Lahti .

It took the 7th Army under Yakovlev until December 6th to overcome the apron from 25 to 65 kilometers in front of the Finnish fortifications and to catch up with the Mannerheim Line on the Karelian Isthmus. Meanwhile, a controversy had broken out in the Finnish High Command. Against the resistance of the commander of the isthmus Östermann, Mannerheim wanted the cover groups deployed in advance to proceed aggressively, instead of allowing them to retreat to the fortifications with delaying resistance. Östermann prevailed on this question.

Even before the first major offensives, Stalin had the commander-in-chief of the 7th Army, Yakovlev, replaced by Merezkow, as he was dissatisfied with the slow advance on the isthmus. Merezkow planned offensives on two different sections of the line. On December 14th, the Soviet Union was expelled from the League of Nations on the occasion of the attack on Finland . This did not prevent the Red Army from continuing its offensive. On December 16, they launched the attack on the eastern edge of the Finnish fortifications near Taipale . However, the Finnish 10th Division managed to repel these attacks without the aid of their reserves. Another attempt by the Soviets from December 25 to 27 also failed to break the line. Merezkow had chosen the section near Summa as the actual breakthrough site . At the same time as the offensive near Taipale, the Soviet troops tried to break through the line after a long artillery preparation. Similar to Taipale, the attempt was refused by the Finnish 3rd Division without calling for reinforcements. The Soviet superiority could not have an effect, since the forest area and the deep snow bound the Red Army to the few roads and only one regiment could fight at the head.

Both Mannerheim and Östermann saw the chance to counterattack in mid-December. For this purpose, they deployed the 6th Division, which was held in reserve, on December 23, together with the units already in combat. This operation was canceled after eight hours. The high Finnish losses of 1,500 men were not offset by any relevant land gains. The Soviet Union had failed to reach a decision on the main front of the war, but neither did the Finns crush the Soviet forces on the Isthmus. After both sides realized this, a period of relative calm ensued during which the Soviet military analyzed the reasons for its failure.

According to the plan of the Soviet high command, the 8th Army should have bypassed Lake Ladoga within ten to fifteen days in order to stab the defenders of the Mannerheim Line in the back. On this front too, the Soviet advance was slow. As a result, the commander of the army division commander IN Khabarov was replaced on December 3 by the corps commander W. Kurdionov. The Finnish army used away from the trench warfare on the Karelian Isthmus their agility on skis to successful offensive operations against the invading Soviet units. The Soviet advance could be stopped in the Battle of Kollaa on December 9th. From December 27, the Finnish IV. Corps under Hägglund was able to force the two Soviet divisions opposing it onto the defensive. Two divisions were trapped in so-called mottis , encircling small, mobile formations caused by rapid circling movements . The encircled 18th Division was broken up on February 29, 1940, the 168th Division was able to hold out until the end of the war.

Further north, the Finnish Talvela group under Paavo Talvela faced three Soviet divisions. These units were to fall on the flank of IV Corps and thereby support the movement to bypass the Mannerheim Line. The Finnish troops in this sector managed to drive back the Soviet 139th Division and the 75th Division by December 23 at the Battle of Tolvajärvi . The Finnish troops also succeeded in stopping the 155th Division and putting it on the defensive. The planned bypassing of the Mannerheim Line thus failed for the Soviet Union with great losses. The encircled Soviet forces tied up Finnish troops until the end of the war, which Mannerheim had actually wanted to move to the Isthmus as quickly as possible.

The Soviet offensives in northern Finland initially met with little resistance, as the Finnish general staff had not expected an attack in this part of the country. The Soviet 104th Division managed to take Petsamo harbor after a few days of war . The unit was to unite with the 88th and 122nd divisions to advance on Rovaniemi , the capital of the Lapland region . The latter two divisions were put on the defensive by improvised Finnish units at the Battle of Salla and prevented from advancing further. The 104th Division itself felt the same after the success at Petsamo. In the battle of Suomussalmi the Finns managed to include and smash the 163rd Soviet Division and the 44th Motorized Rifle Division in Mottis by mobilizing a reserve division . In doing so, the Red Army missed its goal of conquering Oulu and thus isolating Finland from Sweden.

The Finnish troops then took part in the Battle of Kuhmo . There they were able to encircle the Soviet 54th Division, but they defended their position until the end of the war. Except for the conquest of Petsamo, the Soviet leadership was unable to achieve any of its strategic goals in northern Finland. Since the Finns were unable to completely drive the Soviet units from their territory, these battles tied up Finnish reserves that were missing on the isthmus.

The Finnish home front

The new Finnish government under Risto Ryti initially sought to restore peace as soon as possible through negotiations with Moscow. However, it turned out that the Soviet Union no longer recognized the government in Helsinki. Instead, at the beginning of the war, Stalin installed a communist counter-government consisting of Finnish civil war emigrants under the leadership of Otto Wille Kuusinen . After the Red Army had made its first land gains, Kuusinen's “ People's Government of Finland ” met in the Finnish border town of Terijoki . On December 2, 1939, she signed an alliance treaty with the Soviet Union in which she ceded the areas required by Moscow in the negotiations. In return, the Soviet government promised to cede half of East Karelia.

