Mark Solonin. 25 June. Stupidity or aggression? Part 1


Late in the 1930’s the Soviet Union was living in the expectation of a war — the war unavoidable and close.

24 February 1939, to the next anniversary of the Red Army creation, the main governmental newspaper “Izvestiya” published a large article remarkably entitled “Wars fair and unfair”. The conclusion, to which the reader was led, was very simple: any war waged by the country of victorious proletariat is fair. And that is why: “Defending their Motherland and destroying enemy forces in the territory they came from, the Red Army is helping enslaved classes to overturn the power of bourgeoisie, to get free of capitalist serfdom. Such war is two-fold and three-fold fair”. The article ended up in these words: “The Soviet people knows that the coming war will be very strenuous, bitter (the authors have no doubts that the war will be. - M.S.) and it will do everything that is necessary in order, allied with all peoples, in the shortest time possible and without much pain to put an end to Fascist barbarism, to do away with it, to do away with the regime, which is generating unfair wars” (Izvestiya newspaper, 24 February 1939 ).

Two months later, in his speech at the First of May parade (the Day of international solidarity of laborers was celebrated in the Soviet Union by a military parade on the Red Square in Moscow) the Narkom for the Defence .. Voroshilov stated, verbatim, the following: “The Soviet people not only knows how but also likes to fight!” (Izvestiya newspaper, 4 May 1939 ). After such words there was no question that the party of Lenin—Stalin in the nearest future will provide the Soviet people with an opportunity to prove its love and devotion in the battlefield of “very strenuous, bitter war”. The only question was — where to start? Where, in which lands is the Red Army expected “to help enslaved classes”?

10 March 1939  the 18th VKP(b) convention opened in Moscow. In his Central Committee (CC) summary report, Stalin stated that “a new imperialist war, which is running wild in a huge territory from Shanghai to Gibraltar, is going on already the second year” (Izvestiya newspaper, 11 March 1939 ). In his characteristic style, Stalin clearly and unambiguously stated three “aggressive” and three “nonaggressive” states. The first triplet included Germany, Italy and Japan and the second one — England, France and the USA. Convention delegates unanimously recognized Comrade Stalin’s estimates and conclusions as uniquely true and even of genius. Although already on 31 October of the same ill-fated 1939  head of the Soviet government Comrade Molotov informed deputies of the USSR  Supreme Council  that the genius conclusions radically changed: “During the recent several months such concepts as “aggression”, “aggressor” acquired a new specific substance, got a new meaning... Now, if to say about great powers of Europe, Germany is in a position of a state striving to the speediest end of the war and to peace, and England and France are for the continuation of the war and against the conclusion of peace” (Izvestiya newspaper, 1 November 1939 ).

Turning directly to the subject of this study, we will note the main, namely: Finland was not mentioned even once — neither in the list of aggressors nor in the roll of cunning “nonaggressive states”. It has been already long ago forgotten as possible military adversary. 29 November 1938, during a session of the Military Council at the People’s Commissariat for the Defence of the USSR, Comrade Voroshilov in the presence of Comrade Stalin said that “Poland, Rumania and all these Baltic states, we already long ago do not count them, we will any time and under any circumstances reduce these misters to dust”. The session’s stenograph acknowledges that these words of the Narkom for the Defence of the USSR were met with unanimous applauds [Izvestiya newspaper, 1 November 1939 ].

The Soviet press also devoted very little attention to Finland. Leafing through yellowed pages of the central newspapers for 1939 , we find continuous mentions about fighting engagements in Spain and China, about military preparation in Germany, England and USA, about political crises in Mexico, Rumania and Hungary. There was room on the newspaper page for a discussion of economical situation in Argentina and in Chile and also for a note about “Fascist intrigues in Kenia and Tanganyika”! Any mentions of Finland appeared very seldom, and (which is quite remarkable!) these mentions were mostly perfectly positive: there was viewing of the Soviet movies in a Finnish cinema, and all gathered liked the movies very much; a Finnish newspaper, commenting on the next speech of the Soviet leader, found it wise and perspicacious, etc.  Overall, position of the Soviet propaganda toward Finland might have been described with words “positive indifference”.

Certainly, in 1935—1937 within the general framework of rooting out “bourgeois nationalism” in the Soviet Union (mostly in Karelia and Leningrad Province) was unfolded a campaign of fighting the “Finnish nationalism”. As in all similar situations, the Finland Communist party leaders comfortably living in the USSR were arrested and shot as “agents of White-Finnish intelligence”. Such was at those times general practice of “work” NKVD organs conducted with all emigrant sections of the Comintern. In any case, the anti-Finnish campaign did not reach the level of an all-union undertaking. Remarkably, in the major processes of the “great purge” of 1937—1938 the doomed were accused of the connections with German, Japanese, Polish, French and Latvian intelligence agencies — but not the Finnish!

The trouble, as usual, came unexpectedly. 3 November 1939  an article appeared in “Pravda”, strange in form and even more surprising in content. At great length and enigmatically it was saying that Finland does not wish to strengthen the friendship with her great eastern neighbor, stubbornly rejects peaceful proposals of the Soviet Union, takes her lead from some unnamed but known to everybody “war mongers”. The article ended with a completely hysterical yelp: “We will throw to hell any games of political gamblers and will go our own way no matter what. We will provide for the USSR security not looking at anything, breaking all and any obstacles on the way to the goal”. It is easy to imagine the extreme surprise, which could cause such words in rank and file Soviet citizens, most of whom had a foggy idea — where is this Finland? Which “game”? What kind of “gamblers”? Where is it necessary to go now not looking at anything and “breaking everything on the way to the goal”? And what is this “goal”?

After three more weeks from newspaper pages, from the black plates of loudspeakers spurtled a torrent of wild, pogrom anti-Finnish propaganda. The Finland leaders have already not been called other than “scarecrows”, “political cardsharps” and “gamblers”. In last pre-war days the rude newspaper abuse, growing from forte to fortissimo, turned into a continuous hysterical roar: “Teach a lesson to brash war dogs! Woe on those who will stand in our way! It is the right time to rein in the piddling flea, which is jumping and playing the ape on our borders! Brush the Finnish picaroons from the face of the earth! The time has come to squash the heinous pipsqueak, which has the temerity to threaten the Soviet Union!” Best Soviet poets in an expedited manner composed verses, for instance, like this: “When a soldier goes to shoot mad dogs he is helped by the people willingly. Insane buffoons will find their end by burning in the flame, which they are kindling” (Izvestiya newspaper, 30 November 1939 ).

The invasion of Finland was arranged with unheard-of shrill histrionics — the troops were crossing the border in march convoys, with portraits of Stalin and unfolded banners. Enthusiastic self-delusion reached such an extent that already 1 December 1939 , in the second day of war, “Pravda” wrote beyond the shadow of a doubt: “The Red Army will manage to carry out a crushing blow not only on the Finnish pipsqueak but also on those, behind whose backs this pipsqueak is hiding!” The same newspaper issue informed that “the quality checker Com. Kukushkina”, speaking at a plant meeting, expressed certainty that the “White-Guard hell”, in which Finnish workers suffered torments for twenty years, came to an end...

That was how, in a rude, vulgar slapstick style, to the squeal and jeers of corrupt blotters, to the applauds of deceived and intimidated Philistines, was beginning a horrible tragedy of two peoples.

“A little victorious war” planned by Stalin turned into hard, multiannual, bloody slaughter. Combat activities between the Soviet and Finnish armies lasted — with long interruptions — from 30 November 1939  to 5 September 1944. Just short of five years. The document signed 19 September 1944 in Moscow was only the Armistice agreement. As for the peace treaty, which formally-legally ended the war between Finland and allied powers  (USSR, Great Britain and others), it was signed 10 February 1947 and ratified by the  Supreme Council  of the USSR only 29 August 1947.

Most active combat activities lasted in total at least eight months: “winter war” (30 November 1939  through 13 March 1940 ), summer campaign of 1941  (beginning of July through end October), summer campaign of 1944 (from 10 June to mid-August). The scale of the Red Army losses in the Soviet-Finnish war horrifies. The exact numbers are not known to this day (and hardly will be determined in the future). Analysis of the data in most authoritative and “conservative” (in a positive sense of this word) source (Secrecy label removed…, 1993) enables us to assert that irretrievable losses of the Soviet forces — killed, died of wounds in hospitals, perished in captivity, missing in action — were more than 200 thousand people.

Cognition comes through comparison. In a multiannual war with Japan (engagements at Lake Hasan in 1938, engagements at Khalkhin-Gol in 1939 , Manchurian offensive operation of 1945) the Red Army irretrievably lost 21 thous. people (Secrecy label removed…, 1993). Land troops of our allies (England, Canada and USA) in fighting engagements for the liberation of Western Europe — from the landing in Normandy to reaching Elba — lost 156 thous. people killed (Urlanis, 1960). On the other hand, German Wehrmacht in the process of its offensive on the Western Front (May — June 1940 ), which ended up in the crush of the French, Belgian and Dutch armies, irretrievably lost 49 thousand people (Muller-Gillibrand, 2002). The occupation of Norway (April — May 1940 ), in the process of which German troops crushed not only small Norwegian army but also the allied expeditionary corps, cost Germany 3.7 thousand perished and missing in action (Zimke, 2005). 

Unfortunately, human losses of the Soviet Union in war with Finland have not at all been limited to losses by the active army. The siege of Leningrad took lives of more than million civilians. It became possible only due to the Red Army defeat in the summer campaign of 1941  when ingress of the Finnish forces to Sortavala and Kexholm (Priozersk) cut railway communications between Leningrad and Big land around the north coast of Lake Ladoga. At last, besides direct human and material losses amenable to counting, senseless and ruthless war with Finland incurred on the Soviet Union indirect but because of this not at all less significative military-political damage. In December 1939  exactly the aggression against Finland became the reason for expulsion of the USSR from the League of Nations, and bombing of Finnish cities by the Soviet aviation resulted in the decision by the USA President Roosevelt about expanding on the Soviet Union regime of the so-called moral embargo (prohibition to transfer aviation armaments and technologies). All these strengthened even more international isolation of the USSR and also created additional problems in the Soviet aviation industry (especially — in manufacturing aviation motors, which was traditionally based on the use of American technologies), and all these were occurring right before the great war, right before the hardest ordeals awaiting the Soviet Union...

It is hard if not impossible to imagine an American or Canadian who knows nothing about the army of his country fighting in the years of WWII in Western Europe. Hard but also impossible to imagine a Frenchman or Englishman who does not know that in 1940  France was occupied by the Wehrmacht and in summer of 1944 was liberated by the allied troops, which landed in Normandy. In the number of human casualties, the Soviet-Finnish war (as previously mentioned) is quite comparable with military campaigns in the Western Europe. Nevertheless, even among graduates of historical departments in the Soviet universities it is hard to find a person who could name even approximate dates of the beginning and end of this war, name its main stages and results. As for the rank-and-file citizens not associated in their occupation with the study of military history, to find among them such connoisseurs is practically impossible. And such situation is not at all an accident.

In a totalitarian state, the right to study and interpret events of the past is an exceptional prerogative of the ruling ranks and their propaganda servants. That is exactly why the history of a totalitarian society is always unpredictable. For the Stalin-Brezhnev leadership of the USSR the Finnish war was an episode, which they would like to recall least of all. Neither criminal designs of the Kremlin rulers nor shameful Red Army defeats contained decent material for “education of labourers in the spirit of unselfish devotion and love to dear Communist party”. That is why the orders were — to forget. And everybody has forgotten.

Over a period of many decades the war with Finland was for the Soviet society a “lost”, “unknown” (as Tvardovsky said, “unrenowned”) war. In half a century was not made a single feature or documentary film or TV film about it. There was not established a single decoration for participants of the Finnish war. In those exceptionally rare cases when in a fictional or documentary piece appeared a mention about fighting engagements on the Finnish front in 1941  — 1944, soldiers of the adversary without much scruple were called simply — “German-Fascist aggressors”.

On the other hand, the totalitarian regime demanded the existence within the general framework of the “advanced Socialist science and deeply partisan culture” of the history science. And albeit the final conclusion of any historic study was known in advance — “the Soviet Union was right because she is always right”, — thick, often multi-volume books on the military history were both written and published. As applied to the presentation of events in the Soviet-Finnish war was elaborated, “supremely” approved and unswervingly observed the combination of the following three items.

First, to talk about this war as little as possible. If possible — not to mention it at all. In the literature available to broad readership is possible a brief discussion of the “winter war” but never the war of 1941  — 1944.

Second, as applied to the “winter war” - to call and interpret it as strictly local (in terms of the location and objectives) “armed conflict in the Karelian isthmus”. In literature available to broad readership (in particular, in all school and university textbooks), not to allow even cursory mention of secret protocol to the “Molotov — Ribbentrop pact”, of the so-called People’s government of the Democratic Finland and other events and facts disclosing the real intents of Stalin’s leadership. By way of hiding all significative documents (it needs to be noted that even central newspapers for 1939 —1940  were removed from open access in all public libraries of the USSR) to picture the large-scale aggression as a local defensive action.

Third, firmly, categorically, not allowing any criticism to reject any connection between the first (“winter war” of 1939 —1940 ) and the subsequent stage of the war. To declare the terminology generally accepted in Western historiography (“the continuation war”) a malicious insinuation of anti-Soviet falsifiers of history. To call and interpret combat activities of 1941  — 1944 only as “participation of the Finnish army in the German-Fascist aggression against the USSR”.

Deep socio-political changes in the Soviet Union at the turn of 1980’s — in early 1990’s created qualitatively new situation for scientists-historians. The access appeared to such sources of documental information, about which was impossible even to dream of previously. The possibility emerged to do own, impartial conclusions and without looking back onto the censorship to share these conclusions with the scientific community. Recalling today the atmosphere at the end of 1980’s, one might say that the society froze in the expectation of a gulp of long-awaited historical truth. Had these hopes proved true? It is very difficult to answer this question in a balanced and unambiguous way.

Quantity-wise, the “paper swell” of publications on military-historical subjects exceeded the wildest expectations. Bookstores are overwhelmed today with mountains of historical studies, memoirs, photo albums, document collections — and nevertheless each month Russian publishing houses disgorge on the market a few dozen (and sometimes even several hundreds) of new titles of the military history literature. Alas, the situation with the quality and scientific conscientiousness of published books is not at all rosy. Freedom of speech and press, which so unexpectedly descended on Russia, sometimes results in absolutely incompetent people with money or rich sponsors filling the market by their graphomaniac twaddle. It even came to the emergence of such incredible genre as documental fraud: published are “photocopies” of primitively and crudely cooked “documents”, “diaries” of “secret Stalin’s advisers” who never existed, appear from nowhere known to nobody (including close relatives) “memoirs” of long ago deceased people... In the engineering language, the “signal to noise ratio” in the present-day Russian historiography and historical journalism is very unfavourable.

Leaving pseudo-historical contraptions beyond the framework of this review as they do not generate anything except the “informational noise”, we will concentrate our attention on the contents of the “signal”. Substantial achievements are made in the development of scientific historiography of the Soviet-Finnish war. The issues associated with the “winter war” of 1939 —1940  are worked out in most detail. Declassification of a large massif of archive funds enabled the introduction in the scientific circulation of documents describing in detail both military-political preparation of the war and the course of combat activities. Of a special interest are estimates and conclusions made in the immediate aftermath of the “winter war” events by the top military-political leadership of the USSR (Winter war…, 1998; Soviet-Finnish war…, 2002). At the turn of the XXI century were published voluminous collections of primary documents (Zolotarev, 2000; Klimov and Makurov; Balashov, 1999). Exceptionally valuable material enabling more accurate evaluation of objectives of the Stalin policies with regards to Finland is included in multi-volume series of documents of the Soviet Union’s foreign policy, which is being published by the RF Foreign Ministry (Documents of the foreign policy, vol. 22, 23; 1995). In the same years have been translated into Russian and published memoirs of well known Finland’s politicians and works of known Finnish historians (Mannerheim, 2003; Tanner, 2003; Paasikivi, 2004; Yussila et al. 1998; Yokipii Mauno, 1999; Seppelya, 1995; Pietola, 1990;  Vikhavainen, 2000).

A radical broadening of the source base available to historians allowed for the creation of a number of major monograph studies (Kilin, 1999; Baryshnikov et al, 1989; Rzheshevsly, 1998; Balashov et al., 2001; Aptekar, 2000; Meltyukhov., 2000; Baryshnikov et al., 2006). Reviewing these publications one cannot but note certain paradoxicality in thinking of some Russian historians. For instance, while admitting the fact that the Finnish peacetime army was 60 times smaller than the Red Army in the personnel numbers, 100 times in combat aircraft numbers and 350 times in tank numbers, they nevertheless state that “military preparations in Finland caused natural concern of the USSR government”. Some other author so explains this “concern”. “In Moscow the military threat from Finland was taken quite seriously  in military matters this state substantially exceeded Estonia and Latvia”. Well, this list could be expanded adding Luxemburg, Monaco and principality Lichtenstein...

The beginning of the “winter war” is described in the following words: “30 November 1939  troops of Leningrad MD were ordered to throw the Finnish troops away from Leningrad”. The phrase is put together so as if the “Finnish troops” crossed the border, invaded the Soviet territory and came to Leningrad suburbs — after which they had to be “thrown away”! Another characteristic example: the leadership of a sovereign country has a legal right not to sign an agreement, whose terms, in the unanimous view of the government and parliament, contradict state interests of Finland. A present-day Russian historian is commenting it as follows: “The demonstrative uncompromising attitude of Finland and a campaign of support of its position unfolded in the world press did not leave Moscow other choice beside war”. A mind-blowing logic: by its “uncompromising attitude”, the victim did not leave the rapist “other choice”?

Anyway, it is too early to draw the line in the study of the “winter war” history. Many issues (first of all, the issue of genuine motifs, which induced Stalin first to start a war and then stop it without reaching a single of earlier stated objectives), is still controversial. And nevertheless, huge — compared with the Soviet historiography — progress appears to be obvious and indisputable.

Much less studied is the stage of the Soviet-Finnish war, which began 25 June 1941  and was named in the Finnish historiography the “continuation war”. The tradition of total veil of silence has in this case a long history. The beginning was set 65 years ago by the Soviet Informbureau, which had not informed the Soviet people either about the beginning or (which is really strange) about completion of this war! 26 June 1941  in the Sovinformbureau summary appeared one and only phrase: “26 June on the Soviet-Finnish border there were no combat encounters of the land forces” (Izvestiya newspaper, 27 June 1941 ). Even deep knowledge of the Soviet propaganda “newspeak” would not allow to make from this phrase a conclusion that exactly that day president of Finland Risto Ryti officially stated that his country entered a war with the USSR. In September 1944 Sovinformbureau had not breathed a word about cease-fire reached 4—5 September, and about signing the Armistice Agreement 19 September.

Back to the year 1941 . We discover there exactly three Sovinformbureau summaries, in which at least appears the word “Finnish” in any form:

— evening announcement of 29 June: “Finnish-German troops passed to the offensive on the entire front from the Barents Sea to the Gulf of Finland (as applied to the events of 29 June this was a clear exaggeration.  - M.S.), striving to break through our fortifications on the line of the international border. Numerous attacks of the Finnish-German forces were repelled by our troops”;

morning announcement of 28 July: “Our  aviation bombarded also a Finnish coastal defence armour-clad. Direct hits of 500 kg bombs and strong explosions were onbserved”;

— evening announcement of 21 September: “Finnish coastal defence armour-clad “Ilmarinen”, attacked by our vessels in the Gulf of Finland, hit mines and sank”.

That was all. No other information in three months (July, August and September 1941 ) of the war at which the Red Army lost 190 thousand people killed, wounded and captured. Of course, in Sovinformbureau summaries occasionally appeared very brief mentions of fighting engagements in “Ukhta, Kexholm, Petrozavodsk theatres”, but in these “theatres” the Red Army conducted engagements either with unnamed “adversary” or with “German troops”.

Until this day in Russia has been published not a single serious monograph (like aforementioned large studies of the “winter war”), in which history of the war of 1941  — 1944 would be subject to integrated, impartial study. More than that, the propaganda priority over scientific study in recent years even increased. Perhaps, this is due to a general change of mood in the Russian society. The “inferiority complex”, caused by progressing lagging of the country — now already not only from Western Europe but also from explosively developing states of Asia and Latin America, — is whimsically intertwined with great-power, imperial ambitions. In such poisoned atmosphere a criticism of Stalin’s foreign policy begins to be perceived as “the manifestation of Russophobia”, and familiar from the Soviet times intolerance and aggressive ignorance are amended by the verbal dissoluteness earlier alien even to Communist propaganda.

We will cite one but sufficiently characteristic example. In recent years in the pages of the Russian mass media began flashing name of some “Finnish sociologist” Johan Beckman. A young person (born in 1972) is introduced to the readers as “recognized specialist on Russia, who since 1993 often comes to Sankt-Petersburg where he spends months in scientific work”. In a very recent (published in 2006, Editor V.N. Baryshnikov) collection devoted to the history of the Soviet-Finnish relations, one can familiarize with the fruits of this “scientific work”.

In his article J. Beckman demands “the acknowledgement of the fact that the Finns were Fascist invaders, that Finland waged in the Soviet Karelia brutal race war, that anything human was foreign to the occupation government, and a monstrous objective was, together with the Nazi Germany, to wipe the Russians from the face of the earth”, (Baryshnikov et al., 2006) to be made basis of the study of the Soviet-Finnish war history. Sure rhetoric would be quite appropriate in a frontline “division newspaper”. At war is as at war — military propaganda at all times was built on a statement that “anything human is foreign” to the adversary. However, such exhortations look strange in a scientific publication in 2006. Also remarkable is that “a Finnish sociologist spending months in Sankt-Petersburg” founded in Helsinki “Institute of Johann Beckmann”, under whose auspices, in particular, was published a book by N.I. Baryshnikov (2002), which includes estimates and conclusions maybe not so odious but still quite remote from scientific objectivity.

It would appear, close cooperation between the Russian and Finnish historians from two neighbouring cities should only be welcomed unless it evolved on the model of an old joke well known to anyone born in the USSR:

“A Russian and an American met and began arguing — in whose country there is more freedom.

Now, I, the American is saying, can come to the White House lawn and shout at the top of my lungs: “American President is a fool!” And nothing will happen to me.

What a surprise, the Russian responds, I also can come to the Red Square in Moscow and shout: “American President is a fool!...”

There are many examples of such “joke” in studies of the Finnish war history. Helge Seppälä, a professional military and a military historian, at the age of 18 as a soldier of the Finnish army turned out in the occupied Petrozavodsk where he served in 1942—1944. Dramatic emotional stress of those years compelled Mister Seppälä (1995) to write a book entitled “Finland as an invader”. The publication of this book (or rather a very biased and one-sided approach by the author to the studied problem) became in Finland a reason for a genuine social scandal. In the process of the book presentation, even the police could not protect the historian from angry Finnish grannies, veterans of women’s voluntary organization “Lotta Svyard” (Baryshnikov, Gorodetsky et al., 2006).

It would appear, Russian historians could be those who could substantially amend and fine-tune the study by Seppälä. First of all, in view of the fact that the territory occupied by the Finnish troops was forcefully sawed off from Finland as a result of the “winter war”, it would be appropriate to write a book entitled “Soviet Union as an invader”. Of interest is also the issue of where from appeared the “local population” who the Finnish aggressors whisked away from “home ground” in 1941  . After all, in the heinous freeze of the winter of 1940  about 400 thous. people left with the retreating Finnish army, and in the “liberated territories” remained no more than 2 thous. local residents (Verigin). Seppälä’s stories about hard living conditions and miserly food rations should have been amended with information of living conditions and the size of rations on the other side of the front, in the Soviet Karelia. For instance, with a report memo by head of Karelo-Finnish Republic’s UNKVD[1] of 11 June 1942:

“In May of this year the population of Pudoga District were issued with long disruptions 200—300 g of bread per person. No other food products were issued. Systematic malnutrition for two months created mass emaciation in the substantial part of the population, and due to this, growth in mortality. In April of this year, 238 people have died in the District, out of those 67 children younger than 1 year. As a result of such phenomena labor discipline in the District noticeably declined...” (“Northern Courier” newspaper, Petrozavodsk, 2002, No 56).

At last, an objective discussion of the Finnish occupation regime is absolutely unthinkable without accounting for the main factor, which caused such illegal and inhumane actions by the Finnish military authorities as forceful resettlement of the population and creation of camps for displaced persons. It is, of course, a matter of the so-called Karelian partisans, i.e., of NKVD sabotage groups, which terrorized civilian population of Finland and Karelia. In a word, the field of work for Russian historians is huge. Alas, so far everything was limited to the translation into Russian and publication of Seppälä’s book, which is actively used as a collection of biased quotations.

Much better known is another book. A Finnish historian, research fellow of the Finnish Academy, Professor Mauno Jokipii penned in 1987 voluminous, 700 pages study devoted to the prehistory of the “continuation war” (Jokipii, 1999). The historian made it his goal to identify “Finland’s own contribution in unleashing war”, about which, in his view, “the Finnish people was not informed either then or later”. With huge care and thoroughness Professor Jokipii gathered all large and small facts associated with German-Finnish military cooperation in 1940 —1941 . Conclusions of the monograph’s author are: “in a strenuous situation after the start of the “Barbarossa”, Soviet Union’s nerves eventually snapped, and she carried out the first blow”. In a word, Finland again “did not leave to the Soviet Union other choice”...

It is arguable whether Jokoipii’s conclusions match those facts, which he himself collected in his study. In particular, the view has already been voiced that “the opinion of the monograph’s author about reasons for the Soviet-Finnish war of 1941 —1945 is completely refuted by documental-historical material, in detail and in good faith narrated in his work” (In the rut of conflict…). The obviously contradictory nature of the historian’s position also should be mentioned. Clearly condemning the actions of Finnish leadership, he at the same time is stating, that “the German way was selected not without hesitation there was no alternative”. And if “there was no alternative”, what is in this case a subject of the discussion and even more so, of political criticism? At last, already in 1993 newspaper “Keskisuomalainen” with the Soviet historian N.I. Baryshnikov, stated that “if there were no “winter war” in 1939 — 1940  then, most likely, in the process of German offensive in the fall of 1941  on Leningrad in the rear would have been neutral Finland and peaceful border on Sestra River” (Baryshnikov, 2004).

Attention has to be paid also to the book’s publication year (1987). Professor Jokoipii could not have at that time the access to the information about plans and actions of the Soviet military-political leadership. This information was declassified and introduced in the scientific circulation in mid-1990’s. It would appear, the present-day Russian historians should have amended the picture of events in last peaceful months of 1941  with those facts, about which “the Soviet people was not informed either then or later”. Moreover, exactly with an invitation to such cooperation Professor Jokoipii concluded his book. “The discussion of that complex time certainly does not end with this... The third large-scale stage based on Russian archives in the process of opening now is still ahead... Only incorruptible memory can help peoples building their future on the foundation of the past. This, of course, in equal measure pertains to all sides of the former conflict” (Jokoipii, 1999).

“Incorruptible memory...” It remains only to wonder with simple-minded naïveté of the Western historians who cannot (do not want?) to understand a simple fact: their current Russian “colleagues”, whom they address with words “Mister Professor”, are no “Misters” at all but hundred percent “Comrades”, tested warriors of “party’s ideological front” turned “Professors” at the departments of Marxism-Leninism and History of the CPSU.

They “heard” Professor . Jokoipii’s appeal as follows. In the year the book was published, nobody in the USSR paid particular attention to it. The Soviet historiography at that time did not need a “collection of damaging evidence” about Finland’s foreign policy. Even without it, “everybody knew” that Finland was guilty of everything. The situation changed in 10 years when in a post-perestroika Russia a public discussion became possible about the role of Stalin’s empire in unleashing the Second World War. In 1999, they remembered the monograph by .Jokoipii, translated and published in Russian. Bias showed up right away, on the cover, in how the book title was translated. “Jatkosodan synty” literally means “birth (emergence, creation) of the continuation war”. But as in the Soviet historiography use of the term “continuation war” was equated with an act of “ideological sabotage”, the book title was translated as “Finland on the way to war”. Ultimately, they shredded the monumental work by .Jokoipii into “quotations”, and their biased usage “embellishes” today almost every publication devoted to the subject of 25 June 1941 .

It gets worse and worse as it goes on. In 2003, Professor V.N. Baryshnikov (a son of the aforementioned N.I. Baryshnikov) published a book entitled “Entering of Finland in the Second World War. 1940 —1941 ” (Baryshnikov, 2003).  The general trend of the book is unfolded in 326 pages of “incitement in the Finland case” where profusely quoted fragments from Jokoipii and Seppälä publications are harmoniously amended by recollections of the former Stalin’s intelligence resident .Sinitsin. For instance, included is eavesdropped in the Finnish representation building in Moscow conversation, whose participants “spoke out quite certainly that in case Germany attacks the Soviet Union Finland will not be on the Russian side”. Very interesting. Did managers of those, who installed “bugs”, count on something different? Did they hope that robbed and raped Finland would rush to save the rapist? But most surprising is that three years thereafter the same V.N. Baryshnikov wrote that “the Finnish leadership did not have other options of political evolution besides following the way of military-political cooperation with Germany” (Baryshnikov, Gorodetsky et al. 2006).

Overall, the situation in the present-day Russian historiography of the “continuation war” may be outlined using such vivid comparison. Let us imagine a TV broadcast of a fight between two boxers, from which one participant removed by computer graphics technique (it is possible with the modern technology). What will we see on the screen? A whopping thug with the face distorted by incomprehensible rage is hopping in awkward pose on the rink and at that is flailing the fists in ugly gloves... That is exactly the way actions of the Finnish leaders in last prewar months are pictured. They are tumbling about all the time, going there in Berlin, there in Saltsburg or in Kill, are conducting secret negotiations with German generals, beginning concealed mobilization... And what is the OTHER PARTY of the future conflict doing? Is it busy exceptionally with “peaceful creative labor”?

The objective of our study is to “return the second boxer to the rink”. At this, the author not even to a smallest extent is claiming to be an arbiter and even more so a “prosecutor” who would decide whether the actions of Finland’s leadership were adequate with the real threat or it (the leadership) overstepped the framework of justifiable defense. Moreover, the “Finnish component” of the issue will be considered only marginally. And this is not only because it is more natural and easier for a Russian historian to study documents of history of his country, which are in-Russian. It is simply that leading role in a pair USSR — Finland unavoidably belonged to a huge 200-million world power, whereas Finland could only more or less successfully react to the actions of her mighty neighbor. Probably, in the equal proportion should be applied the efforts of the Russian researchers. Otherwise, we are in a situation, about which it was said two thousand years ago: “Hypocrite! Why are you are looking for a speck in the eye of your brother and are not noticing a log in your own eye?”

Only small portion of a huge multitude of issues connected with history of the Soviet-Finnish standoff in 1940  — 1941  will be reviewed in in this work. This portion includes strategic planning, operative unfolding and combat activities of the Red Army in the first weeks of war (June — July 1941 ). Especial attention will be devoted to the events of 25 June 1941 , i.e., to the massive blow of the Soviet aviation at the objects in Finland, which had served as a pretext to the declaration of war. Not trying to square the circle, the author, nevertheless, considered it necessary to amend the core material with a brief, concise recapitulation of the history of the Soviet-Finnish relations in 1918—1939  and equally brief review of the combat activities in the “winter war” and summer campaign of 1944. All this will enable the inclusion of dramatic events of the year 1941  in the general historical context.

The selection of such “military” perspective has two reasons. The first one is associated with the nature of sources used by the author. This are mostly documents from military archives: Central archive of the Ministry for the defence (TSAMO, in the city of Podolsk) and the Russian State military archive (RGVA, Moscow).

The second reason deserves a more detailed explanation. The point is that the Soviet-Finnish war begun 25 June 1941  was occurring within the framework of the other, great war, being its inalienable component. The Red Army, which in July 1941  conducted combat activities in Karelia, was the same army, with the same armament, the same command personnel, the same system of combat training as crushed in summer of the same year 1941  armies of the Baltic, Western and Kiev military districts. The reasons of their crush until this day remain in the center of fierce scientific and social discussion. As is known, the following reasons are stated more often than the others:

— sudden attack by the adversary;

— unmobilized state of units and groupings forces in the western districts;

— technical advantage of the German army armaments and aviation;

— the first and sudden blow on basing airdromes of the Soviet aviation, which allowed the German air force immediately to assume the air domination;

— bi-annual experience in the conduct of modern war accumulated by the Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe by the moment of invading the USSR.

We will not divert now for a discussion of how reliable these statements are. A number of present-day Russian historians (including the author of this book) in detail and with substantiations showed erroneous if not intentionally false nature of these statements (Solonin, 2005, 2006). For the purposes of this study, something else is much more important. If we review the entire aforementioned list of “reasons” for a catastrophic crush of the Red Army, we will discover that not even one of these factors can be applied to the description of combat activities (i.e., the Red Army defeat) on the “Finnish front”. Not even one.

The Soviet party began combat activities. And it began them exactly by a sudden aviation strike on Finnish airdromes. The active phase of land forces’ combat activities started early in July, i.e., 10 days after declaring in the USSR of open mobilization (not mentioning here the hidden mobilization and unfolding of forces of the Leningrad VO, which will be discussed later). Any “technical advantage” of the pauper Finnish army is out of the question. As for the “experience in the conduct of a modern war”, both opposing parties were acquiring it simultaneously and in the same place — on the snow-covered battlefields of the “winter war” of 1939 —1940 .

Thus, study of the course of combat activities on the Finnish front provides us with a unique opportunity to glance at the Red Army vintage 1941  under the conditions most favorable for it: in advance mobilized troops begin combat activities at the moment of their choosing, under the plans of their own command, against the adversary substantially inferior in technical equipping. One may argue that the analysis of real events in the Finnish war may serve a “time machine”, which allows to answer a sacramental question of the Soviet history: “What would have happened if there were no sudden German attack in the morning of 22 June 1941 ?”

