Soviet heavy tank T-100 from a special group of heavy tanks on the Karelian Isthmus
Winter war During the Soviet-Finnish war, the West was preparing a “crusade” against the USSR. England and France were preparing to strike at Russia from the north, from Scandinavia, and the south from the Caucasus. The war could take on a completely different character. But these plans were thwarted by the Red Army, which defeated the Finnish troops before the West began its operation.
A vital necessity
By the beginning of World War II, a clearly hostile state was located on the northwestern borders of the Soviet Union, laying claim to our lands and ready to enter into an alliance with any enemy of the USSR. Those who believe that it was Stalin who, by his actions, pushed Finland into the Nazi camp, prefer to remain silent about this. They composed and supported the myth of "peaceful" Finland, which was attacked by the Stalinist "evil empire."
Although, as noted earlier, Finland was in alliance with Estonia and Sweden to block the Gulf of Finland for the Red Baltic Fleet, cooperated with Japan and Germany, waiting for an attack of some great power on the USSR from the East or from the West, to join it and “Liberate” Karelia, the Kola Peninsula, Ingermanland and other lands from the Russians. The Finns were actively preparing for war. In particular, with the help of the Germans, by the beginning of the 1939 of the year, a network of military airfields was built in Finland, capable of receiving in 10 times as many machines as there were in the Finnish Air Force. At the same time, in Helsinki they were ready to fight against us both in alliance with Japan and Germany, as well as with England and France.
Finnish skier officer at the line of fences during the Battle of Coll. The fighting took place in Ladoga Karelia, near Mount Koll and the Kollasjoki River. This type of barriers was recognized by the Finns as relatively unsuccessful, Soviet infantrymen were hiding behind the troughs, and tanks destroyed barriers with armor-piercing shells
Attempts to find a peaceful solution
Toward the start of World War II, the desire of the Soviet leadership to strengthen the defense of its northwestern borders increased. It was necessary to protect the second largest and most important city of the USSR, not to give the fleet potential adversary (Germany or Western democracies) break through to Kronstadt and Leningrad. Push the Finnish border from Leningrad. The border passed only 32 km from the city, which allowed long-range enemy artillery to hit the second Soviet capital. Also, the Finns could inflict artillery attacks on Kronstadt, the only Baltic Fleet base, to our ships. It was necessary to decide to get free access to the sea for the Baltic Fleet. Back in March 1939, Moscow sensed the issue of transferring or leasing islands in the Gulf of Finland. But the Finnish leadership refused categorically.
At first, Moscow managed to restore defense on the southern shore of the Gulf of Finland. 28 September 1939 between the USSR and Estonia, an agreement on mutual assistance was concluded. Soviet troops were introduced into Estonia. Moscow received the right to deploy garrisons and build naval bases in Paldiski and Haapsalu, on the islands of Ezel and Dago.
12 October 1939 in Moscow began the Soviet-Finnish negotiations. The Soviet government invited the Finns to conclude a local agreement on mutual assistance in the joint defense of the Gulf of Finland. Finland also had to provide a place to create a military base on the coast. The Hanko Peninsula was proposed. In addition, Finland had to cede its part of the Rybachy Peninsula, a number of islands in the Gulf of Finland and move the border on the Karelian Isthmus. In compensation, Moscow offered much larger territories in East Karelia. However, the Finns categorically refused the agreement on mutual assistance and mutual territorial concessions.
14 October negotiations were continued. The Soviet position has not changed. Stalin said that it was necessary to push the border from Leningrad at least 70 km. The Soviet side presented its proposals in the form of a memorandum. Helsinki was supposed to lease the Hanko Peninsula for the construction of a naval base and artillery position, capable, together with coastal artillery on the other side of the Gulf of Finland, from blocking the passage to the Gulf of Finland with artillery fire. The Finns were supposed to push the border on the Karelian Isthmus, transfer to the USSR a number of islands in the Gulf of Finland and the western part of the Rybachy peninsula. The total area of territories passing from Finland to the USSR would be 2761 sq. km In compensation, the USSR would transfer to Finland land with a total area of 5529 sq. km in Karelia near Rebola and Porosozero. In addition to territorial compensation, Moscow also offered to reimburse the cost of property left by the Finns. According to Finnish estimates, even in the event of the cession of a small territory that Helsinki was ready to give up, it was about 800 million marks. If it came to a larger concession, then the bill would go to billions.
In Helsinki, the line was dominated by Foreign Minister E. Erkko, who believed that Moscow was bluffing, and therefore should not be conceded. In Finland, general mobilization was announced, and the evacuation of civilians from large cities. Censorship was also strengthened, and arrests of leftist leaders began. Marshal Mannerheim was appointed commander in chief. The Finnish negotiators at the talks included Minister of Finance V. Tanner, who was supposed to control a more flexible politician, the head of the Finnish delegation, Yu. Paasikivi.