The establishment of the Terijoki government and its announcement of popular democratic reforms in Finland were made in the expectation that Kuusinen would win support from the socialist-minded Finns. This would have weakened the Finnish home front and legitimized the occupation of the country. The expected reaction did not materialize. Rather, the Finnish population groups demonstrated a unanimity in their readiness to defend, which also surprised domestic observers. The unconditional pulling together of the Finns in the fight against the overpowering aggressor, which was evoked long after the war under the name “the spirit of the winter war”, dissolved the schism of the civil war and subsequently formed a new basis for the Finnish self-image.

The so-called "January pledge" was emblematic of bridging existing enemy images: On January 23, 1940, the Central Employers' Association (Suomen työnantajain keskusliitto) recognized the trade union confederation (Suomen Ammattiyhdistysten Keskusliitto) as a representative of the employees and an equal negotiating partner in a joint public statement . The chairman of the trade union confederation, Eero Vuori , then stated:

“The people are now fighting for their freedom. On the front lines, employers and employees fight side by side. I believe that the blood ties that are formed at the front will strengthen the friendly relations between the various social circles behind the front. "

Nonetheless, expectations among the Finnish public were initially bleak. The finance minister of the Ryti government, Rainer von Fieandt , wrote in his memoir:

“The result of our unequal struggle could not be anything other than the defeat of Finland. The only question was how long we would be able to defend ourselves and whether the new government would have the opportunity to make peace in this short time. "

The successes achieved in the early stages of the war, when the advance of the enemy had been stopped and heavy losses inflicted, then led to a complete change in mood. In politics, the military and the press, the view that the war was to be won made room for itself. Since very few were informed of the exact situation on the fronts, this mood lasted until the end of the war.

Reform of the Soviet forces

Problems of the Soviet Armed Forces

At the end of December it became clear to the Soviet high command that its plan to quickly overthrow Finland had failed. Stalin said in a conference with Merezkov and his staff:

“The authority of the Red Army is a guarantee of the national security of the USSR. If we have to contend with such a weak opponent for a long time, it will incite the anti-Soviet forces of the imperialists. "

At the beginning of the war, the Soviet leadership had overestimated its own strength and had little knowledge of the strengths of the Finnish army. The fortifications of the Mannerheim Line had not been adequately mapped in advance through reconnaissance. The Soviet troops had relied almost exclusively on aerial reconnaissance, and so they were hardly aware of camouflaged positions before the attack. Merezkow was aware that concrete fortifications formed the backbone of the line, but the troops were not trained to fight against such bunkers before the war. The reconnaissance by the ground units themselves was neglected, so that the Soviet troops, especially in northern Finland, had no accurate picture of the enemy units.

The climatic conditions of the Finnish theater of war were also disregarded by the Soviet Union. Heavy snowfalls made the area accessible almost only on skis or snowshoes. The cross-country terrain was hardly accessible to vehicles. The low temperatures of −35 ° C stressed machines and people alike. In addition, there were hardly any roads and paths, especially in northern Finland. During the first phase of the war, no winter camouflage clothing was available to the Red Army. To make matters worse, even warm winter clothing was scarce in some units due to logistics problems. Since the Soviet troops had received almost no skis and had never been trained in handling them, the army's mobility on the battlefield was very limited. This had particularly disastrous effects in the rough terrain of northern Finland. Soviet officers also complained about the soldiers' inability to handle enemy mines. During the retreat, the Finnish cover groups laid mines and booby-traps intensively, which caused great losses among the Soviet soldiers and further restricted the soldiers' mobility due to the psychological effect.

The Soviet Union failed not only because of the peculiarities of the Finnish theater of war, but also because of its own warfare. The Soviet military doctrine and Merezkov's plan provided for close cooperation between the air force, tanks, infantry, artillery and, if necessary, naval units . However, this did not materialize on the battlefield, mostly tanks or foot soldiers proceeded separately from one another without the corresponding artillery support. The coordination between the various units was too weak. Officers gave orders that made it impossible for the various elements to work together in a meaningful way, and communication between the units and the higher-level positions often collapsed. These problems were made worse by radio equipment failures, both at the front and in the bars. The reason the Red Army did not live up to its standards was due to poor training before the war. The officer corps was not large enough to train all recruits. An efficient corps of non-commissioned officers was completely lacking due to the internal structure of the Soviet army. As a result, the army was divided into units of lower and higher training quality. These units were thrown together without considering their actual capabilities in Finland.

Large parts of the officer corps fell victim to political persecution during the Stalin purges of 1937/1938. They had to be replaced by inexperienced substitutes. The lingering atmosphere of the threat hampered the initiative of the remaining commanders. After the war, Merezkov complained that both soldiers and officers were reluctant to openly tell their superiors the truth. In an internal report to Stalin, his close colleague Lev Mechlis described that a large number of ordinary soldiers considered the war to be unjust.

The same problems affected the Soviet Air Force . It fell far short of expectations. Bad weather, technical problems, low level of training and poor communication with the ground forces made their intervention on the battlefield marginal . The Soviet air campaign aimed to disrupt the mobilization of the Finnish army in their rearward territory. But since the army had been mobilized two weeks before the outbreak of war and was already in their positions when the war broke out, this operation came to nothing. Attempts made at the same time to hinder Finnish supplies by bombing cities and railway lines did not have any significant effect. The main targets of the Soviet bombing were Helsinki , Tampere , Turku and, later in the war, Viipuri . Finnish sources speak of a total of 2075 air strikes on civilian targets. The loss of working hours in the country's industrial centers was less than five percent. Due to the Finnish civil protection system, which regulated blackout measures and rescue operations, the civilian casualties were limited. The Finnish Air Force, which grew to around 200 aircraft through foreign deliveries, scored 240 kills with 26 casualties. However, due to their numerical inferiority, they could hardly carry out any blows against the Soviet hinterland. In total, the Red Army lost around 800 machines during the entire war.