Before starting at last presenting the main material, it only remains to define the terminology.

For the avoidance of accusations of bias, the author is proposing to use in the future for denoting the events of June—November 1941  absolutely neutral, non-judgmental definition: “the 2nd Soviet-Finnish war”. Correspondingly, combat activities of the summer of 1944 will be called “the 3rd Soviet-Finnish war”. Therefore, this study is devoted to the history of the beginning of the 2nd Soviet-Finnish war.

The accepted and conventional in the domestic historic literature term “Finnish” (Finnish army, Finnish war, Finnish aviation) will be used in this book as well. However, one should not forget that politically correct and historically truthful would be the term “Finlandian” (Finland is a dual-language country, and in her army, beside Finns, fought citizens of many ethnicities and in the days of the “winter war” also numerous foreign volunteers).

Some difficulty occurs due to metamorphosis of the toponymics on the theatre of military activities. As of the moment the 2nd Soviet-Finnish war began most of the Karelian Isthmus territory was part of the Karelo-Finnish SSR. For the entire territory of the               -F SSR old (Finnish) geographic names were kept. That is why, reading documents of the Leningrad military district command, we see the placer of hardly pronounceable Finnish toponyms. After the end of the 3rd Soviet-Finnish war the entire Karelian Isthmus was included in Leningrad Province, and its toponymics in 1949 was radically “russified”. Kexholm became Priozersk, Koivisto — Primorsk, Enso — Svetogorsk, Antrea — Kamennogorck, etc. Remarkably, in the Onega-Ladoga Isthmus (i.e., within administrative borders of the current Karelian ASSR) Vuontelenmyaki, Pitkyaranta, Naistenyarvi and other locations preserved their aboriginal names.

The following system is used in this book: geographic names will always be included exactly as they were indicated in the original documents, with modern names in parentheses. The words “Ladoga Karelia” will be used to describe the territory of the northeastern coast of Lake Ladoga (Sortavala, Pitkyaranta, Olonets) and Onega-Ladoga Isthmus (Loymola, Suoyarvi, Petrozavodsk). The territory north of Lake Onega (Medvezhegorsk, Reboly, Kemii, Kestenga) will be called the White-Sea Karelia. The land triangle between the Gulf of Finland and western shore of Lake Ladoga (Vyborg, Kexholm, Leningrad) will be called as it was called in documents of the Soviet command: Karelian Isthmus or, abbreviated, KarIsthmus.

The author considers it his pleasant duty to express his sincere gratitude for various help in work to friends and colleagues: . Balashov, . Zavalny, L. Louriye, . Meltyukhov, L. Naumov, . Povalyayev, . Stepanov, S. Tirkeltaub, A. Heninen and M. Shauli.

An important role in the creation of this book was played by a creative discussion and documental materials provided by C.F. Geust to whom the author expresses his deep gratitude.

In the book are used documents and materials gathered in multi-year work by leading compilers of Internet-sites: “Military literature” (militera.lib.ru), “Mechanized corps of the RKKA” (mechcorps.rkka.ru), “A corner in the skies” (airwar.ru), “Workers and Peasants Red Army” (rkka.ru), “Soldier” (soldat.ru), “Second World War” (weltkrieg.ru), www.ilpilot.narod.ru, www.eismeerfront.com, www.battlefield.ru, www.depvladimir.narod.ru.




Mutual and mostly peaceful coexistence of Eastern-Slavic and Finno-Ugoric peoples has a long history. Plenty is already forgotten, lost in the haze of time. There are only few who remember today that dense Murom forests where a daring Nightingale the Robber of old Russian lore was whistling, got their name from Finnish tribe Muroma. And Lake Chudskoye on whose shores a Russian Prince Alexander Nevsky performed his feats of arms was named after a Finnish tribe of Chudes. Even the toponym “Moscow”, in view of most experts, is of a Finnish derivation. As for the interstate relations between Russia and sovereign independent Finland, they are, surprisingly enough, young — not even a 100 years. Until 1917, the territory of traditional settlement of the Suomalayset people (people of Suomi), which formed early in the 2nd millennium AD by merging the tribal groups of Sum, Yem and Korels, was part of the Swedish kingdom and later, Russian empire. The oldest of certainly known borders was set in the Oreshkovets peace agreement of 1323 concluded between The Great Novgorod and Sweden. Under this agreement, the southern and eastern Karelian Isthmus (with the city of Korela, or Kexholm, or Kyakisalmi, or present-day Priozersk) was recognized as belonging to Novgorod.

A first step on a long way of conquering Finland made Peter the First. The war between Russia and Sweden (the so-called Northern war) lasted 21 years on the huge expanses from the Baltic Sea to Poltava. It ended up in 1721 by signing of the Nishtadt peace treaty, under which the Karelian Isthmus (within approximate outlines of the modern Leningrad Province) came off to Russia. A multi-annual devastating war made equally broke both Russian and Finnish lands. A quarter of peasant farms in Finland were abandoned, and in Russia “a glorious epoch of the reformer czar” cost decline in the population by one third... A new succession of Russian-Swedish wars waged by semi-German Herren and German Frauen changing one after the other on the Russian throne ended in 1809 by inclusion of the entire territory of the present-day Finland into the new empire. However, the conditions and procedure of this inclusion was quite untraditional. The Finnish lands entered the empire as an integral whole sonorously dubbed “Great Finnish Principality”. Albeit the title of the Great Finnish Prince was claimed by the Russian Emperor, Finland herself got the rights of broad autonomy.

In the first session of the Representative Assembly of Four Estates (Seim of Finland) in the city of Porvoo was read special manifesto, in which Alexander I solemnly pronounced special favours. Finland kept her Lutheran confession, her previous (i.e., Swedish) laws, judicial system and local self-rule. The czar promised to introduce new laws or modify old ones only upon Seim consent. The administrative autonomy was supplemented by the economic autonomy: Finland had its own customs, budget and tax system separate from the Russian ones and from 1878, her own monetary system. Specific contents of all these autonomy rights continuously changed with changes in internal and foreign political environment. Between 1820 and 1863 the Seim have not convened even once, in 1850 was introduced the prohibition to publish books in Finnish (except for agricultural and religious literature). The epoch of liberal reforms in 1860’s substantially changed the situation in Finland. The school reform (1866) eliminated church control of the elementary education and introduced education in Finnish language. The new Seim statute (1869) legislated periodicity of the mandatory Seim sessions (once every 5 years, and since 1882 — every 3 years). The urban reform (1873) established elections of organs of local self-rule.

Political reaction of Alexander III reign also redounded on Finland. In February of 1899 by a special manifesto, the Russian emperor assumed the right to issue laws mandatory for Finland without consent of the Seim. Active policies intended for practically total liquidation of the autonomous rights and forceful russification of Finland were conducted by a Governor General Bobrikov, who left after himself long and ill memory. years later, the refrain of a well-known military time Finnish song had a phrase: “No, Molotov, no, Molotov! You are lying even more than Bobrikov...” The revolution of 1905 radically changed the situation both in Russia and in Finland. 22 October Nicolas II was forced to sign a manifesto abolishing all laws of the czar government adopted after February 1899 without consent of the Seim. 20 June 1906 was adopted new Statute of Finland’s Seim, which included liquidation of the estate representation system and creation of a single-chamber parliament elected based on universal direct equal suffrage by all citizens 24 years and older. Already in the parliament elections of 1907 Finnish social democrats got 80 seats out of 200, and in the elections in 1916, more than half — 103 seats out of 200. The people, whose national character became a synonym of calm and cool judgment, selected a social progress within law and order. At the same time on the other side of the border were rapidly growing extremist feelings. In the first and only elections of the Russian Constitutive Assembly a stunning victory was gained by left radicals — Social Revolutionaries and Bolsheviks — who got, combined, more than four fifths of the votes).

The administrative border of the Great Principality of Finland also did not remain unchanged in XIX century.

In 1811, the Vyborg Governorate (i.e., Karelian Isthmus) was passed to Finland. In 1864 emperor Alexander II decided once again to tweak the border and handed a small city of Sestroretsk (30 km from Sankt-Petersburg) to Russia. It was done in total accord with later Soviet formula “responding to numerous wishes of the labourers”. (“Artisans and other residents of belonging to the government Russian Sestroretsk Armory are Russian subjects and do not know the language and law of Finland”). At the same time, the town of Pechenga (Petsamo) with its permafrost covered nickel deposits was included in Finland. All this history cannot but call up associations with deeds by Nikita Khrushchev who with the stroke of the pen transferred the Crimean peninsula from one part of the Soviet empire (RSFSR) to another (USSR), not thinking even for a minute that all empires are not forever...

Russian empire collapsed in the end of 1917, unable to sustain the stress of bloody world war and internal strife. In the environment of growing chaos in Russia, the Finnish parliament 6 December 1917 adopted the declaration proclaiming Finland an independent state. 31 December 1917 (here and thereafter all dates are given according to the new calendar) The Council of People’s Commissars (SNK) of the RSFSR recognized Finland’s independence, 4 January 1918 SNK decree was approved by VTSIK (All-Russian Central Executive Committee). The levity and speed, at which Lenin’s government solved a multi-century issue of creating a sovereign Finnish state, were not coincidental. They were in complete accord with the course of as total as possible destruction of all state structures of the Russian empire, which seizing power Bolsheviks conducted in all quarters. In this sense, the slogan “right of nations for self-determination up to secession” was no less efficient than the absolutely genius “rob the robbed”. Lenin clearly understood that “time to throw away stones” has come, and the more and farther they are thrown, the easier will it be for him to hold power in the central firm base remaining under his control. “The question of how to define the state border now, for a time — as we strive to total annihilation of state borders — is not major, not important, secondary question. With this question we can and must wait” (V.I. Lenin, Complete Works, vol. 40, pg. 43). “For an internationalist, a question about state borders is a secondary question, maybe even less important than secondary... Other questions are important, main interests of proletarian dictatorship are important” (V.I. Lenin, Complete Works, vol. 40, pg. 19).

This cunning “dialectic” was a key (or rather thief’s picklock), which was used later for a successful “picking stones back”. Securing “main interests of the proletarian dictatorship” demanded, of course, expansion of the territory and increase in population under the authority of the “proletarian dictatorship”. This dictatorship found its most adequate and total manifestation in dictatorship of the only genuinely proletarian party. This was the party of Lenin himself (soon enough this party became quite officially known as “party of Lenin — Stalin”). And as the “question about state borders is a question less than secondary”, the expansion of the territory of the “first in the world state of workers and peasants” must also have been done not paying any attention to outdated, “temporary” borders of other countries. This blameless scheme had one and only flaw: other countries and peoples had not yet been tuned into the beat of revolution proletarian consciousness and that is why they were not ready to ignore their borders and their state interests. Exactly for overcoming this “unconsciousness” the Workers and Peasants Red Army was created. Already by 15 June 1920, 6.7 million people were forcefully mobilized (Krivosheyev, 1993, pg. 44). Leaning on such overwhelming military might the Soviet Russia by the end of 1921 helped  establish  genuine “proletarian dictatorship” — i.e., occupied the territory and liquidated national organs of authority — in Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia and in all other large and small “republics”, whose independence Lenin with extreme easiness recognized in 1917—1919.

In the entire logic of events, the same fate also awaited independent Finland. Moreover, whereas Armenia, Bukhara or some “Semirechye republics” were separated from the Central Russia by many thousands of kilometres, Finland was very close to the main centre of the Bolshevik dictatorship, revolutionary Petrograd. And in Helsingfors (Helsinki) roistered and terrorized mobs of Baltic Fleet sailors drunk with alcohol, cocaine and permissiveness. Overall, in the territory of Finland due to still lasting world war were at least 40 thous. Russian soldiers and sailors. Anarchy, into whose abyss by the end of 1917 the Russian army eventually sunk, doubtlessly lowered significance of the Russian forces in Finland as a combat unit. However, it was an excellent source of “orphaned” armament and “activists” for the Red Guard at the stage of formation. Its numerical strength by the end of January was already 30 thous. people (Mannerheim, 2003). Leadership of the Finnish Social-Democratic party was in total confusion, repeating therefore a tragic experience of the Russian “Mensheviks”. In the night on 28 January 1918, revolution began in Helsinki. During the first hours, the events were evolving as the total copy of the Petrograd October sample: groups of the Red Guard began from capturing banks, bridges, railway terminals and government agencies. In several days, the mutineers put under their control the capital and main centres of the southern industrially in the developed part of the country: Turku, Tampere, Vyborg. The legitimate government formed by the parliament 26 November 1917 was forced to flee north, in the agricultural areas of Finland.

Such development found enthusiastic support in the Soviet Russia. For help to the Finland’s Red Guard went echelons with weapons and Baltic seamen. For the offensive on Karelian Isthmus from the line of Vuoksi River, in Petrograd were formed Red Guard groups, numerical strength 10 thous. people. Former warrant officer Eero Khaapalainen was on the books as nominal Commander of the “entire Finland’s armed forces”. However, the actual Commander of the Finnish Red Guard was Russian army Colonel Svechnikov. Various military help was amended by politico-diplomatic help. 1 March 1918 in Petrograd was signed with leaders of the armed mutiny “Agreement of strengthening friendship and brotherhood between the RSFSR and Finnish Socialist worker republic”. Among “authorized representatives”, who signed this agreement was also I. Dzhugashvili-Stalin. That is exactly how was written the name of the future overlord of Soviet empire. Another interesting detail — in p. 18 of the Agreement, the right to resolve all disagreements occurring between the Soviet Russia and “Socialist Finland” was assigned to such authoritative arbitrage, “whose chairman is appointed by the board of Swedish left Social-Democratic party” (the document is published on site www.heninen.net). Everything appeared to be going to a situation when, in due hour, “Socialist worker Finland” would enter “the brotherly family of Soviet republics”. However, this had not happened. Why? The history will hardly allow to find exact and unambiguous answers to such questions. But one of many reasons we can call by the name. This name will be unusually long for the Russian ear: Carl Gustaf Emil baron Mannerheim.

Thousands of books and articles were written about this person who left a bright imprint on many events of tempestuous and insane XXthcentury. Many of them are translated into Russian language, for instance (Ioffe-Kemppaynen, 1999; Vaynu, 1997). The brightest literature monument Mannerheim erected himself (the renowned “Memoirs”, 2003). Not trying to embrace the boundless, we will mark only several moments from a fiery history of C. G. Mannerheim life important for our study.

He was born 4 June 1867 in the family estate of Swedish barons Mannerheim in the southwestern Finland, not far from Turku. The great granddad of the future Marshall, Carl Erich Mannerheim in 1807 headed the delegation, which successfully conducted in Sankt-Petersburg quite complex negotiations about conditions of Finland passing from Sweden to the Russian empire. Father of the future Marshall, baron Carl Robert Mannerheim married Helen von Judin, daughter of Swedish industrialist (probably of German extraction). Seven children were born in the family. Native language of Carl and Helen was Swedish. However, in order to give the children brilliant European education they continuously were forced to speak English and French. They were allowed to use dear customary Swedish only on Sundays! The future Marshall and president of Finland learnt Finnish language already at mature age as a foreign language and spoke it with noticeable accent to the end of his days (his memoirs were written in Swedish and translated into Finnish). The title of nobility and ancestral estate did not at all secure cushioned existence for the young Carl Gustaf: his father went to pot good and proper on unsuccessful commercial operations and in 1880 escaped with his lover to Paris, having left the family without means of subsistence. Unable to sustain such blow, mother died next year, and a 14-year old boy actually became an orphan. Relatives get Carl Gustaf in a cadet school, most likely because it was free.

The future Marshall was expelled from the cadet school in Hamine for outrageous conduct and unauthorized night forays into the city. In 1887, having learnt Russian language in one year, Carl Gustaf joined a prestigious Nicolas’ cavalry school in Petersburg. In the empire capital, a tall, handsome, variously endowed offspring of a Swedish baron class made a dazzling career. Two years after graduation in 1891 he was enlisted in the elite Leib Guard cavalry regiment, and during the coronation ceremony of Nicolas II in 1896 Mannerheim pranced on horseback in the head of the solemn procession. As befits a brilliant aristocrat, Mannerheim was a great connoisseur and devotee of pure-breed horses. This passion as well as good beau monde connections helped Gustaf Carlovich (that is what he was called in Russia) at the age of 30 years get a high position in in the directorate of czar’s stables. He personally bought race horses for the czar’s family and even honored in connection with this assignment an audience at the German emperor Wilhelm. When the Russian-German war began, Mannerheim attained appointment in the active army. From the German front a Leib Guard Captain of horse returned with a rank of Colonel. In 1906 the General headquarters assigned baron Mannerheim the head of a secret expedition, which was supposed, disguised as conducting ethnographic research, to study the Chinese-Tibetan theatre of military activities. The expedition lasted two years. After its successful completion Mannerheim was honored with an audience with the Russian emperor, which, instead of regulation 20 minutes, lasted more than an hour and a half. Mannerheim met the beginning of the First World War as Major General in the position of commander, Leib Guard His Majesty Warsaw cavalry brigade. In 1916, already a Lieutenant General, he commanded the cavalry corps in Brusilov’s army.

Altogether, the Swedish baron with good faith and fidelity served 30 years in the Russian army. Perhaps, he may be called a Russian General on the same basis as in the multi-ethnical Russian empire Commander Bagration, see-farer Kruzenstern, writer Von Vizin, linguist Dal, painter Levitan and minister Witte were considered Russian. In any case, General Mannerheim was no less “Russian” that a member of the Bolshevik party CC I. Dzhugashvili (Stalin). Deep, sincere and indelible Mannerheim's hate of Bolsheviks had nothing to do either with Finnish chauvinism or even more so with any form of Russophobia. And how could it be Russophobia when the Bolshevik leadership included mostly Jews, Georgians, Poles, Latvians, Hungarians...

Mannerheim’s portrait could have become much more attractive by measures of the XXIst century if we could state that only deep democratic convictions of the General  turned him against totalitarian ideology and practice of Communism. But this would be untrue. Deep dislike, which Mannerheim was feeling to the Russian Bolsheviks, and then to the German Fascists was nothing but natural, from a brilliant aristocrat, rejection of illegal authority of rowdy rabble. In his political views, baron  Mannerheim was rather a proponent of “enlightened” constitutional monarchy than parliament democracy. “Liberty”, which he often mentions in his memoirs, he understood (in our view) as freely taken upon themselves obligation by aristocratic elite to care about good of the society. The way they (elite) understands this good. But Mannerheim did not see exactly this – readiness to active, if need be, sacrificial fulfilling by the aristocracy of their duty to the Motherland in engulfed in revolutionary madness Russia. His attempts to organize Russian officers for repelling quite soldierly anarchy met with the wall of indifference and cowardice. In December 1917 Mannerheim left (as it turned out, forever) Russia. He came to Finland “relieving” himself of all personal and real property, with a Russian orderly and picture of Nicolas II, which was permanently placed on his work desk. Having familiarized with the situation in the country, Mannerheim came up with a comforting conclusion: “our country had wider opportunities for the salvation of culture and social  regime than Russia. There, I observed only absence of faith and passivity, an on my Motherland I felt persistent strive of the people to fight for freedom(Mannerheim, 2003).

Svinhufvud government commissioned Russian General Mannerheim to form (practically from scratch) a regular army, which would be able  to take a stand against the Finnish and Russian Red Guard groups. And the Swedish baron got down to business, investing in it all his huge military experience and vehemence of a remarkable character. One of Mannerheim’s orders (issued by a weird coincidence 23 February 1918, the day, which in the Soviet Union will be called “Day of the Soviet army”) was as follows. “...Lenin’s government with one hand promised independence to Finland and with the other sent their troops and their roughnecks to conquer, as they declared themselves, Finland back, and suppress by blood, with the help from our Red Guard, young freedom of Finland... We don’t have to accept as alms the land, which belongs to us and is tied with us by ties of blood. And I swear by the name of the Finnish peasant army, which I have an honour to be Commander that I will not put my sword into the sheath until law and order are restored in the country, until all fortifications are in our hands, until the last Lenin’s soldier and bandit is expelled both from Finland and from White-Sea Karelia...” (www.heninen.net)

Another moment important for us is a laboriously replicated by the Soviet (and also post-Soviet) historiography thesis about Mannerheim's Germanophilia and ostensibly decisive role of the Germans in the suppression of a “proletarian revolution” in Finland. The origin of this myth is more than understandable. With it, a “bridge” was constructed from 1918 into 1941 , and the forced alliance of a Social-democratic Finland and Hitler’s Germany was presented as natural extension of the “anti-Soviet course of a puppet of Finnish bourgeoisie to the alliance with German Fascism”. (The reasons, substance and aftermath of this alliance will be discussed in part 2). In actuality, first and only condition, which Mannerheim, accepting in January 1918 command of the Finland’s White army, set before the head of Finnish government Svinhufvud, was that the government under no circumstances would ask Germany for military help in the suppression of a red mutiny. When it was found that the Svinhufvud government broke its promise and behind the back of the Commander in Chief turned to the Germans, Mannerheim at least secured that the German troops were transferred under his command. That is how he is describing these events in his “Memoirs”. My first thought was to retire. As long as the Senate deceived me, it could not demand from me further extension of my duty to fulfil their assignment... I decided to remain in my position and try in the future to cooperate loyally with the Senate...  5 March I sent a telegram to German General Quartermaster Erich von Ludendorff...  In the first place, German units immediately after landing in the Finnish territory had to subordinate to the Finnish supreme command... In case these conditions are accepted, it was said at the end of the telegram, I can state in the name of the army of Finland that we are greeting in our country valiant German battalions and are ready to express gratitude on behalf of the entire people...” (Mannerheim, 2003). Mannerheim was writing his memoirs in the mid-XXth century when many participants and eyewitnesses of these events were still alive. Nevertheless, not even one cast doubts on reliability of this entire story. In any case, no doubts in a fact that exactly two weeks after  the “victory parade” of the White army in Helsinki, 30 May 1918, Mannerheim abandoned all leadership positions and left the country in protest against the intent of Svinhufvud government to turn the reorganization of the Finnish army to German Generals. He informed Senate members about motifs of his decision in quite energetic wording. May nobody even think that I, who have created this army and led practically untrained, poorly armed troops to victory only due to the combat feeling of Finnish soldiers and devotion of officers, will now surrender and sign those orders, which the German military administration will consider necessary”.

Reasons for the anti-German orientation of Mannerheim are also quite understandable. And it was not only a matter of instilled from childhood anglophilia, not only of natural for a Russian General of the First World War dislike of Germans. As opposed to political leaders of still very young Finnish state with their, alas, parochial education and outlook, Mannerheim, due to his huge life experience and personal connections with leading European politicians, understood that Germany was facing defeat in the war and ruin. In her foreign politics, Finland should have orientated on the alliance with countries of the Anglo-Franco-American block. Mannerheim strongly (and eventually — quite successfully) aspired such alliance. 12 December 1918 Svinhufvud was forced to retire, and the parliament appointed Mannerheim a regent (Finland at that time was formally a constitutional monarchy). It was an absentee appointment as the regent himself was with a semi-official visit in Western Europe. There, having mobilized his old connections, he was able to conduct important negotiations with foreign policy leaders of the Entente countries and to secure for Finland urgent food help from them.

As for the effect of German “intervention” on the course and result of the Civil War in Finland, these are the facts. The German troops included one undermanned division of General Holtz (7 thous. people), which landed 3 April in Hango, and even more undermanned infantry brigade of Colonel Brandenstein (2 thous. people), which landed 7 April in Lovis (a settlement on the Finnish Bay shore approximately 100 km east of  Helsinki) (Mannerheim, 2003). Overall 9 thous. people. The largest Red Guard grouping, so-called northern army (numerical strength on the order of 25 thous. people), had by that time already been crushed by the White army in the process of fierce two week-long engagements near the city of Tampere. But even after this, as of the moment of the German arrival early in April 1918 the Red Guard had, in Mannerheim's estimate, 70 thous. people including 30 thous. of poorly prepared for combat activity local groups (Mannerheim, 2003). Even though a division of regular German army in an engagement substantially exceeded hurriedly armed Red Guard groups, a “decisive” contribution of German forces in the White army victory is out of the question.

At last, talking about the reasons for the German force appearance on the shores of the Gulf of Finland, we have to note that government of Lenin—Trotsky—Stalin is responsible for it much greater than the Finnish government of Svinhufvud. The Civil War in Finland was unfolding in the environment of a great European war. Separate Treaty of Brest-Litovsk concluded between Germany and Soviet Russia became the turning moment in this war. Under conditions of the separate agreement, the German troops got the right to occupy Ukraine, most of Belorussia, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Finland. “Revolutionary sailors of the Russian Baltic fleet — writes Mannerheim, — under the agreement between Russia and Germany signed on the 5 April, left Helsinki”. In actuality Mannerheim and his White army substantially decreased the scale of German interference and prevented occupation of the entire Finland, which occupation would be able to become quite logical completion of an enigmatic story in the “interaction” between the Bolsheviks and Kaiser Wilhelm...

Let us return, however, from tempestuous vicissitudes in an amazing fate of baron Mannerheim to a short history of the “Socialist worker Finland”. For this purpose, we will have to quote one more fragment from “Memoirs” of the Marshall. At night 25 April 1918 the members of the mutinous government and the dictator Manner made a decision, which did not do credit to them: they fled and abandoned their troops to the mercy of fate. It happened during the night on the 26th. Top leaders of the mutiny movement ascended three ships and departed (from Vyborg.  - M.S.) towards Petrograd. In order not to have complications during the escape, the dictator in his last order demanded for the shore line to be guarded at any price”.

Multitude of things awaited the “red Finns” in the Soviet Russia. First of all, the continuation of a straggle for the “main interests of the proletarian dictatorship” demanded the creation of genuinely revolutionary party. The Finnish social democracy was not it as at the decisive moment it was unable to come to the side of the anti-constitutional mutiny. 25 — 29 August 1918 in Moscow was instituted “Communist party of Finland”. Among its leaders turned out both aforementioned . Manner and Comrade . Kuusinen, who will be numerously mentioned in the pages of this book. That the political party intended to take absolute power in Finland was being formed in Moscow was no surprise to anybody at that insane time (“The question of how to define the state border now… is secondary question, maybe even less important than secondary...”).

For the sake of the truth, it must be clarified that not all “top leaders” made away from the thinking ship of revolution onto the vessel departing in Petrograd. One of the two  authorized representatives of the revolutionary government who signed 1 March 1918 “Agreement of strengthening friendship and brotherhood”, E. Gulling remained in Vyborg to the last minute and then, having miraculously escaped arrest, by long circuitous way through Stockholm made it to the Soviet Russia. Even more convoluted turned out the life journey of the second “signatory”, . Tokoy. Here we are returning to the events associated with the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk and its paradoxical foreign policy aftermaths.

The German troops came in Finland to help the white government of Svinhufvud, occupied the entire Estonia and made it to Narva on the southern shore of the Gulf of Finland. After that, the western allies (England, France and USA) were seriously concerned with a possibility of German forces’ appearance in the north of Russia, in particular in the ports of Murmansk and Archangel. There were huge reserves of military equipment there, which the Entente earlier sent to their ally now turned ally of Germany. 6 March 1918 the English “invaders” landed — with the consent of the Socialist Revolutionary Soviet of Worker Deputies — in Murmansk. This fact (consent of the Soviet) clearly damaged a slender scheme of the Soviet historiography. The solution was found: the responsibility for inviting the English shifted on the most vicious enemy of the people Trotsky, from whom — as everybody knows — it was possible to expect any filth. In any case, with Trotsky or without, the numerical strength of invading forces was 130 (one hundred and thirty) marines. Only in mid-June in Murmansk arrived the reinforcement: 600 English soldiers and a battalion of Serbian infantry.

With these forces English Commander Major General Meinard 27 June 1918 decided to organize an expedition south. Of course, it was done not for “drowning in blood the power of workers and peasants” but for repelling the “White Finns” from the Murmansk railway as the English not without reason believed them to have been German allies. The intelligence data turned out erroneous, no Finnish forces were found in the area Kandalaksha—Kem. Instead, the English stumbled across the echelon of Russian Red Guard. Meinard viewed it as threatening for the order and calm in the area. To play it safe, the Red Guard were disarmed and with the same train sent back in Petrograd (Churchill Stacy, placed on site www.depvladimir.narod.ru).

Despite a successful beginning of the “intervention”, the available allied forces were absolutely insufficient to control huge territory of the Kola Peninsula and north Karelia. On the other hand, Keiser Germany was quite concerned with the appearance of the Entente forces in ice-free ports of the northern Europe.

In the course of negotiations in Berlin (3 through 27 August 1918) was concluded a supplemental agreement to the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. Under Art. 5 of this Agreement the Soviet Russia committed herself to immediately taking all measures for removing the Entente combat forces from the north of Russia” (Pokhlebkoin, 1999). Therefore, from a separate peace with Germany the government of Lenin came already to military cooperation with the former Russia’s enemy. That is in this situation that became reality improbable at the first sight strengthening of cooperation between the Entente and “Red Finns”.

As early as 4 May 1918, a few days before the final crush, the leadership of “Red Finns” (the Soviet of authorized people’s representatives) sent two its members in Murmansk for negotiations with the allied command.

28 May an agreement was reached that the Finnish Red Guard in the north of Karelia will begin joint combat activities with the allies, and the allies will train, arm and provide the Finns with food and other necessities. Thus created combat unit was dubbed “Finnish legion”. Numerical strength of the “legion” initially was half a thousand and by the spring of 1919 increased to 1,200 people — former combattants of the Finnish Red Guard, who could now be called “red-white” Finns. In the summer 1918 . Tokoy with a group of comrades joined the Finnish legion. After an attempt to persuade him to tear his ties with the Entente and return in failed, the CC of Finnish Communist party in the end of September sentenced . Tokoy to death (a decision, which is usually outside the competence of political party CC). At that, the execution of sentence was declared “duty of each revolutionary worker(Churchill Stacy, placed on the site www.depvladimir.narod.ru).

But the “Finnish legion” was not the first Finnish armed group participating in the fratricidal war blazing on the endless expanses of Karelia. Even before the beginning of all revolutions, about a thousand Finnish workers, mostly carpenters and woodcutters, were busy in the works along Murmansk railway. Early in February 1918 the number of Finns began growing rapidly owing to refugees who poured over the Russian border from northern areas of Finland occupied by the “Whites”. 3 February, in a meeting of Finnish workers in Kandalaksha a decision was made to form an armed group, which was later called “northern expedition”. The group was headed by a former corporal in the czar’s army, talented (as the future events showed) organizer and commander I.Akhavo, a Karelian from Ukhta settlement (currently Kalevala). The train with rifles and cartridges supplied by the Soviet government (!) arrived in Kandalaksha 18 March. Armed with this weapon, the “northern expedition” crushed one of the two groups of Finnish “White” volunteers, who in March 1918, on consent of Mannerheim's headquarters, invaded the territory of White-Sea Karelia (one group, 1,000 people, unsuccessfully tried to break to Kandalaksha, and the second one, 350 people, was advancing from Suomussalami on Ukhta).

Gradually, the local Karelian population was being pulled into the infighting. As early as in July 1917 in Ukhta took place some self-constituted “convention”, at which a design of State structure for the autonomous Karelian Province was worked out. It was formalized as a petition from the Karelian population to the future Constitutional assembly of Russia. This idea has died even before the Bolsheviks in January 1918 dispelled the Constitutional assembly. It gets worse and worse as it goes on. 17—18 March 1918, still in the same Ukhta was held a convention of representatives from several districts The convention adopted a decision to leave the White-Sea Karelia and from Russia. The convention proposed some complicated formula of political merger with Finland, at which in economical respect Karelia must have, however, remained totally separate region. Its natural resources must have been exclusive property of the Karelian people, and its citizens must not have participated in Civil War in Finland.

Such “conventions”, at which were created and disbanded self-proclaimed “republics”, were no rarities for the environment of legal vacuum, which emerged in the territory of the former Russian empire due to the Bolshevik revolution and disbandment of countrywide elected Constitutional assembly. The real power in 1918 was not with a “convention with resolution” but with a group of several hundred armed people. Several thousand, especially if armed with a dozen of “Maxim” machine guns, became supreme authority. Such authority in White-Sea Karelia became by the end of 1918 the Karelian regiment.

The Karelian regiment was created with the support of still the same indefatigable English General Meinard in July 1918. The population of Russian and Karelian villages willingly supported the English, in whom they saw then a protection against those waves of anarchy and violence, which were rolling from engulfed in the flames of Civil War Finland and Russia. The regiment also included many combatants from the “northern expedition” together with I.Akhavo. In the second half of August 1918 the Karelian regiment included 1,200 people, and in the end of the year — already 3,600. Lieutenant Colonel Woods, ethnic Irishman, was appointed regiment Commander. He was a passionate champion of national independence for small peoples. Irishman Woods also designed national flag of Karelia: a cloverleaf against the orange background (such emblem was sewed on the tunics of regiment combatants). In September 1918 the Karelian regiment together with Finnish legion crushed and drove out beyond the border remains of the Finnish “White” volunteers. In the hands of “White” Finns remained only a border village Reboly with a number of villages from the same district, whose population still early in the year voted for joining Finland. Therefore, the Finnish “intervention against young republic of the Soviets” begun in March 1918, was finally liquidated by the joint forces of the Red-White” Finns and Karelian peasant militia armed by the Entente imperialists (Churchill Stacy, published on site www.depvladimir.narod.ru; Pokhlebkin, 1999).

