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> Finland- Romania comparison
Kosmo
Posted: December 22, 2005 10:07 am
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I don't want this topic to be about other things already debated in other threads like the decision to give up Eastern Moldova in 1940 or if the romanian army should had stopped at Nistru, but is obvious that the finns were faced with similar decisions, but answered differently and with greater succes.
I do not agree with those who say that the differences were great enough to make a comparison between the two imposible. There are some important aspects like Romania having other enemies beside the soviets and a larger military potential, but to say that one can not compare those two means that no historical comparison can ever be made.

If Finland would have gave up to the soviet ultimatum they would have been forced to accept a Soviet base at Hango and we know what happened with the other 3 baltic states after alowing the soviet army in. During the Winter War a puppet comunist gvt. was set up by USSR as a reminder of the Finnish Civil War and they were ready to take the power.

If Finland terrain is a hard one the claim that it was to cold or unusual for the russians is strange because Russia has large areas with similar terrain and others areas with even colder climate. The russian army was ready to fight in her cold winter weather and prove this every winter begining in front of Moscow in 1941 then at Stalingrad in 1942 and so on. In the summer of 1942 the best defense was put up by soviets against the German North Group and later the Red Army was able to defeat the germans and to go all the way to East Prussia in similar ground conditions with those on the other side of the sea.

Finland did not had only a huge land border, but was exposed to attacks from the sea in the Finnic Golf and Baltic sea.
Romania could use his terrain better for defense, but there was no Nistru Line or Prut Line to slow the soviet attack before the Namaloasa Line despite the fact that those kind of prepared defenses could be set up from a long time.

Comparing political decisions:....Finland......................Romania
.
1940 Soviet ultimatum............... fight.......................give up
Stop during Barbarossa..........stopped soon..................go to Caucasus
Leaving the Axis................peace with USSR and exit.....exit and...

This post has been edited by Kosmo on December 22, 2005 10:10 am
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Imperialist
Posted: December 22, 2005 10:37 am
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QUOTE (Kosmo @ Dec 22 2005, 10:07 AM)
Comparing political decisions:....Finland......................Romania
.
1940 Soviet ultimatum............... fight.......................give up
Stop during Barbarossa..........stopped soon..................go to Caucasus
Leaving the Axis................peace with USSR and exit.....exit and...

Well, Romania's political decisions regarding the ultimatum are kind of covered here:

http://www.worldwar2.ro/forum/index.php?showtopic=2415

I dont know if there is a thread about the decision to go further inside the SU.
I think it would be most interesting.

edit -- maybe this could be the place to debate that decision: http://www.worldwar2.ro/forum/index.php?showtopic=1235

This post has been edited by Imperialist on December 22, 2005 10:43 am
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sid guttridge
Posted: December 22, 2005 11:58 am
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Hi Denes,

I think the Finns were probably qualitatively Germany's best allies on the Eastern Front on land and in the air. They are also probably the only Axis allies who proved themselves superior at any kind of warfare to the Germans - the northern forest/arctic variety.

However, I would submit that the qualitative advantage held by the Finns over other minor pro-Axis powers is greatly flattered by the advantageous circumstances I outlined earlier. I would suggest that the main Eastern Front was a great leveller and they would have found it difficult to return results significantly better than the Romanians, Hungarians or Italians if they too had been deployed there.

I used the Carparthians as shorthand for the Carpathian-Siret-Danube line, which formed a natural defence line for Romania but which Hitler did not take advantage of in 1944, preferring a line further east without similar natural defences.

I agree that Finland's national existence was at risk in WWII. The sort of demands the USSR had made on Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in 1939 were almost identical to those made on Finland. Finland could easily have shared their fate.

Cheers,

Sid.

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sid guttridge
Posted: December 22, 2005 12:26 pm
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Hi Kosmo,

One can compare anything with anything, apples with oranges, for example.

However, one cannot necessarily equate anything with anything. Again apples and oranges are an example.

The circumstances of Finland and Romania were rather different in many areas. One can certainly compare them, but I would submit that one cannot equate them.

The USSR certainly has similar terrain and climate to Finland, but very few Russians live in it. What was a familiar theatre of operations to most Finns was not a familiar theatre of operations to most Soviet citizens.

Finland was not exposed to attacks from the sea for most of the war because the Germans held the opposite Estonian shore of the Gulf of Finland for most of it.

The strategic situations of Finland at the end of 1939 and Romania in mid 1940 were rather different. In December 1939 the British and French were still in the field on the continent in strength to give an illusion of possible support. By late June 1940 this was no longer the case. Finland chose to fight at a time when severe winter conditions gave it great defensive advantages. Romania had to face the USSR in high summer on open plains. The general environment was much more permissive of Finnish military resistance in December 1939 than it was of Romanian military resistance in June 1940.

