Continuation War

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=• Photo: Finnish soldiers in summer 1944, during the Finnish-Soviet Continuation War.

During World War II, Finland fought two wars against the Soviet Union, separate from – not part of – the conflict between the Allied Powers and Axis Powers. Finland also made a separate and conditional peace with the Soviet Union, in the fall of 1944, whereas the Axis Powers were forced to surrender to the Allied Powers unconditionally in 1945. In 1944–1945, Finland fought a war against Germany, known as the Lapland War.

The two Finnish-Soviet wars were both launched by a massive Soviet invasion of Finland, both with the Soviet intent to conquer the entire country of Finland, in a similar way the Soviets conquered the Baltic countries – Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania – during World War II.

Following its failed attempt to conquer Finland in the Winter War (1939–1940), the Soviet Union prepared to attack westward in the summer of 1941, with the largest offensive in history. The operation was named Groza. The intent of the Soviets was to first invade Finland and then Sweden and Norway, for them all to be used as a bridgehead for a follow-up attack into Central Europe.

Authentic Soviet WWII-era documents became available to researchers after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. They include a detailed Soviet offensive plan, compiled in 1940–1941, for the intended conquest of Finland in the summer of 1941. The plan got its final alterations in May 1941.

The Soviet intent was to invade Finland from both north – utilizing the Salla Railway – and south at the same time, and even faster now than had been intended in the failed Soviet attempt of the Winter War (1939–1940). Documents related to this plan were published by the Finnish Professor Ohto Manninen in 2008.

• Source: Manninen, Ohto (2008). "Miten Suomi valloitetaan: Puna-armeijan operaatiosuunnitelmat, 1939–1944" ("How Finland is conquered: The operational plans of the Red Army, 1939–1944").

Already on August 21, 1939, Joseph Stalin had introduced his plan for the conquest of Europe to the Soviet State Duma, two days before the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact on August 23 between the Soviet Union and Germany, in which Romania, Poland, the Baltic Countries, and Finland were secretly divided into "spheres of influence" between the Soviet Union and Germany.




On November 12–13, 1940, in Berlin – after the Finnish-Soviet Winter War –, the Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov sought for a renewed Hitler's approval for the Soviet conquest of Finland, to no prevail this time. On June 2, 1942, Hitler was secretly recorded telling Mannerheim about his conversation with Molotov.

• Hitler stated: "... the demands that the man (Molotov) brought up (to me) were clearly aimed at the ruling of Europe in the end."

Until the early hours of June 22, 1941, when the Soviet Union attacked a Finnish convoy at sea at 06:05 – as a prelude for what became known as the (Finnish-Soviet) Continuation War – and when the Axis Powers launched the Operation Barbarossa against the Soviet Union, the Soviet Union and Germany were allies, as had been agreed in the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact on August 23, 1939.

Stalin had been certain that Germany would not attack inside the Soviet Union. However, he was wrong. Operation Barbarossa – launched on June 22, 1941 – prevented the intended major Soviet offensive westward from ever fully materializing.

The nearly 500 (480+) plane massive Soviet air attack against 18 Finnish towns on June 25, 1941, accompanied by attacks over land and sea, was designed to be the first stage of a much larger Soviet offensive westward to follow (Manninen, 2008).




Still today, the Soviet archives relating to the status of the Soviet Union on June 21, 1941 – hours before the Soviet Continuation-War-launching attacks against Finland began, and right before the start of the Axis Operation Barbarossa –, are hidden from researchers.

During the presidency of Boris Yeltsin in Russia, WWII-era Soviet archives became available to researchers for a brief while, until Vladimir Putin again shut doors to many Soviet-era archives. What is there to hide, Mr. Putin, researchers ask. Is it a plan for the period after the intended Soviet conquest of Europe?

A growing number of distinguished experts specializing in WWII-era history today agree, that if the attack of the Axis Powers (Finland was not an Axis Power) eastbound would not have taken place starting in June 1941, the Soviets would have launched a massive attack westbound starting in July 1941, under the operation named Groza.

Experts specializing in WWII-era history who have expressed in writing that in their view the Soviet intention to attack westward was real include – but are not limited to – e.g. the following:

• Sampo Ahto, colonel • Fritz Becker, historian • Lev Bezymenskin, professor • Tatjana S. Bushujeva, historian • V. Danilov, historian • Juri L. Djakov, historian • Juri Gorkov, historian • Tapani Havia, professor • Joachim Hoffman, historian • Daniel C. Holtrop, historian • Heinz Magenheimer, historian • Ohto Manninen, professor • Mihail Meltjuhov, historian • V. A. Nevezhinin, historian • Erkki Nordberg, colonel • I. V. Pavlova, historian • Edvard Radzinski, historian • Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, historian • Russel Stolfi, professor • Wolfgang Strauss, historian • Ilmari Susiluoto, professor • Viktor Suvorov, former Soviet spy • Tapio Tiihonen, historian • Ernst Topitsch, historian.




