Welcome to the WWII Forums! Log in or Sign up to interact with the community.

Myths of the Eastern Front

Discussion in 'Eastern Europe' started by Comrade General, May 19, 2015.

  1. knightdepaix

    knightdepaix Member

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2015
    Messages:
    269
    Likes Received:
    6
    Would taking Leningrad after spending a million lives there improve greatly the logistics for further Germany operations ? Germany was short in resources; logistics could only effectively move them and not create. Revamping the railway along highways to Moscow could cost less ?

    For Finland, M and R's policy would be the reason of stopping in front of Leningrad. Taking it would improve logistics to Finland: cargo unloaded there and then shipped in smaller boats and transported by rail northward. Finland's policy does not risk, obviously; and it is the reason that Italian troops to finish the job. Taking Leningrad at least involves some urban warfare, in which Italian troops' resourcefulness, brevity and grittiness are very useful in that Darwinian process for triumph. According to their performance in defense, they possessed those characters.

    By the same token, Rommel and Italian command shall use these character for defending North African ports once German blitzkrieg take them west of El-Alamein. British troops could try amphibious landing but as the battle in Dunkirk showed, it is difficult, not to mention Italian battleship will attack the landing British forces.
     
  2. Karjala

    Karjala Don Quijote

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2012
    Messages:
    1,224
    Likes Received:
    115
    Location:
    Pohojanmaa, Finland
    But if the Finns had concentrated more troops against Leningrad instead of Northern Karelia the soviets could have moved some reinforcement troops to Leningrad too - instead of Northern Karelia.

    Yes, the "negotiations" before the Winter War were only theater. Finland was to be occupied in any case.


    AFAIK there was not that much co-operation in arms manufacturing between countries before WW2 - except of course when Germany was looking ways to break the Paris treaty restrictions. The countries you mentioned had very different international and internal policies. Besides at least in Finland the general thinking was that there was not going to be any wars any more, because the League of Nations would prevent them anyway. So no need for co-operation.

    Of course with hind-sight you are right. Unfortunately the leaders did not know then what we know now.

    Taking Leningrad would have freed a lot of German troops. Also taking the city would have been a huge moral boost to the Germans and a huge moral blow to the soviets. Taking Leningrad would have also meant the Baltic Sea becoming a peaceful See, thus liberating ships, more troops and resources.

    Indeed!

    True. Unfortunately Finland had too many contradicting goals and agendas at the same time to logically concentrate on any of them.

    True, Germany was short on resources, but the poor logistics prevented the full use of even those resources available.

    Can't see how Leningrad would have improved the Finnish logistics. The German supplies came to existing Finnish ports. There were existing railway lines from those ports and from Finland in general to Eastern Karelia any way.

    As I have explained before, there was not supposed to be any need for any assistance in a supposedly short and easy war in summer 1941. Everybody was just waiting for the SU to collapse any day. It didn't. In 1942 it was already too late.
     
    knightdepaix likes this.
  3. knightdepaix

    knightdepaix Member

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2015
    Messages:
    269
    Likes Received:
    6
    I agree that in hindsight we comment better but in 1920s when Poland, Ukraine, LIthuania and the SU were fighting each other, Polish statesman Józef Piłsudski was noted for his complementary strategies to enhance Polish securities. I do not know if other nations within the Międzymorze sphere - Finland and Estonia included - were aware enough to develop their own against both western and eastern imperialisms. Were Finland and Estonia helping each other in defense against the newly-born SU in 1920s ? I do not understand why Finland and Estonia would not be interested in how Poland, Ukraine and LIthuania fight against the SU to borrow experiences and strategies.

    I think for the sparsely populated Finland (to today), the M's thoughful idea concentrated within its own strength if territorial expansion were desired. Thus Karelia shall be the target. Leningrad is like the thorn on Finland and Germany. If the idea that taking Leningrad would have freed Finnish and German hands was accepted, why not use Italian troops to finish that siege or attack on Leningrad ? The Italian contributed to the Eastern Front anyway; why not use them where its effect is wanted more ? Were they fighting with good individual but not as a group performance in North Africa ? Brevity, grittiness are transferrable individual characteristics in urban warfare, not to mention that the captured in huge amount Soviet weapons in 1941 can be transferred to Italian hands in support for the attack. As Finnish troops are not involved in that urban warfare, the government evaded responsibility against the Soviet diplomacy.

