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> Finland- Romania comparison
Posted: November 11, 2007 02:38 pm
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I'm sorry, somehow I noticed that I missed to add a final pargraph to my previous message.
They happened as the Soviets were in retreat and they happened once the Soviets were on their rising tide. The most known, that went the farthest, is usually referred as the Stockholm negotiations to which yourself made reference as well. For whatever it matters, it seems it was also Stalin (besides Hitler) that considered up to one point that only Antonescu could have provided the warranty for continued Ro military operations.

The quotation above, should have been followed by:

A favorable moment was lost when Lenin was cornered and ready to sign a document with Ro that would have recognized Ro borders as they were at the moment of its signature. A certain string of events lead to Ro not having this concluded. Of course this obviously is not part of WW2 unfolding, but since it happened much earlier it would have changed some of the events of WW2 in respect to Ro.
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Posted: November 11, 2007 07:30 pm
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I do not understand what the principles you mentioned have to do with the topic at hand. You will have to enlighten me.

I, however, have a principle of my own: one should engage into discussions only when one knows the subject very well and never create theories you cannot back up. This usually leads me to learn new and interesting things while investing if my theory would be viable.

Such broad generalizations, as in this case, are among the most dangerous, because they depend on many variables and thus require much research to even begin to talk about them. Far from me from thinking that I have the monopoly of knowledge here, but let’s just say that I don’t really trust what the history teachers taught me in school or their professionalism. I prefer to rely on written materials (published or archive documents).

Thus, my “absolutism” has a lot of reading behind it on this subject. It is true that I am not a very flexible person, but this doesn’t have anything to do with this particular discussion. No offense, but you failed to provide any serious arguments and sources to back up your theory.

1. Stopping at the Dnestr

As I already said, unlike in the North, the Axis-Soviet front in the South was the most dynamic of all sectors of the Eastern Front. The Axis advanced thousands of kilometers to Rostov in 1941 and then to the Caucasus and the Volga in 1942. This advance required a lot of manpower, which Germany lacked (as it lacked many other resources). The Romanian Army was not prime quality on its whole, but there really weren’t that many alternatives for the Heer if the OKW intended to overextend it beyond its possibilities. This manpower was essential in giving continuity to the front in the extreme South and to mopping up resistance points. The need for Romanian troops is stressed in several of the letters Hitler addressed to Antonescu and, consequently, the 3rd Army crossed the Bug and then the Dnepr and then the Mountain Corps (and later also the 7th Corps) assisted the 11th Army in taking Crimea in 1941-42. In early 1942, after the first Kharkov counteroffensive, Romanian infantry divisions and skiers were rushed to the area to help contain the advancing Soviet forces etc.

On 22 June 1941, between the Pripiat Marshes and the Black Sea there were only 5 German divisions. The bulk of the 11th German Army in Bessarabia was made up of Romanian troops (including the 3rd Romanian Army subordinated directly to the German 11th Army). These 5 infantry divisions would not be capable of manning such a broad front and mopping up resistance pockets, even with the 17th Army coming southwards in the wake of the 1st Panzer Group. How would Germany act if it was put in such a difficult position is hard to tell. IMHO not well. Hitler played well on the differences between Romania and Hungary regarding Transylvania. Hungary had the Rapid Corps participating in the offensive into the Ukraine, while Romania would deliver a strategic blow to the German attack by refusing to go beyond the Dnestr. Furthermore, even though the Finns stopped in Karelia, they continued to man a frontline that remained stationary throughout most of the war and tied down some Soviet forces. This would not be the case for Romania.

We must keep in mind who was the major power in the Germany-Romania relationship and how much space of maneuver the small power had.

Similarly in the “Western” campaign, the Romanian troops could not have just stopped on the former frontier because of military reasons. Leaving gaps in the Soviet line in Hungary would not had been very appealing to the Stavka or Stalin. The fact that there was a paper signed that required Romania to fight with 16 divisions against the Axis, bears little relevance when dealing with the Soviet Union or Nazi Germany. None of the two showed any respect for international treaties when in a position of power. As a result, Romania did not receive co-belligerent status at the Peace Conference. The inclusion in the armistice of the obligation to fight with 12 (later 16 divisions) alongside the Allies against the Axis was something imposed by the Soviets. And it makes sense from a military point of view. Just because Hitler didn’t, it doesn’t mean that he couldn’t.

Regarding the Soviet bombing raids, they did manage to hit the Unirea in Ploiesti and constantly bombed Moldavian cities and Constanta. Obviously the effects of the raids were much smaller than those of the massive USAAF raids, but the threat existed and could not be ruled out as irrelevant.