The year 1919 in Karelia went under the sign of ever more strengthening disagreements (which later passed into armed confrontation) between various anti-Bolshevik forces. The White Guard government of General Miller (the so-called Northern provisional government), created in the fall of 1918 with the support of the allies in Archangel, categorically advocated the thesis of a “unified and indivisible Russia”. On this ground, the relationships between Miller and Karelian autonomists aggravated by the day. The “Northern government” bureaucrats were simply expelled from Karelian villages, attempts to organize a volunteer draft in Miller army produced a minuscule result (in October 1918 there were only 359 people). Forced mobilization encountered in spring 1919 armed resistance from the Karelian regiment. Then the White Guard “Northern government” decided to squeeze Karelia with a “bony hand of hunger”. And not unsuccessfully. Own bread was harvested in White-Sea Karelia in minuscule amounts — the region lived from century to century owing to trade exchange with central areas of Russia.

And because all most important centres of food supply (ports of Murmansk and Archangel, railway Murmansk — Kandalaksha — Kemii) were controlled by English and by Archangel “government”, it was easy to organize “holodomor” in Karelian villages. Drastically deteriorated also the situation around the Finnish legion, which in view of the Russian White Guard was too “red”.

16—18 February 1919 in Kemii was held the next, but this time much more representative (attending were delegates from 12 districts) convention. Formally convening and conduct of it was headed by I. Akhavo. However, off-stage (actually — in nearby cellar) the situation in the convention controlled former leader of the “Socialist Workers Finland”, sentenced to death by the Finnish Communist party “Red-White” legionary . (Churchill Stacy, placed on site www.depvladimir.narod.ru). The convention approved the resolution put together by .Tokay and red by I. Akhavo. It declared Karelia an independent state.

The issue of possible future joining Finland or Russia in federation was left for the future consideration of Karelian people. The Karelian national committee of 5 people was elected with Yu. Lesonen as Chairman. The committee was authorized to begin negotiations with Russia and Finland, and also send two representatives to the Paris peace conference, which at that time discussed Europe at length.

The English and White Guard took the position of inflexible confrontation, which helped the Bolsheviks very much as they did not have either strength or time for fighting “bourgeois nationalism” in Karelia in the spring of 1919.  At the convention arrived the garrison commander in Kemii General Price. He stated that allied leadership did not support any activities of separating Karelia from Russia. General Meinard ordered the Karelian regiment commander Woods to stop any political activity in the regiment. At the end March of 1919, the Karelian regiment undertook an attempt to agree with the Finnish legion personnel about joint uprising against the allies. Plans of the mutineers were exposed, and early in April began large scale arrests. I. Akhavo was arrested and killed by soldiers of the allied force Serbian battalion. Wholesale desertion began in now leaderless Karelian regiment. 20 May 1919 the regiment was finally disbanded. After this, the allies pressed the government of Finland demanding from it expedited solution of issue about the repatriation of the Finnish legion personnel. In September 1919 was signed the agreement, under which most “Red-White” Finns were pardoned and allowed to return home. Those who were in danger of criminal persecution in Finland, remained under protection of the English. Subsequently they (including .Tokay) were allowed to resettle to Canada (Churchill Stacy, published on site www.depvladimir.narod.ru).

The “Karelian national committee”, which remained without armed support continued in vain to cry out for help.

The allied Command confirmed the transfer of all food storages in Archangel and Murmansk at the disposal of Miller’s White Guard “Northern government” and declined the request to open the borders with Finland for the delivery of food supplies in Karelia. Miller’s Government, for their part, announced that Karelian villages bore joint responsibility for a successful mobilization in the White army. The evaders did not get food supplies, the attempts of resistance were squashed by the Serbian battalion. As for the Finland’s government, in actuality it took a position of passive onlooker. Having rejected “Karelian committee's” request of any political or military help, it only agreed to provide it with credit of 2 million marks for purchasing food supplies. Besides, in November 1919 Finland’s foreign minister Holsti made to representatives of the White Guard government in Helsinki a “decisive protest” against forced mobilization of Karels and associated mass executions. In these same months in the fall of 1919 the government of Finland, in total agreement with the English, categorically declined insistent appeals by Mannerheim to send regular Finnish army (which at that moment was more than 35 thous. people strong) to help Yudenich who unsuccessfully stormed Petrograd.

It is not difficult to understand the logic of the Russian White Guard. In the fall of 1919 the victory in Civil War appeared to them possible and close so they arrogantly refused to support separatist movements, for this support would have to be paid in the future by the territory of “great and indivisible”. One can also understand the position of Finland’s leadership — the people, which only recently survived the nightmare of a fratricidal war, wanted calm and peace.

A new, republican constitution was adopted in the country. In the first presidential elections 25 July 1919, moderate centrist Stolberg won over “the white general” Mannerheim with huge advantage in the Electoral College votes (143 against 50). Svinhufvud and other “White Finn” leaders of the Civil War epoch were  removed from the leadership. The amnesty was declared for those “Red Finns” who managed to outlive the terror of the first months after the revolution was suppressed. The Social-democratic party of Finland also began to recover the lost positions. It got after the elections 80 seats from 200 in parliament (Ioffe-Kemppaynen, 1999). In such environment, Finland’s authorities simply did not want to burden themselves with the problems of Karelia and Russia. However, what ruled the actions of the Entente leadership who saved Lenin, Trotsky and company in the fall of 1919 from the unavoidable defeat remained unsolved enigma of the history...

At the end of the winter in 1920, having crushed main forces of Kolchak, Denikin and Yudenich armies, the Red Army could, at last, turn the “punishing sword of the revolution” northward. A genius Lenin’s design — to let adversaries of the Bolshevik authority exhaust and bleed each other white in sectarian conflicts in remote outskirts of the empire — proved totally true. Units of the Red Army were at a breakneck speed advancing to Archangel. 19 February 1920 General Miller fled to Murmansk. 21 February the Bolshevik uprising began in Murmansk proper. In a few days, the “Northern government” and its army simply vanished. The White Guard survived after the crush surrendered, tried (mostly unsuccessfully) to break through in Finland or escaped in Finns-occupied Reboly and Porayarvi (Porosozero).

With the same result ended also the Civil War in the southern, Ladoga Karelia, albeit the course of events there substantially differed from the way the struggle evolved in the northern, White-Sea Karelia. First distinction was completely different roll of personages: in Olonets and Petrozavodsk there were no English and Serbians, instead there were the Soviet authority and the Red Guard, although not everywhere, not always and not immediately.

The news of a Bolshevik take-over in Petrograd was met in the capital of the Olonets Governorate, the city of Petrozavodsk, with agreat apprehension. The Petrozavodsk Soviet (city council) convened 8 November 1917 for a joint conference with the Public servant council of Murmansk railway, Committee of the Petrozavodsk garrison and others revolutionary organs. A resolution was adopted, wherein the Council of People’s Commissars (Lenin’s government; SNK) was promised support only on condition that the SNK guarantees timely convening of the Constitutive assembly.

Dispersal of the Constitutive assembly caused a tempestuous discussion in Petrozavodsk Council, which late at night 18 January 1918 ended up in violent banishment of adversaries of the Bolsheviks from the session hall.

First decree of the new presidium became the prohibition of all demonstrations in Petrozavodsk. Then the Red Guard and Revolutionary Tribunal subordinated only to the Bolsheviks were created. “Revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat is the authority conquered and supported by coercion of the proletariat over bourgeoisie, the authority not bound by any laws. This is a simple truth, the truth clear as daylight to any conscientious worker (representative of the mass, not of the top layer among philistine riffraff bribed by capitalists...” (V.I. Lenin). Bolsheviks once again demonstrated this simple truth in June — July of 1918. Left Socialist Revolutionaries (Esers) got then the majority not only in rural areas (where Bolsheviks even previously had no support) but also in the Olonets Governorship Council Executive Committee. Unabashed even for a minute by this expression of will by the “unconscientious philistine riffraff”, the Bolsheviks dispelled the Council and turned the entire authority to the “military-revolutionary committee” created by them. True, the revolutionary committee authority in actuality did not go beyond two cities: Petrozavodsk and Olonets. At that time, the Bolsheviks simply did not have enough militar force to control villages scattered over the forest cross-country.

A brittle equilibrium formed in Ladoga Karelia was disrupted in spring of 1919 by the external interference. Early in April, a group of Finns-volunteers turned to Mannerheim (who at that time performed duties of the regent, i.e., provisional head of state) with a proposal to organize a military expedition for a purpose of liberating Olonets Karelia from the power of Bolsheviks. 4 April 1919 Mannerheim replied that he approved the idea of a raid on Olonets because “Finland cannot look with indifference on suffering of kindred peoples, which turned out under the yoke of Bolsheviks”. Modern Russian historians willingly quote this phrase. But for some reason not to the end. Exactly: Mannerheim stated to the volunteers that they might count on a support from official Finland’s authorities only in a case if the government obtains approval of this plan by the Entente. The consent from the allies had never been received, and the raid of the “Olonets Liberating army” was prepared semi-legally. In the “army” gathered about 1 thous. volunteers, mostly participants of the Civil War in Finland (Seppelya, 1995; Churchill Stacy, published on site www.depvladimir.narod.ru). One of four “battalions” (in real numerical strength — rifle company) was commanded by Major P. Talvela, in the future — known Finnish Commander.

In the night on 21 April 1919, Finnish volunteers crossed the border and began advancing in three groups along the shore of Lake Ladoga on Petrozavodsk. In three days, 24 April the “liberation army” took Olonets and Pryazha, i.e., made at least 70—80 km southeast from the border (the border of 1919; the present-day Russian-Finnish border is substantially to the west). Such offensive tempo testifies better than any eye-witnesses that the Finnish volunteers in Karelian villages at least did not encounter resistance. By the moment of approach to Petrozavodsk, the “Olonets army” had grown, owing to local militiamen, to 3,000 people. Now this “army” in its numbers already corresponded with a rifle regiment. Petrozavodsk Bolsheviks did not even have time to be properly scared as English General Meinard and Russian White-Guardman Miller demanded explanations from Helsinki. A result of pressure organized by the Entente and its puppets became telegrams from the Finnish government sent out early in May (i.e., only two weeks after the start of the “Olonets raid”) in London and Paris (to the participants of Paris peace conference). The Government of Finland assured that the “Olonets raid” was undertaken exceptionally for a purpose of fighting Bolsheviks and that without the approval of great powers nobody would dare changing the borders of Karelia (Churchill Stacy, published on site www.depvladimir.narod.ru).

In the meantime in Olonets was organized “provisional Olonets government”. The “government” included only local Karelian activists, albeit in the formed military-political situation the influence of Finns was certainly decisive. In the liberated from the Bolshevik authority (or occupied by the “Olonets army” — the reader has a right to take his/her pick) eight districts of Ladoga Karelia were conducted meetings of the residents. Authorized delegates were elected for the convention, which took place 5—7 June 1919. A decision was made to join Finland on the pattern of the Rebol district (county) (with the economic independence and dispensation of residents from draft in the Finnish army for 30 years after the moment of the juncture). A powerful offensive of the Red Army drove the “Olonets liberation army” from Petrozavodsk. (In the offensive, together with local Red Guard groups, took part a regular rifle division, units of “red Finns” who fled Finland in spring of 1918, and ships of the Onega flotilla, from which a landing group was put in the adversary rear). Early in August, the volunteers were forced to retreat beyond the Finnish border. The “Olonets raid” ended up in defeat if not to count a transition under the Finnish authority of Porayarvi (Porosozero) village and Porayarvi district, whose residents in July voted to join Finland. After that, the Finnish troops occupied Porayarvi in September 1919) (Churchill Stacy, published on site www.depvladimir.narod.ru).

Early in 1920, the anti-Bolshevik forces in Karelia were finally crushed. Even earlier, armed forces of the Entente left Murmansk and Archangel. The Red Army advance to former administrative border of the Great Finnish principality resulted in the last days of February 1920 in first clashes with units of the regular Finnish army. In Porayarvi (Porosozero) area occurred local engagements. They lasted two weeks and ended up in the retreat of the Finns from two small villages (Yankyayarvi and Soutyarvi). It was becoming obvious that for the avoidance of further escalation of the conflict, the Soviet Russia and Finland must, at last, solve two basic issues: state border and Karelian autonomy.

First exchange of notes between minister Holsti and Narkom Chicherin indicated substantial differences in principal approaches of the parties. The Finns appealed to “Lenin’s principle” of the right of nations for self-determination, and this principle should be expanded also on the Karels. The Bolsheviks frankly responded that their main “principle” was the struggle for dictatorship of the proletariat on the world scale, and they would not give away Karelian labourers in a bourgeois Finland. It should not also be forgotten that in spring 1920 in Kremlin offices spread a dangerous disease later called by Comrade Stalin “dizziness from success”. Trotsky and Tukhachevsky were readying the Red Army for a raid on Warsaw and Berlin. In such environment, nobody intended to be too soft with some Finland.

Heavy defeat of the Red Army at Warsaw and its subsequent disorderly retreat under blows of the Polish army east of the “Curzon line” sobered hot heads. 28 July in an Estonian city of Tartu (Yuryev) resumed negotiations between Finnish and Soviet delegations on the issue of a peace treaty. The Bolsheviks clearly understood that they would not be able to dodge a discussion of the Karelian people’s right for autonomy in the negotiations with Finnish delegation in the situation when in the entire Europe on the ruins of collapsed empires (German, Austro-Hungarian, Russian and Turkish) emerged dozens of new independent states. So, the Bolshevik leadership made a clever — in their view — stroke.

8 June 1920 VTSIK adopted the following Decree: “For a purpose of struggling for social liberation of Karelian labourers... to form in the Olonets and Archangel Governorates’ settlements, populated with Karelians, under Art. 11 of the Constitution of the RSFSR, the provincial amalgamation, Karelian Labor Commune. Authorize the Karelian Committee to begin immediately preparations for assembling convention of the Councils of the Karelian Labor Commune, which will determine the setup of organs of authority in the Karelian Labor Commune(the document is published on the site www.heninen.net).

Just a little thing was needed — to find in Karelia labourers appropriate for “labor commune”. This task was simple only at the first sight. The industries in prerevolutionary Karelia were poorly developed. The Alexander munition factory in Petrozavodsk was almost the only large undertaking in the region, so factory workers were in absolute minority. So valued by the Bolsheviks “poorest peasantry” (i.e., sottish village lumpens) in Karelia were liquidated as a class centuries before the birth of Lenin (and maybe they never existed). The reason for this phenomenon was very simple: in the severe natural conditions of the White Sea region, only the people with sober head and calloused hands could survive. Besides, single-handed it was not possible to survive there even with corns. That is why up to the beginning of the 20th century both Karelians and Russian coast-dwellers lived in three-four generational families, 30—40 people in one large homestead.

Such social structure (by-the-way, in total accord with the doctrine of Marx and Lenin) categorically prevented property stratification and emergence of paupers-proletarians. In addition to their total counter-revolutionary nature, most Russians and Karelians in the White Sea region were Old Believers. In such families, alcohol was not drunk even on major holidays. There was never serfdom in Olonets and Archangel Governorates. It reflected in quite certain way on the character of the dwellers. “Most characteristic feature of Finnish tribes populating Karelia may be considered hard work, honesty but, on the other hand, inherent in them also other quality: stubbornness and secretiveness. Almost all dwellers are excellent hunters and marksmen” (this is a record from the report of a functionary from the Main RKKA headquarters . Sokolov-Strakhov about studying the Civil War experience). How was it possible to do the “proletarian revolution” with such people? Do not drink, do not steal, work but at that are stubborn and shoot well! Kulaks, pure and simple kulaks! And the kulaks, as Comrade Lenin taught us, are most brutal, most rude, most savage slave drivers... The kulak rabidly hates the Soviet authority and is ready to strangle, to cut to pieces hundreds of thousands of workers...”.

Was it possible to entrust to such savage beasts “the organization of the organs of authority in the Karelian Labour Commune? And nobody entrusted it to them. 4 August 1920, signed by Kalinin and Lenin, was issued a joint Decree of VTSIK and SNK. Under the decree Provisional (of course, “provisional”, for a short period until the total victory of the world revolution) highest organ of authority in the territory of Karelian Labour Communewas declared “Revolutionary Committee of the Karelian Labour Commune(the document is published on site www.heninen.net). In actuality, the authority in this strange semi-state neoplasm was passed into the hands of former “Red Finns” headed by E. Gyulliig who came to Karelia in the column of rear vehicles of the offending Red Army.

Of course, representatives of Finland at negotiations in Tartu refused to recognize presented to them “Karelian Labor Commune” () as the political structure of real autonomy of the Karelian people. But they did it, sort of, very unintelligibly. As a result, in the text of the peace treaty, signed 14 October 1920, appeared Article 10. It mentioned some “East-Karelian autonomous province” (what is it?), ostensibly formed by the Karelian population of Archangel and Olonets Governorate and “having the right of national self-determination”. Therefore, this nonexistent “autonomous province” was as if recognized to have been already created. On the other hand, to the agreement was attached special Statement of the Soviet delegation “About self-rule of the Eastern Karelia”. In the Statement, the right was recognized for the Karelian population of the Archangel and Olonets Governorates to form in their internal affairs the Province, a component of the Russian states as part of the federation(Pokhlebkin, 1999). This phrase was possible to interpret so that the structure of the Karelian self-rule as of the moment of signing the agreement DID NOT EXIST YET and that it was intended to be created in the future. In any case, and its glorious “Revolutionary Committee” were not mentioned in the peace agreement even once.

It is hard to say for certain, whether such fuzzy phrasing was the result of intended intrigue or elementary legal illiteracy. Attracts attention extremely strange composition of the Soviet delegation, which signed the peace treaty in Tartu. Whereas agreement with “Socialist workers Finland” or Decree of creation signed first persons of the state (Lenin, Trotsky, Kalinin and Stalin), in Tartu were  sent second rank bureaucrats: leader of ROSTA (Russian Telegraph Agency) Kerzhentsev, former General in the czar’s army Samoylo, former captain 1st rank Berens (military experts) and NKID (Foreign Ministry) employee Tikhmenev. The only noticeable person was head of the delegation Yan Berzin, future leader of the Soviet military intelligence.

Be it as it may, “delayed-action mine” set in the form of equivocal phrasing in the peace treaty went off less than a year after the signing. In August of 1921 the Finland government, appealing to the obligations of the Soviet Russia under the Tartu agreement, began demanding the creation of Karelian autonomy. The Soviet government, with the expression of insulted virginity, responded that it has been already long ago created in the form of . Finland then proposed to review the controversial issue of interpretation of the peace treaty conditions at the League of Nations. Moscow responded in the same vein as 18 years later, in the first days of the “winter war”, will be parleying newspaper “Pravda”, exactly: “We will not allow the imperialist pigs to stick their dirty snout into our Soviet kitchen garden”.

While verbal bickering was going on in diplomatic offices, Karelian and Russian peasants were practically familiarizing with the authority brought to them on its bayonets the “Workers and Peasants Red Army”. The result was completely standard, it had nothing specifically local, Karelo-Finnish. Not only in Karelia but also in the Volga region, In Tambov Province, Urals and in Western Siberia peasants rose in mass uprisings against robbery and arbitrary rule of the “Commissarocracy”. The difference was only in that it is too far from Tambov to London and Paris. So it would be a big risk today for any mentally competent Russian historian to blame the organization of “Antonovshchina” on the Entente imperialists. Karelia, however, had border with Finland, the participation of Finnish volunteers in the anti-Bolshevik struggle is indisputable fact. And this fact allows dishonest author even on the verge of the XXIst century to write such gems: “Karelian adventure”: White-Finnish intervention of 1921— 1922 fpr a purpose of divesting the RSFSR of the Eastern Karelia territory from the White Sea to the Baltics and creation of the Great Finland” (Pokhlebkin, 1999).

This entire phrase contains only one word of truth: “adventure”. Without serious support from democratic countries of the Western Europe — and there was no such support — peasant uprising in Karelia (and any other uprisings) was adventure doomed for defeat. Or act of “courage of desperation” — again, the reader has the right to choose.

The uprising began in October 1921 and soon blanketed a huge territory of Northern Karelia from Porosozero to Kestenga. Incidentally, any “continuous front” in snow-covered dense taiga was out of the question. There were individual focal points, individual villages occupied by rebels, between which lay dozens and hundreds of versts of the forest cross-country. Centre of the uprising was first the village of Tunguda, then — Ukhta. Peasants (“kulak bandits” in the terminology of the Soviet and some Russian historians) formed the next “Provisional Karelian committee” and next (this time — already last) “Karelian liberation army”, numerical strength on the order of 3 thous. people. The participation of Finland in these events boiled down to moral support to the rebels and implicit content of the authorities to gather volunteers. Finally, under command of the same P. Talvela gathered 500 people, Karels and Finns. In November 1921 they in two groups crossed almost unguarded Soviet-Finnish border in the area of Porosozero and Reboly (under the Tartu peace treaty these two districts were returned to Russia; dwellers who supported merger with Finland were amnestied; but units of the regular Red Army in Porosozero and Reboly were not introduced) and joined the rebels.

The Red Army Command took the uprising quite seriously. In the territory of the Karelian Labour Commune and Murmansk Province was installed martial law. The Operative group of Karelian forces was formed (numerical strength 8.5 thous. people according to Soviet historians or 13 thous. as estimated by Finnish historians (Seppelya, 1995)). Actively participated in the suppression of the uprising combat formations of the “Red Finns”: the ski battalion commanded by vol. Antikaynen and a battalion of the Petrograd international military school command by . Inno. Substantial numerical advantage and overwhelming advantage in the armament (the Operative group of Karelian forces received 166 machineguns and 22  armed ) enabled a rapid suppression of the mutiny. Early in January 1922 Red Army units took Porosozero and Reboly, 25 January entered Kestenga and early in February 1922 occupied Ukhta — main center of the uprising. More than 8 thous. people — surviving participants of the uprising, their families and neighbors — escaped in the territory of Finland. P.Talvela also survived, he will make another raid in Karelia...

11 February 1922 chairman of the Revolutionary Military Council (Revvoyensovet) L. Trotsky signed No. 141: “Soviet Karelia is cleaned up by the Red regiments from White bands organized by the Finnish officers for the money of Finnish and other bourgeoisie. In the severest conditions of the north, in the cold desert expanses soldiers of the revolution again fulfilled their duty to the end. The crime of Finland’s ruling classes and her sponsors brought new hardships and sacrifices to the labor masses of Russia and introduced new feats of heroism in the Red Army history” (the document published on site www.heninen.net).

We will do justice to Comrade Trotsky — as opposed to later Soviet historians, he avoided saying about 500 volunteers of Talvela who intended to create “Great Finland from the sea and to the sea”. Finnish “officers” in the Karelian uprising indeed participated: among volunteers were 27 former jaegers [rangers] (combatants of the elite unit in the Mannerheim's White army, who received military training in Germany). They, most likely, became commanders of detachments in the peasant “liberation army” (Seppelya, 1995). Conditions for the conduct of combat activities were indeed “very severe”, the adversary was armed and obstinate, many Red-Army men, doubtlessly, performed “feats of heroism”. What do you do — in the flame of a Civil War each side had their own truth...

352 people were killed in fighting engagements at the suppression of the Karelian uprising by the troops of “Operative group”.

Comparison of this sad number with the Red Army’s irretrievable losses in other operations of 1921—1922 gives an opportunity to evaluate a real place of the “Karelian adventure” in the history of peaceful years of the Soviet power:

— suppression of the Kronstadt mutiny — 1,912 people;

— suppression of the West-Siberian mutiny  — 3,744 people;

— suppression of Sapozhnikov mutiny in the Urals and Lower Volga — 4,164 people;

— suppression of Antonov mutiny in Tambov region — 6,096 people:

— occupation of Armenia and Georgia — 9,388 people;

— combat activities in Belorussia against White Guard groups of Bulak-Bulakhovich and others — 14,602 people (Krivosheyev, “Secrecy label removed…”, 1993).

As we may see, there are no reasons to call combat engagements in Karelia “war”, especially a “Soviet-Finnish war”. The “Karelian adventure” was only one — at that, not the most notable and significant — of episodes in the Russian Civil War. Not a single detachment of Finland’s regular army participated in combat actions. The position of official Helsinki authorities toward volunteers, who at their own risk signed up in Talvela’s group, was not at all most kindly. Border guards obstructed both coming volunteers in Karelia and penetration of the Karelian refugees in Finland. There were numerous armed scuffles and murder of Finland’s minister of interior by one of Karelian rebels. Also, the number of the “Red Finns” who took part in suppression of the uprising was not at all lower than the number of “White Finns” in Talvela group...

It would appear that after signing a peace treaty with Finland and actual stabilization of the military-political environment in the north of Russia, the “Karelian Labor Commune” might have been disbanded. After all, “the Moor made his business, the Moor may go now”. However, that did not happen! existed for two years. After that, under a joint Decree of the VTSIK and SNK of 25 July 1923 it was converted into “Autonomous Karelian Soviet Socialist Republic as a confederate part of the RSFSR”. All the same E. Gyulling became Chairman of the SSR Council of People's Commissars. The policy of consistent “Finnization” of the autonomous republic was continued and even strengthened. Finnish language received the status of the state language. Training in Karelian schools was conducted in Finnish, newspapers and books were published in Finnish. And this, we will note, with Finns constituting disappearing small fraction of the republic’s population (published numbers are 5 to 0.9%). As earlier in , all key positions in the SSR were taken by the “Red Finns”. First secretary of the Karelian RKP(b) Obkom was appointed I. Yarvisalo and after he died in May of 1929, G. Rovio.

In October 1925 was conducted first draft in the “Non-integrated Karelian Ranger battalion”. Its first commander became a “Red Finn” (ethic Swede) E. Mattson. In 1927, he was replaced by Urkho Antikaynen (younger brother of one of main leaders of the Finland Red Guard Toyvo Antikaynen). In 1931 on the basis of the Karelian battalion was unfolded “Non-integrated Karelian Ranger brigade”. The brigade Commander was appointed all the same E. Mattson. The name “Ranger” [Jaeger] was completely unique for the Red Army. It was suggested by the SSR leadership by analogy with the elite Finnish army Ranger units. The command personnel of the “Karelian Ranger brigade” was intentionally selected from military personnel of Finnish ethnicity.

What was it? There is no adequate answer to this question. A hypothesis may be constructed by carefully reading what Comrade E. Gyulling wrote in 1928 in one of his articles. Describing the negotiations with Lenin’s government in Moscow (the very same negotiations that ended up in signing 1 March 1918 of the “Agreement about strengthening friendship and brotherhood”), he remembered the following. “According to revolutionary principles of national politics new solutions were used, which took into acclount the fact that eastward from borders of Finland resides the population affined with the Finns, separated from Finland in the czar’s times for various artificial reasons. It would be natural if after the conquest of power by proletariat both in Finland and in Karelian Republic the border line between two fraternal peoples had vanished (emphasis added. - M. S.)... Attempts of nationalists and capitalists who came to power in Finland to hide behind the name of the Finnish people’s party look as bloody irony of fate... By strangling revolution in their country they did therewith a disservice to the affine Finland’s peoples, i.e., blocked their forward advance, so as it was initially designed...” (Churchill Stacy; published on site www.depvladimir.narod.ru).

It may be assumed (either to prove or refute this version documentally will hardly be possible) that in the 1920’s in Moscow they still hoped that “the conquest of power by proletariat in Finland” may occur in the nearest future. With a view to such development of the situation, they held at the ready a “spare Finland”. Really existing Finland could be attached to it after the victory there of the revolution of the Bolshevik type. This is a hypothesis. The absolute fact is only total extermination in the second half of the 1930’s of the entire leading personnel of the “Red Finns” who hid in 1918 in the Soviet Russia.

First arrests began in spring of 1930. At that time, OGPU[2] arrested a group of commanders from the non-integrated Karelian Ranger battalion. The second wave of arrests among command personnel of Karelian Ranger brigade began in the fall of 1932 and ended in shooting of two dozens of arrested commanders. In 1933, OGPU “uncovered” the next “conspiracy of Finnish general headquarters”. That caused new repressions and finally the disbandment of the Karelian Ranger brigade in 1935. However, those were just first peals of the liturgy for the dead.

In March 1935 the Politbureau of the CC VKP(b) adopted a decision about disbandment of all Finnish territorial units and also departments in military schools where national cadre of Finnish officers were trained. Out of 257 officers and cadets only 30 people were not arrested. 90% of the arrested were shot or perished in c (Baryshnikov; in Baryshnikovand Gorodetsky, 2006, pg. 17). In August 1935 in the Soviet Union unfolded full-scale campaign in the war against “Finnish bourgeois nationalism”. It was declater in October 1935 at the 5th Plenum of the Karelian Obkom VKP(b) that beginning in 1933 valiant Chekists removed 1,350 of all kinds of spies”. In the fall of the same 1935 G.Rovio was fired from the position of the Obkom First Secretary. By the end of 1935 in Karelia 835 people were expelled from the party, 219 of them were arrested (Special folders, 2001, pg. 156—158). Overall, as a result of the NKVD organs conducted “special operation” only in Karelia were arrested 4,688 people of the Finnish ethnicity, which was about 40% of all Finns  residing in Karelia (document published on site www.heninen.net, pg.16—17).

15 October 1935 Petrozavodsk and other Karelian Communist party committees have been closed. Simultaneously has been eliminated organization CPF[3] in Leningrad and disbanded Finnish territorial University of national minorities in Leningrad.  By the end of 1935 CPF organizer and leader, former leader of “Red Finland” . Manner was arrested. 28 May 1936 was arrested first commander of the Karelian Ranger brigade Mattson (he was indescribably lucky — he survived to the rehabilitation in 1957 ). The following year, 1937 were arrested and then shot E.Gyuling and G.Rovio. As First secretary of the Karelian Obkom was appointed G.N. Kupriyanov, an ethnic Russian who worked many years in party apparatus in Leningrad (he was transferred in Petrozavodsk from the position of Raikom, i.e., district party secretary). In Karelia, they were afraid even to mention the Finnish language. Any public utterance about Karels and Finns being in some affinity became tantamount to suicide. The activity of residing in the USSR emigrant part of the CPF was practically totally wound down. Out of 200 people of the party active survived no more than a dozen (Ussila, Khentilya and Nevakivi, 1999). Those who were left alive were writing in CC VKP(b) letters, in which they expressed fervent gratitude to NKVD organs for their revolutionary vigilance and bitterly repented their own “carelessness”...

According to a sad memory order NKVD USSR No. 00447 of 30 July 1937 (which, it is believed, began the Great Terror of 1937—1938), for the Karelian autonomous republic was allotted relatively small “quota”: 300 people should have been removed under “1st category” (shooting execution) and 700, under “2nd category” (arrest and concentration camp). In actuality, already by 15 April 1938 were arrested 8,744 people (Special folders…, 2001). “Liquidated” were practically all leaders of the party and Soviet organs, including also main organizers of the “first wave” of repressions (1st secretary of the Obkom P. Irklis, 2nd secretary of the Obkom, “troika” member Nikolsky, ASSR Narkom of Justice Polin, ASSR Narkom of the NKVD Tenison). An idea of the total scale of repressions in Karelia is given by the fact that in 1954—1961 were rehabilitated more than 10 thous. people (Special folders…, 2001). In estimates of modern Finnish historians, in the years of terror perished at least 20 thous. Finns who lived in the USSR (Yussila, Khentilya and Nevakivi, 1998).

Newspapers published solemn reports about successes of the NKVD. If we forget for a minute that behind all this fever delirium is hiding perishment of thousands, the following text reads like a sample of black humor: “NKVD of the Karelian ASSR exposed and liquidated a counterrevolutionary insurgent organization. This organization emerged in 1920 with the arrival in Karelia of a group of bourgeois nationalists (Gyulling, Myaki, Forsten) who began heading the work of the Karelian Revolutionary Committee. By way of further expansion of counterrevolutionary activities and inclusion in it of former members of the Finnish Social-democratic party (Rovio, Matson, Vilmi, Usenius, Saxman, Yarvimyaki and others), the counterrevolutionary organization seized command high positions in Karelia’s party and Soviet apparatus... Having taken possession in the very beginning of command positions in the republic, the nationalist organization conducted the preparation of armed uprising by way of creating a rifle Ranger brigade staffed with national commanding personnel and political workers who performed counterrevolutionary cultivation of the personnel...” (the document published on site www.heninen.net).

So tragically ended the first chapter in the history of “Socialist workers Finland”. However, Comrades Stalin and Molotov were already beginning to write a new chapter.




Early in 1930’s clearly materialized genius K. Marx’s foresight (“offer to a capitalist 300% profit — and there is no such crime he would not perpetrate even under penalty of gallows”). In the environment of a deep economic crisis (Great depression), big bourgeoisie of industrially developed world countries (USA, England, France, Germany) racing each other rushed to sell Stalin military technology, methodology, machine tools, laboratories, whole factories in total complement. Reckless, immoral and suicidal politics of the West allowed Stalin to convert giant financial resources (both forcefully taken away from previous owners and newly created by the labours of multimillion-strong army of Kolkhoz and GULAG slaves) in mountains of weapon and military hardware.

As early as in 1937 on the inventory of the Soviet air force were 8,139 combat aircraft — approximately as many as was two years later on the inventory of Germany (4,093), England (1,992) and USA (2,473) combined (Shumikhin, 1986).

By 1 October 1939 , airplane park of the Soviet air force has grown by the factor of 1.5 (to 12,677 aircraft) and now exceeded combined numerical strength of the aviation in all participants of started world war (Meltyukhov 2000). In the number of tanks (14,544, not counting outdated -27 and light floating -37/38) the Red Army in summer 1939  exactly twice exceeded armies of Germany (3,419), France (3,286) and England (547) combined (Meltyukhov, 2000, pg. 83, 601). At the moment the Second World War began, the Soviet Union was armed and very dangerous. And it began operating in the very first weeks of the war.