Cheers,

Sid.
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Kosmo
Posted: December 22, 2005 01:09 pm
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The finns made better options and this makes it easier to see what went wrong with Romania. If they would have give up to the soviet demands they will be now in the "new independent states" category. If they would have lost most of their units in the siege of Leningrad there will be no Nokia today.
So, choose why the two ended the war so different:
1. we can not compare them
2. finns made better choices
3. the soldiers were better

I've been reading on the site that Jeff S gave us the link. It's shocking to see how little resources the finns had in the Winter War, but still made the soviets pay a huge price for the victory. On a little in depth look it shows that Mannerheim Line was based on field fortifications and not Maginot style.

The winter is maybe the best for mechanized action in Finland because all "thousend lakes" and swamps are frozen solid so tanks can be used on their ice.

This post has been edited by Kosmo on December 22, 2005 01:10 pm
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sid guttridge
Posted: December 22, 2005 01:47 pm
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Hi Kosmo,

The quality of Finnish soldiers is little relevant to the outcome of Finland's war. In both 1940 and 1944 the Finns were militarily beaten, regardless of how good their soldiers may or may not have been. The Red Army was in a position to occupy the entire country on both occasions had the political will been there.

What was the point of the Finns entering WWII if they were not prepared to prosecute the war to the full? They might just as well have stayed neutral and saved themselves large losses. They were dependent on German victory to recover their lost territory but weren't prepared to try their utmost to assist that victory. This makes little sense. The Romanian (or a least Antonescu's) attitude was more logical, if not more effective.

There is a tendency to assume that because some armies fought bravely that this was of significance to the war's outcome. Sadly this is not the case. The Poles and Finns both fought bravely but this had almost no influence on the wider course of the war or the fate of their own countries.

Cheers,

Sid.
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Jeff_S
Posted: December 22, 2005 06:00 pm
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QUOTE (sid guttridge @ Dec 22 2005, 01:47 PM)
The quality of Finnish soldiers is little relevant to the outcome of Finland's war. In both 1940 and 1944 the Finns were militarily beaten, regardless of how good their soldiers may or may not have been. The Red Army was in a position to occupy the entire country on both occasions had the political will been there.


Usually I agree with Sid, but not this time. I think the quality of Finnish troops and the decisions made by Finland about war goals had everything to do with relatively positive outcome for Finland.

QUOTE
The Red Army was in a position to occupy the entire country on both occasions had the political will been there.


Very true. So why didn't they? Was "lack of will" to do something nasty normally a characteristic we associate with Stalin? I would say there are two reasons:

1. Respect. The Winter War gave the Russians great respect for the fighting qualities of the Finnish troops. They knew that while they could occupy the whole country, they knew they would pay a heavy price, and gain very little -- just the wreckage of a few small cities, and many empty kilometers of trees and lakes. While I don't doubt the bravery of the Poles, their bravery had not spilled Russian blood recently the way the Finns had. And while I don't want to offend my hosts, I would say the Russians felt this way about the Romanians too, outside of some special situations (Crimea, or the recapture of Bessarabia). It's no accident that the Stalingrad encirclement started with attacks against sections of the line held by German allies. As others have noted, by the time the Romanian army was defending Romania, they were just too weak.

2. Alllied Opinion. Finland's war aims and the way they fought the Continuation War played very well with Allied public opinion. Only a few specialists in the West knew or cared about Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina, because Romania did not fight for them. But my father (13 at the time) said he and his friends had definitely heard of Mannerheim and the Ladoga Line. If Finland had gone beyond the pre-war borders, much of this goodwill would have been lost.

QUOTE
What was the point of the Finns entering WWII if they were not prepared to prosecute the war to the full?


The point is to be prepared for an expected German victory, without being completely exposed if it does not happen. Consider if Germany invades, Finland sits and the Russians collapse. Would Finland get its pre-war territory back? Only through Hitler's benevolence, and why should he be benevolent? Now consider Germany invades, Finland goes in 100% (like Romania), and the Russians collapse. Yes, Finland would certainly get its prewar territory back. Would it get much more? Not Leningrad. Not Murmansk. And this is at the price of losing the Western good will built up during the Winter War, which was essential to avoid occupation in case of a German defeat. A limited war to restore the 1939 borders is the course most likely to regain their lost land if Germany wins, without provoking an occupation if Germany loses.

QUOTE
They were dependent on German victory to recover their lost territory but weren't prepared to try their utmost to assist that victory.


