Mark Solonin. 25 June. Stupidity or aggression? Part 2



29 March 1940, speaking at a session of the USSR  Supreme Council , head of the USSR government and Narkom of foreign affairs V.M.Molotov finished his report to the «top organ of legislative authority» in the section devoted to war with Finland, by the following word. «Concluding peace treaty with Finland finalizes completion of the task set last year for assuring security of the Soviet Union from the side of the Baltic Sea. This agreement is a necessary addition to the three agreements of mutual assistance, concluded with Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania...» ("Pravda" newspaper, 30 March 1940).

No matter who and no matter how Comrade Molotov personally is treated today, it is impossible not to recognize that the task of assuring security is the foremost business of any government in any country. For the Soviet Union the problem of assuring security from «the side of the Baltic Sea» was more than pressing. On the shore of this sea, at the very edge of the Russian land is Leningrad, a beautiful city, centre of the military industry, large railway node and sea port. City – symbol of the country might, of its heroic history and and multi-century culture. «Security of Leningrad is security of our Fatherland, —Stalin told his Generals and right away explained why: — Not only because Leningrad represents about 30— 35 percent of the defence industry of our country but also because Leningrad is the second capital of our country. To break to Leningrad, to take it and form there, say, a bourgeois government, White Guard government — means to give a rather serious base for Civil War within the country against the Soviet authority» (Soviet-Finland war …, 2002).

So, to what results in in the cause of assuring security of Leningrad and of the entire Soviet Union led the 1st Soviet-Finnish war? The shortest and most accurate reply to this question may be found in a known adage that it is impossible to jump over a precipice in two leaps. It is better not to try.

Stalin heavily wounded Finland — but not finished it. This is a very dangerous situation, dangerous at hunt on any large beast and thousand times more dangerous in politic. Even more so that this politic was being implemented in time of large European war. Before the beginning of the «winter war» the Soviet Union has as its northern neighbour a state small in population but at this huge in the area. This state did not have either military force necessary for an attack on the USSR or any substantial stimuli to such reckless actions. Laborious and judicious character  of the Finnish people together with firmly established in Finland democratic regime provided sufficient guarantee of stability of such situation. Huge and poorly negotiable expanses of Finnish forests and lakes were nothing but free of charge, created by Mother Nature «obstacle corridor» in the way of any aggressor who would try to attack the Soviet Union through the territory of Finland. And at last, the border outline, which existed as of 30 November 1939 — a narrow «throat» of the Karelian Isthmus, bounded from west and east by water expanses of the Gulf of Finland and Lake Ladoga — was equally beneficial for the defence of either Finland or the Soviet Union. The Karelian fortified area, whose concrete facilities were begun by construction as early as in 1928, supported by powerful artillery fire from the Kronstadt forts and Baltic Fleet ships, could become similarly difficult-to-overcome obstacle in the way of Anglo-French or German forces (if they in some hypothetical situation managed — by war or persuasion — to cross through the territory of Finland) as in real history became the «Mannerheim’s line».

Now, in spring of 1940, the situation radically changed. Sure, the border was moved 100—120 km north from Leningrad. But beyond this border lay the country, whose people felt insulted, humiliated, robbed and waited for vengeance and revanche. This people preserved its statehood. In this context, it meant the preservation (if not legal than at least factual) of a possibility to search helpers and allies in the cause of revenge and revanche. Finnish state preserved its army, whose losses (around 27 thousand people killed and missing in action, 55 thousand wounded and sick), albeit tragic and big for a country with the population under 4 million people, but overall renewable owing to new conscription contingents. As for the combat hardware and armaments, a paradoxical result of the «winter war» became substantial (in a number of positions even multiple) increase in technical equipping of the Finnish army. The reason was that the armament purchased abroad (or obtained in the framework of non-repayable help to the victim of a Soviet aggression) mostly arrived in Finland ports already after the combat activities were finished in March 1940.

No more favourable were also strictly military, operative-tactical results of the «winter war». Instead of a 65-kilometer corridor of Karelian fortified area fortifications, whose flanks firmly leant on water expanses, now it was a matter of defending not yet equipped line of the new border, which began at the north shore of the Bay of Finland and ran into in the taiga «infinity». And if we are talking not about «infinity» but about specific length of the defence corridor of the 23rd army, which directly covered  the «Vyborg and Kexholm theatres», it was 180 km (from Virolakhti to Ristalakhti). Thousand and one times Soviet historians dolefully lamented that in summer of 1941 four divisions of the 23rd army could not hold defence corridor of 200 km. And this is a perfect truth. Under the Soviet pre-war statutes, a rifle division could defend the corridor of 8—10—12 but in no way 45 km. It only remains to recall who and why ruined 127 thous. Red Army warriors for the sake of moving the line of the border from a fortified area into boundless forest wilderness. This from the first sight abstract theory was unambiguously confirmed in practice. In August 1941, a thin «thread» of the 23rd army defence was broken through in several days. Only after the retreat of disparate remains of this army on the line of the «old border» (i.e., the concrete fortifications line of the Karelian fortified area) it was possible, at last, to stop the Finnish offensive and stabilize the front. Once again, we will give Comrade Stalin his due: he easily and freely deceived others but never engaged in foolish and cowardly business of self-deception. No matter what Stalin’s propaganda was shouting, Stalin himself could not but understand that the defence capacity of Leningrad was dangerously weakened. In this sense, Stalin’s firm intention not to stop half-way but to bring the deal to a logical completion looks quite reasonable. Adequate with the formed (formed to a substantial extent contrary to plans and intents of Stalin himself) situation. In the Caucasus mountains, where Yosef Dzhugashvili was born, the horsemen say: «If you jumped over the fence with your front legs, jump with the hind legs as well...»

To complete the fight begun for the «fortification of Leningrad’s security» (let us assume for a moment that in November 1939 Stalin unleashed war with Finland exceptionally for defensive purposes) was possible by two principally different methods. The great power could propose the neighbour insulted by her to forget old grudges and the begin life from «tabula rasa». The great power could convince Finland — not in words of course, but by practical deeds, — that peaceful existence and close economical cooperation with the USSR will bring her better advantages than fruitless dreams about military revanche. In a word, it was possible to begin constructing such line of mutual relations, which in 1950—60’s really turned the Soviet-Finnish border in «a border of peace and friendship». Much more quiet, we will note, than border with «the fraternal Socialist China».

However, there was also another way, the way of preparation to a new war, to a new — and this time already final — solution of the «Finnish question». Which way have Stalin selected? A first answers to this, probably, the very main for the purposes of our study question may be received already from an analysis of the Moscow peace treaty conditions of March 1940. The main such condition was the demarcation of a new border between the USSR and Finland. This border line could have been drawn based on at least three different considerations (and substantiated this solution by three types of arguments).

It was possible to recall a beloved by the entire people song, which in those years rattled from all loudspeakers: «We don’t want even an inch of a foreign land». Under this slogan the victorious Red Army could have with unfolded banners and the thunder of orchestra returned to the border line, which existed 30 November 1939. «White-Finnish militarists got a decent lesson, the entire world understood that for the Red Army there are no impenetrable obstacles but we do not want someone else’s goods. After all, we began the war not for the sake of Finnish swamps with cranberries but for the protection of the city of Lenin» — that is how it could have been explained to the own people and to the international community. By the way, hardly anybody expected such magnanimity from Stalin and °, so let us at once switch to the option No. 2.

The new border could have been drawn exactly on the line proposed by the Finns in the process of the Moscow negotiations in October — November of 1939. Such solution would have let Stalin to exit the war, as they say, save the face. Everything would have been just beautiful: «The will of the mighty Soviet Union is law for everybody. What we need, we will always get. You did not want to give amicably, through the exchange of territories — so much worse for you, now you will have to transfer to the Soviet Union a piece of the Karelian isthmus territory not amicably, after a military defeat and without any exchange».

At last, the harshest option was possible (and most common in the international practice), option No. 3. New borderline would be conducted along the front line, which formed by the beginning of March 1940. Based on a simple and ancient «right of conquest». Most likely, exactly on such solution of the territorial issue — as the worst but, alas, unavoidable, option — counted in March 1940 the Finnish delegation.

However, not even single one of the three aforementioned options were good for Stalin. In the form of ultimatum the Finns were proposed to accept openly insolent brigandage, under which Soviet Union appropriated not only all territory in actuality occupied by the Red Army but also the lands, to which soldier of the Soviet army were not able even approach. Under the conditions of Moscow 12 March 1940 agreement to the Soviet Union turned the entire Karelian and entire Onega-Ladoga Isthmus, and also the corridor along northwestern shore of Lake Ladoga, including railway branch Vyborg — Sortavala.

New border cut Saimaa Channel connecting the port of Vyborg with the Saimaa Lake system (before the war on this water trunk line was transported major Finnish timber rafting). The line of new border was conducted so «craftily» that the railway intersection at Elisenvaara turned out on the Soviet territory (see map  No. 2). At this the entire railway system of the southeastern Finland was stolen. For instance, in order to ride from Imatra to Savonlinna (70 km as the crow flies), now it was necessary to do a 350-km «hook» on the gtrajectory Kouvola, Mikkeli, Pieksyamyaki. Today, it only remains to us to guess: whether such border outline  was from one only maliciousness or already at that time it was a task to make it maximum difficult for the Finnish army to manoeuver in the corridor of future Red Army main blow.

The authors of the «peace treaty» did not forget also their unrealized dreams about greeting «military servicemen of the Swedish army by saluting but not entering into negotiations» at «coming to the Swedish border». Despite the fact that in the «Kem theatre» the 9th army troops did not have even slightest success, under the conditions of Moscow agreement the Soviet Union annexed a good chunk of territory (on the order of 5 thous. sq. km) in the north of Karelia, in the area  Alakurtti — Salla (see  map  No. 3). Not limiting themselves by only a «peaceful breakthrough» in the depth of the Finnish territory by 60—65 km, Stalin’s leadership demanded from Finland (Art. 7 of Moscow agreement) to construct, «if possible in 1940», a railway connecting Kemiiiyarvi with now border town Salla. This demand was justified by the wish of the Soviet Union to conduct «transit of goods between  USSR and Sweden over the shortest railway rout» (foe which on the «own», i.e., annexed, territory the USSR intended to construct the branch Alakurtti — Salla).

Indeed, connecting Kemiiiyarvi and Alakurtti by a railway it was possible to get a direct communication from Kandalaksha to Kemii — Tornio «over the shortest way». At first sight everything is quite logical. At the second and more careful sight, it becomes obvious that transpolar Kandalaksha may be only an intermediate point on the way of freight transport from Sweden to habitable and industrially developed areas of the USSR. To Moscow or Leningrad the shortest movement trajectory runs through the southern and central Finland (i.e., through Oulu, Kuopio, Elisenvaara, Kexholm). No shortening of the transport on Murmansk (Kirov) railway (i.e., through Kandalaksha, Petrozavodsk, Lodeynoye Pole). Not making any economical sense, the railway on Kemiiiyarvi — Rovaniyemi — Kemii instead had quite obvious, causing no doubts military significance as the supply line for the Soviet forces advancing from Salla to the coast of the Gulf of Bothnia.

In order «to provide for the security of Leningrad», the USSR annexed also the western part of Rybachy and Sredny peninsulas at a distance 1,400 km from Leningrad. It also appropriated the right to create a naval and aviation base on Hango peninsula on the northern (Finnish) side of the Gulf of Finland, at a distance of 400 km from Leningrad. Overall, the loot was on the order of 37 thous. sq. km of the Finnish land (not counting water areas) or 13 times of what Stalin demanded in negotiations of October  1939, and approximately 5 times of what was taken by force during the «winter war».

As for the annexed territories of the Karelian Isthmus and Ladiga area (Priladozhye), these were among most economically developed areas in Finland. Pulp and paper combines located there produced about the same amount of cellulose as in the rest of the USSR territory, and of substantially better quality. Nineteen large and medium electricity-generating stations totally provided with electric power the entire industry in the region. Moreover, by 29 October 1940 high-voltage power line was constructed from hydroelectric power station Rowhiala on the Vuoksi River to Leningrad. It supplied 1 million kwh of electric power in the energy system of the city on Neva River. Before the war, in summer 1939 in this territory resided 12% of Finland population and was produced 30% of cereals. In the area of developed arable land (178 thous. hectares) the «newly acquired» areas were 2.7 times the corresponding number in the entire Soviet Karelia (Kilin, 1999; Balashov and Stepakov, 2001).

Some quite remarkable legal aspects in the history of concluding the Moscow agreement also deserve attention. Who, with whom and on what grounds concluded 12 March 1940 the agreement in Moscow? These are not at all simple questions. Formally-legally the Soviet Union did not declare war on Finland and was not in the state of war with her. Formally-legally mutual relations between the USSR and Finland were based on the Agreement of mutual assistance and friendship concluded 2 December 1939 with the People’s government of the Finnish Democratic Republic. There was no war between  two  states. Head of the Soviet government Com. Molotov publicly pronounced this «urbi et orbi» 4 December 1939: «Soviet government does not recognize the so-called «Finnish government», which has already left Helsinki and is moving in unknown direction, and that is why any negotiations with this «government» are out of the question. The Soviet Government recognizes only the People’s Government of the Finnish Democratic Republic, concluded with it the Agreement of mutual assistance and friendship, and this is a safe basis for the development of peaceful and favorable relations between the USSR and Finland» ("Pravda" newspaper, 5 December 1939).

The same impeccable logic was used in the League of Nations where it was stated to the General Secretary that «the Soviet Union is not in the state of war with Finland and is not threatening the Finnish people. The Soviet Union has peaceful relations with the Democratic Finnish Republic, with whose government 2 December of this year was concluded an Agreement of Mutual Assistance and Friendship». There was no war. Relations were peaceful. The Red Army, Red Banner Baltic fleet  and glorious «Stalin’s falcons» were unselfishly helping the «People’s government» in its heroic struggle against mutinous «Mannerheim’s bands»...

One may laugh, but even on secret topographic maps of the military activities area issued by the map directorate of the RKKA General headquarters early in 1940, instead of the «normal» international borders of the USSR was drawn a line of borders with « Kuusinen's Finland», which border in the northern Karelia ran almost next to the Kirov railway...

Of course, all these absurd statements did no create absolutely impenetrable obstacles for the conclusion of adequate, legal and significative peace treaty. It would only require to put together, sign and hand in to the Finnish delegation three documents. A qualified bureaucrat at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs could have put them together their in a couple of hours. A first document — the statement of «Kuusinen's government» about voluntary dissolution. Second — a joint statement of the USSR government and the «People’s government of the Finnish Democratic Republic» that due to the voluntary dissolution of the «People’s government», the Agreement of Mutual Assistance and Friendship concluded 2 December 1939 was recognized as having lost legal value. Third document would be of the most delicate capacity — scandalous statements by Molotov should be disavowed in some form. As a possible option — the corresponding paper could be signed by Chairman of Presidium of the USSR  Supreme Council  Com. Kalinin  (Com. Stalin, as one of many rank-and-file deputies of the USSR  Supreme Council , of course could not disavowed statements of the USSR head of government).

However, may be head of the Soviet government (and in addition also the Narkom for Foreign affairs) Comrade Molotov due to omissions in is education did not know and did not understand this simple legal technology? Nothing of the kind. He knew perfectly well about the legal collision associated with the existence of the «People’s Government of the Democratic Finland» and informed about it deputies of laborers at a session of the USSR  Supreme Council  29 March 1940: «...we addressed the People’s Government of Finland in order to find out its view on the issue of ending the war. The People’s Government spoke out in the sense that to stop bloodshed and alleviate the situation of the Finnish people it would be advisable to meet halfway the proposal about ending war... The agreement between the USSR and Finland soon happened... In connection with this a question was raised about voluntary dissolution of the People’s Government, which was implemented by them» ("Pravda" newspaper, 30 March 1940).

Of course, Comrade Molotov this time also fibbed by putting in his presentation by putting the cart before the horse.

It is not the conclusion of the peace treaty made necessary the voluntary dissolution of the «Kuusinen's government» but just the other way around: the liquidation of a puppet pseudo-government of a nonexistent country was a necessary condition for the conduct of negotiations and conclusion of an agreement with legitimate government of Finland. By the way, much more important than the locution used by Molotov was the date. Molotov's report sounded 29 March and Moscow agreement was signed 12 March. No other official documents (if a speech at the session of the  Supreme Council  may be considered a «document» having international legal significance) existed about voluntary dissolution of the «Kuusinen's government» and about the recognition by the Soviet Union of the legitimate government and president of Finland. 

Therefore, late at night of 12 March 1940 in Moscow was signed an agreement with representatives of «White-Finnish bands» who raised armed mutiny against the government of «democratic Finland», with which the USSR at that moment was tied by the shackles of the Agreement of mutual assistance and friendship. A unique case in history of diplomacy between civilized countries. Unique but hardly accidental — most likely, Stalin quite consciously did not hurry with «voluntary dissolution» of Kuusinen as a card-sharp is holding the false ace in his sleeve. Only after the «game» was completed, the agreement with Finland signed, and the threat of interference from the Anglo-French block provisionally receded, did Stalin decide to disband the «People’s government».

Whereas the extra government and «two Finlands» created rather farcical situation, the conclusion of «agreement of peace» in the environment of continued aggression raise an issue of legal bankruptcy of this document overall. We will explain the gist of the problem on one specific example which has most direct bearing on the Soviet-Finnish wars. The third and last of these wars was completed as follows:

— 4 September 1944 came into force the agreement of ceasefire;

— 19 September 1944 was signed the armistice agreement;

— 10 February 1947 was signed the peace treaty.

It may be assumed that the implementation of such order of exit from war had good reasons. Those were: this time as one of the parties to the Armistice agreement and Peace treaty was not the Soviet Union but a whole group of countries of anti-Hitler coalition. These countries included the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. In such situation, the possibility of Stalin’s travesty of justice was substantially restricted. Whereas in March of 1940 Finnish delegation was summoned in Moscow and proposed to sign some document «under the gun» — in direct and figurative sense of this expression. Neither an agreement of long armistice nor at least temporary agreement of ceasefire for the period of negotiations have been reached (or more correctly, have been categorically rejected by the Soviet party). So, the Moscow agreement was signed directly in the process of war. As for the character of this war, the League of Nations characterized it as the aggression by the Soviet Union against a neutral, peaceful country, and even the Kremlin compilers of the text of the Moscow agreement did not have the brass to accuse in anything Finland and evasively described the war as a «military actions occurring between both countries». And no more than that. There was not a single word in the preamble to the Moscow agreement about any «provocative shelling of the Soviet territory» or about some «threat to Leningrad».

In such a case, it is quite appropriate to ask a question: was the Moscow peace agreement of 12 March 1940 voluntary agreement between the parties or one more stage in the implementation of Stalin’s leashed aggression? And if the international community recognized the right of Finland for armed resistance to aggression, was this right forfeited in connection with signing of the Moscow agreement? Speaking simpler — what is the difference between a «peace agreement» concluded in conditions of continued armed violence and a debt instrument got by the extorters with the help of smoothing iron and soldering iron? Is such «instrument» imposing on the victim of extortion any obligations — besides the moral obligation of a law-obedient citizen to turn to law enforcement organs and help them to catch the criminals?

Government of the USSR immediately supplied a simple response to this entire «package» of complicated international legality questions. The patience of the Soviet leadership lasted exactly one week. 20 March 1940 it openly demonstrated its attitude to the Peace agreement signed in Moscow. That day Red Army units without any coordination with the Finnish party crossed the line of new border and occupied settlement Enso.

This settlement was not just bald but, one may say, «gold». Next to the small settlement was a huge, one of the largest in the world pulp and paper combine (sulphite factory, sulphate factory, cardboard factory, paper factory and chemical factory producing chlorine for blanching cellulose). Full, technologically complete complex capable of producing cellulose to the extent of 50% of the production in the entire USSR.

By the annoying misstep of the executors (and due to a grate hurry) at the negotiations in Moscow the combine was forgotten, and the line of new border drawn through a railway station Enso on a small-scale geographic map[1] left the combine on the Finnish side. Noting parenthetically, in a similar situation with metallurgic factory in Vyartsilya (Ladoga Karelia) the line on the map was providently bent to the northwest, and the factory turned out on the annexed territory.

The misstep with Enso (which under well-known conditions of that epoch could be easily reclassified as «wrecking») was immediately righted by a direct armed occupation. Soviet representatives simply did not deem it necessary to enter any negotiations with the «White Fins». Later, already after the end of the 3rd Soviet-Finnish war, the settlement Enso got new, Soviet, reassuring name Svetogorsk[2]. If you, respected reader, take a look at the wrapping of the toilet paper in your sanitary conveniences, you will possibly see on it the caption «Svetogorsk CBC[3]».

Armed capture of the combine in Enso immediately put before the Soviet leadership the following task — now it was necessary to provide reliable protection for loot so valuable, and for this... Yes, of course, for this it was necessary once again to move the border. 9 May 1940 Deputy head of the Main directorate of camps (GULAG ) of NKVD USSR Major of state security G.M. Orlov writes to the deputy chairman of the SNK USSR Comrade Bulganin a report memo (RGVA, fund  29, list 34, case 578, sheet 20-22). Noting huge economic significance of the combine in Enso, Comrade Orlov turns to functional proposals:

«That is why it is necessary to do everything possible (emphasis by Com. Orlov) for maximum distancing of the Finnish border from this combine as the currently planned border can be in no way acceptable».

Funny. This is the mildest that could have been said about this report by a person not inducted into the secrets of the Kremlin court. Indeed: only just a Deputy to the main vertukhai[4], in more than modest, for deciding such issues, rank of a GB Major, patronizes deputy to head of the government on a problem, which has nothing to do with service duties of Major Orlov. Plus, he calls «in no way acceptable» the border line installed by an international agreement signed by head of the USSR government, faithful comrade-in-arms to great Stalin, Comrade Molotov. Where from is such courage, such agility? And they say that «under Stalin, everybody was afraid to say a word against the will of the boss...».

The mystery even this time is very easily solved. Comrade Orlov, Deputy head of GULAG, was performing at that moment duties... of Chairman of the Soviet delegation in the joint Soviet-Finnish commission on the border demarcation! Perhaps, this was exactly the case, about which they say: «The truth is more amazing than any fairytale». Main concentration camp vertukhai draws the line of a new Finnish border — it was impossible to invent brighter metaphor to Stalin’s unrealized hope. Yes, exactly «unrealized». That time it turned out impossible «to distance the Finnish border» from Enso. Even for a minimum «distancing» to a border town Imatra (which will be multiply mentioned in this book). Perhaps because in spring 1940 Stalin had not yet been ready to go for everything possible...




Whereas hopes and dreams of Comrade Stalin in March 1940 were still very far from total implementation, Comrade Kuusinen had all reasons to celebrate victory. Under his personal leadership, Finland indeed joined the ranks of the fraternal family of Soviet republics as a «12th sister». Of course, it was sort of new, «Karelo-Finnish», «spare» Finland. But everything in due course.

Perhaps, in a bloody whirlpool of tragic events at the beginning of the «winter war» not everybody noticed most amazing phrase two times repeated in the text of the Agreement of mutual assistance and friendship concluded 2 December 1939 with the so-called «People’s government» of Kuusinen. And it said no more and no less the following: «The time has come to materialize age-old aspirations of the Finnish people about reunification of the Karelian people with his related Finnish people in the united Finnish state».

Twenty years before this (and half a century after) the mildest expression for the Soviet propaganda to describe intent of the Karelian people to rejoin «his related Finnish people», plus «in the united Finnish (!!!) state», was something like: «insolent interference by the White-Finnish militarists in the internal affairs of the Soviet Karelia» or «kulak White Guard banditry supported from beyond the border by reactionary circles of the Finnish bourgeoisie». Or the events of 1918—1921 could (and still can until this day) simply and without tricks be called «White-Finnish aggression against the Soviet Russia». In the second half of 1930’s, at the peak of «fight with Finnish bourgeois nationalism», any mention of a close relationship between Karels and Finns was considered an incitement of mutiny. And now, in one day of December 1939, everything all of a sudden turned down side up (or upside down — in the world of the Soviet absurd there was no up and no down, there was only the «General line»).

It would appear that after a «voluntary dissolution of the People’s government» in March 1940 (we once again emphasize that the exact date and the official statement about the «voluntary dissolution» have never been published), the «century-old aspirations» would be done away with — this time conclusively and irrevocably. However, life (or rather plans of Stalin’s leadership) appeared more involved than primitive schemes. The month of March has not ended yet as the 6th session of the USSR  Supreme Council , «meeting desires of laborers of the Karelian ASSR and guided by the principle of free development of ethnicities» (any objections against such good intentions?), passed the Law «On conversion of Karelian Autonomic Soviet Social Republic into Union Karelo-Finnish Soviet Socialist Republic». Under Article I of this Law the new Union republic received «the territory seceded from Finland to the USSR based on the peace treaty between the USSR and Finland, except for a small corridor abutting directly Leningrad and including cities: Vyborg, Antrea (Kamennogorsk), Kexholm (Priozersk), Sartvala, Suoyarvi, Kuolayarvi».

Therefore, Karelo-Finnish Union republic turned out to be greater than modern Karelia because it included part of the Karelian isthmus territory (currently in Leningrad Province of RF) and annexed Finnish land in the area Alakurtti — Salla (currently almost this entire territory is in Murmansk Province of RF, although the city of Salla with adjacent area was returned to Finland). In others words, the new-fangled «Karelo-Finland» got all lands captured from the real Finland except the area of Karelian isthmus, which the «People’s government» of Kuusinen on the 2nd December 1939 with a wide sweep of good will handed to the Soviet Union — it was included in Leningrad Province.

Legal formalization of K-F SSR was performed as always — that is, very sloppily. Strictly speaking, the new republic appeared bastard, illegitimate because they forgot to formalize the RSFSR  Supreme Council  decision about the withdrawal of Karelian autonomous republic from the RSFSR (either because of hurry or for a reason of long-standing custom of a legal chaos). A result appeared a break of the USSR Constitution, under which changes of the territory and borders of a Union republic without its consent were unacceptable. And if the creation of -F SSR were something greater than next political farce, it would have created a serious transportation problem for the RSFSR as Murmansk Province would have lost at that onland communications with the rest of the RSFSR territory and turned into some «enclave». It was a similar situation after disintegration of the USSR and approval of the state independence of Lithuania, when Kaliningrad Province was cut from the rest of Russia).

Equally absurd was also the succession of legal acts formalizing the creation of K-F SSR. 31 March 1940 the USSR Supreme Council «met the desires of Karelian labourers», but the very decision by the plenipotentiary organ of authority of these labourers —  Supreme Council of ASSR — was passed at the Extraordinary session of the ASSR Supreme Council only two weeks thereafter, 13 April 1940 (Makurov, 2005). What kind of «labourers» on the eve of 31 March asked the USSR Supreme Council to satisfy their «century-long aspirations» and convert autonomous republic into Union one remains enigma even today.

The new-fangled Union republic almost had its «own army». 7 May 1940 Narkom for the defence Voroshilov signed an order (one of last in this position as exactly this day Voroshilov was removed from the position of Narkom), under which it was demanded «by 10 July form the 71st Special Karelo-Finnish rifle division 9,000 people strong». The division was supposed to become «special» not only in the name.

«To man the division’s personnel by draftable Karels and Finns, first of all from former corps of Com. Anttila» (RGASPI, fund  516, list 2, case 1547, sheet 58). The corps of Com. Anttila was the same «1st mountain-rifle corps of the Finland People’s army», which was supposed under the plans of the Kremlin rulers to hoist the red banner above the presidential palace in Helsinki...

The new Union republic came up very large in area (as Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia together) and minuscule in population. It did not have even one million residents (which under unwritten «norms» was considered a necessary condition for the creation of a Union — as opposed to an autonomous — republic). The lists of voters for the first elections of the K-F SSR Supreme Council had only 497 thous. people. The fact that 98.5% of the electorate supported in the elections candidates of the indestructible block of Communists and non-party members was no surprise. More interesting was something else — the ethnic composition of People’s elects (which composition, again under «unstated norms» of the time, was formed in advance more or less in proportion with the ethnic composition of the population). So, out of 133 deputies of the K-F SSR Supreme Council the Russians, and also representatives of other ethnicities (besides «titular nationals») were 88 people (66%). To hide almost total absence of Finns, they in official information were joined with Karels («45 Karels and Finns») (RGASPI, fund 516, list 2, case 1547, sheet 58). As noted above, after mass repressions of the 1930’s alive and free remained minuscule minority of even without it small Finnish population of the region. The subsequent war with Finland brought to Stalin territory without people — practically the entire population of annexed territories (400 thous. people of all ethnicities) left together with retreating Finnish army. That was when a joke was born: «In Karelo-Finnish republic live two Finns: Fin-inspector and Fin-kelstein, but one of them, the rumour has it, is Jewish».

Besides a legendary Finn «Finkelstein», there was in Karelo-Finnish Republic also no less legendary Finn Kuusinen. For «feeding and honor» (standard formula in decrees of Moscow czars) bestowed on him was honorary but at this in actuality devoid of real authority title of Chairman of Presidium to K-F SSR Supreme Council. Whereas the genuine, i.e., party authority remained in the same hands: as First CC secretary of Karelo-Finnish Communist party was appointed (i.e., unanimously elected at the organizing plenum of the CC) former First secretary of Karelian Obkom G.N. Kupriyanov (Russian in ethnicity). As leader of «Karelo-Finnish» youth (First CC secretary of the republic’s Komsomol) was appointed Yu.V. Andropov — yes, this very...

The fact that the real ethnic composition of the republic’s population did not correspond with its name could not be considered out of the ordinary (only quantitative measure of this mismatch was unique — the name «Finnish» at practically total absence of the Finns). However, the campaign of forced and total «Finnization» begun in K-F SSR was absolutely unprecedented. We read in protocols of the sessions of Karelo-Finnish Communist Party CC Bureau:

— 4 May 1941 «Develop and submit for the approved to the CC bureau by 19 May 1940 measures of transferring paperwork management into Finnish language...» (RGASPI, fund 17, list 22, case 1192, sheet 6);

— 9 May 1941 «To conduct all radio broadcasting into two languages, Finnish and Russian, leaving (temporarily) some broadcasts in Karelian language... To create at the Karelian radio committee, within a month, the Karelo-Finnish national chorus, Finnish vocal group and group of newscasters...» (RGASPI, fund 17, list 22, case 1192, sheet 31);

— 28 May 1941 «To transfer the paperwork management from Karelian to Finnish language by 1 July 1940... To provide for the replacement of street signs by 10 July... To develop plan of measures to study Finnish language by party and Soviet active... To transfer teaching in Karelian schools to Finnish language...» (RGASPI, fund 17, list 22, case 1192, sheet 72-74);


— 19 June 1940 «To transfer by 15 July of this year from Karelian to Finnish language district newspapers «Red Kestenga», «Red Tunguda», «Loukh Bolshevik»... Instead of «Karelia» magazine in Karelian language from 1 July to begin issuing magazine «Puna Lippu» («Red Banner») in Finnish language (RGASPI, fund 17, list 22, case 1192, sheet 121).

Hard to tell whether the regional Party and Soviet active had time to learn Finnish language (which is very remote in its phonetics and vocabulary from Russian). However, cardboard folders with protocols of bureau sessions by the beginning of 1941 radically changed. Lists of documents and rules of accounting were typed in Latin characters in the Finnish language. On all rubber stamps, in large letters, were carved inscriptions in the Finnish language, and only in small letters, in Russian. What for all this? «Governed by the principle of free development of ethnicities», it was impossible to think up such absurdity. For overwhelming majority of the population who spoke and wrote in-Russian, all this «Greek» created only extra inconvenience. No better it was for the minority of the population, the Karels. They could somehow understand spoken Finnish language (about the same as a Russian person would generally understand Ukrainian speak). However, Finnish written language based on Latin graphics was different in principle from based on Cyrillic alphabet Karelian language.

Cognition comes through comparison. Uniqueness of the situation (artificial and forceful implantation of in actuality foreign language, at that the language of one from «backward bourgeois nations»), which formed in Karelo-Finnish SSR, will be especially obvious if compared with how the language question was solved in other «newly acquired» territories of the Soviet Union. Most appropriate will be comparison with the development of events in Moldavia.

