Defensive victory 1944
Defensive victory 1944
In summer 1944 now 70 years ago the Soviet Union attacked against Finland with massive forces. The D-day in Normandy was 6.6.1944 and the interest of the world and also the interest of Finland was there. The Red Army started a huge attack with clear predominance in Karelia in the morning 9.6.1944. The Red Army crushed trough the enemy lines in Valkeasaari supported by their artillery and flight bombings. The attack was slowed down in Siiranmäki and Kuuterselkä. Though, the Red Army managed to conquer Vyborg and continued its attack towards Helsinki according to their original plan. The Finns focused on stopping the elite divisions of Stalin when the Finns got angry because they lost Vyborg. All parts of the Finnish Army were involved in the defensive victory but the most important battles were in Tali-Ihantala, Vuosalmi, Ilomantsi and in the bay of Vyborg. Centralized shooting of Finnish artillery and mortars was important in Tali-Ihantala. Finland had 250 cannons in collective firing towards the Sowiet tanks and infantry. Also the help of German dive bomber department Kuhlmey was decisive. When the attack didn’t get forward in Tali-Ihantala the enemy focused on attacking in Vuosalmi and in the bay of Vyborg. Although the Red Army managed to get over the water partly, they didn’t manage to move forward more than a little bit. The last defensive victories were achieved in Ilomantsi but they weren’t talked about because of the peace negotiations. The president of Finland, Risto Ryti, acquired decisive help from Germany trough his personal contract. The help consisted of anti-tank weapons, charge cannons and airplanes. Finland got more than 24000 panzer fists. The German panzer fists and bazookas would have been more effective if training of using them had begun early enough in Finland. The troops got these weapons just in June even though they were in Finland already in May. It was known also in the Sowiet Union that the Salpa Line (the Bolt Line) was constructed in Finland during the interim peace. The Red Army didn’t manage to try how strong it was. Still its existence affected the attacking plans of the enemy. When Stalin noticed how hard would it be to conquer Finland, he gave up with his plans and made peace with Finland. The terms of the peace treaty were very tough for Finland. Stalin had good reasons to wassail for the Finnish Army in an event that was held in Moscow 1948. Inter alia Finnish general Erik Heinrichs took part in the same event.
text: Ilpo Nurmi, director of the Museum of Winter and Continuation War in Säkylä