    IMO, Finnish hinging on a quick victory in 1941 once and for all for security is flawed; any expansion eastward into Soviet land will trigger counterattack in matter of timing. If polish but failed experience in Międzymorze and Prometeizm were borrowed to Finland, the idea that waiting for the SU to collapse any day is also flawed can be understood ahead of time. If M and R's leadership can secure a stable border (border of Isthumuses), Finland would be in very good condition, like Sweden which remained neutral on paper.

    In contrast to the ww2 Allies, the observation that Axis co-belligerent showed much less cooperation is one factor that the Allies won. A child of this factor is the alternative history of Japan invading the Russian Far East in support of the OB.
     
  4. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2002
    Messages:
    21,918
    Likes Received:
    987
    Location:
    Kotka,Finland
  5. Tamino

    Tamino Doc - The Deplorable

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2011
    Messages:
    2,503
    Likes Received:
    291
    Location:
    Untersteiermark
    I admire those who can spell his name properly. I have always swapped A and R and that has driven him mad at me. I refrained mention his name ever since then. He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.
     
  6. knightdepaix

    knightdepaix Member

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2015
    Messages:
    269
    Likes Received:
    6
    Off topic, and if you like to read it, keep on

    Obviously this thread started as a discussion of the Eastern Front in ww2 but I think its content does carry contemporary benefits that Putin's Russia is engaging in neighborhood of surrounding seas: the Black.Azov Sea around Crimea, east side of the Mediterranian near Syria, the Baltic near Kaliningrad/Konigsberg. The other seas are Arctic ocean/Barent/White Seas northeast of Finland/Karelia, Pacific Ocean/Okhotsk sea north of Japan.

    If the current global events keep on, would Putin's leadership renew tension for Finland to be more aware of aggression from Russia ? If so, the history from 1920s after the White victory and independence, through the Winter and Continuation War until the end of ww2 was suffused with lots of past experiences.

    The expert quoted in this news article claims that Russian reopening of a miliary base close to Finland is staging for more Russian political and military involvement in the Arctic, not against Finland.

    [Poland and the Baltic states], like NATO's military and political leadership and the leadership of many European states, view Moscow's continuing violation of the Minsk II agreement and ongoing aggression as proof of Russia's malignant intentions. As a result, they have begun to raise defense spending, warn about assisting Ukraine unilaterally and increase their own capabilities. They are not alone. There are new signs of Nordic military cooperation and increased defense spending in Finland, Norway and Sweden.

    Russian military expansion in the Arctic has been a major goal for Putin for much of the past decade. The new military doctrine officially puts special focus on the region and advocates a greater Russian role in the region to help ensure access to potential energy resources on the Arctic sea bed against possible Danish, Norwegian, Canadian, and US claims. Moscow has undertaken a construction blitz across the Arctic in a bid to ensure that it remains the unchallenged military power in the region. Simultaneously, Moscow has created Joint Strategic Command North (JSCN) from components of the Northern Fleet in order to maintain a permanent military presence in the region. According to the Polish Institute of International Affairs (PISM), JSCN will include a naval infantry brigade, an air defense division, an Arctic mechanized brigade, a coastal missile defense system, and missile regiments to outlying archipelagos in the Arctic Ocean.

    So on the map provided in the businessinsider article, Finland is a thorn of the side of Russian Arctic geopolitcs and neigboring Norway and thus a piece of the puzzle If NATO intends to check Russian ambitions. Then it is history again.
     
  7. Karjala

    Karjala Don Quijote

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2012
    Messages:
    1,224
    Likes Received:
    115
    Location:
    Pohojanmaa, Finland
    The Finns and the Germans did not actually meet there - like in a sense that the Germans would have advanced from the South and the Finns from the North - but a single German division (168th ID) advanced there along with the Finns from Eastern Karelia. That German division was later moved to Lapland. Because the Finns and the Germans never met, the siege of Leningrad was never complete.

    One sector of the Murmansk rail road was indeed cut in Eastern Karelia. Unfortunately that did not mean much, since the soviets had built another branch, which went from Sorokka (Byelomorsk) towards Archangel.
     