Since 1924 in the structure of Ukrainian SSR existed Moldavian autonomous republic (territorially coinciding with the current self-proclaimed Transdniestria). 28—30 June 1940 the Red Army troops crossed the Dniester and occupied the territory between Prut and Dniester rivers (historical Bessarabia). 2 August 1940 the USSR Supreme Council passed the law of creating a new, 13th by count, Union republic, which included the territory of former  Moldavian ASSR and many times greater in the areal extent Bessarabia. New Union republic, however, was not named Rumano-Moldavia (or Bessarabo-Moldavia) but simply and without tricks got the name Moldavian SSR. The use of Rumanian language in the Soviet Moldavia was out of the question. Moreover, in actuality a new, «Moldavian language» was created, prepared from the source Rumanian language transcribed into Cyrillic alphabet and saturated with Russian-sounding words. This strange philological monster was proclaimed state language of Moldavian SSR. Using the language of the neighboring Rumania was ruthlessly persecuted.

Events were developing similarly also in occupied in September 1939 areas of the Eastern Poland. Under then prevailing political conjuncture they did not create new Union republic and subdivided occupied Polish lands into three (unequal in the area) parts. Vilno and the adjacent areas were gifted to Lithuania (which less than in a year had to find out that free cheese is only in a mousetrap), the territory north of Pripyat River (Belostock, Brest and Grodno provinces) was joined with Belorussian SSR, the territory south of Pripyat was joined with Ukrainian SSR. The use of word «Poland» was tacitly but very strictly prohibited. Not only in public speeches but also in secret military documents were used only expressions «former Poland» or «General-Governorship». As it should have been expected, Polish language was being continuously banished from use in official paperwork management, from state offices and from the army. And of course voluntary-forceful courses of studies of the Polish language could be dreamt by party active only as a delirium.

History, as they say, repeats itself: what was a tragedy, repeats as farce. This is quite applicable to the history of the emergence in spring of 1940 a phony «Karelo-Finland». History of the Karelian Labour Commune of 1920—1923 was, doubtlessly, tragic. But that was a heroic tragedy. With all fallacies and immoderate ambitions shown by the leaders of the «Red Finns», it is impossible to deny that many of them very sincerely believed in ideals of Communism, in the future world revolution. And in any case, by their martirly deaths in Stalin’s dungeons they by far atoned all their willing and unwilling transgressions. Forcefully molded Karelo-Finnish SSR vintage 1940, in which gathered over the entire Russia nomenklatura bureaucrats gawked in astonishment at Finnish signs and Finnish stamps on the paper heads of documents, which they signed, was a paragon of rude vulgar farce. The farce was rude, but was it foolish? In order to evaluate properly the decision made 19 June 1940 to transfer the newspapers «Red Tunguda» and «Loukh Bolshevik» into Finnish language (and dozens of similar decisions), it should be recalled what all these dates meant in the calendar of great European politics.

10 May 1940 German troops on the Western Front went on long ago awaited offensive. Out of 156 divisions in the Wehrmacht for war with France and its allies were allotted 136 (87%). On huge expanses of Denmark, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Austria and Germany proper remained only 13 divisions (7 more divisions conducted combat activities in Norway). In the West were concentrated almost the entire Luftwaffe forces. From the district anti-air force defences of Konigsberg, Breslau, Dresden, Nuremberg and Vienna were removed all fighter planes up to the last one. In Berlin anti-air force defence zone was left headquarters of the 3rd fighter squadron and only one of its fighter groups (II/JG-3 —39 in full order aircraft as of 10 May 1940). A blow of crushing might broke through defences of the allied armies. At night of 14 May the Dutch army stopped resistance, 23 May Wehrmacht's tank divisions approached La Manche, 27 May Belgium capitulated, in the night from 3 on 4 June last English units left the coast at Dunkirk, 12 June Paris was declared an «open city», 17 June French government appealed to the Germans with a request to stop fire.

24 June 1940, in Forêt de Compiègne, at the same very place where in November 1918 German command signed conditions of capitulation, was concluded the armistice agreement. Under this agreement, France lost two thirds of the territory, lost her huge navy and most of the air force. In a word — from the category of Europe’s great powers it moved into the category of a semi-independent German protectorate. Having lost all her continental allies, Britain turned out now in a position of besieged fortress whose survival depended on the capabilities of very small fighter units of the Royal Air Force to restrain air offensive of Luftwaffe’s bomber armadas and on capability of the British navy to break the blockade of German submarines and provide island with food supplies.

For Stalin everything that happened in May — June 1940 meant radical (and to a substantial degree surprising) change in military-political situation, dizzying turn that created new threats, but also promised new opportunities. In his palaver 13 June 1940 with the Ambassador of Fascist Italy . Rosso, head of the Soviet government Molotov said: «...After serious blows received by England and France, not only their strength but also prestige declined and dominance of these countries is coming to an end. It should be believed that the voices of Germany and Italy, and also of the Soviet Union will be more audible than a year ago... England and France, as the events show, with their old political basis are not holding the test. Other countries turned more than adjusted to new conditions than they. A lot of new gave Italy, plenty of new gave Germany. Plenty of new, going its own way, gave the USSR...» (Documents of foreign politics, vol. 23, book 1, 1995).

17 June 1940 German Ambassador in the USSR Count Von Schulenburg reported in Berlin: «Molotov invited me tonight in his office and expressed to me the warmest congratulations of the Soviet government on the occasion of brilliant success of the German armed forces...» (USSR-Germany, 1939-1941, Documents and materials …, vol. 2, 1989). In this case Com. Molotov showed laudable modesty. Brilliant success of the German army occurred not without help from the USSR. Not even speaking about the general military-political situation created by the pact in the name of Com. Molotov and Nazi criminal, war monger Ribbentrop, which situation enabled Germany to concentrate all forces of the Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe on one — Western — front, the Soviet Union rendered to its ally no small services also directly in the process of the campaign. For instance, 23 May 1940 Von Schulenburg informed Molotov «that he received a number of telegrams from Berlin with request to accelerate the deliveries of oil products, which is extremely important in view of events occurring now on the Western Front».

And so? «Molotov replied that the question of desired amount of oil products did not cause objections from the Soviet party. He spoke a few hours ago on this question with Com. Mikoyan, and all proposals by the German government are accepted. Total consent is given. For the current operations are indeed needed both gasoline and gasoil for the German army whose actions are wonderfully successful...» (Documents of foreign politics, vol. 23, book 1, 1995).

The combat brotherhood of Reds and Browns grew from one day to the next. 24 July 1940, this time already from Rome to Moscow, flew in a dispatch. The Ambassador of the Soviet Union with enthusiasm reported about his meeting with the leader of Fascist Italy: «...Mussolini met me at the door of his huge office. At the time of conversation, he was amicable and at the end of the audience saw me to the door of the office... Mussolini emphasized, that currently three countries — the USSR, Italy and Germany — despite the difference of internal regimes (true indeed: Italy had no Kolyma. - M.S.) have one common task: the struggle against plutocracy, against exploiters and war mongers in the West» (Documents of foreign politics, vol. 23, book 1, 1995).

Western plutocrats under a new situation, which emerged in summer 1940 stopped being dangerous for the USSR. Therefore, fell off the main reason that forced the Soviet Union at the time to show restraint and pardon Finland. Today we can only guess in what exactly phrasing Comrade Stalin expressed his annoyance by the fact that the crush of the Anglo-French forces occurred not in March but in May. However, we may quite accurately, based on declassified 10—15 years ago documents, recreate the picture of what Comrade Stalin made practically.

30 May 1940 in the «Izvestiya» newspaper was published official information from the Narkomat of the USSR foreign affairs about brutal crimes of Lithuanian militarists who «abduct and torture» for a purpose of extracting military secrets rank-and-file Red Army soldiers from the Soviet military garrisons billeted in Lithuania since the fall of 1939. But the Soviet party continuously confused specific names of «abducted Red Army soldiers» (Meltyukhov, 2000). The proposal from the Lithuanian party to conduct a joint investigation was rejected with wrath and indignation.

«The Lithuanian authorities and toward with USSR» — was in Directive RKKA No.5258 from 13 June 1940 (Meltyukhov, 2000).

3 June 1940 the USSR Narkom for the defence Marshall Timoshenko issued order No. 0028. Under this order the Red Army troops stationed in the territory of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, were excluded from the military districts and were transferred in the direct subordination of the Narkom for the Defence through his deputy, Komandarm 2nd rank .D. Loktionov (future Colonel General, Commander of the troops of a newly created Baltic military district) (Russia-XX century, Documents. Year 1941, Book 1, 1998). 8 June 1940 Loktionov received an order to prepare airdromes of the Baltic states, on which under the agreement of October 1939 were deployed Soviet aviation units, «for the defence and acceptance of airborne landing troops» (RGVA, fund 29, list 34, case 578, sheet 20-22). 11 June in a Belorussian city of Lida, not far from the border with Lithuania, was held a conference of the Belorussian Special Military District command and 11th army. At the conference was approved the operation plan and tasks for forces of the 11th army, which together with deployed in Lithuania 16th Special rifle corps had to «encircle and destroy adversary in Kaunas area, not allowing his withdrawal in the East Prussia» (Meltyukhov, 2000). Overall, for the conduct of the Baltic operation at the borders of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia in three armies (8th, 3rd and 11th) was concentrated 20 rifle, 2 moto-rifle, 4 cavalry divisions, 9 tank and 1 airborne brigades (Meltyukhov, 2000).

After the completion of unfolding the forces at the borders of Baltic states, the floor was taken by the Soviet diplomacy.

Late in the evening (one might say, in the night), at 2350 hours 14 June 1940 the Lithuanian foreign minister Urshbis (who since 10 June already was in Moscow) was summoned in Molotov's office. There, he was read text of the Soviet government statement, which said, verbatim, the following:

«The Soviet government considers it absolutely necessary and urgent:

1. Immediately to commit for trial minister of the Interior Skuchas and head of the political police department Povelaytis as direct culprits of provocation activities against the Soviet garrison in Lithuania.

2. Immediately to form in Lithuania such government, which would be capable and ready to provide for honest implementation of the Soviet-Lithuanian Agreement of mutual assistance and decisive reining-in the enemies of the Agreement.

3. Immediately to secure free passage into the territory of Lithuania of the Soviet military units for deploying them in most important centers of Lithuania in numbers sufficient for providing the opportunity of implementation the Soviet-Lithuanian Agreement of mutual assistance and preventing provocation actions directed against the Soviet garrison in Lithuania.

Soviet government considers compliance with these demands the elementary condition, without which it is impossible to attain that the Soviet-Lithuanian Agreement of mutual assistance operated honestly and in good faith. The Soviet government is expecting a response from the Lithuanian government by 10 o’clock in the morning 15 June. Nonarrival of a response from the Lithuanian government by that time will be considered the refusal to fulfil the said demands from the Soviet Union» (Russia-XX century, Documents. Year 1941, Book 1, 1998).

Therefore, the Lithuanian government was allowed 10 hours for deliberations. Official Soviet protocol record of the meeting between Molotov and Urshbis preserved, in particular, the following details of the conversation. «...Urshbis addresses Com. Molotov with a request, referring to exceptionally complex and responsible moment in live of Lithuania, about postponement of the timing mentioned in the statement by the Soviet government. Com. Molotov responds that he voiced the decision of the Soviet government, in which he cannot change a single letter... Further on Com. Molotov warns Urshbis that if the response is delayed, the Soviet government will immediately implement its measures, and unconditionally... Com. Molotov emphasizes that the aforementioned statement by the Soviet government is urgent and if its demands are not accepted in time then the Soviet troops will be immediately moved in Lithuania.

...Urshbis says that he does not see an article, based on which Minister of the Interior Shuchas and head of the political police Povelaytis could be commited to trial. He is asking, what to do? Com. Molotov says that first of all it is necessary to arrest them and commit to trial, and the articles will be found (emphasis added. - M. S..). And Soviet lawyers can help with that...» (Russia-XX century, Documents. Year 1941, Book 1, 1998).

16 June similar ultimatums were presented to Latvia and Estonia (the only distinction was absence of the demands about arrest of the ministers of Interior of these states, as they did not have time to announce in advance about «abduction of Red Army soldierss» in Latvia and Estonia). Com. Molotov accompanied handing in the ultimatums by similarly swinish comments as in «conversation» with Urshbis. In real conditions of June 1940, any interference of England in the events was already out of the question. On the other hand, the German leadership strictly adhered to conditions of the agreement about the division of loot agreed upon 23 August and 28 September 1939 in Moscow and categorically refused to render any help to the Baltic states. Moreover, the German foreign affairs department «politely but firmly» reffused even officially to accept the notes of protest, with which ambassadors of perishing states addressed Berlin. 17 June to all German diplomatic missions abroad was sent a circular telegram, which said: «Unhindered strengthening of Russian forces in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia and rorganization of the government concerns only Russia and the Baltic states... Please avoid in time of conversations any statements, which may be interpreted as biased» (USSR-Germany, 1939-1941, Documents and materials…vol. 2, 1989).

16—17 June the Red Army troops, not encountering any resistance, began advancing in the depth of the Baltic states’ territories and completed their occupation by 21 June. 17 June, at the time when huge convoys of tanks and trucks rolled on the roads of Baltic states, the USSR Narkom for the defence Marshall Timoshenko sent to Comrade Stalin a report memo No. 390, in which he formulated the following proposals:

«...2. in each occupied republic to introduce one (first step) regiment of the NKVD forces for the protection of internal order.

3. As soon as possible to solve the issue of «governments» (quotation marks in the text of the report memo.  - M.S.) of the occupied republics.

4. To begin disarming and disbandment of armies of the occupied republics. To disarm the population, police and existing paramilitary organizations...

6. To begin decisive Sovietization of the occupied republics.

7. To form in the territory of the occupied republics Baltic military district with the headquarters in ...» (RGVA, fund 4, list 19, case 71, sheet 238).

This report memo is a testimony of amazing gift of clairvoyance, with which was endowed the top military-political leadership of the USSR. 17 June they have already exactly known that 14 July during the elections of new parliament 95% of electorate in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia would unanimously vote for the only list of candidates, that 21 July unanimously elected people’s deputies would address the USSR Supreme Council with a request to accept them in the fraternal family of Soviet republics. Otherwise, not being certain of all these, could have a decision been made in sound mind to create a Red Army military district in the territory of three FOREIGN (as of 17 June 1940) states?

Behind important matters of «Sovietization of the occupied republics», the fate of «abducted» military servicemen was utterly forgotten. And it was forgotten exactly when the instalment of total military control over the Baltics opened, it would appear, unlimited possibility for the search of «abductees», for committing the culprits to trial and the bodies of «Red Army soldiers tortured to the death by Lithuanian militarists», to earth. Alas, neither the Soviet press nor secret orders of the Soviet military command had ever informed Red Army soldiers and commanders about the fate of their «vanished» comrades...

Not dwelling on the achieved and without the shortest pause, Comrade Stalin turned his eagle’s gaze southwestward. Rumania was demanded to transfer to the Soviet Union not only Bessarabia but also Bukovina, which had never been part of the Russian empire (and — which was much more significative — was in any way mentioned in a secret protocol about the subdivision of spheres of influence in Eastern Europe between Germany and USSR of 23 August 1939). As the argument in the Statement of the USSR government was used such sufficiently nontrivial thought: «In 1918, Rumania, using military weakness of Russia, forcefully annexed from the Soviet Union (Russia) part of its territory — Bessarabia. Therewith it disrupted age-long unity of Bessarabia and of populated mostly by Ukrainians (emphasis added. - M. S.) Ukraineian Soviet Republic» (Russia-XX century, Documents. Year 1941, Book 1, 1998). In actuality in the territory of Bessarabia, 2 December 1917 was formed Moldavian Democratic Republic. Its parliament in March 1918 passed a decision to unite Moldavia with Rumania. The Soviet official historiography always treated this decision as «the occupation of Bessarabia by Rumania». Another thing is interesting — in June 1940 as the «age-long aspirations» of the Ukrainian (???) population of Bessarabia «annexed from Russia», was declared the desire to reunite with Ukraine (???). Only later was invented and also immediately implemented a new «age-long aspiration». For its materialization was created «independent» Moldavian SSR...


Exactly in those days blisteringly turning the world, in Finland, so remote from Paris and Bucharest, saw the light of the day another organization, which proclaimed as its goal «the fight against exploiters and war mongers». The name of this new-fangled was quite sonorous: «The alliance of peace and friendship with the USSR».

As may be judged from the name, the Society’s objectives were most noble: to facilitate the reconciliation of two peoples, which had just recently survived a bloody feud. What could be better? It is simply amazing that in our country the history of this pious establishment is almost unknown. Only very few books include very brief mentions about the creation of the «Society», about meetings and demonstrations conducted by it for the protection of the peace and friendship. Plus, in Molotov’s speech at the session of the USSR Supreme Council of 1 August 1940 one may read a strange phrase perhaps related to the activities of the «Society». «Understandably, if some elements in the Finnish ruling circles do not stop their repressive activities against social layers of Finland, which strive to strengthen good-neighborly relationships with the USSR, the relationships between the USSR and Finland may suffer damage» ("Izvestiya" newspaper, 2 August 1940). And that is about it. Nevertheless, whoever searches, finds. In RGASPI’s43ee34 held archive of the Comintern was discovered most interesting collection of documents (RGASPI, fund  516, list 2, case 1544, case 1547) shedding light on the objectives and tasks of the «Society of peace and friendship»

The very history of the appearance of these documents is quite remarkable. In December of 1940, the «Finnish plutocracy» decisively cut short the activity of the «Society». The organization was banned, the activists arrested and committed to trial. Already after the beginning of the 2nd Finnish war 290 political inmates were released from Finland’s prisons, restored in their civil rights and included in specially formed battalion. 1 September this military unit arrived on the front in the North Karelia. 16—18 September 1941 a group of 54 Finnish Communists crossed the front line and surrendered to Red Army units. The Comintern archive preserved hand-written reports of a few participants of this group about the work they, as leaders of district and city organizations of Finland Communist Party (CPF) conducted to the days of their arrest. The translation of documents into Russian language was done in January 1942. Following are brief excerpts from these reports.

Laaksmo Eino, «On the CPF work in Tampere»:

«After the war in Tampere was conducted a meeting of the active, at which an estimate was given of the situation and instructions for work.

However, in this evaluation we overvalued the course of events, that is why our estimate was wrong. We were of the opinion that the events in Finland would evolve same way as in the Baltic countries (emphasis added. - M. S..)...

In our organization were operating the trade union, women’s, military sections. However, the work of the latter was quite limited and included mostly communications with the army, acquisition of a few units of weapon, explosives and in harvesting of important military secrets...» (RGASPI, fund  516, list 2, case 1544, sheet 68). 

Kaino Raukhalinna «Brief report about CPF in Salo»:

«Since the beginning of 1941 was also working an organization procuring military information. Among the tasks of this organization was getting the data about military transports, about the dislocation of forces, about weapon and munition storages, about airdromes, etc.» (RGASPI, fund  516, list 2, case 1544, sheet 64).

Paavo Mendelin «On CPF work in the «Alliance for peace and friendship»:

«In the alliance organization in Tampere party leadership was clear. In the committee elected at the organizing meeting out of 6 members four were party members and worked in the Alliance on the instructions by the party... 30 July at the Alliance meeting in Tampere was red the party declaration addressed to the Prime-minister Ryuti, in which was demanded replacement of the government and prosecution of war criminals...» (RGASPI, fund 516, list 2, case 1544, sheet 72).

Reino V. Kosunen «On the CPF work in Kuopio»:

«In June of 1940 I brought in Kuopio instructions about organization of the Alliance for peace and friendship, written report about evaluation of the situation and instructions about the nearest tasks of the party...» (RGASPI, fund  516, list 2, case 1544, sheet 47).

Yurye Helenius «Report about work of thr CPF Raikom in the city of Turku and environs»:

«During the period of war Raikom tried to organize deserters from military service in active partisan fight against White Finns ... As of 7 August 1940 was scheduled a meeting of Society of friends of the Soviet Union but it was prohibited in the name of local authorities. Workers gathered on the proposal of party Raikom and set up a demonstration, went to the market place and police prison, lodging demands of the resignation of the government (emphasis added. - M. S..). Between unarmed workers and armed with hand submachine guns (so in the text of the translation.  - M.S.) policemen occurred clashes, as a result of which perished 3 workers and 4 policemen, and several dozen people were wounded...» (RGASPI, fund  516, list 2, case 1544, sheet 55).

Leino Reino,Turku (the document in not titled):

«All measures planned by the party in connection with the demonstration of 7 August went exactly as planned...» (RGASPI, fund  516, list 2, case 1544, sheet 62).

Based on reports of Finnish Comrades, a Comintern official Com. Vilkov put together voluminous (58 typewritten pages) report entitled «On the work of Communist Party of Finland on the eve of the German-Soviet war». A rather strange name — by that time (the report was signed by the compiler 11 May 1942) in all newspaper of the Soviet Union this war was already called Great Patriotic...

Quoting in detail (almost verbatim) information from Finnish Communists, Comrade Vilkov turned to the evaluation and conclusions. On the occasion of the events of 7 August 1940 (more exactly — on the occasion of the absence of similar events in subsequent days) was written rather indistinct phrase: «CC CPF after 7 August forbade the conduct of any demonstrations or mass speeches. Part of the party members believed this CC decision erroneous but did not break it» (RGASPI, fund  516, list 2, case 1547, sheet 46). It is hard to understand author’s position. In the party of Lenin — Stalin (whose affiliate was Comintern) such «pluralism of opinion», mildly speaking, was not encouraged. Somebody had to be called «anti-party group»: either «part of members» or «defeatists and separatists» who took power in CC. Such things often happened in the Comintern parties but in this case, the superior bosses (Comintern Executive Committee) had to assign «healthy forces» and entrust them with «defeating a group of opportunists entrenched in the CC».

At the same time, the general evaluation given to activity of the Alliance for peace and friendship with the USSR, was quite unambiguous — the Alliance was not able to manage the responsible task entrusted to it. «One of the largest party achievements was the creation on its initiative and under its leadership of the Alliance for peace and friendship. However, due to its weakness and especially vagueness from the side of the leadership, the party was unable to turn this organization into such force, which would break the spine of Finnish bourgeoisie (emphasis added. - M. S.)» (RGASPI, fund  516, list 2, case 1547, sheet 58). Such a sad mishap happened — the Alliance of peace could not «break the spine»...


Now let us try to summarize the available information. Quite obvious and not causing doubts is the fact that the Alliance for peace and friendship was created, organized and managed by the Communist Party of Finland, i.e., by an illegal militarized subversive organization whose activity was rigidly controlled from Moscow. A direct task set before the «Alliance» was destabilization of the domestic political situation in Finland. The attempts were made to accomplish this task through a combination of political (advancing the demand clearly outside the bounds of the Statute tasks of the «Alliance for peace and friendship» to «replace the government») and of power (organization of street disorders) actions. The scale and malicious intents of these disorders may be judged from the tragic events of 7 August in Turku (a large port city on the shore of the Gulf of Finland) where, as a result of a brawl between «unarmed (?) workers» and armed with machine guns policemen, 4 policemen were killed and several dozen people were wounded. At that, these events were not at all result of spontaneous (or even provoked by a group of instigators) situation getting from under control of organizers of the manifestation. No, they (organizers) acted on in advance planned scenario and remained quite happy with the result («all planned by the party measures in connection with the demonstration of 7 August went exactly as planned»).

By the way, there were some provocations. Early in August 1940 the «Alliance» spread information that in the nearest two weeks the Red Army will occupy key points in Finland under pretext of protection and securing railway transport on the line Vyborg — Hango. (About this wrote in his published in Stockholm memoirs a friend of the USSR, Finland’s Ambassador in Moscow and then president of the country Yu. K. Paasikivi) (Carl O. Nordling, www.carlonordling.se/ww2).

Also does not cause doubts the strategic task set in Moscow before the Finnish Communists and led by them «Alliance for peace» («we were of the opinion that the events in Finland would evolve same way as in the Baltic countries»). With even greater, maximum sincerity the strategic line of Comintern (i.e., Stalin’s leadership of the USSR) relative Finland opens in the «Letter to Finnish Communists», put together by housed in the Soviet Union management group of CC CPF (the document is signed by Kuusinen and Antikaynen). Before located in Finland CPF members are set such tasks: «...Unveil before masses the class nature of the main slogan of the Finnish bourgeoisie: «Defense of Finland’s independence»... The Finnish people would became happy if they received such freedom and independence, which possess the people in Karelo-Finnish, Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian Soviet republics. Therefore, our party, rejecting and unmasking the slogan of the «defense of Finland’s independence», connects the issue of securing independence of Finland and Finnish people with the task of turning Finland in Soviet republic (emphasis added. - M. S.)» (RGASPI, fund 516, list 2, case 1544, sheet 9-10).

Only two issues remain controversial. First, not quite clear is the very scenario of the planned transition from «destabilization to Sovietization». It may only be assumed that Karelo-Finnish SSR was created (and was being actively «finnized» in summer 1940) exactly for the purpose of presenting the future implementation of «turning Finland into a Soviet republic» not as absorption of a small country by a huge neighbor but in somewhat more attractive form of «reunification of Karelian and Finnish peoples in one state». On the other hand, to hope that survived in the hardest days of the «winter war» people of Finland would agree «voluntarily-forcefully» (on the image of three Baltic countries) to reunite with «Karelo-Finland» of Kuusinen would be too flippant.

It is hard to believe that Stalin could plan a game so simple. Possibly, bloody street disturbances would have only created propaganda pretext for a full-scale invasion by the Red Army forces. As Mannerheim writes in his memoirs, «in Helsinki on the known sample were staged demonstrations of Communists for a purpose of provoking a crisis. When a group of ruffians was detained in time of street disorders, the USSR Ambassador stated protest to prime-minister Ryuti...» (Mannerheim, 2003). Under such scenario, the invasion could have been justified by the necessary to save «bleeding Finnish workers». Unfortunately, the available source base does not allow so far moving beyond guesses and assumptions.

Even more enigmatic appears to be the second question. How come, after all, neither peace-loving «Alliance» nor victorious Red Army were able «to break the spine of Finnish bourgeoisie»? Why «CC CPF after 7 August forbade conducting any demonstrations», i.e., in actuality stopped the campaign of destabilization at the very takeoff? Why expected by many and such «logical» in the situation of the summer — fall 1940 occupation of Finland had not taken place? To this question we also do not have a convincing answer. Some suggestions about the circumstances, which affected making (or rather not making) the decision about invading may be generated by the analysis of strictly military aspects of the situation in the summer — fall 1940, which will be discussed in the next chapter.


Chronologically, first in the series of «Finnish questions», which the Soviet leadership was solving in the first weeks after signing 12 March 1940 of Moscow peace treaty became the prohibition of creating military alliance with Norway, Sweden and Finland.

The prehistory of the question is this. During the entire «winter war» governments of Norway and Sweden demonstratively walked off from rendering efficient military help to the victim of aggression. Moreover, these two governments categorically refused to allow passing through the territory of their states the Anglo-French expeditionary corps. This refusal, firm, unalterable and public, in actuality was used by Chamberlain and Daladier as plausible pretext for endless delays with sending forces in Scandinavia. (Eventually all this ended up in the occupation of parts of Finland by troops of the Soviet Union and of the entire Norway by the troops of Fascist Germany). On the other hand, the leaders of Norway and Sweden numerously stated that their leaning is totally on the side of democratic Finland, and if after the end of war Finland is still in existence they would be ready to conclude with her close military-political alliance.

The war ended. Finland, substantially battered but not vanquished, survived. Immediately after the end of war, in March 1940 began negotiations about creating a defence alliance of the Scandinavian countries. However, in these negotiations immediately «plugged in» Moscow, which stated that the participation of Finland in such alliance would be considered breaking conditions of the 12 March Peace treaty with all ensuing consequences. Of course, under the situation of the spring of 1940 Finland had no other choice but to agree with this blatant pressure. Deserves attention the evaluation of the history of might-have-been alliance in Mannerheim's memoirs:

«Defensive alliance was designed as the implementation of a desire by the northern countries to protect their neutrality and independence, and its only objective was maintaining the status quo in the North. At this, Finland would be part of the alliance with borders by the agreement concluded with Moscow. Additional guarantee of peaceful purposes of the would-be alliance was direct obligation of all its members not to start war unless it was the question of joint defence from aggressor.

Resistance of the Soviet Union to the creation of such defensive alliance was a mistake. As further events showed, its rejection benefited only Hitler whose attack on Scandinavia had not met joint resistance of Sweden and Norway. A question may be asked whether Hitler would have occupied Norway if he knew that he would enter open conflict with Sweden and Finland? Defensive alliance would have automatically brought us to the side of Germany’s adversaries... Having destroyed plans of creating the defensive alliance, the USSR in actuality contributed to German taking of a foothold on the Norwegian coast of the Arctic Ocean. From there, the Germans threatened Murmansk and extended part of their communications by a shortest way through the North Finland, and later, using the railway constructed on the order of the Soviet Union (Kemiyarvi — Salla line), showed up in dangerous proximity to Murmansk» (Mannerheim, 2003).

Of course, the position taken by the Soviet leadership on the issue of creation of a defensive alliance between the Scandinavian countries was a «mistake» only on the assumption that the goal of Stalin’s diplomacy was maintaining peace in the world and first of all near the USSR borders. If to assume that the goals were totally different then the evaluation might change into something directly opposite. The same way, depending on the assumed purposes and tasks, should be evaluated the way of creation and armament the military base at Hango peninsula, which turned out in possession of the Soviet Union under conditions of the Moscow agreement.

In chapter 1.2 of this book was already mentioned that as justification of his claims for Hango Stalin forwarded a strictly defensive intent to «block by artillery fire the entrance in the Gulf of Finland». This intent was even theoretically unfeasible (it was also previously discussed). Events of 1940 showed that nobody even attempted to implement this absurd idea practically.

Fire facility (and military unit occupying this facility) intended for fighting adversarial vessels (and capable in some cases to block with artillery fire marine navigating channel) is called «coastal battery». Coastal battery is not simply several  armed  lonely standing on the shore at sea. Explaining this moment in slightly greater detail:

In order for a coastal battery to be able to conduct artillery duel with large adversary vessels (up to heavy cruisers and battleships) it must at least not to concede to them in two key parameters: armament and protection. These requirements are quite feasible. On the inventory of coastal batteries most often were used marine guns of the same calibre and system as on heavy vessels. To solve the issue of protection was even more possible — coastal battery is immobile, it does not have to have positive buoyancy. Therefore, the restrictions on the size and weight of armor protection included in designing of combat vessels in the case of coastal battery could have been disregarded.

Practically all this means that coastal batteries were hidden among invincible granite rocks, they were placed in natural (or specially created by explosion) caves, protected by multi-meter layers of fortification reinforced concrete, equipped with underground storages and revetments for the personnel. As a result, arose a firing point almost impossible to defeat neither by the fire of ship guns nor by aviation bombing. Exactly the highest protection and invulnerability turned coastal battery (and it was usually only two, three or four guns) into quite significative element of the defence systems, of a great tactical or even operative importance.

Russian, and then Soviet navy science accumulated huge, multi-annual and multi-century experience in the creation of powerful coastal batteries. But at Hango this experience was not used. Stationary coastal batteries at Hango have not even been begun by construction! Mentioned sometimes in Soviet historical or memoir literature explanations of this paradoxical fact (shortage of building materials and workers, long construction timing) are a complete absurd. Having buggered up in three months of the «winter war» 127 thous. Red Army combatants and commanders, the Soviet leadership did not find the needed number of builders for arrangement of the very same Hango naval base, for the possession of which the war was conducted? And when was it that in Stalin’s empire was not enough workers’ hands? Only in Karelia and only at the construction of a railway in annexed territories toiled more than 100 thous. inmates. And if a hundred thousand was not enough, it was possible to drive in two, three or five hundred thousand more.

