Continuation War

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  • Photo: Finnish soldiers in the summer of 1944, during the Finnish-Soviet Continuation War (1941–1944).

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 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), Joseph Stalin prepared the Soviet Union to attack westward in the summer of 1941, in the largest offensive in world history. The operation was named Groza. This is a tightly hidden topic in the Vladimir-Putin-controlled Russian media today, as it was in the Soviet media too. The intent of Stalin was to first invade Finland and then via Northern Finland Sweden and Norway. This conquered Nordic region was then intended 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. Stalin's intent was to invade Finland from both north – utilizing the Salla Railway in the process – and south at the same time. The conquest of Finland was intended to be completed even faster now than had been intended in the failed Soviet attempt of the Winter War (1939–1940). Documents related to this master 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 – eight months after the Finnish-Soviet Winter War had ended –, the Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov sought a renewed Hitler's approval for the Soviet conquest of Finland, but to no prevail this time. Molotov soon followed up with a matching written request to Germany on this subject, but he was not provided an answer.

  • On June 2, 1942, Hitler was secretly recorded in Finland telling Mannerheim about his conversation with Molotov. Hitler stated: "... the demands that the man (Molotov) brought up (to me) were clearly aimed at the (Soviet) ruling of Europe in the end."

Until the early hours of June 22, 1941, when the Soviet airforces attacked a Finnish naval convoy and Finnish coastal fortress in southwestern Finland starting at 06:05 and when the Soviet artillery bombed the Finnish coast around Hanko – as a prelude for what became known as the (Finnish-Soviet) Continuation War – and when on that same day the Axis Powers launched the Operation Barbarossa against the Soviet Union, the Soviet Union and Germany were still each other's allies, as had been agreed in the so-called Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, signed 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 19 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 the 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, Joseph Stalin would have launched a massive attack westbound starting in July 1941, under the operation named Groza. The experts specializing in the WWII-era history who have expressed in writing that in their view Stalin's intention to attack westward was real include – but are not limited to – e.g. the following:

  • Sampo Ahto, colonel • Fritz Becker, historian • Bernd Schwipper, former East German general • 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 • David Irving, 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 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 summer 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. At the same time, the Soviets committed countless border violations against Finland. On June 14, 1940, they also shot down the Finnish civilian airplane Kaleva while it was en route from Tallinn to Helsinki, killing nine of its passengers.

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 of 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 Soviets from Finnish territory. Accordingly, when the Germans began attacking the Soviets, starting on June 22 when the Axis Powers' 'Operation Barbarossa' against the Soviets began, none of the German attacks were launched from Finland. In line with this is also the fact that when the Soviets began attacking Finland, first on June 22 and then followed up by a massive invasion on June 25, no German targets inside Finland were attacked.

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

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





Before the Soviets attacked Finland in 1941, "Finland had decided to stay neutral unless she were to be attacked." (Mannerheim, 1952) There had been countless Soviet border violations against Finland during the Interim Peace, after the end of the Winter War (1939–1940). The Finns knew well that another Soviet attempt to conquer Finland would come soon. The signs of it were abundant and clear.

Accordingly, In his memoirs, Mannerheim emphasizes that Finland had prepared for a defensive campaign – not offensive –, before the war-opening major Soviet attack of the Continuation War on June 25, 1941, took place. The first Soviet attacks had come already on June 22, at which point the Finns did not yet return fire. Due to this, after June 25, it took 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).

Whereas Finland never signed any kind of cooperation treaty with Germany, the two ended up fighting against a common enemy, the Soviet Union, after the massive Soviet invasion of Finland had been launched in June 1941. Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin, however, were allies of each other until the early morning hours of June 22, 1941
– when the Soviets began attacking against Finland and when the Axis Powers' Operation Barbarossa too began on that same day , per their mutual Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, signed on August 23, 1939.




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 yet ready 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 in pushing back the Soviets, following the war-initiating Soviet invasion of Finland on June 25, 1941 – the first Soviet attacking had begun already on June 22 –, and thereafter in holding the Red Army behind the Finnish-Soviet 1940 border until the final moment of the war. Finland had by then achieved a brilliant defensive victory in the Continuation War, i.e. in the actual fighting done on the battlefields of the war. 


Had Finland lost the war, she would have been forced to surrender to the Soviets, like all the Axis Powers were in 1945, and – in the aftermath, and at best – Finland would have been forced to become a Soviet satellite nation for a long time to come, like e.g. the Baltic Nations were forced, i.e. Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, Finland's closest neighbors to the south. 