In his speech on May 5, 1941 – seven weeks before the Soviet invasion of Finland –, Stalin stated:

• "But now that we have reformed our army, acquired weapons technology required for modern warfare, now that we have become strong – now, we must move on from defense to attack.

As we were improving our nation's defense, we gave up attacking. We shall now move from defensive to offensive war politics. It is necessary for us to renew our educational work, propaganda, agitation, and print in an offensive spirit.

The Red Army is a modern army – but, it must be remembered, that a modern army is an army of attack."




In June 1941, before the start of the Continuation War, the chairman of the RSFSR Supreme Soviet Andrei Zhdanov spoke to the Military Council of the Supreme Soviet. He stated the following about the Soviet "attacking politics":

• "We have become strong, and we can now begin accomplishing things by a more active approach. The wars in Poland and Finland were not defensive. We already have started on the road of attacking politics."




During the Interim Peace period between the two Finnish-Soviet wars, the Soviets began demanding control of some strategically vital parts of the Southern Finnish railways.

The Soviets also began to demand that the Finns must speed up the completion of the Salla Railway construction in the Northern Finnish province of Lapland, as they hoped the railway to not only help in their upcoming warring against the Finns but to also be part of their planned rail link from the Soviet Union – through Northern Finland – to Sweden.

According to the WWII-era Soviet documents published by Ohto Manninen in 2008, the Salla Railway played a central role in the Soviet plan to attack westward in the summer of 1941. In his 'Memoir' in 1952, Mannerheim states the following:

• "The railway construction which the Soviets had started in the fall of 1939 proceeded rapidly. The most important stretches of the railway, Petroskoi-Suojärvi, Louhi-Kiestinki, and Rutši-Salla were completed in a few months.

For the last-mentioned stretch alone, over 100,000 forced laborers were stationed. These railway stretches were supported by 15 strategic roads for motor vehicles. On approximately 200 kilometers wide zone behind the border, airports were being built, the number of which was later concluded to be as many as 90."




During the 15 months long Interim Peace period following the Winter War (1939–1940), the Finns had made no plans to attack the Soviet Union. However, subject to a continuous and escalating Soviet aggression, the Finns had begun preparing themselves for a defensive war (Mannerheim, Memoir, 1952), as signs of the new Soviet invasion of Finland were very clear.

The Soviets had continued presenting more and more radical demands to the Finns, surrendering to some of which would have meant a disaster for Finland, and which were dangerous also to Sweden. The Soviets, for instance, demanded that the Finns would speed up the completion of the Salla Railway construction, which would enable a rail link from the Soviet Union to Northern Sweden, through Northern Finland.

Shortly after the Winter War had ended, the Soviets had also launched a campaign to manipulate critically important Finnish political decision-making processes, including the naming of the highest-ranking Finnish government officials.

What the Soviets had not been able to gain in the battles of the Winter War, they now tried to achieve during the truce, without firing a bullet. During the Interim Peace period (1940–1941), the Soviet Red Army continued building up forces and constructing a large number of airfields near the Finnish-Soviet border, while at the same time committing countless border violations against Finland.

By 1941, all the Baltic countries, as well as Denmark and Norway, had become occupied by either Germany or the Soviet Union. Finland's supply routes had by now become sealed from all sides. Even theoretically, Germany now was the only possible source for arms needed for Finland's defense.

Germany at this point wanted to transport some of its forces to Northern Norway. However, the Atlantic Ocean and the mountainous and fjord-filled Norwegian terrain were not good for commuting, and the British forces had easy access to attack any German convoys attempting to travel along the Norwegian oceanic coast.

Sweden now granted a passage-right for the Germans to travel through Sweden. To be allowed to purchase arms from Germany, Finland followed suit and permitted the Germans to cross the Northern Finnish province of Lapland between Sweden and Northern Norway.

This, however, was not the reason why the Soviets again launched a massive invasion of, and a new war against, Finland – similar to the Winter War –, as Mannerheim points out in his Memoir (1952). Importantly too, when Finland granted the passage-right for the Germans, Germany and the Soviet Union were still allies, per their agreement made in the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact on August 23, 1939.