17 September 1939 the Soviet Union on a unilateral basis terminated the nonaggression agreement concluded 25 July 1932 between the USSR and Poland.  Right after that with huge forces (21 rifle and 13 cavalry divisions, 16 tank and 2 motorized brigades, overall 618 thous. people and 4,733 tanks) (Meltyukhov, 2000) it carried out  a blow in the back of the Polish army fighting at that time against the German Wehrmacht. For better understanding Stalin’s words and deeds it is noteworthy to note that the pretext for justification of this perfidious attack changed three times within one week.

10 September 1939 Molotov, in a conversation with the Fascist Germany Ambassador in the USSR Count Von Schulenburg said that “the Soviet government intended to state that Poland was falling into pieces, and due to this the Soviet Union had to come to help Ukrainians and Byelorussians, who are threatened by Germany” (emphasis added. - M. S.) (USSR – Germany, 1939 – 1941 …, 1989, pg. 87). This sentence caused explosion of outrage in Berlin. 15 September the foreign minister Ribbentrop sent an urgent telegram to Von Schulenburg: The statement of such kind motif is action impossible! It is directly opposite to real German intentions, which are restricted by exceptionally well known zones of German influence. It also contradicts the agreement reached in Moscow (he had in mind the Pact of nonaggression from 23 August 1939 and secret supplementary protocol about the separation of “spheres of influence ” in Eastern Europe.  - M.S.) and, at last, will present both states (Germany and the USSR.  - M.S.) to the entire world as  enemies(USSR - Germany, 1939 – 1941 …, 1989).

Molotov immediately backpedaled. 16 September 1939 Von Schulenburg reported to Berlin: “Molotov agreed that planned by the Soviet government pretext contained a note offensive for German sensitivities, however, he requested, taking into account difficult for the Soviet government situation, not to allow such trifles to get in our way(USSR – Germany, 1939 – 1941 …, 1989, pg. 94). After this, pretext No. 2 was manufactured at a lightning speed. It turned out that “workers and peasants in Belorussia, Ukraine and Poland rose for a fight with their eternal enemies — landlords and capitalists”.

Further, in the quoted above order No. 01 of the Belorussian Front’s Military Council of 15 September 1939 the front troops got the combat task: “to help the uprising workers and peasants of Belorussia and Poland (emphasis added. - M. S..) in toppling the yoke of landlords and capitalists” (Meltyukhov, 2000). Therefore, the new pretext No. 2 was actually the oldest. It returned combatants and commanders in glorious epoch of the Civil War and dreams about world revolution. This beautiful scheme survived exactly one day. By the end of the day, “those who are supposed” understood that the struggle of Polish workers and peasants, especially supported by the invincible Red Army, must have ended in victory. But this victory was not planned. Something totally different was planned — since the end of September 1939 and up to 22 June 1941  Poland (even in top secret, not intended for the public documents) was not called other than “the former Poland” or even already completely in Hitler’s style “General-Governorship”.

Then appeared pretext No. 3, which we find in order of the Belorussian Front’s Military Council number 005 of 16 September 1939: Polish (emphasis added. - M. S.) landlords and capitalists enslaved the labour people of the Western Belorussia and Western Ukraine... threw our Belorussian and Ukrainian brothers (Polish “brothers”, as we see, are no longer present.  - M.S.) in the meat-grinder of the second imperialist war...” (Meltyukhov, 2000). Even clearer was the text of V.M. Molotov's appeal to “citizens and citizenesses of our great country” transmitted over the radio 17 September and published in newspapers 18 September 1939. In Molotov's appeal, there were already no “labourers” or “pan-bourgeois enslavers”. There was only “blood”. Foreign Polish and own Ukraine-Belorussian: “The events caused by the Polish-German war showed intrinsic bankruptcy and clear incapacity of the Polish state to act... It is impossible to demand from the Soviet government an indifferent treatment of the fate of consanguineous Ukrainians and Byelorussians residing in Poland. Even previously they were in a position of disenfranchised nations, and now they are completely thrown to the four winds. The Soviet government considers it the sacramental duty to extend the helping hand to brothers Ukraineians and brothers Byelorussians residing in Poland...”

This wonderful argumentation outlived its authors and is in high demand until this day. It was not affected either by the fact that in 1945 substantial portion of the so-called “Western Belorussia” (former Byalostock voivodship [province]) had to be returned to Poland or by the fact that “brothers-Ukrainians” already 15 years ago seceded from the Soviet empire and certainly have no intention to thank Russia for the “helping hand”...

Having done away with Poland in two weeks, Stalin, not losing even a day for rest and relaxation, continued the implementation of his “rights” recorded in the secret additional protocol. 28 September 1939 in Moscow was signed “Agreement about mutual assistance” (remarkably, the word “friendship” was not used!) between the USSR and Estonia. 5 October 1939 the agreement similar in name and content was signed with Latvia, and 10 October 1939 with Lithuania. In all three cases, “mutual assistance” included the deployment in the territories of the Baltic states the Soviet military contingents numerically approximately equal to the armies of these states. For instance, in Estonia were introduced units of the 65th rifle corps of total numerical strength 21 thous. people, in Latvia  — units of the 2nd rifle corps of total numerical strength 22 thous. people, in Lithuania — 16th rifle corps of total numerical strength 19 thous. people. The numerical strength of peace-time armies of these three states was, respectively, 20, 25 and 28 thous. people (Meltyukhov, 200).

What should be especially emphasised is that the Red Army units deployed in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania represented only a small fraction of the grouping, which was unfolded at the borders of these states in the end September — early October 1939. At that time, in order to “fortify” the diplomatic proposal about “mutual assistance”, in the corridor extending from the southern shore of the Gulf of Finland to the left bank of West Dvina (Daugava) were concentrated three armies (8th, 7th and 3rd) and non-integrated rifle corps. Overall, it was 20 rifle and 4 cavalry divisions and 10 tank brigades (total numerical strength 437 thous. people - Meltyukhov, 2000, pg. 180). At that, at it became known now, the task of these forces was not at all just the “demonstration of the flag”.

Documents declassified in the 1990’s, unambiguously testify that the Red Army Command prepared operation of crushing armed forces of the Baltic states and forcefully occupying their territories. A Directive by the Narkom for the Defence USSR No. 043/op of 26 September 1939 demanded “immediately to begin concentration of forces at the Estonian-Latvian border and to complete it 29 September”. Troops were tasked with “carrying out powerful and decisive blow on the Estonian troops... defeating the adversary troops and advancing on Yuryev and subsequently — on Tallin and Pyarnu... by rapid and decisive blow on both banks of Dvina River advancing in the general direction on Riga...”. 28 September 1939 Red Banner Baltic Fleet Command was issued the order to put the fleet on complete combat readiness by morning of 29 September. The fleet was tasked with “capturing the Estonian fleet and, not allowing its escape into neutral waters, supporting by the artillery fire Land troops on the coast of the Gulf of Finland, being ready to landing of troops...” (Meltyukhov, 2000). Volunteer consent government  Estonia and and Latvia and agreement with USSR planned military , and documents about preparation many  in military archives.

Finland was most populated among four Baltic countries given away into the Soviet “sphere of influence” (her population in 1939 was 3.65 million people, whereas in Lithuania it was 2.9 million, Latvia — 2 million and Estonia 1.1 million). As for the Finland’s territory, it was almost twice the territory of the three Baltic countries combined. Besides, Finland’s location was “very inconvenient” for a potential aggressor: most of a huge, 1,300-kilometer long Soviet-Finnish border ran on unpopulated, roadless foresty-swampy landscape turning in the north into Arctic wooded tundra. For the Soviet command was no secret the presence on the Karelian Isthmus of a corridor of bunkers covering the shortest way from Petersburg to Helsingfors through Viipuri (Vyborg). Last in count but first in significance — in Moscow they knew that Finland’s leadership hold a firm position in protecting the sovereignty of their country and treat with big mistrust dubious proposals of the Soviet Union, and that is why a simple intimidation will hardly be able to solve the problem.

Clearly understanding that Finland would be a “hard nut to crack”, military-political leadership of the Soviet Union began planning the military operation way before 5 October 1939 when head of the USSR government and People’s Commissar of foreign affairs Molotov called Finnish Ambassador in Moscow and informed him that the Soviet Union wished to discuss with government of Finland “some political issues”. He refused to clarify which exactly “political issues” would be discussed. But he demanded the arrival of the Finnish delegation in at the soonest. V. Tanner (participant of these negotiations and from the start of the “winter war” — Finland’s foreign minister) in his memoirs writes: “7 October Molotov began insisting on a reply. The next day Derevyansky, the Soviet Ambassador in Helsinki, called Erkko (then minister of foreign affairs.  - M.S.) to say that Moscow literally “is boiling of indignation” as no reply has yet been received; that Finland’s attitude to the invitation drastically differs with the reaction to it of the Baltic countries — this can negatively affect bilateral relations. Erkko answered that he did not know how the Baltic countries behaved but the Finnish government behaves corresponding to the situation...” (Tanner, 2003).

For better or for worse — the Finnish government did not know then the entire “situation”. We also do not know everything. But some fragments of the Soviet Union’s preparation to a war with Finland are currently known. For instance, already 30 December 1938 Deputy Head of the RKKA General headquarters Komdiv Smorodinov sent to the Leningrad district’s Military Council a Directive for the conduct of a “district operative play, with the involvement in it of the Military Council and leading personnel from the headquarters of the Urals district”. Conditions of this “play” were phrased as follows: “The Eastern party. 1st and 2nd army of the Northern front, for a purpose of most sturdy defending Leningrad, in the interaction with Red Banner Baltic Fleet and Ladoga Flotilla, is developing an offensive operation with main direction on Viipuri (Vyborg), San-Michal (Mikkeli)”. It is ordered to submit the material developed in the play in General headquarters by 1 April 1939 (RGA VMF, fund 1877, list 1, case 98, sheet 1).

In headquarters of the Red Banner Baltic Fleet they were also preparing to “most sturdy defend Leningrad”. As early as 17 March 1939 in Red Banner Baltic Fleet headquarters (on the direction of the Main marine headquarters) was developed the assignment for the conduct of a “two-sided operative play”. The play was supposed to take place 26—28 March 1939 on the Main Red Banner Baltic Fleet base in Kronstadt. Remarkably, in the assignment for the “play” were indicated quite specific dates of the offensive beginning:

 “...2. Coastal Red Army groups on the Karelian Isthmus and southern coast of the Gulf of Finland at dawn 27.07.39 assume the offensive on Viipuri (Vyborg) and Rakvere (a city in Estonia).

3. To the fleet of the Red: simultaneously with the landing of troops to occupy islands in the eastern part of the Gulf of Finland...”

However, the most interesting in the assignment for this play is the description of the environment preceding the start of combat activities. On the Karelian Isthmus, 22—23.07.39 in the area of Mainila village took place a number of major border incidents with the Blues... At 1000 hours 24.07 in the area of lighthouse Kalbodagrund an unknown PL (submarine) sank TR (transport) of the Reds...” (RGA VMF, fund 1877, list 1, case 98, sheet 9).

Clairvoyance of the assignment compilers cannot but overwhelm the imagination. Eight months prior to the “insolent provocation of the White-Finnish militarists” (which provocation took place, as we know, 26 November 1939) was already known both the geographic point (village of Mainila) and, in actuality, the exact date (four days to the beginning of the “liberation raid”). The “unknown submarine” also was not left idle. 27 September 1939, at the moment of beginning the negotiations with Estonian delegation in Moscow the Soviet radio (and then, also central newspapers) informed about sinking near the shores of Estonia of the Soviet cargo vessel “Metallist”. But Estonia (as was already mentioned above) surrendered to the Stalin’s dictate without fighting, the war on the southern shore of the Gulf of Finland did not begin, and it was ordered to forget about “Metallist”...

These amazing “plays” became known only in the beginning of the XXIst century. However, during the very “stagnant years” came through all kinds of censorship and were published the recollections of Marshall .. Meretskov. He says as at the end of June 1939 he (at that time — Commander of the Leningrad military district troops) was summoned in , to Stalin:

In his office I saw an eminent member of the Comintern, known doer (that is true indeed, really known “doer”.  - M.S.) of VKP(b) and world Communist movement .Kuusinen... I was filled on the details of general political environment and told about dangers, which occurred for our leadership in connection with anti-Soviet line of the Finnish government...”. In this connection, Meretskov was ordered to develop the plan of a “counterstrike on armed forces of Finland in a case of military provocation from their side... To accelerate preparation of forces under conditions close to combat. Keep all preparations in secret...” (Meretskov, 1988).

Remarkably, notorious “dangers” occurred in Moscow exactly when the Soviet Union created and armed huge, largest in Europe, army. Earlier, on the verge of 1920—1930’s, when in the USSR was just beginning a grandiose program of modernization and militarization of the economy, on the border with Finland were concentrated only four rifle divisions (Baryshnikov, Gorodetskoy, 2006). This was quite understandable and justified. Finland was separated from all potential adversaries of the Soviet Union by the sea, and transport of the substantial military contingents by sea required time and resources. It nixed a possibility to carry out a sudden strike and was quite unsafe for potential aggressor taking into account that the approaches to Finland ports (Gulf of Finland and Gulf of Bothnia) were within reach of the Red Banner Baltic Fleet and Soviet aviation. After Germany agreed to the passing of the Baltic states in Soviet “sphere of influence” and Anglo-French block (due to the beginning of great European war) had too many other concerns, there should have become even fewer reasons for “dangers”. Nevertheless, exactly in the fall 1939 preparation for the invasion of Finland became practical.

16 September 1939 under an order of the People’s Commissariat for the Defence No. 0052 on the base of the command of the 33rd rifle corps was formed Murmansk army group (in the further — 14- army). It was tasked with unfolding its forces on the border with Finland by 1 October 1939. 14 September 1939 on Directive of the People’s Commissariat for the Defence No. 16664 were created two armies. Those were the 8th on the base of the Novgorod army group (created 13 August by the order of People’s Commissariat for the Defence No. 0129) and the 7th on the base of Kalinin military district forces. Late in September 1939, these two armies were unfolded at the borders of Estonia and Latvia. But already by 26 October 1939 headquarters of the 8th Army were moved in Petrozavodsk (RGVA, Guide-book…, 1991).

Under the order of the People’s Commissariat for the Defence No. 0145 of 24 October, three rifle divisions of the 7th army (49th, 75th and 123rd rifle divisions) redeployed to the border with Finland on the Karelian Isthmus. Much earlier began redeployment of the Red Army groupings in the Ladoga area and Northern Karelia, where due to very rare road network for this was needed substantially more time than in Leningrad Province. Thus, already 17 September began the march from Petrozavodsk to the border with Finland of the 18th rifle division. Next day began redeployment of the 54th mountain-rifle division in Reboly area (Kilin, 1999). At the end of October began the move of three more divisions (139th rifle division, 155th rifle division and 163rrd rifle division) ("Round table"… No. 12, 1995). Later, 6 through 23 November, the 75th rifle division was moved by the vessels of the Ladoga military Flotilla from Schlisselburg to the eastern shore of Lake Ladoga where it was included into the 8th army.

Simultaneously with the beginning of force redeployment to the Finnish border was going on the work on the plan of what Meretskov in his memoirs delicately calls “a plan of counterstrike on armed forces of Finland in a case of military provocation from their side”. One of documentally known options of the plan was signed by Meretskov himself Report of LMD (Leningrad Military District) troops Commander No. 4587 of 29 October 1939 (RGVA fund 25888, n.14, case 2, sheet 1-15). The Report was addressed to the Narkom for the defence Voroshilov and was beginning so: “I am presenting a plan of the operation of crushing the land and marine forces of the Finnish army...” Paragraph 5 of this foundational document read: “The following plan of operation is proposed. Upon receiving an order of offensive, our troops simultaneously invade the territory of Finland on all directions with the objective of pulling apart the grouping of the adversary forces and in interaction with aviation carry out a decisive defeat on the Finnish army.

The main core of our forces by a blow from Vidlitsa direction (Vidlitsa is a settlement on the east shore of Lake Ladoga, 30 km north of Olonets) and from Karelian isthmus crush main grouping of the Finnish army in the areasortavala, Viipuri, Kyakisalmi (Kexholm).

In the north (Murmansk direction), upon the permission to cross the borders, our troops take Petsamo (Pechenga), preliminarily carrying out an aviation blow on the enemy troops deployed there. On the Kemii direction (Kem is a city in the White-Sea Karelia) the task of our forces is to operate in the direction of Oulu (Uleaborg), to crush the opposing Finnish units and not to allow a possibility of the adversary forces approach from north, with the final objective of taking Oulu”. (Oulu is a large city on the shore of the Gulf of Bothnia; coming to Oulu meant that Finland’s territory was totally “cut” in its narrowest place.  - M.S.)

It is noteworthy that coming to the line Vyborg — Imatra — Sortavala was understood by the “counterstrike plan” developers only as the first operative task of the forces. We are reading in paragraph 6-b: Upon accomplishing this task, to be ready to further actions in depth of the country depending on the situation”. For a decisive and rapid fulfilling the set task — crush of the Finnish army — it was planned to create overwhelming advantage in forces and means. It was 2.5 to 1 in the number of infantry battalions; 5.5 to 1 in artillery (including 12 to 1 in the number of large calibre guns); 12 to 1 in aviation and 74 to 1 in tanks. As we know, these calculations were later declared “too optimistic” or even “adventuristic”. The actual numerical strength of the Soviet forces by the end of “winter war” was three times the initially planned by Meretskov.

In the second half of November 1939, the preparation to invading Finland was practically finished. Not counting groupings of the 14th (Murmansk) army, only in the Karelian Isthmus, in Ladoga and Northern Karelia was concentrated 17 rifle divisions, 6 tank and motorized brigades. 17 November (i.e., 10 days prior to proverbial “shooting in Mainila”) the Narkom for the defence issued order No. 0205/op. It set a task to “complete the concentration and be ready to decisive offensive with the objective in the shortest term to crush the adversary”.

Based on this Directive, the LMD Military Council in its order No. 4715 of 21 November set specific combat tasks to the army and fleet. At that, it was indicated that the operation beginning timing would be stated additionally (Meltyukhov, 2000).

Further on, Commanders of armies and corps issued combat orders to their subordinates. For instance, the 19th rifle corps commander (7th army, Karelian Isthmus) 23 November 1939 (i.e., exactly a week before the beginning of combat activities) issued Combat order No. 2, which said, in particular:

“p. 3. 19th rifle corps by a strike in the direction of Kivenappa kirche (currently — Pervomayskoye settlement on the Vyborg highway, approximately 30 km from the 1939 borders) destroys the opposing Finnish units, not allowing their retreat into the main fortified area...

p. 7. The day of assuming offensive will be indicated separately” (Round table…, "Rodina" Magazine, No. 12, 1995).

Even in a transpolar Murmansk, they were preparing “to throw off Finnish troops from Leningrad”. At that, to throw off very far. 28 November the 14th Army Military Council ordered: “On coming to the Swedish and Norwegian border, under no circumstances violate the border... If encountering military personnel of the Swedish and Norwegian armies at the border, greet them with hand salute not entering negotiations...” (RGVA fund 35080, list 1, case 1, sheet 21). Orders similar in content (with a demand “not to cross the border with Sweden”) were found also in headquarters documents of two 9th army divisions crushed early in January 1940  in engagement at Suomussalami (central Finland) (Mannerheim, 2003).

Late in the fall 1939 planning of the Baltic Fleet and Ladoga Flotilla operations also changed from a stage of “bilateral headquarters plays” to the development of combat orders. 23 November 1939 the Red Banner Baltic Fleet Military Council issued Directive No.5/op: “Disrupt Finland’s marine communications not allowing transporting forces and combat equipment from outside, destroy armor-clads of coastal defence and submarines of the adversary in the sea and in the gulf allowing their escape in the territorial waters of Sweden” ("Pravda" newspaper, 5 December 1939).

The report by Commander of the Ladoga Flotilla Captain 2nd rank V. Smirnov (written already after the end of the “winter war”) says that “the first task, which under the order of Red Banner Baltic Fleet Military Council was developed in the Flotilla headquarters in October 1939 (emphasis added. - M. S.) was landing of troops (fortified regiment in Sortanlaks gulf” (Document published on site www.heninen.net). 23 November Red Banner Baltic Fleet’s Military Council in its Directive No. 7/op set to the Command of the Ladoga Flotilla more than substantial tasks:

destroy Finnish vessels in Lake Ladoga;

— do not allow landing of sabotage troops on Lake Ladoga...

support flanks of 7th and 8th armies by artillery fire;

be prepared to landing of sabotage groups on the front Sortavala — Kyakisalmi (Kexholm);

...Start of combat activities on signal “Fakel” [“Torch”] (use weapons, war began)” (Document published on site www.heninen.net).

Along with the main, military component the “counterstrike plan” also included politico-propagandist component.

It was necessary to organize that very “military provocation from the side of Finland’s armed forces”, in response to which would be carried out counterstrike with “coming to Swedish and Norwegian border”. And, much more important, it was necessary to create in advance those pseudo-independent state structures, to which would be formally transferred authority in Helsinki after the Soviet troops “destroyed opposing Finnish units, not allowing their withdrawal”. Whereas there were no specific difficulties with methodology and techniques of organizing armed provocations (OGPU-NKVD accumulated by that time huge experience), with a “people’s government” and “revolutionary army” were large problems. Cadre, as Comrade Stalin taught, are solving everything. But the cadre were missing. Cadre, as we already know, were wholesale liquidated in the process of multiannual fight with “Finnish bourgeois nationalism”. In Karelia and Leningrad, there were almost no survivors. That is why leaders of the future Soviet Finland had to be looked for in safer places. One of such safe places (compared with the Soviet Union vintage 1937) was engulfed in the flames of a Civil War Spain. There was fighting there as a military advisor of interbrigade a “Red Finn”, graduate of Frunze Military Academy Comrade . Anttila. He was appointed commander of Leningrad MD 106th rifle division.

This division, despite the standard nomenclature, was very unusual. Its personnel were composed exceptionally out of the people knowing Finnish or Karelian languages. Order of its formation was signed by the Narkom Voroshilov 11 November 1939 (i.e., 20 days before to the amazed world was presented “people’s government of democratic Finland”). Incidentally, a Russian historian P. Aptekar who many years worked with RGVA documents maintains that the order of 11 November only formally completed the formation process of “Karelo-Finnish division”, which began as early as in mid-October ("Round table" materials… "Rodina" Magazine, No. 12, 1995). Be it as it may, the division was formed, the commander appointed, and already 23 November 1939 on the base of the 106th division began the formation of “1st mountain-rifle corps of Finland people’s army”. It was designed to unfold the corps of four divisions but, alas, there was shortage of people. During January — February 1940  only 1,441 applications about voluntarily joining the “people’s army” were submitted (Verigin, 2006). This could be sufficient for staffing of two rifle battalions but in no way of four divisions.

Of course, the shortage of personnel in the “people’s army” divisions had no military significance at all.

All that was required from them was to make a parade march in front of the presidential palace in Helsinki. For the parade a thousand and a half people was quite sufficient. However, refusal of Comrade Tuominen to head the “people’s government” almost put the entire propaganda part of the operation under the threat of collapse. Ervo Tuominen was from the generation of young Finnish Communists (in 1918 he was only 24 years old). In 1920—1930’s he worked (i.e., appealed to Finnish workers not to work but topple the government) in Finland, where he became one of known leaders (subsequently — a CC secretary) of the FCP[4] and in this capacity he was invited to work in Comintern in Moscow. In Moscow Tuominen was fabulously lucky — he was not shot. Moreover, early in 1938 he requested . Kuusinen to be sent for continuation of the revolutionary struggle in Stockholm, and this request was satisfied. As a result, in the fall of 1939 E.Tuominen could be considered an ideal candidate for a role of the leader of “democratic Finland”: he was alive, he spent almost his entire life outside the USSR, and he was known in Finland (from a good or bad side, but known).

13 November 1939 Tuominen received a letter signed by Kuusinen and Dimitrov with a demand immediately to return to Moscow. It was stated in the next letter that he would be performing an important and responsible mission in mending new mutual relationships between Finland and the USSR. E.Tuominen understood everything and 17 November wrote a letter wherein he refused such “honor”. 21 November from Moscow in Stockholm arrived a courier who brought even more stern order to Tuominen to come to the USSR next day with the Moscow flight. Tuominen again refused (Tanner, 2003). In the future, he openly broke with Stalin and Bolshevism. Remarkably, in an open letter addressed to the leader of Comintern G.Dimitrov Tuominen so explained his decision: You and some other secretaries of Comintern at least 13 November knew that it was decided to attack Finland and to create a “people’s government” (Comintern and Finland. 1919 – 1943, 2003).

We will note parenthetically that far from all Finnish Communists who gained a foothold in a cozy and quiet Stockholm went on the way selected by Comrade Tuominen. Not at all. The Comintern archive includes yellowed sheets of paper: “Top secret. About the work of CPF over the recent months”. The document is put together 12 July 1940  and signed by Comrade I. Strand. We are reading: Work of the party apparatus in Sweden was concentrated in the beginning of war around the creation of sapper groups, which on approach of the Red Army would cross the border and hinder the enemy retreat” (RGASPI, fund 495, list 20, case 568, sheet 5).

The enemy, which Finnish Communists itended to blow up on attempts of a retreat — this is the Finnish army...

Insubordination (we may say, attempt to escape) shown by a former Comrade Tuominen caused indignation in the Kremlin. Anger, as we know, is bad advisor in business. Only unnecessary emotions can explain an amazing decision to appoint .Kuusinen as “head of government of the liberated Finland”, Kuusinen known to the entire world secretary of the Comintern Executive Committee, never budging from Moscow since 1918, and on top of it also a member of CC VKP(b). Kuusinen appointment turned the entire spectacle with the “workers” “uprising” in a summer community Terioki and enunciation of “democratic Finland” into a stupid and crude farce. Mannerheim so describes in his recollections first days of war: “an appeal was translated over the radio (there were two “appeals”, from CC CPF and from Kuusinen's “people’s government” — .S.) addressed to the Finnish people. This revealed not only the face of adversary but also his objectives... Leaflets, which together with bombs were being dropped over the capital, promised “bread to starving people of Finland”, could not cause anything but laughter. In essence, this propaganda only strengthened our internal front” (Mannerheim, 2003).

But an interesting thing is that on the other side of the border turned out some people who seriously believed that Comrade Stalin was prepared to turn some territories to “Kuusinen's government”. As a result in the Soviet Karelia, in the areas, which at a stroke of the pen were transferred to nonexistent “democratic Finland”, began light panic. Not only the Russians but also native Karels, long ago firmly heeled in lectures in the “propaganda room”, did not want to turn out “in the world of poverty, lawlessness and brutal capitalist exploitation”. It ended so that in mid-December 1939 in Petrozavodsk was convened the republican party and economic meeting. In in first secretary of the Karelian VKP(b) Obkom Comrade  Kupriyanov (who probably understood nothing in this buffoonish clownery) explained attendees the current situation as follows. Strive to scamper from areas seceding to Finland cannot be treated other than shameful desertion. This is neglecting the interests of the party and Motherland(Verigin, 2006).

Sure, many different things happened in the history of CPSU and the USSR. There were times when an unauthorized departure from the Country of Soviets in official documents was called by the term “escape” — as if it was a matter of prison or concentration camp and not of the motherland of labourers of the entire world. But to equate the desire to remain in the USSR with desertion — that already was something ultramundane...

Strictly speaking, with this a brief review of the events preceding the beginning of “winter war” could be concluded. But — some of our readers will be surprised (if not to say — indignant) at the fact that the author passed by in silence such important subject as Soviet-Finnish negotiations in Moscow in October — November 1939. Let us review this issue as well. All Soviet (and many present-day Russian) historians assure us in unison that Stalin did not want war with Finland. Only stubborn and arrogant unwillingness of the Finnish leadership to satisfy very modest requirements of the Soviet Union (four minuscule islands in the Gulf of Finland, small “shift” of the border on the Karelian Isthmus) forced Stalin to begin the war. In our view, this integrated statement should be subdivided in two parts. Then it will be very easy to evaluate each of them separately.

Stalin indeed did not want war with Finland. Stalin wanted to include Finland in his empire, which was at the stage of formation. Everything we know today about Stalin, about his politics, about his tactics, about his character makes us to assume that Stalin did not want war, did not like war (and not even once talked with Red Army men in dugouts). All that was possible to take without war — by deception, ruse or threats, — he took peacefully. In this sense, our main character is not like Peter I or Napoleon. With the probability close to 100%, it is possible to assume that Stalin would agree to annex Finland in the same peaceful form as Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, which were annexed and included in the USSR.

Now, about stubborn unwillingness of Finland’s government to satisfy whomever. To consider it a legitimate pretext for war is possible only within savage concepts of the “law of the jungle”. Finland was not obligated to give away even a single square centimeter of her territory. Moreover, she was not even obligated to participate in the “negotiations” whose subject was forced “exchange of territories” or some strange “lease”, the consent to which is forced under a threat of war, etc. All these are as indisputable as the fact that not a single court in the world will consider unwillingness of a rape victim to satisfy voluntarily “minimum need” of the rapist as a factor mitigating guilt of the criminal. The only obligations Finland (and the USSR!) must have complied with were the Peace treaty signed in 1920 in Tartu, and the Nonaggression pact between Finland and the USSR (1932). Agreements must be complied with. But that was exactly a discussion of this component of the Soviet-Finnish relations that Moscow evaded. We continuously referred to the peace agreement concluded in Tartu, and also to the Pact of nonaggression concluded in 1932 on the USSR initiative and extended in 1936. These referrals were useless; they literally fell on deaf ear”, — writes B.Tanner in his memoirs (Tanner, 2003).

Hardly there is something to discuss in all these most obvious issues. It is not coincidental that 26 November 1939 was organized a staging of shelling at the Red Army positions in Mainila. Even Stalin with Molotov understood that only unwillingness of the Finns “to exchange territories” was insufficient to lend the war unleashed by them at least a slight facade of legitimacy. That is exactly why four days before the war occurred “incident in Mainila” planned as early as in March 1939, and on the second day of war appeared “Kuusinen government” on request from which the Red Army went to crush “White-Finnish Mannerheim bands”.

Does it mean that the Moscow negotiations were an empty formality? Or that they were organized only to hide labor-intensive and unavoidably long army groupings redeployment in a forest wilderness of Karelia? There is a great deal of common sense in the version of “camouflage” purpose of the negotiations (such maximalist viewpoint was held by Professor Yu.Kilin, 1999). The road network in Ladoga Karelia had quite low throughput capacity. In some places, there were no roads at all, and the troops advanced to the border of foot, tentatively speaking “at snail’s pace”. Nevertheless, the task, which Stalin and Molotov wanted to solve in the negotiations with the Finnish delegation, was not restricted only to covering the concentration of forces. The Soviet party really strived to reach agreement on conditions, which it put forward at negotiations. In order to make sure of it, it is sufficient to read carefully the Soviet government’s memorandum handed at night of 14 October to head of the Finnish delegation. We include here the summarizing portion of this document practically in full.

“...Acting based on the foregoing proposals, it is necessary to settle the following issues on mutual consent and to reciprocal advantage:

1. Providing to the Soviet government for the 30-year lease the port of Hango and the adjacent territory in the radius of five to six nautical miles south and east, arming it with coastal artillery capable of blocking by its fire, together with fire from the base in Paldiski on the southern shore, the access to the Gulf of Finland. For defence of the naval base Finland will allow the Soviet Union to place the following personnel in the port of Hango...

2. Providing the Soviet with the right to use the Bay of Lappokhya (next to Hango peninsula.  - M.S.) as anchorage.

3. Ceding to the Soviet Union following areas with corresponding territorial compensation:

— islands Suursaari, Lavensari, Great Tyuters and Small Tyuters (Gogland, Powerful, Small, Seskar) and Koyvisto (Berezovy);

part of the Karelian Isthmus from settlement Lipola (Kotovo) to the southern outskirt of the city of Koyvisto (Primorsk);

western part of Rybachy peninsula (total area 2,761 square kilometres) according to attached map.

4. as compensation for the areas mentioned in p. 3, the Soviet Union will cede to the Finnish Republic the Soviet territory near Rebola and Poriyarvi (Porosozero), total area 5,529 square kilometres according to the attached map.

5. Strengthening of the nonaggression pact currently operating between the Soviet Union and Finland, amendment of it by a condition, under which countries-signatories are obligated to restrain from participation in such groupings or alliances of countries, which may directly or indirectly represent threat for the other country-signatory.

6. Destruction by both parties of fortified areas along Finnish-Soviet border on the Karelian Isthmus leaving along the border line regular border guards(Tanner, 2003).

As we know, speaking on the all-union radio 29 November 1939, a few hours before the beginning of war, Molotov stated: The only purpose of our measures is assuring the security of the Soviet Union and especially Leningrad”. If to consider the Soviet memorandum from this point of view, we may discover there the only item, which indeed may be considered a proposal directed to strengthening security of the USSR. This is the first sub-paragraph of p. 3 — transfer to the Soviet Union of the chain of islands extending along the main navigable channel in the gulf of Finland. Not creating special additional problem for Finland, the Soviet Union fortified therewith positions of its fleet in the Gulf. And the Finns agreed to this proposal! Already 16 October, at the very first discussion of the Soviet memorandum in the State Council the decision was made to agree to cede the islands in the Gulf of Finland. Then this decision was approved by the government and Finland president and included in the instructions, with which the Finnish delegation 21 October was sent to Moscow, for the second round of the negotiations (Tanner, 2003). So, the excuse traditional for the Soviet historiography that “the Finns arrogantly declined ALL proposals by the Soviet government” is a glaring falsehood.

