Soviet tank T-26 overcomes virgin snow. Karelian Isthmus
80 years ago, on 30 on November 1939, the Soviet-Finnish War (“Winter War”) began. Soviet troops went on the offensive on the Finnish border. The war was caused by objective reasons: the hostility of Finland, the inability of the Finnish leadership to agree with Moscow and the vital need for the USSR to move the border from Leningrad in the context of a large war in Europe.
The myth of the aggression of the "bloody" Stalinist regime
In Soviet historiography, the Winter War was not widely covered. This was due, on the one hand, to the not very successful actions of the Red Army, and on the other hand, to a kind of “political correctness” of the USSR in relation to Finland. After World War II, Finland, when it was “forced to peace,” was considered a friendly country, although it did not enter the socialist camp. The Finns were "an affectionate calf that sucks two queens." That is, they used the benefits of friendship with the Union, and continued to be part of the capitalist world. Therefore, official Soviet propaganda tried not to offend the "partner."
After the collapse of the USSR, the situation changed dramatically. The liberal-democratic propaganda of Russia, official and free, began by all means to denigrate the image of the USSR and especially the Stalin period. The Winter War has become a popular topic in exposing Soviet totalitarianism, the Soviet evil empire and the bloody Stalin. The authors, many of whom had previously loudly praised the USSR, Marx and Lenin, quickly “repainted” as liberals and in every possible way reproached their homeland. At the same time, absolutely fantastic ratios of our and Finnish losses were cited. It came to the point that it seemed that the USSR lost the war, and Finland was the winner. Many ordinary people were sincerely sure that the USSR had lost the war miserably. That the Finnish arrow-skiers easily defeated the “lapotnoy” Red Army.
It is clear that any reasonable, objective reasons for the actions of the USSR were completely denied. The war was declared unnecessary, unpopular. Like, there was no objective need to attack “sweet and peaceful” Finland. The point is the personal bloodthirstiness of Joseph Stalin, the Soviet dictator. There was no logic in the actions of the "criminal Stalinist regime". However, this is obvious lies and enemy propaganda aimed at destroying the Russian historical memory. It is enough to recall the history of Finland.
At the forefront of the Soviet position near Vyborg. Photo source: http://waralbum.ru/
The state created by the Russians
As you know, Finnish tribes never had their own statehood. Some Finnish tribes became part of the Russian state (for example, Izhora), or were part of the Russian sphere of influence. Other Finnish tribes in the XII - XIV centuries. were gradually conquered by the Swedes and became part of the Swedish kingdom. Moreover, during the period of the weakening of Russia, Sweden also captured a number of territories where Finnish tribes lived, which were previously subordinate to the Russians. Under the rule of Sweden, Finland did not have any autonomy, even cultural. The official language was Swedish. The local nobility spoke Swedish, all educated people, it taught at schools, books were printed. Only ordinary people spoke Finnish. Obviously, in the future, the Finns were waiting for a more complete assimilation and loss of language and culture.
However, the Finns were lucky. Sweden fought with Russia for supremacy in the Baltic. As a result, the Swedes were convinced that in the 1809 year they had to give Finland to Russia. Russian tsars were very generous people, especially to the national suburbs. The Russian empire was not built due to the exploitation of the colonies, like the Western empires, but due to the “internal colonization” of the Russian people. The Russians paid for (including blood) the civilizational, spiritual and material take-off of the national suburbs, including Finland. The Grand Duchy of Finland was created. For 100 with a small stay in Russia from the former deaf Swedish province of Finland, through the efforts of the Russian government, it actually became an autonomous state with all the necessary attributes. The Grand Duchy had its own authorities, a monetary unit, a post office, customs, did not pay taxes to the general treasury, and did not give soldiers to the army. The taxes collected in the principality were spent only on local needs. The development of Finland was financed from the capital. Finnish has become the state language. All posts in the Finnish administration, except for the position of Governor General, were held by local natives. The imperial authorities tried not to interfere in local affairs.