Accordingly, on June 23, 1941, a day after the first Soviet attack made to the Finnish territory, the Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov made no mention of Germans being in Finland or of any possible Finnish-German deal made. (Mannerheim, 1952)

This was in line with the fact that the Soviets had forced Finland to allow the passage-right for the Germans through Northern Finland, when the Soviets themselves had demanded a passage-right for the Red Army to the Southern Finnish seaport town of Hanko – a dangerous demand from the Finnish perspective, as Helsinki was en route, allowing the Soviets a chance to launch a surprise attack.

• Mannerheim, Memoir: "Instead, he (Molotov) focused again on accusing Finland of an attack" – as in the start of the Winter War – "which had not happened. The Soviet leadership had decided to draw Finland to a war."




Before the major Soviet invasion of Finland on June 25, 1941, the Germans had not been permitted to launch attacks against the Soviet Union from Finnish territory.

Accordingly, when the Germans began attacking the Soviet Union, starting on June 22 – when Operation Barbarossa against the Soviet Union began –, none of their attacks were launched from inside Finland.

In line with this is also the fact that when the Soviets began attacking Finland, starting at 06:05 am on June 22 at sea and following with a massive offensive over land, air, and sea on June 25, no German targets inside Finland were attacked.

All the way to the summer of 1944, the Germans were permitted to participate in war activities over the Finnish-Soviet border only from Northern Finland, through where the Germans had been granted a passage-right when the Germans and the Soviets were still allies.

An exception for this arrangement took place during the massive Soviet summer offensive against Finland in the summer of 1944, when some German forces, most notably Flight Detachment Kuhlmey, participated in the Finnish defensive campaign in southeastern Finland.

The Soviets themselves received extensive aid from their Western Allies, mainly from the USA. That Western Allies' aid to the Soviets was meant to support the Soviet war efforts against the Axis, part of which Finland was not. Nevertheless, in the Soviet hands – unlike intended – arms provided by the Western Allies became used for aggression against the Finns as well.




• Before the Soviets attacked against Finland in 1941, "Finland had decided to stay neutral unless she were to be attacked." (Mannerheim, 1952)

In his memoir, Mannerheim emphasizes that Finland had prepared for a defensive campaign – not offensive –, before the Soviet war-opening major attack of the Continuation War on June 25, 1941 (the first Soviet attack came at sea, starting at 06:05, and there had been countless border violations during the Interim Peace, after the end of the Winter War).

Due to this, following the Soviet war-initiating attack on June 25, 1941, it took a total of three weeks for the Finns to rearrange their forces from defensive to counter-offensive formations to the north side of Lake Ladoga, and another three weeks to the level of Vyborg – thus, a total of six weeks. (Mannerheim, 1952)




In his book 'Venäjän idea' ("The Idea of Russia"), published in 2001, the President of Finland Mauno Koivisto – in office in 1982–1994 – states the following (p. 606–607):

• "In 1995, a new print of the memoir of Marshal Georgi Zhukov was published. ... Zhukov gives a very unblemished picture of how strictly Stalin prohibited all defensive preparations."

In August 1994, Koivisto spoke at a seminar held in the North Karelian city of Joensuu, in the celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the Finnish defensive victory in the crucial Battle of Ilomantsi, the final attempt of the Red Army to crush the Finnish fences, from July 26 to August 13, 1944.

Two Red Army divisions were shattered and decimated in that battle, while the Red Army was forced to retreat. Koivisto, the future President of Finland, witnessed the battle as a soldier in a reconnaissance company led by the legendary Finnish war hero and a Knight of the Mannerheim Cross Captain Lauri Törni.

Lauri Törni later became a legend as a U.S. Green Beret under the name of Larry Thorne, while serving in the U.S. Special Forces. He was posthumously promoted to major after his disappearance in Laos in 1965, during the Vietnam War.

In the 1968 Hollywood movie 'The Green Berets', the main character, Colonel Mike Kirby – played by John Wayne –, is based loosely on the real-life person Larry Thorne.

In his speech, Koivisto noted that in the summer of 1944, when the Red Army launched an all-out offensive, aimed at eliminating Finland, the Finns were "extremely hard-pressed", but they "did not capitulate ... We succeeded in stopping the enemy cold at key points ... and in the final battle in Ilomantsi even in pushing the enemy back."




In July 1942, the Soviet Union air-bombed Southern Sweden, after first having launched a submarine attack against Swedish targets.