2. War with the Western Allies

As you also said, it was inevitable. Germany was short on oil and every barrel was precious, even though the Romanian oil was just a fraction of what Germany needed. Given the large quantities Germany imported in the pre-war years and the lack of knowledge about the synthetic fuel factories in the early years, the Allies thought that Ploiesti was essential for the Axis war effort and two very hazardous operations were launched in 1942 and 1943 to bomb the refineries and oil fields as a consequence. Whether with a DoW or not, the Allies would bomb Romania. The Royal Navy massacred the Vichy fleet at Mers-el-Kebir without declaring war on France and the US Navy attacked U-boots in the Atlantic prior to December 1941.

3. Strategic position

I think you misunderstood. This is not nationalistic blabber. It isn’t that good a thing Romania is where it is.

From 1943, it was no longer a matter of survival for the Soviet Union, but a matter of grabbing more. Finland did not offer access to any of the countries in the Soviet agreed post-war sphere of influence. Poland offered access to Germany and Czechoslovakia. Romania offered access to the Balkans, to Hungary and Czechoslovakia. The fact that Poles occupied Moscow in the 16th century bears no relevance to what Stalin’s interests were in 1944. One way or another the Red Army was going to enter Romania.

4. Fate of other states in the region

Poland and the Czechoslovakia (the Czech part) were two countries that were occupied militarily by Germany and the latter was even in friendly relations with the SU before the war. Both lost territory to the SU and had Communist regimes imposed by Moscow. Bulgaria resisted a large amount of pressure from Germany to join the fighting against the SU, but was occupied and turned into a Communist state.

5. Difficulty of breaking away

The August 1944 events happened in a very favorable conjecture (from the point of view of a break away from the Axis). The bulk of the German forces in Romania was concentrated on the front and on 23 August was either fighting for their lives in front of the Soviet onslaught or in the course of being encircled (the 6th Army in Bessarabia). The forces that the Romanian Army concentrated in Walachia and Southern Transylvania fought until the end of August were second line support forces, who, with the exception of the Flak division in the Ploiesti area were poorly equipped and trained for infantry warfare and, more important, were seriously outnumbered.

In 1943, following the disaster at the Don’s Bend and in the Kalmuk Steppe, the Romanian Army was in reconstruction and what battle-worthy forces remained were on the front in the Caucasus or stationed in Crimea. Under these circumstances, there was no possibility to actually break away.

Regarding Hungary, in March 1944, after finding of Horthy’s intention to sign an armistice, Hitler occupied the country (Operation Margarethe I) and imposed a pro-German government. In October 1944, Horthy tried again to get Hungary out of the war. This time he was arrested and forced to abdicate.

6. Stockholm negotiations

The terms offered by the Soviet Union in April 1944 were the following:
- the Romanian Army ceases hostilities against the Allies and starts to fight alongside the Red Army
- the 1940 state border will be restored
- Romania will pay war reparations
- the return of the POWs
- the Allied troops will have the possibility to move in any direction on Romanian soil, as required by the war operations and the Romanian Government had to provide the necessary conditions for this
- the Second Vienna Award was considered null
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Posted: October 01, 2008 10:18 am
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This is my first post in this forum. Decided to put some thoughts on this subject in particular, because it has interested me as well.

I didn't have opportunity to view all past comments here, so hopefully you forgive if I use some thoughts already expressed somewhere earlier in these forums.

I'm not expert, but I believe many of these opinions can be verified with some data.

Is it possible to make some comparison between Finland and Romania ? - Yes, but not in all aspects.

In regards of territory and alliances, both countries went through similar phases. Common enemy, common source of help.

As a result of war, Romania lost Moldova, and Finland lost Karelia. The percentage number of population lost in the war was same. Romania's population was and still is much bigger, so of course numbers for Romania are bigger since much more men were fighting on the front.

In the final stages of war, late summer 1944, there was a communication between Bucharest and Helsinki on daily basis regarding the ungoing events. Finland would continue the fight as long as Bucharest was still fighting too. It was a matter of days after the fall of Bucharest that Finland's war was over too.

In both years 1940 and 1944 Romania had provided food supplies for Finnish children which points out that in regards of food storage Romania had better status?

1939-40 Finnish weaponry was pretty much based on the 1891 model of the Russian rifle, Molotov cocktails and Skoda artillery. Success, although defeat, was based on great amount of patriotism, religion and 'righteousness' against the 'atheist east'.

The Soviets expected to conquer Finland in matter of two weeks. Therefore they were not mentally equipped for a longer war. The terrain was unfamiliar and winter equipments lacking. Being bogged down in the snow, many Soviets freezed to death, while Finns, although smaller in number, had advantage of moving rapidly in small groups. Masterful tactics was created on the basis of the realities of war.

Another important point is the Mannerheim line, a line of fortification. The Mannerheim line was incomplete when the war broke out, however, it did slow down the Soviets and caused them losses in armour.

Did Finns have tanks ? Towards the end of the war yes - the ones they had taken as war booty from the Soviets (e.g. destroyed Soviet divisions in the Raate road battle had armour).

