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Thread: From Hanko to Petsamo - Finland in World War II

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    From Hanko to Petsamo - Finland in World War II

    From Hanko to Petsamo - Finland in World War II


    Seemingly the first Finnish AAR around the forum. I'll start to write the gameplay part once I´ve edited the map and doctrines, but before there will be a bunch of updates that form a general overview of the history of Finland from 1918 to 1939. This will be a history-book styled AAR with emphasis on realism, starting from the 1939 scenario.
    Last edited by Karelian; 26-04-2010 at 02:49.
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    Strategy Cognoscenti Demi Moderator Myth's Avatar
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    Finland, eh? Finland's always an interesting game, a big part of it being the element of David against Goliath of course. Let's see how you do against that Goliath!
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    Second Lieutenant felix steiner's Avatar
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    Aina Hangosta Petsamoon.. Wohoo finally a Finnish AAR I hope you don't have to join the Allies

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    Given your past history, I'm betting there will be lots to learn about Finland. You're in for an interesting time.
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    Aina Hangosta Petsamoon! Seems like someone has been listening to Sillanpään marssilaulu (Sillanpää's march song).

    Good luck with this one, especially since how underpowered and messed up Finland is in HoI3 (no airforce, nerfed navy, Viipuri HQ being in Lapland and having command over the Supreme HQ, too low skills for leaders, volunteer army, etc.). I'll be watching.

    EDIT: Actually, you might want to edit the game to fix those problems, especially the volunteer army thing. We never had one, you know. IIRC during those times it was 1-2 years of service for the average infantryman. Also, you should add more cores in Finnish territory around Finland, i.e. Karelia, Ingria, Kola, Finnmark and the Törne valley.

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    It's not like I'd lose anything by reading some Finnish history again... subscribes.

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    let's see how this goes, hopefully you can reach the "three isthmus" line and hold it (for starters)

    but we aren't interested in watching static warfare as it was in real life in from the end of 1941 to summer 1944. You better go nutz and invade sweden or something. Build a carrier or battleship navy, I don't know...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Laurwin View Post
    but we aren't interested in watching static warfare as it was in real life in from the end of 1941 to summer 1944. You better go nutz and invade sweden or something. Build a carrier or battleship navy, I don't know...
    He's Karelian.
    He won't be going rambo as Finland.
    I think...

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    okay then, conquering leningrad and moscow would probably suffice for starters

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    Finland could be interesting
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    Sounds really interesting, will follow this

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    Mass movements and activists - Politics in the Grand Duchy of Finland during the First World War

    Demonstators during the SDP-organized General Strike of 1905. Since they appeared to the political life of the Grand Duchy on a right time and were strongly against the old injustices of Finnish society, the Social Democrats of SDP soon became the strongest party in local-level politics. They were popular both in the countryside as well as in the cities, and their massive support made them the most important political force in the Grand Duchy.

    When the news of a German declaration of war against Russian Empire on 1st of August 1914 spread through the Grand Duchy of Finland, the reaction of common people was mixed. There were no traces of the huge crowds that had cheered in the streets of Helsinki, Viipuri and Turku when the Russian Baltic Fleet had sailed forth towards it fate during the Russo-Japanese War nine years earlier. And while few had anticipated it at the beginning of hostilities in Manchuria, that war had transformed the Grand Duchy and rest of Russian Empire for good. The 1905 Russian Revolution had brought about the first general strike in the history of the region, demonstrating the strength of the SDP, the Social Democratic Party. The Social Democrats had successfully created the first mass political movement in the history of the country, and during the turmoil in Russia they publicly demanded abolition of censorship in the Grand Duchy and more political freedoms, including universal suffrage. Ultimately the development in Russia brought a temporarily halt to the Russification politics implemented in the Grand Duchy during the last decades before WW1. Most important for the future of the Grand Duchy, however, was the November Manifesto.

    As the old Romanov regime was forced to make reforms in Russia, the Grand Duchy of Finland that had been ruled under the same legislation and bureaucratic structures ever since it had been tranformed from eastern half of Sweden to it's current political structure now suddenly received a new Parliament with universal suffrage. The resulting reform replaced the archaic "Diet of Four Estates"-administration of the Grand Duchy with a parliamentary system where each citizen had universal right to vote and to be elected. This system was actually the most liberal of it's time since it had no racial definitions (like in Australia) and it gave women the right to be elected as well as to vote (unlike in New Zealand.) The first elections with the new system, held in 1907, gave the SDP 80 of the total of 200 seats, and the relative strength of the Social Democratic Party kept growing during each pre-war elections, reaching 90 seats in 1913.Russian authorities had followed the political development in Grand Duchy with growing alarm, and at the beginning of the war they were swift to issue state of emergency with wartime censorship and special degrees - the new Russian Constitution of 1906 still gave the Tsar full rights to veto the decisions of Eduskunta (the Parliament of the Grand Duchy) and a free hand to implement the parliamentary decisions made by it. Therefore it was only logical that the first free parliamentary elections in Grand Duchy were followed by a period of repression. The Tsarist authorities of St. Petersburg gradually replaced the troublesome Finnish liberals in Senate of the Grand Duchy with ethnic Russians, resulting to a total statis in parliamentary domestic politics of the Grand Duchy. Eduskunta still existed, but by August 1914 it was increasingly seen as an inefficient discussion forum that had no political power- much to the dismay of the leadership of SDP.



