In Finland’s War of Choice, Henrik O. Lunde describes the odd coalition between Germany and Finland in World War II, and their joint military operations from 1941 to 1945. This is a topic often missing in English language accounts, in stark contrast to the numerous books on the shorter and less bloody Winter War between the Soviet Union and Finland. That conflict represented a gallant fight of a democratic “David” against a totalitarian “Goliath” that caught the imagination of the world. The story of Finland fighting alongside a “Goliath” of its own has not brought pride to that nation, and is a period many Finns would rather forget.
The prologue of this book briefly examines the difficult history of Finland, from its separation from the Soviet Union in 1917 to its isolation after being bludgeoned in 1939-40. It then examines both Finnish and German motives for forming a coalition against the USSR, and how—as logical as a common enemy would seem—the lack of true planning and preparation would doom the alliance.
Lunde posits that it was mind-boggling how the highly professional German General Staff allowed itself to accept the militarily unsound and shaky coalition that resulted. The war aims of the partnership were not discussed or integrated, there were no campaign plans with tasks and missions spelled out past the initial assault, no effective main effort established, inadequate force levels, and an unsound command structure with various headquarters. Practically every rule in the book was broken. The objective of linking up with the Finns in the Leningrad area was an important factor in Hitler opting for three main drives into the Soviet Union rather than an earlier OKH plan that called for only two.
After describing the operations during and after Barbarossa, Lunde details how the Finnish theater became a blind alley for the Germans. Their strongest and best army was trapped, both operationally and geographically, in central and northern Finland, making virtually no contribution to the war effort. The Germans could not bring to bear enough forces to accomplish their objectives without substantial Finnish assistance, and that was not forthcoming.
The final chapters deal with the Soviet counteroffensive against the Finns in 1944, in which the Finns lost all their gains and quickly concluded a separate armistice. This left the German forces in Finland to simply vacate the territory, fighting between the Finns and Soviets alike as they tried to return to the main war. Jointly suffering 291,000 casualties, the only consolation was that the coalition had inflicted some 830,000 on the Soviets.
Dramatic and insightful, Finland’s War of Choice fills a profound gap in our understanding of World War II.
Hardcover Book : 352 pages
Publisher: Casemate Publisher & Book Dist. ( January 01, 2011 )
Item #: 13-330759
Product Dimensions: 6.0 x 9.0 x 0.79inches
Product Weight: 29.0 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
A well done book about a little known side of WW2. Most people don't realize that Hitler had wiling allies (temporarily) beyond the Italians and Japanese!
I always wondered how it was that a democracy ended up fighting for the axis. Why there was not more offensive action directed at the Murmansk railway. And how the Finns kept from being absorbed into the USSR. This book answers those questions in detail. The author puts quotes by various officials on specific actions side by side to show the reader that someone was lying and he takes the time to explore alternatative courses of action. Highly recommended.
this is probably the best book you'll ever buy on this virtually unknown front of WW2. Lunde is thorough (almost to a fault) in his research and like a (good) investigative reporter, he fairly addresses the claims of top finnish officials that Finlands cooperation with Germany did not constitute an alliance. his objectivity is refeshing and he is able to make excellent use of prime sources. His conclusions on what Finland knew about german expectations is not preachy but well taken. His insight into the Russo-german relationship from the non-aggession pact of '39 to Barbarossa is revealing and well written. all in all a great read for the would be WW2 scholar. highly recommended