There was no religious oppression of local Protestants. The Orthodox Church practically did not conduct missionary activity in the Grand Duchy. The policy of Russification was also not actually carried out. The Russians were not even allowed to move to the Grand Duchy. Moreover, Russians living in Finland were in an unequal position compared to the locals. Some restrictions appeared only under the emperors Alexander III and Nicholas II, when Finnish separatism began to develop, and Finland, by virtue of its autonomy, became the nest of various Russian revolutionaries. And these measures were belated and weak.
Thus, the Finns lived in the Russian “prison of peoples” very well and much better than the Russians themselves. In addition, Petersburg also slaughtered zemlytsev to Finland. In 1811, the Vyborg province was transferred to the Grand Duchy, which included lands that Russia conquered from Sweden and received under the peace agreements of 1721 and 1743. This decision was very unreasonable in terms of military strategy - the administrative border of Finland came close to Petersburg (the then capital of Russia). But then it didn’t occur to the Russian tsars that once Finland would be an independent, and even a hostile state. Russian rulers naively thought that the population of the new territories would be infinitely grateful to them for various gifts and would forever remain faithful to the throne.
"The strong pillow of St. Petersburg"
Russia needed Finland for the defense of St. Petersburg and the northwestern borders of the state. For this, the Russians were cut with the Swedes even before the creation of the Russian Empire. And the Romanov empire fought four times with Sweden to protect the metropolitan area. The Gulf of Finland is the western gate of St. Petersburg. The southern coast is flat and low, inconvenient for the construction of fortresses and batteries. The Finnish coast is rugged with many islands and islets (skerries). It is convenient to build coastal fortifications here. Here is a unique skerry fairway along which the enemy fleet could go from Sweden to Kronstadt itself. Therefore, the Russian emperor Alexander the First said that Finland should become a "strong pillow of St. Petersburg."
Russia has invested many millions of rubles to strengthen the Finnish coast. Russian fortresses did not interfere with the Finnish population, as they were built on stony lands unsuitable for agriculture. But the Russian army and navy earned thousands of Finns. Russian military bases in Finland greatly helped the development of the economy of the Grand Duchy. Not to mention the fact that Russian officers, soldiers and sailors annually left significant amounts in Finnish shops, shops, etc. In addition, at the shipyards Abo, Bjarneborg, Helsingfors and others for the Baltic fleet over the course of a century, hundreds of military and auxiliary vessels were built. Finnish shipbuilders are well enriched on this.
During World War I, Finland was well enriched by military orders and smuggling. There was no Russian customs here and various goods were transported through the principality. Entente countries imposed an economic blockade on Germany; as a result, food supply difficulties began there. Finnish agricultural products came in handy here. Before the war, Finland supplied butter, cheese and other products to the central Russian provinces, and imported bread. With the outbreak of the war, the supply of food products to Russia was seriously reduced, and the import of bread into Finland, on the contrary, increased significantly. Russian grain and Finnish products went to Germany in transit through neutral Sweden (the Swedes also warmed their hands well in the war). The gendarmerie, border guards and military counterintelligence constantly reported this to the tsarist government. It got to the point that England and France in the autumn of the 1915 year demanded that the tsar stop supplying food and other goods to Germany through Sweden. However, St. Petersburg did not quarrel with Sweden, fearing its transition to the side of Germany. As a result, the “Swedish transit” flourished and brought huge profits to the Swedish and Finnish businessmen.
In 1909, the construction of two powerful forts began: on the southern shore of the bay near the village of Krasnaya Gorka, construction of Fort Alekseyevsky was started, on the northern shore on the cape near the village of Ino - Fort Nikolaevsky. Forts were put into operation at the end of the 1914 year. In 1915, the Russians began to equip the Abo-Åland position (it became part of the Peter the Great Fortress). By December 1917, the number of coastal and field implements in Finland increased even more. Part of the artillery of the Kronstadt and Vladivostok fortresses (it was practically disarmed in peace with Japan and the war with Germany), cannons purchased from Japan, and even ship guns from the disarmed Amur Flotilla were brought to Finnish territory. Almost all this wealth and ammunition, equipment went to the Finns. So Finland inherited a powerful arsenal, which in power exceeded the artillery of several European states at once.
