Continuation War

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C. G. E. Mannerheim



The legendary Marshal of Finland and President of Finland Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim (1867–1951) led the Defense Forces of Finland in four major wars during the 20th century, helping to secure the continuation of Finland as a free, sovereign and independent nation.

Before that, Mannerheim spent 30 years in the service of the Russian Imperial Armed Forces, at the end of the era when Finland was the Grand Duchy of Finland (1809–1917), an autonomous part of the Russian Empire (1721–1917). For 28 years of that time, Saint Petersburg (Finnish: Nevanlinna) was the hometown of Mannerheim.

In 1904, Mannerheim volunteered to serve in the Russo-Japanese War (1904–1905). He was promoted to colonel for his bravery in the Battle of Mukden (1905), after which he led an exploratory mission into Inner Mongolia. In 1906–1908, Mannerheim served as a secret intelligence officer in Asia.

In 1909–1910, Mannerheim served as a regiment commander in Poland. He was promoted to major general in 1910. In 1912, Mannerheim became part of the Russian Imperial entourage, and in 1913 was appointed cavalry brigade commander.



In the late 19th and early 20th century, the Russian Empire covered one-sixth of the surface of the planet Earth, and over 150 different peoples lived in its area.

During the era of the autonomous Grand Duchy of Finland in 1809–1917, over 300 Finns rose to the highest possible military ranks of a general and admiral in the Russian Imperial Armed Forces. The last officer promoted to general in Russia before its turning into the Soviet Union (1922–1991) also was Finnish, by the name of Georg Elfvengren.

• Georg Elfvengren (1889–1927) on Wikipedia

• Finns in a critical role in the U.S. Civil War 
– (1861–1865)

Nicholas II (known in Russian as Nikolai II Aleksandrovich) was the last emperor – a.k.a. tsar in Russia – of Russia. The coronation of him and his wife, Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, was the last coronation held in the Russian Empire. It took place in Moscow on May 26, 1896. 

• Nicholas II – a video in Finnish

Something about the importance of Finnish officers for the Russian Empire is told also by the fact that in the aforementioned final Russian imperial coronation, the emperor's ceremonial honor guard of seven officers, formed of members of the Life Guards Cavalry Regiment, included four Finns.

At the coronation's ceremonial parade, that honor guard unit was led by Mannerheim, who – at the parade – walked right in front of Tsar Nicholas II, on the tsar's righthand side.

• Photo: Mannerheim in the parade

(Tsar, also spelled czar, or tzar or csar, is a title used to designate East and South Slavic monarchs or supreme rulers of Eastern Europe, originally the Bulgarian monarchs from 10th century onwards, much later a title for two rulers of the Serbian State, and from 1547 the supreme ruler of the Tsardom of Russia and the Russian Empire.)



At the beginning of World War I (28 July 1914 – 11 November 1918), Mannerheim served as a brigade commander of the Russian imperial forces on the Austro-Hungarian and Romanian battlefronts. 

In December 1914, after distinguishing himself in combat against the Austro-Hungarian forces, Mannerheim was awarded the Order of St. George, 4th class. In March 1915, he was appointed to command the 12th Cavalry Division of the Russian Empire. 

In early 1917, Mannerheim witnessed the outbreak of the February Revolution in St. Petersburg (Petrograd from 1914). After returning to the front, he was promoted to lieutenant general in April 1917 (the promotion was backdated to February 1915). 

Mannerheim took command of the Russian 6th Cavalry Corps in the summer of 1917. However, as Mannerheim did not support the Russian revolution, he soon after returned to Finland.



As the commander-in-chief of the defense forces of the newly-independent country of Finland, Mannerheim and Finland's government forces – formally known as the White Guard – defended Finland against a coup-attempt by the Finnish Red Guard during the Finnish Civil War (1918) that broke out on January 27, 1918. 

The coup-attempt was inspired by the October Revolution (1917) of Russia and was supported by Vladimir Lenin and Russian forces loyal to him.

Having already been ranked as general in the Russian Imperial Armed Forces, Mannerheim was promoted to general of cavalry in the Defense Forces of Finland in March 1918, during the Finnish Civil War. 

After the Finnish Civil War had ended in May 1918, Finnish forces formerly land/or still actively loyal to Mannerheim participated in 1918–1922 in wars that in Finnish historiography are collectively known in Finnish as heimosodat. The term has been translated literally into English as "Kindred Nations Wars", "Wars for kindred peoples", and "Kinship Wars", specifically referring to Finnic kinship. 