    Finnish Red Guards were originally organized by local-level worker organizations during the demonstrations of 1905.


    During this time the leaders of Finnish Social Democrats were mostly following the example of their German colleagues, and as a result their political program was based on the political philosophy of Karl Kautsky. Violent revolution was out of the question, and society could instead be reformed by democratic reforms where the proletariat would take over the parliamentary system by their strong numerical majority - after this the capitalists would be more or less forced to cooperate with the movement, starting a process of reforms and steady improvement of the well-being of common workers. While they were therefore extremely satisfied with the reforms implemented after the Russo-Japanese War, their ever-growing political power meant little as long as the Tsarist system controlled the supreme authority in Grand Duchy. Initially the leadership of SDP opted to patiently wait how the new major European war would play out. The SDP leadership calculated that the war would bring about a new revolution in Russia just like the last one had done. But since Russia was viewed as a backward, largely agrarian society that "could not be ready for full revolution of the proletariat in a true Marxist sense", the leadership of SDP expected that a new bourgeois government would topple the monarchy and seize power in Russia, thus hopefully bringing an end to the current oppressive period of Russian rule and giving the local power of SDP new significance in future negotiations with these would-be future rulers of Russia. Despite the fact that Lenin had often used Finland as a safe haven (and Lenin and Stalin had actually first met one another in Tampere), Bolshevik ideas and writings were virtually unknown in Finland, and the local Socialists firmly believed that world revolution would begin in Germany or other developed and industrialized nations of West instead of Russia.

    All in all the leaders of SDP were expecting the future with full confidence in 1914. The local-level organization of SDP, the Red Guards, had been created roughly a ten years before and during the interwar period new local branches had been established through entire Grand Duchy. While the total membership numbers were roughly 30 000 by 1917, the support of SDP was strongest among the industrial workers in largest towns and cities and among the large landless population in countryside of southern Finland. But while the Left was organizing its ranks, other political forces were also at work within the Grand Duchy.


    Activists and Jäegers


    The volunteers of Royal Prussian 27th Jäger Battalion enlisted to the service of foreign power and enemy of Russia, thus linking their future to the war success of Germany.

    While the SDP opted to wait out for a future revolution in Russia, the Finnish nationalist movement was much more eager to utilize the new situation to their advantage. During the previous ten years the Finnish local-level political resistance to Russian rule had begun to follow a vicious cycle, where new repressive actions and censorship further radicalized the small minority of Grand Duchy citizens. Soon the political organizing among university students led to the creation of the Activist movement that sought to separate Finland from Russia through the means of violence and terror - a dramatic change to the earlier Finnish historical tradition of resistance through legalist, nonviolent means. While they were initially dismissed as a mere group of angry teenage amateurs, the successful assassination of General-Governor Bobrikov on 16th of June 1904 made them the prime target of Russian security organizations. By 1914 many prominent Activists had been successfully captured and sent to exile in Siberia, but this crackdown had considerably increased the local support for Activist political goals. During the first years of the war the Activist movement successfully took contact with German authorities begun to secretly recruit volunteers for "Boy Scout courses", military training in German Empire. While many volunteers were captured and ended up in jail in St. Petersburg instead of their original target, by 1916 there were enough volunteers to form the Königlich Preussisches Jägerbataillon Nr. 27. While different factions within Grand Duchy waited for time to act, the war effort of Tsarist Russia was slowly beginning to crumble.
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    A most enlightening and very well written update.
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    Some people were terrorists, some people were freedom fighters, others were politically active, others revolted, but Finland had Jägers.
    A cooler name for criminals that enlist in the ranks of the enemy.

    Ah, the golden age of SDP.
    When they still knew that they would receive votes in the next elections.

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    Quite interesting, especially about the Jagers.
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    Finally!
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    Battle Lines Drawn - Grand Duchy after the fall of Tsar


    Eduskunta, the Parliament of the Grand Duchy at work on 1917.