It is known for certain that during the so-called pre-war years in the Soviet Union was going on grandiose military construction. On the «Molotov's line» along the new western border was planned the creation of 5,807 long-term facilities. Out of those by 22 June 1941 at least 1 thous. were completed by construction. On 194 military airdromes were being constructed (or reconstructed) concrete runway corridors, underground concrete bomb storages (300 t each) and gasoline storages (225 t each) for every airdrome (RGVA, fund 25888, list 3, case 189, sheet 35). By the way, the issue of whether the Soviet Union had or did not have necessary resources for the construction of coastal batteries at the Gulf of Finland, should not be a matter of the discussion. Coastal batteries were being actually constructed. Those were super-mighty four gun 16 inches (406 mm) in Estonia, 180 and 305-mm batteries on the Osmussaar Island, 254-mm battery on the Russare Island and 180-mm battery on the Ezel Saaremaa) island... But not at Hango.

The naval base at Hango came out somewhat strange. At it have never been based surface craft of the destroyer class and up. In June 1941 from naval base Hango were removed earlier based there 1st brigade of torpedo boats and 8th submarine battalion, after which at Hango remained only seven «small hunters of the water area protection», i.e., in actuality, 7 small guard vessels (Platonov, 2005). Incomparably mightier were the land forces of this «navy» base. At Hango were deployed 8th non-integrated rifle brigade (two rifle and one artillery regiments, non-integrated tank battalion, two non-integrated machine gun companies and other detachments).

The 8th non-integrated rifle brigade was formed on the base of units of a legendary 24th Iron division, one of the best Red Army rifle groupings (created in the years of the Civil War under command of Gay). As of 1 January 1941 the 8th non-integrated rifle brigade had 10,701 people personnel, 513 horses, 886 automobiles, 219 tractors, 24  armed  calibre 76 mm and 24 howitzers (12 — calibre 122 mm and 12 — calibre 152 mm), 16 antitank 45-mm  armed , 102 mortars, 113 mounted and 303 hand machine guns. On the inventory of brigade’s tank battalion was 36 tanks -26 and 13 floating whippets -37 (RGVA, fund 25888, list 3, case 189, sheet 35). Please pay attention to unusually high for Red Army rifle units motorization level — every tenth soldier of the brigade was driver of a transport vehicle, and there were 219 tractors (pullers) for 64 guns.

Beside the 8th non-integrated rifle brigade on Hango were unfolded 4 non-integrated construction battalions, 2 sapper, 2 railway and 1 engineering battalions. These forces performed a huge amount of military construction work: built 190 earth-and-timber firing points; on the 4-kilometer isthmus connecting Hango peninsula with the continental Finland was dug the antitank ditch fortified by mine and barbed wire obstacles (Alliluyev and Slesarsky, 2003).

In the beginning of the war out of personnel of the construction and sapper detachments was formed one more (219th) rifle regiment, and the decision to create «reserves of rifles and machine guns for 5 thous. people for armament of construction and rear units» was made as early as 15 June 1941 (RGVA, fund 25888, list 3, case 189, sheet 59).

There were also  armed  on the shore. For anti-motorboat defence there were installed 24 semiautomatic 45-mm  armed  21. Considering the range of aimed shooting for the guns of such calibre, they could «cover with artillery fire» maybe a narrow river, but for fighting adversary landing troop cutters it was sufficiently formidable force. Besides, in open (!) armour shield installations, muzzles turned toward the Gulf of Finland, stood nine 130-mm and three 100-mm  armed .

The main fire power of Hango garrison were two heavy railway batteries: No. 9 of three guns calibre 305 mm and No.17 of 4 guns calibre 180 mm (RGA VMF, fund  P-62, list 2, case 168, sheet 732). Railway 12-inch (305 mm) artillery installations «-3-12» were justly called, unofficially, «dry land battleship». Monstrous gun with the barrel 17 meters long threw 470 kg shell over the distance of 29 km and the so-called «light long-range high explosive shell, vintage 1928», over the distance of 44 km. The weight of the «light» shell was 314 kg (for comparison, the most mass produced aviation bombs in the Soviet aviation of that time weighed 50 kg and 100 kg). One only battery No. 9 exceeded in the weight of the aggregate salvo the entire artillery of the 8th non-integrated rifle brigade together with coastal installations combined. The three-gun 305-mm battery had 3 gun transporters, 6 platforms for shells and charges, 3 cars-electrostations and 1 car — post of fire direction.  

Huge, complėx and very costly cómplex of heavy railway batteries had one substantial drawback — it was hardly suitable for use as a «coastal battery», i.e., for the conduct of artillery duel with adversary’s heavy surface ships. A cumbersome railway complex did not have any armoring, was «open to all winds», and it was practically impossible to camouflage nine huge platforms standing on the railway. The open railway installations had practically no chance to survive an engagement with sea guns protected by most powerful armor of the main calibre towers. Equally vulnerable was the railway battery also against a bomb strike of the adversary aviation. On the other hand, it could move. On the railway rails.

All aforementioned, in our view, is quite sufficient to understand — which tasks the naval base Hango should solve in a future war under the plans of the Soviet command. Fortunately for historians, in archives were preserved documents, finally relieving us from a need to guess. A directive from headquarters of Leningrad military district ordered to the Hango garrison:

«General task:

1. Not to allow the adversary on the peninsula either from the side of land borders or from the sea.

2. Not to allow any possibility of landing marine and airborne troops.

3. To provide for the concentration and landing of units arriving (emphasis added. - M. S..) in port Hango» (RGVA, fund 25888, list 3, case 189, sheet 1).

Operative plans of the Red Army top command (to be discussed below) directly envisioned redeployment of 1 —2 rifle divisions on Hango «in the very first days of war». Exactly for securing such activities was being created the system of fortifications and armaments at the Hango naval base. 8th non-integrated rifle (actually — motorized) brigade had to provide integrity of the foothold landing and then, together with the arrived units, to advance forward, in the depth of Finland. Costly railway batteries were driven on Hango not at all by accident but also not by mistake — fire from mighty guns must have wiped from the face of the land Finnish fortifications and destroyed the port and city of Helsinki.

The railway battery No. 9 already had experience of combat against the «White-Finnish militarists». 26 January 1940 the battery had arrived on the Karelian Isthmus, where it came into operative subordination of the Northwestern front 7th army head of artillery. From 11 through 25 February the battery No. 9 shot 165 heavy high explosive shells on the railway station of the city of Vyborg (Shirokorad, 2001). «Look at Vyborg — nothing remains of it. The city is completely destroyed», — reported with pride at the April (1940) Conference of the Red Army top command personnel the Northwestern front air force Commander Komkor Ptukhin (Winter war of 1939-1940, Book 2, 1998). «Land battleship» introduced their share in this destruction.


It may be a long argument of whether such use of Hango peninsula corresponded to Article 4 of Moscow agreement of 12 March 1940, under which the peninsula was leased to the Soviet Union on quite definite conditions, namely: «For the creation there of a naval base capable to defend from aggression (emphasis added. - M. S..) the entrance in the Gulf of Finland». The Moscow agreement, which had official name of a «peace treaty», not at all envisioned the creation of a foothold for future aggression. At the same time completely indisputable is the fact that the above agreement did not include any mention of providing the Soviet Union with the right of military (or any other) cargo transit on the railways of southern Finland from Vyborg to Hango. Article 6 of the peace treaty granted «to the Soviet Union and its citizens the right of free transit through Petsamo area in Norway and back», and also the right of free flight in Norway for «unarmed flying apparatuses». Article 7 said about «transit of goods between the USSR and Sweden». There was not a single word in the agreement about the transit of armament and military units on the territory of Finland (in particular, in Hango).

In July 1940, Molotov demanded to broaden on a unilateral basis the rights of the Soviet Union and to provide it with the opportunity to transit military cargo in Hango. In a formally-legal viewpoint the uncontrolled transit of military cargo and armed persons set already under doubt neutral and sovereign status of the Finnish state. From practical view-point securing the right of transit meant appearance on the naval base Hango of heavy armament systems, which would be difficult to deliver by sea (that was exactly the way railway artillery installations appeared on Hango), and also additional possibility for the conduct of military intelligence in southern, most populated and industrially developed area of Finland.

Clearly understanding all this, the Finnish government gave, nevertheless, its consent for the transit. In summer 1940 it actuality had no other alternatives besides new and new concessions to ever more open dictate. 22 July 1940 the corresponding agreement was signed. «When the USSR in July 1940 demanded the right of movement for the Russian trains from borders to Hango, — writes in his recollection Mannerheim, — we after long and stubborn negotiations, in which we secured some loosening, agreed even to this. Such through ride of trains through the entire southern part of Finland could have, naturally, resulted in its usage for malign purposes, and it was necessary for us to take care about security of most important railway nodes and bridges» (Mannerheim, 2003).

In the same July 1940 Molotov presented the Finns with one more demand in no way based on the spirit and wording of the Moscow agreement. In clear form, this agreement did not envision any restrictions on construction of defence facilities in the border corridor. Judging by Paasikivi memoirs, in the process of the negotiations Molotov said to the Finnish representatives: «Build any number of fortifications you want, on this issue we have no demands» (Nordling, "Stalin's insistent …", www.carlonordling.se/ww2). In actuality in 1940 —1941 on the Soviet side was conducted the construction of three new fortified areas (Vyborg, Kexholm and Sortavala). New airdromes were being constructed (Mannerheim maintains that in the process of offensive in summer 1941 the Finns discovered in the 200-kilometer corridor along the new Finnish border 90 ready and in construction airdromes) and rail- and highways leading to the border. All this did not prevent Molotov from demanding the discontinuation of any defensive construction on the Finnish side, including in the area of Hango peninsula (Nordling, "Stalin's insistent …”, www.carlonordling.se/ww2). To the extent it is possible to judge from the available sources, this demand could not be performed completely. So the construction of a fortification line in the corridor from the south coast of the Gulf of Finland to the water system of Sayma lakes (from Kotka to Lapeenrant) continued. Nevertheless, the presentation by Moscow of a demand about the stoppage of defensive construction in the theatres Vyborg — Helsinki and Hango — Helsinki is quite remarkable in itself.

Somewhat earlier, 2 June 1940 the Soviet Union demanded from Finland «to return» all movable and immovable assets, State and private persons, which, in the view of the Soviet authorities, were in the annexed Finnish territories as of the moment of the «winter war» beginning. It is impossible t find in the text of the Moscow peace treaty even the smallest grounds for such demands. The issue of the property, buildings and facilities in the territories being transferred to the Soviet Union is not mentioned there at all. And in any case, demands of the «return» of movable assets, which by definition could not belong to some territory were devoid of any reasonable and legitimate grounds. Nevertheless, Moscow insisted on her illegal demands, and Finland lost, besides the others, 75 steam locomotives and 2,000 railway cars — quite significant blow on even without it war-weakened transportation system.

The next link in the chain of ever strengthening political pressure became the demand of resignation by minister of supplies V.Tanner whom, possibly, Molotov «remembered» for his uncompromising position at the time of negotiations in Moscow in the fall 1939. It is hardly necessary to prove that the conditions of the 12 March 1940 peace treaty did not include the right of Moscow to appoint and remove ministers of the Finnish government. Nevertheless, in July 1940 Finland was forced to submit to this demand as well.

14 June 1940 the «cold war» between the USSR and Finland for one more moment was supplemented by a real war — with human victims, participation of combat aircraft and ships. On this day was shot down in the air a passenger aircraft «Junkers-52» of the Finnish «Aero» aviation company performing a regular flight from Tallinn to Helsinki. At 1354 hours aircraft with the tail number «OH-ALL» and the name «Kaleva» on the fuselage took off from the Tallinn airdrome. On board were two crew members and seven passengers, among whom were two officers from the French Embassy and a diplomat from the USA. Twelve minutes after the takeoff radio communications with the aircraft suddenly stopped. Several minutes later the dispatch point at the airdrome Malmi (Helsinki) received information that observation posts on the island of Santakhamina saw a burning aircraft, which collapsed in waters of the Gulf of Finland.

At 1451 hours to the aircraft drop site from the airport Malmi flew off a duty fighter of the Finnish air force. The circumstances so happened that in its cabin was Ilmari Yuutilaynen — a flier who later became the most efficient ace-fighter of all countries-participants of the Second World War (except Germany). In the area of Keri Island (33 km north of Tallinn) Yuutilaynen discovered drifting in surface position Soviet submarine, next to which on water were floating fragments of aircraft and large oil slick. During 14—15 June 1940 Soviet hydro-aircraft and ships patrolled «Kaleva» drop location and, having gathered floating objects, went to Kronstadt (Zefirov, 2003). Finland government following the events in Estonia with growing concern this time also considered it right and proper not to file a protest and demand compensation of damages.

This is all that is known exactly. The Soviet government did not admit its responsibility and did not bring even formal apologies in connection with tragic perishment of «Kaleva» passengers. Moreover, in two days, 16 June 1940, identical passenger «Junkers-52» (however, this time of the Estonian aviation company), on a regular flight along the same trajectory from Helsinki to Tallinn, was shot at from a flak machine gun of the Soviet submarine. Fortunately, it did not get damaged (Zefirov, 2003). Specific details of the «Kaleva» destruction are not known. According to some information it was shot down by fighter planes, the other one said that those were a couple of light bombers SB. Many years thereafter a well-known navigator of long-range aviation, Lieutenant General P.I. Khokhlov stated in his memoirs «Above the three seas» about his participation in the destruction of the passenger aircraft.

In his book the events are described as follows: «Labourers of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia toppled the hated bourgeois regimes and gained freedom. Based on free expression of will of their peoples they entered the USSR as equitable Social republics. Toppled in these countries representatives of the exploiter class together with their foreign partners attempted to send beyond the ocean looted capitals. Combat vessels and aircraft of the Red Banner Baltic fleet were ordered to close uncontrolled exit of foreign vessels and fly-out of foreign aircraft from the sea ports and airdromes of the Baltic republics. This task was assigned to our 1st Mine-Torpedo Aviation Regiment.

23 June 1940 two our crews headed by the aviation regiment commander Colonel Sh.B. Bedzinashvili flew out for intelligence gathering in the northwestern part of the Baltic Sea. The leading crew included the regiment commander, myself, the navigator and shooter-radio operator sergeant Kazunov... About three or four kilometres from the city [Tallinn] I notices that from the airdrome at Lagsberg took off an aircraft and took the course toward Helsinki.

“To intercept!” ordered Colonel Bedzinashvili. “For sure uncontroled, it is necessary to turn it back”.

We are approaching the aircraft «Ju-52» without any identification marks. I opened the astrohatch of my cabin, rose and showed the pilot by hand to turn the vehicle toward the airdrome. But the «Junkers» was flowing on the previous trajectory, and increased the speed. We crossed his trajectory two times making signs: «Demand return!» Unknown crew ignored our demands.

“Warning fire”, says the commander .

Several tracer bursts in front of «Junkers» cabin do not change anything. We are so close to the chased aircraft that we see through the illuminators the passengers in overfilled cabin, their self-complacent mugs. They show us clenched fists, threaten with pistols. After this, the violator aircraft was shot down.

...In raised from the bottom of the gulf fuselage were discovered not only plenty material valuables but also many documents of state secrets... We understood why the crew of the «Ju-52» refused to comply with the demand to return on the airdrome: they would have to account for the espionage...» (Khokhlov, 1988).

This text is unique in the extent of mendacious prepossession. As we know, the labourers of Estonia «gained freedom» and «entered the USSR based on free expression of will» 6 August 1940. As of 14 June 1940 Estonia was not one of «equitable Socialist republics» but a sovereign state whose government as of that moment was not even presented with Molotov's ultimatum (this happened two days later, 16 June). Perhaps, exactly because of this the author of the text «postponed» the date of «Kaleva» destruction from 14 to 23 June, although this changed nothing in the legal evaluation of the situation (with enough smarts it would be necessary to «postpone» it to any date after 6 August).

14 June 1940 the Soviet command did not have even the slightest legitimate grounds to hinder «uncontrolled flew-out of foreign aircraft» from the territory of foreign to the USSR Estonia. Captured by armed way diplomatic documents and «robbed capitals» belonged to Estonia and her citizens. As for «espionage», and even aggravated by armed brigand attack, it was conducted that day not at all by the crew of the Finnish passenger aircraft...

On the fuselage and wings of the shot down «Junkers» (which is perfectly visible on the preserved photos) in huge letters was written the board number «OH-ALL» and on the tail fin was clearly shown state flag of Finland. The dissertation on the subject that passengers threatened to shoot down a long-range bomber  by pistols from the closed cabin of the passenger aircraft force to assume that this text was written not by Lieutenant General of aviation but by notorious «literature consultants»...

All things considered, this fragment of the typical Soviet «memoirs» gives demonstrative idea about the state of inebriation with all-permissiveness and impunity, in which the Red Army command dwelled in summer 1940. Of course, navy commanders not conceded at all in their arrogant-faith-in-success mood to their land and aviation colleagues. For instance, head of the Red Banner Baltic Fleet headquarters Rear Admiral Yu.A. Panteleyev in his report memo to the Main marine headquarters proposed 5 July 1940 the following: «...Capture of Aland Islands in all cases of the situation in the Baltic, and immediately... Offensive of our land forces northward from the base at Hango and westward from Vyborg... Immediately, this very year, to get Aland Islands and the opportunity of real contrle over the entire Finnish bases in the Gulf of Finland by any means — up to war». Not too much behind the superior head was also the squadron commander of the Red Banner Baltic Fleet Rear Admiral N.N. Nesvitsky. 10 July he sent in Main marine headquarters a report memo with the proposal «to decide the question of independent existence of Sweden and Finland in favor of the USSR (emphasis added. - M. S.) and to make the Baltic Sea» (RGASPI, fund 71, list 25, case 12089, sheet 1-4; RGA VMF, fund -92, list 2, case 668, sheet 4, 26).

The issue of «independent existence of Sweden and Finland» was raised already quite specifically. In September 1940 Commander of Red Banner Baltic Fleet air force Major General Yermachenkov submitted to Red Banner Baltic Fleet Commander vice-admiral Tributs «Memorandum for the operations plan 1940». The tasks of the fleet aviation were phrased as follows:

«1.By the independent actions of combat aviation of the Red Banner Baltic Fleet air force and Baltic Special Military District air force to destroy vessels transports at sea and not to allow basing of the adversary fleet in Stockholm, Carlscrone, Nortcheping, Fore, Helsinki, Abo, Raumo, Pori, Memel, Danzig, Gdynya, Zaenez, Stettin, Keel (Baltic in Sweden, Finland, occupied Poland and Germany - M.S.)...

4. In the interaction with fleet to secure capture of the Aland Islands (emphasis added - M. S..) by way of strikes from air and landing of airborne troops, by specially attached to the Red Banner Baltic Fleet air force Red Army air force landing units...» (RGA VMF, fund  -92, list 2, case 670, sheet 3).

In the beginning of 1990’s, after the publication of numerous similar documents made it already indecent to repeat old fairy tales about «quiet, peaceful and defenseless» Stalin’s empire, keepers of the Communist propaganda myths launched a new plastic record-78. Ostensibly, all these offensive plans were developed as purely hypothetical «projects», almost on individual time. Alas, a bold hypothesis about Soviet generals and admirals who during free from work and friendly tea time draw red arrows on maps is not supported by the facts. Exactly the other way around, documents and facts testify that the preparation (including intelligence) to the implementation of plans of invading Europe was conducted day and night.

«Intelligence plan of the Red Banner Baltic Fleet air force from 1.06.40 through 31.12.41.

... Intelligence target: aerial photo-intelligence of ports in the Gulf of Bothnia (Vaasa, Christanstadt, Gefle, Aland Islands). Objective: fine-tune targets of defence value... Meands: 10th aviation brigade, 73rd aviation regiment...

... Intelligence target: coastal and flak artillery in Stockholm, Carlskrone, Gotland Island, and also Finland’s 1st artillery regiment. Objective: fine-tune locations of fire points, access roads to them and service buildings...

Means: 10th aviation brigade, 8th aviation brigade, 15 and 73 aviation regiments...

Head of the Red Banner Baltic Fleet air force headquarters Colonel Surkov, head of intelligence department Captain Semishin» (RGA VMF, fund -62, list 2, case 168, sheet 807).

«To head of the 2nd section of First department at headquarters of the navy aviation Major Klimashin.

Reporting the status of the intelligence preparation in the Red Banner Baltic Fleet air force headquarters as of 1 August 1940 .

...Cases of objects continue to being set up and amended with arriving material, in particular, mimeographed object Stockholm in 20 copies and sent into units. Objects Kalmar and Carlskrone are being worked on. Total for the air force set up: cases of objects 270, out of those for Sweden — 91, for Germany and — 90, for Finland — 36.

Head of intelligence dpt at the Red Banner Baltic Fleet air force headquarters Captain Semishin» (RGA VMF, fund P-62, list 2, case 168, sheet 732).

To Head of intelligence dpt at the Red Banner Baltic Fleet air force headquarters. Per your No. 1/668 of 14 August 1940 .

«...please report by 1 September 1940 for which objects cases are formalized for Finland, Sweden and whether they are available in all regiments. Simultaneously report whether you received object  «Stockholm» from the Red Banner Baltic Fleet intelligence department and what kind of pitfalls are there.

Force the processing of cases in order to finish with them in the nearest time .

Head of the 2nd section of the first department of the navy aviation headquarters Major Klimashin» (RGA VMF, fund -62, list 2, case 168, sheet 698).


Marshall Mannerheim — as much as can be judged from his memoirs — practically practically had no doubts that Finland was at the threshold of new war: «... Already in the fall 1940 Finland could again become the victim of attack, to repel which the country would be able... Same as before the beginning of the Winter war, dangerously increased number of border violations by aircraft... Confessions by all without exception Bolshevik agents detained by us testified that preparations to war against Finland were going at full swing. Even more accurately this was testified by the data of Finnish counterintelligence. In August 1940 one Colonel and two Majors who were preparing spies for planting in Finland, said: «Finland is a capitalist country, the same lot is awaiting it as Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Inclusion of Finland in the USSR is a matter of few weeks, at the most of few months...» (Mannerheim, 2003).

Even more remarkable is that that the German intelligence also did not doubt that the war was close. 13 August 1940, believing speedy absorption of Finland by the Soviet Union a solved case, Hitler ordered to prepare operation under the code name «Renntier» (Zimke, 2005). What was in mind was to capture on the eve (or already in the process) of the Soviet invasion Finnish nickel mines at Petsamo. For this purpose was planned a strike from the northern Norway by forces of two Wehrmacht's mountain-rifle divisions (later this local operation was implemented, however on a substantially lager scale, in summer 1941.)

Today, based on genuine documents of the Soviet military command, we may assert that both Mannerheim and Hitler were wrong in their forecasts. There was no operative unfolding of the Red Army forces for military activities on the northern theatre of military operations in the fall 1940. The document enabling a statement so categorical is, in our view, the report by head of operative flights section at headquarters of the Red Army air force Colonel Mironov of 2 December 1940 (RGVA, fund 29, list 34, case 415, sheet 92-99).

The report includes generalized and systematized data about all major regroupings of the Red Army air force units performed in 1940. And as preparation and conduct of a strategic offensive operation in the Second World War were already impossible without the involvement of substantial aviation forces, the report by Colonel Mironov may be considered albeit implicit but exhaustive «report» about plans and actions of the USSR Armed forces in 1940. Familiarizing with the report’s content shows that in 1940 were four episodes of large strategic aviation regroupings:

1. January — February. In Leningrad in and on air force bases of the Soviet Union in Estonia were redeployed 29 aviation regiments (here and thereafter non-integrated aviation squadrons and tactical intelligence squadrons attached to rifle corps will not be mentioned). In March to the places of continuous deployment returned 29 aviation regiments. The sense of this regrouping is quite obvious — this is «winter war» and associated with it fortification of the grouping of Soviet aviation in the theatre of military operations. The war ended, and all 29 regiments returned to their places.

2. April. In the Trans-Caucasian are redeployed 6 aviation regiments (all regiments — bomber). They remained there. It may be assumed that strengthening of the Soviet air force grouping in Trans-Caucasus was due to extreme aggravation of relations between the USSR and Anglo-French block, in spring of 1940. From Trans-Caucasus airdromes the Soviet bombers could carry out blows on English and French military objects in Iran, Iraq, Syria.

3. May — June. In Odessa redeployed 14 aviation regiments (including 10 bomber). Then, also in June, three regiments returned to places of continuous deployment. Content of the measure is quite understandable. This is the preparation to a possible armed conflict with Rumania and then the creation of a large aviation grouping on the newly acquired territory of Bessarabia (Moldavia).

4. June. «To the international border in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia» (sic in the text. - M.S.) redeployed 21 aviation regiments.

During the same month to places of continuous deployment returned 11 aviation regiments. In this case, everything is also understandable — before us is the preparation to the occupation of Baltic states and then the creation of aviation grouping in the new Baltic Special military district.

That was it. No other large regroupings of aviation occurred in 1940. With the probability close to 100% it means that the occupation of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia became the last strategic offensive operation of 1940. The preparation to invading Finland did not move in 1940 to the stage of practical measures of operative force unfolding.




Conclusion we made in the end of the previous chapter is not at all trivial. Concentration of land and air forces, operative unfolding of the force grouping and its subsequent invasion would be quite logical completion of «pressing» Finland, which continued the entire year. However, this did not happen albeit plans of a «Finnish campaign» were developed and fine-tuned at least during the entire fall of 1940.

Chronologically first of available strategic planning documents of 1940 is a report memo from the USSR Narkom for the Defence and head of the Red Army General headquarters. It was addressed to the CC VKP(b) I.V.Stalin and V.. Molotov and entitled «On the fundamentals of the USSR Armed forces strategic unfolding in the West and East», w/o number, signed no later than 16 August 1940 (TSAMO, fund 16, list 2951, case 239, sheets 1-37). We will note in parentheses that Fund 16 of the Ministry for the defence Central archive’s where this and other documents of military planning are held (which will be discussed in this chapter) are not yet declassified. It means that they are still unavailable to anybody besides engaged «historians from Glavpur[5]». In others words, already more than 10 years exists completely delirious situation when a number of military-historical documents are published but not declassified! Therefore, we cannot check the match of published texts and the original documents, cannot replenish fragments possibly «forgotten» by the publishers or, the main thing, find other similar documents. The situation cannot be called other than «theatre of absurd». However, having nothing better we will be working with what is available.

The document of 16 August is compiled by Vasilevsky, signed by Timoshenko and Shaposhnikov. The report memo authors state that the «Soviet Union must be ready for fighting on two fronts: in the west against Germany supported by Italy, Finland and Rumania and possibly Turkey, and in the east — against Japan» (Russia-XX century, Documents. Year 1941, Book 1, 1998). It is indicated that Finland can set forth up to 15 rifle divisions and 400 aircraft.

Main events in the idea of the Red Army top command must occur in the west. «The main task of our forces is to carry out defeat of the German forces being concentrated in Eastern Prussia and in Warsaw area. An auxiliary blow is to carry out defeat to adversary grouping in the area Ivangorod, Lyublin, Grubeshov, Tomashev, Sandomir (Southern Poland. - M.S.)» (Russia-XX century, Documents. Year 1941, Book 1, 1998). The northwestern (Finnish) theatre within the constraints of purposes and tasks of this plan is viewed only as one of secondary: «...Strategic unfolding in the northwest of our border is subordinated first of all to the defence of Leningrad, cover of the Murmansk railway and retaining our total domination in the Gulf of Finland.

Entering the war by Finland alone is unlikely (emphasis added. - M. S.), most probable is the case of simultaneous participation in war of Finland with Germany. Taking into account possible correlation of forces, our actions in the northwest must boil down to active defence of our border » (Russia-XX century, Documents. Year 1941, Book 1, 1998).

16 August 1940 Marshall Shaposhnikov was replaced in the position of head of the RKKA General headquarters by Army General Meretskov.

18 September, signed by Timoshenko and Meretskov (prepared by Vasilevsky), were issued two new documents. One of them: report memo No. 103202/v by the USSR Narkom for the Defence and head of the Red Army General headquarters to CC VKP(b) I.V.Stalin and V..Molotov «On the fundamentals of strategic unfolding of the USSR Armed forces in the West and East» (TSAMO, fund 16, on. 2951, case 239, sheet 197—244). In the name, and to substantial extent in the content this document copied the plan of strategic unfolding from 16 August 1940. As applied to the northwestern theatre the objectives and tasks were repeated verbatim. The only change was some increase in the composition of the Soviet force grouping on the Finnish border from 11 rifle divisions, 2 rifle and 3 tank brigades to 13 rifle divisions, 2 rifle and 3 tank brigades (Russia-XX century, Documents. Year 1941, Book 1, 1998).

Within the framework of a plan for big war with Germany (in the territory of the «former Poland» and East Prussia) the Finnish theatre remained secondary, passive area.

The same day, 18 September 1940, with the same awe-inspiring labels («Special importance. Top secret. Only personally. The only copy») Timoshenko and Meretskov directed to Stalin and Molotov a report memo No. 103203 «Considerations about unfolding of the Red Army forces in case of war with Finland» (TSAMO, fund 16, list 2951, case 237, sheet 138—156).

This time, about the fate of Finland were expressed most decisive considerations:

«... By a strike of the Northwestern front main forces through Savonlinna on San-Michel (Mikkeli) and through Lappeenranta on Heynola, circumventing created in the Helsingfors theatre fortifications, by simultaneous strike from Vyborg through Sippola on Helsingfors (Helsinki), invade the central Finland, crush there main forces of the Finnish army and invade central part of Finland. Combine this blow with a blow on Helsingfors from the side of Hango peninsula and with actions of the Red Banner Baltic Fleet in the Gulf of Finland» (TSAMO, fund 16, list 2951, case 237, sheet 138—156).

We will note right away that there are no words «German», «Germany» in this document. It was intended «to invade, crush and possess» without any connection with really (or at least expected) presence of the German forces in the territory of Finland! For the implementation of the operation design it was planned to include in the Northwestern front four armies, to which were set the following tasks (see map No. 4):

— 7th army (headquarters — Suoyarvi) «carries out a blow in the direction of Ioensu and invades area Kuopio. In the future to keep in mind actions in Yuvyaskyulya»;

22nd army (headquarters — Kexholm, troops unfolded along the northwestern shore of Lake Ladoga) «by a strike through Savonlinna invades San-Michel. In the future, depending on the situation, keep in mind actions either together with the 23rd army on Heynola or in interaction with the 7th army on Yuvyaskyulya and farther on Tampere»;

— 23rd army (headquarters — Karisalmi, 30 km northeast of Vyborg) «through Lappeenranta carries out blow on Heynola and invade it»;

— 20th army (headquarters — Vyborg) «breaks through adversary fortifications and comes to the front Kouvola, Kotka; in the future, in interaction with the 23rd army and by offensive from Hango carries out blow on Helsingfors» (Russia-XX century, Documents. Year 1941, Book 1, 1998).

Two armies (7th and 23rd) already in peaceful time have belonged in the Leningrad VO[6]. Two other armies (22nd and 20th) were planned to be created on the base of groupings and headquarters, respectively, of the Ural and Orel military districts

The continuously present in operative plans of the Soviet-Finnish war idea of exiting to the Gulf of Bothnia and the border with Sweden in Kemiii — Oulu area also was not forgotten (see map No. 5). For activities in northern Karelia was created one more front  (Northern front), to which were set the following tasks:

«...By decisive actions on the directions Rovaniyemi — Kemi on Uleaborg (Oulu), to exit of the coast of Gulf of Bothnia, cut the north Finland and interrupt land communications of the central Finland with Sweden and Norway...» (TSAMO, fund 16, list 2951, case 237, sheet 138—156).

In the Northern front (being created on the basis of the command and headquarters of the Archangel VO) were included two armies (14th and 21st) and non-integrated 20th rifle corps. To the 14th (Murmansk) army was set the same task, which it successfully accomplished in the time of the «winter war», to capture the port and nickel mines of Petsamo. The 21st army (being unfolded on the basis of command and headquarters of Volga VO) would decide the main task of the front: «to carry out blow in the direction of Rovaniyemi — Kemi, exit on the coast of the Gulf of Bothnia and invade Kemi area. In the future keep in mind actions on Uleaborg». 20th non-integrated rifle corps (Moscow VO), advancing in the forested cross-country, must carry out auxiliary strike on the shortest way from Ukhta on Oulu.