Stalin wanted to draw Sweden to war, so that a planned major Soviet attack against Sweden, successively conducted with a planned conquest of Finland, could easier be justified when the Soviet Union would launch its all-out offensive westbound.

However, just like the entire major Soviet offensive plan for the conquest of Europe, this part of the plan too crumbled. The primary reason for this was that Winston Churchill at a late point during the summer of 1942 decided that the United Kingdom was not ready yet in 1942 to participate in the planned landing of the Western Allied forces in Continental Europe.




In the Continuation War (1941–1944), the Finns succeeded bushing back the Soviets, following the war-initiating Soviet invasion of Finland on June 25, 1941 – the first Soviet attack taking place already on June 22, at sea, starting at 06:05 –, and thereafter in holding the Red Army behind the Finnish-Soviet 1940 border until the final moment of the war.

Of the pre-WWII Finnish territory officially ceded to the Soviet Union in the Paris Peace Treaty in 1947, only a tiny fraction had been lost in battles, and only because the Finnish war-command had ordered the counter-attacking Finns to stay on the Finnish side of the pre-WWII Finnish-Soviet border on the critical Leningrad battle-sector, for which reason the final fight there had to be fought on the Finnish side of the border.

In that sector, the pre-WWII border had run on the outskirts of the city of Leningrad. The Finns were ordered also not to bomb the city, and to allow the Allied lifeline from the Soviet Arctic Ocean's coast and over Lake Ladoga – mostly Finnish before WWII – to deliver aid to the defenders of Leningrad during the 872 days long and nearly successful German siege of the city.

This Finnish stance saved Leningrad from German conquest and impacted the course of the entire World War II in a major way, including – possibly – its final outcome. A coordinated German-Finnish attack launched in September 1941 would have overwhelmed the Soviet fences, says Robert Olkkonen Jackson ('Battle of the Baltic – The wars 1918–1945', 2007).

On June 17, 1944, before the anticipated major summer offensive of the Red Army against Finland, Finnish General Oesch, with Mannerheim's approval, made the final decision about where exactly the Finnish forces on this sector would be drawn for the final defensive fight against the Soviets. Following this plan and using delaying tactics, the Finnish forces on this sector were now drawn to this chosen defensive line, named VKT-line.

However, before the approaching fight taking place on the VKT-line, Finland's second-largest and second-oldest city, Vyborg (Finnish: Viipuri), at the southern edge of the VKT-line, had to be saved. In the Winter War (1939–1940), the Finns had fought hard for Vyborg and had won the fight, only to give up the city in the ensuing peace.

With this in mind, the Finns abandoned Vyborg in less than five hours on June 20, 1944. The rapid strategic abandonment of Vyborg left 23 Finnish soldiers dead and 97 missing in action (Eeva Tammi, 2007).

Next, the Finns now had to face a narrow but massive Soviet spearhead at the nearby VKT-line. There, the Soviets were defeated in an artillery fight the size of which had never been seen in the world before, the Battle of Tali-Ihantala, as well as in the simultaneous nearby Battle of Vyborg Bay.

The VKT-line had proved to be impenetrable. After suffering devastating losses in these two fights – not before –, the Soviets began moving parts of their forces from the Finnish fronts southbound, to be joined with the Allied forces now slowly advancing towards Berlin, the capital of Germany.

Following the Finnish abandonment of Vyborg, all the final and determining nine major battles of the Continuation War fought during the summer of 1944 ended in Finnish defensive victories. In the last major battle, fought in Ilomantsi, two Soviet divisions were shattered and decimated as the Red Army was forced to retreat.

After the Continuation-War-initiating major Soviet attack against Finland had taken place on June 25, 1941, when the Red Army penetrated inside Finland (e.g. in Parikkala) – its first attack had come at sea already on June 22 at 06:05 –, the Soviets had never again managed to cross the 1940 Finnish border during the entire Continuation War (1941–1945). At the war's final moment, the Finns were deep on the Soviet soil on large areas.




In its Continuation-War-initiating massive attack against Finland over the sea, air, and land on June 25, 1941, the Soviet Red Army crossed the Finnish-Soviet border into Finland, e.g. in Parikkala. As a prelude for this, the Soviets had attacked against Finnish convoy at sea already on June 22, 1941, at 06:05.

The intent of the Soviet Union was to conquer the entire country of Finland, by completing the task in which it had failed in the Winter War (1939–1940), and now faster than had been intended in the Winter War.