The term refers to conflicts in territories inhabited by various Finnic peoples – a.k.a. Baltic Finns – around and/or near the modern Finnish-Russian border and in Estonia. Finnish volunteers took part in these conflicts either to assert Finnish control over the areas inhabited by related Finnic peoples or to help them gain their independence during the Russian Civil War (1917–1923). 

The enemies of the Finnish volunteer forces in these conflicts were 'Soviet Russian' Bolsheviks fighting together with members – or sympathizers – of the Finnish Red Guard operating in Northwestern Russia, many of whom had fled Finland during or in the aftermath of the Finnish Civil War (1918). 

These "Kinship Wars" included the Civil War of Estonia, fought in 1918–1920. In that war, circa 4,000 Finns loyal to Mannerheim played a critical role in achieving independence for Estonia. 

• "Kinship Wars" on Wikipedia



During World War II, Finland fought two defensive wars against the Soviet Union, the Winter War (1939–1940) and the Continuation War (1941–1944). In these wars, Mannerheim led the Defense Forces of Finland against the Soviet attempts to conquer Finland. 

The Finnish-Soviet warring done during World War II ended in series of nine Finnish defensive victories in major battles fought in the summer of 1944, and in a retreat of the Soviet forces in the last major battle, fought in Ilomantsi.

Following that final Continuation War victory of his, the now Marshal of Finland Mannerheim commanded the Defense Forces of Finland in the Lapland War, fought between Finland and Germany from September 1944 to April 1945, in which the Finns chased away German forces from Northern Finland.
Mannerheim was appointed the President of Finland on August 4, 1944, shortly before the Finnish-Soviet Continuation War ended. He remained in office until March 4, 1946, when he resigned and retired, 19 months after the Continuation War had ended.



Mannerheim's strategic decisions not to permit Finnish attacks against Saint Petersburg (Petrograd in 1914–1924; Leningrad in 1924–1991) saved the city – and consequently likely the entire Bolshevik-led Soviet Russian realm – from conquests by the anti-Bolshevik forces in the Russian Civil War (1917–1923) and the partially overlapping World War I (1914–1918) and – later – by Germany during World War II (1939–1945). 

Such Mannerheim's decisions were made during the wars discussed in the articles and video (in Finnish) linked below. In these wars, forces loyal to Mannerheim fought against forces loyal to – or forces fighting in cooperation with – the Russian and/or Soviet Bolshevik leaders. 

The Bolsheviks were a radical far-left Marxist faction founded by Vladimir Lenin (1870–1924) and Alexander Bogdanov (1873–1928). They took power in Russia in November 1917, overthrowing the liberal Provisional Government of Alexander Kerensky, and became the only ruling party in the subsequent 'Soviet Russia' (1917–1922 [– 1991]) and its successor state, the 'Soviet Union' (1922–1991).

• Finnish Civil War (1918)

• Heimosodat – "Kinship Wars" (1918–1922)

• Estonian War of Independence (1918–1920)
– (video in Finnish)

• Continuation War (1941–1944)



When the Grand Duchy of Finland (1809–1917) existed, the Russian Empire was a relatively young naval power. It had regained access – after a long break – to the Baltic Sea in the early 18th century when the forces of the Russian Tsar Peter the Great conquered Ingria during the Great Northern War (1700–1721) when the forces of the Swedish Empire were focusing on fighting other enemies.

Following his conquest of the Finnic town of Nevanlinna (Swedish: Nyen, Nyenskans) on the easternmost coast of the Gulf of Finland in Ingria, Peter the Great renamed the town as Saint Petersburg. As part of the Swedish Empire ("Sweden-Finland"), Nevanlinna had been granted town-rights in 1642.

Officially, Ingria – and Nevanlinna as part of it – became part of Russia in 1721, when the Great Northern War (1700–1721) ended and – subsequently – the era of the Swedish Empire (1611–1721) too ended and – consequently – the era of the Russian Empire (1721–1917) began.

During the first half of the 17th century, two great-uncles of Mannerheim, Lars and Johan Skytte, had been chief players in – and architects of – the founding of the Swedish Empire, which they also helped to govern for the king, including Ingria, where the city today known as Saint Petersburg is located.

• Lars Bengtsson Skytte (1574–1634), the Stadtholder (Finnish: Käskynhaltija; Swedish: Ståthållare) of the Swedish Empire, technically ruled the entire empire for the king:

• Baron Johan Skytte (1577–1645) delivered the King of Sweden's marriage proposal to Princess Stuart in 1610. Among his many duties, he was the Governor-General of Ingria:

• The world's most powerful person in the late Viking Age was Skjalm Hvide, Mannerheim's forefather:  


• Links to related posts and info