Skip directly to content

Red Army POW Remains Discovered in Finland

on Tue, 11/22/2011 - 14:57

The remains of six former soldiers from the Red Army are to be reinterred from their current burial location in Finland. Currently located in South Karelia the remains were discovered outside the city of Lappeenranta and will be moved to an official cemetary for Soviet prisoners of war who died during the 1941-1944 war fought between the Soviet Union and Germany and its Axis allies - including Finland. Though Finland fought on the German side of the war from 1941-1944 what also must be remembered that this may have been as a direct outcome of what had transpired in 1939-1940 - when Stalin invaded Finland as part of a series of invasions of the Soviet Union's neighbors during its nearly two year alliance with Nazi Germany.

Stalin had followed up his September 1939 invasion of Poland, follwoing the lead of his German ally, when he attacked Finland on November 30, 1939, hoping for easy territorial gain. Although isolated the Finns received ample support from Sweden; a traditional Russian rival. Nonetheless, the Red Army vastly outnumbered the Finnish armed forces. Even so, in a humiliating turn of events, Finnish troops, fighting behind a massive series of fortifications erected in dense swamps and forests and led by Field Marshall Carl Gustav Emil Mannerheim, held off the far larger Red Army for far longer than should have been possible. During the war’s first month alone 18,000 Soviet soldiers, representing half the initial invading army had been lost as either killed, missing, or captured. The Finns used well-placed roadblocks, hit and run tactics led by hundreds of white clad ski troops, well-timed counterattacks, and an ingenious logistical support network built by plowing roads through the deep snow across frozen lakes. In spite of Mannerheim’s defensive effort by early in 1940, and through sheer brute force effort, Stalin had forced Finland to come to terms; albeit at the cost of over 126,000 Soviet dead and 300,000 wounded. In addition to these combat deaths, the Red Army’s unpreparedness for fighting in the cold meant frostbite had ravaged poorly clothed Soviet soldiers. Though Finland lost thousands of square miles of territory, and suffered 48,243 killed in action, it had remained independent. Given the chance in 1941 to recapture its lost territory, Finland then eagerly participated in Germany’s attack on the Soviet Union.

Post new comment