• Source: Manninen, Ohto (2008). "Miten Suomi valloitetaan: Puna-armeijan operaatiosuunnitelmat, 1939–1944" ("How Finland is conquered: The operational plans of the Red Army, 1939–1944").

German forces were hereafter permitted to operate against the Soviet forces over the Northern Finnish border facing the Soviet Union in the Finnish Lapland. Some German forces were at the time in Lapland, through where they had been granted a passage-right – arriving from Northern Sweden – to Northern Norway.

The passage-right for the Germans had been granted when Germany and the Soviet Union were still "allies", in the spirit of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, which the two countries had signed on August 23, 1939.

Over the course of the entire Continuation War (1941–1944) up to the summer of 1944, the Finns did not permit the Germans to participate in fighting against the Soviet forces on the Southern Finnish battlefronts.

An Exception to this took place during the summer of 1944 when limited German participation in the south was permitted. Most notably, a German air detachment then bombed the Soviets during the Battle of Tali-Ihantala.

Over the entire war, on the critical Leningrad battle sector, the Finnish war-command ordered the Finnish forces to freeze their counter-offensive on the pre-WWII Finland's national border, which ran on the outskirts of the city of Leningrad.

Accordingly, as the counter-attacking Finnish forces pushed back the invading Soviets from Finland, the Finns did not cross the border to the Soviet side on the Leningrad sector.

By refusing to ever attack Leningrad, the outskirts of which had bordered Finland before World War II, and by allowing the Allied lifeline from Murmansk and over Lake Ladoga to deliver aid to the defenders of Leningrad during the 872 days long and nearly successful German siege of the city, the Finns saved Leningrad from a German conquest and impacted the course of the entire World War II in a major way, including – possibly – its final outcome.

A coordinated German-Finnish attack launched in September 1941 would have overwhelmed the Soviet fences, says, for instance, Robert Olkkonen Jackson ("Battle of the Baltic – The wars 1918–1945", 2007).

On September 11, 1941, the U.S. Ambassador to Finland Arthur Schoenfeld was informed that the Finnish counter-attack on the Karelian Isthmus had been halted at the pre-WWII border – with a few "straightened curves" at the municipalities of Valkeasaari and Kirjasalo – and that under no conditions would Finland participate in an offensive against Leningrad, but would instead maintain a static defense and wait for a political resolution. The Foreign Minister of Finland Rolf Witting stressed to Schoenfeld that Germans, however, should not hear of this.

On the northeastern side of the huge Lake Ladoga, the Finns halted their counter-offensive on the level of Svir River (Finnish: Syväri). Despite the German pleas for the Finns to help the Germans to form a full encirclement around the city of Leningrad, the Finns refused to assist on this. This Finnish stance enabled the Soviets to utilize their forces on other major theaters of war, including in – but not limited to – the battles of Moscow and Stalingrad, both decisive battles of World War II.

This also made possible the continued Soviet operation of arms and ammunition factories in Leningrad, the production of which was of vital importance not only for the defenders of Leningrad during the German siege of the city but also for the defenders of Moscow at the early stages of Operation Barbarossa, when Hitler's forces attacked the city.

During the period of the trench war, which followed after the Finns had halted their counter-offensive in late 1941, lasting about two and a half years, the Finns stayed still on these defensive lines on the Leningrad sector, refraining from interrupting the major Allied supply-lines, such as the Murmansk Railway and the lifeline used for transporting Allied aid southbound over Lake Ladoga.

This Finnish non-interference made possible the delivery of a massive amount of critically needed Western supplies to the Soviets, including to the defenders and residents of Leningrad.

The Finns were determined not to interfere with the war waged between the Allies and the Axis. Accordingly, Finns chose to tolerate the operations of the Allied supply-lines near the Finnish border, even though in the Soviet hands the arms and other aid sent to the Soviets by the Western Allies became used not only for the Allied war against the Axis – as the Allies had intended – but were used also for the Soviet aggression against Finland.




The first Soviet attack of the Continuation War against Finland took place on June 22, 1941, at sea, starting at 06:05, after which two Finnish submarines landed mines on the Estonian coast. The war-launching major Soviet attack against Finland over air, land, and sea took place on June 25, 1941.

In his book, 'Jatkosodan synty' ("The Launching of the Continuation War"), p. 606–607, Professor Mauno Jokipii explains how the Soviet Union officially emphasized that it had launched the Continuation War:

• "The Soviet Union does not even try to deny its own initiative in the launching of the massive offensive. On the contrary, this is being emphasized. The question who started has been solved: The Soviet Union admits in an official publication that it started the air-raid in Finland and in the Nordic area."