However, to associate the issue of the western part of Rybachy peninsula located 1,400 km from Leningrad with providing “security for the city of Lenin” looks like an inappropriate joke. In the Tartu negotiations of 1920 it was decided to divide the peninsula and provide equal conditions for the fishing to both countries. Two coves on the western shore were given to Finland, two coves on the eastern one, to the Soviet Union. It was not even possible to invent any connection with the “defence of Leningrad” in this case. That is why the preamble of the Soviet memorandum of 14 October includes such wonderful argumentation: “The issue of Rybacy peninsula should be solved individually. The border is determined artificially, that is why it should be revised according to the attached map” (Tanner, 2003).

Nevertheless, the issue of the western part of Rybachy peninsula was raised not by accident and not at all for a purpose of improving the delivery of Norwegian herring to the Soviet labourers. The western part of Rybachy is the entry in Petsamo (Pechenga) port bay. This is northern marine gate of Finland. In conditions of war it is the only point, through which is possible Finland’s connection with the outside world. That is to say, with the English navy; as the marine communications through the Gulf of Finland would be paralyzed by the Red Banner Baltic Fleet and the land communications with ports in Norway depended on the good will of two governments, Norwegian and Swedish.

So, the appearance of the Red Army and fleet on the western shore of Rybachy peninsula could block Finland’s communications with probable allies physically. And paragraph 5 of the memorandum blocked this communications politically. Cunning (although easily guessed) phrasing (“participation in such groupings or alliances of countries, which may directly or indirectly represent threat for the other country-signatory”) enabled Moscow to present Finland with the accusation of violating agreement conditions in a case of practically any attempt  by Finland to ask for international help and support.

Paragraph 6 is clearly a direct appeal to lower (instead of the declared heightening) security of both negotiating parties. Certainly, for Finland the destruction of the fortification corridor was tantamount to the death whereas for the Soviet Union, with its huge army and aviation, the effect of lowered defence capability was smaller. Nevertheless, should Stalin had indeed believed it possible the appearance in the territory of Finland of a large enemy army (German or Anglo-French) he under no circumstances would have even discussed the issue of destruction of the fortifications on the Soviet side of the border, in direct proximity to Leningrad  — the major industrial, science and transportation center of the country. Sense and purpose of the paragraph 6 in the Soviet memorandum cause not even a slightest doubt. This is in actuality an open demand to set agape the gate for the Red Army advancing on Vyborg and farther in depth of the country depending on the situation”.

Similar results could have compliance with the Soviet demand to move the border on the Karelian Isthmus to the city of Koivisto and transfer to the Soviet Union of the same-name island (currently city of Primorsk and island Berezovy). From Koivisto to the centre of Leningrad is more than 100 km. Artillery with such shooting range simply does not exist. So, it is impossible in principle to “hold the city of Lenin under the threat of artillery bombardment” from Koivisto. However, transfer of these territories would tear the “Mannerheim’s line” on the main, Vyborg operative theatre and deprive the Finnish troops from the fire support of two artillery forts (Saarenpya with six 10 inch guns and Hyumaliyoki with six 6 inch guns). For the Red Army, where guns of field artillery were in dozens of thousands and guns of large caliber in thousands, the issue of 12  armed  hardly deserved attention. However, for pauper Finnish army coastal batteries on the island of Koivisto were responsible for a quarter of the entire large caliber artillery! Besides, these guns were placed reinforced concrete casemates, i.e., they were relatively safe from strikes of the Soviet aviation, advantage in which (quantitative and qualitative) was overwhelming. Operative significance of these batteries increased even more in consideration of the fact that they held under fire two main roads of the Karelian Isthmus — the highway and the railroad. And although the forts of Koivisto Island with their maximum shooting range, correspondingly, 23 and 18 km, did not create any threat either for Leningrad or for Kronstadt (the distance to which was more than 70 km), Stalin stubbornly insisted on the transfer of this island up to the very end of negotiations (Tanner, 2003).

The first item on the list of Stalin’s “minimum demands” was Hango Peninsula. And this issue indeed deserved the first place. Whereas a “peaceful capture” of Koivisto and the destruction of casemated fortifications on the Karelian Isthmus put the Red Army only in the position of tactical approach to Vyborg (and from Vyborg to Helsinki is 240 km), the Soviet military base on Hango represented neither more nor less than a “revolver set against the temple” of Finland. The port at Hango does not freeze almost the entire winter, it has 1,500 m of equipped piers and, the main thing, the automobile and railway branch connecting Hango with the capital. From Hango to the centre of Helsinki is 110 km on the highway. Having such ready foothold for landing of the forces as the port of Hango, the Red Army could carry out a blow on Helsinki from two sides simultaneously: from the west (Hango) and from the east (Vyborg). Stalin’s intents were obvious, and that is why they had to be camouflaged. It was done, as always, in a crude and illiterate way.

Both the preamble and paragraph 1 of the Soviet memorandum substantiated the demand of Hango by a wish “to block the access to the Gulf of Finland by the fire of coastal artillery together with fire from the base in Paldiski on the southern (Estonian) coast of the gulf”.

Indeed, on a large-scale geographic map, a blue corridor of sea at the entrance to the Gulf of Finland appears very thin, and it appears possible to “block” it by the fire of huge  armed . The problem is that the map is flat and the earth is round. The curvature of the earth (sea) surface makes the distance of line-of-sight vision about 10 nautical miles (18—20 km). That is it. Farther on is the horizon, and nothing is seen beyond it. That is why aimed shooting in a sea battle at distances over 10—12 miles is impossible in principle, no matter how huge are the guns on the ship. Practically, however, fog happens at sea, night occurs every day. That is why without radar and complex fire management systems aimed shooting for a distance of 10 miles is only a dream. And even with radar, long-range guns and very experienced gunners it is not always possible to “block” the passage of enemy vessels. Which was practically fuond out by the English 12 February 1942, when three German vessels (battleships “Scharnhorst” and “Gneisenau” and heavy cruiser “Prince Eugene”) passed through invisible radar rays and under the muzzles of large calibre coastal batteries through La Manche. And this was despite the English having waited for this event and prepared for it for several years. The width of La Manche in the narrowest place, in the Dover area is only 34 km, and from Hango to Paldiski — 76 km. And no radars. So, what was there “to block by artillery fire”?

Still, it is possible to block the entrance of the enemy fleet in the Gulf of Finland. Already after the First World War, marine officers knew exactly how to do it. And in June 1941  everybody could ascertain the efficiency of such method. Mine barriers installed by the Germans and Finns in a matter of days dead blocked the exit for the Red Banner Baltic Fleet into the Greater Baltic Sea (Platonov, 2005). In the future, during the ill-fated “Tallinn passage”, main losses by the Red Banner Baltic Fleet were from mines. In 1939 — 1940 , having at its disposal huge fleet and two large military-marine bases at Kronstadt and Tallinn, the Red Banner Baltic Fleet had every possibility to cover the Gulf of Finland with continuous mine fields. There was no need to make military experts laugh with proposals of “blocking the entrance to the gulf by artillery fire”.

Therefore, it is easy to understand that Soviet proposals at Moscow “peace” negotiations were not accidental, and the negotiations were not simply a “talking shop” only for a purpose of playing for time. The Finns did not have a choice: peace or war. In actuality, they were proposed two options of war: the immediate war (in the case of refusal to agree with Moscow) or a war with a small delay. In the first case, Finland could enter the war with equipped defence positions and some hope of getting help from outside. In the second case — after satisfying Stalin’s “minimum demands” — Finland would enter the war in completely hopeless situation, having neither allies nor the corridor of fortifications on the Karelian Isthmus or an opportunity to hinder the landing of a large Soviet force 100 km from the capital. Future events showed that in this hardest, tragic situation Finland made the right choice.



The First Soviet-Finnish war (30 November 1939 — 13 March 1940 ) is described in sufficient detail in modern Russian historiography. Meticulously, almost by the day and hour is reviewed the course of combat activities and published a number of large monograph studies (Secrets and lessons of the Winter war…, 2000; Take us in, Suomi…, 1999; Winter war of 1939-1940 …, Book 2. 1998; Soviet-Finland war of 1939-1940 , 2002; Winter war of 1939-1940 . Book 1. 1998; Balashov, .. and Stepakov,V,N, 2001). Special note must be made of a fundamental work (Aptekar, 2004) based on a huge massif of primary documents from Soviet and Finnish archives. In an attempt not to repeat without need what has already been said, we will note only a few moments directly related to two main, “through-passing” subjects of our study. These are: real foreign policy goals and designs of Stalin’s leadership and real status and combat capacity of the Soviet Armed forces.

Military results of the Finnish campaign hit like a ton of bricks both friends and enemies of the Soviet Union. Huge world power threw in the  battle a 900-thousand strong army equipped with thousands of tanks and aircraft but still was unable — using the language of the “Pravda” newspaper of November, 1939  — “to rein in the piddling flea, which is jumping and playing the ape on our borders”. . Mannerheim with maximum brevity and clarity articulated in his memoirs the general view: “First thing that caught the eye, was disproportion between huge input and minuscule result”. With equal certainty said Wehrmacht's General and the author of a classical work in the history of the Second World War . von Tippelskirch: “The Russians in the course of the entire war showed such tactical clumsiness and such poor command that in the entire world was formed unfavourable view relative the combat capacity of the Red Army” (Tippelskirch, 1956). Such estimate for many years was generally accepted and indisputable. Moreover, even the “late-Soviet” historiography began to lean to a similar estimate. A characteristic example: the compilers of collection (Secrecy label removed... 1993, pg. 122, 165, 167-168, 201), having repeated in a brief introductory article devoted to the “winter war” events all false rubber-stamps of the Soviet propaganda, nevertheless admitted that “the war with Finland did not bring glory to the winner”.

In this issue, as in many others, historian and publicist V. Suvorov was a “trouble-maker”.

As always brightly and passionately, V. Suvorov told the readers as he modelled the “winter war” of 1939 —1940  using English super-computer, and also set up an experiment on himself having climbed (without the winter clothing, only with one bottle of vodka) in a severe freeze on a fir tree. Ostensibly both the computer and personal perceptions of frozen to senselessness historian led to one and the same conclusion: it was impossible to break through the “Mannerheim’s line” without the atom bomb. No way. Therefore, “the Red Army, having broken through the “Mannerheim’s line”, refuted and overturned the concepts of the world military science... The Red Army performed miracle. Unnecessary, absurd, but still miracle... From purely military viewpoint this was a brilliant victory with no equal in the entire previous and in the entire subsequent history...” (Suvorov, 1995).

Strange though it is but the version of a rabid anti-Communist V. Suvorov amazingly precisely “lay” in the matrix of consciousness prepared by multiannual Communist propaganda. This propaganda immutably strived to boil all events of the “winter war” exceptionally down to the engagements on the notorious “Mannerheim’s line”. This approach enabled the solution of three tasks at once. First, to support the key thesis of the entire Soviet historiography that the only objective of the war was “defence of northern approaches to Leningrad”, which “defence” they attempted to reach by way of small border shift on the Karelian Isthmus. The Finnish fortification line hampered this “shift” — so it had to be wiped off the face of the earth. Second, continuous reminder of “reinforced concrete bunkers erupting deadly fire” was perceived by readers far from the theory of military art as quite “legitimate”, “objective” reason for huge personnel losses by the Red Army units. Third, the breakthrough of the “Mannerheim’s line” which occurred at the end of the third month of war could be presented both as a great success and as a reasonable explanation of why the war suddenly stopped. Alas, all these have very little in common with real historical events.

We will begin with the simplest. With arithmetic and geography. The length of the Soviet-Finnish border was about 1,350 km. To construct “the great wall of Finland” of such length would have required resources, which not only Finland but even huge Soviet Union did not have. In reality, the line of permanent Finnish fortifications on the Karelian Isthmus protected the border segment approximately 100 km long. Less than one tenth of the total border. In others words, nine tenth of the Finnish border was not protected by even a single “deadly fire erupting bunker”. Therefore, “Mannerheim’s line” could have been dealt with exactly as the Wehrmacht in May — June 1940  dealt with incomparably more powerful French “Maginot line”, i.e., by going around it, not at all trying to punch through the fortifications “head-on”. The rumours of ostensibly absolute “landscape impassability” northeast of the Karelian Isthmus are very much exaggerated. The Southern Finland is quite habitable and developed region, in the corridor Sortavala—Lappeenranta—Kotka existed rather dense road network. The landscape becomes even more passable exactly in conditions of winter war when the frost arrests the surface of lakes and swamps with firm ice.

This is theory. Now, let us turn to practice. The idea of a deep flank enveloping of Finnish fortifications around the north coast of Lake Ladoga was immutably present both in pre-war plans of the Soviet command and in actions of the forces in the process of the “winter war”. Let us turn once again to the “Plan of operation for crushing land and marine forces of the Finnish army” of 29 October 1939 (RGVA fund 25888, n.14, case 2, sheet 1-15).

Upon receiving an order of offensive, our troops simultaneously invade the territory of Finland on all directions with the objective of pulling apart the grouping of the adversary forces (emphasis added. - M. S.) and in interaction with aviation carry out a decisive defeat on the Finnish army. Our main forces by a strike from Vidlitsa direction and from Karelian Isthmus defeat main grouping of the Finnish army in the area  Sortavala, Viipuri (Vyborg,), Kyakisalmi (Kexholm).

) Vidlitsa direction [theatre] — seven rifle divisions, three corps artillery regiments, one artillery regiment RGK, one tank and chemical battalions... The task for the forces in this theatre is to defeat Finnish units in the areasuoyarvi, Sortavala, Saami, invade their fortified corridor between lake Yanis-Yarvi and Lake Ladoga, advance in southwestern direction, in the rear of adversary grouping operating on the Karelian Isthmus (emphasis added — .S.), help the 7th army in crushing this grouping...

b) Karelian Isthmus eight rifle divisions, five corps artillery regiments, five artillery regiments RGK, two non-integrated battalions BM (high power), three tank brigades... The task is to defeat cover units, invade fortified Finnish area on the Karelian Isthmus and, developing the offensive in northwestern and northern directions, in interaction with troops of the Vidlitsa theatre, to crush main grouping of the adversary forces in the area  Sortavala, Viipuri, Kyakisalmki...”

As we can see, the idea of enveloping the “Mannerheim’s line” and striking in the flank and rear of the Finnish forces unfolded on the Karelian Isthmus is specifically written in the plan. Also please pay attention to the fact that the grouping of Soviet forces on the “Vidlitsa theatre” (i.e., 8th army in the Ladoga Karelia) is attributed by the plan developers to “our main forces” and that in the number of rifle divisions this grouping is only slightly inferior to 7th army on the Karelian Isthmus (respectively, seven and eight divisions).

Beside these two main groupings, also envisioned was the creation of two auxiliary groupings (in actuality they were organizationally merged in one 9th army). These two groupings, advancing along the converging directions — from north from Kandalaksha and through Rovaniyemi, from south from Reboly through Kukhmo and Kayaani, must have “invaded the area Kemii, Oulu (Uleaborg), cut the communications between Finland and Sweden through the land border”.

Let us for a minute not take into account one more operational theatre (Murmansk) and the numerical strength of the 14th army unfolded on this theatre. Still, it is easy to see that in the number of the rifle divisions the 9th army (122nd, 163rd and 54th divisions) and 8th army (155th, 139th, 56th, 18th and 168th divisions) in the first days of war even exceeded advancing on the “Mannerheim’s line” 7th army (six divisions) (Aptekar, 2004). Subsequently was conducted continuous growth of the Red Army forces on all operational theatres (in particular, to Ladoga and North Karelia were additionally redeployed at least 13 divisions). However, in breaking through the “Mannerheim’s line” at any stage of war was active no more than half of the personnel of the active army units and groupings.

Specifically, the situation with numbers was as follows. Monthly average for the entire force grouping was 849 thous. people, monthly average numerical strength of the Northwestern front forces (7th army and formed in the end of December 1939 13th army) was 423 thous. people. The 9th army (Northern Karelia) had monthly average numerical strength of 94 thous. people, 8th and 15th army (Ladoga Karelia) — 271 thous. people (Secrecy label removed…, 1993, pg. 122, 165, 167-168, 201).

Therefore, hundreds of kilometres from the nearest bunker of the “Mannerheim’s line” was operating a huge grouping of the Soviet forces (total numerical strength over 350 thous. people). What kind of “miracle” did the Red Army perform there? What “brilliant victories with no equal in history” did it win?

A first “miracle” was the operation planning where the 9th army troops were assigned the offensive tempo of 22 km per day. In winter, through dumped with the snow forest wilderness of the central Finland. And mind you, on their own territory the advance of rifle divisions to the border was at a tempo of 12— 16 km per day. And even at this tempo the rears and artillery were continuously lagging behind (Aptekar, 2004). Another “miracle” may be the concentration of forces so large on a landscape almost devoid of automobile roads and railroads. Remarkably, pre-war Mannerheim's calculations were that “due to difficulties with transportation the Russians could deliver in Karelia near Ladoga maximum three divisions”. In actuality, by the end of war in Ladoga Karelia were concentrated (or were advancing to the front) approximately 15 divisions.

The Soviet military-political leadership did not decide main issue — whether it was preparing to war or to a “triumphal march” - up to the very beginning of combat activities. For this reason, reserves of fuel and munition accumulated in Karelia were at minimum. Thus, under the aforementioned Meretskov’s plan the troops on the “Vidlitsa theatre” needed “munitions 3.5 allowances and fuel for transport vehicles 6 — 7 fill-ups”. After the war acquired protracted character and the troops suffered huge losses in personnel and hardware, the Soviet Command “surprisingly” for themselves found out that there was practically no means to deliver reinforcements and munition. Troops of the 14th, 9th, 8th and 15th armies were stuck in uninhabited, devoid of local resources locality. All purveyance was supported by one thread of Murmansk (Kirov, as it was called at the time) railway. The speed of military echelons on this road due to snowdrifts and huge overloading of the line declined to 5 — 6 km/hr. Only the absence of powerful Finnish bomber aviation capable of destroying railway bridge over Svir River saved Soviet troops in Karelia from a total catastrophe (Kilin, 1999). Although even without it, the results of combat activities were very disappointing.

In the first days of war, troops of the 8th and 9th armies were successfully and relatively rapidly advancing in the depth of the Finnish territory. As Mannerheim writes, our weak detachments were forced to retreat at the pressure of the superior forces. The adversary, supported by tanks, was advancing surprisingly quickly. Sudden appearance of vehicles clad in armor paralyzed our troops, from which only rare detachments had time to get weapon for fighting tanks”. Maximum success was reached by units of the 8th army. They advanced into Finland 100—120 km from the international border on the theatre Suoyarvi—Tolvoyarvi. However, already in mid-December the Finns conducted partial regrouping of their puny forces and began active counterattacks. Skilfully manoeuvering ski battalions were “cutting”, encircling and eliminating part by part huge and clumsy convoys of Soviet rifle divisions. By 24 December 1939, 75th and 139th rifle divisions of the 8th army were thrown off more than 50 kilometres eastward from Tolvoyarvi. The state of these groupings may be judged from the fact that the 139th division abandoned on the battlefield 2,247 rifles, 165 mounted and 240 hand machine guns, and by January its rifle companies had 30—50 people each. That was no more than 30% of the organization chart numbers (Aptekar, 2004). The situation was not much better in the 75th division.

Early in January 1940  the Finns began large (for their measure) offensive and encircled by the forces of seven infantry battalions the 18th rifle division and 34th tank brigade (8th army) on the northeastern coast of Lake Ladoga, in the area of the town of Pitkyaranta. Despite the availability with the encircled of a great number of tanks and amounts of munition and fuel (even by the end of February in units of the 18th division and 34th tank brigade remained up to 12 thous. shells and two refueling for tanks – Aptekar, 2004), their command elected the tactic of passive waiting for help from outside. Already after the end of war, 17 April 1940 , a Corps Commissar Vashugin at the conference of RKKA top command personnel described these events as follows:

“The Finns were encircling our divisions with small units. I believed that in order to a division needed three divisions. And how did it happen there? This encirclement caused psychosis in the encircled...

I enquired in great detail about the encirclement of the 97th rifle regiment of the 18th division. What did the encirclement of the 97th rifle regiment represent? The regiment Commander stated that in the west there was about a company of adversary. In the east was less than a fortified platoon. In the north were regular troops — about a battalion, which held fortified positions in a camp, but in recent time ours were going for reconnaissance in this camp and did not find there any adversary at all. They did not see adversary anywhere. And in the south there never was the adversary. And considered themselves encircled... We made this conclusion very simply. A couple of intelligence guys came, they said that the regiment was ordered to get out from the encirclement. The garrison rose and went(Winter war of 1939-1940 . 1998. Book 2…).

Not everywhere, however, everything ended up so easily and favorably. In the process of long engagements, the Finns subdivided into individual groups and by the end of February practically totally eliminated the encircled grouping. Numerous attempts to deblock the encircled by large forces (overall were used four divisions: 60th rifle division, 11th rifle division, 72nd rifle division and 25th cavalry division) were useless. The Finns got as trophies 128 tanks, 91 guns, 120 vehicles and tractors, and even Colors of the 18th rifle division (Mannerheim, 2003; Aptekar, 2004). Only the cessation of combat activities 13 March 1940  delivered from a similar crush another one, 168th rifle division. The 18th division Commander Kombrig G.F.Kondrashov was wounded, on 4 of March arrested and later executed by shooting. The 34th tank brigade Commander Kombrig S.I. Kondratyev, head of the brigade headquarters N.I. Smirnov and head of brigade Special department Captain Doronin shot themselves. Heads of the division and brigade political departments I.. Gapanyuk and I.. Izaretsky also committed suicide. 8 March shot himself the 56th rifle corps commander (which included the 18th and 168th divisions) Komdiv I.N. Cherepanov (Aptekar, 2004).

“It should be stated frankly that on Petrozavodsk theatre the Finns took initiative in mid-December and held it almost to the end of war”, — was forced  to admit head of RKKA General headquarters Shaposhnikov speaking at already mentioned conference of the top command personnel 16 April 1940  (Winter war of 1939-1940 . 1998. Book 2…) A serious statement — keeping in mind the plans, correlation of forces and armament of the parties.

Similarly were evolving the events in dense forests of the central Finland, in the 9th army offensive corridor. Between 30 November and 7 December (this day the 163rd rifle division took important road node in Suomussalami settlement) 9th army groupings, throwing two battalions of Finnish reservists from the border, were advancing, as the saying goes, “hardly shedding any blood”. For instance, total losses of the 163rd division were 243 people (Aptekar, 2004). The situation drastically changed after the arrival in the engagement area of the 27th infantry regiment and appointment as the Commander of all Finnish army units in the Suomussalami area Colonel Siilasvuo (a further General, one of most renowned and successful Finnish commanders). 15 December the Finns took back Suomussalami, and by 21 December, ski groups encircled most forces of the 163rd rifle division.

To help the 163rd division, the Soviet command selected 44th rifle division. This division, component of the forces of Kiev military district, arrived from recently “liberated” Polish Tarnopol in regular autumn uniform: greatcoats and tarpaulin boots. In the meantime, extraordinary temperature in engagements area dropped to minus 40 degrees. Siilasvuo writes in his post-war recollections: “It was not understandable and strange to me why the Russians did not have skis and so could not get away from roads”. . Mannerheim served in the Russian army 30 years. That is why, not expressing any surprise, he simply states: “Resistance of the 163rd division was broken 30 December. Remained in place were more than 5 thousand enemy soldiers killed, close to 500 people were taken prisoner. The loot was quite substantial: 27 guns, 11 tanks, 150 trucks, huge numbers of infantry weapons and munition” (Mannerheim, 2003).

According to documents of the Soviet headquarters, losses by the 163rd division over the entire engagement period were 3,043 people killed and missing in action, 8,558 wounded and frost-bitten, i.e., approximately 70% of the organization chart numbers. The Special department of the 9th army picked as a scapegoats the Commander and Commissar of the 662nd regiment (163rd division) Colonel Sharov and Battalion Commissar Podkhomutov. They were committed for trial of the military tribunal and shot.

In the first days of January the 44th division was finally encircled and crushed. Siilasvuo writes: Panic among the encircled was growing, the adversary no longer conducted joint and organized activities... The forest was full of running people... At noon 7 January, the adversary began surrendering. Hungry and cold, the people were coming out of mud-huts... We took unthinkably large amount of military materials, about which our units could not even dream. Everything was quite in working order, the guns were new, even shining... The trophies were 40 field and 29 antitank  armed , 27 tanks, 6 armored vehicles, 20 tractors, 160 trucks, 600 horses...” (Aptekar, 2004).

It is important to emphasize in this quotation the words: “the people were coming out of mud-huts”. In total contradiction with generally accepted myth (the Finns are sitting in a warm bunker, the Red-Army men are attacking in a severe frost, up to the belts in snow). Finnish units were continuously manoeuvering in the 40-degree frost, whereas the encircled Soviet divisions could set up at least minimum conditions for warming up the personnel. It is also noteworthy that, based on the data of the 9th army headquarters, armament and hardware losses by the 44th division were even greater than Siilasvuo could count: 4,340 rifles, 350 machine guns, 87 guns of different calibre, 14 mortars and 37 tanks (Aptekar, 2004).

Military tribunal found the 44th rifle division commander Kombrig Vinograov, head of headquarters Colonel Volkov and head of the political department Pakhomenko guilty of “criminally ignoring orders of the superior command... Scattered division units into individual groups... Saving their skin, shamefully ran with a small group of people in the rear”. The sentence was carried into effect 11 January 1940  before the remnants of the division unit formation.

Crushing and shameful defeat of main forces of the 9th army did not cool down, however, the “attacking brunt” of the Soviet command. The idea of “cutting” Finland and taking Oulu continued to hover in high offices. For instance, in the plan of the Baltic Fleet operation (not practically implemented) of occupying the Aland islands put together 21 January 1940  the importance of total control over the navigation in the Gulf of Bothnia was supported as follows. With assuming offensive by our army and cutting land communications in the Uleaborg area the sea communications remain the only possibility for Finland” (RGA VMF, fund  -92, list 2, case 669, sheet 15).

In reality, instead of all these “Manilov[5] projects”, the efforts of the 9th army command, numerous reinforcements, which it was continuously getting, and stressful combat work of the aviation were directed mostly on saving from a total crush one more division encircled in the Kukhmo area (approximately 100 km south of Suomussalami) — the 54th mountain-rifle one. Same as in other areas of the boundless Karelian Front, the Finns tore extended over 25 km convoy of the 54th division into eight individual groups and from 1 February began methodically encircling and exterminating them. Despite the fact that this division — as opposed to many others thrown into an ice crucible of the Finnish war — was an “old”, cadre division specially trained for the actions on the north theatre of military activities, its command and personnel turned out incapable to solve any combat tasks.

The 9th army air force Commander (in the future — Commander of the entire Red Army air force) P. Rychagov reported 16 April 1940  at the conference of the top commanding personnel: Gusevsky (division commander) every day, sometimes several times a day was sending panic telegrams... Influenced by these telegrams, ruined almost entire 9th army reserves, whichever were available and on approach. Plenty of people were thrown there and still could not organize any offensive for releasing themselves... The aviation had to bomb, shoot, guard him for 45 days. The division was fed by the 80th aviation regiment for 45 days, and this regiment in actuality saved it, the inactive division, from starvation and perishment by bothering the Finns day and night. Daily, at the slightest activity of the Finns panic began there, all gradually arriving squadrons and skier battalions were sent there... Gusevsky himself could not be influenced and there was no order in besieged garrison” (Winter war of 1939-1940 . 1998. Book 2. I,V…) Conclusion of the peace, — writes Mannerheim, — saved strongly mauled 54th division, which lost almost half of its personnel and armament” (Mannerheim, K.-G., 2003). Based on the Soviet archives, the estimate of the Finnish Marshall was quite accurate — losses of the division were 2,691 people killed and missing in action, 3,732 wounded and frost-bitten, which was 60% of the organization chart numbers for a Soviet mountain-rifle division (Aptekar, 2004).

Therefore, not a single task set up to the troops of the 8th and 9th armies was fulfilled. Either “coming to the Swedish border” or a strike in the flank and rear of the Finnish forces defending the “Mannerheim’s line” was out of the question. As of the moment of the end of combat activities the 8th army troops advanced by only 20— 30 km from the 1939 borders on the Loymola—Suoyarvi theatre, 60—70 km on the army’s right flank, on the Ilomantsi theatre. The 9th army troops were practically everywhere pushed back, on the initial positions.

A huge price was paid for these quite modest results. Red Army losses in three months of engagements in Karelia were 141 thous. people. Irretrievable losses by the 9th army amounted to 13.5 thous. people, total losses — 46 thousand. 8th and 15th armies lost 31 thous. people killed and missing in action, total losses of these two  armies were 95 thous. people (Secrecy label removed…, 1993, pg. 122, 165, 167-168, 201). For comparison, 12th and 13th infantry divisions of the Finnish army (with attached to them non-integrated battalions) operating in Ladoga Karelia lost altogether 4 thous. people killed and missing in action and 9.5 thous. people wounded (Aptekar, 2004). The fact that the losses of offending (successfully offending) Finnish army turned out 7— 8 times lower than losses of the Red Army rightly may be called “a miracle, which refuted and overturned the views of the world military science...”.

It is also necessary to mention that a horrifying amount of force losses by the 8th, 9th and 15th armies included above is most likely underestimated. As a result of the work conducted in 1949—1951 by Main Personnel Directorate of the USSR Ministry for the defence on the compilation of name lists of the military personnel perished and missing in action in the Soviet-Finnish war, was found discrepancy with the data provided in due time by the headquarters of units and groupings. 31,527 people vanished nobody knows where (Secrecy label removed…, 1993, pg. 122, 165, 167-168, 201). They were neither among the number of perished nor among the number of missing in action, which were accounted for in the reports by forces through end March 1940 . Certainly, to establish today the fate of these 31,527 people is absolutely impossible. However, with very high probability may be assumed that most of them perished in the chaos of retreats and encirclements in Karelia and not on the Karelian Isthmus where were occurring relatively organized and orderly engagements at the “Mannerheim’s line”. If this assumption is true, then it has to be stated that the Red Army losses in Karelia, “aside from Mannerheim’s line”, were almost half (47%) of the total losses in the “winter war”.

It should not be forgotten also that the “winter war” was conducted not only onland but also in the air. Even without any reference books it may be maintained that there was no “flying Mannerheim’s line”. Nevertheless, actions of the Soviet air force in the “winter war” may be considered a bright example of what the Marshall of Finland called “huge contribution and minuscule result”.

A notable document was preserved in the Russian State military archive (RGVA): a translation of the article “Soviet air war against Finland” by some Mr. Borgman from Helsinki published in three issues (28 June, 5 and 12 July 1940 ) of a German military magazine “Deutsche Wehr” (RGVA fund 29, list 34, case 475, pg. 23-47). On the first page of a typewritten text is a resolution by the head of the Red Army air force headquarters Operative department, Major General Teplinsky: To compare the numbers with our data. To make the summary of major numbers”. According to the data of General Teplinsky’s subordinates, “the USSR by the beginning of military activities had 1,800 aircraft on the front, and by the end of war 3,353 aircraft, from them 60% bombers”. However, it also has to be kept in mind that in the RKKA air force headquarters they did not include quite numerous aviation of the Baltic and North fleets. Present-day data say that the grouping of the Soviet aviation on the Finnish military operations theatre as of the moment of the end of combat activities included 3,885 aircraft (out of those, 508 aircraft in the air force of fleets), among them 1,732 bombers. During the entire war period, this grouping performed more than 101 thousand sorties (Zefirov, 2003).

Cognition comes through comparison. In order to evaluate this number — 101 thousand sorties — according to merit, it should be compared with quantitative parameters of applying the aviation in major battles of the Great Patriotic war. They are: in the Battle of Kursk — 118 thousand sorties from 5 July through 23 August 1943, Battle of Stalingrad — 114 thousand sorties in seven months (July of 1942 through February of 1943). No less demonstrative is also comparison of the numbers of the Soviet aviation grouping and intensity of its application on the Finnish front with the numbers describing Luftwaffe actions. As we know, the largest grouping of the German aviation was created before the offensive on the Western Front (invading France, Belgium and Holland) 10 May 1940  — 3,641 combat aircraft (not including transport, sanitary, communications and intelligence/reconnaissance aviation). By the beginning of the fiercest engagements in the “Battle of Britain” (as of 13 August 1940 ) numerical strength of the Luftwaffe grouping was noticeably lower — 3,067 aircraft, including 1,847 bombers. Substantially smaller forces of the German aviation were concentrated at the western borders of the USSR in the morning of 22 June 1941 — 2,344 aircraft, including 1,236 bombers (Solonin, 2006).

As we see, the grouping of Soviet bomber aviation on the front of war with “Finnish pipsqueak” did not concede at all in numbers to the forces of Luftwaffe bomber aviation, which was to “bomb Britany out of war”. And in the intensity of usage — substantially exceeded. Soviet bombers during the entire “winter war” (three months and 12 days) conducted 44,962 sorties. At the same time, the German bomber aviation in three months and six days (1 July through 6 October) performed only 16,850 sorties (Zefirov, 2000, 2003). To say the truth, the last comparison is not quite correct as the Soviet bomber aviation on the Finnish theatre operated mostly on troops and fortified areas on the battlefield whereas the Luftwaffe bombed large areal targets (simply speaking, cities) in the depth of the English territory.