Instead of ever surrendering to the Soviet Union, despite the Soviet demands to the contrary, and despite Finland's great warring successes and defensive war victory achieved, the Finns agreed to a conditional peace in 1944 and agreed to cede land to the Soviets. This was done in an effort to reach a lasting peace and – to some degree – also to please the leaders of the powerful Western Allied Nations, namely the USA and UK, who had provided aid to the Soviet Union on a massive scale, the USA in particular.


Of the pre-WWII Finnish territory eventually ceded to the Soviet Union, officially 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 not to cross the pre-WWII Finnish-Soviet border on the critical Leningrad battle sector, where the border had run on the outskirts of the City of Leningrad. Thus, the final fighting on this sector had to be done on the Finnish side of the 1940 Interim Peace border. There, all the nine consecutive, determining, and final major battles ended in decisive Finnish defensive victories.

In addition to not crossing the border on the Leningrad battle sector, the Finns had also been ordered not to bomb the City of Leningrad. The Finns also allowed the Allied lifeline to be operated near the Finnish border and over Lake Ladoga – roughly half of the lake belonged to Finland 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 Soviet summer offensive, the Finnish Lieutenant General Karl Lennart Oesch made the final decision – with Mannerheim's approval – on where the Finnish forces on this sector would be drawn for the final defensive fight. Using delaying tactics, the Finnish forces were drawn to the chosen line, known as the VKT-line.

However, before the approaching fight took 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-making process. 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 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, decisive, and determining nine major battles of the Continuation War fought during the summer of 1944 – as already stated – 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 Soviets penetrated inside Finland (e.g. in Parikkala) – their first attacks had come
on June 22 in southwestern Finland, starting at 06:05, and around the town of Hanko –, the Soviets had never again managed to cross the 1940 Finnish-Soviet border during the entire Continuation War (1941–1944). At the war's final moment, the Finns were deep on Soviet soil in large areas.  





In the Continuation War (1941–1944), the intent of the Soviet Union was to conquer 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").

Following the Continuation-War-launching major Soviet invasion of Finland on June 25, 1941, German forces were permitted to operate against the Soviets over the eastern border of Northern Finland. There were some German forces at that time in Northern Finland, through where they had been granted a passage-right to Northern Norway. Such right had been granted when the Germans and Soviets were still each other's "allies", in the spirit of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, 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 Soviets on the Southern Finnish battlefronts. An Exception to this took place during the massive Soviet summer of 1944 when limited German participation in the south was permitted. Most notably, a German air detachment then bombed the attacking Soviets during the Battle of Tali-Ihantala.

As the counter-attacking Finnish forces pushed back the invading Soviets from Finland, starting in the summer of 1941 and during the fall of 1941, they did not cross the Finnish-Soviet border to the Soviet side on the Leningrad sector. There, under orders from the Finnish war command, the Finnish counter-offensive formation was kept frozen on the pre-WWII Finnish-Soviet border – which ran on the outskirts of the City of Leningrad – until the early summer of 1944

By refusing to ever attack Leningrad 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 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 enabled the continued Soviet operation of arms and ammunition factories in Leningrad, the productions of which were of vital importance not only to the defenders of Leningrad during the attempted German siege of the city but also to the defenders of Moscow at the early stages of the Operation Barbarossa, when Adolf Hitler's forces attacked the city.

During the two and a half years long period of trench war, which followed after the Finns had halted their counter-offensive in late 1941, 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 get mixed with the war waged between the Allies and the Axis. Accordingly, the Finns chose to tolerate the operations of the Allied supply lines near the Finnish border. This despite the fact that in the Soviet hands the arms and other aid sent to them by the Western Allies became used not only for the Allied war against the Axis – as the Allies had intended – but were also used for the Soviet aggression against Finland.





The first Soviet attacks of the Continuation War against Finland took place on June 22, 1941, in southwestern Finland, starting at 06:05, and on that same day also around the Southern Finnish town of Hanko. On that day, after the Soviets had begun attacking Finland – not before –, two Finnish submarines landed mines on the Estonian coast. The Finns did not return the Soviet fire on that day. The Continuation-War-launching major Soviet invasion of Finland over air, land, and sea took place on June 25, 1941.

In his book, 'Jatkosodan synty' (literally, "The Genesis 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 the Nordic area."





In their counter-offensive – to push back the Soviet invaders – the Finns entered inside the Soviet Union on some areas, but only as far inside as they saw necessary for the prevention of new Soviet attacks inside Finland. With the c. 1500 kilometers long Finnish-Soviet border and quite small Finnish army, the Finns wanted to utilize the isthmuses between the large bodies of waters east of Finland, until peace could be agreed upon. The narrow isthmuses were easier to defend than the entire Finnish border. 