The support from naval units also remained largely inconsequential. The Ladoga flotilla had to struggle with technical problems and navigation errors. Among other things, a battleship ran aground a few days after the start of the war. The units of the Baltic Fleet also intervened in the war. However, their efforts had no influence on the course of the fighting due to supply problems, technical inadequacies, poor level of training and insufficient education. For example, aircraft in the fleet dropped around 64.5 tons of bombs on Finnish islands in the Gulf of Finland . Most of the islands had been evacuated, however, and the Finns' only coastal battery on the islands was not eliminated by these attacks. At the end of December, the fleet operations largely came to a standstill due to pack ice .

New plans by the Soviet leadership

On December 26th, Stalin had the units on the Karelian Isthmus reorganized. The command of the 7th Army was taken over by Merezkow himself. In addition a new army was built up, the 13th under VD Grendal. On January 7th, he appointed Semyon Tymoshenko to be Commander-in-Chief on the Northwest Front . The units of the Finnish theater of war were now combined in this large unit, analogous to the Belarusian front and the Ukrainian front, which occupied eastern Poland in 1939 . With this, Stalin had finally rejected the hope of defeating Finland from the Leningrad military district with only limited forces . New units were brought in from other military districts, and the new offensive plan under Tymoshenko's aegis now envisaged a sole offensive on the Karelian Isthmus. Basically, his plan was similar to Shaposhnikov's proposal, which Stalin had rejected before the war.

Tymoshenko's basic idea was to break the Mannerheim line through numerical superiority and to better train the troops for the requirements of the scene. The main factor he envisaged was a strong superiority of the artillery. This should first weaken the enemy positions in a long bombardment. As soon as the ground troops attacked, the gun crews should coordinate the advance closely with them and support the attacks in the form of a roller of fire . In contrast to the plans for the first offensive, commanders of smaller units should be able to request gunfire up to the platoon leader . In total, the Red Army grouped around 48 guns per front kilometer. Likewise, long-range artillery was supposed to contain movements behind the front of the Finns. The ground troops were specially trained in handling concrete fortifications on models in the hinterland and special storm groups were created. These units included groups of normal infantry, tanks, engineers and anti-tank guns. You should break the strongest points of the enemy line.

Furthermore, the infantry were ordered to drive trenches and field fortifications as close as possible to the Finnish positions in order to keep the no man's land to be crossed as small as possible. New weapons were also brought to the front, including KW-1 and T-34 tanks . Some of these vehicles were equipped with flamethrowers to fight the concrete bunkers . Armored sleds pulled by tanks were provided to protect the infantry. In order to raise morale, awards in combat were not only honored with medals, but also with material gifts such as watches and bicycles. To alleviate the lack of experienced officers, around 4,000 prisoners were released from the Gulag camps and sent to the front.

Second Soviet offensive in early 1940

“Molotov's bread baskets” for the Finnish civilian population. This sarcastic designation received this with 200 2.5-kilogram bombs filled cluster bomb because of a statement by the Soviet Foreign Minister in response to the civilian by bombing targets caused worldwide protests, the Soviet planes would still yield only bread bags for the starving Finnish population. A total of 956 civilians lost their lives in the bombing.

With the reinforcements, the Red Army on the Karelian Isthmus had around 600,000 soldiers, 2,000 tanks and 3,137 guns at its disposal shortly after the beginning of 1940. The Finnish Army was numerically at the end of its resources. The Soviet troops were able to rotate their front troops before and during the offensive. The Finnish units had been in the field since the beginning of the war. Only in the most competitive sector of Summa was the division replaced by a reserve division. The Finnish High Command raised two new divisions, which only consisted of older reservists and were poorly equipped. The fate of a Finnish train driver gives an impression of the psychological stress on the soldiers. He hallucinated that his wife was on her way to bring them more weapons. He then left the protective bunker and fell victim to Russian artillery fire.

The Soviet Army began continuous artillery bombardment of the Finnish lines on January 15, while at the same time they systematically explored the fortification apparatus through aerial reconnaissance and reconnaissance of the front troops. On February 1, Tymoshenko launched the first attack by ground forces. Five divisions attacked in the center of the Mannerheim line. According to Tymoshenko, this attack was supposed to be just a kind of demonstration. The Soviet command experimented with the doctrine of mission tactics that the German Wehrmacht used. The subordinate commanders were free to plan their intermediate goals and the deployment of their troops to achieve their goal. The attacks brought limited territorial gains and were viewed positively by the Soviet commanders. There was actually a pause between these attacks and the actual offensive on a broad front. Due to their success, Tymoshenko then allowed the demonstration attacks to transition seamlessly into the major offensive. On February 11th the Soviet commander attacked the whole front. On the same day, the divisions that had been fighting since February 1st broke through the foremost fortification line of the Mannerheim Line.

Mannerheim led a counterattack with his only combat-experienced reserve division. This plan by the unit that had successfully defended Summa the previous year, however, failed. A lack of ammunition and Mannerheim's reluctance to counterattack are discussed as possible reasons. As a result, the Finnish troops withdrew to the middle line of their fortifications. This breakthrough is generally seen as the military turning point of the war. Nevertheless, Tymoshenko criticized the lack of coordination that still prevailed in the force. He attributed this to the lack of trained officers. To alleviate this problem, regimental commanders were instructed to take command from mobile command posts.