    The slow, steady decline of Russian war effort finally led to major changes in the situation of Grand Duchy on 15th of March, when deteriorating security situation in the capital of Petrograd had turned into a complete revolt against the old reign. Tsar Nicholas II was forced to abdicate, and members of formerly disbanded 4th Duma formed a new Provisional Government. Determined to bring about long-awaited reforms to solve the dire crisis Russia was facing, the new government was quick to bring about radical reforms. Initially controlled by liberals, the Provisional Government abolished dead penalty and released large numbers of political prisoners - several important Finnish politicians among them.

    The former Russification politics were set aside, and the Provisional Government acknowledged the autonomous position of the Grand Duchy. Eduskunta, the Parliament of the Grand Duchy was finally able to field political power that it legally had, and based on the earlier elections of 1916 a new Senate was soon formed. With a compromise structure of six Socialists from SDP and six representatives of other parties, the Senate devised new, ambitious political program that aimed to ease the rising tensions within society of the Grand Duchy. It aimed to expand internal democratic powers of Eduskunta by seeking to limit and gradually remove the veto powers of Russian Provisional Government. Other goals included the expansion of local-level municipal democracy, improvement of working conditions (with new laws of minimum working hours, social security, compulsory schooling system and freedom of religion.)

    Initially the "compromise Senate" seemed to appease the majority of Grand Duchy citizens. Conservatives were pleased with the domestic political goals of Provisional Government and to the fact that the fall of the oppressive Tsarist regime had seemingly ended the Russification era in Grand Duchy. Additionally the future seemed bright for local economy because of the growing demands of Russian wartime economy. For workers the current development was even more promising: Eduskunta (where the SDP had absolute majority) was getting stronger and former restrictions put in place by wartime legislation of Tsarist regime were removed. With renewed rights to organize strikes and use their freedom of speech, the working class finally seemed to have gained influential position in the society.

    This initial optimism was not to last. The new Senate was soon facing a steep economic decline, when the economic growth caused by the war during the earlier prosperous two years begun to slow down. Unemployment grew, and inflation became stronger. For working class this sudden turn to worse caused increased hardship because of the rising prizes of food. Fear and insecurity grew, accompanied by new strikes and increased political activity. As the new Senate was struggling to cope with the new strike activity and rising food prizes while trying to simultaneously redefine the relations between the Grand Duchy and rest of Russia, full support of all political forces would have been pivotal to the success of these efforts. Such support never appeared, as SDP leadership preferred to focus their efforts on their parliamentary work in Eduskunta and to organizing of their growing street level support. Political organization was rapidly expanding: during the year the SAJ, Trade Union of Finland (Suomen Ammattijärjestö) increased it's membership from 40 000 to 160 000.

    The most pressing political matter was the question of food shortages. The Senate tried to solve the matter by maintaining the current wartime policy of fixed prizes. When the food imports from Russia begun to cease during 1917, a new law of food supply was enacted on June 1917. To be effective, the new law would have required effective controlling system and firm political support from all major parties in the Grand Duchy. Without it, the new law was largely irrelevant as a vast black market soon emerged. Food prices kept rising sharply and the relations with conservative farmers in the countryside and working class people in the cities deteriorated accordingly. Many agricultural producers felt that confiscating food and routine inspections to food storages were nothing but Socialist violation of private property. While the situation in Grand Duchy deteriorated, food trade to Petrograd continued and rumors of the streets suspected that the shortage was artificially created and made worse by the greedy producers and black market dealers. As newspapers wrote extensively about the matter, dissent among the population kept growing through the year.

    The Question of Sovereignty

    When Russia seemed to be on the brink of a new revolution and internal dissolution due the war and the internal struggle for power between the Petrograd Soviet and Provisional Government on 1917, all political parties in the Grand Duchy had virtually similar political goals. Their aims were focused on restoring and further expanding the pre-Russification era autonomy of the Grand Duchy, culminating on some kind of new political independence. But as the struggle for power and unrest within the Grand Duchy itself kept growing, Conservatives begun to hesitate about their previous goals of expanding the powers of Eduskunta - after all, in the Parliament SDP had absolute majority. Simultaneously the SDP sought to expand the autonomy of the Grand Duchy, thus expanding their domestic influence even further. Initially the SDP was most active in the relations between the relations of Grand Duchy and Russian Provisional Government, seeking political allies for their goals. Ultimately only one faction was willing to listen to them - a radical minority fringe group known as the Bolsheviks, led by recently returned exile V.I. Lenin. While these early contacts between SDP and Bolsheviks had no early concrete results, they would have major significance later on.