Finns were able to slow down the Soviets even by using relatively small ideas. For example, they placed mines inside of carved pieces of wood. Therefore, always when there was pieces of wood on the road, Soviets had to detonate them. However, not ALL pieces did contain such. The idea was only to slow down the enemy.

What was the situation in March, 1940 when the first war ended ? The lines were about to collapse, at least near collapsing. Admit or not, a full panic mentality was not far as Soviets began to advance deeper. However, neither did the Soviet lead of war nor even the Finnish lead of the war really knew what was going on in the front. Communication was poor and the situation far from ideal. Peace was welcomed on both sides.

And the years 1941-44 ?

Finnish troops launched attack three days after Germany. Why? Finnish leaders of the war felt that this showed that Finland was having a separate war against USSR. However, in Paris 1947 the Allied leaders disagreed on the Finnish claim that Finland was not an "ally" of Germany but in a coalition in respect of a common enemy.

However, Finland was never under occupation of Germany nor USSR at any stage of the war. Why USSR didn't occupy Finland, I answer on later stage on this post.

In this respect, Jews in Finland were not eliminated. Swastikas were not used (note: Finnish air force had been using swastika already in 1918; not connected with the war). Also the Finnish troops were not under German authority.

In addition Mannerheim didn't approve the idea of attacking Leningrad. It was not Finland's purpose, but Germany's own war.

However, with the help of German war technology it was possible to take part in the counter-attack in 1941-42.

Artillery improved, some German tanks and fighters were available - and most importantly the genious easy-to-use anti-tank weapon; Panzerfaust.

These days it is a pretty much of an idea that the Tali-Ihantala battles in July 1944 was where the fate of the war was decided. Most important factor in the battle was a new amount of Panzerfaust arrived from Germany. Second factor was few dozen fresh German fighters to give firepower. According to the present view.

As a result, Soviet assault lost energy and peace-negotiations were easier for the Finns. Finns still had some power left.

Most crucial point in 1944 was when the Soviet attack consisted of more equipment, tanks and 1 million men - more than in the previous stages of war. However, Panzerfaust was effective.

One interesting aspect, besides not being occupated, was that only some 2 000 civilians died - mostly in Soviet bombings (Helsinki, Turku, etc.). Compared to other war-going countries this was not really much.

Both Romania, Finland, and countries like Hungery, signed in 1948 the mutual agreement on Friendship, Cooperation and Aid (in Finland known as the YYA agreement). However, questions why USSR didn't occupy Finland cannot be known by sure. Few points have been brought into attention though;

Finland paid the massive financial punishment (hundreds of billions) addressed to it by 1952. It was not expected that Finland could do it. As a result, Soviets cut the punishment into half, to make sure that the Finns would pay the rest. Soviets needed money for rebuilding their country. Perhaps our independence was 'bought' back?

In addition, USSR still had hopes for a communist revolution to happen in Finland. However, it did not happen, although they had much power on the parliament. Why? Because the communists could not unify themselves. Many communists had not approved the Soviet attack on Finland, there were schisms and disputes. However, there existed a constant threat. Therefore the Finnish naval planted a warship in front of the presidential palace in case of a revolution(!).

The secret police fell into communist hands as well. They received information on an anti-Soviet underground army consisting 50 000 men, in case the country would fall into Soviet hands. This frightened both Finnish and Soviet officials - for various reasons. In addition, a Soviet member of the Allied commission was murdered with a knife when walking alone in Helsinki. Finns feared punishment, Soviets feared war was not over yet.

Most interesting point is, why General Mannerheim was not punished on the war tribunal? Mannerheim had been in charge of the Finnish army, right from the start. However, it seems that Mannerheim was for some reason admired, by Stalin? Why? Maybe because more than once he had opposed the idea of attacking St. Petersburg and the Murmansk railway as an error - something the Soviets would never forget..... also, Mannerheim had been in the Tsar Army and knew Russian culture, mentality, language.. Mannerheim did not hate the Russians, but his native country Finland was always a little more important. Mannerheim was allowed even to be the president of Finland in 1944-46. Mannerheim had also been in charge of the army that destroyed the bolshevists in Finland in 1918.

For many communists in Soviet union they had only one desire: to punish Mannerheim. Since Mannerheim's army had executed great number of men and women suspected as being bolshevists.

This was my answer... and hope it provided some new information perhaps on these events in history.

I will be spending 15th to 24th this month in Romania and Moldavia. This country has really a colorful history ...!

Best wishes!
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Posted: February 20, 2009 09:33 pm
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IMHO the most important difference was in the people: Romanians were not Finns and vice-versa. I'm not sure whether the fact that Finland was a Russian province, whereas Moldavia+Wallachia were Othoman provinces could proove to be relevant, but...
Anyway, for me the non-communization of Finland after 1945 remains ne of the big mysteries of history. Please don't tell me that Stalin had a moral obligation...
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