Finnish gratitude to Russia
Raised and nurtured with the full support and connivance of the Russian government, the Finnish nationalist elite well “thanked” Russia. In December 1917, the Sejm proclaimed Finland an independent state. The Soviet government recognized the independence of Finland. The Council of People's Commissars did not know that the head of the Finnish Senate (government) Swinhuvud entered into negotiations with the Germans. That Finnish nationalists are preparing for war by sending all the gold of the Finnish Bank to the north of the country.
In January 1918, a revolution began in Finland. She grew into a civil war, where the red and white Finns fought. The Reds had every chance to take up, as they relied on the most industrialized cities of the south, military factories, in their hands were the main arsenals of the former Russian imperial army. However, the leadership of the Reds adhered to defensive tactics. Therefore, in February - March 1918, the war assumed a positional character without a solid front line, where the red and white confronted each other near settlements and important communications.
The passivity of the Red Finns led to their defeat. The whites (nationalists, liberals and the bourgeoisie) called on the Germans for help. As far back as January 1918, Germany sent a jaeger battalion to Sweden near the city of Vasa, which had previously fought with the Russians in the Baltic. Belofin units began to train dozens of Swedish officers. In April 1918, the Germans landed on the Hanko Peninsula - the Baltic Division under the command of von der Goltz (12 thousand soldiers). Another German landing was landed near the city of Lovisa. With the help of well-armed and trained Germans, the White Finns took up. On 14 of April the Germans captured Helsinki (Helsingfors), on 29 of April Vyborg fell. In May, the war was over.
White unleashed terror. Thousands of people were executed, thousands died in concentration camps. The total number of people thrown into prisons and camps has reached 90 thousand people. For comparison: during the hostilities, white finns lost 3,1 thousand people, and red ones - 3,4 thousand people. In addition to the Red supporters, the Russian community of Finland fell under the blows. The Russians were exterminated and expelled without any distinction, officers, their families, soldiers, students, old people, women, all Russians in general. If the Red Finns were destroyed on a class basis, then the Russians - on a national basis. That is, it was ethnic genocide.
The White Finns began to attack against the Russians at the beginning of the 1918 year. They attacked units of the Russian army located in Finland, with the aim of capturing weapons, ammunition, ammunition. Then these attacks in Finland were justified by the support of the Soviet government of the Finnish Socialist Workers Republic. But this accusation is clearly strained. Russian troops in Finland lost their combat readiness in the fall of the 1917 year, and did not intend to participate in the local unrest, only dreamed of quietly leaving for Russia. For the most part, officers were negative towards the Bolsheviks, and were not going to help the Red Finns. The Soviet government, although sympathizing with the Red Finns, declared neutrality, fearing Germany. The Bolsheviks could not even protect the Russian officers and soldiers remaining in Finland, military equipment belonging to the Russian army.
At the same time, the Finns made a massive robbery of the Russian community and Russian state and military property. In the very first days after the capture of Helsingfors, Abo, Vyborg and other cities, the property of Russian merchants and entrepreneurs was confiscated. The Finns captured all private Russian ships (warships were defended by the Germans in their interests). The White Finns seized Russian state property for many billions of gold rubles (still pre-war).
The Germans and their local supporters planned to establish a monarchy in Finland with a German prince at their head. In October 1918, Parliament elected Frederick Karl as King of Hesse-Kassel. Finland was to become the protectors of the Second Reich. However, in November, a revolution took place in Germany. Germany surrendered and lost the world war. Thus, the German king on the Finnish throne became inappropriate. German-sympathetic Finnish government was dissolved. Pressure from the Entente forced the new government to ask the Hessian prince for abdication. In December 1918, Frederick Karl of Hesse abdicated the throne, and German troops were evacuated from Finland.
General Mannerheim, Commander of the Finnish Army, receives German General von der Goltz and German officers in Helsingfors (Helsinki) in May 1918. To the right of Mannerheim, the head of the Finnish government, Swinhuvud
Great Finland Project
Not satisfied with the secession from Russia, Finnish nationalists and capitalists tried to take advantage of the Russian Troubles and grab Russian land. Back in February 1918, the commander-in-chief of the Finnish army, General Mannerheim, stated that "he will not put his sword into the scabbard until he is freed from the Bolsheviks East Karelia." In March, Mannerheim approved a plan for the seizure of Russian territory to the line White Sea - Lake Onega - Svir River - Lake Ladoga. Finland also claimed the region of Pechengi and the Kola Peninsula. Petrograd was to receive the status of a “free city” like Danzig. Finnish radicals generally dreamed of a “Great Finland” with the inclusion of the entire Russian North, Arkhangelsk, Vologda and all the way to the Northern Urals.