    Lenin, who was busily planning to seize power in Russia in summer 1917, fully supported the goals of SDP since he calculated that unrest in Grand Duchy would deteriorate the position of Provisional Government even further. But while this political scheming continued on Petrogad, the Senate in Helsinki pondered a difficult question: what was the legal position of Grand Duchy at the current situation? Tsarist power was over, and legally speaking the sole legal Head of State of Grand Duchy had been the Tsar of Russia in his role as the Grand Duke of Finland. As the debate on the question of sovereignty continued, two sides emerged. The Committee of Senator Antti Tulenheimo created a draft of a new law, soon nicknamed Lex Tulenheimo. Since everyone understood that this was a matter of utmost political importance, the Committee was filled with leading and most experienced Conservative politicians and law experts, future president Ståhlberg among them. Meanwhile the SDP devised their own law draft.

    Lex Tulenheimo envisioned that the legal powers of former Grand Duke would be transferred mostly to the Senate of Grand Duchy. Russia would still have retained the powers to call, open and disperse the Parliament as well as matters of defense and foreign policy. The law draft of SDP aimed to focus the majority of power to Eduskunta, leaving Russia to control solely foreign policy and defense. This law draft was also clearly based on the assumption that there would be future changes in the structure of Provisional Government. Of these two options the more radical law draft of SDP soon gained more support, and it was accepted at Eduskunta on 18th of July 1917 after an election where SDP, Agrarian Party and independence-minded Conservatives (Activists) joined forces against the fierce opposition of Conservative representatives.


    Kerensky Reshuffles The Deck - Russians retain their control of Fortress Finland

    The political aspirations in Grand Duchy met a sudden stop when the first revolutionary uprising of soldiers and workers in Petrograd ended in failure on August 1917. Provisional Government was shaken but still standing, and with the new leadership of Alexander Kerensky it refused to accept the new legislature of Grand Duchy, disbanded the current Eduskunta on 31st of August and reinforced the presence of Russian military in the region. New parliamentary elections were to be held on October 1917. For Finnish politicians this was a bitter reminder of the fact that even with the Tsar gone, the Russians still viewed the Grand Duchy as an integral part of their empire. For Russians, in addition of being a vital supplier of consumer goods for the capitol, the area of Grand Duchy was also seen as vitally important for the security of Petrograd.

    This can hardly be considered as a surprise. During the first years of WWI, when Germany focused on Western Front, Russians had had ample time to create extensive naval minefields to Gulf of Finland and northern Baltic. With the threat of German invasion thus removed from the Gulf, the Russian planners begun to fear that Germans would invade the long coastline of Gulf of Bothnia and then move towards Petrograd through the Grand Duchy. As a result the Russians fortified Åland Islands, and begun an extensive fortification effort within the Grand Duchy. The strategic idea of the belt of defensive lines within Finland was planned so that the defending forces would delay the enemy while withdrawing to South-Eastern Finland, buying time for reinforcements to reach the area so that they could then move forwards to a counterattack.


    By 1917 Grand Duchy was fully on war footing, with extensive fortification lines constructed through the country and large force of Russian military stationed to the coastlines.

    So while the Russian military stayed on their garrisons through the Grand Duchy, Finns voted on their new parliamentary elections. Here the more radical line adopted by SDP during the previous summer returned to haunt them on the ballot box, and the continuous growth of SDP power received a strong setback. SDP was left to parliamentary opposition instead of their planned expansion. With SDP out from the new Senate, the attitudes of common workers became increasingly radical and their trust for Senate and its ability to solve the problems like the food shortage was further reduced. SDP was now mobilizing its supporters to defend the gains they had made instead of aiming to expand them.


    The new Conservative Senate hoped in vain to gain control of the situation after the dissolution of Eduskunta on August 1917.

    Meanwhile the Conservatives who had supported Lex Tulenheimo now cooperated with the Russian authorities after the dissolution of the SDP-majority Parliament. As a result of this situation the Grand Duchy was on a course towards crisis. Without a strong Parliament and Senate there were no official authorities that could have solved the domestic problems of the society. Policemen clashed with violent strikes through the country, and as the first people died as result of these clashes mutual mistrust made the Conservative elements of the society to start organizing their own "Civil Guards" as a response to the growing power and radicalization of Socialist Red Guards. With Russia in turmoil, citizens of Grand Duchy were increasingly left to deal with their hopes, fears and conflicting visions of future among themselves. Time was running out.
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    Ahh, politics. Politics always has a way of never finding enough time to do what needs doing.
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    Ah, the father of my grandmother was a member of some Civil Guard in Pornainen I believe.
    Love the update!

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    Compulsive CommentatAAR stnylan's Avatar
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    Good to see this get off the ground.
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