In their counter-offensive, the Finns entered the Soviet territory in some areas but penetrated only as far to the Soviet side as was necessary, to effectively block further attacks of the Red Army to the Finnish side, until the final terms for peace could be agreed upon, at the war's end.

With this in mind, and with c. 1500 kilometers long Finnish-Soviet border and small Finnish army at hand, the Finnish war command saw it necessary for the Finns to utilize the isthmuses between the large bodies of waters east from Finland, close to the Finnish-Soviet border.

To please their ally, the Soviet Union, the Brits – unlike the USA – declared war on Finland in December 1941. Churchill's "excuse" for the Brits doing so was that the Finns went too far east in their counterattack. The Finns, on the other hand, felt that in their strategic defensive planning – to secure the safety of Finland –, the Finnish war command could not take advice or orders from foreign politicians.

However, in the Allied leaders’ Tehran Conference on December 1, 1943, the Allied leaders Joseph Stalin, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Winston Churchill acknowledged that the Finns were fighting a separate war from the war waged between the Allies and the Axis.

• "A separate peace with Finland was discussed at the summit meeting of the three major powers in Tehran on December 1, 1943. Roosevelt spoke in favor of Finland, and so did Churchill, despite Britain having declared war on Finland in December 1941. Stalin admitted that “a people that had fought so valiantly for its independence deserves consideration”." ("News", Sept. 23, 2004. Embassy of Finland, Washington.)

Accordingly, the Soviet Union attempted to make a separate peace agreement with Finland during the winter of 1943–1944, with the 1940 Interim Peace border as the basis for the ending of hostilities. Notably, the Soviet Union did not try to deny it having been the aggressor in the Continuation War and having started the Continuation War against Finland.

In line with this is also the fact, that unconditional surrender was no longer required from Finland following the series of nine final and decisive Finnish battle victories that ended the Continuation War on September 19, 1944. The following year, 1945, – however – an unconditional surrender was required from Germany and all of its allies.




During World War II, Finland was not part of either the Allies nor the Axis. The Finnish-Soviet wars were separate from – not part of – the conflict between the Allied and Axis Powers. Accordingly, the USA and Finland never declared war on each other, and never broke diplomatic ties.

Finland made a separate peace with the Soviet Union, in 1944, without the Soviets ever being able to force the Finns to an unconditional surrender. That peace was not part of the peacemaking process between the Allied and Axis, which took place the following year, 1945, when the Axis Powers were forced to a total and unconditional surrender to the Allied Powers.

Unlike leaders of Germany and other Axis Powers, many of whom were sentenced to death in the aftermath of World War II, the Commander of the Finnish Defense Forces Mannerheim was appointed the President of Finland on August 4, 1944, shortly before the Finnish-Soviet Continuation War ended.

Mannerheim remained in office until March 4, 1946, when he resigned and retired, 19 months after the Continuation War had ended. Finland had won her defensive war against the Soviet Union the only way a defensive war can be won, by a defensive victory.

On November 30, 2008, the Editor in Chief Janne Virkkunen of Helsingin Sanomat (HS), a large Finnish daily, stated in the paper's editorial section the following:

• "The official policy of Finland remains that the Continuation War was a separate war" (from the war between the Allies and the Axis).




Like Minister Max Jacobson, numerous historians have emphasized both verbally and in writing, that the Finnish-Soviet the Continuation War was a "separate war", not part of the conflict between the Allies and the Axis.

While president of Finland in 2000–2012, Tarja Halonen on several occasions reminded the world leaders of this and of the fact that the Finnish wartime strategy was not to interrupt the operations of the Allied supply-lines near the Finnish-Soviet border, used for delivering aid to the Soviets.

For instance, on her visit to Paris in 2005, Halonen brought up the question of the wartime Allied "lifeline" near the Finnish-Soviet border and the fact that its operation would not have been possible without the cooperation of the Finns, who refused to join the German bombardment and siege of Leningrad.

Finland's wartime objectives were different from those of Germany's, Halonen stressed during her presidency. In her speech in Paris in 2005, Halonen stated the following:

• "For us, World War II meant a separate war against the Soviet Union."

In the Presidential Forum VIII held in Helsinki on November 19, 2008, Halonen commented that statement of hers and added:

• "I still believe that the speech described, and it still does, the feelings of the Finns about the matter." (HS, Nov. 20, 2008.)

