Finnish President Kyousti Kallio with the coaxial 7,62 mm anti-aircraft machine gun ITKK 31 VKT
Winter war Defeat or victory? In Russia, the "democratic public" believes that in the winter of 1939-1940. Finland won a moral, political and even military victory over the Stalinist Soviet Union, the "evil empire."
Since the days of Gorbachev and Yeltsin, the liberal public has spat and vilified Russian and Soviet history. Among the liberals' favorite myths is the Winter War. Liberals, like Western historians and publicists, consider the Soviet-Finnish war an unjustified aggression of the USSR, which turned out to be a complete disgrace for the country, the Red Army and the people.
Winter 1999-2000 Russian liberal public celebrated the 60 anniversary of Finland's victory over the Soviet Union! Nothing has changed even now (although there is no complete dominance in the media, as before). So, on Radio Liberty are given characteristic opinions about the “inglorious” war: “frank adventure”, “aggression of the Stalin regime”, “most shameful war”, one of “the most shameful pages in the history of our state”. The consequence of "the collusion of Stalin with Hitler on the division of spheres of influence between the USSR and fascist Germany", which "accelerated the attack of fascist Germany on our country." There is also the myth of the large-scale Stalinist repressions against the military in the 1937-1938 years, which weakened the Red Army (in fact, the “armed forces” strengthened the army, without them we could have lost the Great Patriotic War without them).
The myths about the error and crime of the Stalinist regime, the deaths of “hundreds of thousands of Red Army soldiers” (!), The victory of Finland: the Stalinist USSR “were defeated for three months. The Finns won both a military and diplomatic victory. ”
Finnish President Kyousti Kallio with Field Marshal Karl Mannerheim at the Helsinki Railway Station on 19 December 1940. On the left side of Mannerheim is the Chief of the General Staff, Lieutenant General Eric Heinrichs
Finnish calculation of anti-aircraft machine gun "Maxim"
Finnish soldiers at the 152-mm Kane gun
What were the outcome of the war? Usually a war is considered to be won, as a result of which the winner solves the tasks set at the beginning (maximum program and minimum program). What do we see from the results of the Soviet-Finnish war?
In March 1940, Finland surrendered, not the USSR! Moscow did not set the goal of conquering Finland. This is easy to understand if you just look at a map of Finland. If the Soviet military-political leadership was going to return the Finns to the fold of the empire, it would be logical to deliver the main blow in Karelia. It was foolish to seize Finland through the Karelian Isthmus, and the Soviet leadership did not suffer from stupidity then (just remember how Stalin will replay such “bison” of world politics like Churchill and Roosevelt during the Great War). On the isthmus, the Finns had three fortification lines of the Mannerheim line. And on hundreds of kilometers of the rest of the border with the USSR, the Finns had nothing serious. In addition, in winter this forest and lake-marshland was passable. Obviously, any reasonable person, not to mention the Soviet General Staff and Headquarters, will plan a deep invasion through unprotected sections of the border. The USSR could dismember Finland with deep blows, depriving it of ties with Sweden, from where there came a stream of volunteers, financial assistance, access to the Gulf of Bothnia. If the goal was to capture Finland, then the Red Army would act in this way, and not storm the Mannerheim line.
Moscow was not going to conquer Finland. The main task was to enlighten the unreasonable Finns. Therefore, the Red Army concentrated the main forces and assets on the Karelian Isthmus (length with lakes about 140 km), 9 corps, including tanknot counting individual tank brigades, artillery, aviation и fleet. And on the section of the Soviet-Finnish border from Lake Ladoga to the Barents Sea (900 km in a straight line), where the Finns did not have fortifications, 9 rifle divisions were put up against the Finnish army, i.e., 100 km of the front per Soviet division. According to Soviet pre-war ideas, the rifle division should have an offensive zone with a breakthrough of defense of 2,5-3 km, and in defense - no more than 20 km. That is, here the Soviet troops could not even build up a dense defense (hence the defeats at the initial stage, “boilers”).
Thus, from the hostilities it is obvious that the Soviet leadership was not going to capture Finland, to make it Soviet. The main goal of the war was to admonish the enemy: depriving the Finns of the Mannerheim line as a bridgehead for an attack on Leningrad. Without these fortifications, Helsinki should have understood that it is better to be friends with Moscow, rather than fight. Unfortunately, the Finns did not understand this the first time. "Great Finland" from the Baltic to the White Sea did not allow the Finnish leadership to live in peace.
As previously noted (What prompted the USSR to start a war with Finland), the Soviet government put forward quite insignificant demands to Finland. In addition, as was shown above, Finland, contrary to the myth of a small "peaceful" European country that fell victim to Stalinist aggression, was a state hostile to the USSR. The Finns attacked Soviet Russia twice during the Time of Troubles (1918-1920, 1921-1922), trying to chop off territories that were larger than the Finnish state from us. The Finnish regime built its policy in the 1930 years as an anti-Soviet, Russophobic state. In Helsinki, they relied on a war with the USSR in the ranks of an alliance with any great power, Japan, Germany, or Western democracies (England and France). Provocations on land, at sea and in the air were commonplace. The Finnish government did not take into account the fundamental changes that occurred in the USSR in the 30-s, Russia was considered a "colossus with feet of clay." The USSR was considered a backward country where the vast majority of the people hate the Bolsheviks. Like, a victorious Finnish army is enough to enter Soviet territory, and the USSR is staggering, the Finns will be greeted as “liberators”.