Total composition of the planned grouping and forces of the North and Northwestern fronts is shown in the following Table:


10th army

13th army

12th army

7th army

20th special corps

21st army

14ty army


Rifle divisions









Tank brigades









Artillery regiments RGK[7]









Aviation regimants









However, even these quite impressive forces did not exhaust the military might, which had to collapse on Finland. Beside the armies indicated in the Table at the disposal of the Northwestern front command were handed:

«1.On the northwestern coast of Estonian SSR in Tallinn area, port Baltiysky — 2 rifle divisions (11th and 126th, Baltic Special Military District), one out of those is intended for activities from Hango peninsula on Helsingfors (emphasis added. - M. S..) and the second one, depending on the environment, for activities of capturing Aland Islands (at the entrance to the Gulf of Bothnia) or it is possible to move it on a railway to the main theatre of the front.

2.3 rifle divisions in the area of stations Petiyarvi, Heinioki, Valkyarvi (east of Vyborg).

3. 1 rifle division — in the area of Leningrad.

4. A tank corps in the area Vyborg — Heinioki (2 tank and 1 moto-rifle divisions»). (Russia-XX century, Documents. Year 1941, Book 1, 1998).

Besides, together with the aviation subordinated to the armies, directly in subordination of the Northern and Northwestern front Commanders were transferred, respectively, 15 and 21 (these are not regimental names but their count!) aviation regiments. Therefore, on the theatre of military operations in the future Finnish war had to be unfolded 46 rifle divisions, 78 aviation regiments, 13 artillery regiments RGK, 3 tank brigades and one mechanized (tank ) corps. Total number of aircraft to be involved in the operation was determined by the authors of the «considerations» at 3,900 units (Russia-XX century, Documents. Year 1941, Book 1, 1998). This is one and a half times the count of the morning 22 June 1941 in all three Luftwaffe Air fleet concentrated on the Eastern front ...

However, even that was not all. «To have in the reserve of the Supreme Command in area Tikhvin — Volkhovstroy — Chudovo 2 rifle divisions» And also «to prepare and have in reserve of the Supreme Command at the points of continuous deployment seven rifle divisions from Western and seven rifle divisions from Kiev military districts, total of 14 rifle divisions» (Russia-XX century, Documents. Year 1941, Book 1, 1998).

The Red Banner Baltic Fleet was again tasked with «destroying Finland navy, disrupting Finland’s marine communications in Bothnia and Finnish Gulfs...». A new item was a demand to «provide possible redeployment of 1 —2 rifle divisions on Hango peninsula».

The plan of 18 September 1940 in many things was different from the plan of «operation and crush of land and marine forces of the Finnish army» signed by Meretskov 29 October 1939. First, which immediately catching thee eye, is a radical increase in the planned numerical strength of the Red Army forces. The number of rifle divisions was more than doubled (from 21 to 46), artillery regiments RGK — almost doubled (from 7 to 13), two and a half times increased the numerical strength of the aviation involved in the operation (from 1,581 to 3,900 combat aircraft). Six times increased (in comparison with the «winter war» plan) the grouping of forces tasked with «cutting» the territory of Finland and coming to Oulu — Kemi. It is also worth mentioning that signed the same day, 18 September 1940, big plan «of conducting operations in the West» included «only» 146 rifle divisions and 159 aviation regiments with «6,422 aircraft as of 15 September» (Russia-XX century, Documents. Year 1941, Book 1, 1998). In others words, the forces planned for the war with Finland were: in the number of rifle divisions — one third, in the number of aviation regiments and aircraft — a half of those forces, which were supposed to be unfolded for war with incomparably more powerful and numerous army of Germany and her southern allies (Rumania, Hungary).

Large forces corresponded with new tasks phrased this time with maximum clarity. The plan of 29 October 1939 restricted the depth of offensive for main Red Army groupings by exit on line Vyborg—Sortavala. (After that it was supposed «to be ready for further actions in the depth of the country depending on the circumstances»). The plan of 18 September 1940 unambiguously demanded «to invade the central part of Finland» and its capital.

Another substantial difference in plans of 1939 and 1940 becomes obvious if one looks at a geographic map of the area of future combat activities. Red arrows are lost among a sheer spread of blue lakes. Advance trajectories of 7th, 22nd and 23rd armies run through largest in Europe lake area (Sayma lake system). The space between «blue eyes of the lakes» is occupied by dense forests and swamps. That was the cost of the decision made in September 1940 to carry out the main strike «circumventing the fortifications created on the Helsingfors theatre». Apparently, sad experience of breaking «Mannerheim’s line» by bloody frontal attacks forced the plan developers (i.e., main «Commanders of the winter war» Timoshenko and Meretskov), («once bitten twice shy») to be overcautious.

The issue of whether being hastily constructed Finnish fortifications on the line Kotka — Lappeenranta, Kotka — Kouvola represented barrier so strong that the risk of heavy possible losses at their  breakthrough justified changing the direction of the main strike to the dense forests, is questionable. With much greater certainty it may be assumed that exactly the decision to carry out strike through the lake-forest area caused «negligibly small» (by the Soviet standards) number of tanks allocated for the conduct of the operation. As of 15 September 1940 in the Red Army were 17.6 thous. tanks (not counting 5.8 thous. whippets -27, -37 and -38). Only in Leningrad MD were 2,766 tanks (again, not counting machine gun whippets) (Meltyukhov, 2000). And in the assumed war against Finland were supposed to be involved 3 tank brigades (out of more than 26 available in RKKA), only 785 tanks (Russia-XX century, Documents. Year 1941, Book 1, 1998).

The text of «Considerations about unfolding of the Red Army forces in case of war with Finland» of 18 September 1940 does not include even the tiniest hint of a possible date to begin this war. Nevertheless, analysis of the operative plan and structure of the force grouping enables to formulate a hypothesis that another «winter war» was planned. Strictly speaking, the question about which time of year it would be better to conduct a major offensive operation in the area of Sayma lake system should be answered: «Always worse». In winter — deep snow and freeze, short light day, which drastically limits combat possibilities for the aviation. In summer — quaggy cross-country and clouds of bloodsucking gnat. Nevertheless, winter, freezing solid surface of lakes and swamps under a hard shell of ice, substantially increases passability, therefore, possibility for tactical and operative manoeuvre. For a grouping, which takes shape based on September considerations (infantry with minimum number of tanks, and supported by very large forces of aviation), winter is still somewhat more preferable.

Such conclusion may appear paradoxical, but only against the background of trivial legends about «40-degree freeze» and «two meters thick snow cover», which prevented the Red Army from «liberating» Finland in December 1939.

Winter in southern Finland (and in all seaside regions of Europe) is sufficiently mild (by our, Russian standard). Average (based on multiannual meteorological observations) January temperature in Helsinki is 2.7 deg below zero, and overall for the southern areas of the country it is minus 3 to 7 degrees. Brutal frosts in winter 1939/1940 were a unique natural anomaly, unheard of in previous hundred years. But even in that impossible winter air temperature on Karelian Isthmus in December 1939 not even once dropped below minus 23 degrees.

It is cold, but for a young male in sheepskin coat, not deadly. 40-degree frosts indeed occurred in January — February 1940, however, not in the southern but in central and northern Finland, which and geographically and climatically represent, in actuality, «a different country». As for the «two meter-thick snow cover», as is known to every Russian, it appears (if it appears) closer to February — March but in no way in the beginning of the winter. In actuality every year, every winter there is a sufficiently long period when the ground is already frozen, dirt roads became like rock but the snow still does not reach the knee. At last, for moving on virgin snow Russians, Finns, Swedes and other peoples of the northern Europe already long ago came up with sledges, drags and skis.

In any case, the main Commander treated the idea of conducting combat activities in winter quite positively.

16 April 1940 in the night session at the Conference of top RKKA commanders Comrade Stalin sharply accused «some comrades» who doubted the possibility of fighting in winter: «...How can it be accepted that in the draft Field Book and in the draft Instructions, which the people read, [it is said] that winter conditions make the environment of war worse. After all, all serious, decisive successes of the Russian army unfolded exactly in winter conditions, beginning with the fights of Alexander Nevsky and ending with the defeat of Napoleon. Exactly in winter conditions our troops were on top because they were hardier and winter conditions did not make any difficulties for them. With so many examples, how is it possible to teach the reader such gibberish that winter conditions are lowering combat capability of army...» (Winter war of 1939-1940. 1998).

If our hypothesis is right and a new war against Finland was planned for winter of 1940/1941, it explains why the campaign of pressure and destabilization begun in summer did not grow up into real combat activities.

Stalin simply waited for a light freeze. By the way, we will repeat it once again, the «winter slant» of the plan for war with Finland compiled 18 September 1940 is only a hypothesis, which does not have (due to unavailability of information) direct documental confirmation.

The «considerations» signed 18 September ended up in a standard for such documents phrase: «Reporting the basics of our operative unfolding against Finland, I am requesting their review». 5 October 1940 this and a number of other documents of strategic military planning were reviewed and approved by Stalin. This conclusion is based on a report memo from Timoshenko and Meretskov No. 103313 (TSAMO, fund 16, list 2951, case 242, sheets 84-90). The document began with quite strange for the usual common sense phrase: «Reporting for your approved main conclusions from your directions issued 5 October 1940» (Russia-XX century, Documents. Year 1941, Book 1, 1998). In other words, Narkom for the defence asked Stalin to confirm in writing that he (Timoshenko) correctly understood Stalin. Not digressing any more on logical deadlock of this situation we will switch right away to p.7 of the report memo: «To approve the submitted considerations on the development of particular unfolding plans for combat activities against Finland, against Rumania and against Turkey» (Russia-XX century, Documents. Year 1941, Book 1, 1998).

The plans of «combat activities against Rumania and against Turkey», unfortunately, have not yet been declassified. As for the war against Finland, the preparation to it continued. This is with all certainty supported by a new document two months later: «The directive of People’s Commissariat for the Defence USSR and the Red Army General headquarters to troop Commander of Leningrad military district», w/o number, of 25 November 1940 (TSAMO,. 16, list 2951, case 237, sheet 118-130).

In the name, intent and the addressee this was a document of a lower rank compared with the «considerations» of 18 September. The Directive of 25 November was an order from a superior commander to subordinates, which order, naturally, began and ended not with «a request for a review» but with specific instructions:

«I am ordering to begin development a plan of operative unfolding the forces of the Northwestern front...

... Assign to this plan of unfolding a tentative name «S.Z. 20». The plan is to be enacted on the receipt of enciphered telegram signed by me and head of the Red Army General headquarters in the following wording: «Begin accomplish «S.Z. 20».

The Military Council and headquarters of Leningrad military district must develop in the Red Army General headquarters by 15 February 1941 (emphasis added. - M. S.):

) plan of concentration and unfolding front forces.

b) cover plan.

c) plan of fulfilling the first operation.


d) plan of aviation activities...» (Russia-XX century, Documents. Year 1941, Book 1, 1998).

And further on follow five particular plans forming in aggregate quite completed plan of operative unfolding forces of the front (not «district», we will note, but exactly «front»!).

Concept of the operation, objectives and tasks of the forces, stages and lines of advance practically have not changed (compared with the «Considerations» of 18 September) but became more determined as in the «Directive» of 25 November has already appeared specific timing for the «final solution» of the Finnish question.

«...I set as basic tasks for the Northwestern front: crush of Finland’s armed forces, capturing her territory within the separation lines (meaning separation lines with the Northern front operating in the central and northern Finland. - M.S.) and exit to the Gulf of Bothnia in the 45th day of the operation, for which:

...after concentrating forces be ready in the 35th day of the mobilization on special direction to begin general offensive carrying out the main strike in a general direction on Lappeenranta, Heynola, Hyameyenlinna and auxiliary strikes in directions Korpiselkya — Kuopio and Savonlinna — Mikkeli, to crush main forces of the Finnish army in the area Mikkeli, Heynola, Hamina, in the 35th day of operation to capture Helsingfors (here and emphasis added - M. S..) and exit to the front Kuopio, Yuvyaskyulya, Hyameyenlinna, Helsingfors .

...To the right, Northern front (headquarters in Kandalaksha) in the 40th day of mobilization begins offensive and in the 30th day of the operation captures the area Kemi, Uleaborg (Oulu)» (Russia-XX century, Documents. Year 1941, Book 1, 1998).

The perception of adversary also became more specific. Whereas in September «Considerations» simply nothing is said about the possibility of joint activities of the German and Finnish forces, the Directive of 25 November straight away began with words: «In conditions of the USSR war only against Finland (emphasis added. - M. S.) for convenience of management and material provision of forces are created two fronts...» No «assuring security of Leningrad» is mentioned, also nothing is said about repelling the «German-Fascist aggression» (this thesis was invented by the Soviet historiography much later).

In the Northwestern front were included the same four armies (20th, 23rd, 22nd and 7th) with the same unfolding areas and offensive trajectories as in the September plan. Unchanged remained also total number of rifle divisions and aviation regiments, composition and deployment locations of the front reserves (four rifle divisions, one mechanized corps and 21 aviation regiments). The only novelty was noticeable increase in the number of tank and motorized brigades and heavy artillery regiments RGK involved in the operation:


20th army

23rd army

22nd army

7th army


Rifle divisions






Tank and motorized brigades



1 /2



Artillery regiments RGK






Aviation regiments






Note: first number — «Considerations» of 18 September, second number — Directive of 25 November.

More certain became also the tasks of the mechanized corps allocated as reserve of the front command.

According to the Directive of 25 November, after coming of the 23rd army forces to the line Savitaypale — Taavertti (20 km west of Lappeenranta), which under the plan should have occurred in the 15th day of the operation — the mechanized corps was supposed to enter the formed break and «in interaction with the 20th and 23rd armies in the 35th day of operation to invade Helsingfors area».

The tasks of the Red Banner Baltic Fleet almost did not change, only the number of rifle divisions landed on Hango increased («Provide for the redeployment of two rifle divisions in first days of war from the north coast of Estonian SSR onto Hango peninsula, and also transport and landing of large landing unit on the Aland Islands...») (Russia-XX century, Documents. Year 1941, Book 1, 1998).

The Directive of 25 November 1940 includes information enabling some suggestions about probable timing of invading Finland. The command of Leningrad MD had to complete development of the operative plan by 15 February 1941. Start of the general offensive was planned for the 35th day from the beginning of the mobilization and concentration of forces of the Northwestern front (for the Northern front, considering huge distances and poor road network, for total concentration of forces were allocated 40 days). Therefore, the earliest date for the beginning of the offensive could be 22 March. But to start 22 March large-scale offensive in southern Finland is total madness: spring muddy season by this time turns theatre of assumed military activities into sheer boundless swamp. It is hardly unlikely that Timoshenko and Meretskov, personally familiar with specifics of this locality, could plan «a spring war». The closest reasonable time to begin the implementation of the November plan could be only summer of 1941.

He closest does not mean «most likely». It is possible that «a winter war» was planned.

Unfortunately, nothing more definite may be stated — the «Directive» of 25 November 1940 is chronologically last of accessible for us variants of the operative plan for war with Finland. Archive funds of military districts (including Leningrad) for the first half of 1941 are secret. More accurately, almost the entire massif of documents for the first half of 1941 (and not only documents of LenMD) is inaccessible. The RGVA funds chronologically end at the end of 1940, and in TSAMO are held (at least that is officially stated) documents of the war period, i.e., beginning with 22 June 1941. A timid proviso «almost» is because in some TSAMO funds sometimes are found disparate documents of the period before 22 June, sometimes even «in depth» to January—February 1941 But these are rare and accidental exceptions from the general rule. Overall, the first half of 1941 — the key to understanding Stalin’s plans and intents — simply «vanished», sank in archive dust... By the way, not this is surprising but the fact that the «Considerations» of 18 September and Directive of 25 November 1940 through some improbable miracle were published. During the epoch to whose history is devoted this book in cases like these the people would say: «Where only the organs were looking...»




The day of 25 November 1940 was undeservedly avoided by the attention of Soviet historiography. And how wrong it was — in this day happened several significative events. One of them was mentioned in the previous chapter, another one, incomparably more important, was associated with Soviet-German relations. This day, 25 November 1940, head of the USSR government (and at the same time Narkom of foreign affairs) Comrade Molotov informed German Ambassador in Moscow count Von Schulenburg about the conditions, under which the Soviet Union was prepared to join the Tripartite Pact («axis Rome—Berlin—Tokyo») as the fourth plenipotentiary member of this «elite club» of aggressors.

Okay, the publication of the «Directive of the People’s Commissariat for the Defence and of the General headquarters to the Commander of Leningrad military district» of 25 November could be explained only by deplorable negligence and irresponsibility of «those who are supposed». However, to avoid publishing the text of Molotov's statement of 25 November 1940 was for the Russian party very difficult and mainly senseless. This statement was addressed to the government of Hitler’s Germany, which suffered crushing defeat in the Second World War. Thus, archives of crushed and forced into unconditional capitulation Germany turned in the hands of the winners. Therefore, documents of the Soviet-German cooperation, in particular the text of conditions of the USSR joining the «pact of four» turned out in the hands of Americans and were published in 1948 in the renowned collection of the US State Department «Nazi-Soviet Relations».

For just short of half century the Soviet propaganda (and Soviet «historical science» as its component part) was rabidly exposing «bourgeois falsifiers of history» who dared to cast a shadow on the unchangeably peaceful foreign policy of the dear CPSU. To «urbi et orbi» was declared that actually Comrade Molotov angrily rejected perfidious proposals by Hitler and refused even to discuss a possibility of the Soviet Union joining aggressive block of the Nazis, Fascists and German militarists. Then, after the «all clear» command, in Archive of the president of Russia (fund 3, list 64, case 675, sheet 108) «suddenly discovered itself» the typewritten text, plus with a personal note by Molotov: «Handed by me to Von Schulenburg 25 November 1940». And the signature: V. Molotov.

Strange though it is, but a small and so, at first sight, remote from the storms of great world politics Finland appeared mentioned in Molotov's statement, and even in its very first paragraph:

«The USSR agrees to accept in general the draft pact of four powers about their political cooperation and economical mutual assistance presented by Mr. Ribbentrop in his conversation with V.M.Molotov in Berlin 13 November 1940 and comprised of 4 paragraph, under the following conditions:

1. if German troops are right now withdrawn from Finland, which represents sphere of influence of the USSR according to the Soviet-German agreement of 1939, at that the USSR takes it upon itself to provide for peaceful relations with Finland and also for economy interests of Germany in Finland (export of timber, nickel).

2. if in the nearest months security of the USSR in the Straits is provided for by way of signing a pact of mutual assistance between the USSR and Bulgaria, which belongs according to her geographic location within the security sphere of the USSR Black Sea border, and by organization of the USSR military and naval base in the area of Bosporus and Dardanelles on conditions of long-term lease.

3. if as centre of gravity of the USSR aspirations is recognized the area south of Batumi and Baku in general direction to the Persian Gulf.

4. if Japan refuses her concession rights on the coal and oil on North Sakhalin on conditions of fair compensation.

Corresponding with the stated must be changed the draft protocol to the Agreement of 4 powers, provided by Mr. Ribbentrop, about the subdivision of spheres of influence, in the spirit of determination the centre of gravity of the USSR aspirations southward of Batumi and Baku in general direction to the Persian Gulf. (The Germans proposed to direct territorial aspirations of the Soviet Union towards the Indian Ocean. However, Stalin through the mouth of Molotov clarified that the oil interests him much more than Indian tea and elephants with emeralds.  - M.S.).

The same way must be changed presented by Mr. Ribbentrop draft protocol — Agreement between Germany, Italy, the USSR and Turkey in the spirit of providing the USSR with military and naval base at Bosporus and Dardanelles on conditions of a long-term lease with guarantee from 3 powers of independence and territory of Turkey in a case if Turkey agrees to join four powers. In this protocol must be provided that in a case of Turkey’s refusal to join four powers, Germany, Italy and the USSR agree to develop and implement necessary military and diplomatic measures. This must be subject of a special agreement...» (Russia-XX century, Documents. Year 1941, Book 1, 1998).

In the amounts, deserving first-degree attention German troops did not show up in the territory of Finland even in summer 1941. (In the southern Finland there was one and only Wehrmacht 163rd infantry division. In the transpolar north were operating 2nd and 3rd mountain-infantry, 169th infantry divisions and the SS brigade «Nord». Combined, these were on the order of 3% of the total numerical strength of the German grouping at the USSR border). However, in the fall of 1940 not even one Wehrmacht battalion was deployed in Finland on continuous basis. Nevertheless, Molotov's pretensions associated with insolent infringement by Hitler on «the USSR sphere of influence» have not been totally groundless. In order to sort out this issue, which surprisingly turned into the «bone of contention» between Berlin and Moscow, it is necessary step back several months in the presentation of events.

In the time of the «winter war» Germany, demonstrating absolute loyalty toward her new eastern ally, took emphatically pro-Soviet position. As early as in the third day of war from Berlin to the German diplomatic missions abroad was cent a circular telegram: «In your conversations touching upon Finnish-Russian conflict please avoid anti-Russian tone» (USSR-Germany, 1939-1941, Documents and materials…, 1948, vol. 2, 1989). 6 December 1939 was sent out additional instruction: In your conversations you should show sympathy relative the viewpoint of the Russians. Restrain from expressing any sympathy toward the positions of Finns» (USSR-Germany, 1939-1941, Documents and materials  1948, vol. 2, 1989). Diplomatic politeness was amended by quite specific deeds: Germany (contrary to multiannual lies of the Soviet «historians») not only was not selling in the days of «winter war» any armament to the Finns but also forbade the transit of such armament through German territory and even detained in the port of Bergen transports with armament purchased by Finland in third countries. It is noteworthy that in the process of negotiations with Hitler 13 November 1940 Molotov willingly admitted that «the Russian government did not have any reason for criticizing the German position in time of this conflict» (USSR-Germany, 1939-1941, Documents and materials, 1948, vol. 2, 1989).

In March 1940 Germany and the USSR took solidarity position counteracting the creation of a defensive alliance between three northern countries (Norway, Sweden and Finland). True, in this case definitive were not so much friendly feelings between partners in robbery as pragmatic calculation. Germany at the moment was no less than the Soviet Union interested in weak Scandinavia incapable of armed resistance. Moscow from its side supported Hitler’s aggression against Norway both politically and, to some extent, practically (by providing at the disposal of the Germans naval base in Murmansk area). 9 April 1940, in the first day of invading Norway, Ambassador Von Schulenburg visited Molotov he was rendered most open armed welcome:

«...Molotov stated that the Soviet government understands Germany was forced to resort to such measures. English, undoubtedly, went too far. They absolutely disregard the rights of neutral countries.

In conclusion Molotov said, verbatim, the following: «We wish Germany total victory in her defensive measure» (USSR-Germany, 1939-1941, Documents and materials,… 1948, vol. 2, 1989).

However, already in summer 1940 «candy and flowers» period in relationships of two dictators was approaching its end.

Germany achieved «total victory in her defensive measures», i.e., with dizzying speed established her control over most of Europe. New-fangled Wehrmacht grew up and affirmed itself in the status of most battle-capable army in the world. Raw-material and food resource of the occupied and subordinated countries (including oil of Rumania) lowered the extent of Hitler’s dependence on costly Stalin’s benefactions. Strangely, the Soviet foreign policy department did not wish to see and evaluate these changes. In a qualitatively new situation it continued to «have it its own way» with the grace of an elephant in a china shop. Even more strange (or, the other way around, natural?) was that the first conflicts were caused not by quarrels over the loot on geopolitical scale but by completely niggling penny pinching.

In the end of June 1940, Moscow stated her claims for the territory of Bukovina (an area in north Rumania in the upper course of the Prut River on the border with Ukraine). Before the First World War, this territory was part of Hapsburg empire (Austro-Hungary). The secret Soviet-German protocol about the subdivision of spheres of influence in Eastern Europe of 23 August 1939 did not say a single word about it. After a short but already not at all friendly discussion, the parties agreed that the Soviet Union restricts its claim by only the northern part of Bukovina (Chernovitsi Province of modern Ukraine). In exchange for this «concession» Germany officially, through her ambassador in Bucharest, offered the Rumanian government «for the avoidance of war between Rumania and the Soviet Union to concede the demands of the Soviet government» (USSR-Germany, 1939-1941, Documents and materials, …1948, vol. 2, 1989). In return, Moscow promised to take into account German concern with the fate of ethnic Germans more than 100 thous. of whom resided in the territory of Bessarabia and northern Bukovina.

The interests of German extraction Carpathian peasants head of the USSR government Molotov «took into account» as follows. A long, multi-page document was compiled. It was determined in it, with the indication of exact number of «pocket and hand watches, fur hats and coats» (new — separately, used — separately) what a German family may take with it, the family, which was generously allowed to leave created by the labour of many generations house and household and to leave confines of the USSR. The tobacco also was not forgotten, the tobacco, which in Bukovina was grown as a commercial crop. It was allowed to take no more than 20 kg per one family (Documents of foreign politics, vol. 23, book 1, 1995). It is hard to understand, for which purpose it was necessary to take away from a peasant a bag of tobacco. Comrade Stalin, as all and everybody of us know, smoked «Herzegovina Flor» and did not need village «home-grown stuff». However, it is not at all difficult to imagine how such boorishness worked on Hitler in whose speeches (and maybe in thoughts as well) the fate of the Eastern European «Folksdeutsche» was a continuous presence. It got worse and worse as it went on. Whereas the property of Bukovina peasants was counted in hats and «onion» watches, in Baltics the value of belonging to Germans (including Germans — citizen of Germany) undertakings was hundreds of millions of marks. In connection with begun in the Baltic states «deep soci-economic transformations» Molotov 29 July 1940 assured the German Ambassador that «the Soviet government takes upon itself the responsibility for the measures implemented by governments of the Baltic countries and for the protection of German interests in them... The Soviet government recommended the Lithuanian government to make an exception from the law of nationalization for persons of German extraction, whether Lithuanian or German citizenship, and delay the nationalization of their properties so that all property issues could be settled directly between Berlin and Moscow. This settlement of property issues between Moscow and Berlin is equally valid for Estonia and Latvia...» (Russia-XX century, Documents. Year 1941, Book 1, 1998).

Having listen to it, Von Schulenburg was for a long time effusive in gratitude. 17 October 1940 the German Ambassador in Moscow had to hear something new:

«...Com. Molotov responded to Von Schulenburg that the Soviet government declared about benevolent attitude to interests of Germany in the Baltics but never took upon itself an obligation of total compensation (emphasis added. - M. S.) of German citizens’ property... As for nationalization, its conduct toward German persons of German ethnicity in Baltics was delayed but not canceled, about which the German government also was timely and accurately informed...» (Russia-XX century, Documents. Year 1941, Book 1, 1998).

The next discussion of the extent of «incomplete compensation» occurred, by strange coincidence, also 25 November 1940. «...Com. Molotov indicated that this was the first exception, which the Soviet party made from the principle of not compensating the nationalized property... In connection with this, Com. Molotov made the following proposal: when paying within one year, to increase compensation for the property of persons of German ethnicity from 10 to 15% and German citizens from 20 to 25%. Correspondingly, for persons of German ethnicity when paying within 3 years — 25% instead 15%, 6 years — 35% instead 20%, 10 years 40% instead 25%... Com. Molotov again emphasized that in one year it was impossible to compensate such amount (to confiscate the property turned out to be possible in one day. —- ..) and there was no similar precedent in history...» (Russia-XX century, Documents. Year 1941, Book 1, 1998).

The so-called «second Viennese arbitrage» and conflict around it became the culmination in aggravation of the Soviet-German relations in the fall 1940. 30 August 1940 in Vienna within one day was «solved» a centuries-old dispute about Transylvania. Under the pressure by Germany and Italy, the Rumanian leadership agreed to transfer the northern part of Transylvania (43.5 thous. sq. km with the population 2.5 million people) to Hungary. In exchange for the displayed compliancy Marshall Antonescu received from countries of the «axis» official guarantees of integrity of the remaining Rumanian territory. As a result of such deal Hungary (as it turned out in the future, the most reliable Hitler’s ally) received generous «advance», and weakened and humiliated Rumania was even firmer harnessed to the chariot of the Fascist block.

The Soviet leadership immediately expressed its most decisive protest. Already the next day, 31 August 1940, Molotov stated to Von Schulenburg that «German government violated Article 3 of the Agreement of nonaggression of 23.08.1939, wherein it is said about consultations in issues of interest to both parties.

German government violated this Article, not having consulted with the Soviet government on the issue, which could not but touch on the interests of the USSR as it is a matter of two Soviet Union border states» (Russia-XX century, Documents. Year 1941, Book 1, 1998). 9 September 1940 Molotov already more specifically explained to Von Schulenburg what were the «USSR interests» violated by the Viennese agreement. Of course, the problem was not in that the castle of legendary Transylvanian vampire Dracula once again «changed the registration» — from Hungarian to Rumanian.

«Com. Molotov stated to Von Schulenburg that... the Soviet government, making concessions to the German government, restricted its claims to Rumania and limited them regarding Bukovina to only its northern part. At the same time, Com. Molotov stated that at the emergence under corresponding conditions of the issue of the Southern Bukovina we hope that the German government would support us on this issue. Securing guarantees to Rumania (emphasis in this paragraph is added. - M. S.) diverge with this wish of the Soviet government » (Russia-XX century, Documents. Year 1941, Book 1, 1998).

However, that was not all. 21 September Molotov summoned Von Schulenburg and handed him «memorandum relative noncompliance of the German government with Article 3 of the nonaggression Agreement». Despite the fact that this time Moscow claims were in writing, it became even more difficult to understand the position of the Soviet leadership:

«...The Soviet government also cannot but pay attention to the circumstance that by giving Rumania guarantees regarding her state territory was given a reason to maintain that this act of the German government was directed against the USSR. As we know, such kind of approvals indeed received substantial proliferation. At the same time, should the German government have preliminarily asked the USSR government about this issue, there would have been no pretext for the proliferation of such kind approvals and together with this the German government would have been completely convinced that the USSR had no intention to threaten (emphasis in this paragraph is added. - M. S.) the territorial integrity of Rumania » (Russia-XX century, Documents. Year 1941, Book 1, 1998).

If all this is understood directly and simply (i.e., as written), it so happens that the scandal drawn off for almost a month — and not simply a scandal but official accusation of violation of the nonaggression Agreement — was caused only by Berlin not asking in advance the consent of Moscow. And no more. The Soviet Union, as it happens, not at all intended «to threaten the territorial integrity of Rumania». However, a guarantee of this integrity given by Germany and Italy caused for some reason a storm of indignation.

Completely lost, Von Schulenburg began babbling something entirely incoherent: «...Von Schulenburg is saying that from the very beginning (since August 1939) of solution of the Bessarabian issue such impression was created that the USSR did not have claims on Rumania... As for the Southern Bukovina, this was, possibly, his fault that he did not completely understand setting of the question. 

Com. Molotov is repeating what he was then already saying to Von Schulenburg about Southern Bukovina, adding at that, that this was said by him in a vague form and possibly Von Schulenburg then did not attach due importance to the said.

Von Schulenburg says that he regrets very much that between the Soviet and German governments arose these disagreements, and that he would do anything to clarify this issue.

Com. Molotov is stating that if for Germany Article 3 of the Agreement about nonaggression represent inconvenience and uneasiness, the Soviet government is ready to discuss the issue of changing or canceling this Article of the agreement but while it exists...

Von Schulenburg hastily says that this is an unfortunate case and that it is out of the question...» (Russia-XX century, Documents. Year 1941, Book 1, 1998, pg. 264).

The «unfortunate case» got further development. 13 November 1940 in the process of negotiations with Hitler in Berlin Molotov again returned to Rumanian issue. «...As for Bukovina, then, albeit this was not included in the additional protocol, the USSR made concession to Germany and provisionally refused from Southern Bukovina having limited itself to the Northern Bukovina. But at that it made its proviso that the USSR hopes that at a proper time Germany will take into account interest of the Soviet Union in Southern Bukovina. The USSR still did not receive from Germany negative response to the said wish but Germany instead of such response guaranteed the entire Rumanian territory having forgotten about our indicated interest (in this paragraph emphasis is added. - M. S..) and in general, having given these guarantees without consultations with the USSR and in violation of the USSR interests» (120, pg. 378).

From the new Soviet-Rumanian borders to the center of Ploesti oil-producing area remained only 200 km.