I would say that they had a more realistic view of their capabilities. What could they have done? Attack Leningrad from the north, and be drawn in to urban warfare against a more numerous enemy? Attack Murmansk? German attempts to do that were not effective, maybe the Finns would have done better, but maybe not. Try to sever the Murmansk rail line? That's the most realistic, but it still means sustaining operations well inside Russia, and far from their base of supplies. And any attempt to do more than just sabotage it would have faced certain retaliation from the Russians, who could move forces to the site by rail far more easily than the Finns could by road.

Better to do what they did... were there any other countries that fought for the Axis, but were not occupied by one or more of the Allies?

This post has been edited by Jeff_S on December 22, 2005 06:01 pm
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Imperialist
Posted: December 22, 2005 06:53 pm
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QUOTE (Jeff_S @ Dec 22 2005, 06:00 PM)
Only a few specialists in the West knew or cared about Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina, because Romania did not fight for them. But my father (13 at the time) said he and his friends had definitely heard of Mannerheim and the Ladoga Line.

Very important point IMO.
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Victor
Posted: December 22, 2005 09:32 pm
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Jeff, obviously it was no accident the encirclement at Stalingrad started in the Romanian sectorts, because usually this is how encirclements are made: on the flanks. Like Sid said, comparing the Romanian 3rd and 4th Armies at the Don's Bend and Kalmyk Steppe with the Finnish Army in Winter War is like comparing apples with oranges.

Kosmo, comparing the Red Army of the Winter War with the Red Army of December 1941 or later is again like comparing apples with oranges. Much had changed in the meantime. After all, much had changed in the Red Army between 22 June 1941 and December 1941.
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Victor
Posted: December 22, 2005 09:33 pm
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QUOTE (Imperialist @ Dec 22 2005, 08:53 PM)
QUOTE (Jeff_S @ Dec 22 2005, 06:00 PM)
Only a few specialists in the West knew or cared about Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina, because Romania did not fight for them. But my father (13 at the time) said he and his friends had definitely heard of Mannerheim and the Ladoga Line.

Very important point IMO.

If you want to discuss the June 1940 what if, do it in the already existing topic.
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johnny_bi
Posted: December 23, 2005 12:06 am
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QUOTE ("Jeff_S")
Very true. So why didn't they? Was "lack of will" to do something nasty normally a characteristic we associate with Stalin? I would say there are two reasons:


Stalin had more limited objectives with Finland... Why to occupy whole Finland? To go where?

This post has been edited by johnny_bi on December 23, 2005 12:07 am
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johnny_bi
Posted: December 23, 2005 12:11 am
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QUOTE ("Dénes")
Finland was integral part of the Russian Empire up to 1918, IIRC. The danger for the country to "ask to rejoin voluntarily the Soviet Union" (just as the Baltic states were forced to do) was real, in my opinion.


Actually the Finns had a kind of civil war during WWI. The Red Finns tried to get the power, to create a Soviet state.

http://countrystudies.us/finland/15.htm

This post has been edited by johnny_bi on December 23, 2005 12:13 am
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Cantacuzino
Posted: December 23, 2005 04:57 am
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QUOTE
Stalin had more limited objectives with Finland... Why to occupy whole Finland? To go where?



The richest forest of Finland, the many (full of fish) lakes, the nice cold winter weather, the future Nokia mobil phone factory ;) , I think Stalin was fool not choose to occupy Finland. Instead he choose non important stuff like oil field in Romania, or heavy and modern german industry. :roll:

The same mistake was made by George Bush instead to occupy Cuba for his richest Havana ciggare or rom industry he choose to occupy Irak for the not important stuff like oil fields. :P
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D13-th_Mytzu
Posted: December 23, 2005 05:13 am
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Regarding the soviet Stalingrad counteroffensive: it was decide where to hit even before romanian troops were brought to Stalingrad area. So soviets did not choose those sectors because they were held by romanians - because at the time they made the plan those sectors were NOT held by romanians. However concentrating 1000+ armours vs. virtually no anti-tank guns on very small front sectors, eventually made a brake-through. Even so, on many sectors, romanians managed to hold on to their positions even if they were not equiped to do so.
I strongly recommend to all of you the following book: "Romanii la Stalingrad" by Adrian Pabdea, Ion Pavelescu, Eftimie Ardeleanu published by "Editura Militara".
I really do not think finns could have done any better no matter how super soldiers they were, given the conditions at Stalingrad.
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Cantacuzino
Posted: December 23, 2005 05:52 am
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QUOTE
I really do not think finns could have done any better no matter how super soldiers they were, given the conditions at Stalingrad.


You wrong Mytzu, the super pilots finns with their old "Brewster Buffalo" could performed better than romanian pilots to defend Stalingrad. :)

This post has been edited by Cantacuzino on December 23, 2005 07:42 am
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