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  • #16
    Originally posted by teak View Post
    Actually the North was under German responsibility, in Finnish standards they couldn't archive a thing there... There were only minor Finnish units up there.
    you mean Murmansk direction.

    But there were a few other directions between Murmansk and Leningrad/Petrozavodsk directions.

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    • #17
      I should have been more clear on definition of North here as it is quite relative to where you are

      Northernmost Finnish fighting troops were III Corp (actually 3rd Inf Div) under Hjalmar Siilasvuo and they were under German command and 6th Inf Div directly under German XXXVI Corp.
      III Corp was Southernmost unit under German command in Finland. They advanced to Uhtua / Калевала / Kalevala / Ухта / Uhta and Kiestinki / Кестеньга / Kestenga about 70 km from the railway.
      In Finnish sources 6th Inf Div was the best performing unit in Salla sector. In the initial phase they advanced to Kairala / Кайралы / Kairaly and Алакуртти / Alakurtti thus forcing defenders of the Salla to retreat. The advance here was stopped at Vermajoki / ВЕРМАН near old border.

      Everything above that was purely German operation in this phase of the war..
      Everything below that was purely Finnish operations (well one German division was given to Finnish command...)
      Last edited by teak; 15 Apr 09, 01:48. Reason: Blatant error on my message 6th Inf Div was forgotten
      Life is too serious to be taken seriously.

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      • #18
        Originally posted by teak View Post
        I should have been more clear on definition of North here as it is quite relative to where you are

        Northernmost Finnish fighting troops were III Corp (actually 3rd Inf Div) under Hjalmar Siilasvuo and they were under German command and 6th Inf Div directly under German XXXVI Corp.
        III Corp was Southernmost unit under German command in Finland. They advanced to Uhtua / / Kalevala / / Uhta and Kiestinki / / Kestenga about 70 km from the railway.
        In Finnish sources 6th Inf Div was the best performing unit in Salla sector. In the initial phase they advanced to Kairala / / Kairaly and / Alakurtti thus forcing defenders of the Salla to retreat. The advance here was stopped at Vermajoki / near old border.

        Everything above that was purely German operation in this phase of the war..
        Everything below that was purely Finnish operations (well one German division was given to Finnish command...)
        http://militera.lib.ru/h/shirokorad1/index.html

        There were 5 directions - Murmansk, Kandalaksha, Kestenga, Ukhata and Rebola directions.

        Murmansk direction - German 2nd and 3rd German Mountain Divisions advanced with support of Finnish 1,500-men border guards unit.

        Kandalaksha direction - SS Division "Nord", 169th German Inf. Division, Finnish 6th Inf. division and 2 Finnish Chasseur battalions advanced there.

        Kestenga - initially Axis had a regiment of the 169th Inf Division there. Later they transferred there SS Division "Nord" (from Kandalaksha direction) and a tank battalion. Leter - a regiment of the 3rd Finnish Inf. Division (from Ukhta direction), 2 Finnish Chasseur battalions and 2 tank battalions.

        Ukhta direction - the Finnish 3rd Division advanced there.

        Rebola direction - the Finnish 14th Inf . Division and 2 Finnish Chasseur battalions advanced there. 20,000 soldiers at all.

        The descriprion of the combats gives a view of a hard battles in 1941 there.

        Those territories were not Finnish in 1939...

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        • #19
          Salla was Finnish (part of Kestenga area I think.)
          I think that we agree that German troops didn't do well in the North, which was my main point.

          But this has now gone away from Siege of Leningrad and how it is seen in Russia.
          Life is too serious to be taken seriously.

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          • #20
            About non Finnish areas the official policy was "Short borders - Long peace" (three isthmus front, iirc) and the idea had to be sold to many of the troops as there were almost mutinies in some units when they advanced beyond old borders.
            Life is too serious to be taken seriously.

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            • #21
              Originally posted by teak View Post
              Salla was Finnish (part of Kestenga area I think.)
              I think that we agree that German troops didn't do well in the North, which was my main point.
              My point was that the Finnish forces there were not so little.