As opposed to the elderly count Von Schulenburg, Hitler adequately evaluated the situation:

«... replied that if only part of Bukovina remains to Russia, even this will be substantial concession by Germany. Under the verbal agreement, former Austrian territory must enter the German sphere of influence. Besides, territories entering the Russian zone were stated by names, for instance Bessarabia. Relative Bukovina, not a single word was said in the agreement... In order for the German-Russian cooperation to bring in the future positive results, the Soviet government must understand that Germany for dear life is involved in the struggle, which under all circumstances must be brought to a successful end. A number of prerequisites necessary for this, which depend on economical and military factors, Germany wants to provide for herself by any means...» (USSR-Germany, 1939-1941, Documents and materials  (translated collection Nazi-Soviet Relations, 1948, vol. 2, 1989).

We quoted all these facts, although not having at first sight direct relation to the Soviet-Finnish confrontation of 1940, in order for the military-political context became clearer, in the framework of which the leadership of Hitler’s Germany turned in the end of summer 1940 its interested sight to Finland.

As narrated by Marshall Mannerheim, the events were evolving as follows:

«17 August 1940 I received from Finland’s Ambassador in Berlin a telegram, in which I was requested... to receive a German Lieutenant Colonel Weltiens[8] who was assigned to pass a message from Reichsmarshall Goering... Weltiens the same evening (18 August) visited with me at home and passed a greeting from Goering. Goering was interested if Finland would be willing, as Sweden, to allow the transport through her territory of German economic cargo and also, the passage of vacationers and infirm in Kirkenes (a port in the northrn Norway). Besides, Weltiens informed that we have now a possibility to receive military equipment from Germany... When I in the evening of the same day (19 August) saw Ryuti, the locum tenant president assigned me to give Reichsmarshall, through his messenger, positive response to a question about the through transport. I informed Weltiens about it when he in the morning of the following day came to see me...

Particular questions of the through-transporting equipment, infirm and vacationers was reviewed by the military authorities of both states, and these negotiations ended up in technical agreement signed 12 September. After the negotiations on this issue with representatives of the Ministry of foreign affairs, on the 22nd of the same months was signed the official agreement» (Mannerheim, 2003).

Formally-legally, transit of military cargo and military servicemen (even if they are called «infirm and vacationers») through the territory of Finland meant interference of Germany into the USSR sphere of interests outlined in the secret Protocol of 23 August 1939. Formally-legally, the transit of military cargo and military personnel was incompatible with maximum rigid interpretation of the «neutrality» concept. This is as true as the fact that providing by the Soviet Union naval on Kola peninsula at the disposal of the German navy was incompatible with officially stated neutrality of the USSR in the started World War. This is as true as the fact that signed 22 July (i.e., one month before the beginning of negotiations about German transit) agreement about transit of arms and Red Army military units through territory of Finland to Hango (and the very fact of existence of a USSR military base in the Finnish territory!) subverted neutral status of this country. Other such reasoning may be quoted as well — but hardly it would make even a little common sense. The politics of two dictators — starting with the conclusion of absolutely illegal deal about the subdivision of the territories of sovereign European countries into «spheres of interests» and ending up in invading by German and Soviet forces in Norway and Finland — was way beyond any «legal field». It was so much beyond any «legal field» that legal chicanery becomes in this context completely pointless. Way more substantive is analysis of practical activities of the parties, of motifs of these activities and their consequences.

The supply problem of a German force grouping in Norway indeed existed. In conditions of English domination at sea, «geometrically shortest» way from German ports to Norwegian ports through the North Sea was too dangerous. In this respect, usage of the ports in the Gulf of Bothnia substantially simplified the task. On the other hand, the Gulf of Bothnia has two shores (Swedish and Finnish), and there are no direct railway branches to Kirkenes either in the Swedish or in the Finnish territory. With the availability of an agreement about transit with Sweden (it was concluded in July 1940), the transit through Finland became a useful addition and prudent duplication of already available transport paths. As they say, «store is no sore», and, by organizing one more transportation corridor, Germany made the situation of her forces in Norway more stable.

At the same time, the assumption appears quite justified that a desire to support Finland balancing at the edge of precipice was at least a weightier motif of the German leadership activities than purely pragmatic interest in acquiring an extra transportation corridor for the supply of Norwegian grouping. Of course, a desire to prevent the final absorption of Finland by the Soviet Union was not due to the altruistic feeling of solidarity. Hitler could not but understand that any appearance of German soldiers or military cargo in the territory, allocated to the «sphere of interests» of the Soviet Union would cause very negative reaction in Moscow. No less sharp (and easily predictable) reaction must have caused also the proposal to «pay» (in all sense of this word) for Finland’s consent for transit in supplies of armament from Germany (or through Germany). And the fact that Hitler went for all this means that he had serious reasons to strive to preserve Finnish independence. One of the most important was nickel of Petsamo.

Nickel is a very important alloy element in manufacturing high-strength structural steels; in stainless and heat-resisting alloys, the mass fraction of nickel is within the range of 10 to 60%. Translated into the language of mid-XX century military hardware, nickel was aircraft and aviation engines, i.e., exactly those kinds of armaments, in which Germany strove (quite successfully at that) to the world leadership. Europe has few nickel deposits, and actually only two large ones: Petsamo (currently Pechenga) and Norilsk. The struggle around Petsamo nickel factories, there slowing down, there approaching a direct armed conflict, continued practically the entire period of «peace pause» (from the spring 1940 to the spring 1941.). Once again, a reminder. In March 1940, at concluding the Moscow agreement, Petsamo was the only (!) point on the map where the Soviet Union not only has not moved the border line farther than the Red Army actually advanced but the other way around, has given back the captured. We will repeat the generally accepted version of the reason for such «conscientiousness»: the concession for the development of Petsamo nickel deposits belonged to a British (Canadian) firm, and Stalin decided at that moment not to aggravate even without it stressful relationships with the West.

After the crush of France in summer of 1940, Stalin decided that he did not have to be too soft with Britain besieged on her island. At the very same moment a similar assumption was made by Hitler. A result was almost simultaneous occurrence of two interconnected events. 23 June 1940 Soviet Union demanded from the Finnish government to cancel the concession agreement with British firm and to transfer the nickel mines at the disposal of the USSR or joint Soviet-Finnish enterprise. The Finns refused. Their substantiation of the refusal was legality and generally accepted norms of business relations, which did not allow cancelling an agreement with previous concessioners who already invested in Petsamo huge means. On the other hand, Finland expressed readiness to provide the USSR with 50% of the entire produced nickel. Moscow did not agree and continued insisting on gaining control over the mines. In the meantime, 27 July 1940 German industrial giant «I.G. Farbenindustrie» signed a contract of purchasing 60% of all nickel ore produced in Petsamo. From that moment Germany became directly interested in the preservation of Finland’s independence and stability as the Finnish government was the guarantor of fulfilling the contract.

As for plans and hope for the future German-Finnish military cooperation, it does not appear to be possible either to confirm or reject the presence of such ideas in somebody’s head. And the facts were such that in August 1940 Germany began a grandiose aviation offensive («Battle of Britain») and was quite actively preparing to a possible «leap» of land forces over La Manche. The German-USSR alliance by that time began experiencing first cracks but to planning of a joint offensive by Finnish and German forces on Kandalaksha was still very far. In any case, redeployment through the territory of Finland in Kirkenes of several German flak batteries changed nothing in the situation either on strategic (it is absurd even to argue about this) or on tactical level.

Moscow’s reaction on a sudden German interest to the Finnish matters appeared completely inadequate. Exactly this inadequacy of the Soviet reaction (and not the German-Finnish agreement about transit per se) helped Finland not to get in the fall of 1940 on the list of the Baltic countries, «which toppled the hated bourgeois regimes». Exceeding any limits of reasonable «vigilance» and close to pathological «persecutory delusion» tormenting the Kremlin rulers resulted in that they saw the agreement of transit as almost military alliance between Germany and Finland. Besides, official information about the beginning of the transit was received by the Soviet leadership under rather strange circumstances.

16 September Ambassador Von Schulenburg received a direction from Berlin to visit during the day of 21 September (i.e., one day before the beginning of actual transport) with Molotov and — «unless other instructions are received by you at that time» — to inform him about the following. «The continuing penetration of English aircraft of the air space of Germany and of the territories occupied by her forces an increase in defence of some objects, first of all in the Northern Norway. Part of such increase is redeployment there of an artillery flak battalion together with its servicing. In looking for ways of the redeployment, it was found that the least complex for this purpose would be the way through Finland. The battalion will be about 22 September disembarked near Haparanda and then transported in Norway, part on the railroad and part on the highway. The Finnish government, taking into account special circumstances, permitted Germany this transport. We would like to inform the Soviet government in advance about this step» (USSR-Germany, 1939-1941, Documents and materials …1948, vol. 2…, 1989).

21 September Von Schulenburg visited Molotov. However, the entire meeting happened to be devoted to «clearing up relations» on the Rumanian issue. The information about German transit through Finland was not voiced. Why? Had Von Schulenburg received «other instructions»? Or had he forgotten the then current instructions under the pressure from angry Molotov? We do not have an answer to these questions. Be it as it may, the exchange of information on the issue of transit occurred only 26 September. Von Schulenburg was in Berlin. The interests of Germany in Moscow were represented by charge d’affaires Tippelskirch who received from Ribbentrop on the eve a directive to inform Molotov about the scheduled for 27 September signing of the Tripartite pact («axis Rome — Berlin —Tokyo»). Nothing pleasant for Molotov was in this information. Together with such deafening news the information about the beginning of military transit through Finland (besides, received by Moscow not through normal diplomatic channels but from newspapers) must have made on Molotov an impression of an ominous «encirclement».

«...Com. Molotov says to Tippelskirch that so far he is not interested in such issue. According to last communications from Berlin, some agreement was concluded with Finland on a military issue. There was no information from the German government so far. Com. Molotov asked Tippelskirch whether he had some confirmation.

Tippelskirch responded that he knew nothing.

Then Com. Molotov retold the content of a telegram from the USSR plenipotentiary representative in Germany Com. Shkvartsev. The telegram was about a press-conference of 25 September in the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs where head of the press department Schmidt stated that a communique of the Finnish government was published about signing a German-Finnish agreement about transit through Finland of German forces in Norway. Besides, «United Press» agency is distributing in Berlin a bulletin, which informs about landing 24 September of German forces in Finnish port Vaasa and that top officers arriving with troops were settled in Vaasa hotels.

Tippelskirch answered again that he knew nothing about this issue.

Com. Molotov stated that he had information about landing of German forces in Finland in the cities Vaasa, Uleaborg and Pori, and asked again if Tippelskirch knew about it.

Tippelskirch replied that he heard about this from journalists but did not know anything more than that.

Com. Molotov said that, apparently, some agreement was also concluded with Finland and the Soviet government wanted to receive information about this agreement, about its objectives, and also the complete text of it and additional secret Articles, if any...» (Russia-XX century, Documents. Year 1941, Book 1, 1998).

Perhaps, Comrade Molotov did not even accept the thought that «top officers were settled in Vaasa hotels» simply to get enough sleep and rest after a tiring sea travel (Molotov and his master did not handle their own subordinate officers with kid gloves). In a consciousness inflamed by eternal suspiciousness cockroaches grew to the size of elephants, and obscure provincial hotel turned into «headquarters of Wehrmacht's army grouping» in Finland. That is how fate once again showed mercy on the people of Suomi.

Excessive caution and exceptional restraint (the reader is in his right to substitute another word) showed by Stalin saved Finland. Not at all renouncing his «rights» envisioned by the secret Protocol of 23 August 1939, the Kremlin rulers decided to receive from Hitler additionally confirmation of these rights before beginning military solution of the «Finnish question». Is it necessary trying to prove that in gambling sharper game with the Berlin scam artist such tactics could lead only to a shameful embarrassment?


Whereas August 1939 may be considered the «star hour» of Stalin’s diplomacy, the November (1940) visit by Molotov in Berlin was, probably, the greatest failure. Frankly, the situation as well became incomparably more complex.

In August 1939 «all trump cards» were in Stalin’s hands. He had the largest land army in the world, the largest combat aviation, huge herds of tanks (numerically exceeding tank troops of all European countries combined). The fact that the real combat capability of this steel armada, mildly speaking, did not match its size, in August 1939 had not been known for certain to anybody. Moreover, on the battlefields of the Civil War in Spain «light German tanks fighting with republican (i.e., Soviet)  armed  tanks could not compare and were shot ruthlessly». This, it is necessary to believe, was noticed not only by the future head of the RKKA Main Tank Directorate Army General Pavlov (whose words we quoted above) but also by German military specialists.

In summer of 1939 Hitler had the imprudence (if not to say stupidity) to state in public about his desire to spiflicate Poland. Therefore, the success (or failure) of the Polish campaign — the first large operation of the new-fangled Wehrmacht — turned out inseparably tied with Hitler’s personal authority and his pretense for a role of «the chosen one by the hand of God». It turned out easier said than done. By 16 August (starting this day Berlin literally poured Molotov over with telegrams-requests to receive Ribbentrop) the summer already almost ended up, to the beginning of autumn impassability remained no more than a month, and all reasonable timing for beginning of military activities were coming to an end.

At the same time, Poland received official «guarantees» of the integrity of her borders from France and England, and Comrade Stalin enigmatically smoked his renowned pipe. 14 August newspaper «Pravda» (official, please note, print organ of the party whose General Secretary was Stalin himself) wrote: «Politics of peace does not at all mean concessions to aggressors, concessions, only flaring up predatory appetite of aggressors... Bolsheviks are no pacifists. The real protection of peace is not in concessions to aggressors but in a double blow to the blow of war mongers...»

And how should one understand such words? Wouldn’t they mean readiness of one or two million Soviet «volunteers» on the first call of the party and government to come help the laborers of the fraternal Poland? Sure, pre-war Soviet-Polish relations on the appearance were very far from friendship but the Soviet-German ones on the appearance looked even worse. «Culprits and mongers of the second imperialist war are obvious. This is Fascism — criminal and dirty offshoot of the post-war imperialism». These words in 31 July 1939 «Pravda» were not at all about Poland...

In August 1939 Stalin could pardon Hitler and could cut him into pieces. It is not an accident that 21 August, awaiting the response from Moscow, Hitler tossed and turned about the office as bayed beast. At that moment, he was ready to give Stalin even more than Stalin was ready to demand. This is not at all an «artistic hyperbole». 24 June 1940, at the moment of aggravating conflict around Bessarabia and Bukovina, Ribbentrop prepared a report memo, in which he reminded Hitler about the following circumstances at Moscow negotiations in August 1939: «The Fuehrer authorized me to state about German disinterest in territories of the southeastern Europe — up to Constantinople and the Straits, if it was necessary. The latter, however, was not discussed» (USSR-Germany, 1939-1941, Documents and materials  (translated collection Nazi-Soviet Relations, 1989).

Up to Constantinople and the Straits! Moscow tsars could only dream about this...

In November 1940, friendship with Stalin was no longer a question of life and death for Hitler. In parentheses we will note that subsequent events with obvious clarity showed that Germany could fight without the Soviet oil (moreover — even against the Soviet oil, which made to move dozens of thousands tanks and aircraft in the Red Army). Correspondingly changed Hitler’s attitude toward Moscow partner: from hysterical «at any cost» they switched in Berlin to a carping calculation of «costs and benefits» brought to them by the alliance with Stalin. In any case, to continue paying (paying in territories conquered by the force of German weapon, paying in supplies of most modern specimens of military hardware and industrial equipment) only for noninterference of the Soviet Union in matters West-European Hitler already did not want.

In this qualitatively new situation, Moscow apparently had to make a new major decision. It had to determine with whom and against whom the Soviet Union intended to finish the world war. In others words, either to conclude a robust military alliance with Germany and by joint effort to crush the British empire «in the sky, on the land and at sea» — and after this to demand and get its share in colossal «British heirloom». Or again to call Hitler a «criminal and dirty offshoot of imperialism» and with the words «our cause is right, the enemy will be beaten, the victory will be ours», to carry out a crushing blow on almost defenseless at that time (1 October at the USSR border was concentrated on the order of 30 Wehrmacht's divisions) eastern parts of the Third Reich.

Alas, for grand decisions the Moscow dictator turned out somewhat petty. The grandiose deal between two tyrants had not taken place. Fortunately for the humankind — and to a bitter trouble for his subjects — in November 1940 Stalin made a first step to the catastrophe of June 1941. Molotov was sent to Berlin with a whole bunch of grievances, petty offences, and paranoid suspicions. Stalin clearly expressed the desire to maraud in weakened by war southeastern Europe without offering Hitler anything substantial in exchange. In written by Molotov's hand Stalin’s directions (Archive if the RF president, fund 36, list 1, case 1161, sheet 147—155), the Berlin meeting objectives were defined as follows:

«Trip objectives

) To find out about genuine intents of Germany and all participant of the Tripartite Pact... Prospects of joining other countries to Tripartite Pact; place of the USSR in these plans at this moment and in the future .

b) Prepare initial draft ofg the USSR sphere of interests in Europe, and also in near and middle Asia...

2. Based on that the Soviet-German agreement about partial outlining spheres of interests of the USSR and Germany is exhausted by the events (except Finland), to try to attain in the negotiations the attribution to the sphere of interests of the USSR of there following:

) Finland — based on Soviet-German agreement of 1939, in complying with which Germany must remove any difficulties and ambiguities (withdrawal of German forces, termination of any political demonstrations in Finland and in Germany directed to damage the interests of the USSR).

b) Danube, regarding Sea Danube, according to directives to Com. Sobolev. To state also about our displeasure with the fact that Germany did not consult with the USSR on the issue of guarantees and introduction of forces in Rumania.

c) Bulgaria — main issue of the negotiations — must be, on consent with Germany and Italy, attributed to the sphere of interests of the USSR on the same basis of guarantees to Bulgaria from the side of the USSR as it is done by Germany and Italy regarding Rumania, with the introduction of the Soviet forces in Bulgaria (emphasis added. - M. S..).

d) Question about Turkey and its fate cannot be solved without our participation, as we have serious interests in Turkey.

e) Question of further fate of Rumania and Hungary, as bounding with the USSR, is very interesting to us, and we would like it to be coordinated this with us.

f) Question of Iran cannot be solved without participation of the USSR as we have serious interests there. Without need, not to talk about this...» (Russia-XX century, Documents. Year 1941, Book 1, 1998).

Further on there were four more sub-paragraphs (g, h, i, j) with less significant questions, then several points of information nature. So, what for, for which services should Hitler have conceded Bulgaria («the main issue of the negotiations»!) this time to the Kremlin extortionist, should take into account Stalin’s «interests» in Turkey, Iran, Hungary and Rumania? In p. 13 was included the next Soviet proposal about «compensation» (more correctly would be to say — about the procedure and conditions of confiscation) of the property of German subjects in the Baltics («25% in one , 50% — in three years in equal shares») (Russia-XX century, Documents. Year 1941, Book 1, 1998). If anything, the only point where was observed some reciprocity, was point 10:

«10. To propose to do peaceful action in the form of open declaration of 4 powers (if emerges favorable course of main negotiations: Bulgaria, Turkey, etc.) on conditions of preservation Great British empire (without mandated territories) with all those properties, which England now possesses and on condition of her uninterference in European matters and immediate withdrawal from Gibraltar and Egypt, and also with an obligation of immediate return to Germany of previous colonies and immediately providing India with the rights of a dominion» (Russia-XX century, Documents. Year 1941, Book 1, 1998).

Therefore, in exchange for a substantial expansion of the «sphere of interests» of the USSR in the southeastern Europe with the introduction of the Soviet forces in Bulgaria») Stalin promised to sign next paper with demands and threats in the address of the Great Britain, plus to return in three years half (!) of the value of property confiscated in the Baltics...


The real result of the negotiations in Berlin turned out even more fruitless than could be assumed based on completely inadequate instructions to Molotov. A first conversation with Hitler, lasting together with the time for translation 2.5 hours, took place 12 November 1940. It was mostly an extensive monologue by Hitler. He assured his guest that England in actuality was already crushed (and only due to the extreme Churchill’s «dilettantism» had not understood this yet) and the lusted moment of carving huge «inheritance» of the British empire was approaching. From the Soviet Union, Hitler was not asking anything but non-interference, promising later to cut in and to gift, for instance, India and ice-free ports in the Indian Ocean.

Late at night of the same day in Moscow flew enciphered telegram with the report about the conversation:

«... Our preliminary discussion in Moscow rightly illuminated the issues, which I encountered here.

So far I am trying to get information and feel the pulse of the partners. Their answers in the conversation are not always clear and require further clarification. A great interest of Hitler to agree and strengthen friendship with the USSR about spheres of influence is obvious. Noticeable also is a desire to push us on Turkey, from which Ribbentrop wants only absolute neutrality. About Finland, he is so far silent but I will force him to talk about this (emphasis added. - M. S..).

I am asking for your didections. Molotov» (Russia-XX century, Documents. Year 1941, Book 1, 1998).

In the morning of 13 November from Moscow in Berlin flew out a response cipher telegram: «For Molotov from the Hierarchies. We consider your behavior in the negotiations correct» (Russia-XX century, Documents. Year 1941, Book 1, 1998). It is funny that the enigmatic Hierarchy calls itself in plural («we consider») and addresses head of the USSR government with the familiar «you». By the way, the phrase «strengthen friendship about spheres of influence» must rightly take place in annals of belles lettres...

It may be assumed that, having received approval of his activities from Stalin, Molotov with doubled energy rushed to the meeting with Hitler in order to force him «to talk about Finland». This task also appeared to have been fulfilled and even over-fulfilled — most of the second (and last in history) conversation of Molotov with Hitler was devoted not to the issues of carving the Indian Ocean, Black Sea straits, Egypt, Iran and Gibraltar, but to a small but so annoying for Moscow, Finland. This conversation was in the style of a «dialog between two deaf». With the monotony of a stuck gramophone record, Molotov again and again repeated two talking points: Finland is in the Soviet «sphere of interests», and that is why the USSR is in its right to begin urgently «solving the Finnish problem». Hitler, more and more irritated, replied that there were no German forces in Finland, the transit would end soon but Germany would not tolerate new war in the area of the Baltic Sea. One «loop» of this humdrum bickering looked like this:

«... Molotov continues that regarding Finland he believes that to clarify this question is his first obligation; new agreement is not required for this, it is just that the old one should be adhered to, i.e., that Finland must be the area of Soviet interests. This is of especial significance now, when the war is going on. The Soviet Union, albeit it did not participate in the great war, still was fighting against Poland, against Finland and was perfectly ready, if needed, to war for Bessarabia (here and thereafter emphasis added. - M. S..). If the German viewpoint in this regard changed, he would like to get clarity in this question.

Hitler states that Germany’s viewpoint on this question did not change, but he only did not want a war in the Baltic Sea. Aside from this, Finland interests Germany only as a supplier of timber and nickel. Germany cannot tolerate war there now, but believes that this is the area of Russia’s interests. Same with Rumania, wherefrom Germany is receiving oil; there as well war is unacceptable. If we we switch to more important questions, says Hitler, this question will be insubstantial. After all, Finland will go nowhere from the Soviet Union. Then Hitler is asking whether the Soviet Union intends to conduct war in Finland? He considers it a substantial question.

Molotov replies that if government of Finland rejects the double politic and turning masses against the USSR, everything will be normal... (Russia-XX century, Documents. Year 1941, Book 1, 1998).

Hitler did not know Russian language but sufficiently understood the Soviet «newspeak». The sense of Molotov's reply he understood perfectly, after which he tried to scare Molotov with difficulties of new Finnish war.

«... Hitler says that the circumstances should be taken into account, which, possibly, would not have place in other areas. It is possible to have military opportunities but the conditions locality were such that the war would not be ended rapidly. If there is lengthy resistance, it may help the creation of English bases. In which case Germany would have to enter the fry, which for her is undesirable. He would not be talking this if Russia really had a reason to be offended by Germany. After the end of warm, Russia may get everything she wants... 

Molotov notes that not always words correspond with deeds. In the interests of both countries is peace in the Baltic Sea, and if the question about Finland is solved under the last year agreement, everything will go very well and normally. If, however, a proviso is allowed about postponing this question to the end of war, this will mean a violation or change of the last year agreement...

Hitler maintains that this will not be a violation of the agreement as Germany only does not want war in the Baltic Sea. If there is war, this will complicate and make more difficult relationships between Germany and the Soviet Union, and also will  make more difficult further great joint work...

Molotov believes that it is not the matter of a war in the Baltic Sea but of the Finnish question, which must be solved based on last year agreement.

Hitler notes that it was established in this agreement that Finland belongs to the sphere of interests of Russia.

Molotov is asking: «Is it the same situation as, for instance, with Estonia and Bessarabia?» (Russia-XX century, Documents. Year 1941, Book 1, 1998, pg. 380).

The German version of the protocol record of the conversation this moment is escribed so: «...Molotov replied that the matter is not the question about war on the Baltic but in solving the Finnish problem within the framework of the last year agreement. Answering Fuehrer’s question he stated that he viewed the settlement within the same framework as in Bessarabia and in neighbouring countries (emphasis added. - M. S.)» (USSR-Germany, 1939-1941, Documents and materials (Nazi-Soviet Relations, Department of State, 1948, vol. 2, Vilnius, Publishers Mokslas, 1989).

Remarkably, neither Hitler nor Molotov did even deem it necessary to mention peace agreement between the USSR and Finland, concluded 12 March 1940. However, what is amazing here? Authoritative mob bosses got together for a specific bazaar, it is not customary to speak in such top level meetings about good for nothing slips of paper signed with louts...

After 1 a.m. in the morning 14 November 1940 to Moscow went the following telephone message for Stalin: «To Stalin. Today, 13 November, took place a conversation with Hitler for three and a half hours and after dinner, on top of scheduled conversations, a three-hour long conversation with Ribbentrop... Both conversations did not bring desired results. Most of the time with Hitler was expended on Finnish question (emphasis added. - M. S.). Hitler stated that he confirmed the last-year agreement, but Germany declared that it was interested in the preservation of peace on the Baltic Sea. My indication that the last year no provisos were added on this issue, was not being refuted but also did not have any effect... These are main results. Nothing to write home about but at least clarified current Hitler’s mood, which we will have to account for» (Russia-XX century, Documents. Year 1941, Book 1, 1998).

How exactly they decided in Kremlin «to account for Hitler’s views» testify those two documents from 25 November 1940, which were mentioned above. In exchange for the military base in Dardanelles, «agreement of mutual assistance» with Bulgaria and the recognition of the Persian Gulf region as the «center of territorial aspirations of the USSR» Moscow promised «to provide for peaceful relationships with Finland». The same day, 25 November, the Command of Leningrad military district received Directive from the Narkom for the Defence USSR. The Directive included the order to begin development an operative plan of a military operation for a purpose of crushing the Finnish army and total occupation of the country «in the 45th day of the operation».The development of the plan had to be completed to a quite definite date — by 15 February 1941.




The contents of multi-hour exhausting Molotov's conversations in Berlin may be briefly and precisely expressed in a few words: whoever ran out of time, was too late. Whatever Stalin had time from September 1939 through September 1940 to get hold of in the Eastern Europe, remained his. Hitler did not consent to any new advances of the USSR westward (southwestward, northwestward). Despite the text of the secret Protocol of 23 August 1939 and ant possible interpretations of this text. From this moment (November 1940) the Soviet-Finnish relations turned out so tightly included in the general context of grand European politic that their isolated study and description becomes impossible.

It is customary to think that there was no reply to Soviet proposals of 25 November 1940 (about conditions of the USSR joining the «axis Rome-Berlin—Tokyo»). This is not exactly true, or to be more accurate, exactly untrue. First in count «reply» was deafening silence of Berlin, which in actuality refused even to begin discussing these conditions. It is noteworthy that 17 January 1941 Molotov considered it possible to express to Ambassador Von Schulenburg his «diplomatic perplexity» by the absence of any raction from Berlin to the Soviet proposals. But this changed nothing. A second, incomparably weightier «response» became official joining by Bulgaria of the «axis» (1 March 1941) and introduction of the German forces onto her territory. It happened despite numerous statements of the USSR government that «it will consider the appearance of any foreign forces on the Bulgarian territory or in the Straits a violation of USSR security interests» (USSR-Germany, 1939-1941, Documents and materials, 1989). The same day, 1 March 1941, Molotov handed to Von Schulenburg a note of the following content:

«1. It is very regrettable that despite a warning from the Soviet government in its demarche of 25 November 1940 the German government considered it possible to get on the path of violating interests of the USSR security and decided put troops into Bulgaria.

2. In view of the fact that the Soviet government remains on the basis of its demarche of 25 November the German government must understand that it cannot count on the support of its activities in Bulgaria from the side of the USSR» (Russia-XX century, Documents. Year 1941, Book 1, 1998).

As we can see, the sense and intonation are completely new — although less than a year ago every new step of Hitler’s aggression was met in Moscow with wishes of «total German victory in her defensive measures...»

The culmination of the Soviet-German standoff in the Balkans occurred in the first days of April 1941.

A brief reminder of the main canvas of the events. After Bulgaria, under pressure from Berlin, joined the «axis», came Yugoslavia’s turn. Her government signed 25 March in Vienna the protocol of joining the Tripartite alliance. However, in the night of 26 on 27 March in Belgrade happened a military take-over. A new government of General Simovich stated its intent to give firm repulse to German claims and appealed with a request of help to the Soviet Union. 3 April (i.e., only a week after the take-over) the Yugoslavian delegation already conducted in Moscow negotiations about signing the agreement of friendship and was received by Stalin himself. Despite the fact that Germany through Ambassador Von Schulenburg made it known to Molotov that «the moment for the conclusion of agreement with Yugoslavia was unfavorably selected, and it causes undesirable impression», at 0230 hours 6 April 1941 the Soviet-Yugoslavian agreement was signed.

Article 2 of the Agreement said: «In a case if one of the Contracting Parties is subjected to attack from third states, the other Contracting Party takes upon itself an obligation to observe policy of friendly relations toward it» (Russia-XX , Documents. Year 1941, Book 2, 1998). Moreover, the view of the USSR government was brought to notice to the Yugoslavian delegation that «we are not against Yugoslavia getting closer with England and with all those states, which can render help to Yugoslavia, and we do not exclude at all Yugoslavia concluding an agreement with England. We would even consider it reasonable» (ibid).

A few hours after signing the agreement Luftwaffe aircraft subjected Belgrade to a fierce bombing, and German troops invaded territory of Yugoslavia. The Soviet Union limited the promised «policy of friendly relations» with Yugoslavia by the following. 6 April, at 1600 hours (Moscow time) Molotov received Von Schulenburg and, having listened to the official information about Wehrmacht invading Yugoslavia, confined himself to a melancholic note: «It is very sad that, despite all efforts, expansion of the war, therefore, turned out unavoidable». Turned out unavoidable... And that was all. Discouraged Von Schulenburg reported to Berlin: «Molotov did not use the occasion to mention about the Soviet-Yugoslavian pact. According to my instructions, I also did not raise this question» (USSR-Germany, 1939-1941, Documents and materials, 1989).

What was behind these strange actions of Stalin’s diplomacy? Why was it needed to «badger» Hitler so demonstratively, having no desire (and practical possibility) to render Yugoslavia active military help?

What for was it to demonstrate to the entire world that Soviet promises of «friendly relations» are worth even less than notorious Anglo-French «guarantees»? In any case, the April demarche by Moscow was taken in Berlin with high irritation. Later (22 June 1941), the events of 5—6 April were used in the German memorandum of declaring war on the Soviet Union as the main testimony of a hostile politics conducted by the Soviet Union toward Germany. («With the conclusion of the Soviet-Yugoslavian agreement of friendship, which fortified the rears of Belgrade conspirators, the USSR joined the general Anglo-Yugoslavian-Greek front directed against Germany... Only speedy German victories led to the crush of Anglo-Russian plans of acting against German forces in Rumania and Bulgaria») (USSR-Germany, 1939-1941, Documents and materials, 1989).

As for the last point, the Germans were deeply wrong: there was not even a trace of any joint «Anglo-Russian plans» and even more so «Anglo-Russian fronts». Amazing but fact: Comrade Stalin did not undertake even tiniest attempts to improve relations with real Hitler’s adversaries. Although, in sound logic, exactly with this it would be necessary to start a Big Turn in the USSR foreign policies. Moreover, harshness (if not to say, swinish arrogance) toward the fighting Britain and her transoceanic ally were only growing. Detailed analysis of this component in the events of the first half of 1941 are far beyond the framework of this book. Not trying to embrace the boundless, we will quote, nevertheless, several sufficiently eloquent episodes.