The objectives of the Finnish invasion of Karelia and the Kola Peninsula were not only territorial acquisitions. The Finns knew that in Murmansk during the World War, huge stockpiles of weapons, ammunition, various military equipment, equipment, and food were accumulated. The Entente delivered all this by sea. Before the revolution, the tsarist government could not take everything out, and then chaos swept the country and export was stopped.
The Finnish command ordered the volunteer units to speak out for the conquest of East Karelia. 15 May 1918, the Finnish government declared war on Soviet Russia. However, thanks to the intervention of Berlin, which concluded the Peace of Brest with the RSFSR and was not at that time interested in the Soviet-Finnish war, until the fall of 1918, the Finns did not wage war. Germany ultimately banned the Finns from attacking Petrograd. The Finnish hawks had to come to terms with this for a while. Too zealous Mannerheim was even temporarily dismissed. It is clear that the Finns' decision was influenced not only by the position of Berlin, but by the strength of the Reds in the Petrograd region. Significant forces of the Red Army were concentrated on the Karelian Isthmus; the Red Baltic Fleet, which could inflict heavy blows on the right flank of the Finnish army advancing on Petrograd, was a serious argument. The Bolsheviks created military flotillas on Lake Ladoga and Onega.
In the summer of 1918, Finland and Soviet Russia negotiated peace terms. In July, the Finnish General Staff prepared a project to transfer the Finnish border on the Karelian Isthmus from Petrograd in exchange for generous compensation by the territory of East Karelia. This project was approved by the Germans. At its core, this plan repeated the same thing that Stalin would propose to Finland in 1939. However, on 21 in August at the talks in Berlin, the Finns refused to conclude an agreement with Russia. They wanted more.
The situation radically changed after the defeat of the Germans in World War II. The Finnish authorities sharply revised their foreign policy and made a bet on the Entente. The Finns invited the British to send a fleet to the Baltic Sea. The cooperation of Finland and the Entente began, directed against Soviet Russia. In mid-October of 1918, Finnish troops captured Rebolsky parish. In January 1919, the Porosozersky volost was occupied. In April 1919, the so-called offensive began. Olonets volunteer army. Having captured part of South Karelia, including Olonets, the Finnish troops approached Petrozavodsk. However, in the summer, Soviet troops defeated the enemy and knocked him out of our territory. In the fall of 1919, Finnish troops again launched an attack on Petrozavodsk, but were defeated at the end of September.
In July 1920, the Soviet troops knocked out Finnish forces from the territory of Karelia, except for the Rebolsky and Porosozersky volosts. After that, the Finnish side agreed to negotiations. On October 14 of 1920, the Tartu Peace Treaty was concluded between the RSFSR and Finland. Russia ceded to Finland the entire Pechenga region (Petsamo) in the Arctic, also the western part of the Rybachy peninsula, and most of the Sredny peninsula. The volosts occupied by Finnish troops in East Karelia were returning to Soviet Russia.
Nevertheless, Helsinki did not intend to abandon plans to create a “Great Finland”. Taking advantage of the fact that Moscow made a promise for two years not to contain troops on the territory of the Rebolsky and Porosozersky volosts, except for border guards and customs officers, the Finnish government again tried to solve the Karelian issue by force. In the autumn of 1921, an interim Karelian committee was created, which began to form "forest detachments" and gave a signal to the invasion of Finnish troops. To repulse the enemy by the end of December, the Soviet authorities concentrated 8,5 thousand people in Karelia. By the beginning of January 1922, Soviet troops defeated the main enemy group and in early February took the military-political center of the Karelian committee - Ukhta. By mid-February 1922, the territory of Karelia was completely liberated. This was the end of hostilities.
To be continued ...