It will be more appropriate to compare Luftwaffe actions in the process of the “Battle of Britain” with the results of the Soviet bomber aviation raids on rear objects (railway stations and runs, ports, industrial enterprises, administrative centres) in Finland. In the aforementioned article “Soviet air war against Finland” Borgman quotes such quantitative parameters: conducted 2,075 raids on 516 objects, in the process of which performed 14,640 sorties, dropped 100 thousand bombs of all types. Modern historians cite somewhat lower (and perhaps more realistic) numbers: 55 thousand high explosive and 41 thousand incendiary (i.e., much lighter) bombs (Zefirov, 2003). These numbers — 14.6 thous. sorties and 55 thous. high explosive bombs — are quite comparable with parameters of the combat application of Luftwaffe bombers (16.9 thous. sorties in three months, 30 thous. high explosive aviation bombs dropped on London also in three months, from September through November 1940 .). Absolutely incomparable turned out only results.

German bombing caused colossal destruction and resulted in numerous victims. Already in the first raid on London 300 people were killed and more than 1,300 heavily wounded. In the first month of massive bombing, in September 1940  in London perished more than 7 thousand people. Only in the “Battle of Britain” from August 1940  through May 1941  in the English capital were destroyed 84,000 buildings, 250 thous. people remained without home. That is how W. Churchill describes in his memoirs one of the raids, 10 May 1941 :

In the city flared more than two thousand fires. We could not extinguish them as the bombing destroyed about 150 water-supply trunklines. Five dockage facilities and more than 70 very important objects were damaged, half of them were factories. All major railway stations, except one, were put out of commission for several weeks, and transit tracks completely opened for movement only in the beginning of June. More than 3 thousand people were killed and wounded” (Churchill, 1998).

In Manchester, most severe raids happened 23 and 24 December 1940 . In two days (or rather two nights) perished 2,500 people and 100 thousand remained without home. During the night on 14 November 1940 , 449 Luftwaffe bombers annihilated the city of Coventry. Huge damages were incurred on Birmingham, Belfast, Liverpool, Sheffield, Bristol and Southampton... Overall in the entire country were destroyed about one million buildings. According to the information quoted by W. Churchill, the total number of lost population was 43 thous. killed and 51 thous. heavily wounded.

Results of the Soviet aviation’s combat activities on rear objects in Finland (activities, for which the Soviet Union “paid” not only in huge material cost in providing for 14 thousand sorties, but also in the loss of last remains of the international repute and shameful expulsion from the League of Nations) turned out in actuality quite miserly. That is what Mannerheim writes in his memoirs: “Despite huge numerical strength (approximately 2,500 aircraft (this number is underestimated.  - M.S.)), the Soviet air force did not render decisive action on the course of war. Strikes carried out on the troops from air, especially in the beginning of war, were timid, and bombing was not able to break the will of the nation for defence... The strategic objective to cut our external communications and to impose the disintegration of transport — the Russians completely failed. Our navigation concentrated in Turku was not paralyzed, albeit the city was bombed more than 60 times... The only way connecting Finland with abroad was railway Kemii Tornio. It was used for most of export and of importing the military equipment. This road remained safe and sound to the very end of war. True, some railway traffic had to be conducted in the night-time, but mostly railways handled their tasks with flying colors. Small damageds incurred on them by the enemy aviation were quickly liquidated. The manufacturing of military equipment also proceeded without significant disruptions(Mannerheim, 2003).

Overall, in Finland’s cities and settlements was completely destroyed 256 stone and 1,764 wooden constructions (Zefirov, 2003). In other words, for the destruction of one wooden hut on average was expended 7 sorties, dropped 27 high explosive and 20 incendiary bombs. Borgman estimates losses of the civil population in Finland at 646 killed and 538 heavily wounded. Mannerheim writes: “more than seven hundred civilians were killed, and twice that number wounded” (Mannerheim, 2003). Present-day historians state the number of 960 civilians perished in bombing (Zefirov, 2003).

In any case, these numbers are completely incomparable with the number of victims among England’s civil population.

Certainly, a reader not well familiar with history of Stalin and his empire can assume that such low casualties among civilians were due to the Soviet aviation carrying out exceptionally exact, sniper blows on exclusively military objects. We will not even be suggesting that if he wanted, Stalin could have decreased the number of victims among Finnish labourers to zero (it would be sufficient simply not to start the war). However, facts and documents do not at all support a hypothesis about “pinpoint” bombing. First aviation raids on Helsinki and Hango due to very low bombing accuracy resulted in numerous destructions and casualties in residential areas. Two bombs even blew up next to the building of the Soviet embassy, slightly wounding several employees. Taking into account very undesirable at that stage of war (the Soviet Union planned to install in Helsinki “people’s government” of Kuusinen) political aftermath and also understanding impossibility of immediate and radical improvement in the quality of flying and tactical preparation of bomber aviation crews, Voroshilov published order to “categorical and absolute” prohibition of bombing “cities and civilians”. However, all these “games of democracy” rapidly ended when it became clear that instead of triumphal march the Red Army was pulled in a brutal, protracted, bloody war.

21 December 1939 head of the RKKA Main tank directorate Komkor Pavlov  writes a report memo to the Narkom for the defence Voroshilov: It is necessary to shake ruthlessly the entire Finland, to teach them so the others would not behave so. (In a year and a half Stalin will exactly so spiflicate with Pavlov: ruthlessly, so the others would not behave so. - M.S.). I am certain that as soon as we end up with Finland (regardless of the application of means and methods), the English and French will forget about it. Based on this we can and should subject to total destruction all railway nodes, havens and administrative centres of the country. To destroy military factories, to seed deadly fear on the roads at daytime and at night(Sherstnev, 2005). Pavlov’s advice (probably, not only his) was accepted and approved. 3 January 1940  Soviet air force got an order signed by Voroshilov, Stalin and Shaposhnikov demanding during the next ten days to carry out systematic and powerful blows on deep rear objects, administrative and military-industrial points(Zefirov, 2003). Of course, they could not shake Finland in 10 days, so ever more powerful blows poured on Finnish cities and settlements up to the very end of war.

The resident of Soviet intelligence in Finland E.Sinitsin in his memoirs so describes his first after the end of “winter war” visit to Helsinki: “The city appeared to me dead, dirty and unkempt. Destruction and burnt carcasses of buildings were visible. Rare pedestrians hastily squeezed between bags with sand next to every door...” (Sinitsin, 1996).

Remarkably, workers of the air force headquarters operative department left on the margins of Borgman’s article a comment, from which follows that “not counting fortified areas, bridges and railway station-to-station runs” “about 100 settlements were subjected to bombing. Mister Borgman also noted mass application of a munition of a new type unknown to him. Judging by the description, it was RRAB (rotative-dispersing aviation bomb) dubbed in Finland “Molotov's bread basket”. This simple and efficient device enabled pouring glass balls with incendiary mixture on the area of up to one hectare. Understandably, RRAB’s were dropped not at all for destruction of “fortified areas, bridges and railway runs” but for causing mass fires in settlements with wooden houses.

Red Army air force headquarters operative department head underlined in red pencil the following phrase in Borgman’s article: “Soviet aviation was unable either to arrest transportation, or hinder operations of the military industry or disrupt production and distribution or break the population’s will to resist... The railway line KemiiTornio was not subjected to bombing at all...”

The last remark is worth a more detailed consideration. Same as in Russia, the territory of Finland is populated and developed very unevenly. Correspondingly, a dense railway network in the south of the country becomes ever more tenuous in the center eventually turning into one only “thread”. It runs along the north shore of the Gulf of Bothnia through the city of Oulu (Uleaborg) — Kemii — Tornio westward, in Sweden and Norway connecting Finnish railways with ice-free Norwegian ports. Huge strategic significance of the Oulu—Kem line should have been obvious. Equally obvious and indisputable was the availability of aviation-technical capabilities for systematic bombing of this trunkline (from Kemii to the Soviet-Finnish border is no more than 250 km as the crow flies). And what is most amazing, — having forgotten the railway the Soviet command undertook systematic bombing of a large (on the Northern Finland scale) provincial center Rovaniyemi located only 97 km on the highway from Kemii.

Data of the Finnish aviation historian C. Geust indicate that 19 aviation raids were conducted on Rovaniyemi. In the process 700 high explosive bombs were dropped. Especially massive were raids of 1 February (DB-3—8; SB—26) and 21 February (DB-3— 13; SB—26). Before the very end of war, 10 March 1940  for the aviation strike on Rovaniyemi were even sent 6 four-engine giants TB-3. The last raid on this ill-fated city was conducted at 1100 hours 13 March, only one hour before the end of combat activities in the “winter war” (Zefirov, 2003). As a result of all efforts in a city without any noticeable military significance were killed 25 civilians but located only a hundred kilometre to the southwest strategic railway “was not subjected to the bombing at all...”

A discussion of bomber aviation usage efficiency is impossible separately from accounting for the extent of counteraction by the adversary. In summer — fall of 1940  the German bombers were confronted albeit by relatively small (compared with the Luftwaffe grouping) but well prepared and equipped with long-range warning radars and quite modern aircraft of the English fighter aviation. A proviso about “relatively” small numbers of fighter planes in the Royal air force is not accidental. Even in most critical moments in August 1940  numerical strength of combat-ready “Hurricans” and “Spitfires” was maintained at the level of 700—750 machines (Solonin, 2006). Numerical strength and capabilities of the Finnish fighter planes were completely different.

According to the data of the present-day historians, by the start of war Finland’s air force had 145 aircraft of all types. Out of those 119 were in combat squadrons including about 50 aircraft, which by stretching a point could be attributed to the category of “fighter planes” (Zefirov, 2003). The most modern among them were 36 Dutch FokkersD-21. In their tactical-technical parameters, they corresponded with the Soviet I-16 of early modifications (the “Fokkers” were well short of “Ishaks” vintage 1939 in every parameter). By the day of discontinuation combat activities (13 March 1940 ) from outside the borders in Finland were delivered and put into service 130 combat aircraft. At the same time, irretrievable losses of Finnish aviation for the entire duration of war was 71 aircraft (out of those 36 shot down by Soviet fighter planes and bomber shooters, 6 shot down by flak, 29 crashed in accidents) (Zefirov, 2003). Such correlation of losses and deliveries not only enabled maintaining numerical strength of aircraft in combat units of the Finnish air force at approximately continuous level but even its increase. Thus, by 1 March 1940  the number of relatively modern fighter planes in combat squadrons was already 77 aircraft (24 “Fokkers”, 25 French “Moranes”, 17 English “Gladiators” and 11 Italian “Fiats”) (Zefirov, 2003).

With these forces, the Finnish aviation performed 5,693 sorties and incurred huge losses on the adversary.

Already 14 February 1940  head  of the Main air force directorate Smushkevich in a letter No. 487821 to the Narkom for the Defence Voroshilov proposed to allot “for replenishing the loss of aircraft for front” 800 combat aircraft (DB-3—180; SB—320; I-16—100; I-153—200) (Stepanov, 2006). Irretrievable losses of the Soviet aviation (losses calculated not from reports of Finnish fliers and flak gunners but from declassified documents of the Soviet archives!) were about 600—650 aircraft. Out of these at least half were shot down by the adversary and the rest were lost as a result of accidents (Zefirov, 2003; Stepanov, 2004). Hopelessly outdated (we will return to Soviet “historians” their beloved expression) “Fokkers” shot down (Finnish data) 120 aircraft of the Soviet air force, having lost in air fighting engagements only 10 of their own fighter planes (Zefirov, 2003). Overall, however, at the final aviation numbers ratio of 26 to 1, the ratio of combat losses was 8 to 1 in favour of itty-bitty Finnish aviation! 

The fighter aircraft is not the only adversary of the bomber. There is also flak artillery. True, it is almost impossible to hit with an unguided shell an aircraft flying at high altitude and at huge velocity. Pitiable probability of hit must be compensated by a great number of flak guns and colossal munition usage. For instance, as of 22 June 1941  in the Soviet armed forces were 7,200 (seven thousand two hundred) medium calibre flak guns (76 mm and 85 mm) and 1,400 flak  armed  of small calibre (37-mm and 40-) (Secrecy label removed…, 1993, pg. 122, 165, 167-168, 201). In particular, on the inventory of the Moscow zone anti-air force defence were 779 flak guns of medium and 248, of small calibre, on the inventory of Leningrad zone anti-air force defence were 864 guns of medium and 16  armed  of small calibre (Order of Lenin Leningrad military district…,1968; Fedorov, 1971). By the start of war 5.03 million of flak rounds (calibre 76 mm) and 0.495 million flak rounds (calibre 85 mm) were accumulated (Artillery purveyance…, 1977). The munition production plan for 1941  approved in the Politbureau CC VKP(b) session 14 February 1941 , envisioned manufacturing of 5 million flak rounds, calibre 85 mm and 76 mm (RGASPI, fund 17, list 162, case 32, sheet 67). All Soviet and many modern Russian historians consider these amounts as completely insufficient. For instance, the authors of most authoritative statistical collection write: “The Red Army in the beginning of war was clearly short on flak means. As a result our troops were helpless at the adversary strikes from air...” (Secrecy label removed…, 1993, pg. 122, 165, 167-168, 201).

Finland met the war with the Soviet Union “helpless at the adversary strikes from air...”, having on inventory 38 (thirty eight) flak guns of medium calibre (76-mm “Bofors” /29) with the ammunition reserve 188 rounds per one gun and 53 (fifty three) low calibre 40-mm “Bofors” /38. By the end of war, due to urgent purchases abroad, numerical strength of the Finnish flak artillery of stated calibres increased to 81 and 100 guns respectively. For comparison, just one naval base of the Red Banner Baltic Fleet in Kronstadt had 48 flak guns, calibre 76 mm and 8 flak guns, calibre 85 mm. And all this — only in addition to highly powerful ship-based artillery (Platonov, 2005).

Taking into account that the altitude range of low calibre flak artillery those years did not exceed 2—3 km, its use made sense only for the protection of the forces’ combat orders from the enemy attack aircraft and low-flying bombers. For the defence of cities Finland in actuality had only half a hundred 76-mm flak guns. Simpler and more accurately — most rear objects in Finland did not have any flak cover, and Soviet bombers could operate over them as on a training proofing ground. And still, under such conditions “Soviet aviation was unable either to arrest the transport or obstruct operations of the military industry”. Moreover, Finnish flak gunners claimed the destruction of 314 Soviet aircraft. Even taking that this number is overblown approximately by the factor of two, the efficiency of Finnish flak artillery must be evaluated as incredibly high. For instance, the munition usage was only 168 76 mm shells per one shot down (by the Finnish data) aircraft (Zefirov, 2003). This is a phenomenal result. By a very simple calculation the reader can find out that if only every tenth of 5.5 million Soviet flak shells was used with such efficiency, the entire Luftwaffe grouping on the Eastern Front would have been destroyed to the last aircraft, only by the flak artillery, without any help from fighter planes...

In cold Baltic waters no “floating Mannerheim’s line” was also discovered. Nevertheless, the efficiency of the Red Banner Baltic fleet (Red Banner Baltic Fleet) appeared amazingly low. By the way, Mannerheim himself, expressing his surprise that “the Russians did not concentrate light forces of the fleet in Baltic ports for fighting our maritime traffic”, explains it in the memoirs by that “from the very beginning they counted on a “lightning-speed war”. In this case, Marshall was wrong. Plans and intents of the Soviet military-political leadership were most serious and far-going. Already 26 October 1939  (this is not a typo, exactly October!), at the time when in Moscow still continued “peaceful negotiations” with the Finnish delegation on the issue of the transfer to the Soviet Union of several islands in Baltic Sea and small “shift” of the border on the Karelian Isthmus, the Red Banner Baltic Fleet’s Military Council issued Directive No. 1op/575ss. The directive ordered the 2nd submarine brigade to come to positions for a case of “the conduct of unrestricted underwater war against Finland”, and also gather intelligence about “unfolding and actions of the Swedish (this is also no typo) fleet” (Petrov, 2006).

12 November, a day before the Soviet-Finnish negotiations finally deadlocked, the Red Banner Baltic Fleet Military Council in Directive No. 1op/606ss set already quite specific tasks to the submarine fleet:

“— to destroy Finnish iron-clads of the coastal defence:

— to conduct intelligence of the unfolding and activity of the Swedish fleet;

— to discontinue transporting supplies in Finland through the Baltic Sea and from Swedish ports through Gulf of Bothnia”.

23 November 1939 Red Banner Baltic Fleet Commander in order No.5/op once again, in most categorical terms, stated the fleet tasks: “To cut marine communications of Finland not allowing transport from abroad of forces and combat equipment. To destroy iron-clads of coastal defence and submarines of the adversary at sea and in the Gulf, not allowing their retreat in the Swedish territorial waters” (Petrov, Problem of a sea blockade…)

A week thereafter, the war began. First, it was found out that from 49 submarines of the Red Banner Baltic Fleet capable of participating in combat actions only 27 (55% of the total number). Red Banner Baltic Fleet submarine forces sunk by mistake Estonian steamer “Kassari” (in neutral waters, outside of the stated zone of sea blockade) but were unable to fulfil even one from the tasks set fot them. 26 December 1939 the USSR Narkom of the navy N.G. Kuznetsov in his Directive No. 4747 stated that the submarine actions of blockading Finland were passive, and demanded from commanders “to act more decisively, with due risk”. The same day Red Banner Baltic Fleet Commander V.F. Tributs sent to submarine battalion commanders a radiogram of the following content: “Com. Stalin demands decisive, bold, daring struggle with adversary on the communications, approaches to ports and in the ports...” (Petrov, ????).    

Early in February 1940 , due to unprecedented cold, most of the Baltic was ice-covered, which made it impossible to continue fleet’s combat activities. It was the time to make conclusions. They turned out to be discouraging. Ignoring the announced “sea blockade”, 349 (three hundred and forty nine) transport vessels safely entered Finland’s ports beginning in November 1939 through mid-January 1940 . Out of 27 Red Banner Baltic Fleet submarines, only eight at least once attacked the adversary. Nineteen submarines of the Red Banner Baltic Fleet for two months were unable even once to find and attack adversary transports. And this was not on the boundless expanses of the Atlantic but in the narrow “throat” of the Gulf of Finland (maximum distance from the Finnish to the Soviet shore – no more than 80— 100 km). Eight submarines attacked overall 11 vessels. Ten of those were without escort and any armament. Out of 11 attacked vessels only 5 (five) were sunk, including ill-fated Estonian “Cassari”. Two transports were sunk by torpedoes (11 torpedoes were expended). Three unarmed steamers were sunk by artillery fire (more than strange application of submarines!). In the process was expended 6 100 mm shells and 602 45 mm shells (Petrov, ????).        

Therefore, almost not encountering any armed resistance either in the sea or in the skies over the Baltic, the Red Banner Baltic Fleet submarine forces were able to sink only 1.1% of the total number of transports entering Finland ports. Such was the “sea blockade”. As for the tasks to “destroy Finnish iron-clads of the coastal defence”, these vessels (there were exactly two: “Ilmarinen” and “Vyaynyameynen”) remained safe and sound despite all efforts of the Red Banner Baltic Fleet and its bomber aviation. It only remains to assume that the names of the ancient “Kalevala” lore heroes assigned by the Finns their iron-clads, saved them from destruction.

Now we can return to the legend of a super-mighty and almost impenetrable “Mannerheim’s line”. Following is a characteristic fragment of this “unscientific fantasy” in a brilliant performance of talented publicist V. Suvorov:

“Mannerheim's line” was constructed as an absolute boundary with a hundred-percent warranty of impenetrability... Best fortification engineers of the world took part in the construction... Behind the endless mine fields, behind antitank ditches and granite block obstacles, behind reinforced concrete tetrahedrons and ten, twenty, thirty, forty seven rows of dense barbed wire obstacles on metal posts, so, behind all these — reinforced concrete casemates: three, four, five stories underground, head cover — one and a half to two meters of fortification reinforced concrete, field-facing walls covered by armour plates, all these piled over with multi-ton granite boulders and poured over by the ground... Within, in each casemate a storage of munitions and fuel, within — warm sleeping spaces, resting room, and a kitchen, and a dining room, and a toilet, and the water supply system, and the electric power station, communication nodes, a hospital — everything underground, everything under the concrete... Finnish soldiers know in a case of wound there is the operation ward deep underground, there is clean, dry and again — warm there...” (Suvorov, 1995).

A lot in this text is quite true. In particular — barbed wire, ditches and obstacle blocks. It only temains to find out what all this means practically.

There is such wise saying: “Generals are preparing for the previous war”. This rule fits as a fiddle to the evaluation of the long-term Finnish fortification line on the Karelian Isthmus. “Forty seven rows of dense barbed wire obstacles on metal posts”, about which with such admiration writes V. Suvorov, as well as distributed in depth of 90 km rows of machine gun bunkers, represented really impenetrable barrier for the infantry and cavalry in the epoch of the First World War and Civil War. By the way, most (two thirds) of the defensive facilities were constructed in 1921 — 1924, when nothing was expected on the southern border of Finland more dangerous than Budenny cavalry. Incidentally, 1919 through 1931 Carl Gustaf Mannerheim did not hold any official position in Finland’s military establishment, so his “authorship” of these facilities is just another myth. But the main thing is, of course, in something else — by winter of 1939 the notorious “Mannerheim’s line”, having not made even a single shot at the enemy, was already hopelessly outdated. There are exactly two reasons for that. One is called “tank”, and the other one “aircraft”.

The lightest Soviet tank -26 was indeed “light” — but only in comparison with others tanks, medium and heavy. Its weight was 9,750 kg (there were also heavier modifications), and this steel crawler-mounted lunker could break through seven, forty seven or one hundred and forty seven rows of “dense barbed wire” with the same easiness as Gulliver tore thin threads, which the Lilliputians who “tied” him saw as thick fat-ropes. Having cleaned up the locality of the “dense barbed wire” and in passing having uprooted from the ground ill-fated “metal posts”, the light tank -26 could come right next to the bunker — as rifle calibre machine gun bullets were capable only to strike sparks on its 15-millimeter armour. After that were two possible options of activities, depending on what kind of tank it was and how the embrasures were positioned in the bunker. Regular (“linear”) -26 could in a few shots by armour-piercing 45-mm shells break the armour cover over the bunker’s embrasure, put out of commission machine gun and riflemen. Fire throwing (“chemical”) option of the -26 tank (-130) could pour over the embrasure, observation slits and air-intakes of the bunker 360 litres of the KS flame-mixture. It would be better to operate sequentially: first, a linear tank breaks armour covers; then a fire throwing tank burns the insides of the concrete box. There was also a third, most humane way to neutralize the machine gun bunker: a tank comes to the embrasure and simply covers it by its armoured body.

That is why, with the appearance on the battlefield of plentiful tanks, a fortified area without a powerful antitank armament lost its prior value. In others word, machine gun bunkers should have been amended (amended, not replaced — rapid fire machine gun was sufficiently effective for fighting the adversary infantry and cavalry) by bunkers with artillery armament. Which was perfectly understood by the Soviet commanders and fortification engineers. Thus, already in the 13 1st line fortified areas (built in 1928—1937) already were artillery fire facilities. True, there were too few of them (on average no more than 9% of the total number of bunkers, plus they were armed with outdated “three-inchers”, vintage of early XXth century).

For instance, in Mogilev-Yampolsk fortified area there were 279 machine gun bunkers and 18 gun semi-caponiers (Svirin, 2002). In the Minsk fortified area along the 160 km front there were 242 machine gun bunkers (single-, two- and triple-embrasure), 9 antitank defence bunkers with revolving -26 tank turrets, 16 gun semi-caponiers per two 76.2-mm guns and one 4-gun caponier. Letichev fortified area (Ukraine) along the 122 km front had 354 bunkers, including 11 artillery ones. Remarkably, in summer of 1941  12th army Commander Major General Ponedelin estimated these 343 machine gun bunkers (just short of three per one kilometre of the front!) so: “The fortified area is extremely weak” (Isayev, 2004).

In the second train of fortified areas (vintage 1938—1940 ), the fraction of artillery facilities rose to 20—22%. And the fortified areas on the “new” (vintage 1939 —1940 ) Soviet border (so-called “Molotov's line”) were 40—45% bunkers with artillery armament. At that, not old, written-off  armed  but most up-to-date semiautomatic artillery systems with excellent periscope optics were used as this armament.

Of course, a young Finnish republic with its meagre military budget (and absence of a multi-million free labour army from GULAG inmates) could not afford even a small fraction of such luxury. In 1921 — 1924 were built 168 concrete facilities of all purposes including 114 primitive single-story, single-embrasure machine gun bunkers and only 7 artillery bunkers. Because of the extreme poverty, the bunkers were built with grade 350—450 concrete (Soviet standards required the use in fortification facilities grade 750 and better concrete) and with “flexible armouring” (i.e., regular wire was used instead of sturdy rebars). In the course of engagements of breaking the “Mannerheim’s line” some bunkers were destroyed by 40-kg shells from 152-mm howitzer, albeit “best fortification engineers in the world” designed them to withstand a direct hit by a 100-kg shell from a 203-mm howitzer. Wire bunches sticking out of fragments of concrete lumps are well visible on modern photographs of the bunker ruins (www.mannerheim-line.com).

Most bunkers were placed on the surface, and only some of them were partially cut into the slopes of hills and landscape folds. There was not even a trace of any “three, four, five stories underground”. The reason was very simple: Karelian Isthmus either has rocky ground or ground water is very close to the surface, or the bunker had to be built in the swamp.

In 1930 began construction of the second train of the “Mannerheim’s line” facilities. Those were already quite well made but still machine gun (two- or three-embrasure) bunkers. The total constructed or reconstructed in that period (in particular, by way of installing those very armour plates on field-facing walls, about which V.Suvorov writes) were 48 bunkers. At last, in 1937—1939 were built several (various sources state different numbers: 5 to 8) large multi-embrasure forts (so-called bunkers-“millionnaires”), with several machine guns and 1—2 guns, calibre 75 mm or 155 mm, each. Total number of bunkers on all defense lines of 135 km did not exceed 170-200 (Khrenov, 1941 ; www.mannerheim-line.com; Voronov, 1963).

It is difficult to state the exact number as different authors differently count firing and auxiliary facilities, include or do not include in the total list of Vyborg fortifications Taypale (eight 120-mm and 155-mm guns) and Koivisto (twelve 155-mm and 254-mm guns) coastal batteries. It is worth mentioning that Mannerheim himself highly evaluated only this batteries: “The only fortified facilities worth mentioning were forts of coastal artillery, which covered flanks of the main defence line on the shore of the Gulf of Finland and Lake Ladoga”. By the way, even a heavy sea gun is capable to conduct aimed fire on tanks only within direct vision, i.e., at a distance of no more than 1.5—2 km, whereas 100 km of the space between these forts almost everywhere was not covered with fire of antitank  armed  covered in concrete casemates.

A meter and a half-thick snow layer, which, in V. Suvorov’s story, surprised electronic brains of the English supercomputer and formed impenetrable obstacle in the way of Soviet tanks, appeared not at all in the first day, and even not in the first month of war. Let us turn once again to Mannerheim's memoirs: “The adversary had technical advantage provided by the weather. The ground froze, and there was almost no snow. Lakes and rivers froze, and soon the ice could support any technology... Unfortunately, the snow cover remained too thin to make manoeuvring difficult to the adversary”. There were antitank  armed  on the inventory of the Finnish infantry divisions but in miserly numbers (“at the last moment we received on the inventory 37-mm antitank guns “Bofors”. There were currently approximately about a hundred in the army”) (Mannerheim, 2003).

In fact, main means of the antitank defence in the “Mannerheim’s line” were passive obstacles: ditches, counterscarps, granite and concrete blocks. That, of course, was better than nothing. And it quite fit concepts of the 1920’s military science. However, with massive application of tanks and artillery the destruction of such obstacles was only a matter of time. At that, quite short time. That was visually demonstrated in summer of 1941  by Wehrmacht's tank units, which blisteringly overcame unending rows of antitank ditches on the Soviet territory. Despite the availability of 14,900 antitank  armed  on the Red Army inventory (Secrecy label removed… 1993, pg. 122, 165, 167-168, 201).

Exuberant narrations by V.Suvorov about “warm sleeping quarters, resting rooms, dining rooms, power stations, communications nodes, hospitals underground, in warmth and cleanliness” could cause nothing but sad smile in Finnish veterans of the “winter war”. First construction train bunkers (and that was about two thirds of the total number!) represented a concrete box without any internal equipment. No electricity, no water supply, no latrine, no fuel storage for a stove. No armour covers on the embrasures (so there was nothing to “break” for armour-piercing shells, just pour the fire mixture inside the bunkers...), entrance doors were of wood, sometimes reinforced by sheet iron (such door could be knocked off not even by a close explosion of a howitzer shell but even by a grenades cluster). Telephone communications with the neighbours was not in every bunker, no periscopes of external observation at all. And most substantial — the bunkers did not have forced ventilation so that on a quiet, no wind day the bunker, after a few minutes of shooting was filled up with stifling powder smoke. Only in very few “millionaires” was something from what V.Suvorov is describing. For instance, such “wonder hardware” as a hand-operated (!) ventilation device (Balashov, Stepakov, 2001; Aptekar,  2004; Khrenov, 1941 ; www.mannerheim-line.com; Voronov, 1963).

Primitive equipment and armament, weakness of antitank defence were characteristic features of the Finnish line of long-term fortification. But even much more sophisticated “Maginot line” and “Stalin’s line”, “Atlantic Wall” and “Western Wall” did not live up to the hopes attached to them. That was no accident, as no accident was also the fact that after the Second World War expensive construction of the “Chinese Walls” was stopped forever. To understand the reasoning behind this, we will have to return at the initial point, in the beginning of the XXth century, and figure out where the idea of a stationary defence came from at that period.

The most mass-used “three inch” gun of field artillery (for instance, a Soviet division  armed  ZIS-3) weighs 1.2 ton and spits out a 6.2 kg fragmentation-high explosive shell. A shell to the “six inch” (152 mm) howitzer weighs already 40—45 kg. However, also the weight of the howitzer itself is about 4 ton. To transport such guns on a rough landscape is needed a tractor (track puller) or, at least, six sturdy “artillery” horses. A 203-mm shell to the Soviet howitzer vintage 1931 weighed 100 kg, and the gun weighed 17.5 ton. Such calibre and weight may be considered practically the limit for guns of field artillery. Sure, the manufacturing technology possibly allowed for the production of much larger calibre guns (up to 14—15 inches) weighing hundreds of ton. However, such guns were installed only on heavy cruisers and battleships. Both limited load-carrying capacity of bridges and the law of sine, under which already climbing a slope of only 30 deg requires the thrust equal to half of the weight, prevented their use onland. A demonstrative illustration of all these is numbers of manufactured in the USSR artillery guns. During the four years of the Great Patriotic War, the Red Army got 68.8 thous. guns of calibre 76.2 mm, 5 thous.  armed  and howitzers calibre 152 mm and only 100 (one hundred) howitzers calibre 203 mm (Secrecy label removed…). Artillery systems of larger calibre were discontinued even before the beginning of war.

The objective limit for field artillery shell weight opened — as it appeared to many military specialists — a possibility for the creation of practically invulnerable long-term firing points (bunkers). It was just a matter of calculating the needed thickness and grade of reinforced concrete cover, which could sustain multiple hits of 50 —100 kg shells. Carried away by these calculations, military engineers have not first paid attention to a light hum coming from the skies. In the skies was flying aircraft-bomber, which even in its first, plywood-tarpaulin versions without much stress carried a 100-kg bomb. By the end of 1930’s light double-engine bombers (Soviet SB, English “Blenheim”) carried bombs weighing up to 500 kg. Medium double-engine bomber DB-3 took a FAB-1000 bomb, its contemporaries, English “Wellington” and German “Heinkel-111”, carried bombs of unit weight, respectively, 1,814 and 1,800 kg. Heavy four-engine TB-7 (overloaded option) was capable of carrying a 5-ton bomb, and in a huge bomb compartment of an English strategic “Lancaster” was fit even specially developed super-heavy 10-ton bomb (Sobolev, 1997).

With the emergence of munition of such power, the eternal competition of “sword and shield” was ultimately and irreversibly decided in favour of the “sword”. Strictly speaking, by expending unimaginable amount of concrete and steel rebars, it was possible to construct a bunker, capable of sustaining a direct hit of a 5-ton bomb. But no country can afford wasting resources for the construction of “manmade mountain ranges”...

That is history of long-term engineering fortifications in the most brief narration. Let us now turn to the practice.

In the summer of 1941  along the western borders of the Soviet Union, from the Baltics to the Black Sea, extended large number of fortified areas. They were: Telshyay, Shaulyay, Kaunas, Alitus, Grodno, Osovets, Zambrov, Brest, Kovel, Vladimir-Volynsky, Rava-Russky, Strumilov, Peremyshl, Upper-Prut and Lower-Prut. At the depth 200—250 km from them, behind the “old” border of 1939  were positioned fortified areas of the “Stalin’s line”: Kingisepp, Pskov, Ostrov, Sebezh, Polotsk, Minsk, Slutsk, Mozyr, Korosten, Novograd-Volynsky, Shepetov, Izyaslav, Starokonstantinov, Ostropol, Letichev, Kamenets-Podolsk, Mogilev-Yampol, Rybnitsk, Tiraspol. The number of bunkers within a single fortified area varied between 206 and 439.       

In armament numbers and composition, in the quality of the reinforced concrete, in special equipment (filtrating ventilation installations, wire and radio communications, electrical equipment, optical devices) any of these bunkers was at least not inferior to defensive facilities of the “Mannerheim’s line”. Approximately half of the Soviet fortified areas were built on the banks of full-flowing rivers (the Neman, Western Dvina, Bug, Dniester, Prut), which created additional barrier for the advancing adversary.

The result is known. Through some of the mentioned fortified areas, the Germans went not even paying attention to the deserted boxes of bunkers abandoned in panic stampede. Through others, they were breaking with fights. Usually, this fights lasted no longer than two or three days. Especially fierce engagements flared up in the first days of war on the line of the new border: garrisons of some bunkers in the Grodno, Rava-Russky and Peremyshl fortified areas desperately resisted up to 26—27 June 1941 . 3rd company of the 17th artillery machine gun battalion in the Brest fortified area held four bunkers on the banks of the Bug, near Semyatyche village, to 30 June. With rare exceptions, German tanks drove around firing facilities of the fortified areas, not getting involved in protracted engagements pregnant with large losses.