On February 19, the Soviet troops managed to break through the middle positions of the Finns. A counterattack by a reserve division was prevented by the bombing of its traffic routes. On February 25, Soviet troops broke through the rear fortifications of the Mannerheim Line, to which the Finnish units had retreated on February 20. The next day, the Finnish High Command used 15 tanks for a counterattack for the first time. The British-made Vickers vehicles were technically inferior to the Soviet models. Their use turned into a catastrophe, because the noise of the vehicles caused panic in their own ranks, as they were mistaken for Soviet tanks. After Tymoshenko had replaced his front division with fresh units, he ordered the attack to continue on a broad front on February 28.

Positions of the Soviet and Finnish troops at the end of the war on March 13, 1940

During the second major Soviet offensive, the weaknesses of the Finnish defense on the Isthmus were revealed. The heavy concentration on the Mannerheim Line rendered the troops immobile. As there were hardly any fortifications behind the line, there was no room for retreat. For example, the Finnish officers in training were taught that lost positions had to be retaken by counter-attacks. This strategy was later criticized for unnecessarily increasing losses.

Tymoshenko noted, however, that one of the main objectives of the offensive against the fortifications had not been achieved: the Red Army had not succeeded in encircling larger Finnish troops and thus destroying the Finnish army in the field. After overcoming the Mannerheim Line, the Red Army began its attack on the real target of the offensive: the city of Viipuri . It was trapped by Soviet troops from both land and sea on March 1st.

On March 2, 1940, there was a heavy air raid on Tampere with over 100 aircraft, as well as a major attack on Lahti, in which 70 houses were completely destroyed.

The Soviet troops managed to bring an entire rifle corps, a tank brigade and cavalry across the frozen Gulf of Finland to the city. The Baltic Fleet also carried out numerous smaller amphibious landing operations on the Finnish coast. These attacks fulfilled their aim, namely to withdraw Finnish reserves from the front around Viipuri.

However, the Soviet troops did not succeed in completely conquering Viipuri. On the day of the peace treaty, March 13, 1940, Soviet units had penetrated into the center of the city, but could not break the Finnish resistance in the city. The actual plan, a quick conquest of Viipuri by March 7th, could not be fulfilled. After the breakthrough, the military situation of the Finns was so precarious that the Finnish government was increasingly forced to start peace negotiations.

Support from abroad

Sympathy event in New York on December 20, 1939 in New York: from left to right: Ex-President Herbert Hoover , Hendrik Willem van Loon and the Mayor of New York City Fiorello LaGuardia

Public opinion in many countries supported Finland. In the United States were demonstrations as an expression of solidarity held with Finland and benefit concerts given. The American President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared a "moral embargo" on trade with the Soviet Union, so that trade between January 1940 and January 21, 1941 was suspended. The diplomatic branding of the Soviet Union through its exclusion from the League of Nations represented the top of the diplomatic efforts. However, this had no consequences for the course of the war, as the question of sanctions by the member states against the USSR was not even discussed. The effectiveness of the resolution was also weakened by the fact that the majority of the member states stayed away from the meeting. The resolution was passed by only seven out of a total of fifteen members. The Soviet Union itself was not affected by the exclusion. It did not join the League of Nations until 1934, primarily with the aim of protecting itself from a strengthening Germany; however, this purpose had apparently become obsolete with the Hitler-Stalin Pact . The decision regarding the war was not decisive for the decline of the political influence of the League of Nations: it was already decisively weakened by the decline in membership in the 1930s, including the withdrawal of Germany, Japan and Italy . In view of the failure of the League of Nations to contain the aggressive policies of these three states, the crackdown on the Soviet Union could not restore its prestige either.

Numerous nations supported Finland materially to a certain extent. The largest contribution was made by Sweden. Although Finland could not get the Swedish government, which insisted on neutrality, to actively intervene in the war, Sweden did allow 8,000 Swedish volunteers to serve in the Finnish army. These units intervened in the fighting at the end of the war. 33 Swedish nationals were killed and 185 injured. In particular, a contingent of Swedish pilots proved to be particularly valuable for the Finnish armed forces. More decisive, however, was the delivery of weapons and equipment: The neighboring country supplied the Finns with 77,000 rifles , large quantities of ammunition and anti-aircraft guns , among other things .

Other contingents included 1,000 Danes and 800 Norwegians, 230 Americans and 150 Italians . However, these units arrived in Finland too late to be involved in the fighting. Hungary promised a comparatively large number of 5000 men, but only 450 of them arrived in Finland before the peace agreement and they too were no longer deployed. The United States presented Finland in addition a loan of ten million US dollars available. However, they refused to deliver weapons directly to Finland , citing the cash and carry clause . The Finnish government was able to use the money to buy weapons by buying food. These deliveries no longer arrived at the front until the end of the war.

The Finnish Air Force was also reinforced by aircraft from abroad. The most important delivery came from France in the form of 30 Morane-Saulnier MS.406 fighter aircraft. The United Kingdom sent 30 obsolete Gloster Gladiator biplanes. Italy provided 17 modern Fiat BR.20 bombers . Although these supplies increased the small Finnish Air Force, they remained marginal in their effect and did little to change the material superiority of the Soviet Air Force. The majority of the 800 aircraft lost by the Soviet armed forces were shot down by Finnish anti-aircraft guns.