  8. Karjala

    Karjala Don Quijote

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2012
    Messages:
    1,224
    Likes Received:
    115
    Location:
    Pohojanmaa, Finland
    The Baltic States - especially Lithuania - did sometimes have contradicting interests with Poland.

    See pages 111 and 112.

    https://books.google.fi/books?id=nMAl-RSvqPoC&pg=PA107&lpg=PA107&dq=finnish+foreign+policy+between+the+wars&source=bl&ots=d8VrNkADsb&sig=9LfDYR4UsSt8sbfRWEEa0VCiZec&hl=fi&sa=X&ved=0CDoQ6AEwA2oVChMIje_uo57oyAIVSPNyCh37Dwk3#v=onepage&q=finnish%20foreign%20policy%20between%20the%20wars&f=false

    Finland and Estonia did a lot of co-operation before the WW2. Unfortunately that turned to nothing, when Estonia was occupied without a war.

    Finland had already been fighting the soviets in 1918(-20). The Finnish Independence/Civil War was caused and co-fought by the soviets.

    to be continued...
     
  9. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2008
    Messages:
    3,223
    Likes Received:
    447
    A successful rebellion is not "caused" by the empire and the Finnish Independence/Civil war a basically rebellion even if the huge changes that transformed the Russian empire into the USSR made "who" they were rebelling against ambiguous and introduced a ideological element that is not usually present in a rebellion that usually sees "loyalists" and imperial troops fighting against "rebels/insurgents".

    The Entente (for lack of a better name even if Russia was part of the original entente cordiale pact) intervention in support of the "whites" makes thing even more confusing.

    Between nation states "limited" wars are more common than "total war", once you have reached your territorial objectives militarily it's a good idea to stop and go to the negotiation table to have them recognized, unfortunately for the Finns they got stuck in a to the death conflict between opponents that had hugely bigger resources than they had.
     
  10. Karjala

    Karjala Don Quijote

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2012
    Messages:
    1,224
    Likes Received:
    115
    Location:
    Pohojanmaa, Finland
    Not successful - they thankfully lost!

    The Russian bolsheviks agitated, armed, led and even fought along with the Finnish Reds. Without the Russian bolsheviks there wouldn't have been any Independence/Civil War in Finland. That's why it's very reasonable to say, that the Russian bolsheviks (not the Empire mind) indeed caused it.

    Although there had been strong rebellious feelings among many Finns already during the russification period from 1899 onwards, without the Russian revolution there (most likely) wouldn't have been any violent rebellion in Finland against the Empire. After the Russian revolution (also) Finland declared herself independent on 6th December 1917. Lenin could not do anything else then but yield. However within one month he had generated a communist coup also in Finland.
    And to make it more and more confusing, the British troops in Murmansk, supposedly supporting the Russian whites against the bolsheviks, fought with the commies against the Finnish volunteers In Eastern Karelia, where they had gone to help the Eastern Karelians to liberate themselves. That's because the British saw the white Finns as German allies.
    Indeed.
     
  11. Karjala

    Karjala Don Quijote

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2012
    Messages:
    1,224
    Likes Received:
    115
    Location:
    Pohojanmaa, Finland
    Indeed Leningrad was/is the mother of Finnish international problems. You do know, that Leningrad/St.Petersburg is not ancient Russian land but it was founded as late as 1703 in the middle of (sparse) Finnish population?

    Yes, with hindsight all possible forces possibly should have been concentrated against Leningrad in 1941. But, as I have already pointed out, that was not supposed to be necessary. The USSR was supposed to collapse within months anyway, without much Finnish blood. When it was realised it was not going to happen, it was already too late.
    One should remember, that although Finland was prepared for a new war and even saw it inevitable, it was the soviets who once again attacked Finland in 1941. Naturally Finland would have preferred to get her lost area back without any war, which seemed to be one option in spring 1941. That was only German smoke screen towards the Finns though.