              3 divisions (3rd, 6th, 14th) + a few Chasseur battalions.

              while the Germans had 3 divisions + SS Division "Nord"

              "didn't do well" .... do you mean "failed"?

              If you mean "failed" so it was about Germans and Finns there.

              It is clearly seen from my short description that it was a combined German-Finnish advance (in some directions - clearly Finnish). The Finnish participation was not little enough to call it a German failure.

              But this has now gone away from Siege of Leningrad and how it is seen in Russia.
              It often happens. The topic about north is related to the tasks of Finland in the war and is related to the siege of Leningrad in such context.
              Last edited by Andrey; 15 Apr 09, 05:36.

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              • #22
                The question I have is , could the Germans have maintained their 900 day siege of Leningrad without Finnish assistance.

                I am not asking whether Finland wanted the population of Leningrad to starve.

                It is analogous to the situation in Gaza. While Israel is attempting to protect itself, it continues to suffer tremendous vilification regardless of their intentions.

                So if Finland ,even if they didn't mean to harm the inhabitants of Leningrad, contributed to the one million dead from the siege of Leningrad, by today's standards, they bear some guilt.

                Another issue is the activity of the Finnish military on Lake Lagoda. They participated in stopping supplies from reaching Leningrad by boat. Is this accurate?

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                • #23
                  I suppose you already know the official Soviet line, so there's no need to repeat it. In the days of Perestroika, when everything anti-Soviet became highly in vogue, there appeared quite a few ridiculous versions of Mannerheim's participation in the Siege. For example, there were statements that he was just so much in love with city that he didn't want to see it destroyed and that he declined perstisted Germans urges to continue the offensive exclusively because of that. Here is an interview (in Russian) of Daniil Granin, a liberal writer who is considered a "cultural celebrity", where he goes as far as to say we should "give Mannerheim credit where it's due". http://www.spbtur.ru/main/print:page...jj-erunda.html

                  Another point of view, shared by many Russian modern-day historians, is that Mannerheim was a very shrewd, calculating and Machiavellian politician who managed to get the most of the limited resources he possessed. He knew well when to strike and when to start negotiating for peace. While these are all qualities any politician can only aspire to, there was nothing "moral" about his behaviour or attitudes. Like an experienced chess player, he knew what temporary gains can lead to in the long run and sometimes stopped short of taking an easy prize, and this allowed some people to think of it as an act of chivalry.

                  The adherents of this view point out to the facts that the Finnish army actually crossed the old border in several places and that it was due to purely political and military reasons, and not any kind of "moral" factors that Mannerheim didn't advance further. Here's an artilcle about the myths of besieged Leningrad that deals with the myth of Finnish army not wanting to take the city. The author points out to the strength of Soviet Karelian Defensive Belt fortifications and losses and combat fatugue of the Finnish forces: http://actualhistory.ru/blockada-myth (also in Russian)

                  This article from a far-right pro-Monarchist site examines Mannerheim dubious moral qualities and questionable actions in detail from the insincerity of his declared life-lasting dedication to the Czar to the refusal to aid his old acquaintance, an old Court Dame, who wrote him a desperate letter in 1947 where she said she had no money to buy herself a piece of bread. This article also mentions his proposals to Hitler to wipe Leningrad off the face of Earth.

                  Here's an interesting excerpt from the article by an Estonian historian H. Vainu, published in a Russian historical magazine in 1997:

                  Имеется много свидетельств, что Маннергейм в 1941 г., как и в 1919 г., хотел участвовать во взятии этого города, считая это важным делом в освобождении России от большевизма. Но ввиду упорного сопротивления советских войск он предпочитал, чтобы основную тяжесть в операции по захвату Ленинграда взяли на себя гитлеровцы. Финляндские войска участвовали в блокаде Ленинграда, но по городу не стреляли. Согласно дневниковой записи адьютанта Гитлера майора Энгеля, именно Маннергейм предложил Гитлеру стереть Ленинград с лица земли. Но достоверность этого свидетельства вызывает сомнение. Дальнейшее исследование показало, что скорее всего только однажды Маннергейм выразился именно так. Но гораздо чаще он высказывал противоположное мнение. Уже 30 августа 1941 г. он говорил Эрфурту, что если немцы разрушат Ленинград, русские построят его заяово. Если сопоставить позицию разных руководителей Финляндии того времени о судьбе города на Неве, то Маннергейм выглядит на их фоне наиболее умеренным.