The Finnish side placed great hopes in receiving direct military support from Western Europe. As early as December 19, 1939, France and Great Britain signaled the possibility of sending strong aid organizations to Finland. However, the importance and availability of such aid has consistently remained in the dark for Finland. Sweden and Norway had made it very clear that they would not allow foreign armies to march through. It would also have taken around three months to bring the troops through Norway and Sweden and build the necessary infrastructure for their supply. The Western Allies had a recognizable interest in continuing war activities in the north. By intervening in Scandinavia, they hoped to increase the military pressure on Germany, the enemy of the war. A possible cutting off of the ore regions in Kiruna in northern Sweden from the German supply routes appeared particularly tempting . When the French Foreign Minister Édouard Daladier promised the Finns an expeditionary force of 50,000 soldiers in February 1940, the British General Henry Royds Pownall summarized these offers as follows:

“Of the four or five divisions that might have been sent across the North Sea, not one was destined for Finland - maybe a brigade or two, if they were lucky [...] The rest were just meant to occupy and close the iron ore mines keep and support Sweden and Norway. It is really a very dishonest business. "

On March 3, 1940, the British government promised the Finns an intervention force of around 12,500 men, which, at best, could not have arrived until April. The Finnish government felt deceived by the constant tactics and, also against the background of the events in Czechoslovakia and Poland, lost confidence in the intervention of the Western powers. After all, the military situation for Finland was already so dramatic at the beginning of March that Western aid would have come too late, according to the Finnish High Command.

The way to peace

After the pre-war negotiations were broken off, there were no more official diplomatic ties between the two warring states. The Finnish government was divided over the need for a quick peace settlement. The victories on the northern front and the holding of the Mannerheim Line seduced large sections of politics, the military and the media into thinking that the war was to be won. A driving force behind the peace efforts was the former chief negotiator Juho Kusti Paasikivi , who was under no illusions:

“Our victories are considered terribly great, and from our point of view they are glorious. However, they have no effect on the final result. Given the power of the vast Russian state, these defeats have no meaning. "

On January 10, the Finnish government under Prime Minister Risto Ryti opened a first channel to Soviet agencies through the Soviet ambassador in Stockholm , Alexandra Kollontai . At the end of the month Moscow signaled its readiness to make peace with the Rytis government. At the same time, the counter-government installed by Moscow under Kuusinen was dropped. On February 12, the Finnish side first became aware of the conditions laid down by the Soviet government. They included assignments of territory that went well beyond the demands that the Finns rejected before the war. Although the conditions were initially received with dismay, the rapidly deteriorating military situation forced action. On February 28, Ryti consulted with Mannerheim, who stated that the peace would have to be concluded very soon, even under tough conditions if necessary.

On March 8, an official Finnish delegation led by Ryti and Paasikivi arrived in Moscow. Molotov conducted the talks on the Soviet side, but Stalin himself did not take part. The Russian side was not ready to make concessions; instead, slightly more stringent conditions were imposed. The Finnish side hesitated, but the military leadership announced on March 9th that the strength of the exhausted battalions on the isthmus was mostly barely 250 men and that at the front they were threatened with total collapse. This situation report was decisive. On March 13, the delegation signed the Moscow Peace Treaty, which ended the fighting between the two states at 12:00 on the same day.


Finnish Territories ceded, 1940
When the peace conditions were announced in 1940, Finnish flags were flying at half-mast

Assignments of territory

Due to the peace treaty, Finland lost large parts of Karelia, including the entire isthmus and large areas north of Lake Ladoga. The new Finnish south-eastern border essentially followed the border of the Peace of Nystad of 1721. The ceded area was therefore largely the same area that was ceded by Sweden to Russia in 1721 and reassigned in 1812 as part of the so-called Old Finland by Tsar Alexander I the Grand Duchy of Finland had been annexed. The ceded areas were significantly larger than those originally required by the Soviet Union before the war.

The Finnish economy and society were hit hard by this loss. Around 420,000 Finns fled the lost territories and had to be supported by the state in resettlement. With the ceded areas, the country lost around ten percent of its agriculture and industry .

Numerous strategically important islands in the Gulf of Finland and the fishing peninsula on the North Sea also had to be ceded . Hanko in south-west Finland was leased to the Soviet Union as a naval base for thirty years . Finland also had to agree to build and operate a rail link between the Swedish border at Tornio and Murmansk . In contrast to 1939, the Soviet negotiators no longer demanded a military alliance. The originally intended military and possibly also political integration of the Finns into the communist system became irrelevant.

The peace treaty caused horror in the Finnish population and in large political circles who had not been informed in detail about the devastating military situation. On March 13, mourning flags were flown across the country. Immediately after signing the ratification of the peace treaty, the Finnish President Kyösti Kallio declared bitterly:

Kuivukoon kiegeni, joka on pakotettu tällaisen paperin allekirjoittamaan.

"May my hand wither, which is forced to sign such a paper."

The Soviet Union integrated the ceded areas into the newly founded Karelo-Finnish SSR , which was chaired by the former head of the communist counter-government Kuusinen. The annexations strengthened the Soviet defensive position against Finland and against sea attacks from the Baltic Sea. When Germany attacked the Soviet Union in June 1941, the main German thrust came from the west and not via Scandinavia, so the annexations were of no advantage to the defense of the Soviet Union from a military perspective.

