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Airo file photo [9523]

Aksel Airo

Given NameAksel
Born14 Feb 1898
Died9 May 1985


ww2dbaseAksel Fredrik Johansson was born in Turku, Finland. To show support for Finland's struggle for independence from the Russian Empire, his father change the family name from Johansson (which was Swedish in origin) to Airo. During the Finnish civil war, he served as an artillery man on the side of the White Guards, taking part in battles near Viipuri. On 19 May 1919, he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant. In late 1920, he studied at the École spéciale militaire de Saint-Cyr military academy in France, and in 1921 he was accepted to the École Supérieure de Guerre, the French war college. In 1923, at the rank of captain, he received an invitation from C. G. E. Mannerheim to be a part of the Finnish Defense Council as a secretary. In Dec 1923, he was promoted to the rank of major. In 1924, he married Aino Wilhelmina, with whom he would have two daughters (Aila in 1926 and Anja in 1928). In the summer of 1925, he became the head of the Operations Office of the General Staff. In 1927, he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel. He served as a battalion commander on the Karelian Isthmus in 1930 before returning to the Operations Office in Helsinki, Finland in 1931. In 1933, he was promoted to the rank of colonel.

ww2dbaseFinland entered WW2 on 30 Nov 1939 when the Soviet Union invaded Finland and started the Winter War. During the war, as the Quartermaster General, Airo was among the officers who provided advice to the decision makers. When Germany invaded the Soviet Union in Jun 1941, Finland also participated in the invasion, thus starting the Continuation War. During the second war, he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant general on 3 Jun 1942. He rarely visited the front lines; instead, he planned operations from the rear. On 19 Nov 1944, he was made a Knight of the Mannerheim Cross in Order of the Cross of Liberty.

ww2dbaseAfter the end of the Continuation War, Airo was implicated in the Weapons Cache Case in which weapons were hidden in a great many hidden caches around the country in case they were needed to fight a guerilla war against a potential post-war Soviet occupation. The Finnish State Police Valpo, heavily influenced by Communists, arrested him and kept him imprisoned between 1945 and 1948 without sentencing. In 1946, he was brought to court as a witness during war crimes trials in Finland. In 1948, he was freed by President Juho Kusti Paasikivi, who relieved him of his duties in the army but gave him special permissions to continue wearing his uniform. He entered politics with the Kansallinen Kokoomus party and was a member of the Finnish parliament between 1958 and 1966. In 1982, President Mauno Koivisto awarded him with the membership of the Finnish Order of the White Rose.

ww2dbaseSource: Wikipedia.

Last Major Revision: Feb 2010

Aksel Airo Timeline

14 Feb 1898 Aksel Airo was born.
9 May 1985 Aksel Airo passed away.


Finnish Army Colonel Aksel Airo in his office, Helsinki, Finland, circa late 1939 or early 1940Mannerheim and Airo studying a map, circa 1941-1944; Heinrichs in background

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Event(s) Participated:
» The Winter War
» Operation Silver Fox

Aksel Airo Photo Gallery
Finnish Army Colonel Aksel Airo in his office, Helsinki, Finland, circa late 1939 or early 1940Mannerheim and Airo studying a map, circa 1941-1944; Heinrichs in background

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"No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. You win the war by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country!"

George Patton, 31 May 1944

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