    The Finnish government and the HQ had different variations for possible war objectives - depending on the likely result of the war. When in Summer 1941 the SU seemed to be destroyed by the Germans, it made sense to reach for the more easily protectable border of the isthmuses in Eastern Karelia. If Finland had known - or even suspected - that the SU was not going to collapse after all, there wouldn't have been any Finnish offensive to Eastern Karelia. The Finns were/are very realistic about our own (lack of) strength.
    That's the thing - there was not that much of co-operation because the objectives for the war were different - unlike with the Allies. E.g. Finland did not want to share the German ideology, war objectives in general etc., and because of that was not in alliance either.
     
  12. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2008
    Messages:
    3,223
    Likes Received:
    447
    When I said successful I was thinking of the original secession against the Russian Empire not the civil war, the triggering event of the conflicts was that (unless you want to go back to the founding of St. Petersburg of course).

    The axis never was much of an alliance, in the allied side countries with "limited" participation were the exception, on the axis side they were the rule, even between the major partners Japan was at peace with the USSR for most of WW2 and allowed lend lease to flow to Vladivostock as they were on soviet flagged ships.
     
  13. knightdepaix

    knightdepaix Member

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2015
    Messages:
    269
    Likes Received:
    6
    I agree with these views. Say if Japan was able to help Germany, Japanese submarines could hunt for Soviet flagged ships flowing to Vladivostok; even a Pear Harbor pre-emptive strike on Vladivostok could be lauched as the overture of Japan's limited offense against the SU. However, the Red Army stationed more troops in the Far East at most time of the ww2. Japan's best chance to occupying a territorial buffer was during the Siberian Intervention. American-led international intervention to Japan's occupation of Sakhalin would not happen if the diplomacy for the SU and Japan at each other's throats was inplemented.

    Both Finland and Japan are thorns on the Soviet but not strong enough to challenge one-on-one and head-on against the Red Army. Bit-by-bit limited war would have been the way to go and its raionale goes with the following observation.

    One interesting idea is that regardless of how Finnish implement its policy on the SU, how Finland would secure a border of the benefit to Finland ? The border of Isthumuses would be ideal as you said but would the SU just give in even if the SU lost against Germany ? The SU was too large; even with Moscow and Murmansk fallen, Archangelsk would be still a Russian port and ready for amphibious landing onto Karelia to be lauched. Finland better used politics than military to accomplish her objectives. Imagine the border of Isthumuses are the border between Finland and Russia, and the Sea of Japan and Okhotosk are that between Japan and Russia. Without the Soviet nuclear testing sites in Kola, Liinakhamari and Murmansk would be Finnish ports throught the Atlantic -- opening one entirely new route of economy -- to the rest of the world. Talking about positive feedback, blooming economy encourages Finno-Urgric peoples in Russia willing to immigrate into Finland; more resources to preserve FU culture: FU peoples around the globe numbers roughly the population of Texas -- not a lot.
     
  14. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2008
    Messages:
    3,223
    Likes Received:
    447
    Small countries with big neighbours must seek strong allies, a "Scandinavian" military cooperation would be a good bet today, it probably wasn't in the early XX century as there was a reasonable fear Sweden would end up dominating such an alliance.
    The Finnish problem is made worse by being scarcely populated, this makes a few thousands "immigrants" enough to upset the ethnic balance and once that happens territorial claims from the bigger neighbour are likely to follow. The "population pressure" northwards from St Petersburg is likely to be irresistible if the borders are close to it.
     
  15. knightdepaix

    knightdepaix Member

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2015
    Messages:
    269
    Likes Received:
    6
    In early XX century, Sweden would end up dominating a "Scandinavian" alliance. Thus a fantasized consortium on tank development including Sweden, Finland, Italy, Romania, Czechoslovakia should be limited to arms development.

    In the bigger picture, improved military prowess help Finland survival: Finnish defeated the Red Army soundly in the Battle of Tali-Ihantala in 1944, not by climate and landscape bduring the Winter War. Would Finland secure from Germany Stug3 and Panzerfaust if she had not entered the OB ? Thus Finland needs international politics to survive as a nation. During the Holodomor and great purges under Stalin, Stalin's government could have pushed Finno-Ugric peoples to Finland, diluting Finnish population. On the other hand, Finland needs immigrants: Finno-Ugric immigrants from the SU would add power to Communist power inside Finland, created at the minimum disturbance of power. The idea that M and R's leadership was very realistic with war aims in the OB was very good; however, it is a military aim. How could Finland secure a border to its advantage ? Politics helped Finland more than military.

