Finland Switched Sides
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
ww2dbaseOne month after Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim was elected president of Finland, he made peace with Russia, ending the Continuation War. The peace terms were not favorable to the Finns, but Mannerheim realized that as Russia and Germany engaged in fierce battles, Finland had the chance to avoid even harsher terms had they waited after the fall of Germany. Along a similar philosophy to maintain Finland's sovereignty, Mannerheim chose to disassociate Finland with Germany on 4 Sep 1944 (note Finland never officially joined the Axis alliance), dramatically changing the landscape of the northern theaters of the European War. One and a half week later, Finland declared war on Germany with the goal of driving out the last remaining Germany troops out of Finland's borders.
ww2dbaseThe conflict between Finnish troops and the German troops in Finland was referred to as the Lapland War, which lasted from 15 Sep 1944 to Germany's surrender to the Allied powers.
ww2dbaseThe peace with the Russians did not come cheap, however. Finland was burdened with a $300,000,000 reparation demand while facing territorial losses to Russia that resulted in the relocation of an eighth of its population.
ww2dbaseWhile many Germans viewed this declaration of war by Finland on Germany as an act of betrayal, the Finns had a different perspective. A formal military pact was never signed between Finland and Germany, and Nazi political officers never infiltrated the government of Finland; in addition, Finland's war against Russia were largely fought for her own reasons and goals, without significant influence from Berlin. Also, unlike other nations under German influence, Finland never gave in to German demands to ship her Jewish population to concentration camps.
Last Major Update: Oct 2005
Finland Switched Sides Timeline
|25 Aug 1944||Finland began secret negotiations with the Soviet Union.|
|4 Sep 1944||Finland and the Soviet Union reached an agreement for a cease fire; one of the provisions was the removal of all German forces from Finland by 15 Sep 1944.|
|19 Sep 1944||A Finnish delegate signed a temporary peace treaty with the Soviet Union in Moscow, Russia.|
|2 Oct 1944||In Lapland, Finland, General Lothar Rendulic ordered the German 20th Mountain Army to open hostilities against the Finnish III Army Corps.|
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James Forrestal, Secretary of the Navy, 23 Feb 1945