War victims

The losses of the Red Army were given in the official figures after the war with around 48,000 dead and around 159,000 wounded and sick. These numbers are controversial in both Western and Russian literature. Russian sources today assume around 127,000 dead and missing and 265,000 wounded and sick. Finnish historians assume even higher numbers: around 230,000–270,000 dead and 200,000–300,000 wounded and sick, a large part of them due to frostbite and insufficient supplies of clothing and food. The fate of around 5,000 repatriated Soviet prisoners of war is uncertain. Western sources suspect that most of them were murdered in NKVD camps after the war .

A Soviet officer commented on the combat area in Karelia after the war:

“The fact that the following spring and summer, when the snow began to melt, many bodies of our soldiers were recovered from the swamps and lakes is not mentioned in the official war reports. The survivors used to jokingly say that the land we took from the Finns was just enough to bury our officers and soldiers who fell during the campaign. "

The losses of the Finnish armed forces were given by the Finnish side after the war with around 25,000 dead and around 43,500 wounded. The Red Army leadership stated that the Finns had between 60,000 and 85,000 fatalities and 250,000 wounded. Finnish history now counts 26,662 fallen soldiers. The Soviet bombing of civilian targets claimed around 900 lives and around 1,800 wounded among the civilian population. However, the economic damage caused by the air offensive only marginally hindered the war efforts of the Finnish side.

Reform of the Soviet armed forces

Due to the poor performance and high losses of the Red Army, its reputation among the great powers was disavowed; as a result, it has been underestimated. An internal report by the German armed forces stated that the Soviet armed forces had no chance against a modern and well-managed army. It is believed that these circumstances further increased Hitler's willingness to attack the USSR. The reputation of the Red Army suffered in the western camp as well. When the Soviet Union was attacked by Germany in 1941, US General George C. Marshall estimated in a report to President Roosevelt that the Soviet Union would collapse within three months. British estimates from this period even spoke of only two months.

The Soviet military leadership reacted to the war with attempts to increase the army's efficiency. There was also a change at the top when Stalin replaced Voroshilov as People's Commissar for Defense with Tymoshenko. In the process, the last remnants of the idea of ​​a socialist army were erased and more space was given to the creation of discipline through drill and authoritarian leadership. In order to further strengthen the officer corps, the influence of the political officers was reduced and a new promotion system was introduced, which should reward performance more. The authority of the officers in the field should be strengthened in the new service regulations through greater privileges such as their own shelter and better food for the men. The officers were also given the right to independently impose punitive measures on their subordinates. To further strengthen the authority of the troop leaders, the Red Army introduced ranks of general and admiral after the Winter War .

In the area of ​​strategy and tactics, Stalin and his new People's Commissar spoke out in favor of turning away from the war of movement of the Russian Civil War and proclaimed a more static warfare. Despite the advances in combined arms and the German “ blitzkrieg ”, Stalin was convinced that a coming war between the great powers would take place as a war of positions . Whether the winter war strengthened the combat capability of the Red Army up to the attack by the German army as a whole through the reforms or weakened it through the losses has so far been disputed among historians.

Effects in Finland

After the war, Finland faced massive problems. The flow of refugees from the ceded areas led to internal tensions and economic bottlenecks. The increase in foreign debt due to the purchase of arms and loans had a negative effect on the Finnish budget and its ability to compensate for the crisis. The territorial losses also worsened the military situation. Defending the country against a renewed Soviet attack would have been much more difficult. As a result, the Finnish government embarked on a policy of rearmament . The army was roughly doubled to 400,000 men and designed for faster mobilization and greater readiness.

On the other hand, the experience of the common threat and the theme of national unity, which was repeatedly invoked during the war, helped to overcome the internal rifts resulting from the civil war of 1918. The vulnerability of the country had been made clear to the Finns as well as the fact that Finland could not defend itself against a Soviet attack permanently. The diplomatic skirmishes about an Allied intervention were not suitable to create confidence in cooperation with the Western powers. So the Finns tried on the one hand to look for allies in Scandinavia and on the other hand to get closer to Germany. The former became impossible after the intervention of German troops in Scandinavia (" Operation Weser Exercise ") with the occupation of Denmark and Norway. Cooperation with Germany, however, soon became reality and culminated in June 1941 in the participation of Finland in the German attack on the Soviet Union and the beginning of the Soviet-Finnish Continuation War .


The winter war has received two completely opposite evaluations in historiography. In the Soviet Union and its allied states, the Soviet approach was viewed as a legitimate representation of geostrategic interests and as a safeguard of Leningrad's strategic military position. Leningrad, which was only 50 kilometers from the old Finnish border, was defenseless against an attack from Finnish soil. Finland was under the influence of both the Western powers and National Socialist German imperialism and would therefore have been an important staging area in the event of a war against the Soviet Union. According to this assessment, the war could have been avoided by adequate concessions from the Finnish government. Finnish historians with a pro-Soviet attitude also followed this assessment in the post-war period.

Finnish and Western historiography, on the other hand, regards the attack by the Soviet Union as the expression of an imperialist policy by Stalin and Molotov. According to this view, giving in to the negotiations in autumn 1939 would have weakened Finland's position decisively and exposed the country to new dangers. It is pointed out in particular that, after the war had started, Stalin was demonstrably initially pursuing the goal of the complete occupation of Finland.