Luftwaffe’s aviation (whose numerical strength on a thousand kilometre front from Riga to Odessa was fewer than the numbers of the Soviet air force over the Karelian Isthmus in February 1940 ) laid by fire the road for advancing Wehrmacht's tank divisions and was only occasionally involved in fighting with bunkers. Firing facilities of the “Molotov's and Stalin’s lines” were being rapidly and successfully destroyed by joint actions of artillery and special storm groups of the German infantry. The artillery (including flak and antitank) conducted aimed fire on embrasures of bunkers, suppressing their fire. In the meantime, storm groups approached the bunkers skin-to-skin and broke through walls and covers with powerful high explosive charges. As correctly noted . Isayev: The mechanism of a 20th century army without delay ground concrete boxes with machine guns(Isayev, 2004).

In winter of 1939/1940  Red Army Command concentrated on the Karelian Isthmus colossal forces.

As early as in first ten days of war in the fighting was introduced nine rifle divisions and six tank brigades, 200 thous. people, 1.5 thous. guns and mortars, more than 1,000 tanks and armoured vehicles. By the beginning of the “second general offensive” (6 February 1940 ) forces of the Northwestern front, unfolded on the Karelian Isthmus, included twenty one rifle divisions (7, 24, 42, 43, 51, 70, 80, 90, 100, 113, 123 and 138th in the 7th army; 4, 8, 17, 49, 50, 62, 136, 142 and 150th in the 13th army). Beside the numerous division and corps artillery, the front included 13 regiments and 4 battalions of BM (high power) artillery. Just 5.8 thous. guns and mortars (including 767  armed  and howitzers, calibre 152 mm, 96 howitzers, calibre 203 mm and 28 super-heavy 280-mm mortars throwing 286 kg shells). During January-February 1940  in Leningrad military district and on airdromes in Estonia were redeployed additionally 29 aviation regiments, including 3 heavy bomber and 5 long-range bomber ones (RGVA, fund 29, list 34, case 415, sheet 96-97).

However, even that was no limit of possibilities for the great power, whose army was supposed to save from a shameful embarrassment the great Stalin himself. In March 1940  on the front of war with “piddling flea” was unfolded 58 divisions (Winter war of 1939-1940 . 1998). In particular, on the Karelian Isthmus was concentrated more than half a million people, 114 thous. horses, 40 thous. automobiles, 7.1 thous. guns and mortars. The number of tanks exceeded 3 thousand (Secrecy label removed…, 1993, pg. 122, 165, 167-168, 201; Aptekar, 2004). Even if we subtract from this number 492 light floating whippets -37/38, more than 10 Soviet tanks on average were advancing per one bunker of the “Mannerheim’s line”.

Having concentrated such overwhelming might, the Soviet Command could use — and did use in reality — all imaginable ways of breaking through fortified areas. The aviation in the process of 19.5 thous. sorties dropped on bunkers of the “Mannerheim’s line” 10.5 kiloton of bombs (the number, as we can see, quite equivalent to the power of the tactical nuclear munitions, with a difference that a 10-kiloton atom bomb creates super-high pressure in one point, whereas thousands of high explosive bombs “covered” the fortified area corridor much wider and more efficiently).

Not every bomb hits exactly the target, — reported in the Meeting of the top command personnel the Northwestern front air force Commander E.S. Ptukhin, — but if a 500 kg bomb drops next to the bunker it also works morally and materially. We know of the cases when a bomb hit next to the bunker, and from the bunker were pulled the people with blood flowing from the nose and ears, and some completely perished... We had flying in day-time 2.5 thous. aircraft and in the night 300—400 aircraft... Look at Vyborg — nothing remained of it. The city is completely destroyed(Winter war of 1939-1940 . Book 2. 1998).

The Soviet artillery day in day out was hammering on concrete boxes with shells from heavy howitzers. Some days up to 230 thous. shells pounced on Finnish fortifications. The tanks invulnerable to machine gun fire pulled on armored sledges to bunker walls sappers and high explosive charges. If under such inequality of forces and means the “Mannerheim’s line” could hold even one week, it already would have been called a greatest achievement. Marshall Mannerheim himself did not count on something better before the war. V.Tanner in his memoirs so relates his view uttered in October 1939, on the eve of the beginning of Moscow negotiations: “Finland even theoretically could not conduct war: the army armament was insufficient and outdated, munition would be enough at the most for two weeks of military activities” (Tanner, 2003). However, the Finns restrained the brunt of the armored horde for three months! This is a miracle, to which are quite applicable the words by V. Suvorov about a brilliant victory without equal in the entire previous and in the entire subsequent history...”

And still, the main miracle happened late at night 12 March 1940 . By that moment, total losses of the Finnish army (killed and wounded) exceeded 68 thous. people, i.e., approximately 40% of the initial numerical strength of the active army (Mannerheim, 2003). Those still in service were flat-out exhausted by unending fighting without any possibility of replacement and rest. Retreat of the Finnish army to Vyborg (from the apex of the Karelian Isthmus “triangle” to its base) meant multiple lengthening of the front, which had to be held by the forces melting in front of the eyes. The correlation of forces on the Karelian Isthmus early in March was: 6.5 to 1 in personnel, 14 to 1 in artillery, 20 to 1 in aviation (Aptekar, 2004). However, even these flabbergasting numbers do not reflect the entire hopelessness of the situation, in which Finland was. The Red Army Command had in reserve hundreds of thousands of soldiers, many thousands of tanks and aircraft, and it could continuously increase numerical strength of its grouping up to any needed level. At the same time, Mannerheim had remaining 14 last battalions of poorly trained reservists (Mannerheim, 2003). Exactly such was the environment on the front at the time when 8 March 1940  in Moscow began negotiations, which ended up during the night 12 to 13 March in signing the peace treaty, under which combat activities stopped 13 March at 12 noon.

By the end, Stalin’s leadership managed to perpetrate one more crime against Soviet and Finnish peoples. Under the conditions of peace treaty, the city of Viipuri (Vyborg) was transferred to the Soviet Union. Nevertheless, late at night 12 March units of the 7th and 95th rifle divisions (7th army) were ordered to take the city by storm. Not a single red commander who went through an eerie “school of 1937” resolved to resist this madness. Mass and devoid of any military (and any other) sense murder of Soviet and Finnish soldiers and civilians of Vyborg continued up to the last minutes of the cessation of fire timing set by the agreement. They were unable to totally “invade” the city, which formally-legally already became Soviet. At 1200 hours on the Finnish radio spoke the foreign minister V. Tanner and informed citizens about signed peace treaty. At 1530 hours, the Finnish troops lowered the state flags at the fortress and railway terminal of Vyborg and left the city in organized way. War has ended.



The war has ended. Worn-out, deathly exhausted people who still did not exactly believe that they were lucky to survive, were getting out of forests, blindages and dugouts. Vigilant “organs” had to record cases of spontaneous fraternization. And then, on both sides of the former front began an uneasy process of comprehending the results of the brutal opposition.

14 March 1940 , 72year old Marshall Mannerheim signed his last order of the “winter war”:

“Soldiers of glorious army of Finland!

Between our country and the Soviet Russia is concluded a Draconian peace, which transferred to the Soviet Union almost every battlefield where you were shedding your blood in the name of everything, which is dear and holy for us. You did not want war, you loved peace, work and progress, but you were forced to fight, and you accomplished huge job, which will be written in gold letters into the records of history...

Soldiers! I fought in many fields but nowhere have I seen warriors who could have compared with you. I am proud of you as if you were my children... I am equally proud of the sacrifices, which a simple lad from a peasant hut, a factory laborer and reach people brought on the altar of the Fatherland...” (Mannerheim, 2003).

With undisguised pride Mannerheim writes in his memoirs that this order was translated over the radio and hung on the walls of all churches in the country”.

Marshall Voroshilov had not told his soldiers and commanders anything similar. And it was not only because barely literate Stalin’s protégé was devoid of literary talent... Nevertheless, the propaganda machine continued working and with strained squeak stamped new “truths”. The “people’s government of Mister Kuusinen”, “not to cross the border with Sweden”, the “red banner above the presidential palace in Helsinki” were temporarily forgotten. It so happened that the war was waged due to the White Finns, relying on their fortifications, wanted to take the Soviet Union up to the Urals but the Red Army destroyed all their fortifications, and they, seeing their perishment, came to the USSR with request to conclude peace”. These words, as a typical example of “sound statements of the main mass of Red Army men”, were quoted in his report of 18 March 1940  by head of the Special department of GUGB[6] NKVD for Leningrad military district Major of the state security Sidnev (RGVA, fund 4, list 19, case 75, sheet 211).

In the wake of Red Army wagon train were moving fat herds of “engineers of human souls”, i.e., corrupt domesticated party journalists and writers, in a hurry to laud a new success of the Soviet authority: “...Renowned center of endarkening, the Valaam monastery discontinued its existence... Documents from the monastery archive show convincingly that monastery activities over the last two decades turned out to be one of important links in a set of measures undertaken by the imperialists from various countries in the creation of a foothold for the attack on the USSR... Representatives of the Red Army hanged on the belfry of the Transfiguration Cathedral a red cloth of the flag. In the auditorium where hundreds of years sounded only twangy sermons of black-robes, now in full voice sounded the human speech — Brigade Commissar Kadishev read in front of the Red Army men his report about international situation...

... We enter a large three-story building, on whose roof are glistening letters Cinema”. Here, in their time the White Guardsmen demonstrated anti-Soviet films, and conducted meetings in the lobby calling for crusades on Leningrad and the Urals... In the street, joining the central avenue was a Russian library. Here was gathering a so-called “reading circle”, where the rotting White Guard raised their spirits by anti-Soviet talks and reading of well-thumbed books ...” (Balashov and Stepakov, 2001).

Alas, the ghost of “rotten White Guard” does not weather off to the end. The aforementioned GB Major Sidnev was forced to note in his report “provocation and defeatist nature forays that took place from some combatants and commanders”. It follows from examples quoted by Com. Sidnev that, despite cruelest terror and continuous agitation claptrap, far from all Soviet people lost capacity to the adequate perception of the experienced and seen:

“ — so many people perished, and we are only given claptrap. All countries will be laughing at us because we could not win even over a small country...

it is good that conducted a peace agreement with Finland, otherwise White Finns would ditch half of the Red Army...

— our Generals, despite that it was known in the morning 13 March that peace was concluded, still began artillery preparation and attack... The storm of Vyborg — is a demonstration of our Generals’ desire to make more sacrifices...

the entire war with Finland boiled down to the USSR annexing a piece of land and suffering hundreds of thousands of victims ...”

And what Com. Sidnev especially did not like — in a firestorm of the battle and in blinding veil of a blizzard Red-Army men still  managed to spy out a piece of other lives. White Finns live better than we, they all have nice houses, whereas among our Kolkhozniks nobody has such houses, even bath-houses with the Finns are much more cultureal and better than Kolkhozniks houses(RGVA, fund 4, list 19, case 75, sheet 211).

In a word, 13th army Commander Komkor Grendal had all reasons to regret that “political upbringing of our warrior desired much better. Had to read summaries of special organs, and there were identified a lot of scoundrels, some moments of counterrevolutionary character... Our warrior must still be worked on a lot. 22 years of the Soviet authority was not enough time to talk sense in their heads(Winter war of 1939-1940 . 1998. Book 2).

Urgent tasks and plans “to talk sense in their heads” were discussed at a conference on the issues of ideological work in the Red Army, which took place 13 May 1940 . There, Glavpur head (and Deputy Narkom for the Defence ex officio) Com. Mekhlis pronounced a totally enthralling phrase: A collision with reality demagnetizes our warrior and commander who are used to view the population of foreign countries from a general, superficial viewpoint(News of the CC SPSU, No. 3/1990). It is not quite clear, to be frank: where from and when “warriors and commanders” (mostly — passportless Kolkhozniks who did not have either right or possibility to move to a neighbouring city) got used to view “the population of foreign countries”? And why blazingly false fabrications of Mekhlis' department about “hopeless poverty and brutal exploitation” should be considered only as “superficial” viewpoint?

29 March 1940  the official evaluation of the “current moment” was given, in his speech at a session of the USSR  Supreme Council , by head of the government and Narkom of foreign affairs V.M.Molotov. It is known that Germany’s strive to peace expressed as early as in the end of the last year was declined by the governments of England and France... Under the pretext of fulfilling their obligations to Poland, they declared war on Germany. Now it is especially clear how far genuine objectives of the governments of these powers are from the interests of the disintegrated Poland or Czechoslovakia. This is clear already from the fact that the governments of England and France proclaimed as their objectives the crush and dismemberment of Germany... As the Soviet Union was not willing to become the accomplice of England and France in the conduct of this imperialist policies against Germany, hostility of their position regarding the Soviet Union increased even more, which demonstrably testified how deep class roots of hostile policies of imperialists against the Socialist states are” ("Pravda" newspaper, 30 March 1940 ).

The roots, indeed, were very deep. So deep that in all post-war Soviet textbooks directly opposite accusations in the address of the western powers — accusations that they were insufficiently active in opposing “the strive of Germany to peace”, abandoned Poland to the mercy of fate and conducted passive “funny war”, — were also justified by the references to class hostility of world bourgeoisie to the “first state of workers and peasants”.

First, Molotov reprimanded his future allies in the anti-Hitler’s coalition and also reported to the convened sheep herders and milkmaids about friendship with Hitler strengthening with every new act of aggression (“new, good Soviet-German relations were practically tested in connection with the events in former Poland and sufficiently showed their durability”). Then Molotov turned, at last, to summarizing results of the Finnish war: People’s government of Finland spoke out that, in order to prevent bloodshed and relieve the situation of the Finnish people, the proposal about ending war should be met half-way. Then we accepted (so in the text, it would be better to use the words “worked out”, “formulated”) the conditions, which soon were accepted by the Finnish government... Soon the agreement took place between the USSR and Finland. In connection with this, the question was raised of self-disbandment of the People’s Government, which was implemented... Therefore, the objective we set was reached and we can express total satisfaction with the agreement with Finland” ("Pravda" newspaper, 30 March 1940 ).

Judging by the newspaper report, Molotov's last words were met with tempestuous applauds by the convened.

And really — what could be better? Everything happened exceptionally according to the wishes of broad people’s masses. First, risen from the hell of capitalist exploitation, laborers of Finland wanted to topple the government of “bloody buffoons” and “White-Finnish Mannerheim’s bandits”. Voila — the fraternal Soviet Union sent to them for help a million-strong army and poured on the Finnish cities 55 thousand high explosive aviation bombs. Then “the people’s government” decided to smother its own voice and self-liquidated. Excellent, as the Soviet leadership never had any other goals besides helping “Mister” Kuusinen in everything, so it readily agreed with new wishes of the laborers and discontinued the war.

One may laugh but no reasonable explanations of stopping the war were officially offered up to self-disbandment of the Soviet Union itself in December of 1991. I hope the reader will excuse us for not including “strengthening the security of Leningrad” (which “strengthening” ostensibly was reached after the destruction of the fortification corridor separating Finland from the USSR) among the reasons of a surprising end of war...

Main results of war were summarized, of course, not at the  Supreme Council  but in totally different offices. Between 14 and 17 April 1940  at the CC VKP(b) was held a Conference of the top Red Army Command. It was devoted to the analysis of combat activities in the Finnish war. Participated in the conference practically the entire top military-political leadership of the country (Stalin, Molotov, Narkom for the defence Voroshilov, deputies to the Narkom Kulik and Mekhlis, head of the General headquarters Shaposhnikov, head of the Main Intelligence Directorate Proskurov) and several dozens of commanders with the ranks of a Major to Komandarm, 2nd rank (Colonel General).

Stenographs of the Conference participants’ speeches were declassified and published in the end of 1990’s (Winter war of 1939-1940 . 1998. Book 2). A review of these documents forces the reconsideration of many long-standing stereotypes. Contrary to a common misconception, Stalin was not at all aggrieved, shaken or even simply upset by the level of his army’s combat capacity. At least, exactly such line of conduct, such character of discussion he posed to the high meeting. Despite many participants in the Conference speaking about the facts unsightly and even tragic, quoted plentiful examples of flagrant slovenliness, disorganization, poor and illiterate management at all levels, Comrade Stalin was inclined quite complacently. He fatherly chided the guilty, praised the Red Army overall, not forgetting mildly to point some drawbacks, willingly and plentifully joked. The environment was very gentilitial — a meeting of the stern father with beloved and loving sons. It is difficult to convey in short words the general mood and that is why we are forced to offer the reader extensive quotations.

Kurdyumov. I am reporting here with total responsibility about the fact that one must not fight at 40-degree frereze in dress shoes, even not torn, and in good boots, because in a few days there will be 50% of frost-bitten... There is this law of physiology, on the 5th day there is such freezing that regardless of the use of vodka and pork fat the resistance of organism will decline.

Stalin. Comrade Kurdyumov’s.

Stalin. You have one agent in England, what is his name, Cherniy, what is he?

Proskurov. He is already here, he is not an agent but military-air attaché, Kombrig Cherniy.

Stalin. He wrote that in a few days will be an extensive raid aviation Baku oilfields. In a few days he wrote, he would inform about the detailes. Six days elapsed, two-three weeks elapsed, and no additions.

Proskurov. He came and could report nothing.

Stalin. And this is Cherniy, the person you trust... You argue that he is an honest man. I am saying, he is an honest person but a fool. (Laughter).

Oborin. Now about the intelligence. I am bringing some challenge to the intelligence. I must say, we did not have covert intelligence.

Stalin. There is none. Is there? Does it exist? Should it exist?

Oborin. I believe it should. And what about us? Finland is within reach, and we did not know what it was doing. Although I am sure the money is allocated for it? Right?

Stalin. To send three or four tourists, they will do everything.

Oborin. Albeit I am a poor spy but if I were sent there, I would have looked out everything (laughter).

Chuykov. To wriggle way to Gusevsky (54th division of the 9th army commander) was not possible, to check him, and he was lying... Gusevsky by his panic telegrams played head games with us...

Stalin. Everyone, who got in encirclement is considered a hero.

Chuykov. Did not manage to wriggle way ...

Stalin. Did not want to wriggle way... the circle around encircled is shrinking, and every point is shoot, and every Finn, Tatar, Chinaman shoot in if to sit long enough... So, you do not take Gusevsky for a hero?

Chuykov. No.

Stalin. Thank God.

Chuykov. The 9th Finnish division, which encircled the 54th, suffered large losses. Nobody remained in it, except for elderly 40 years and up and women.

Stalin. Still, you were encircled, not the elderly...

Zaporozhets. There were many self-inflicted wounds and desertion.

Stalin. Were there deserters?

Zaporozhets. Many. (According to summaries of NKVD Special departments, between 25 January 1940  and end of war were detained 3,644 deserters. – M.S.)

Stalin. Did they hide in their village or were sitting in the rear?

Zaporozhets. There were two categories. One — fled to the village, then wrote letters from there... I believe, the local organs worked poorly. Second — fled no farther than the wagon train, dugout, to the kitchen. We shot several such people... When the retreat blocking NKVD group appeared, it helped us a lot... There was such case in the 143rd regiment. The regiment conducted engagement for days, and by the evening in this regiment, there were 105 self-inflicted. In one regiment, 105 self-inflicted people.

Stalin. Did they shot their left hand?

Zaporozhets. They shoot either the left hand, or a finger, or the flesh of a leg, and nobody maimed himself.

Stalin. There are no fools. (Laughter).

Shtern. It is no use denying it, Comrades, we all began in this war not brilliantly. And the fact that we reached relatively quick, in the most difficult conditions, historic victory over Finns, we are in debt for this, first of all, because Com. Stalin himself directly took leadership in war, put everything in the country to the service of victory. and a “lay person”, as Com. Stalin often calls himself, got to teaching us order, first of all, and the conduct of operations, and the use of infantry, artillery, aviation and operation of the rear, and organization of the forces.

Stalin. What a wonderful, happy person! How could have I done it alone? And the aviation, and the artillery...

Shtern. Com. Stalin, only you, with your repute in the country, could so unusually rapidly put everything on the service of the victory and did put, and straightened us all and sent best forces in order to achieve this victory faster...

Especial animation, plentiful questions and critical remarks from the audience caused the speech of head the RKKA Purveyance directorate Comrade Khrulev. Stalin good-mindedly enlivened him: “Don’t you get excited, they will confuse you, will atgtack you, you hold firm— and then began asking questions himself.

Stalin. How was dried fish?

Khrulev. I will now report.

Stalin. How were smoked sausages?

Khrulev. I will report. Please allow to report about the amounts, which we were able tp get...

Stalin. You said nothing about vodka.

Khrulev. They know better about vodka because they drank and I did not.

The hardest evaluation had to listen to the 15th army Commander Kovalev. Hardly was he most guilty (Komandarm 2nd rank Kovalev arrived on the front of Finnish war 3 January, entered in command of the 15th army 12 February when encirclement of the 18th rifle division and 168th rifle division, 34th tank brigade had already become fait accompli), but so it happened — Stalin spoke with him very harshly. The final conclusion of this conversation, the harshest for the entire time of the conference, boiled down to the need of restructuring.

Stalin. Com. Kovalev, you are a wonderful person, one of rare Civil War commanders, but you did not readjust for the modern conditions. In my view, first conclusion and brotherly advice to readjust. You, more than everybody else, are behind in this readjustment. All our commanders who had Civil War experience readjusted. Frolov readjusted well, and you and Chuykov still could not readjust. This is the first conclusion. You are a capable person, courageous, know your business but are fighting the old way, when there was no artillery, there were no aviation, there were no tanks, at that time the people were released and they took it. This is the old way. You are a capable person but you have some hidden ego, which hinders you from readjustment. Admit your drawbacks and readjust, and it will work.

Kovalev. Will do, Com. Stalin.

The conference participants tried to avoid the issue of the parties’ correlation of forces onland, in the air and at sea. Head of the General headquarters who could not but talk about this, gave such evaluation: I believe that the advantage in forces, which we concentrated on the front, was completely correct in strategic and tactical sense”. Practically the only one who remembered about huge losses of the Red Army was Deputy Narkom for the Defence, head of the Main artillery directorate, future Marshall Kulik. True, at this he undervalued the number of perished almost three times: The experience, the blood shed by our 50 thous. comrades, best former combatants, must be used and and not bragged, and here was a form of boasting. Not so smooth it was, comrades, in actuality as you pictured it here...” At the last session, at night of 17 April, the Master himself said the final word. And he was one who gave such “smooth picture”, to which not even one of earlier speaking Comrades in their braggery dared to approach.

Stalin began with a statement in his favourite style of questions and answers, with multiple repetitions he explained to the high gathering that the “government” — i.e., himself — was never wrong in anything even once: “First, the issue of war with Finland. Did the government and party do it right by declaring war on Finland? Was not it possible to get by without war? I believe it was not. It was not possible to get by without war. It was necessary as the peace negotiations with Finland gave no results, and the security of Leningrad must have been guaranteed unconditionally because its security is the security of our Fatherland... Second issue, were not our government, our party too much in a hurry to have declared war exactly at the end of November, early in December, was it not possible to postpone this issue, to wait two-three-four months, to prepare and then to strike? No. The party and government did it completely right not postponing this matter... There, in the West, three largest powers jumped down throats of each other, so when to solve the issue of Leningrad if not in such conditions when their hands are busy and we have favourable environment to hit them at this moment (here and thereafter emphasis added. - M. S.)... To postpone this matter by a couple of months would be the same as postponing this matter maybe by 20 years because one cannot foresee everything in politics. Yes, they are fighting there but the war is sort of weak, maybe they are fighting, maybe they are playing cards. What if they all of a sudden patch it up, which cannot be excluded. If so, the favourable environment for taking care of issue with defence of Leningrad and providing for the state would be missed...

A third issue. Well, war was declared, military actions began. Did we place correctly our military management organs, our troops on the front? As we know, the troops were deployed on the front in five main convoys... Was this deployment of forces on the front correct? I think it was correct.

The largest convoy of our forces was on the Karelian Isthmus in order to exclude a possibility of emerging any accidents against Leningrad from the Finns... Second, to reconnoitre by bayonet the status of Finland on the Karelian Isthmus, her situation of forces, her defence. Third, to create a foothold for a leap forward and further advance... (After this Stalin specified the remaining operative grouping, strangely named “convoys”, and for each of them with overwhelming monotony were  repeated two tasks: “intelligence by bayonet” and catching footholds “for forces, which will be later delivered”.)

Why was it not possible to strike from all five sides and squeeze Finland? We did not set such serious task because war in Finland is very difficult... we knew that Peter I was fighting 21 years to win away the entire Finland from Sweden... we knew that after Peter I war for expansion of the Russian influence in Finland conducted his daughter Elizaveta Petrovna for two years. She achieved something, expanded, but Helsingfors remained in hands of Finland. We knew that Catherine II two years conducted war and achieved nothing special... We knew all this and believed that possibly war with Finland would last to August or September 1940 ... War ended in 3 months and 12 days only because our army worked well...”

At last, final accords of Stalin’s speech rumbled as a genuine triumphal march:

“...Our  army had stood with sturdy both legs on the rails of a new, genuine Soviet modern army...

One may ask, who did we win over? They say, the Finns. But of course, we won over the Finns. But this is not the most important in this war. To win over the Finns  — is not brain surgery. Of course, we must have won over the Finns. We won over not only Finns, also we won over their European instructors — German defence technology we won over, English defence technology we won over, French defence technology we won over. Not only did we Finns win over but also the technology of the advanced states of Europe. Not only the technology of the advanced states of Europe, we won over their tactic, their strategy... we defeated technology, tactic and strategy of advanced states of Europe, whose representatives were instructors of the Finns. In this lies our main victory! (Tempestuous applauds, everybody stand up, shouts “Hurrah!”. Exclamations: “Hurrah to Com. Stalin!” Participants of the conference make tempestuous ovation in honor of Com. Stalin.)

KULIK. I believe, Comrades, that each of us in the soul, in the blood, in the Bolshevik consciousness will be carrying those words of our great leader, Comrade Stalin, which he pronounced from this pulpit. Each of us must fulfill the directions of Comrade Stalin. Hurrah, Comrades! (Exclamations “Hurrah!”)

It is easy to understand enthusiasm of the gathered as they (participants of the conference) understood the very main: the Master is happy. The father forgave his suns who got into mischief; he will not punish anybody — this time. And he could punish. Everybody knew that, and no more than in a year and a half, at the end of their short life path, many participants of the historic conference could find it out. In June—July 1941  will be arrested and then shot Klich, Oborin, Pavlov, Proskurov, Ptukhin, Rychagov, Shtern. Kulik will be arrested and shot later, 24 August 1950. (Not for real wrongdoings — failure of all operations assigned to him, marauding in the zone of combat activities and “household corruption” but for Comrade Kulik, in drunk talks, allowing himself absolutely different from the April Conference utterances about the great leader Com. Stalin) (Solonin, 2005; Solonin, 2006).

But all this will be later. Then, in spring of 1940 , on the Red Army, and first of all on its command personnel, pounced a waterfall of awards, new ranks and new positions. Exactly after the end of the Finnish war, 4 June 1940 , were introduced Generals’ ranks. Central newspapers several weeks in a row published very long lists of 949 newly-baked Generals. The top award of the country — the rank of a Hero of the Soviet Union — was awarded to 412 people (four times the number that will be awarded for courage in the battle of Moscow). Orders and medals were  handed to 50 thous. combatants and commanders; 70 units and groupings were  awarded orders of Lenin and Red Banner (Stepanov, 2006; Heroes of the Soviet Union…, 1987).

Almost all participants of the April Conference climbed higher on the service ladder. Komdiv Gorelenko in the “winter war” commanded the 50th rifle corps. He met the Great Patriotic in a position of the 7th army commander. Commander of the 100th rifle division Kombrig Yermakov became Commander of the 50th army. Commander of the 1st rifle corps Komdiv Kozlov became Commander of the troops in the Trans-Caucasus military district. Commander of the 39th tank brigade Kombrig Lelyushenko became commander of the 21st mechanized corps. The 2nd mechanized corps was now headed by former commander of 8th rifle division Kombrig Novoselsky. Commander of the 142nd rifle division Kombrig Pshennikov became Commander of the 23rd army. Head of artillery in the 7th army Komkor Parsegov became Commander of artillery in the largest in the country Kiev Special military district (KOVO). Commander of the 9th army air force Komkor Rychagov at 29 years of age became head of the Red Army Air force directorate and deputy to the Narkom for the Defence.

However, most dazzling blastoff experienced commander of the 70th rifle division. In June 1940, former Komdiv Kirponos commanded troops of the entire Leningrad military district, and from February 1941 , already in a rank of Colonel General, he became Commander of the entire KOVO. At the authority of a former division commander (and prior to this — head of an infantry school in a provincial Kazan) turned out a grouping of forces substantially exceeding in  numbers the land army of Great Britain or USA...  Even the 15th army Commander Kovalev, albeit at the Conference he had to listen quite a few harsh words from Stalin, was sent in honorable and sufficiently comfortable exile — in a position of Trans-Baikal front Commander.

The first, the main and actually the only argument in favour of a version that Stalin ostensibly was very unhappy with the Red Army actions is the fact of replacement of the Narkomat for the defence leadership (May of 1940), and then also of the General headquarters (August 1940). This in a strange way ignores the other fact — in the vacated after resignation of Voroshilov and Shaposhnikov positions were appointed the major “heroes” of the Finnish war. S.. Timoshenko, since 7 January through 26 March 1940 in the position of the North-Western front troops Commander, became Narkom for the defence. Former Commander of LenMD[7] LenMD troops and 7th army .. Meretskov, i.e., exactly that commander who from the very beginning directed operative planning of the war and preparation of the theatre of military activities to the offensive, became Head of the General headquarters.

In equally strange way from the field of view of historians dropped off another fact — exactly where to Stalin “chucked out” Voroshilov. Yet it is enough to open any, completely unclassified biographical reference book to find out that after having been released of the duties of Narkom for the Defence Comrade Voroshilov, the same day, in the same top military rank of a Marshall of the Soviet Union, became chairman of the Committee for the defence at the USSR government. 30 June 1941 Voroshilov was included in the State Committee for the Defence, i.e., among those five people (Stalin, Molotov, Voroshilov, Malenkov, Beria), in whose hands formally-legally was concentrated the entire authority in the country. Beside this top state position, Marshall Voroshilov also got a very high position in the military leadership: on the 10 July 1941 he was appointed the Supreme Commander of troops on the northwestern strategic theatre.

Formally-scenic, intended first of all for western military analysts, was also Shaposhnikov’s resignation. Having released him from the duties of head of the General headquarters, Stalin appointed Shaposhnikov (to whom he, in the words of all memoirists, felt unfailing respect) into an honorable “sinecure” of a deputy to the Narkom for the Defence USSR and awarded him the rank of a Marshall of the Soviet Union. One month and one week after the beginning of the Great Patriotic war Marshall  Shaposhnikov  again  became head of the General headquarters. He died 26 March 1945 and on special order by Stalin was conferred unique honors: in his memory in Moscow was conducted a firework of 24 salvos from 124 guns. Hardly can all these be called “fall from grace” and “banishment”...

So, why did not Stalin bring the invasion of Finland to logic and expected completion?

Looking for an answer to this question, which is the key to understanding of all subsequent events, we will again turn to Stalin’s speech at the Conference of the top command personnel 17 April 1940. This is, without any exaggeration, an amazing and enigmatic text. To decipher its clandestine sense is not much easier than unambiguously to interpret Nostradamus prophesies. First of all, catch attention unvarnished, open, clear lies (which was not Comrade Stalin’s feature earlier). Whom did Stalin want to deceive narrating to his future generals that he did not plan to “squeeze Finland”; that the purposes of the operation ostensibly were only “intelligence by a bayonet” and catching footholds, to which it was intended to deliver some “main forces”; that the fighting was planned to September 1940? It would be acceptable if he spoke at the field camp before Kolkhozniks (of course, Stalin never went in Kolkhozs, and also to the factories and plants...). But the participants at the Conference not just simply knew the real plan of the Finnish campaign. They developed it. They drew red arrows on the maps, measured with pairs of compasses kilometres of trajectories, counted needed amounts of daily provision food and fodder for personnel and horses. The plans, which they developed and which then returned to them as orders and directives mandatory for execution, with complete specificity included objectives of the operation, its timing and space limits.

The objective: “to carry out a decisive defeat  of the Finnish army... To crush the main grouping of adversary forces... To capture Finland navy and not to allow its escape in neutral waters... To destroy the adversary aviation and airdrome facilities...”

Space limits: “To invade areas Hiitola, Imatra, Viipuri (Vyborg). Upon completion of these tasks to be ready to further actions in the depth of the country depending on circumstances... To crush the Finnish units in the area Suoyarvi, Sortavala, to invade their fortified corridor between the lakes Yanis-Yarvi and Ladoga... Upon invading the areas Kemii, Oulu (Uleaborg), to cut communications of Finland with Sweden through the land border...”

Timing: “To conduct the operation on the Vidlitsa theatre within 15 days, on the Karelian Isthmus within 8 —10 days at average advance rate of forces at 10—12 km per day” (RGVA fund 25888, n.14, case 2, sheet 1-15).