Winston Churchill, however, saw in this an excuse for him to side with – and please – Joseph Stalin, his partner in the Allied Powers' war against the Axis Powers (Finland was not a member of either alliance but fought what became known as a "separate war" against the Soviet Union). Accordingly, – in what amounted to just a technical measure, for the aforementioned reason – Churchill had the United Kingdom and the entire British Commonwealth declare war against Finland on December 6, 1941. The United States did not participate in this. Churchill then wrote to the Marshal of Finland C. G. E. Mannerheim a telegram which included the following content: 

  •  "I am deeply grieved at what I see coming, namely that we shall be forced in a few days out of loyalty to our ally Russia to declare war upon Finland. ... Surely your troops have advanced far enough for security during the war and could now halt and give leave."

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 or the Axis. The Finnish-Soviet wars were separate from – not part of – the conflict between the Allied and Axis Powers. Accordingly, – for instance – the United States and Finland never declared war on each other, nor did they ever break diplomatic ties with each other.

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 – a Jewish-Finnish WWII-era artillery officer –, numerous historians have emphasized both verbally and in writing that the Finnish-Soviet Continuation War was a "separate war", not part of the conflict between the Allied Powers and the Axis Powers.

The President of Finland Tarja Halonen (2000–2012) on several occasions reminded the world leaders of the fact that the Finnish-Soviet Continuation War was a "separate war", not part of the conflict between the Allied Powers and the Axis Powers. On the same occasions, Halonen has brought up the fact that part of the Finnish wartime strategy was to refrain from interrupting the operations of the Allied supply line – the lifeline – 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 attempted siege of Leningrad.

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 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.

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

  • "For us, World War II meant a separate war against the Soviet Union."
  • Ithe  Presidential Forum VIII held in Helsinki on November 19, 2008, Halonen commented on 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)
  • "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." "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 fought between Finland and the Soviet Union as a separate conflict." (HS, Nov. 20, 2008)





Finland refused to ally 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 Soviets 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 (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.);
  • By not joining the attempted German siege of Leningrad;
  • By not blocking the Allied supply line – a.k.a. "lifeline" – that was operated over Lake Ladoga near the Finnish-Soviet border, delivering vital supplies to the defenders of Leningrad;
  • By not interrupting the operation of the Murmansk Railway, located near the Finnish-Soviet border, used for delivering massive amounts of Allied weapons and other supplies to the Soviets;
  • By not fighting together with the Germans in major battles (an exception to this was the German air support for the Finns in the Battle of Tali-Ihantala in 1944);
  • By not declaring war against the Allied countries but – instead – only responding to 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 UK's 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 than all other Finnish citizens did;
  • By providing asylum in Finland to all but five of over 500 Jewish refuge-seekers from various countries. 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 in 1971 a candidate for the post of the United Nations secretary-general. His candidacy failed due to a veto presented by the Soviet Union. The Soviets  instead – approved for the post the 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 the WWII-era German war crimes, albeit he could not have done anything to stop them.




Authentic Soviet documents from 1940–1941 became available to researchers after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. They include documents confirming that the Soviets intended 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 offensive against Finland in the summer of 1944 and the final battles on the critical Leningrad battle sector. Platonov confirms that the Soviet intent was to penetrate "deep inside Finland" (i.e., conquer Finland). He admits to the Finnish defensive victory and admits that the Soviets "failed 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 the presence of high ranking Finnish government and military officials in Moscow, Joseph Stalin saluted the Finnish Defense Forces with a toast and brief speech, ending with the following words: 

  • "Nobody respects a country that has a weak army. Everyone respects a country that has a great army. I raise my toast to the Finnish army and the representatives of it here, General Heinrichs and General Oinonen." (Source: Lt. General Oinonen in Sotilasaikakauslehti, 1971) 





Soon after the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, the President of Russia Boris Yeltsin admitted to the President of Finland – 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 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 (president) of the Soviet Union (1953–1964), following the reign of Joseph Stalin. Khrushchev wanted to end some of the cruelest policies of Stalin, as well as the systematic lying practiced by the Soviet leaders. In his memoirs, 'Khrushchev Remembers' (1970), Khrushchev explains how the Soviet leaders had systematically "lied" to the Soviet people, including about the Finnish-Soviet wars, their causes, casualties, final outcomes, etc.

To portray the Finns as the aggressors in the Continuation War (1941–1944), the post-WWII Soviet historians were ordered to entirely wipe out from the Soviet history-writing the Winter War (1939–1940), as well as the Continuation-War-initiating Soviet invasion of Finland in 1941.

The well-planned, well-documented, and well-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 the Soviet defensive struggle against the Axis Powers and was falsely grouped together with what in the Soviet Union became known as the Great Patriotic War, a war fought against the invading Axis forces.

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 explains in his memoirs, some 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, the 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, hiding evidence, and 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).