                  My translation:

                  There's much evidence that Mannerheim wanted participate in capturing this city in 1941 just like in 1919, considering it an important contribution to liberating Russia from Bolshevism. Still due to the stubborn resistance of Soviet troops he preferred the Hitlerites to take the greatest burden in this military enterprise. The Finnish forces took part in the Siege but didn't shell it. According to Major Engel's diary entry[1], he suggested Hitler to "wipe Leningrad off the face of Earth". The veracity of this testimony is in doubt, though. Further research has shown that he said precisely this only once. But he expressed opposite opinions much more often. It was already on August 30th, 1941 when he said Erfurt that "if the Germans destroy Leningrad, the Russians will build it anew". Comparing the stances of different Finnish leaders on the fate of the City upon Neva, one can find Mannerheim as the most moderate of them all.

                  [1]Heeresadjutant bei Hitler 1938-1943. Aufzeichnungen des Majors Engel. Stuttgart, 1974. S. 108, 111-112

                  In my opinion, the Finnish army took part in the Siege of Leningrad by the mere fact it tied down the divisions that could've been used against the Germans, by closing the northern route around lake Ladoga that could've been used to deliver supplies to the city and by being a German ally, what prevented sending food for civilians or evacuating them through its territory.

                  So yes, the blood of many of those 800000 people is upon Finnish hands too. And I find it dishonest and disconcerting of some Finnish historians to make up theories about "co-belligerence" and other nice wordings to disguise their participation in one of the worst crimes against humanity committed in the XX century. I fully understand the Finns' desire to avenge for Stalin's unprovoked aggression. Still, if you want to settle your scores with a bully-boy neighbour who has abused you badly and band together with Jack the Ripper who kills him and his entire family in the most grueling fashion, while you only stand by the offender's front door watching out for the police, you are also guilty in this atrocity by association. Even if it wasn't what you initially intended.

                  As for the aftermath, I believe the war ended as it had to. There are very few Russians that actually think the Soviet Union was right to attack Finland in 1939 and consider this war truly justified. Maybe the time will come when the Finns will weigh and consider their contribution to the suffering of Leningrad's innocent civilians. It were them who really suffered and not Stalin or abstract "Communist state" who they were supposedly avenging.
                  www.histours.ru

                  Siege of Leningrad battlefield tour

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                  • #24
                    Thank you for your information.
                    Life is too serious to be taken seriously.

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                    • #25
                      Some comments:

                      1. It is fantasy to think that Finland would not have been occupied had it not resisted in Winter War. Ideas that Stalin only wanted to extend defence of Leningrad is nonsense.

                      2. Finns had not that many illusions about Hitler. While Continuation War was necessity, the best course for action for Finland was that of restraint and preservation. To cut Murmansk line or to capture Leningrad would have demanded too much effort (and the latter couldn't have been done by Finns alone anyway) a cost that could not be afforded. From Finnish pov:

                      a. Hitler beats Stalin only to be beaten by Allies, - Finland would not want to be seen too active an ally to ensure it gets favourable peace terms from Roosevelt and Churchill. It wants the Continuation War to be seen as what it was - a just war of recapturing Finnish territory and advance into Russian territory to provide defencive buffer.

                      b. Hitle beats Stalin and manages to make peace with Roosevelt and Churchill. Finland is in a precarious position - basically surrounded by Hitler. It needs all the goodwill of Hitler it can get and all the defence capability it can preserve to avoid being taken over by Hitler. The term finlandization would have had only a slightly different meaning in that world.

                      c. Stalin and Western Allies beat Hitler. Finland again needs not to be seen as too active a participant in Hitler's schemes as well it needs all the defensive power it can preserve. As it was it came very close that Stalin would have conquered Finland. However, before Hitler's fall, Finland needs to avoid a coup/invasion staged by Hitler. Thus it on one hand needs to make itself useful to Hitler and on the other hand keep defensive capability to protect itself from Hitler.