It is worth noting that in Finland there were reasonable heads. In the spring of 1939, Mannerheim himself proposed to compromise with Moscow. As a military man, he well understood the strategic interests of Russia. In addition, he understood that one Finnish army could not fight the Red Army. It was proposed to move the border from Leningrad and get good compensation. In October, the marshal also proposed pushing the border at 70 km on the Karelian Isthmus. Mannerheim was against renting Hanko, but offered an alternative - the island of Yussare, the location of which allowed the Russians to establish artillery interaction with the fortifications near Tallinn. Mannerheim urged Paasikivi to come to terms with the Russians. However, the Finnish president K. Kallio was against concessions, which excluded the possibility of diplomatic maneuver.
On October 23, negotiations resumed. The Finns agreed to transfer the 5 islands in the Gulf of Finland and move the border from Leningrad to 10 km. On the question of the Hanko Peninsula a categorical rejection followed. The Soviet side continued to insist on renting Hanko, but agreed to reduce the base's garrison. Also, readiness was expressed to somewhat yield on the border issue on the Karelian Isthmus.
On November 3, the last round of negotiations began. The Soviet side showed great flexibility. The Hanko Peninsula was proposed to be rented, bought or exchanged. Finally, Moscow agreed to the islands off its coast. On November 4, the Finnish delegation sent a telegram to Helsinki in which it asked the government for consent to transfer the USSR to Yussare Island on a military base and the concession of Fort Ino on the Karelian Isthmus. However, the Finnish leadership was defeated by hardliners who had lost touch with reality. On November 8, a telegram arrived in which Finland refused any options for deploying a Russian base on Hanko or the islands in its vicinity. The concession on Ino could only be caused by the concession of Moscow on the issue of Hanko. On November 9, the last meeting of the Soviet and Finnish delegations took place. Negotiations finally stalled. On November 13, the Finnish delegation left Moscow.
Batteries located in Suomenlinna fire anti-aircraft fire to cover Helsinki. Suomenlinna (Suomenlinna - “Finnish Fortress”) - a bastion system of fortifications on the islands near Helsinki
On 26 on November 1939, an incident occurred near the village of Mainila. According to the Soviet version, Finnish artillery fired on Soviet territory; as a result, 4 were killed and 9 Soviet soldiers were wounded. After the collapse of the USSR and the “exposure of the criminal Stalinist regime,” it was assumed that the provocation was the work of the NKVD. However, no matter who organized the shelling at Mainila, it was used by Moscow as a pretext for war. On November 28, the Soviet government denounced the Soviet-Finnish non-aggression pact and withdrew its diplomats from Helsinki.
On November 30 on November 1939, Soviet troops launched an offensive. The first stage of the war lasted until the end of December 1939, and was unsuccessful for the Red Army. On the Karelian Isthmus, Soviet troops, breaking the forefield of the Mannerheim line, on December 4 - 10 reached their main lane. But attempts to break through it were unsuccessful. After stubborn battles, both sides switched to a positional struggle.
The reasons for the failure of the Red Army are known: this is primarily the underestimation of the enemy. Finland was ready for war, had powerful fortifications on the border. The Finns mobilized in a timely manner, increasing the number of armed forces from 37 thousand to 337 thousand people. Finnish troops were deployed in the border zone, the main forces defended on the fortified line on the Karelian Isthmus. The Soviet intelligence, which did not have complete information about enemy defense, did a poor job. The Soviet political leadership had unreasonable hopes for the class solidarity of the Finnish workers, which was supposed to cause a breakdown in the rear of the Finnish army. These hopes did not materialize. There were also problems in the management, organization, and combat training of troops who had to fight in difficult conditions of a wooded, swampy, lake area, often without roads.
As a result, from the very beginning a strong enemy was underestimated, and did not allocate the necessary number of troops and means to break into a strong enemy defense. So, on the Karelian Isthmus, the main, decisive sector of the front, the Finns in December had 6 infantry divisions, 4 infantry and 1 cavalry brigades, 10 separate battalions. A total of 80 settlement battalions, 130 thousand people. From the Soviet side, 9 rifle divisions, 1 rifle-machine gun brigade, 6 tank brigades fought. Total 84 calculated infantry battalion, 169 thousand people. On the whole, on the whole front, against 265 thousand of Finnish soldiers there were 425 thousand of soldiers of the Red Army. That is, to defeat the enemy, which relied on powerful defenses, forces and means were few.