  • Richard W. Condon: Winter War Russia - Finland . Moewig-Verlag, Munich 1980, ISBN 3-8118-4302-8 .
  • Max Jakobson: The Diplomacy of the Winter War: An Account of the Russo-Finnish War, 1939-1940 . Cambridge 1961.
  • Allan Sandström: War under the midnight sun - Finland's struggle for freedom 1939–1945 . Leopold Stocker Verlag, Graz 1996, ISBN 3-7020-0747-4 .
  • William R. Trotter: A Frozen Hell . Algonquin Books, Chapell Hill 1991, ISBN 978-0-945575-22-1 .
  • Anthony Upton: Finland 1939-40 . Newark, 1974.
  • Carl van Dyke: The Soviet Invasion of Finland 1939-40 . Frank Cass Publishers, London, Portland 1997, ISBN 0-7146-4753-5 .
  • Pentti Virrankoski: Suomen historia 2 . SKS, Helsinki 2001, ISBN 951-746-342-1 .
  • Antti Tuuri: Winter War . Kiepenheuer, Leipzig; Weimar 1992, ISBN 3-378-00504-1 .

Web links

Commons : Winter War  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ William R. Trotter: A Frozen Hell . Algonquin Books, Chapell Hill 1991, pp. 3-12.
  2. Uola, Mikko (ed.): AKS: n tie. Akateeminen Karjala-Seura isänmaan ja heimoaatteen asialla. Minerva Kustannus Oy; Akateemisen Karjala-Seuran Perinneyhdistys ry, 2011, especially pp. 59-63.
  3. ^ Pentti Virrankoski: Suomen historia 2 . Helsinki 2001, p. 782.
  4. Virrankoski, p. 782 f. and 854 f.
  5. Virrankoski, p. 823 f.
  6. Quoting from Virrankoski, p. 857. Original text: ” Isänmaallinen henki, jonka merkkinä on puolustustahto ja päätös seisoa yhtenä miehenä rivissä, jos tatä maata on kerran puolustettava, siinä kaikistaki, siinä kaysitin mitä kaadse meidä .
  7. ^ A b Carl van Dyke: The Soviet Invasion of Finland 1939-40. London / Portland 1997, p. 13 ff.
  8. Van Dyke, pp. 1, 8 f., 14 ff.
  9. a b Van Dyke, p. 19 f.
  10. Van Dyke, pp. 20-27, 42.
  11. Virrankoski, p. 870; Juhani Suomi: Myrrysmies. Urho Kekkonen 1936-1944. Otava, Keuruu 1986, ISBN 951-1-06567-X , pp. 177-182.
  12. ^ Anthony Upton: Finland 1939-40 , Newark, 1974, p. 53; Virrankoski, pp. 858 f.
  13. Upton, pp. 52-55; Virrankoski, pp. 874 f.
  14. Trotter, pp. 47, 62-66; Upton, pp. 51 f., 61 f .; Virrankoski, pp. 874 f.
  15. Trotter, p. 47; Upton, pp. 51 f., 61 f.
  16. Van Dyke, pp. 8 f., 19.
  17. Van Dyke, pp. 38 f., 44.
  18. Van Dyke, pp. 40, 42, 52 f.
  20. ^ William R. Trotter: A Frozen Hell . Chapel Hill 2000, p. 48 ff. Limited preview in the Google book search
  21. a b Upton, pp. 62-70; van Dyke, pp. 8 f., 60, 72; Trotter, p. 61; Hans Gossens (ed.): The history of the Great Patriotic War of the Soviet Union . Volume 1, Berlin 1962, p. 316.
  22. Upton, pp. 62-70; van Dyke, pp. 8 f., 60, 72; Trotter, p. 61; Hans Gossens (ed.): The history of the Great Patriotic War of the Soviet Union. Volume 1, Berlin 1962, p. 316.
  23. ^ Carl Van Dyke: The Soviet Invasion of Finland, 1939-40 . Frank Cass 2005, pp. 100 and 123.
  24. a b Upton, pp. 66 ff., 84 ff .; van Dyke, pp. 8 f., 47, 80 ff.
  25. a b Upton, pp. 67, 86 ff .; Trotter, pp. 174 ff., 150-193.
  26. Virrankoski, p. 871.
  27. Virrankoski, p. 871 f. and 875.
  28. Quote from Sodan lehdet , issue 5, 2001. Original quote: “ Kansa taistelee nyt vapautensa puolesta. Rintamalla taistelevat rinta rinnan niin työnantajat kuin työntekijät. Uskoni on, että ne verisiteet, jotka rintamalla solmitaan, tulevat myös lujittamaan ystävällisiä suhteita eri yhteiskuntapiirien välillä rintaman takana.
  29. ^ Quote from Martti Turtola, Risto Ryti . In: Matti Klinge (ed.): Suomen kansallisbiografia 8 . SKS, Helsinki 2006, ISBN 951-746-449-5 , p. 453. Original quote: ” Epätasaisen taiselumme tulos ei voinut olla muu kuin Suomen häviö. Kysymys oli vain siitä, kuinka kauan jaksaisimme puolustautua ja olisiko uudella hallituksella sinä lyhyenä aikana mahdollisuutta solmia rauha.
  30. ^ Sinikka request: Image Research and the Enemy Image: The Soviet Union in Finnish Newspapers during the Winter War (November 30, 1939 - March 13, 1940) , Oulu 2002, accessed December 7, 2007; van Dyke, p. 20 ff.
  31. ^ Translation of a quote from van Dyke, p. 103; Original text in English: “ The authority of the Red Army is a guarantee for the USSR's national security. If we struggle for a long time against such a weak opponent this will stimulate the anti-Soviet forces of the imperialists.
  32. a b c Van Dyke, pp. 45 ff., 65 ff., 78 f., 84 ff., 107 ff .; Upton, pp. 62-70; van Dyke, pp. 57 ff., 206 f.