After, in May 1940, W. Churchill became head of the English government, he replaced British Ambassador in the USSR. He sent in Moscow Stafford Cripps — the «leftiest», most loyal toward the Soviet Russia person in his «team». («The only time I was booed in parliament was during my speech in favor of the Soviet Union», — Cripps told Vishinsky). 1 July 1940 Cripps managed to get and audience with Stalin (a rare honor for the times — for instance, USA Ambassador Steinhardt not even once was received by Stalin). He handed to Stalin a personal message from Churchill. The document, in particular, said: «...At the current moment before the entire Europe, including both our countries, rises a problem of how the states and peoples of Europe will react to the potential of installation German hegemony over the continent... The Soviet government is in a position to judge for itself whether the current strive of Germany to the hegemony over Europe threatens the interests of the Soviet Union, and if so, what is the way to better provide for these interests...» (Russia-XX century, Documents. Year 1941, Book 1, 1998).

Having relayed the position of His Majesty’s government, .Cripps heard in response the following: «...Com. Stalin says that we want to change the old balance in Europe, which acted against the USSR... Com. Stalin notes that if it is a matter of restoring the balance, in particular, installing the balance toward the USSR, we must say that we cannot agree to that...

... As for the subjective data about the situation with domination in Europe, Com. Stalin believes its duty to state that in all meetings, which he had with German representatives he did not notice such desire by Germany domination of the entire world...» (Russia-XX century, Documents. Year 1941, Book 1, 1998).

In the future (to a substantial extent — in connection with the annexation of the Baltic states) the cooling of the Soviet-British relations reached a point when Cripps several months unsuccessfully tried to get a meeting with Narkom of foreign affairs USSR Molotov. Having recognized the futility of these attempts, Cripps (perhaps on the direction from London) 18 April 1941 met with deputy Narkom of foreign affairs USSR Vishinsky to whom he handed his statement to Molotov in written form. In Cripps's memo was said, in particular:

«...Since the time when I had a pleasure to converse with Your Excellency, elapsed a period pregnant with events... As for the relations between our two countries, there were no changes in them. The government of Great Britain still is feeling forced to consider the Soviet Union the main source of supplying Germany as well with goods directly exported as with goods coming through the Soviet Union in Germany from the Far East in the amounts, approximately, one thousand ton a day...

I have no intention to ask Your Excellency a question about intents of the Soviet government as I quite understand the difficulties, which may be associated with a response to a question of such kind. But I have a desire to ask, in the light of the aforementioned considerations, whether the Soviet government is currently interested in the implementation of immediate improvement of its political and economical relations with the government of Great Britain or the other way around, the Soviet government is satisfied with these relationships maintaining their current, quite negative, nature up to the end of war (emphasis in this paragraph is added. - M. S.). If the response to the first part of the question is satisfactory then, in my view, we should not lose time in order for such improvement served for the benefit of one or other party...» (Russia-XX , Documents. Year 1941, Book 2, 1998).

The response to these questions was so obvious to Vishinsky that he decided to retreat from his usual diplomatic restraint and immediately spoke out his own view. «...The memo, as can be judged from the first reading, I do not consider serious. For its discussion, we have no appropriate relations with English government as I already explained to Cripps in the conversation with him 22 March on a similar subject. Moreover, the memo contains even completely unacceptable for us positions... On the issue of the integrity and security of the USSR, I told Cripps that the USSR itself would take care of it, without help from advisors (emphasis added — M..). I rejected Cripps’ attempts to question our right to trade with Germany and with any other state by stating that it is out business and only our...» (Russia-XX , Documents. 1941  , 2, Moscow, International fund "Democracy", 1998).

5 June 1941 Ambassador Cripps departed from Moscow «for consultations with his government». As a result, on the threshold of the Soviet-German war the Great Britain was represented in the USSR only by a provisional charge d’affaires, secretary of the English Embassy Baggaley. His first meeting with Vishinsky (Molotov apparently did not consider it possible to descend to a communication with an Embassy’s secretary) took place 16 June 1941. It was a week before the beginning of war. The main subject of discussion became a renowned Information of TASS of 13 June 1941 wherein the rumours of soon coming beginning of the Soviet-German war were declared «clumsily cooked propaganda of hostile to the USSR and Germany forces». At that, in the first lines of the Communique strengthened spread of these in advance false rumours was for some reason associated with the name of Stafford Cripps.

«...On request from Baggaley I received him at 1710 hours. Baggaley stated that he came to me as the deputy to the People’s Commissar with first visit... Further Baggaley stated that in the TASS Information (as he represents it) there are two major items: first, it is indicated in the Information that between the USSR and Germany there were no negotiations, and second, that there are no grounds for expressing concern in connection with the German redeploying their forces.

To my question, whom Baggaley has in mind speaking about expressing concern, Baggaley answered the USSR.

To this, I replied to Baggaley that, as it is clear from the TASS Information, for the USSR there is no grounds for expressing any concern. The others may concern (emphasis added. - M. S..)» (Russia-XX Century, Documents. Year 1941, Book 2, 1998).

Even less ceremonious Moscow was with her future main ally.

«On our relations with the United States of America I will not dwell, maybe only because there is nothing good to say about it. (Laughter.) We learnt that somebody in the United States does not like successes of the Soviet foreign policies in Pribalts (sic in text. — M.C.). However, we will admit, we are not too much interested in this circumstance (Laughter, applauds) because we handle our tasks without help from these unhappy Misters. (Laughter, applauds.)» (USSR-Germany, 1939-1941, Documents and materials, 1989).

That is how hilarious were People’s elected ones, deputies of the USSR Supreme Council 1 August 1940 when they «heard and approved» a report by head of the government Molotov about the USSR foreign policies. At the same time, the USA Ambassador in Moscow was treated sternly, without jokes. Thus, 5 June 1941 (the same day when Cripps, empty handed, left Moscow) Deputy Narkom of foreign affairs Comrade Lozovsky «gave a lecture» (exactly such term he uses in his report) to the American Ambassador Steinhardt the whole nine yoards:

«... Government of the USA confiscated the gold belonging to the State Bank of the USSR (this term Com. Lozovsky used to indicate gold-currency reserves of the Baltic states, which were held in American banks), arrested steamers of the Baltic republics and not only did not liquidate missions and consulates of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia but even recognizes these puppet Ambassadors and Consuls as representatives of non-existent governments...

After I «gave a lecture» to Steinhardt, he began complaining that he was not invited to discuss the issues of relations between both parties, and this in part explains the current situation. He not even once spoke with Com. Stalin (emphasis added. - M. S.). And with Com. Molotov he spoke two or three times and only on insubstantial issues... In the view of Steinhardt, in the next 12 months, and some believe, in the next 2—3 weeks, the Soviet Union will be experiencing the greatest crisis. He is surprized that in such hard times the Soviet Union is not willing to strengthen its relations with the United States...

To which I responded that the Soviet Union was treating with calm any kinds of rumours about an attack on its borders. The Soviet Union will meet all armed anyone who may try to violate its borders. If there would be such people who tried to do this, the day of attack on the Soviet Union would be most unhappy in the history of the country, which attacked the USSR...» (Russia-XX Century, Documents. Year 1941, Book 2, 1998).

The USSR relations with Great Britain and the USA kept their «quite negative nature» up to the first days of the Soviet-German war. And this is very strange taking into account that the Great Turn in Stalin’s strategic plans occurred not after June 22, 1941 but about two months before this «most unhappy day» in the history of the USSR.

It is impossible to state the exact date of the «turn», and of course, there was no exact date. Re-evaluation of the situation and development of a new plan of action did not happen in one day. Nevertheless, as some rather tentative, provisional mark may be stated 13 April 1941. That day occurred major event of world importance (in Moscow was signed Pact of neutrality between the USSR and Japan — an agreement, which untied Stalin's hands for activities in the West). Also, a small episode occurred at a Moscow railway terminal, which attracted, however, undiverted attention from politicians and diplomats. The report, which the German Ambassador the same day, with the mark «Urgent! Secret!» sent to Berlin, described this strange episode so:

«...Clearly surprisingly both for the Japanese and for the Russians all of a sudden showed up Stalin and Molotov and in emphatically friendly style greeted Matsuoka and the Japanese who were present there, and wished them nice travel. Then Stalin asked aloud about me and, having found me, approached, embraced me by the shoulders and said: «We must remain friends, and you must now do everything for this!» Then Stalin turned the locum tenant German military attaché Colonel Krebs and, first having made sure that he was German, told him: «We eill remain friends with you in any case». Stalin, doubtlessly, greeted Colonel Krebs and myself in this way on intent and therefore consciously attracted general attention of the numerous attending public» (USSR-Germany, 1939-1941, Documents and materials, vol. 2, 1989).

Demonstrative embraces were soon complemented with other, equally demonstrative actions. In Moscow were closed embassies and diplomatic representations of the countries crushed and occupied by the Wehrmacht. The embassy of that very Yugoslavia, on agreement of friendship with which, as they say, «the ink did not have time to dry up» also was no exception. In May 1941, the Soviet Union with servient readiness recognized pro-German government of Iraq, which came to power by way of military take-over. Most favourably toward Germany were being solved also the issues of economic cooperation. In a memorandum from the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs of 15 May 1941 was noted: «The negotiations with first deputy People’s Commissar of Foreign Trade USSR were conducted by Krutikov in quite functional spirit... I have an impression that we could have presented Moscow with the economical demands even outside the framework of 10 January 1941 agreement... Currently the amount of raw materials, specified in the agreement, is being delivered by the Russians punctually despite the fact that it costs them great efforts; agreements, especially about the cereals, are accomplished wonderfully...» (USSR-Germany, 1939-1941, Documents and materials, vol. 2, 1989).

5 May 1941 Stalin surprisingly for everybody made himself hear of the government (Chairman of SNK USSR).

It is hardly necessary to explain that even before 5 May Comrade Stalin, being only one of many deputies of the USSR Supreme Council, had absolute authority. And before 5 May 1941 Comrade Molotov, being Nominal head of the government, coordinated any his step, any decision, any foreign policy statement with the will of Stalin. For long years, Stalin ruled over the country not having any need in formalization of his real status of ultimate dictator. And if 5 May 1941 such strange deed was nonetheless performed, it is tough to find for it any other explanation beside Stalin’s immodest desire to leave his (and not Comrade Molotov's) signature on the orders and documents, which would forever change the course of world history.

Elderly count Von Schulenburg was completely charmed by suddenly bloomed Soviet-German friendship (by the way, in 1944 former Ambassador of Germany in the USSR was executed for his participation in a conspiracy against Hitler, so his «naive credulousness» could have been not so naïve as it appeared). 24 May 1941 in the next report to Berlin he wrote: «The fact that the USSR foreign policy first of all is directed to preventing clashes with Germany is proved by the position taken by the Soviet government in last weeks (emphasis added. - M. S.), by the tone of the Soviet press, which views all events related to Germany in a format not causing objections, and by the observation of economic agreements...» (USSR-Germany, 1939-1941, Documents and materials, Vol. 2, 1989).

Hitler, unfortunately, was not so trusting. Surprisingly developed Moscow loyalty he related to coming through intelligence channels information about strategic unfolding of the Red Army and evaluated the situation quite adequately. Begun in December 1940, the preparation to invading the USSR came in spring 1941 on the home stretch. 30 April 1941 Hitler set the day for the beginning of operation «Barbarossa» (22 June) and the date of switching railways to the schedule of maximum military transport (23 May). 8 June tasks under the invasion plan were brought to army Commanders, 10 June they were informed of the date to begin the operation. At night 21 June, in a letter to Mussolini Hitler pictured his decision in such words: «Under these conditions I decided to put an end to hypocritical game of the Kremlin...» (USSR-Germany, 1939-1941, Documents and materials, vol. 2, 1989).


This was the general course of events in grand politics, against which background were evolving relations (or rather was being aggravated the conflict) between the USSR and Finland. Plausible and substantiated reconstruction of motifs and actions of the Soviet leadership in first half of 1941 is hardly possible under conditions of existing until this day closeness of the information. We once again are reminding the reader that practically the entire documental massif of units, groupings, military districts and top RKKA command for the first half (before 22 June) of 1941 is removed from accessible for independent researchers archive funds RGVA and TSAMO. As for the declassified in the beginning of 21st century «Special folders» with protocol of the Politbureau CC VKP(b) session and documents of the Committee for the defence () at the SNK USSR, their study forced to assume that these top organs of the State management were busy mostly with supply-marketing and manufacturing issues. Judging by declassified materials, it is hard to believe that the Politbureau CC and Committee for the defence had some bearing on making most important military-political decisions. A characteristic example: the «Special folders» of Politbureau CC sessions for June 1940 (RGASPI, fund 17, list 162, case 27, 28) include one and only mention about occurred in this month occupation of three Baltic countries, namely — 19 June was made a decision to issue to the troops performing «special tasks», additional amount of matches, tobacco and smoking paper (RGASPI, fund 17, list 162, case 27, sheet 160). The content of these «special tasks» was not entrusted even to top secret «Special folders».

Of course, «it could happen even to a bishop». They did not manage to hide everything. The Soviet bureaucratic vehicles produced, multiplied and sent out to thousands of addressees so giant mountains of documents that complete removal and destruction of evidence of crime turned out beyond the forces of this vehicle. Something survived, some erased traces of most important decisions are discovered sometimes in most unexpected, «non-core» funds. All that in total measure belongs also to the «Finnish component» of Stalin’s leadership military-political plans. Not even trying to put together from very insufficient number of «jigsaw puzzle pieces» a connected picture of events we will quote some documents and facts, which became accessible, supplementing them with the information gleaned from the works of domestic and foreign historians.

27 November 1940 (i.e., only two days after ill-fated date of 25 November) Finland’s president Kyösti Kallio submitted a petition to the State Council about his volunteer resignation. This was preceded by the events, it would appear, more appropriate in mystical thriller than in reality. On the eve of concluding Moscow agreement of 12 March 1940 president Kallio, signing authority to the Finnish delegation for the conclusion of an agreement under Stalin’s predatory conditions impetuously spoke a fatal phrase: «May wither the hand that signed such document». In August 1940 Kallio was taken to have it bad, he got a stroke, after which his right hand withered. In the future, his health was getting continuously worse, and on the eve of Christmas Kallio died on feet at Helsinki railway terminal of the repeat stroke (Yussila et al., 1998).

After Kallio resignation extraordinary presidential elections in Finland were set for 19 December 1940 .

Of course, it could not escape attention of the Soviet leadership. Actual source of information about the conversations in Moscow is memoirs of Yu.. Paasikivi (at that time Ambassador in USSR, in 1946—1956 — president of Finland). However, we will briefly recite their content as conveyed by a leading Russian specialist in the history of Soviet-Finnish relations, who is continuing glorious tradition of the Soviet historiography. «Two weeks before the elections, 6 December 1940, Paasikivi was invited to Molotov. In the course of their conversation, Narkom stated: «We do not want to interfere with your affairs, and we are not making any suggestion as to the candidate for the new president of Finland. However, we are carefully watching the preparation to these elections. Whether Finland wants peace with the Soviet Union will be clear from who is elected president». Further on Molotov firmly stated that the USSR categorically objects such candidates as Tanner, Mannerheim or Svinhufvud... Therefore, the Soviet leadership clear expressed (the emphasis in this paragraph is added. - M. S.) its position ».

Moreover, as noted in Paasikivi memoirs, in one of the following conversations in unofficial way at the moment when the Finnish Ambassador was already leaving the office, Molotov in conclusion surprisingly told him: «We are happy to see you here, however, we would with pleasure greet you also as Finnish president»...

Apparently, the desire for Paasikivi to became president of Finland in 1940 testified to the continued hope in Moscow for a possibility to coordinate foreign political line of Finland.

Nevertheless, in Helsinki it was considered most convenient to have Ryti as Finland’s president» (Baryshnikov and Salomaa, 2005).

In his last note the Russian Professor, doubtlessly, erred. The voting in the process of presidential elections was going on not only in Helsinki but also in all cities, towns and villages of Finland. However, one must suppose that a hypothesis that the election results may be determined not by staff intrigues in capital but People’s will expression still appears to the Russian sociologist completely unreal. As for the used above verb «to coordinate», this, I hope, was just a typo. It is possible to coordinate something with something, whereas Stalin, through Molotov, wanted «to correct», i.e., to tinker with foreign political line of Finland swaying it in «most convenient» for him direction. This time an attempt of a crude interference in internal affairs of a sovereign country failed, and Risto Ryti was elected president. Earlier he with dignity served as the premier minister during the hardest for Finland period of the «winter war» and following after it months of «cold peace» (Ryti took the post of head of the government on the second day of war, 1 December 1939).

Early in 1941 with renewed vigour flared up conflict around Petsamo nickel. Moscow demanded the transfer of mines to a joint venture where 50 % of shares would belong to the Soviet party. Finland refused. The Soviet leadership attempted to «correct» Helsinki position by economic pressure combined with political blackmail. The USSR on a unilateral basis invalidated the trade agreement concluded in summer 1940 and stopped delivery of goods including grain.                

It is sufficient to cast a glance on the geographic map to evaluate possible aftermath of such step. Finland is a rich country. It has plenty of forest, cellulose, the same with nickel. The people, however, cannot eat paper and stainless steel. Even in case of good own harvest Finland was forced to import on the order of 20 thous. ton of grain per month, not speaking already about gasoline, coal, caoutchouk, textile and other industrial raw materials. After occupation of Norway and installation of factual German fleet domination in the Baltic Sea transport communications of Finland with Europe and USA were almost completely broken. Theoretically, of course, remained an ice-free port in Petsamo. However, absence of a railway branch connecting Petsamo with railway network of the central and southern Finland, reduced to a minimum the role of the transpolar «window to the world» even in peace time. In conditions of a fierce war, which was unfolding in 1941 over the maritime communications (including the North Sea), there were ever fewer those willing to take a cargo ship in Petsamo.

One may amaze at the stubbornness, with which Stalin, Molotov and tried to «force Finland in the corner», not understanding and not noticing that in the «corner» there was a «door», in which they pushed Finland out. This «door» led to ever closer cooperation of a social-democratic country with Hitler’s Third Reich. It would be hard to give a better present to Hitler than the cancelation of grain deliveries to Finland from the USSR. In the situation emerged early in 1941 Germany immediately «lent her shoulder» to Finland, which turned out at the threshold of famine. On estimate of Mannerheim, already in spring of 1941 «90 percent of the entire import in the country came from Germany» (Mannerheim, 2003). There is no need to prove that such extent of economic dependence de facto deprived Finland of the status of a sovereign and neutral state. By the way, exactly in this — in liquidation of Finnish sovereignty — was unalterable goal of Stalin’s policy. Of course, due to the extreme incompetency and shortsightedness (in-Russian it may be said shorter and simpler — stupidity) of the Kremlin rulers Finland turned at this not at all in a «fraternal Soviet Karelo-Finland» but in German protectorate...

An attempt to organize the trade blockade was amended by political pressure. 18 January Moscow recalled its Ambassador from Helsinki. In the «diplomatic language» the recall of Ambassador is a last step before breaking diplomatic relations and penultimate one — before starting a war. At least, exactly so the situation was estimated by Paasikivi («the Soviet Union would not hesitate to use force against us if problems are not solved»). A similar view offered in his memoirs Lieutenant General (in winter 1941 — Colonel, head of the 14th army headquarters) L.S. Svirsky. He remembers that, having learnt about continued negotiations with Finland, he was very much surprised: «Why buy if the war begins soon and we take Petsamo back?» (Magazine "Issues of History", No. 9/1989, pg. 66).

23 January 1941 in Mannerheim’s house took place a conference of the top country leadership (attending were president Ryti, prime-minister Rangel, head of the General headquarters Heinrichs). Mannerheim, quoting intelligence data and started concentration of the Soviet forces at Finland’s borders, proposed immediately to begin at least partial mobilization. The absence of information about plans and operative regrouping of Leningrad MD forces in January — February 1941 does not let to either confirm or refute the validity of Mannerheim’s concern. Be it as it may, the decision to begin mobilization was not made then. On the other hand, totally lost Paasikivi proposed to give Stalin — out of harm’s way — the entire area of nickel mines (Mauno Jokipii, 1999). Having learnt that the government was discussing such way of «pacifying» the eastern neighbor, Mannerheim 10 February 1941 stated to the president about his intent to resign the position of Supreme Commander in a case if defeatist politics were implemented. An acute political crisis arose in Finland. 20 February Paasikivi resigned and was recalled from Moscow. Therefore, diplomatic relations of Finland with the USSR since end of February through mid-April 1941 were actually broken.

Rigid position of Marshall Mannerheim (who in October 1939, contrary to that, insistently recommended politicians to agree with Stalin, thus preventing an armed conflict) was based not only on tragic experience of the «winter war». With the approval of .Jokipii, through several secret channels the Germans informed Mannerheim about the course of Molotov's November negotiations in Berlin (Mauno Jokipii, 1999). Knowing the German position, Mannerheim assumed that the Soviet Union would not go for a risk of maximum aggravation of relations with Hitler due to the issue of Petsamo mines. The absence of reliable information again does not let us to answer a question whether intransigence showed by Finland was the reason for a peaceful solution of the «nickel crisis» or Stalin did not even plan to go in winter 1941 farther than bluff and «war of nerves».

The spring of 1941 began without external indications of the conflict. At the headquarters and in troops continued routine preparation to war with Finland. In the archive of the 5th aviation division’s intelligence department (with the headquarters in Vyborg) are found such documents:

«To: head of headquarters, 5th aviation division,Vyborg, 27.02.41

Attached please find maps of Finland territory with cartographically imprinted fortifications based on the data from RO (intelligence department. – M.S.) of LMD headquarters as of 1.12.1940» (TSAMO, fund 22251, list 1, case 3, sh.14). Further in text was a list of 30 maps.

«To: Head of headquarters, 5th aviation division,Vyborg, 28.02.1941.

Attached please find intelligence material «Brief information on the theatre and armed forces of Finland», copy No. 6, published by RO of LMD headquarters». On the letter – a resolution: «To Major Gribovsky. Work out and report conclusions» (TSAMO, fund 22251, list 1, case 3, sheet 23).

«To: 123 rifle division, 43 rifle division, 5 composite aviation division, 24 corps artillery regiment heads of headquarters, 16.05.41

Attached please find material-report about Finland armed forces for the use in practical work of studying the probable adversary. Head, 50th rifle corps headquarters 2nd department Captain  Kovantsev» (TSAMO, fund 22251, list 1, case 3, sheet 57).

«To: Head of 5th aviation division headquarters, city of Vyborg, 16.05.1941

Attached please find photographs of the city and airdrome Lappeenranta» (TSAMO, fund 22251, list 1, case 3, sheet 87).

A Finnish historian C. Geust asserts that «during the first half of 1941 Finnish border guards recorded 85 overflights of the Soviet aircraft over their territory» (Geust, in Baryshnikov and Gorodetskoy, 2006). Taking into account huge length of borders and total absence of radars in the Finnish anti-aircraft system it is reasonable to assume that the total number of intelligence flights by the Soviet aviation over Finland territory was even greater...

In various Red Army headquarters continued work on some plans. Albeit their contents are unknown to us, some conclusions may be made based on published in the second half of 1990’s «Control plan of conducted top command personnel muster, games, field trips and drills in districts in 1941» (TSAMO, fund 16, list 2951, case 242, sheets 134—151) (Russia-XX , Documents. Year 1941, Vol. 2, 1998). The document was approved by head of Operative directorate at the General headquarters Lieutenant General Malandin 4 April 1941. Careful study of this multi-page document identifies several «groups» of the simultaneously conducted measures, whose content quite correlates with known from other sources conferences of the Red Army top command.

First of all should be noted such most important measure as «operative-strategic game conducted by the General headquarters». The plan of 4 April 1941 very clearly states the intent to conduct three such games:

— with the command of the Far-East front, Trans-Baikal and Siberian districts during period 1 through 15 April 1941;

— with the command of Leningrad and Archangel districts during period 1 through 15 May 1941;

— with the command of Kiev and Odessa districts during period 1 through 15 July 1941.

It should be noted that immediately after the completion of the last game, during period of 15 through 30 July it was planned to conduct, headed by the top brass of Main air force directorate, of «inter-district air force drill» for Kiev, Odessa and Kharkov military districts. Remarkably, neither Western nor Baltic special military districts were involved in operative-strategic games. And Western air force must have from 1 through 15 August participated in the inter-district drill together with the air force of Moscow district and Moscow anti-aircraft defence. Hardly all this may be interpreted other than final rejection of the «north option» in the general operative plan (the main blow in Eastern Prussia and northern Poland) and in depth workout of the «south option» (with the conduct of the main strike in southern Poland, Slovakia and Rumania).

Coming back to the «Finnish theatre», we discover that in the period of 1 through 15 March 1941 in Leningrad district was planned the conduct of «observation field trip». During the same period (1 — 15 March) in Orel was planned «participation in an observation field trip of Leningrad VO», and in Urals VO, «participation in observation field trip», however, unknown with whom. However, analysis of only the text of the «Control plan» shows that during the stated period field trips were conducted only in LenMD and ArchVO. Geographically, Leningrad, Orel and Urals districts do not have even common border. At the same time within the framework of operative plan of invading Finland («considerations» of 18 September 1940 and Directive of 25 November 1940) they have common objective. This objective was unfoldeding four armies (7th and 23rd from Leningrad district, 20th on the base of Orel and 22nd on the base of Urals districts) and advancing with the Northwestern front from Vyborg and Sortavala on Helsinki and Mikkeli.

On the Northern front (according to the «Considerations» of 18 September 1940 this front must have been unfolded on the basis of Archangel MD directorate) from Alakurtti on Kemii and Oulu was supposed to advance the 21st army being unfolded on the basis of Volga military district. And what? Turning to the «Control plan» we discover that in Volga MD under the leadership of the General headquarters in the period 15 through 30 August must have been conducted «observation front field trip together with Archangel VO».

Plans for the preparation of top command personnel were assiduously followed. «In March under the leadership of deputy Narkom for the Defence general .. Meretskov in the district was conducted a large multi-day operative game», — writes in his recollections former Commander of Leningrad district .. Popov ("Defense of Leningrad. 1941 -1944, 1968). The field trip with participation of Leningrad, Orel and Urals districts’ headquarters also was in actuality conducted by the General headquarters in the period 13 through 20 March. As would be expected, in the process of the trip was worked off the subject «Offensive operation in winter» (Meltyukhov, 2000). The tasks being solved in the process of district and army field trips may be learnt even without secret archives. We read in published in 1968 official history of «Order of Lenin Leningrad military district»: «Field trips on the Karelian Isthmus and Kola Peninsula were instructive, in the process was studied character of the modern offensive operation and engagement in conditions of forest-swamp locality (emphasis added. - M. S.) on the scale of army, corps and division...» ("History of Order of Lenin Leningrad military district, 1968).

Beginning in mid-April, in a complete synchroneity with demonstrative change in the Soviet-German relations began a surprising warming up on the «Finnish theatre». In Finland returned, at last, Ambassador of the Soviet Union. At that, it was already a new person: instead of Zotov, which assiduously performed the role of a «bad cop», in Helsinki arrived «kind and accommodating» Orlov. Comrade Orlov, apparently, so bewitched Finnish politicians that even many decades later Professor . Jokoipii writes: «With the arrival of the new Ambassador Orlov opened completely new stage in mutual relations». Ostensibly a great success was reached also by working under diplomatic cover resident of the Soviet intelligence in Finland .. Sinitsin. If one believes his memoirs and published reports of the Soviet intelligence, Moscow received with almost stenographic accuracy reports about sessions of the Finland’s government and enigmatic unnamed «eminent political persons of Finland» served as Sinitsin's «errand boys» as the gold fish to a stupid crone (Sinitsin, 1996; "Hitler’s secrets on Stalin’s desk, 1995). Alas, events of 25 June 1941 for some reason showed total ignorance of the Soviet command about a real state and deployment of the Finnish and German forces. And some modern historians use exactly this ignorance as «extenuating circumstance» justifying completely inadequate actions of the Red Army... However, we will return to this issue later.

Simultaneously with the change of Ambassador in Helsinki, «Karelo-Finland» radiostation discontinued seditious radio-propaganda in Finnish language. One of Finnish Communists-defectors (see Chapter 2.2) wrote in this connection: «Social democrats are enthralled and consider this a concession by the Soviet Union, as well as replacement of the Ambassador» (RGASPI, fund 516, list 2, case 1544, sheet 127). Moreover, in April 1941 the Soviet leadership made it known to Helsinki that it already did not object the creation of a defensive alliance between Sweden and Finland! (Meltyukhov, 2000). 14 May Paasikivi returned in Moscow as Ambassador of Finland. 30 May 1941 Stalin invited Finnish Ambassador in the Kremlin and told him, verbatim, the following: «I will do a personal friendly service for you. I will give you 20,000 ton of grain, half of it immediately». And this promise was fulfilled — the stated amount of grain before the beginning of war came to Finland (Baryshnikov in collection “From war to peace. USSR and Finland in 1939 -1944”, 2006, pg. 218).

A desultory mosaic of events in the last months of peace may be amended by two more noteworthy fragments.

Early in June the military base in Hango was inspected by the Red Banner Baltic Fleet Commander vice-admiral V. F. Tributs and Commander of Leningrad MD Lieutenant General . Popov. 15 June .. Popov signed a report to the Narkomat for the defence of the USSR. In this report he expressed concern with insufficient, in his view, defence capability of the base at Hango and came up with a number of specific proposals regarding the fortification of Hango (unfold 8th rifle brigade into full-fledged division, form non-integrated artillery-machine gun and «whippet» battalion, etc.). The report ends in the following phrase: «All these measures are necessary to be conducted no later than 1 August 1941 (emphasis added. - M. S..)» [159].

Earlier, in Chapter 2.2, reports were mentioned about work of the Communist Party organizations of Finland compiled by the Finnish Communists who crossed in September 1941 the front line. Also quoted were excerpts from a report by Comrade Reino V. Kosunen «On the work of party organizations in Helsinki and Kuopio». This report ends with the following self-critical note:

«We, party members, had not been at the level of international events in the time when new war began. Two weeks prior the beginning of war between Germany — Soviet Union and Finland (sic in text. - M.S.) I received from the party leadership a report with the evaluation of the situation, as I had to go on a party trip to Korkila.

The report  contained the following:

1. The war is continuing and spreading. This is not a Blitzkrieg.

2. No changes are expected in Finland situation until fall (emphasis in this paragraph is added. - M. S.), therefore, so far war is not expected.

Therefore, we were not preparing to war before the fall» (RGASPI, fund 516, list 2, case 1544, sh. 49).

Capacity to self-criticism embellishes a person. However, in this case Comrade Kosunen is unfair both toward himself and toward «leadership of the party». This party was governed not from Helsinki but from another place. Finnish Comrades could not (and did not have right) to develop any other estimates of possible timing for the beginning of a «new war» besides those which came from Moscow. So, the fault for the fact that the Finnish Communists «were preparing to a war », which would start «no earlier thn in the fall», is not theirs...




24 May 1941 in Stalin’s office took place a multi hour conference whose participants, besides Stalin himself, were :

— Deputy government head and Narkom of foreign affairs Molotov;

— Narkom for the defence Timoshenko;

— Head of the General headquarters Zhukov and his First deputy, head  of the Operative directorate Vatutin;

— Head of Red Army air force Main directorate Zhigarev;

— Troop commanders from five western border districts (Leningrad, Baltic, Western, Kiev and Odessa), members of Military councils (Commissars) and air force Commanders of these five districts.

How do we know this? In the beginning of «perestroika», in 1990, magazine «Izvestiya CC CPSU» had imprudence to publish a multipage «Ledger record of persons received by Com. Stalin». In this ledger day after day, year after year were written anybody who entered and exited the leader’s office. Due to this «Ledger record of the persons» became known the very fact of the Conference of 24 May 1941 as well as the fact that there were no equally representative meetings of the top USSR military-political leadership — neither several months prior to 24 May nor after this date up to the beginning of war. This, in fact, is the entire accessible today «massif of information».