                      4. Herbert Vainu is first and foremost a political commentator (a fringe one) - not a historian. Although he has a Soviet era degree in the subject I think he last wrote something that would meet any kind of academic criteria sometime in early eighties (and that was heavily politicized stuff). I think he acknowledges this himself as he refers to himself as commentator - not historian.

                      5. Andrey, you are overemphasizing the role of Mannerheim. He didn't make decisions alone. He was commander in chief, but not president, at least until the farce of Ryti's resignation.
                      Last edited by pp(est); 24 Apr 09, 00:37.

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                      • #26
                        Originally posted by pp(est) View Post
                        Some comments:

                        1. It is fantasy to think that Finland would not have been occupied had it not resisted in Winter War. Ideas that Stalin only wanted to extend defence of Leningrad is nonsense.
                        You think so. Others think in another way.

                        2. Finns had not that many illusions about Hitler. While Continuation War was necessity, the best course for action for Finland was that of restraint and preservation. To cut Murmansk line or to capture Leningrad would have demanded too much effort (and the latter couldn't have been done by Finns alone anyway) a cost that could not be afforded.
                        It is your opinion what they thought and what they would think.

                        There is reality.

                        In 1941 Finns advanced in a few directions. They fought hard.

                        In the Kola Peninsula they advanced in a few direction, the success in each one could result to cut off of the railroad to Murmansk. They were stopped by Red Army.

                        In Leningrad direction they made an attempt to attack the citu from north. Their attack was repelled, the attackers suffered heavy casualties.

                        In the area between the Ladoga and Onega Lakes Finns captured large area of Soviet land (including Petrozavosk) and continued to advance to the south from the Svir River with the possibility to connect with Germans. Their advance to south from the Svir was repelled by Red Army.

                        These are facts.

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                        • #27
                          Andrey, you're correct in one thing - I post my opinions - and have always tried to be very clear about that. However so do you. That you might have an opinion does not make it a fact.

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                          • #28
                            Originally posted by pp(est) View Post
                            Andrey, you're correct in one thing - I post my opinions - and have always tried to be very clear about that. However so do you. That you might have an opinion does not make it a fact.
                            what I have written in my previous post are not an opinion but facts

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                            • #29
                              Originally posted by Andrey View Post
                              In 1941 Finns advanced in a few directions. They fought hard.

                              In the Kola Peninsula they advanced in a few direction, the success in each one could result to cut off of the railroad to Murmansk. They were stopped by Red Army.

                              In Leningrad direction they made an attempt to attack the citu from north. Their attack was repelled, the attackers suffered heavy casualties.

                              In the area between the Ladoga and Onega Lakes Finns captured large area of Soviet land (including Petrozavosk) and continued to advance to the south from the Svir River with the possibility to connect with Germans. Their advance to south from the Svir was repelled by Red Army.

                              These are facts.
                              Agree, only the bold could be considered "opinion" though I do not doubt the Finns fought hard as they usually did. An attack either succeeds in its objective or fails...unless the objective is not very clear.

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                              • #30
                                Originally posted by joea View Post
                                Agree, only the bold could be considered "opinion" though I do not doubt the Finns fought hard as they usually did. An attack either succeeds in its objective or fails...unless the objective is not very clear.
                                It's not my opinion, it's the Russian opinion about Finnish actions during their attacks of 1941.

                                It was not a cautious movement ahead like Westerners often did, it was not movement of soldiers who didn't want to fight like in armies of some Allies of Germany.

                                The combats of 1941 between Soviets and Finns were very hard.

                                So it is wrong to speak the Finns advanced only if there was no serious resistance. They fought hard.

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