• Among others, "Professor Ohto Manninen continued to regard the term ”separate war” as a perfectly good term." "Finland’s relationship with other countries was crucial, not the relations between Finland and Germany, Manninen explained." (HS, Nov. 20, 2008)

• "He (Manninen) also pointed out that the Soviet Union tried to achieve peace separately with Finland already in the early winter of 1944. Furthermore, even the United States regarded the war between Finland and the Soviet Union as a separate conflict." (HS, Nov. 20, 2008.




Finland refused to form an alliance with Germany, and in 1944–1945 had a war against Germany, known as the Lapland War. During World War II, the Finns in many ways contributed to the Allied war efforts against the Axis, including – but not limited to – these ways:

• By not signing the Tripartite Pact, a.k.a. the Axis Pact, which established the Axis Powers of World War II;

• By not allowing direct German attacks from the Finnish area against the Soviet Union during the period of the Interim Peace;

• By not accepting the 80 000 elite German soldiers offered by Germany to be placed under the command of Mannerheim;

• By not agreeing to attack the Soviet Union, unless the Soviet Union would attack Finland first;

• By not crossing the pre-WWII Finnish-Soviet border to the Soviet side on the critical Leningrad sector, when the Finns pushed back the invading Soviet Red Army;

• by not permitting the Germans to operate from the Finnish area on the Southern Finnish war-fronts or near the critical Leningrad sector (Exception to this took place during the summer of 1944 when limited German participation in the south was permitted. Most notably, a German air detachment then bombed the Soviets during the Battle of Tali-Ihantala.);

• By not joining the German siege of Leningrad;

• By not blocking the Allied supply-line – a.k.a. "lifeline" –, which was operated over Lake Ladoga near the Finnish border, delivering vital supplies to the defenders of Leningrad;

• By not interrupting the operation of the Murmansk Railway, near the Finnish border, used for delivering massive amounts of Allied weapons and other supplies to the Soviets;

• By not fighting together in major battles with the Germans (except for the German air support in the Battle of Tali-Ihantala in 1944);

• By not declaring war against the Allied countries but only responding against the Soviet attacks against Finland (on December 6, 1941, the United Kingdom declared war on Finland. The Commonwealth member states Australia, Canada, India, and New Zealand followed suit. This was merely a technical measure, in support of the Allied partner, the Soviet Union);

• By keeping up secret high-level talks between the U.S. Embassy in Helsinki and the Finns;

• By not honoring the German pleas for Finland not to make a separate peace with the Soviet Union;

• By not handing any Finnish Jews to Germans. Finnish Jews participated in the Finnish war efforts the same way all other Finnish citizens did;

• By providing asylum in Finland to all but five of over 500 Jewish refuge-seekers. Four of the five are believed to have later died in German custody, along with two children and a wife of one who voluntarily left Finland in 1942.




In 1944, Finland agreed to a conditional peace with the Soviet Union, which included the obligation for the Finns to chase away from the Finnish territory all German forces.

This Finnish-Soviet agreement triggered a war between Finland and Germany. As the Germans had been operating over the Finnish-Soviet border from the Northern Finnish province of Lapland, the war was waged there, and – consequently – it became known as the Lapland War. It was fought from September 1944 to April 1945.




Following WWII, the Continuation-War-era (1941–1944) Finnish-Jewish officer of the Finnish artillery Max Jacobson became an internationally renowned diplomat and Finnish government minister.

As Finland's ambassador to the United Nations, Jacobson was a candidate for the post of the United Nations secretary-general in 1971. His candidacy failed due to a veto from the Soviet Union.

The Soviets approved for the post an Austrian diplomat and politician Kurt Waldheim, an officer in the German army during World War II. Waldheim became the fourth-ever Secretary-General of the United Nations (1972–1981).

The International Committee of Historians pointed by the government of Austria concluded in 1988 that Waldheim had lied about his military record and that although he denied it, he must have known about WWII-era German war-crimes, albeit he could not have done anything to stop them.




Authentic Soviet documents from 1940–1941 became available to researches after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. They include documents confirming that the intent of the Soviets was to conquer Finland in the summer of 1941 (Manninen, 2008).

In the book 'Bitva za Leningrad, 1941–1944' (English: Battle of Leningrad; Russian: Битва за Ленинград), edited by the Soviet Lieutenant General S. P. Platonov and published in the Soviet Union by Voenizdat Ministerstva oborony SSSR in 1964, Platonov discusses the massive Soviet summer offensive against Finland in the summer of 1944 and the final battles on the critical Leningrad sector.