All these may be summarized in one short word: crush. Planned was total crush of Finland’s armed forces, and in quite short time. Any “intelligence by fighting”, any “rollback of the White Finns from the walls of the city of Lenin” was out of the question. And wouldn’t it be strange to unfold 58 divisions only for reconnoitering “the situation of forces and defence” of the Finnish army, which in the peace time included three divisions and one brigade... As for the “further their activities in the depth of the country”, the sense, purpose and content of these future activities were  brought to the notice of not only the top RKKA command personnel but also of all workers and Kolkhoznik ladies of the Country of Soviets. “Soviet government does not recognize the so-called “Finnish government”, which already abandoned Helsinki and went in an unknown direction. (This blazing lie was not new — Com. Molotov simply copied the phrasing, which he used 17 September 1939 for the substantiation of invading and subsequent occupation of the Eastern Poland). Soviet government recognizes only the People’s government of Finnish democratic republic, with which it concluded an Agreement of mutual assistance and friendship”.

This remarkably clear response by Com. Molotov to an inquiry from the Swedish minister plenipotentiary Winter was published 5 December 1939 in the first page of the “Pravda” and theoretically must have been studied in every labor collective. And if the so-called “People’s government” no more showed up in the pages of the “Pravda”, in secret documents it for a long time continued to live its ghostly life. Here, for instance, 23 February 1940 a CC VKP(b) member Com. Kuusinen is sending from Moscow to Moscow, to the CC VKP(b) a greeting from the “People’s government of the Democratic Finland”. In this greeting he expresses his firm conviction that with the help from glorious Red Army and USSR Navy our people will soon achieve its full liberation from a barbaric yoke of the plutocratic gang of Mannerheim — Ryuti — Tanner, criminal provocateurs of war bribed by foreign imperialists(RGVA, fund 4, list 19, case 71, sheet 75). The main thing in this document is the date. Two weeks before the “barbarian head of the plutocratic gang”, i.e., prime-minister  of Finland Risto Ryti, arrived in Moscow for signing the peace treaty, Com. Kuusinen still hoped for “soon and full liberation”.

Generally accepted, entrenched in historic literature response to all these question marks, as well as to the main question stated in the header to this chapter, is known. Stalin was actually is very concerned, if not to say “scared” — however, not by huge losses and miserly successes of his army, but by the plans and actions of the Anglo-French block. Exactly this the fear of being pulled in the war with united coalition of the advanced European states” — was what led Stalin to a decision not to tempt the fate and to stop the raid on Helsinki halfway (in the direct and figurative sense of this word).

“Moscow’s decision to stop the war was first of all caused by apprehensions of interference with the conflict from the Great Britain and France” (Kilin, 1999). In conditions of drastically increased threat of the interference with the war of England and France, the Soviet leadership was forced to go for negotiations and conclusion of peace with legitimate Finnish authorities(Meltyukhov, 2000). It may be that indications of the support of Finns by England and France were the main factor, which induced the Soviet Union to change its position” (Tippelskirch, 1956). Continuation of combat activities to total military victory over Finland would result in unavoidable armed interference with the war from the western powers. As a result, 6 March the Soviet leadership informed about its readiness to begin in Moscow peace negotiations with Finland” (Zefirov, 2003).

“In order to avoid threatening complications with western powers, the Soviet leadership had to set aside their goals toward Finland and be satisfied for a time being with the annexion of large territories in Karelia” (Zimke, 2005). About the same (although using totally fiery language of the Bolshevik propaganda) was stated also in secret directive letter from the Executive Committee of Comintern of 18 March 1940: “New victory of the peace-loving politics of the Soviet Union crossed out Anglo-French military plans and allowed to hold Scandinavia from entering the war...” (RGASPI fund 495, list 18, case 1317, sheet 203). Remarkably that even in censored recollections by ..Meretskov (published in 1984) are quoted Stalin’s words said by him in a telephone conversation with Meretskov 10 March 1940: Prolonging the war will allow the French and Swedes to send reinforcements, and instead of a war with one state we will get tangled in a war with a coalition” (Meretskov, 1988).

Strictly speaking, there are no direct documental confirmation of this version. Most likely, they will never be discovered: Stalin did not entrust his innermost thoughts either to the paper or even to the ears of the closest subordinates. We already detailed how he spoke with the top commanders of his army. The top party bureaucrats were also completely ignorant about many real Stalin’s plans. What specific territorial demands were forwarded, what political demands, what relationships were supposed to form I do not remember now. But apparently some conditions were brought forward in order for Finland to become a friendly country. This objective was pursued but how it was expressed, how worded, I do not know this. I have not read and have not even seen these documents”. These are not the memoirs of a Kolkhoz chairman from deep in Russian. This is a fragment from renowned “Recollections” of N.S. Khrushchev, at that time Politbureau CC VKP(b) member and the CC first secretary of the largest in the USSR Ukrainian republican Communist party. Nevertheless, numerous indirect indications allow with high probability to assume that surprising (exactly so it was taken around the world) cessation of the war may be explained only by Stalin’s reaction to the changed foreign politics environment.

In some sense the mantras, with which Stalin ended his speech 17 April 1940 (“...We won over the German defence technology, we won over the English defence technology, French defence technology. Not only did we won over the Finns but also over the technology of the advanced states of Europe. Not only technology of the advanced states of Europe, we also won over their tactic, their strategy...”) may also be considered such “circumstantial evidence”. Knowing full well that he won over nobody, moreover, was even afraid to enter direct conflict with the West, Stalin, probably, tried to console himself and his mesmerized listeners. No less indicative also is an eloquent slip of the tong, which Stalin made in his speech (“when to solve the issue of Leningrad, if not in such conditions, when their hands are busy and we are presented with a favorable environment to strike them at that moment”). Of course, Stalin wanted to say only about the favourable possibility to strike on Finland, which would occur at the moment when “their” (i.e., Anglo-French block’s) “hands are busy” with the war against Germany. But the offence and hidden hate “of them” (i.e., his future allies, from whom in the fall of 1941 he will be begging not only for weapon but also for soldiers for the defense of his disintegrating empire) spilled over from subconscious outside in this small word “their”.

Incomparably more significant is the story with Petsamo (Pechenga). This transpolar city and ice-free port on the Barents sea, at the junction of Norway, Finland and the USSR borders, was of huge economic (Europe-largest nickel mines) and military-strategic (northern “marine gate” of Finland) significance. Petsamo was taken by the 14th army troops in the first days of war. Then the offensive by the 14th army in the depth of Finland successfully continued despite most severe natural conditions: polar night, blizzard and terrible frost, up to minus 50 deg. some days. By the end of war the 52nd rifle division advanced to 150th kilometre on the Petsamo — Rovaniyemi highway. All these achievements were nullified when under the peace treaty of 12 March 1940 Petsamo was returned to Finland. The situation is getting even more amazing if we compare it with how the territorial issue was solved in the Ladoga Karelia and on the Karelian Isthmus: in all areas the border ran substantially (sometimes by many dozens of kilometres) north and northwest of the front line, which formed as of 12 March 1940. In particular, Kexholm, Antrea, Hiitola, Sortavala, Loymola, Suoyarvi (these names will be repeated many times in the pages of our book) were transferred to the Soviet Union under the Moscow agreement, not at all were taken in fight.

The only reasonable explanation of the only case when at one and only point the USSR did not take but, contrary to it, returned part of the taken, is this. The concession for Petsamo nickel mines belonged to a British (or more precisely, Canadian) firm. Therefore, annexion of Petsamo would mean a direct armed grab of the property of British Empire, which Stalin did not venture to do. Noteworthy is also the fact that from the very beginning of war one of three divisions of the 14th army (14th rifle division) did not participate in combat actions against “White Finns” but was (except 95th rifle regiment) unfolded at the coast of the Kola Peninsula with the task of repelling a possible landing of the western allies (Aptekar, 2004).

A clear illustration of the concern and uncertainty, in which early in spring of 1940 Stalin was, may also be the following report by Hitler’s Germany ambassador in the USSR Count Von Schulenburg sent from Moscow in Berlin 11 April 1940. During some time we observed a change clearly unfavorable toward us on the part of the Soviet government. We stumbled across the difficulties, which in many cases were  completely unjustified, in all spheres...The Soviet government all of a sudden has taken back the promise already given to us relative “the base Nord”, in which our navy is interested, etc. These obstacles reached its apex in a temporary stop of oil and grain deliveries. On the 5th of this month I had a lengthy conversation with Mister Mikoyan, during which time the position of the People’s Commissar was very unkindly...

In vain did we asked ourselves what may be possible reason of a surprising change in the position of the Soviet authorities. I suspected that the impossible brouhaha raised by our adversaries (in this case, doubtlessly, he had in mind England and France.  - M.S.), their harsh accusations of the neutrals, especially the Soviet Union, and of neutrality in general took their toll because the Soviet government is afraid of being pulled in by the Entente in a big war. (The Soviet government is not ready for it). For this reason, the Soviet government wants to avoid whatever may serve for English and French as the pretext for accusing the USSR in the behaviour contradicting neutrality or in eager support of Germany. It appeared to me that surprising completion of the Finnish war (emphasis added. - M. S.) happened due to the same considerations... The situation became so intolerable that I decided to appeal to Mister Molotov in order to discuss with him these issues... In actuality, the visit with Mister Molotov did not occur until morning of 9th April, i.e., happened already after our Scandinavian operations (he means a beginning of the operation “Weserübung”, in the course of which were occupied Denmark and Norway.  - M.S.).

During this conversation, it became obvious that the Soviet government made a total pirouette. A surprising suspension of oil and grain deliveries was called excessive zeal of subordinated echelons”, which will be immediately cancelled... Mister Molotov was the expression of affability, he listened with readiness all our complaints and promised to fix the situation. Of his own initiative, he touched upon a number of issues we are interested in and announced about their solution in positive sense. I must recognize that I was absolutely dumbfounded by such change.

In my view, there is only one explanation of such turn of events. Our Scandinavian operations must have brought a great relief to the Soviet government, removed, shall we say, huge burden of anxiety... If the English and French intended to occupy Norway and Sweden, it may be assumed with certainty that the Soviet government knew about these plans and, apparently, was scared by them. It appeared to the Soviet government that the English and French will show up on the coast of the Baltic Sea, it seemed to it that the Finnish question will be opened again. At last, they were most of all afraid of the danger to be pulled into war with two great powers. Obviously, this fear was alleviated by us. Only this can explain total change in the positions of Mister Molotov. Today’s long and conspicuous article in the “Izvesiya” about our Scandinavian campaign appears one deep sigh of relief (USSR-Germany…. 1989).

This phrase about “deep sigh of relief” provides the key to understanding of that, from the first sight, amazing complacency, with which Com. Stalin conducted the conference with his commanders. The conference began 14 April 1940 — five days after the beginning of combat activities in Norway and exactly on the day when the western allies reached a large success in Narvik and Trondheim. The war onland and at sea was getting ever more fierce, and in this environment there was already no doubt that the West outright forgot about previous plans of “saving Finland” (or rather saving own repute fairly blackened by a cowardly three-month of doing nothing). One does not have to be a psychic to understand — which thought possessed at that moment by the consciousness of Comrade Stalin. “Off the hook” — exactly this hilarious feeling became leitmotif of his speech at the conference. Unwittingly, Hitler not only rid Stalin of anxious expectation of an Anglo-French expeditionary corps landing in the north of Finland but also saved Stalin’s Generals of the Master’s ire.



Finland as such did not take much place either in Stalin’s thoughts or in operative plans of the Red Army General headquarters. (Shaposhnikov: “The Finnish theatre of military activities in our general operative plan took, under the known political environment, secondary position, completely not what it got at the time of the developing combat activities”. A report by the commission of the Main headquarters of the USSR navy: The major tune of the navy combat preparation was directed towards preparation to a war with an adversary who had large navy, there was no specific preparation to a war with Finland”. Voroshilov: “Poland, Rumania and all these Baltic states, they are with us already long ago off the score, we will reduce these Misters to dust any time under any circumstance”.) The great game, which Stalin began in summer 1939, must have led to installation of the Soviet hegemony not in thinly populated Finland but on the most of the European continent.

At the debut of the Game Stalin made a brilliant move. It will be hard to find in his long political life an example of other, equally sweeping, rapid and overwhelming success, which was the alliance with Hitler installed in August — September 1939. With one brief blow Stalin jumbled all pieces on the European (and on the world) field and left the Anglo-French block (whose leaders have already given Poland official guarantees of military help!) one on one with the Berlin paranoid who, after concluding the Molotov — Ribbentrop pact, sank into a state of “pot valor”. The European war became unavoidable, and it began exactly a week after signing of the pact.

In exchange just for noninterference in war (and quite limited, rather ritual than factual, military help) Hitler gave Stalin 50.4% of Poland’s territory. (For its crush, the German Wehrmacht paid with lives of 16 thous. soldiers). He allowed Stalin total discretion in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Bessarabia and Finland. He allowed unrestricted access for Stalin’s “engineers” to most important military-industrial enterprises of Germany. In exchange for raw ore and flax strips he sold most up-to-date specimens of combat aircraft, tanks, guns, ships, radiostations... In euphoria from his first successes, Hitler did not notice that Stalin — in total compliance with behests of his great teacher — was supporting him as “the rope is supporting the hanged” (V.I. Lenin, complete works, vol. 41, pg. 73). Only by the year 1940 the understanding at last sunk home to Hitler of a simple fact that he gave Stalin not even one but three “cutout switches” capable of “switching off” the German economy.

One of those was at the Rumanian oilfields, which after the Red Army coming to Prut River were within the accessibility range of even the lightest single-engine bombers. The second one was Swedish iron ore and Finnish nickel, deliveries of which after installation of the Soviet control over Finland would be completely dependent on Stalin’s good will. The third “cutout switch” was the endless steel ribbon of Transsib, through which the transit flow of caoutchouk, tungsten and soy beans went to Germany from countries of the Southeastern Asia. Without these important sources of raw materials, German military vehicles would be able to operate half a years, at the most one year.

Alas, grandiose and very “cheap”, bloodless success went to the head of Comrade Stalin. (Khrushchev: He literally pranced, bridled up, and literally said: “Duped Hitler! Duped Hitler!”) Planning the annexion of Baltic states, Stalin simply did not think that one of countries given under his control would behave not as an object but as fully legitimate, animated subject of the world politics. Stubborn unwillingness to cave in shown by Finland’s leadership simultaneously caused his astonishment and extreme annoyance. All issues — in Stalin’s view — have already been solved. Big cheeses have already agreed on everything. Who was interested to listen to the view of the Finnish government? Who allowed it to have some “view” about what had already been decided between Hitler and Stalin? And in any case — what kind of government? Political gamblers. Scarecrows. Finnish pipsqueak. Piddling flea...

Having surrendered to the power of negative emotions, Stalin began making one mistake after the other. What for was all this stupid spectacle with “Kuusinen’s government”? What for was it necessary publically to call the armed adversary “flea” and a “pipsqueak”? Why was it necessary to yell about “the red banner over the presidential palace in Helsinki” BEFORE the Red Army entered Helsinki? Why was it needed to drive himself into a situation, from which there was now escape without the loss of prestige? Why had 230 thous. shells a day begun pouring on Finnish fortifications in the last, not in the first days of war? How come had the Red Army begun combat activities with only one third of the forces concentrated on the Finnish theatre of combat activities by the end of war?

Unfortunately, to all these questions there are specific answers. Unfortunately, because the same mistake was repeated by Stalin — only with immeasurably more severe, catastrophic aftermath — in summer of 1941. Stalin did not take into account what in his epoch was called conscientiousness”, and today is called the human factor”. Evaluating the correlation of forces of the opposing parties, Stalin counted divisions, guns, tanks and aircraft. All of these he had many, very many, dozens of times more than the stubborn Finland. What kind of doubt could there be in unavoidable and fast victory? And not a single one from a crowd of assheads and ass-lickers with whom he surrounded himself mastered up courage to say the Master that one regiment of Finnish reservists ready to die but not to live under Stalin’s rule were worth in a fight more than two Red Army cadre divisions conscripted from forced Kolkhoz slaves. Moreover, they were in unison assuring Stalin that his subjects all as one were ready with joy to give their lives for the great cause of Lenin — Stalin, and for the sake of this ideology soldiers, commanders and political workers were always ready to give their lives(Voroshilov, speech at 18th VKP(b) convention). By the way, what do we want from Voroshilov if even today, after almost seventy years, discussing the reasons for unsuccessful Red Army debut in the Finnish war, many Russian historians are continuing to chew on the old back scrub of “ferocious frost”, “extended communications”, “invincible bunkers of the Mannerheim’s line”...

Comrade Stalin never admitted his errors publicly but almost always rapidly recognized them and with invincible persistence fixed them. The failure of the December offensive he evaluated quite adequately, i.e., in accordance with reality. Without consoling self-deception, but also without panic. And why would he be panicking? 18 thousand killed and missing in action? No big deal — in summer of 1938, at the heat of the great terror in one day they were shooting 5 thousand people. And everything was okay. Females gave birth to new ones. Are two divisions against one Finnish regiment too little? This is also soluble — we will send 12 divisions. And will have some more after that. There were shells, there were guns, there were divisions, so, the final crush of the Finnish army was only a question of time.

But that is what Stalin did not have, the time.

Stalin took the danger of military interference by the Anglo-French block very seriously — and this also was quite adequate with the reality. The menace was too great to be simply ignored. Of course, there was never a “150-thousand strong expeditionary corps”, by which Soviet historians-propagandists for decades scared gullible people. After all endless conferences, sessions, discussions and statements the allies (England and France) firmly and specifically promised Mannerheim that by the end of March (!!!) in Finland would arrive “first echelons” of three brigades and several non-integrated battalions, total numerical strength 15.5 thous. people. For consolation they added that these would be the choicest troops”, and in the wake of the first echelon in Finland (if it still existed by that time) would come the second echelon of — wow! — three British divisions. Of course, these were not at all the forces, which could radically change the correlation of forces on the Finnish theatre of military operations or at least confuse Stalin. His apprehensions were that the allies would use the situation to wriggle out of the war with Germany. (“Yes, they are fighting there but the war is sort of weak, maybe they are fighting, maybe they are playing cards. What if they all of a sudden patch it up, which cannot be excluded”.) 

Such development was quite likely and it threatened to ruin the entire Stalin’s strategic plan of using the European war in his own interests. Before this, he, as a wise monkey from a Chinese parable, “was sitting on the hill observing the scuffle between two tigers”. The Soviet leaders would prefer to sit even longer in this comfortable position. (“If these misters have such inexpugnable desire to fight, let them fight without help from the Soviet Union. (Laughter. Applauds.) We would see what kind of war-dogs they are ”. (Molotov, the speech at a session of the USSR  Supreme Council  31 August 1939). Now, in conditions of a lingering war with Finland, not only everybody saw what kind of “war-dogs” were sitting in the Kremlin but also Messrs. Daladier and Chamberlain (who, as we know, never had “inexpugnable desire” to fight against Hitler) got excellent pretext for turning  armed s the other way.

Under the situation formed by the beginning of 1940 it was both easy and advantageous to do it. Easy because the League of Nations already adopted corresponding resolutions, in which actions of the Soviet Union were called “aggression”, and all participants of the League of Nations were asked to help the victim of aggression. Therefore, the incontestable legal basis was created for armed    interference in the war on the side of Finland. Besides, “too zealous to his own good” Comrade Molotov by his completely unbridled speeches publicly denuded (and even more than that — substantially overblew) role of the USSR as actual ally of Hitler’s Germany. Which facilitated the treatment for the entire world of any anti-Soviet actions (including also the planned aviation strikes on Baku oilfields) as the strikes on the Fascist Reich’s “rear supply base”. Exceptional advantage of the situation was in that after the landing in the north of Norway Anglo-French expeditionary corps simply could not get in Finland other than through the area of Swedish iron mines Elliware-Kiruna. Allies’ command documents declassified after the war unambiguously testify that taking control over the Swedish mines and ice-free ports of Norway interested them much more than a noble mission of “saving Finland” (Zimke, 2005).

What would be Germany’s behavior if armed conflict between the USSR and Anglo-French block became reality? One can only guess. But there is no doubt for a minute how Stalin himself evaluated possible development of the situation. It is most important to remember the most important thing — Lenin’s philosophy. It is not excelled and it would be well for our Bolsheviks to grasp this philosophy”. Under this “unrivaled philosophy” international bourgeoisie at any moment must throw off all its internal disagreements and unite for the straggle with first in the world “proletarian state”. An obsessive idea that “they all of a sudden will patch it up” as a nighttime delirium chased Stalin during the entire World War. Even after Churchill and Roosevelt — in total contradiction with the entire “Lenin’s philosophy” — rushed to save him from the trap he drove himself in, Stalin’s maniacal suspiciousness did not became weaker. But earlier, in winter of 1940, Stalin took the most dim view of the situation: We knew that France supports the Finns, also England, surreptitiously Germans support them, Swedes, Norwegians, America support them, Canada supports them. We know it well. It is necessary to foresee in war any possibilities, especially not to miss the worst possibilities”. The worst possibility was in that thanks to the “piddling flea” the wise monkey will have to descend from the hills and enter into the scuffle with one of tigers, and maybe with two tigers simultaneously...

We must give Comrade Stalin his due — choosing between the good of the cause and personal prestige, he selected the good of the cause that time. The first proposal of the Soviet leadership readiness to discard “the Kuusinen government” and conclude a peace agreement with the legitimate Finland authorities came in Helsinki 30 January 1940. At that, territorial demands of the Soviet Union were phrased in a quite fuzzy way. (“It is necessary also to take into account that the demands of the Soviet Union are not limited to those, which were brought forward in time of negotiations with Messrs. Paasikivi and Tanner in Moscow, as after these negotiations blood was shed by both parties...”) (Mannerheim, 2003; Tanner, 2003). In any case, this diplomatic demarche testified about the readiness of Stalin to stop the war even before reaching at least minimum military success, which could let the great power to “save face”.

Alas, a dangerous illness, which Comrade Stalin called “dizziness from success”, was common not only in Moscow but also in Helsinki. The response, which Finnish government sent 2 February 1940, was more offence and pride (humanly quite understandable) than common sense. (“Government of Finland did not start and did not wish war... Finland was satisfied with her previous position based on freely concluded agreements, and Finland did not demand anything for herself... Government of Finland believes that the transfer of territories may be implemented only by way of exchange”) (Mannerheim, 2003; Tanner, 2003). In actuality, Stalin was proposed to recognize his total military defeat and return to the starting point empty-handed. Maybe exchange of some territories upon Finland’s consent. And no more.

Even over such statements from the “Finnish pipsqueak” Stalin was thinking for nine days!) After that, 11 February the rumble of artillery  armed ade exploded the dragged on quiet on the front. It was the notice about the beginning of general Red Army offensive on the Karelian Isthmus. Perhaps, Stalin’s decision to undertake a second attempt of a military solution was affected also by the information coming through diplomatic and intelligence channels, which indicated that the Anglo-French command so far did not intend to go beyond empty talks and writing more “plans”. Another month, and early in March 1940 in Moscow, they clearly understood two interconnected facts: crush of the Finnish army is unavoidable, but to get there rapidly would not be possible. Despite concentration of huge forces, the lightning-speed forced march on the trajectory Vyborg — Helsinki had not happened. The Red Army advanced, but with huge losses, one meter after another torturously “gnawing” through the Finnish defence. The approaching spring season of bad roads threatened to lower the offensive tempo even more because among the melted swamps and lakes (whose ice cover was used as runway of operative airdromes) the Red Army lost its key advantage in tanks and heavy artillery.

On the other hand, the threat of interference in the conflict of the western powers assumed absolutely specific outlines: 13 March Germans discovered English submarines near Baltic straits (Zimke, 2005), several low-speed transports with allied troops already took to sea (Round table materials… 1995). The worst possibility” began materializing, and the peace agreement in Moscow was concluded literally several days before a possible landing of Anglo-French expeditionary corps in Scandinavia.

Summarizing in his memoirs results of the “winter war”, Marshall Mannerheim writes: “The reasons for the decision of the Soviet Union albeit temporarily to reject its original plans, had first of all military character ... A lightning-speed success did not pan out... Additionally, a whole number of political complications occurred. Most important of those became threat of interference by the western countries, which could destroy relationship of the USSR with France and England.

It was also disadvantageous for the Kremlin that in the north its hands were tied exactly at the moment when new tasks rose before it (emphasis added. - M. S.), the tasks envisioned by the Soviet-German pact: occupation of Bessarabia and Bolshevization of the Baltic countries...” (Mannerheim, 2003).

The latter remark (about plans of the occupation of Bessarabia, which plans could be disrupted by the protracted above all measures Finnish war) deserves a more detailed review.

At the level of a “public rumours” a war against Rumania was expected, at that, expected exactly in spring 1940. These expectation are clearly registered in the reports from Special departments of the Leningrad military district as typical examples of “unhealthy feeling” in some military personnel. In particular, the people’s rumours associated discontinuation of the Finnish war exactly with necessity to redeploy forces on the “Rumanian front”. This “soldiers’ truth” could have been disregarded — any war generates its strong myths — except that the same was whispered among the topmost commanders.

Here, for instance, head of the Red Army Main automobile and tank directorate General  Pavlov  shares his thoughts with participants of the April (1940) conference: “In order to correct mistakes of the past, I began a study of military-geographic character of the southern theatre if we go, and maybe we will have to go in Rumania...”

And here is the view forwarded at the same conference by head of the RKKA General headquarters himself: “Com. Stalin rightly said that in all states you will stumble across such wall, which the Finns were building for a long time and which we had to take... This is first thing, which we will encounter to some extent on the border. Perhaps, the Rumanians are building something, and Turks, I do not know about Afghanistan but Iran is trying to purchase cement...”

And at last totally amazing (amazing in that it was not destroyed but declassified) document was preserved in the entrails of the New State military archive. 5 March 1940 Deputy head of the Special department at the Main directorate of the state security NKVD USSR Major of State Security Osetrov writes a report memo to the Narkom for the defence  Voroshilov. “31 January the Siberian military district Commander, Komandarm 2nd rank Kalinin in the district’s House of the Red Army a presentation about international situation... Kalinin stated about unavoidability of a great war in spring of 1940, at which on one side will be the USSR in block with Germany, Japan and Italy (what a nice company.  - M.S.) against Anglo-French block. The instigator of this great war will be Rumania... But Rumania at the very beginning of the conflict will get a blow from three directions, i.e., from the USSR, Germany and Bulgaria (Voroshilov underlined this phrase in red pencil. — .), after which Turkey, Iran, England, France, Italy and, possibly, USA will join the war. The war with Rumania will end very quickly but the military actions with England, France and their allies will have protracted character ...” (RGVA, fund 4, list 19, case 70, .18 -19).

It is interesting: what agitated Voroshilov in the underlined phrase? Beautiful operative idea, which may be as chance offers to report to the Master, or unacceptable leak of the most important information, which a Komandarm 2nd rank Kalinin was not supposed to know...

The most interesting, as routinely occurs, is found in last lines of the report memo, where the Deputy to the “main secret agent” (“main osobist”) of the Red Army makes his conclusions: “Many commanders consider the presentation by Com. Kalinin confused and showing in such form the international environment politically harmful”. Why such fuzziness and circumspection in the evaluation? Since when osobists began hiding behind “the view of many commanders”? And this is after NKVD successfully jailed and shot many thousands of Red Army commanders... Most likely, 5 March 1940 Com. Osetrov still did not know how “the international environment” should be presented now, with whom and against whom the Soviet Union will be fighting but just in case he decided to inform Voroshilov about Kalinin’s report in order to remove any responsibility from himself. Based on the aftermath (4 June 1940 S.. Kalinin was promoted to Lieutenant General and continued alright to command his district, — the report with allegations about the coming war against Rumania, at that in alliance with Hitler’s Germany and Fascist Italy, was not considered “malicious slander of the continuously peace-loving foreign policy of the USSR”. (S.. Kalinin was arrested much later, 24 June 1944, for “talking about his doubts in correctness of the conduct of war, accusations of the Supreme Command in great losses in some operations”. He was released soon after the death of Stalin, 13 July 1953.) (Reshin and Stepanov, 1993).

The southern theatre of possible combat activities did not at all boil down only the Rumanian. It is noteworthy that in April 1940 (i.e., immediately after the completion of the Finnish war) in the Trans-Caucasus military district was additionally redeployed 6 aviation regiments. A version of strengthening anti-air force defence of the Baku area in the face of aggressive schemes of the English imperialism has to be immediately thrown away as among these six regiments there was not even a single fighter one. All six were bomber regiments (three long-range bomber aviation regiments, two high-velocity bomber aviation regiments and one light bomber aviation regiment) (RGVA, fund 29, list 34, case 415, sheet 99). Even larger scale redeployment of the aviation units occurred in May — June 1940 in Odessa military district (i.e., to the Rumanian borders) was redeployed 14 aviation regiments, including 10 bomber, including three long range and two heavy bomber aviation regiments (RGVA, fund 29, list 34, case 415, sheet 99).

What for in spring 1940 to the southwestern borders of the Soviet Union were redeployed two dozen aviation regiments (more than one thousand aircraft)? Possibly, part of the answer to this question is in Directives No.No. 468200, 468214, which 9 and 11 April 1940 head of the Red Army air force Main directorate Smushkevich sent to the air force Commanders of the Trans-Caucasian and Odessa military districts. These documents set the task to “begin a study of the Middle-Eastern theatre of military operations paying especial attention to the following objects...” Further followed the list of 22 geographic points including Alexandria, Beirut, Haifa, Nicosia, Istanbul, Ankara, Suez Canal, Bosporus and Dardanelles (RGVA, fund  29, list 34, case 578, sheet 9, 12). It was ordered to conduct in the environment of strictest secrecy training flights with training bombing over the USSR territory with the distance and navigation conditions corresponding with the Middle-Eastern theatre of military operations. It was suggested to request from the Germans through Soviet military attaché in Berlin intelligence data about the English air force base in Mosul...

The Black Sea fleet air force command was not far behind the land aviators. We read in the “Memo from the Black Sea air force Commander for plan of operations of the Black Sea air force” (no earlier than 27 March 1940):

“Probable adversary: England, France, Rumania, Turkey...

Air force tasks: carry out strikes on ships in the waters of Marmara Sea, Bosporus Strait, laying mine obstacles in Bosporus...” (Russian State Archive of the Navy (RGA VMF), fund -1877, list 1, case 195, sheet 1).

In the report from the Black Sea air force Commander to the Main Navy headquarters about the Black Sea fleet aviation development plan for 1940 — 1941  the following actions were suggested:

“... tasks for the aviation by the theatre of military operations:

1. Black Sea. To carry out powerful bomb strikes on bases: Constanta, Ismail, Varna...

2. Aegean Sea: Thessaloniki, Smirna...

3. Mediterranean Sea: Alexandria, Haifa, Suez Canal, Island of Malta, Brindisi... By systematic strikes on the Suez Canal to deprive England and Mediterranean Sea states of the possibility of normal exploitation of this communication...” (RGA VMF, fund -1877, list 1, case 150, sheet 2).

Remarkably, at the same time the RKKA General headquarters Intelligence directorate handed to the Red Army Air force main headquarters for familiarization the list of secret literature published by the Intelligence directorate at the end of 1939  — beginning of 1940, which included, among others:


— nine summaries on the Near, Middle and Far East;

— reference book about the air force of Turkey, Iran and Afghanistan;

— description of oil refinery objects in Iraq;

— list of military-industrial objects in Rumania;

— reference book about Rumanian air force (RGVA, fund 29, list 34, case 466, sheet 110-112).

The Red Army Air force main directorate also was not idly sitting. They prepared a document on 19 pages entitled: “Description of trajectories in India No.1 (mountain passes Barochil, Chitral) and No.4 (mountain passes Killio, Gilchit, Srinagor) (RGVA, fund 29, list 56, case 89, sheet 1-19). In 34 pages was put together a list of military-industrial objects in Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Palestine, Egypt and India (RGVA, fund 29, list 56, case 92, sheet 1-34).

We should not believe that only aviation commanders intended to go (fly) to Ganges or at least to Palestine. 11 May 1940 Division Commissar Shabalin writes a memo to the head of the Red Army Main Political Directorate Mekhlis, in which with great anxiety he writes about “the necessity to carefully review the organization of units and groupings of the Red Army from the viewpoint of their readiness to conduct war on the Middle-eastern  theatre” (RGVA, fund 9, list 29, case 547, sheet 378). It is also noteworthy that in exactly 20 days, 31 May 1940, Comrade Mekhlis himself signed order No. 0027, wherein he set a task “within a month to equip in the secret printing office of Voyenizdat a plant with necessary foreign fonts for issuing literature (probably, leaflets for soldiers of the adversary and brief phrase books.  - M.S.). Further in the order follows a long list, in which together with 11 European languages stated also “Turkish, Iranian, Afghan, Indean (sic in the original.  - M.S.), Chinese, Mongolian, Korean, German” (RGVA, fund 4, list 15, case 26, sheet 6).

As we see, it was not only Mayakovsky who loved “hugeness of plans...”. Returning, however, from problem of “Indean” linguistics to the main subject of this Chapter we can once again state the fact that sovietization of Finland was not the only and not the main task, which in spring 1940 was set before the Red Army. And when excessive doggedness in the solution of a partial task threatened to disrupt the implementation of the total great plan, Stalin, cautious and far-sighted politician, ordered to reverse.



[1] Directorate of People’s Commissariat for the Internal Affairs.

[2] Joint State Political Directorate at SNK of the USSR.

[3] Communist Party of Finland.

[4] Finnish Communist Party.

[5] Groundlessly dreaming person passively and complacently taking the reality (after the name of Manilov, a character from Gogol’s "Dead souls".)

[6] Main Directorate of the State Security.

[7] Leningrad Military District.

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Mark Solonin. 25 June. Stupidity or aggression? Part 1
FOREWORD Late in the 1930s the Soviet Union was living in the expectation of a war the war unavoidable and close. 24 February 1939, to the next anniversary of the Red Army creation, the main governmental newspaper Izvestiya published a large article remarkably entitled Wars fair and unfair. ......
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