    Thus a fantasized Italian troops involvement in the attack on Leningrad and possibly more in Finland-SU border battles would be more soundly effective to German war aims than those troops taking towns behind the Army Group South's advancement. Once Italians took the city, a major bulk of Army Group North could be re-aligned to Army Group Center. Minor part joint Dietl's forces in Sarmi. Major bulk of Italians who survived the attack earned valuable experience and upon return to Italy, help train new troops at home, and thus boost Italian army resolve againt the Allies. Finnish military would secure large amount of Soviet weapons; given Finnish industries of re-fitting, they are more weapons for Finnish troops.
     
  16. knightdepaix

    knightdepaix Member

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2015
    Messages:
    269
    Likes Received:
    6
    This observation reflected my understanding. For Finland, winning a little bit in one battle or cutting a section of a logistically important path do not mean much as the Soviet could refit and built another army or railway. Politics could. Even today, Finland is sparsely populated. If Finno-Ugric peoples in Russia today wants to immigrate to Finland, Finland shall welcome them with open arms.
     
  17. Karjala

    Karjala Don Quijote

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2012
    Messages:
    1,224
    Likes Received:
    115
    Location:
    Pohojanmaa, Finland
    Ok. Sorry for my misunderstanding.

    Quite so.
     
  18. knightdepaix

    knightdepaix Member

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2015
    Messages:
    269
    Likes Received:
    6
    So a way to unite efforts of the axis side is where their armies would attack. For this triangle relationship among Germany, the Soviet Union, and Baltic Finns in Finland, Estonia and Karelia, the weakest in national power was obviously the Baltic Finns. Given that taking Leningrad was valuable in German perspectives which had been discussed in this thread, the campaign of attacking the city can unite Italian, German, and Finno-Ugric military efforts on the Eastern Front. The sticky and most difficult politics shall be how Baltic Finnic powers including Finland and Estonia settled on a stable national border with the SU after border wars like the Winter War, the Continuation War and the Lapland War, not to mention the possible Western Allies' intervention. The Bulgarian middleman diplomatic overture based on scant sources would be a diplomatic solution. Italian military participation on a fantasized operation in Leningrad would be a military solution. I think that Baltic Finnic powers needed more than one solutions.

    Russian perspectives are much needed.
     
  19. Karjala

    Karjala Don Quijote

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2012
    Messages:
    1,224
    Likes Received:
    115
    Location:
    Pohojanmaa, Finland
    Sorry for my lengthy absence...

    Actually Finland does not welcome any Russian citizens, whether Finno(-Ugric) or not, with open arms any more. There has been an exception of the Ingrian (ethnic) Finns, who have been until recently able to move without difficulties to Finland after the collapse of the SU.

    Unfortunately many of the younger Ingrians had been forcibly and/or voluntarily Russified during the long soviet era decades. That, and the accompanying Russian spouses together with more or less Russian(ized) children, have created a new, formerly non-existent Russian and/or Russian-minded minority into Finland. One only needs to look the former soviet countries to realize the risks that has created...

    Also the Ingrian emigration to Finland have destroyed much of the remainders of the hundreds/thousands of years old Finnish/Finnic culture and population of Ingria.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ingrian_Finns

    View attachment 23206


    I'm sorry to be such a spoil-sport, but I'm still quite pessimistic about this.

    Sure, with hind-sight, much could and should have been done differently - knowing what we do know now. But it's very difficult (for me next to impossible) to see how the leaders of these countries you mention could have reached the conclusions, that you suggest, then - in that situation and with the knowledge then available.
     

    Attached Files:

  20. Tamino

    Tamino Doc - The Deplorable

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2011
    Messages:
    2,503
    Likes Received:
    291
    Location:
    Untersteiermark
    The best thing abut the II World War is that it was a war with the Happy End. Of course, there were millions of innocent victims, including these who died during the siege of Leningrad in horrendous conditions created by the aggressor nations: Finns and Germans. But the end was just: borders have ben set and aggressor nations have been pacified. Many perpetrators have gone with it, unpunished. May God have mercy upon their souls.
     

Share This Page