Neither Soviet nor Russian official historiography let fall a word about the subject of the discussion and decisions made 24 May. Nothing wrote in their memoirs a few participants of that conference who outlived Stalin. Declassified already in the beginning of XXI century Special folders of the Politbureau CC VKP(b) sessions protocols for May 1941 (RGASPI, fund 17, list 162, case 34—35) also do not include even tiniest mention of this Conference. And only Marshall  Vasilevsky in his article, which was sitting in archive calm just short of 27 years, remembers: «Several weeks before the attack on us by the Fascist Germany, the exact date, unfortunately, I could not name, all documentation for districts’ operative plans was transferred by General headquarters to the command and headquarters of respective military  districts» (Magazine "New and modern history", No. 6/1992, pg. 5-8).

Unfortunately, «all documentation» of the operative plans is not declassified to this day. Chronologically last of the known Soviet military planning documents are «Considerations about the plan of strategic unfolding for the Soviet Union Armed forces for a case of war with Germany and her allies» compiled no earlier than 15 May 1941 (TSAMO, fund 16, list 2951, case 237, sh. 1 —15). Published 15 years ago (in No. 1—2 of the «Military-historical magazine» for 1992), this document immediately became the center of a fierce discussion. Possibly it was because the readers who did not have time to get out of habit believing traditional myths of the Soviet propaganda were shocked by the phrase: «I consider it necessary in no way allowing the initiative of activities to the German Command, to forestall the adversary and to attack the German army at the moment when it is at the stage of unfolding and has no time to organize the front and interaction of branches of forces» (Russia-XX , Documents. Year 1941, Vol. 2, 1998).

It is hard to understand what could so strongly «scandalize public». The strive to forestall adversary and «in no way allow him initiative of activities» is only elementary common sense demand. If the May «Considerations» had some element of novelty, it was in the phrase preceding the proposal to «forestall the adversary». Namely: «Germany has the possibility to forestall us in unfolding and to carry out a sudden strike». All other known variants of the plan of Red Army strategic unfolding do not have phrase similar in content. This gives reason to assume that by mid-May 1941 the Soviet military leadership already clearly realized that the German preparation for the attack on the USSR was in full swing. That is exactly why the task to forestall the adversary, and for this immediately to conduct a number of measures, «without which it is impossible to carry out sudden blow on the adversary both from the air and onland» (Russia-XX , Documents. Year 1941, Vol. 2, 1998).

Whereas in everything that concerns operative plans proper, planned grouping of forces, directions of strikes, timing and lines the May «Considerations» completely (in some cases verbatim) repeat all previous, beginning from September 1940, known versions of the Red Army strategic unfolding plan:

«) the main strike by forces of the Southwestern front to carry out in the direction Cracow, Katowice thus cutting Germany from her southern allies;

b) auxiliary strike by the Western front left wing to carry out in the direction Sedlec, Demblin for a purpose neutralization the Warsaw grouping and helping the Southwestern front in crush of the Lyublin grouping of the adversary;

c) to conduct active defence against Finland (emphasis added. - M. S.), East Prussia, Hungary and Rumania and be ready to carry out a blow against Rumania under favorable environment» (Russia-XX , Documents. Year 1941, Vol. 2, 1998).

13 June 1941 Deputy head of the Red Army General headquarters Lieutenant General N.F. Vatutin compiled a certificate «On unfolding of the USSR Armed forces for a case of war in the west» (TSAMO, fund 1.6, list 2951, case 236, sheets 65-69) (Russia-XX , Documents. Year 1941, Vol. 2, 1998). The «certificate» of 13 June (this is the last of known pre-war document of such kind) does not include even a single mention of tasks and plans of actions. Only numbers, army numbers, stations of deboarding forces, needed number of railway cars and echelons. However, comparing the «Certificate» of June 1941 with the May «Considerations for the plan of strategic unfolding» and — the main thing — with actual deployment of the Red Army forces as of 22 June 1941, it is impossible not to be convinced that the real concentration of forces occurred directly under the May «considerations». Indeed, factual redeployment of forces, real creation of strike groupings whose structure corresponded with the pre-war plans (in particular — the May «Considerations for the plan of strategic unfolding»), is the most important and irrefutable proof that these plans were not at all a subject of «office research» but were consistently and firmly implemened.

The amount of performed work turned out so great that despite multiannual «cleaning of the information field» some documents and facts became known. For instance, in recently declassified documents of the Committee for the Defence at the SNK USSR is discovered totally secret «List of questions to be reviewed at sessions of the Committee for the defence» compiled 12 April 1941. It suggests, in particular, a review of the following questions:

«p. 14. About the cash allowance to the Red Army, navy and forces of NKVD personnel for the war-time ... 

p. 16. About the creation of a commission for providing postponement from the mobilization draft in time of war and about the procedure of providing postponements» (GARF, fund -8418, list 25, case 682, sh.19).

10 May 1941 at the Committee of Defence was approved «List of questions subject to review at the conference» (conference of whom with whom — not indicated). Paragraph 14 of the agenda was: «About additional budget of expenses for the period of mobilization and first month of war» (GARF, fund -8418, list 25, case 683, sheet 227). 12 May 1941 was prepared «List of questions in CC VKP(b)». Paragraph 7: «About the operation of the Civil aviation in war-time» (GARF, fund -8418, list 25, case 683, sheet 227).

The following document deserves special attention. 4 June 1941 Narkom of the navy N.G. Kuznetsov sent to the deputy Chairman SNK (i.e., deputy to Stalin) N.. Voznesensky a report memo No. 1146. Secrecy label on the document: «Top secret, special importance». And this indeed the document of a special importance for a historian — in it for the first time next to the word-combination «war time» appear absolutely specific dates:

«Attached to this is the register of the Narkomat of the navy demand in mine-torpedo armament for the war time from 1.07.1941 through 1.01.1943. I am requesting your directions of increasing allocated amounts of the mine-torpedo armament, taking into account that the demand of it for the 2nd half of 1941 is 50% of the total demand for a period of up to 1.01.1943» (GARF, fund -8418, list 25, case 481, sheets 32-33).

As we may see, the Narkom of the navy is planning to fight at least for a year and a half. At that, the operative plan of this large ocean war in general is already compiled — otherwise N.G. Kuznetsov could not plan specific distribution for the expenditures of mine-torpedo armament for each half-year...

Now from plans of the Great Raid we will return to the Soviet-Finnish opposition. Within the framework of the general plan of Red Army’s strategic unfolding for war with Germany the Finnish border permanently remained secondary area of active defence. The structure of the grouping and possible actions of the adversary were estimated as follows:

«Considerations» of 18 September 1940.

«... attitude and Finnish army following unfolding:

1. On the front from Gulf of Finland to Savonlinna up to 6 infantry divisions supported by 3—4 German divisions; 

2. For covering directions on Kuopio, Ioensu — up to 3 inf. divisions;

3. For covering Uleaborg direction (i.e., direction Suomussalami — Oulu) — up to 2 inf. divisions;

4. In the area Merkyarvi (west of Salla) — up to 2 inf. divisions;

5. In the area Petsamo — up to 2 inf. divisions. Final unfolding of the Finnish army under the stated option may be expected in the 20—25th day.

Probability of concentration substantial forces of the Finnish army on the Vyborg-Leningrad theater, supported here by German divisions, provides a possibility of adversary activities on this theater.

In the future, on this theatre is not excluded a possibility of auxiliary adversary blows on Petrozavodsk and Kandalaksha theaters».

«Updated» plan 11 March 1941.

«... in relation to the Finnish army most probable is the following plan of its unfolding:

1. On the front from the Gulf of Finland to Savonlinna — at least 6 infantry divisions, supported by 5—6 German divisions.

2. For cover of the direction on Kuopio, Yoensu — up to 3 infantry divisions.

3. For cover of Uleaborg direction — to 2 infantry divisions.

4. In the area Myarkyarvi — up to 2—3 infantry divisions.

5. In the area Petsamo up to 12 infantry divisions. Final unfolding of the Finnish army is to be expected in the 20—25th day.

Probability of the concentration substantial forces of the Finnish army on the Vyborg-Leningrad theater supported there by German divisions opens possibility of adversary activities on this direction».

The May (1941) «Considerations» about assumed adversary grouping on the Finnish theater there is only one phrase: «Probable German allies may set forth against USSR: Finland up to 20 infantry divisions».

Therefore, general evaluation of the situation on the north flank of the total front remained overall unchanged.

The only thing that may be noted is some increase in anticipated numerical strength of the Finnish army (from 15 to 20 infantry divisions) and of German force grouping in southern Finland (from 3—4 to 5—6 divisions). Active offensive operations of the adversary (Finns and Germans) were expected mostly on the Karelian Isthmus («Vyborg-Leningrad theater»). North of Lake Ladoga «the possibility was only just not excluded» of carrying out by the adversary of «auxiliary strikes», and in March 1941 even this proviso vanished. The May «Considerations» do not include at all any notions of possible adversary offensive in the area of the Finnish borders.

Comparing these assumptions with currently known real situation, it may be noted that whereas in the estimation of adversarial force numbers the Red Army Command was right (the Finnish army unfolded 16 infantry divisions, two Ranger and one «armor-cavalry» brigades), the concept of adversary operative plans were completely fantastic. There was not even single German division in the southern Finland on the front from the Gulf of Finland to Savonlinna»). The main blow in July 1941 Finns carried out in Ladoga Karelia (i.e., «on the Petrozavodsk theater») and almost all German divisions (4 out of 5) were concentrated in Trans-Polar region, i.e., where their appearance was not expected by even a single option of the pre-war plans of the RKKA command. We will underline this important note with a triple bold line as we will need it in the future.

Combat activities of the Soviet forces on the Finnish front was envisioned by the authors of Red Army strategic unfolding plans as follows:

«Considerations» of 18 September 1940 .  

«...Taking into account quoted earlier correlation of forces, our actions in the northwest must boil down mostly to active defence of our border.

For activities in the northwest earmarked to have the Northern front of three armies and non-integrated rifle corps in Estonian SSR. Only for activities on the Northern front are appointed :

13 rifle divisions;

2 non-integr. rifle brigades;

3 tank brigades;

20 aviation regiments, total of 970 tanks and 1,050 aircraft».

«Considerations» of May 1941.

«... Northern front  (LenMD) — 3 army including 15 rifle, 4 tank and 2 motorized divisions, total 21 divisions, 18 aviation regiments of the Northern navy, with major tasks — defence of Leningrad, Murmansk port, Kirov railway and together with Baltic Navy provide for our total domination in the Gulf of Finland.

For the same purpose is envisioned a transfer to the Northern front from the Baltic Special Military District of defence of the north and northwestern coast of the Estonian SSR».

Therefore, on the Finnish theatre was assumed approximate equality of forces of both parties (in the number of rifle divisions the adversary may have even had some advantage but the Red Army will have a substantial advantage in aviation and tanks). Considering the corridor of long-term fortifications on Vyborg, Kexholm and Sortavala theatres this was deemed quite sufficient for the solution of tasks of active defence. Whereas for the offensive and crush of the Finnish army plans of 18 September and 25 November 1940 (see Chapter 2.4) involved incomparably greater forces (46 rifle divisions, at least 9 tank and motorized brigades, one mechanized corps, i.., two tank and one motorized divisions, 78 aviation regiments with total number of aircraft 3,900 units). Unfolding such forces was intended based on four military districts (Leningrad, Archangel, Urals and Orel), plus the involvement of some units and groupings from Moscow, Volga, Kharkov and North-Caucasus districts.

The general conclusion may be phrased as follows: Finland appeared to the Soviet Command a very serious adversary. Its crush demanded the creation of a force grouping so large that a simultaneous offensive against the Wehrmacht in the southwest (Poland and Rumania) and against the Finnish army in the north was impossible. In others words, invading and occupation of Finland (according to operative plans as of the fall of 1940 or similar) were possible either before or after successful performing of the main task: crush of the German forces in the southeastern Europe.

In this connection one exotic moment is worth noting. The publishers of the «Updated plan of strategic unfolding» of 11 March 1941 made an annoying gaffe, and in the Table showing the composition of the Red Army «for the conduct of operation in the west and on the Finnish front», crept in a typo. In the column «Number of rifle divisions» is written:

— 158 to the west;

— 133 to the Finnish front;

— 171 total (Russia-XX century, Documents. Year 1941, Book 1, 1998).

It would appear even to a second-grade pupil that it must be at the first sight understandable that instead of the number 133 should be 13. However, for those people familiar with the very basics of the military art and history of the Soviet-Finnish war must be understandable the following. There was simply no 291st rifle division in the Red Army. It was a technical impossibility to unfold 133 divisions on the Finnish theatre of military operations. Even the plans of a decisive crush of the Finnish army and occupation of the entire country assumed the involvement of forces one-third as big. The «active defence» plans continuously included 13 — 15 rifle divisions. At last, completely unreal for a war of mid-XXth century is the creation of a strike grouping of 133 rifle and only one (!) tank divisions (that is exactly the structure silhouetting from the ill-fated Table). Nevertheless, the author of a huge number of books and articles devoted to the history of the Soviet-Finnish war, a Sankt-Petersburg Professor Comrade V.N. Baryshnikov made the next scientific discovery from an annoying technical typo (quoted with the preservation of stylistics, i.e., thickness, of the original):

«... Not disclosing in terms of distribution of the specific tasks for these directions, however, was indicated the quantity of forces assumed for the conduct of combat activities. At that, in view of Soviet command on the «Finnish front» should be unfolded substantial quantity of forces — 135 rifle divisions. This number was almost treble of that, which was determined for the conduct of combat operations against Finland in the fall of 1940, which shows how seriously was estimated that information, which was obtained about the beginning of concentration (in March 1941 (???). - M.S.) of the German forces in the Finnish territory.

On the other hand, undoubtedly such numerical strength of divisions planned to be unfolded in the border with Finland zone indicated that in Moscow, in a case of the beginning of war, not at all intended to implement there strictly defensive combat operations. Moreover, these forces, obviously, were intended to be used, besides, not at all against only the Finnish army, which, under the Soviet evaluation, could «set forth against the Soviet Union up to 18 infantry divisions...» (Baryshnikov and Salomaa, 2005).

On the basis of Leningrad military district was being unfolded the Northern front with headquarters in Pargolovo (northern suburb of Leningrad). In the Northern front were included three armies: 23rd, 7th and 14th. All these armies already existed by the moment of the cover plan compilation (the 14th army was unfolded in the Murmansk area even before the «winter war»). Beside units and groupings composing the three armies in direct subordination of the Northern front Command were 1st mechanized corps (w/o 1st tank division, about which - later) and three rifle divisions (70th rifle division, 177th rifle division and 191st rifle division). On Hango peninsula, as previously, remained the 8th special rifle brigade.

Almost all groupings of the future Northern front (except 237th rifle division, which arrived in the area of railway station Loymola in the beginning of third decade of June) were already in the structure of Leningrad district. No inter-district redeployment of forces was planned in Leningrad. This again supports a version that within the general Red Army strategic unfolding plan, which began to be implemented in May 1941, Northern front played a modest role of a defence area. Almost all rifle divisions (except the 115th and 71st Karelo-Finnish) participated in the «winter war». Thus, they were familiar with the theatre of military activities and assumed adversary.

Huge in length, the «Finnish front» may be tentatively subdivided into four areas (see maps No. 6 and 7). It was somewhat possible to talk about continuous «front line» on the Karelian Isthmus and in Ladoga Karelia (i.e., from the coast of the Gulf of Finland in the area Virolakhti to Ilomantsi in Karelia). In the northern Karelia (between Reboly and Salla) and on Kola Peninsula (Kandalaksha — Murmansk) there were only a few «road directions» leading to the Murmansk railroad. Between them extended hundreds of kilometers of impassable forests, swamps and tundra. It must be noted that these «directions» were not at all autobahns but dirt roads, in the best case with gravel top (the blacktop road in the segment Kandalaksha — Alakurtti appeared only in 1997). In summer of 1941, there were exactly five such directions:

— Petsamo — Murmansk;

— Salla — Alakurtti — Kandalaksha;

— Kuusamo — Kestenga — Loukhi;

— Suomussalami — Ukhta — Kemii;

— Kukhmo — Reboly — Kochkoma.

The first three directions were covered by the 14th army (with headquarters in Murmansk). The army included 42nd rifle corps (122nd rifle division and 104th rifle division) being unfolded in the area Salla — Alakurtti and two divisions on the Murmansk theatre (14th rifle division and 52nd rifle division). The direction Kestenga—Loukhi was covered by only one (242nd) rifle regiment from 104th rifle division.

The Reboly and Ukhta directions were included in the area covered by the 7th army unfolded in Ladoga Karelia (headquarters in Suoyarvi). In actuality for these two directions was allocated only one (54th) rifle division. In Ladoga Karelia, in the corridor from Kuolismaa to Lakhdenpokhya, were being unfolded two rifle divisions: 71st rifle division and 168th rifle division. In the army reserve was assigned 237th rifle division, which in mid-June was transported by rail to Loymola railway station.

On the Karelian Isthmus was being unfolded the mightiest in the district 23rd army: 19th rifle corps (142nd and 115th rifle divisions), 50th rifle corps (43rd and 123rd rifle divisions), 10th mechanized corps (21st tank division, 24th tank division, 198th mechanized division), 4 heavy artillery regiments RGK.

Now we will assemble the information about the structure of forces planned to be unfolded on the Finnish theatre of military operations under various plans of the Red Army Command. (Actually, those were «Considerations for the unfolding in a case of war with Finland» of 18 September 1940, report memo «On the basics of the strategic unfolding» of 18 September 1940):


Actually (June 1941)

Invasion plan (18 September 1940)

Grand plan (18 September 1940)

Trans-polar region

Rifle divisions – 4, tank divisions – 1, RGK av. reg. - 1

Rifle d - 3, RGK av. reg. - 1

Rifle d - 4

North Karelia

Rifle d - 1

Rifle d - 12

Rifle div - 1

Ladoga Karelia

Rifle d – 3, RGK av. reg. - 1

Rifle d - 6

Rifle div - 2

Karelian Isthmus

Rifle d – 6, tank d -2, RGK av. reg. - 4

Rifle d – 17, tank br -3, RGK av. reg. - 12

Rifle d – 4, tank br - 2

Front’s reserves

Rifle d – 4, tank d - 1

Rifle d – 4, tank d - 2

Rifle d – 1


Rifle d – 17, tank d -4, RGK av. reg. - 6

Rifle d – 43, tank d -3.5, RGK av. reg. - 13

Rifle d – 12, tank d -1, RGK av. reg. - ?


— motorized divisions from mechanized corps are counted for rifle divisions;

— two tank brigades count as one tank division;

— Table does not include 65th rifle corps in Estonia and 8th non-integrated rifle brigade on Hango peninsula.

As we see, the real force grouping is substantially smaller than the troops, which under the 18 September 1940 plan were intended for «crushing main forces of the Finnish army» and taking Helsinki «in the 35th day of the operation». On the other hand, the troops allocated for «active defence» of the Soviet-Finnish border increased somewhat from September 1940 to May 1941. However, most amazing feature of the cover plan of May 1941 should be considered appearance in the Trans-Polar region (on the Salla — Alakurtti theatre) of tank divisions (1st tank division of the 1stmechanized corps). This should be reviewed in more detail.

Commander of 1st mechanized corps (from which was taken out 1st tank division) did not know anything about the task set for the division. The report from the 1-mechanized corps headquarters «On the combat actions in the period of 22.6 through 24.7» (signed by the corps commander Major General Chernyavsky in August 1941) says verbatim the following: «17 June on the personal order of LenMD head of headquarters Major General Nikishev 1st tank division was removed from the corps and sent for performing special task, where to it departed having boarded at the railway station Berezka (Pskov srea). Any communications with it were lost since the moment of its departure from the corps» (TSAMO, fund 3422, list 1, case 7, sheet 2).

The report of combat actions by the 1st tank division commander, participant of the war in Spain and Finland, Hero of the Soviet Union Major General V.I.  Baranov uses much more energetic expressions. His bewilderment (if not to say indignation) by the decision to send the tank division in Alakurtti he is phrasing on the brink of what is allowable discussing orders of the superior command. «As for using tank divisions in the Alakurtti, Kayrala, Sama area, it is completely inexpedient and of low efficiency due to impossibility of manoeuvring even for tank detachments (what he has in mind is that the locality would not allow manoeuvring not only by units, i.e., tank regiments, but even by small detachments. - M.S.). This area has lake-swamp landscape, numerous rocky cliffs and large masses of rock boulders. Inexpediency of using tank divisions on the Kandalaksha theatre is even more obvious because the jointly acting 42nd rifle corps since the beginning of combat activities conducted mostly engagements of defensive nature, therefore the capabilities of the tank division were not used (emphasis added. - M. S..), and its main forces were not utilized... The used of tank divisions on this and the like theatres is inexpedient, especially with light tanks and armored vehicles» (TSAMO, fund 3000, list 1, case 1, sheet 44).

It is hard to disagree with this. Such use of tanks was in direct contradiction with the requirements of the Red Army’s Field Book (PU-39), which read: «Application of tanks must be massive (Art. 37). Great manoeuvrability, fire and strike power of tanks must be completely used for active operation... Major tasks of tanks in defence are: crushing adversary broken into the defence corridor, and first of all its tanks, destroying the adversary enveloping flank (flanks) of defence (Art. 391)». Of course, in those cases when the adversary had overwhelming advantage in forces, to provide «manoeuvrability» was already impossible due to shortage of the fuel, tanks were dug in land and used as «individual vehicles from ambushes». But in the Trans-Polar region it is impossible to dig a tank in land (permafrost, it is impossible to dig the ground with a spade), and it looks very ridiculous, an idea to transport a tank division thousand kilometres only to dig it into the ground...

In the «antitank landscape» of the transpolar Arctic light high-speed tank BT unavoidably lost its major advantage — the mobility. There were no other special advantages with this combat vehicle with its anti-bullet armour and small-calibre 45-mm  armed . For «engagements of a defensive character» it would have been much simpler and efficient to redeploy in the Trans-Polar region in the same echelons several rifle divisions or heavy artillery regiments RGK armed with heavy howitzers calibre 152 mm, and even better — 203 mm.  (For redeployment of bulky «husbandry» of a tank division from Pskov to Alakurtti was needed more than 25 echelons). In the weight of aggregate salvo one artillery regiment RGK exceeded two to three times a light tank division, and it is impossible to hide behind granite boulders from high explosive shells weighing 43—100 kg.

At last, completely unclear and unjustified appears such concern of the Soviet Command with covering the theatre Salla—Alakurtti. It resulted in a decision to «dismantle» the 1st mechanized corps — the main reserve of district command — and to send one of the two tank divisions of the 1st mechanized corps in the Trans-Polar region. As was already stated, on the theatre — Salla were expected two, at most three Finnish infantry divisions. The appearance there of German units in spring of 1941 was not expected at all. On the other hand, on the Karelian Isthmus, on the front of 23rd army, were expected «at least 6 infantry divisions supported by 5—6 German divisions». That is exactly there, on the Vyborg-Leningrad theatre, where were expected active offensive operations of the numerically exceeding adversary, could be used tank (mechanized) corps from the front reserve.

Nevertheless, reasonable and quite logical explanation of reason behind the appearance of the 1st tank division in Alakurtti area is, as the saying goes, «on the surface». It is simply necessary to look on the land — or geographic map — not left to right, from Salla to Alakurtti, but right to left, from Salla to Rovaniyemi. For the convenience of «extra-mural viewing» may be used «Military guidebook of Finland» prepared by the USSR Narkomat for the defence as early as in 1937. The following may be read on the issue of our interest: «Track No.15. Alakurtti — Kuolayarvi Kemiiiyarvi Rovaniyemi...

Area No.2 (area No. 1 was already captured in the process of the «winter war» and is of no interest for us now). Kuolayarvi — Kemiyarvi (99 km). Along the entire area is a highway with ditches, on average 4.5—5 m wide; well coated with fine fragmented rock and sand, well travelled, maintained in working order. The road is equipped with gasoline filling stations. In the area there is substantial number of bridges. The bridges are in working order...

Area No.3. Kemiyarvi — Vikayarvi — Rovaniyemi (99 km). The road along the entire area is a highway with ditches, 4.5—5 m wide. Road cover is gravel with sand, the state is good. The road has gasoline filling stations, there is automobile communications... Conclusions. The road is fit for movement of all disciplines of forces» (Text of "Guidebook of Finland" was provided to the author by Eugene Balashov).

So, from the borders to Rovaniyemi (administrative centre of the Northern Finland) is 200 km on an improved dirt road with gravel top. For a «furious raid» on Rovaniyemi a tank division armed with high-speed tanks BT could be considered best of the available tools of war. We will not encumber the text with analysis of tactical-technical parameters of BT tanks (this is the subject of dozens of books and hundreds of articles) and straight away will quote several real examples of marches performed by «beetee’s» in combat environment.

First BT tanks’ combat application episode was the war in Spain. On the basis of 50 BT-5 tanks was formed a tank regiment of the Republican army, which in October 1937 came to the area of combat activities on Ebro River having made in two and a half days march of 630 km. Perhaps, most difficult test of moving capabilities of BT tanks became Khalkhin-Gol. At the end of May 1939 two tank brigades (6th and 11th) made 800-kilometer march in the incandescent Mongol steppe (air temperature those days reached 40 degrees) to the area of future combat activities. That is how Hero of the Soviet Union .N. Abramov — commander of the tank battalion in the 11th brigade describes these events: «We were allowed an hour and a half for alert preparation. The battalion was ready to move in 55 minutes... The convoys were running on barely noticeable steppe path trodden by camel caravans. Sometimes the path disappeared it was swept over by sand. For overcoming sandy and swampy areas we had to transfer tanks from the wheel motion to tracks. This work was performed by well trained crews in 30 minutes...»

In three days of march the «armor strike battalion»[9], having lost on the way no single tank, came to the target area. Longer time (6 days) was expended for an 800-kilometer march by the 6th tank brigade.

Six years after the engagements at Khalkhin-Gol, in August 1945, tanks BT-7 of the 6th Guards tank army participated in the so-called Manchurian strategic operation. Tank brigades made that time 820 km over the Great Khingan mountain ridge at average march tempo of 180 km per day. Old «beetees» (the most recent of them manufactured five years ago) sustained such test. And what may appear totally improbable — after the heaviest forced march, after engagements with some German groups more than 80% tanks (as of 30 September 1945.) were in working order! (Radziyevsky, 1977; Zheltov et al., 1989, 1999; Rumyantsev, 1989).

It could be said that 200 km from the border to Rovaniyemi tanks BT might quite have made in one light day but in Trans-Polar region from end of May through mid-July the sun does not go beyond the horizon, and the «light day» lasts 24 hours a day. Of course, march and offensive are different types of combat work, and a tank breakthrough for 200 km in depth could not be a light stroll. Was a tanks division armed with «hopelessly outdated» (as thousand and one times repeated to us Soviet propagandists) light tanks capable of solving such task? This question is also better answered with a particular example. Out of the multitude of available, we will select the history of Wehrmacht's 8th tank division whose actions (as will be shown) had most direct bearing on the fate of the 1st mechanized corps and of the entire Leningrad district (Northern front ) as awhole.

In the morning of 22 June 1941, the 56th Wehrmacht's tank corps commanded by Manstein began offensive from the area of Memel (Klaypeda) on Daugavpils. The corps included 8th tank, 3rd motorized and 290th infantry divisions. Inclusion of infantry divisions (with artillery driven by horse and with foot soldiers) in tank corps doubtlessly testifies that to Hitler as well «history left little time» for preparation to war. The 290th infantry div immediately lagged behind the motorized units, and in the future Manstein's corps advanced with two divisions. By the end of the first day of war the 8th tank division captured a bridge over Dubisa River in the area of Aregala town (80 km from the border). 24 June in the Ukmerge area the 56th tank corps broke on the highway Kaunas — Daugavpils. In the morning of 26 June, the 8th tank division captured two bridges (automobile and railway) over Daugava and with fighting occupied Daugavpils. Next day the 3rd motorized division also reached Daugava and crossed it up the stream. As Manstein writes in his well-known memoirs, «we have done it in 4 days and 5 hours from the moment of beginning of the offensive; we overcame resistance of the adversary having made 300 km (as the crow flies) in a continuous raid» (Manstein, 1999).

56th tank corps made 300 km in four days not in uninhabited wooded tundra but «ran the gauntlet» of two dozen Baltic military district (North-Western front) rifle and tank divisions. By the moment of the German tank corps coming to Daugavpils, to Daugava already were approaching from the east troops of the Red Army Second Strategic echelon (21st mechanized corps, 41st rifle and 5th airdrop corps). However, the Soviet Command, planning in May 1941 actions of the 1st tank division, could hope that no adversary forces would be in the radius of a few hundred kilometres from Rovaniyemi. This, as the events showed, was the right assumption. Directly on the border, in corridor Merkyarvi — Kusamo, actuality were two infantry divisions (169th German and 6th Finnish) and a «division group» (a brigade of two moto-infantry regiments) SS «Nord». Farther west, up to the shore of the Gulf of Bothnia there were no forces at all. The nearest Finnish division (3rd infantry in the area north of Suomussalami) was separated from the line of a possible Soviet tank breakthrough by 200 km of forested cross-country.

Any mention of Leningrad military district mechanized corps (1t mechanized corps and 10th mechanized corps) was accompanied in the Soviet historiography by stern reminder that they were armed with «hopelessly outdated» light tanks. And this is only too true. There were almost no tanks of the so-called «new types» (-34 and KV) in the district (despite the fact that KV tanks were manufactured at the Kirov factory in Leningrad). In spring of 1941 dozens of railway echelons were bringing new tanks to the theatre of the future main strike — in Kiev and Western military districts. However, the upcoming fight would be not with neighbouring districts but with the adversary. That is why it is worthwhile to compare the armament of the 1st Red Army tank division with the armament of Wehrmacht's tank divisions, for instance, with still the same 8th tank division from Manstein's tank corps (TSAMO, fund 3000, list 1, case 1, sheet 51; Jentz, "Panzer Truppen", . 206).



8th tank div (Germany)

1st tank div (RKKA)

Heavy tanks (KV-1)



Medium tanks (PZ-4, T-28)



Light tanks (PZ-38(t), BT-7, BT-5, T-26, OT-26)



Whippets (Pz-II, Pz-I, Pz.Bef, T-27)






So, the bulk of the tank park in Wehrmacht's 8th tank division were captured Czech tanks «Pz-38 (t)». This is a light tank with anti-bullet armor, body on rivets (when a tank was hit by a shell rivet heads tore away and lethally maimed the crew), low caliber 37-mm cannon and weak (125 hp) motor. The bulk of the tank park in the 1st tank division were BT tanks (BT-7—176, BT-5—54). They exceeded the «Czechs» in the armament (45-mm cannon), in power (400 hp engine), in speed - twice. The tank also had a radiostation. Documents do not support common rumors that the Soviet tank commanders led their units in the engagement waving multicolored pennants. In the 1st tank division out of 31 tanks «-28» every single one was equipped with radiostation, out of 176 «BT-7», 89 vehicles were with radiostation (TSAMO, fund 3000, list 1, case 1, sheet 51). For reference: a tank shortwave radiostation 71- provided the telephone communication distance while moving of 15 km, and the telephone when parked — up to 30 km, in telegraph regime — up to 50 km.

Careful reading of archive documents reveals more than clear traces of the situation that the 1st tank division having arrived in Alakurtti was preparing to «active defense», i.e., to the offensive in the depth of Finland.

A report from the division’s pontoon-bridge battalion commander shows that after the arrival in Alakurtti area the battalion began building three (!) bridges over Tunsi-Yoki River. (On its east bank was the town of Alakurtti). By 30 June the job was completed — and right next day the battalion began destruction of bridges and railway bed in the corridor from border station Salla to Alakurtti. By 4 July everything was already successfully blown up and destroyed (TSAMO, fund 3000, list 1, case 1, sheet 16-17).