Soviet BT-5 tanks that were surrounded and destroyed by Finnish troops. In the background - a broken truck GAZ-AA
Damaged T-28 tanks of the Soviet 20-th tank brigade near the captured Finnish bunker Sj4 "Poppius" at 65,5 altitude after the assault. February 1940
The reaction of the West. Preparation of a “crusade” against the USSR
In the West they were aware of the Soviet-Finnish negotiations and provoked both sides to the war. So London told Helsinki that it was necessary to take a firm position and not succumb to pressure from Moscow. On November 24, the British hinted to Moscow that they would not intervene in the event of the Soviet-Finnish conflict. Thus, the British used their traditional principle of foreign policy - “divide and rule”. Obviously, the West deliberately pushed the Finns into the war as their “cannon fodder” in order to make the most of this situation. Only a relatively quick victory of the Red Army destroyed the plans of the masters of London and Paris.
It is not surprising that as soon as Soviet troops crossed the Finnish border, this caused a tantrum of the “world community”. The USSR was expelled from the League of Nations. The Western powers generously armed Finland. France and England supplied the Finns with dozens of combat aircraft, hundreds of guns, thousands of machine guns, hundreds of thousands of rifles, a huge amount of ammunition, uniforms and equipment. Thousands of volunteers arrived in Finland. Most Swedes - over 8 thousand people.
Moreover, England and France, which were in a state of "strange war" with the Third Reich (), were going to fight with the Russians. The Germans were given the opportunity to seize Poland, here it was different. The West did not intend to yield to Russia in restoring the Russian sphere of vital interests in the northwest. Having received an excellent opportunity, the Western democracies enthusiastically began to prepare a plan of attacks on the Soviet Union. A French military mission led by Lieutenant Colonel Haneval was sent to Finland. At the headquarters of the Finnish commander in chief Mannerheim was General Clement Grankur. Representatives of the West did their best to keep Finland in a state of war with Russia.
At this time, the West was preparing a plan of war with the USSR. Anglo-French troops planned to land in Pechenga. Union aviation had to strike at important objects of the USSR. The Westerners were preparing an attack not only in the north, but also in the south, in the Caucasus. Western troops in Syria and Lebanon were supposed to prepare an attack on Baku, depriving the USSR of oil produced there. From here, the allied forces were to begin a march to Moscow from the south, towards the Finnish and allied army, which would conduct an offensive from Scandinavia and Finland. That is, the plans for war with the USSR were grandiose. With the development of these plans, the Great Patriotic War could take a completely interesting turn: England and France (the United States behind them) against the USSR.
Soviet skiers are moving forward. Winter 1939 — 1940
Soviet 203-mm howitzer B-4 at a firing position on the Karelian Isthmus. February 1940
The defeat of Finland
However, all these far-reaching plans were foiled by the Red Army. Having carried out the necessary work on the mistakes, and the corresponding training, the significantly strengthened Soviet troops launched a decisive attack on the Karelian Isthmus on February 11 of the year 1940. Actively using heavy weapons - artillery, aircraft and tanks, our troops broke through the Finnish defense and by the 21 of February reached the second lane of the Mannerheim line. 7 - On 9 in March, Soviet soldiers broke through to Vyborg. Mannerheim told the government that the army was in danger of total annihilation.
Despite the persuasion of England and France, who assured that their troops were already on their way, on 12 on March 1940, the Finnish delegation in Moscow signed a peace agreement on Soviet terms. The northern part of the Karelian Isthmus with the cities of Vyborg and Sortavala, a number of islands in the Gulf of Finland, part of the Finnish territory with the city of Kuolajärvi, part of the Rybachy and Sredny peninsulas departed to the Soviet Union. As a result, Lake Ladoga was completely within the Soviet borders. The Union has leased part of the Hanko Peninsula (Gangut) for a period of 30 years to create a naval base on it.
Thus, Stalin solved the most important tasks to ensure the national security of Russia. Hostile Finland "forced to peace." The USSR received a military base on the Hanko Peninsula and pushed the border from Leningrad. After the start of World War II, the Finnish army was only able to enter the line of the old state border by September 1941. Finnish stupidity was obvious. At the negotiations in the autumn of 1939, Moscow requested less than 3 thousand square meters. km and even in exchange for twice as much territory, economic benefits. But the war led only to losses, and the USSR took about 40 thousand square meters. km, without giving anything in return. As the ancients said, “Woe to the vanquished!” When the Finns, on the eve of the signing of the Moscow Treaty, hinted at compensation for the transferred territory (Peter the Great paid 2 million thalers to Sweden in the Nishtadt world), then Molotov answered:
“Write a letter to Peter the Great. If he orders, we will pay compensation. ”
The West was well aware of the significance of this event. Speaking in parliament on 19 on March 1940, the head of the French government, Daladier, said that for France, “the Moscow peace treaty is a tragic and shameful event. This is a great victory for Russia. ” Indeed, this was the victory of the USSR, but the great victory of the 1945 of the year was still far away.
The Finnish army unit that left Vyborg follows new positions after the signing of the Moscow Peace Treaty between the USSR and Finland, according to which the border between the countries was established on a new line. Photo source: http://waralbum.ru