  33. ^ Carl Van Dyke: The Soviet Invasion of Finland, 1939-40 . Frank Cass 2005, p. 123.
  34. Van Dyke, pp. 45 ff., 65 ff., 78 f., 84 ff., 107 ff .; Upton, pp. 62-70; van Dyke, pp. 57 ff., 206 f .; Hans Gossens (ed.): The history of the Great Patriotic War of the Soviet Union. Volume 1, Berlin 1962, p. 327.
  35. Van Dyke, pp. 47 ff., 65 ff., 78 ff .; Upton, p. 59; Trotter, pp. 187-193.
  36. Van Dyke, pp. 47 ff., 65 ff., 78 ff .; Trotter, p. 54.
  37. a b Upton, pp. 110-120; van Dyke, pp. 108 f., 138, 152 ff., 198.
  38. Upton, pp. 110-120; van Dyke, pp. 108 f., 138, 152 ff., 198; Hans Gossens (ed.): The history of the Great Patriotic War of the Soviet Union. Volume 1, Berlin 1962, p. 316.
  39. ^ Rainer Göpfert, Rolf Jakob: The Finnish Winter War. in Flieger Revue Extra No. 11, Möller, 2005, pp. 46 and 47.
  40. a b c Upton, pp. 107-112; van Dyke, p. 138 ff .; P. 145 ff.
  41. Reproduction from Trotter, p. 120.
  42. a b Upton, pp. 110-122; van Dyke, p. 163 ff .; Hans Gossens (ed.): The history of the Great Patriotic War of the Soviet Union. Volume 1, Berlin 1962, p. 319.
  43. Virrankoski, p. 862.
  45. Upton, pp. 110-122; van Dyke, p. 163 ff .; Hans Gossens (ed.): The history of the Great Patriotic War of the Soviet Union. Volume 1, Berlin 1962, p. 315 f.
  46. Upton, pp. 110-122; van Dyke, p. 163 ff.
  47. a b c Internet source in English accessed December 7, 2007; Trotter, pp. 190-202; Upton: pp. 16, 19, 72 f .; Thomas Munch-Petersen: Britain and the outbreak of the Winter War in Robert Bohn: Neutrality and totalitarian aggression: Northern Europe and the great powers in the Second World War , Stuttgart 1991, pp. 85–86; George Scott: The Rise and Fall of the League of Nations , London 1973, p. 398 ff.
  48. Trotter, pp. 190-202.
  49. Virrankoski, p. 884; Hans-Joachim Lorbeer: Western powers against the Soviet Union 1939–1941 , Freiburg 1975, p. 58 ff.
  50. ^ Translation of a quote from Pownall to Upton, p. 145; Original text in English: “ of the four or five divisions that might have been sent across the North Sea not one division was intended for Finland - perhaps a brigade or two if they were lucky […] The rest were simply intended for occupying and holding the iron-ore mines and for the support of Norway and Finland. It is really a most dishonest business.
  51. a b Upton, pp. 122-148.
  52. ^ Translation of a quote by Paasikivi in: Upton, p. 91; Original text in English: “ our victories are considered tremendously great, and from our point of view they are magnificient, but they have no effect on the final result, since in view of the power of the huge Russian state, these defeats have no significance [...].
  53. Virrankoski, p. 884.
  54. Virrankoski, p. 885 f.
  55. a b c d Upton, p. 155 ff .; Trotter, p. 263 f .; Finnish internet source in English accessed December 7, 2007 ; German internet source on Finnish security policy accessed on December 7, 2007 .
  56. quoted from Virrankoski, p. 886. Translation by the author.
  57. ^ Van Dyke, p. 191.
  58. Van Dyke, p. 191; Trotter, p. 263 f .; GF Krivošeev (ed.), Rossija i SSSR v vojnach XX veka. Poteri vooružennych sil. Statističeskoe issledovanie . ( Memento of March 29, 2010 in the Internet Archive ) (Russia and the USSR in the wars of the 20th century. Losses of the armed forces. Statistical study.) Olma-Press, Moscow 2001, ISBN 5-224-01515-4 , ISBN 978 -5-224-01515-3 , table 111.
  59. Description of Colonel GI Antonow Source: GI Antonow: The Soviet-Finnish War in Basil Liddell Hart : The Red Army , Bonn 1956, p. 100.
  60. ^ Carl Gustaf Mannerheim: The Memoirs of Marshal Mannerheim , New York 1954, p. 370.
  61. ^ Gene Keyes: Stalin's Finland Fiasco: The Kuusinen Government Reconsidered , 1972, p. 38 ( online ).
  62. Jari Leskinen, Antti Juutilainen (ed.): Talvisodan pikkujättiläinen , WSOY, Porvoo 1999, p. 825.
  63. Van Dyke, pp. 189-194; Trotter, p. 264 ff.
  64. Van Dyke, pp. 199-213; Hans Gossens (ed.): The history of the Great Patriotic War of the Soviet Union. Volume 1, Berlin 1962, p. 329.
  65. Van Dyke, pp. 199-213.
  66. Virrankoski, pp. 890-900.
  67. The History of the USSR - From the Beginnings to the Present . VEB Deutscher Verlag der Wissenschaften, Berlin, 1978, p. 382 f.
  68. Virrankoski, p. 870 f. and 886 f.
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