Soviet historians never wrote about an amazing story of the construction and then immediate destruction of bridges over a God- and-people forgotten transpolar river. However, in principle for all similar cases they have long ago saved a universal explanation. «The erroneous decision was unjustifiably taken...» A deeply correct note by V. Suvorov is: Communist propaganda hid from the USSR population even cases of natural disasters and catastrophic earthquakes (albeit there was definitely no «dear party’s» fault in their occurrence). At the same time, the Communist propaganda with huge readiness hurried to set forth Soviet Generals and even the future Generalissimo himself as total idiots who did not understand the very basics of the military science. We will not be repeating old and already known errors. Timoshenko, Zhukov, Meretskov, possibly, have not been genius commanders but knew their business well, had great experience of real leading regiments in engagement, and the difference between a tank and a cannon, a cannon and a howitzer, defensive and offensive understood perfectly. Correspondingly, a redeployment of the 1st tank division from Pskov in Alakurtti was envisioned in the cover plan of Leningrad district (and then implemented) not at all out of stupidity. It was done with quite clear goal: to break through in depth of Finnish army defence, to catch the only in the entire northern Finland «transport corridor», to disrupt possible redeployment of German forces from Norway and on the «Arctic highway» from Petsamo in Rovaniyemi and farther into central and southern areas of Finland.


In conclusion of this chapter, two important moments should be with ultimate clarity indicated and separated. Unfortunately, they are more often than not confused not only by professional fanciers to «search for a black cat in dark room» but also by quite conscientious writers and readers.

Offensive direction of Stalin’s state military doctrine is a doubtless, indisputable fact. This is no hypothesis. This is the statute norm, «categorically and saliently» expressed in the very first paragraphs of the Field Book PU-39. «If the enemy imposes war on us, the Workers-and-Peasants Red Army will be most attacking of any ever attacking army. We will wage war offensively, with most decisive goal of total crush of the adversary in his territory. Red Army combat activities will be conducted for the destruction. The major goal of the Red Army will be achieving the decisive victory and total crush of the enemy».

However, the offensive direction of the Red Army operative plans is in no way a proof of aggressiveness of Stalin’s empire foreign policies. In no way. Offensive and aggression are no synonyms. These are two words from two different languages. Military-operative language knows such terms as «offensive», «breakthrough», «chase», «defence», «mobile defence», «withdrawal». In the language of politics, they say about «aggression», «capture», «annexation», «interference», «help», «liberation», «salvation», «international duty», etc. These are two different languages. Plans of Red Army strategic unfolding do not include words «aggression» but they also do not include the word «liberation». Such words could not be there. Plans of the Soviet Command were neither aggressive nor liberatory. They were offensive — and no more than that.

Any army (especially the army of a great world power) is created exactly for crushing (or at least substantially weakening) armed forces of the adversary. Most effective way to solve this task was, is and will be offensive. Paragraph 10 of the RKKA Field Book only a decisive offensive in the main theatre, ending up in encirclement and relentless chase, results in total destruction of enemy’s forces and means») is tied neither with «world revolution» nor with aggressive, annexationist foreign-political plans of Stalin. This (and similar) paragraph is simply reasonable. It concentrates multicentury experience of the military art. An adversary must be destroyed or forced to capitulate.

What to do thereafter with this adversary, with his territory, with his material-manufacturing resources, with remainders of his army — this is already an issue of politics. The issue, for whose solution operative principles of the conduct of war have absolutely no importance. A state not only aggressive but also not wanting anything other than peace and calm must strive to a victory achieved by «small blood», with minimum destruction of own territory and minimum victims among own population. There was and there is no other way to this ideal except for a decisive offensive for a purpose of «crushing the adversary in his own territory».

Ultimate and persistent aggressiveness of Stalin’s empire found its expression and confirmation not in statutes and in the system of the Red Army combat preparation but in real acts of aggression, international brigandage, insolent interference in matters of sovereign countries, some of which were already mentioned in preceding chapters. Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Rumania, Bulgaria, Turkey. This is the list, which provides unambiguous response to a question about real, i.e., great-power and aggressive direction of Stalin’s plans. On the USSR State Seal sickle with hammer covered the entire globe, with borders of the «workers-peasants state» not indicated even with the thinnest line. And this simple symbolism was not at all an accident.




The armed aggression of the Soviet Union against Finland, begun 30 November 1939, ended in signing the Moscow peace treaty 12 March 1940. Not only in the circumstances of its conclusion (Stalin refused to stop the Red Army offensive albeit for the period of negotiations) but also in its content this agreement was nothing but the act of international brigandage and extortion incompatible with universally recognized norms of legality. From Finland were forcibly annexed expansive territories hundreds or even thousands of kilometres from Leningrad (fortification of whose defence capability was retroactively declared as main reason «forcing» Stalin to perpetrate armed attack on a demonstrably weaker neighbor).

Formally-legally, the Moscow agreement of 12 March 1940 is almost no different from the Armistice agreement between France and Germany, signed in Forêt de Compiègne 24 June 1940. The reservation «almost» concerns only the fact that the issue of who (Germany or France) was the aggressor and who the victim of aggression, allows different interpretations. Strictly speaking, exactly France declared 3 September 1939 war on Germany, and exactly French troops first crossed the border (9 September) and invaded the adjacent territory of Germany. Sure, the Nuremberg tribunal rejected such casuistry and recognized Germany as guilty in unleashing war in Europe, including the war against France. And nevertheless, the subject for strictly abstract discussion remains. Whereas in a case of the 1st Soviet-Finnish war (the «winter war») everything is absolutely clear: Finland did not attack, did not threaten, and could not — due to the difference in size — threaten a mighty Soviet Union, whose army numerically exceeded the entire male population of the country of Suomi (including suckling babies and decrepit old men).

In the modern Germany hardly may be found an extremist grouping of very rightist, revanchist kind with enough guts to demand the «return» of Paris and Orleans referring at this on conditions of the Armistice agreement of 1940. And in France only a few of those who in the years of occupation accused De Gaulle, «Free France» and combatants of antifascist resistance of violating the «armistice» with aggressors avoided criminal penalty. These inspiring examples should have, in my view, restrain Russian historians from raging, with the appearance of injure innocence, that not all citizens and not all leaders of Finland considered themselves moraly obliged to comply with conditions of the Moscow agreement of 12 March 1940.

By the way, since spring of 1940 through spring of 1941 the issue of how the leadership of Finland takes the Moscow agreement, did not have any practical importance. Main and definitive for the situation was how the USSR leadership takes this agreement. The second part of our book is devoted to a review of this question.

Facts, relatively new as well as long known, testify that in Moscow the Moscow peaceful agreement was perceived as temporary, forced and annoying stop on the way to a total annexion of Finland. The unceremonious seizure by armed way of the combine in Enso 10 days after signing the agreement provided illustrative sample of what is awaiting Finland in the near future. Threats and demands in no way based on the letter and sense of the peace treaty were pouring one after the other. Transit of military cargo in Hango. Ultimatum-like demands of resignation ministers of the Finnish government. Interference in the presidential elections. Destruction of a passenger aircraft «Kaleva». Demands to «return» to the Soviet Union rolling stock of the Finnish railway and stop construction of the defence facilities «on the Helsingfors theatre». Systematic border violations by Soviet intelligence aircraft. All these with maximum clarity testified about clear unwillingness of Stalin to set up peaceful, good-neighborly relations with ruined by him Finland.

Documents, which became accessible in early 1990’s showed that the aforementioned numerous facts of «pressing» Finland not only served the goals of psychological pressure on the country’s leadership but also were directly preparing the second attempt of invading and occupation. Operative plans of the Red Army top command under development in the fall of 1940, unambiguously and directly set the task of total occupation of Finland’s entire territory (including capital Helsinki), of complete crush and destruction of the Finnish army. The text of directives by the Soviet command does not leave any doubts that the implementation of these plans was not associated with possible appearance in the territory of Finland foreign (in real conditions of that time — German) army, capable of creating threat to Leningrad. Rather it was the other way around, exactly the situation of the absence of military allies of Finland was considered as especially favorable moment, which should have been used. Also remarkable that in the text of the «Considerations» and «directives» of the Red Army top command were not even formal provisos that invasion plans         were being developed «for a case of violation by Finland conditions of the peace treaty». And in this sense the Soviet plans noticeably differed from Hitler’s plan «Barbarossa». In the «Barbarossa» was at least said that «all orders, which will be issued by top Commanders based on this Directive must with total determination emanate from that those are measures of precaution for a case if Russia changes her current position toward us».

In consideration of contents of the Soviet Command’s operative plans acquire new meaning certain facts. For instance, the placement on Hango peninsula mobile railway artillery batteries of special power or creation of the notorious «Alliance for peace and friendship with the USSR». The Alliance — to utmost displeasure of Moscow «curators» — was unable «to break the spine of the Finnish bourgeoisie» (although it was able to begin a campaign of destabilization with bloody street scuffles and human casualties). The disclosed Comintern and «Moscow management core» of the Finnish Communist Party leadership documents with ultimate clarity unambiguously set task to «turn Finland into a Soviet republic» and to grant the Finnish people «such liberty and independence as that possessed by the peoples of Karelo-Finnish, Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian Soviet republics». In the light of such documents and plans become understandable paradoxical at first sight decisions by the Soviet leadership to create Karelo-Finnish union republic, to completely artificially plant Finnish language there, a language unknown to absolute majority of the population, and to create «evening courses» of the Finnish literacy for party nomenclature of this stillborn «stand-by Finland»...


«God sends a curst cow short horns». This rather boorish people’s saying with maximum brevity and precision describes the entire history of the Soviet-Finnish antagonism in 1939 — 1940. In March of 1940 a vague threat of armed interference from the Anglo-French block worried Stalin to such extent that he decided temporarily to stop the final lynching of intractable Finland. In the fall of 1940 barely indicated German interest to Finnish nickel and «Finnish transportation corridor» forced Stalin to stop halfway practical preparation to the «final solution» of the Finnish question. Head of the USSR Government himself was sent to Berlin for clearing relations with former accomplice in brigandage, which accomplice, having mustered for the year forces and impudence, was blisteringly converting into the main adversary.

In the course of negotiations 12—13 November 1940 was discovered absolute mismatch of parties’ position in the Finnish question. Hitler categorically objected against new war in Finland, Molotov, referring to the secret Protocol of 23 August 1939 about division of spheres of interests in the Eastern Europe, insisted on his «right» to occupy Finland not postponing this business by a year or even by half-year. Why must Russia postpone the implementation of her plans by six months or a year? After all, the German-Russian agreement did not include any restrictions in time and within their spheres of influence the hands of neither party are tied»).

Of course, as far as the observation of August (1939) deal conditions went, Molotov was absolutely right. However, on this question we are interested not in Stalin-Hitler’s «squabbles regarding concepts» but the attitude of the USSR leadership to the Moscow peace agreement with Finland. The existence of this treaty Molotov not even once remembered. At the same time, the intent to «liquidate» this agreement (together with independent Finland) he expressed with ultimate clarity. Answering the Fuehrer’s question he stated that he viewed the resolution within the similar framework as in Bessarabia and in neighbouring countries»).

After the completion of Berlin negotiations Moscow was forced to reckon that the new war with Finland would lead to serious aggravation of relations with Germany. Strictly speaking, this recognition was of little practical significance. Between the expression of displeasure and armed conflict is a distance of huge size. Molotov, for instance, numerously stated to the Germans, that «the appearance of any foreign forces in the territory of Bulgaria would be considered a violation of USSR’s security interests». Despite these completely unequivocal warnings, 1 March 1941 Germany «attached» Bulgaria to the Tripartite pact and introduced the troops into her territory. From Moscow’s side, in response to this clearly unfriendly move by Germany, followed nothing substantial besides public expression of «diplomatic concern».

Early in 1941 German capabilities to render armed support to Finland were, in substance, negligibly small. In the territory of Finland proper, there were no German forces in the numbers deserving attention and mention. The German force grouping in Norway was not at all inactive. It was solving tasks of defending the coast (total length of more than 1.5 thous. km) from possible English landing. The threat of such landing had a strong effect on Hitler. 4 March 1941 two cruisers and five destroyers of the British navy, without even suspecting it, actively interfered into entanglements of the Soviet-German-Finnish contradictions. The English shot at the Norwegian port and city Svilvaer, sunk several trade vessels and took prisoners 220 German seamen and Wehrmacht soldiers. 12 March this raid became the subject of discussion for the German Supreme Command. In the process Hitler shrunk even more the «Norway» army forces, which earlier were allowed to involve in the operation «Barbarossa». Even less realistic would be an attempt to begin offensive on the western borders of the USSR in a situation of winter — spring 1941. At that time strategic concentration of the German forces in the east not only was not completed but practically did not even begin.

Nevertheless, the Soviet leadership have not ventured to conduct military operation in winter 1941. Cannons on the Finnish border were silent. The lack of documental sources does not let to indicate specific reasons for this «nonaggression». Repeating once again, the documents of Red Army Command for the period from the beginning of 1941 through 22 June are taken off the framework of accessible archive funds. On the other hand, the development of invasion plans (within the scope of the «Directive» of 25 November 1940) continued. A testimony to this is field trips of the Command from Leningrad, Urals and Orel military districts conducted in Karelia as well as planned by the RKKA General headquarters for the beginning of May 1941 operative-strategic game with the participation of Leningrad and Archangel districts’ Command and headquarters. (These districts became future Northwestern and Northern fronts in categories of the «Directives» of 25 November 1940).

Be it as it may, but the year 1941 began with new attempts of economic and political «pressing» of Finland (dissolution of the trade agreement, cancelation of grain deliveries, the «nickel crisis»). As was to be expected, the result turned out hundred and eighty degrees to the design. Finnish leadership, secretly informed by Berlin about the course and results of the negotiations between Molotov and Hitler, took maximum hard position, and an attempt of blackmail not supported this time by real readiness to begin a war, failed with a crush. On the other hand, the crisis in January — February 1941 unavoidably resulted in even closer economic and then also political rapprochement of Finland with Germany. Overall, actions of Stalin’s leadership on the «Finnish theatre» of the USSR foreign policy in the period of the spring 1940 through spring 1941 should be estimated as total collapse on the strategic scale. It was unable to either «reunite» Finland with the Soviet «Karelo-Finland» or turn her into a peaceful, friendly neighbor.


April— May 1941 became a breaking moment in the history of the Second World War and Soviet-German confrontation as one of the main factors in the course of this war. Despite the fact that historians so far could not name the exact dates and quote foundational documents, massive «indirect evidence» allows with great certainty to assume the following. Exactly in May 1941 in Moscow was made the decision to begin a large-scale war against Germany. At that, it was supposed to begin not in some undetermined future but in July — August of 1941. From the moment of making such decision the Soviet-Finnish relations moved to the second (and maybe the tenth) plan in the face of upcoming grandiose events. The intent to concentrate main forces on one, German front, and confine in the north (on the border with Finland) to defence was certainly correct. Actually, it was the only possibility taking into account the necessity to create substantial numerical advantage in the West. In the emerged new situation Comrade Stalin was already not up to «turning Finland into a Soviet republic». First of all, the design was to «crush main forces of the German army» and «invade the territory of former Poland and East Prussia». And after the victory over Germany rapid increase in the number of «fraternal union republics» would become unavoidable and inescapable.

At the same time, at the end of spring 1941, the German-Finnish relations also began qualitatively to change. This issue is carefully fogged over and intentionally distorted by the efforts of two generations of Soviet (and now also Russian) historians. Nevertheless, it is not that difficult to rake out this heap and pull out of it a pearl grain of real events and facts.

As of 25 June 1941, there was no public, open agreement between Finland and Germany. Between these two countries were maintained normal diplomatic relations — and no more that that. There was no between Finland and Germany either Agreement of nonaggression (the German proposal to conclude such agreement the Finnish party declined as early as in spring 1939) or Agreement of friendship and mutual assistance (similar to the one that was concluded between USSR and «People’s government» of Kuusinen). Finland did not join the Tripartite pact and did not conduct (as opposed to the Soviet Union) negotiations about such joining. Therefore, from the view-point formally-legalistic, interstate relations between Germany and Finland were at a much lower level than relations between Germany and the USSR.

Between the two latter ones was concluded «Agreement of friendship and border»; the foreign minister Germany as Hitler’s plenipotentiary representative two times visited Moscow where he conducted official negotiations with the participation of Molotov and Stalin; head of the USSR’s government Molotov visited Berlin where he conducted quite official negotiations with Hitler. Nothing like that, nothing even close occurred between Berlin and Helsinki.

Does it make sense to discuss the issue of the presence or absence of official, public agreements?

As applied to Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s empire and — it does not. Both dictators at any moment were ready to break any international agreement as a pathetic shred of paper and the «public opinion» in either totalitarian state could meet such decision of the leader (Fuehrer) only with «passionate unanimous approval». Finland in summer 1941 remained a democratic state, with the president and parliament elected by the people. Such authority in such state would be tied in by the presence of openly concluded agreement of alliance with Germany. But THERE WAS NO such agreement.

But maybe there was a secret agreement between Finland and Germany about military-political alliance?

This is a very important question. Perhaps, in real environment of already second year flaring up European war more significative than a question of the open, publicly concluded agreement. Such secret agreement was searched. Searched with extreme care. And not in the serene epoch of «glasnost and perestroika» but immediately after the cessation in the fall 1944 of the war between Finland and USSR. Under the conditions of the armistice agreement «war mongers» must have appeared before court. And as Finland was not forced to capitulate, and as the Soviet Union was only one of «allied powers», with which Finland concluded Agreement of armistice, for a trial over Finland leaders were needed evidences. Stalin could not set up a process over Ryti and Tanner in the style of infamous «Moscow trials» of 1936. The documents and facts supporting secret alliance with Hitler were needed.

They were searched — and nothing was found. The search was hugely facilitated by a total crush and unconditional capitulation of Fascist Germany. Archives of Hitler’s «Reich» were at the disposal of the winners. In April 1945 a Communist Yurye (Yuri) Leyno, son-in-law of Comrade Kuusinen, became head of Finland’s Ministry of Internal Affairs. Under the «roof» of Allied Control Commission members of the Soviet special services flooded Finland. Things came to abductions and secret removal of Finland’s citizens from the country into NKVD Lefortovo prison. And nevertheless — no traces of secret inter-governmental agreement between Berlin and Helsinki were found.

This discouraging fact is forcing «historians» of certain orientation to do exactly what they are doing until this day. Out of total hopelessness scientists of the school of father and son Baryshnikovs in dozens of pages are narrating about glorious Soviet spies eavesdropped in a Helsinki restaurant on a conversation, in which an eminent political character X, full as a fiddle, said: «I cannot stand these Ryussya!»

To which his tablemate, known General Y, dashingly downing an eights shot glass of tea, stated: «I am still dreaming of surviving to the day when the Germans drive damned Ryussya behind the Urals, in taiga to the bears!»

«----!!! you see, —Russian historians of the Soviet bottling commenting on this drunken gabbing — in the process of a conference held in the hotel Z, representatives of the top Finnish army command and reactionary parliament circles decided to gain an agreement with Germany, based on which Finnish militarists dreamed to occupy the Soviet Union territory from Ladoga to the Urals...» It is a pity nobody has still written equally voluminous study of subjects and verbatim expressions, in which Soviet-Finnish relations were discussed in the officer binges on the other side of the border... All this would be laughable if the authors of such «scientific proceedings» were writing screenplays for children cartoons and did not try to represent their crudely made «hack job» for a historical study.

In order to find out how Finns after the «winter war» regarded «Ryussya» there was absolutely no need to waste budget money to pay the spies. The Finnish people fiercely hated Stalin and Stalin’s empire. Hated, dreamed about vengeance and revanche. No wonder that in some heads (the more so — heated by alcohol) such sentiments could have sometimes transformed into hate of the Russian people per se. At war is as at war. By the way, Mannerheim, Talvela and other Generals of the «old guard», participants of the Civil War 1918— 1921 hardly could not understand that the Russian people itself was first and major victim of the Stalin regime. However, hate of Stalin and formalized by mutual obligations military-political alliance with Hitler — are two very different categories.

Churchill, for instance, non the worse than Mannerheim hated Bolsheviks and personally Comrade Stalin. All this not at all led Churchill to an alliance with Hitler, moreover — did not even prevented him from entering an alliance with Stalin in the situation when such alliance became necessary for saving British empire. Baron Mannerheim, refined and haughty aristocrat, despised and hated «brown» smarty pants by no means less than the «reds». In spring 1939, after the occupation of Czechia, in a letter to his sister Eva he wrote: «We were indignant and outraged by actions of the Russians. But this is only a child’s play compared with Adolphus, head of his Cheka Himmler and his bellowed help... They want simply to turn peoples of Europe into white Niggers for services to the Third Reich... We are facing the end of the world...» (Joffe-Kemppainen, "Star" Magazine, No. 10, 1999). Fortunately, the end of the world had not come that time. In particular because personal liking and real actions of responsible politiccians far from always coincided.

In our view, most substantial method of study is not endless attempts to extract intimate sense from eavesdropped conversations and intercepted letters but analysis of really occurring events, real facts of a cooperation between the German and Finnish armies. Such cooperation, indisputably, existed. Equally obvious also is that real actions must have been preceded by negotiations between the military, joint work of the Command and headquarters. Without this would be impossible not only a joint conduct of combat activities but even a simple redeployment of German forces from Norway and Germany into Finland.

On a strange irony of fate a group of military headed by the Finnish Army General headquarters head General Heinrichs flew out of Helsinki to Saltsburg at the same hours (at night of 24 May 1941) when in Stalin’s office was going on a conference of the country top military-political leadership with the command of the western districts. In the process of three days of negotiations with German generals (including head of operative management headquarters Colonel General . Jodl) the Finns were informed about specific content and operative plans of war on the north flank of the Soviet-German front. No documents and mutual decisions have been made. Moreover, Heinrichs did not have authority for signing any agreement (Mannerheim, 2003; Mauno Yokippi, 1999; Zimke, 2005).

3 June in Helsinki came two German Colonels for a conference with Heinrichs: head of «Norway» army headquarters Buschenhagen and a representative of Obercommando headquarters Kinzel. Head of army headquarters with the rank of Colonel is hardly the level, at which could have been concluded military alliances between two states. 6 July in a German city of Kiel took place the conference of navy commanders. Germany was represented by Vice-Admiral Schmundt, and Finland, by Commodore Sundman. Neither official nor secret agreements were concluded in the process of this conference (at least they have not been found).

According the version narrated in Mannerheim’s memoirs, the Finnish party refused then to take upon itself any obligations. «From his [Buschenhagen] statement at the General headquarters became clear that this time his task was dual. On the one hand, it was to conduct negotiations about practical details of a possible cooperation in a case if the USSR attacks Finland. On the other hand it was getting the guarantee that Finland enters the war as a German ally. I informed the republic’s president about this, and he assured that his position did not change. After which I informed Colonel Buschenhagen that we could not give any guarantee relative entering the war. Finland decided to remain neutral unless attacked» (Mannerheim, 2003).

So far, it was not possible either to confirm or refute this version by some documental testimony. Nevertheless, the real course of further events unambiguously testifies that the parties did not limit themselves only to mutual information. A confirmation of such conclusion was begun 7 June 1941 redeployment of German forces in the territory of Finland.

The first to cross the border between Norway and Finland was motorized brigade SS «Nord». By 6 June the brigade was in the area of Norwegian port Kirkenes and then on the «Arctic highway» Petsamo — Rovaniyemi in three days it came to the concentration area. The 169th Wehrmacht infantry division during 5—14 June was transported by sea from Germany in Finnish port Oulu and from there by rail in the Rovaniyemi area. SS brigade «Nord», 169th infantry division and units attached to them (including a tank battalion armed with captured French tanks) were brought together as the 36th army corps, which was supposed to advance along the line Salla — Alakurtti — Kandalaksha. Up to the morning of 22 June 1941, the 36th army corps was the only grouping of German land forces in the territory of Finland. The only one.

In the morning 22 June mountain-rifle corps of General Dietl (2nd and 3rd mountain-rifle divisions) crossed the Norwegian border, took under control Petsamo and began advancing to starting area at the Soviet-Finnish border for the offensive on Murmansk. Therefore, by 25 June 1941 in the territory of northern Finland were already four German divisions.

The only Wehrmacht division in the territory of the southern Finland (163rd infantry) received an order to advance from Oslo only 26 June 1941. Having advanced over the Swedish territory, forward units of the 163rd infantry division crossed the Finnish border in the Tornio area only 28 June, i.e., already after the beginning of the 2nd Soviet-Finnish war. The division was deployed in Joensuu and included in the Finnish army main command reserve (Zimke, 2005).

These are facts.

Based on these facts the following conclusions may be made. First, until May—June 1941 the situation was quite multi-variant. No mandatory agreements (may they even be secret, may they even be signed at the level of Colonels and Generals) were there between Germany and Finland. Second, and incomparably more significative, the main military force in Finland’s territory was the Finnish army. Exactly this circumstance was of a decisive significance in the environment, which formed in Europe in the second year of the World War. Two (then four) German divisions unfolded in the Trans-Polar region were separated from southern Finland (i.e., from the country capital, major industrial centres and 9/10 of the population) by a thousand-kilometre expanse. At that, north of the railway spur Kemii — Rovaniyemi — Salla among uninhabited forest-tundra was extended one and only automobile road. Any military, force pressure of Germany on the Finnish leadership in such situation was out of the question.

Moreover, all purveyance of the German force grouping (from food supplies to munitions) was by the communications running through the Finnish army controlled territory. Local resources (simply speaking, village duds from whom it would be possible to take by force the food in amounts sufficient for providing 50-thousand grouping of forces) in northern Finland did not exist. Even with the alliance (public or secret) with Finland, purveyance of the German forces in Trans-Polar region represented a huge problem. The only automobile road from Rovaniyemi to Petsamo was 530 km-long, and German tanker trucks spent on this way the amount of gasoline almost equal to what they could deliver (Zimke, 2005). Really, the German troops in Trans-Polar region could solve only the task, for which they were unfolded. This task was to take, on consent of the Finnish leadership, Petsamo area and try to capture Murmansk and Kandalaksha. Any decisive effect of this very small grouping on making political decisions in Helsinki was out of the question.

In this respect Finland was (really and not under this or that paper agreement) in qualitatively different position than East-European Germany allies (Slovakia, Hungary, Rumania and Bulgaria). Territories of these countries by 22 June 1941 already were either in actuality occupied by the Wehrmacht or could be at any moment taken by the German troops. An example was Yugoslavia, which early in April 1941 tried to leave the Tripartite pact. This example with absolute clarity showed what would be Hitler’s reaction to the very first traces of insubordination.

Each medal has its reverse side. The indicated fundamental fact (major military force in the Finnish territory was the Finnish army) testifies, at least, about two circumstances. On the one hand, the decision to enter the war against the Soviet Union was made in Helsinki, and the responsibility for it lies with the Finnish leadership. In this sense, it is not possible to agree with forwarded by a number of Finnish historians concept of «a log carried out by a water current». Exactly at the end of spring 1941, exactly at the moment when two totalitarian dictatorships prepared to clench each other’s throat Finland got certain opportunity for a political manoeuver, for making independent decisions.

On the other hand, exactly because the key decisions were made not in Berlin but in Helsinki, the Soviet leadership had a real possibility of an agreement with government of Finland and of providing for the calm on the Finnish border by a peaceful way. Molotov did not need Hitler at all as an «intermediary» in the negotiations with Ryti and Mannerheim. It was sufficient to have good will and desire. And these are not at all tardy projects of a dilettante. Comrade Stalin himself formulated one of possible ways to solve problem as follows: «The USSR attaches great significance to the issue of neutralizing Finland and her breakaway from Germany... In this case the Soviet government could have accepted some territorial concessions to Finland in order to pacify her and conclude with her new peace agreement» (Correspondence…, 1989).

An excellent proposal. A real example of the state wisdom, which subjugates petty considerations of personal ambitions and notorious «image». Unfortunately, his readiness to make «some territorial concessions» and conclude with Finland «new peace agreement» Comrade Stalin stated (in a letter to the US President F. Roosevelt) only 4 August 1941. Where the Finnish troops were 4 August 1941, will be discussed in the last part of this book. In the mean time – the main thing: on the eve of the beginning of the Soviet-German war in Moscow was not undertaken even the tiniest attempt to «pacify» Finland. Now, for the «friendly gestures» (like replacement of the Ambassador in Helsinki and magnanimous, albeit already late, promise to resume grain deliveries), which made so emotional the then Ambassador in Moscow Paasikivi and some present-day Finnish historians. The leaders of Finland, of course, did not agree to consider it decent compensation for the aggression of the «winter war» and brigandage conditions of the Moscow peace treaty.

In the spring of 1941 a decision was made to provide for the stability of the Red Army general front’s north flank by military means rather than by diplomacy. By active defence. The USSR top military-political leadership decided that 15 rifle divisions and two mechanized corps of Leningrad district (Northern front) would be quite sufficient for «neutralizing Finland». As a matter of fact, Comrade Stalin as early as in April 1940 declared to himself and to his generals that «offensive of Finns is not worth a sixpence». Speaking in conclusion at the Conference of Red Army top commanding personnel, he said: «...The Finnish army is very passive in defence, and it looks on the defence line of a fortified area as Mahometans on Allah. Fools, they are sitting in bunkers and are not coming out, they believe that [we] cannot handle the bunkers, they are sitting and drinking tea... As for Finns’ offensive, it isn’t worth a sixpence. Now it is already three months of fighting, do you remember even one case of a serious mass offensive by the Finnish army? There was none... Very seldom did they go in counterattack, and I don’t know of even one case when their counterattack did not flop. Now, what about some serious offensive for a breakthrough of our front, for taking of some line? Not a single such fact you will see. Finnish army is incapable of large offensive actions...»

The subordinates understood the prompt. And now already in the intelligence summary from headquarters of the 10th mechanized corps (Leningrad VO), signed by head of the corps headquarters 29 June 1941, appears point 8 devoted to «political-moral state of the adversary». The state is simply depressing: «Political-moral state of the Finnish army soldiers for 1940 —1941 drastically declined. Frequent are cases (drunkenness, AWOL, bickering, noncompliance with orders, etc.), great dissatisfaction with a poor food and lengthened term of service. Besides, the soldier is under huge influence of general hard economic situation of the labourers and stressed political situation caused by the defeat in the previous war and reactionary course of the ruling clique» (TSAMO, fund 3444, list 1, case 52, sheet 41).

Was it worth to worry about the defence stability of Leningrad district forces when before them was such morally decaying adversary? As for the possible breakthrough of the German forces through Baltic counties and the line of Ostrov-Pskov fortified area to the southern suburbs of Leningrad, such situation was not even discussed. «Everybody at that time was firmly convinced — writes in his memoirs Air Chief Marshall (at that time Commander of LenMD air force) .. Novikov, — that troops of the district would have to operate only on the Soviet-Finnish border, from the Barents Sea to the Gulf of Finland. Nobody those days even suggested that the events very soon would turn very differently». In this case Novikov’s memory was not wanting. In the process of operative-strategic game conducted by the Red Army General headquarters in January 1941 the «westerns» had the task to come to the West Dvina in the 30th day of offensive. But «easterns», of course, did not allow even this, farther than the Kaunas – Shaulay line «westerns» could not advance (and even to this line from the border of East Prussia the «westerns» were creeping 10 days). Only in a delirium could Stalin see a situation when in the 5th day of war Germans crossed West Dvina and in the 18day day took Pskov... With firm belief in invincible might of his army, Stalin in cracking pace led the country to a greatest catastrophe in her history.




[1] Not “large-scale map”. A large-scale map is described by a small number, such as 1:50.000 (500 meters per 1 cm on the map). A small-scale map is described by a large number, such as 1:5,000,000 (50 kilometers per 1 cm on the map). Thus, a large-scale map shows a territory in much fewer details.

[2] Light on the mountain.

[3] Cellulose and paper mill.

[4] Prison guard.

[5] Main Political Directorate.

[6] Military district

[7] Reserve of the Supreme Command

[8] Spelling???

[9] A quotation from a well-known pre-war song. 

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Mark Solonin. 25 June. Stupidity or aggression? Part 2
Part 2. THE PEACE IS WAR AGREEMENT ABOUT PEACE OR PACE PAUSE? 29 March 1940, speaking at a session of the USSR Supreme Council , head of the USSR government and Narkom of foreign affairs V.M.Molotov finished his report to the top organ of legislative authority in the section devoted to war with Finland, by the following word....
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