1929-1939 Finland 1944-1948

In a secret memorandum attached to the German-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact of Aug. 23rd 1939, Germany and the USSR agreed on mutual spheres of interest in Eastern Central Europe, in effect undoing the changes after World War I. Finland was assigned to the USSR, and on November 30th 1939 the Red Army attacked, expecting an easy victory. However, the Finns were able to halt the Soviet invasion in what is known as the Winter War. Volunteers from Sweden, the US and Canada (mostly descendants of Finnish emigrants) signed up, and both Britain and France considered entering the war on Finland's side, when Stalin gave up the idea of conquering Finland. In the Peace of Moscow (March 12th 1940) Finland preserved her independence, but had to cede Eastern Karelia (Ladoga Karelia, the Karelian Isthmus) to the USSR and the to give in to all of Stalins demands.
When German Forces invaded the USSR on June 22nd 1941, Finland grasped the opportunity to regain the territory lost in the Peace of Moscow, thus becoming a natural ally of Germany. The Finns went beyond their former border and occupied Olonets Karelia and part of White Karelia. In the important Leningrad area, they stopped at their old border.
With the exception of the occupation of Olonets and White Karelia, during the entire war, the Finns pursued their own goals, not giving in to German pressure. Finland did not hand over it's (tiny) Jewish population, as demanded by Germany. In December 1941, the United Kingdom declared war on Finland; the British blockade against Germany now being extended against her ally.
In 1944, German forces were on the retreat. The Red Army again invaded Finland, and again, under heavy losses, was stopped by the Finns. Finland had to sign a peace treaty, which again ceded Ladoga Karelia and the Karelian Isthmus to the USSR, granted the Red Army naval bases at Hangö and at Porkkala, with Helsinki in its gunrange.
The period between 1941 and 1944 in Finland is known as the Continuation War.
For the Finns, a war situation, with full mobilization of her armed forces, was given for the periods November 1939-March 1940, June to December 1941, and again from summer 1944 to the end of the war. The general mobilization of fighting-age men had serious repercusions on the country's industry; women had to replace men in factories etc. Food coupons had been introduced in 1939 (until 1948); the usage of gasoline was restricted to military purpose only.

In 1942, Finland and the Vatican established diplomatic relations.

In 1938 Finland produced 0.256 million metric tons of wheat, in 1940 0.179 million, in 1941 0.147 million, in 1942 0.172 million, in 1943 0.177 million, in 1944 0.160 million; potato production was 1.198 million metric tons in 1938, 1.234 million in 1940, 0.745 million in 1941, 0.972 million in 1942, 1.081 million in 1943, 0.639 million in 1944 (IHS p.266). Compared to the year 1940, consumer prices by 1944 had risen by 70 % (IHS p.848).

The population of Finland in 1944 is estimated at 3.78 million (Lahmeyer).

Library of Congress, Country Studies : Finland
The Independent Republic, from Nordic Usenet
Peter Provis : Finnish achievement in the Continuation War and after, from Nordic News, 1999
Milan Gnezda : Finland in the Second World War, from Nordic News, 2000
Gus Lashcuk : Carl Mannerheim, from Nordic News, 2000
Three Finnish Wars of WWII 1939-45, from A Virtual History of Finland by Pasi Kuoppamaeki
Jari Aromaa, The Finnish Navy in World War II
Finland's Wars 1939-1944, by Jan Christian Lupander
Finland in World War II, from World War II Multimedia Database
DOCUMENTS List of Finnish Presidents, Prime Ministers etc., from Finland, by Ben Cahoon
Historical Population Statistics : Finland, from Population Statistics (Jan Lahmeyer)
Finnish WW II Propaganda Poster, from : Miscellaneous Propaganda Posters, posted by Earth Station #1
Images from Chronik 2000 Bilddatenbank : Winter War : Marshal Timoshenko, Nov. 30th 1939; General Wallenius, Commander of the Lappland troops, Nov. 30th 1939; Field Marshal Mannerheim, Commander-in-Chief of Finnish troops, Nov. 30th 1939; Field Marshal Carl Gustav Baron von Mannerheim
German-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact, w. Secret Memorandum, Aug. 23rd 1939, from The History Place, text of memorandum in German from A selection of events and documents on the history of Finland
> 1939 - Finland, from World War II Database
Memorandum of a Conversation by Secretary of State, Cordell Hull, with the Minister of Finland, Mr. Hjalmar J. Procope, October 3, 1941, from Words of War, Words of Peace
REFERENCE IHS : B.R. Mitchell, International Historical Statistics. Europe 1750-1988, NY : Stockton Press 1992 [G]
Article : Finland, in : Statesman's Year Book 1943 pp.863-871 [G]
Article : Finland, in : Americana Annual 1940 pp.301-303, 1943 pp.290-292, 1944 pp.273-276, 1945 pp.117-119 [G]
Article : Finland, in : Britannica Book of the Year 1944 pp.282-283, 1945 pp.284-285 [G]
Article : Finland, in : New International Year Book, Events of 1940 pp.263-268, 1941 pp.204-207, 1942 pp.243-246, 1943 pp.204-207, 1944 pp.215-218, 1945 pp.204-206 [G]
Article : Finland, in : Funk & Wagnall's New Standard Encyclopedia Year Book 1940 pp.239-241, 1941 pp.193-195, 1942 pp.168-170, 1943 pp.171-173, 1944 pp.118-120 [G]
Llewellyn Woodward, British Foreign Policy in the Second World War, London : HMSO 1962 [G]

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2000, last revised on November 3rd 2008

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