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Finnish-Soviet War

In 1918 Finland was divided into two sections, the red section and the white section. The red section’s choice of government was socialist, while the white section’s choice of government was anti-communist and leaned toward democracy. Eventually the two sections went to war with each other and the anti-communists persevered as the victors. Finland gained the right to democracy through their rebellion, once the Finnish King let his title go after Germany lost World War One. The world was on its axis as World War Two’s destruction and horrors fell to the hands of dictators and tyrants, and with most countries falling to the powers of Europe, one made a stand, Finland. The Soviet Non-Aggression Pact was signed in 1939 and the Soviets expected the remainder of Europe to meet its standards, just as the weak countries easily did. Many smaller Western European countries were meeting all demands of the Soviet Union by providing weapons, military bases, hospital supplies and even territories of their lands. Finland at least made a stand.

On November 26 1932, the Finnish artillery fired upon Soviet troops which ultimately breached the Russo-Finnish nonaggression pact of 1932, and the Soviet Union retaliated. In 1939 the Soviet Union focused most of its troops towards the Eastern front. It was a harsh winter and both troops were well trained in winter warfare, but the Finns were able to at least withstand a fight. At first, Field Marshall Mannerheim was able to hold off the Soviet advances at Lake Ladoga, Suomussalmi, Salla and Ivalo, but the Soviets definitely had more supplies which left the Finnish in a weak and feeble state. The Soviets used constant air raids to demoralize and destroy the weak and ill-equipped Finnish, and finished with a very well prepared and carefully planned infantry attack. Eventually the Finnish could not hold any longer and were forced to give into the demands of the Soviet Union. After fifteen weeks at the Karelian Isthmus, the Finnish fell to the hands of the Soviets and were ultimately forced into surrender or face death.

Finally, Finland signed a peace treaty with the Soviet Union on March 12, 1940 and gave the Soviets a portion of the Karelian Isthmus, Viipuri, and a few extra buffers to protect them in the war to come. The Soviets gladly accepted these buffers since they were at war with Germany and needed a buffer to keep the “Motherland” safe. In 1941, warfare resumed between the two countries once Germany breached the Soviet-Aggression Pact and attacked the Soviet Union hoping to reach its oil supplies. Finland sided with Germany, as they were trying to gain their rightful land back, but once the Soviets made a strong stand in 1944, Finland was forced to sign an armistice, and give the USSR the Porkkala Peninsula, pay the USSR reparations for damages, and force the Germans out of the territory. Finland was forced to pay 300,000 dollars in reparations to the USSR, give them the entire Karelian Isthmus and also did not gain control of the Porkkala Peninsula until 1956. Although it failed, Finland was one country that made a stand for what it believed in and tried to stop the horrible expansionism of the Soviet Union.

Researched by Derek Rhule
Volunteer for the Cold War Museum
Cosby High School

Sources:

Paley, A.L.. "Finnish-Russian War". infoplease.. June 03, 2008 <http://www.infoplease.com/ce6/history/A0818713.html>.

"Finnish-Russian War". Oxford University Press 2000. June 03, 2008 <http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O48-FinnishRussianWar.html>.

Ilo, Juha . "The Finnish Winter War 1939-1940". June 03, 2008 <http://www.feldgrau.com/wwar.html>.

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