Platonov confirms that the Soviet intent was to penetrate "deep inside Finland". He admits to the Finnish defensive victory and to the failure of the Soviets "to carry out the tasks assigned to them". Page 178:

• "The repeated offensive attempts of the Soviet forces from the bridgehead failed to gain results. The enemy was able to significantly tighten the formation of its forces in the area and to fend off all attacks of our troops."

• "During the offensive operations, lasting over three weeks, from June 21 to mid-July, the forces of the right flank of the Leningrad front failed to carry out the tasks assigned to them on the orders of the Supreme Command, issued on June 21. Our forces did not manage to advance to the Finnish-Soviet border and to clear the Karelian Isthmus of enemy forces. By moving enough reinforcements to the area, the Finnish war command stopped the attack of the Soviet forces from the Karelian Isthmus to deep inside Finland."




On April 6, 1948, in presence of high ranking Finnish government and military officials in Moscow, Stalin saluted the Finnish Defense Forces with a toast, accompanied with the following words:

"Although I am not really a soldier, I can state that during the time of peace us soldiers are easily forgotten, but at a time of war everything depends on us. Nobody respects a country with a weak army. Everybody respects a country with a good army. I raise my toast to the Finnish Army and the representatives of it here, General Heinrichs and General Oinonen."

• Source: Lt. General Oinonen, Sotilasaikakauslehti, 1971.




Soon after the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991, the President of Russia Boris Yeltsin admitted to the President of Finland and the future Nobel Peace Prize laureate Martti Ahtisaari that the two Finnish-Soviet wars fought between 1939 and 1944 had both been triggered by Stalin’s aggression. (Source: Martti Ahtisaari)




In his final interview, given to Pro Karelia on December 17, 2003, the famed Finnish General of Infantry Adolf Ehrnrooth discussed the two Finnish-Soviet wars:

• "I, having participated in both the Winter War and the Continuation War, can stress: I know well how the wars ended on the battlefields. The Continuation War, in particular, ended in a Finnish defensive victory, in the most important meaning of the term."




General Nikita Khrushchev was the first post-WWII premier of the Soviet Union (1953–1964), following the reign of Stalin. Khrushchev wanted to end some of the cruelest policies of Stalin, as well as the systematic lying practiced by Soviet leaders.

In his memoir, 'Khrushchev Remembers' (1970), Khrushchev explains how the Soviet leaders had systematically "lied" to the Soviet citizens, including about the Finnish-Soviet wars, their causes, casualties, final outcomes, etc.

To portray the Finns as the aggressors of the Continuation War, the post-WWII Soviet historians were ordered to entirely wipe out from the Soviet history-writing the Winter War, as well as the Soviet Continuation-War-initiating invasion of Finland.

The well planned and well documented and exposed Soviet intent to conquer Finland not only in the Winter War but also in the Continuation War was hidden from the Soviet people.

The Continuation War was falsely disguised as part of a Soviet defensive struggle against the Axis Powers, and it was grouped together with what in the Soviet Union became known as the Great Patriotic War, fought against invading Nazis.

According to Khrushchev, for the 105 days' Winter War alone, 1,5 million Soviets were sent to attack Finland, and one million of them died in the Winter War. This was hidden from the Soviet people, Khrushchev states in his memoir, excerpts of which are provided below:

The Finns "annihilated our efforts to break our way through the strategically important Karelian Isthmus." (p. 138)

• "In their white snow uniforms or in hiding behind tree branches, the Finns were practically invisible." (p. 139) … "I believe about a million of our men were killed." (p. 140)

• "In the war against Finland, we got to choose the places and times for the battles. We outnumbered our enemy and we had had plenty of time to prepare for our operation." (p. 141)

• "The war waged against Finland was a bitter block for our army, which had been glorified as invincible ..." (p. 141)

• According to Khrushchev, Winter War cost "enormous loses" to the Soviet Union and ended in Soviet "moral defeat" (p. 141):

• "However, this kind of picture was not presented to our own people. On the contrary, after the Finnish war, our people were told to celebrate our victory: "Let the trumpets play in the honor of our victory!"" (p. 141)

By executing witnesses of the Winter War, by hiding evidence and by distorting facts, Stalin proceeded to wipe out the entire Winter War from history.

The Ukrainian veteran of the Battle of Raate Road Sergeant Pyotr Andrevitch Morozov was interviewed in 1991 by the Finnish non-fiction writer Leo Karttimo: According to Morozov, Finns returned prisoners of war, but none of them managed to get back to Ukraine as the Soviet secret service NKVD executed them all in the summer of 1940 (Kulju, 2007, p. 83).