Moscow completely solved the main tasks in the war. According to the Moscow Treaty, the Soviet Union pushed the border from Leningrad, received a naval base on the Hanko Peninsula. This is an obvious success, and strategic. 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 of the year. It was obvious that if Moscow had not started the war in the winter of 1939, Helsinki would still have taken part in the attack on the USSR on the side of Nazi Germany in 1941. And the Finnish troops, with the support of the Germans, could immediately strike at Leningrad, the Baltic Fleet. The winter war only improved the starting conditions of the USSR.
The territorial issue was resolved in favor of the USSR. If in the autumn negotiations of the 1939 of the year Moscow requested less than 3 thousand square meters. km and even in exchange for twice as much territory, economic benefits, material compensation, as a result of the war Russia acquired about 40 thousand square meters. km, without giving anything in return. Russia returned Vyborg.
The soldiers are inspecting Finnish 150-mm howitzers captured in the Vyborg area. 150-mm howitzers H / 14j (150-mm howitzers of the Krupp Japanese-made system) were previously in service with the 2-th separate heavy artillery division of the Finnish army
Soviet soldiers inspect the observation cap of the captured Finnish bunker
Two soldiers of the Red Army with accordions on the blown up Finnish bunker in the Khotinen area
Of course, during the hostilities the Red Army suffered greater losses than the Finnish army. According to name lists, our army has lost 126 875 troops. In the years of "democratic trends", larger figures were also cited: 246 thousand, 290 thousand, 500 thousand people. Losses of Finnish troops, according to official figures, are about 25 thousand killed, 44 thousand wounded. Total losses of about 80 thousand people, that is, 16% of all troops. The Finns mobilized 500 thousand people into the army and the shyutskor (fascist security detachments).
It turned out that every killed Finnish soldier and officer had five killed and frozen Red Army soldiers. Therefore, they say, the Finns defeated the huge Soviet "evil empire." True, then the question arises, why did Helsinki capitulate at such a low loss? It turns out that the Finnish troops could continue to beat the "evil Russian orcs." Help was close. The British and French were already loading the first echelons to help Finland, preparing to come out against the USSR as a united "civilizational" front.
For example, you can look at the losses of the Germans in the Great Patriotic War. From 22 June to 31 December 1941, the Germans on the Soviet front lost 25,96% of the total number of ground forces on the Russian front, after a year of war these losses reached 40,62%. But the Germans continued to attack until July 1943. And the Finns allegedly lost 16% and raised the white flag, although they fought really skillfully, bravely and stubbornly. After all, they had to hold out quite a bit. Convoys with reinforcements were already coming from England (the first echelon arrived in Finland at the end of March), and the Western Air Force was preparing to bomb Baku.
So why did the Finns not last a couple of weeks until they were backed up by selected English and French units? And the spring thaw, which greatly complicated the movement of troops in Finland, has also already begun. The answer is simple. The Finnish army was completely bloodless. The Finnish historian I. Hakala writes that, by March 1940, Mannerheim simply did not have any troops left: "According to experts, the infantry lost about 3 / 4 of their composition ...". And the Finnish Armed Forces mainly consisted of infantry. The fleet and air force are minimal, there are almost no tank troops. Border guards and guard units can be attributed to the infantry. That is, from 500 thousand infantry troops there were about 400 thousand people. So it turns out that the Finns are getting dark with losses. Having lost most of the infantry and Mannerheim’s line, the Finnish elite capitulated, as combat capabilities were exhausted.
Thus, there are no “hundreds of thousands of dead Red Army soldiers”. The losses of the Soviet side are higher than the Finnish ones, but not as much as we were told. But this ratio is not surprising. For example, you can recall the Russo-Japanese War 1904 - 1905 years. During the fighting at the Manchu Theater, where the field armies fought a maneuvering war, the losses are about the same. However, during the assault on the Port Arthur fortress, the loss of the Japanese is much higher than the Russian. Why? The answer is obvious. In Manchuria, both sides fought in the field, attacked and counterattacked, defended. And in Port Arthur, our troops defended the fortress, although unfinished. Naturally, the assaulting Japanese suffered much greater losses than the Russians. A similar situation developed during the Soviet-Finnish war, when our soldiers had to storm the Mannerheim line, and even in winter.
But here you can find your pluses. The Red Army gained invaluable combat experience. Soviet troops quickly showed that with the help of modern aviation, artillery, tanks, and engineering units, one could quickly break into the most powerful defense. And the Soviet command got an occasion to think about the shortcomings in the training of troops, about urgent measures to increase the combat effectiveness of the armed forces. At the same time, the Winter War played a bad thing with Hitler’s leadership. In Berlin, as well as in Helsinki, they underestimated the enemy. They decided that since the Red Army had been so busy with the Finns for so long, the Wehrmacht would be able to conduct a “lightning war” in Russia.
In the West at that time they understood that Moscow had achieved victory, not great, but victory. Thus speaking in Parliament on 19 of March 1940 of the year, 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. ”
Soviet officers on the background of the Vyborg castle. The city of Vyborg moved to the USSR following the results of the Soviet-Finnish war
Residents of Leningrad welcome the tankers of the 20th Tank Brigade on the T-28 tanks returning from the Karelian Isthmus. April 1940