Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Moscow Armistice

Today, 19th September, is the 68th anniversary of the signing of the Moscow armistice between Finland on one side and the Soviet Union and United Kingdom on the other. This marked the official end of the Continuation War (Jatkosota).

The war started on 25 June 1941 and lasted 3 years, 2 months, 3 weeks and 4 days and resulted in the loss of over 1 million people. The reason it was named such was because the Finns wanted to make it clear that it perceived the action as continuing from the preceding Winter War (Talvisota). The Soviets saw it as an addition to its fight against the Third Reich and its allies, called the Great Patriotic War.

Finland only wanted to retake the areas which they lost as a result of the Winter War; which they had regained by September 1941. The advanced on the Karelian Isthmus stopped at the pre-winter war boarder which was 30km from Leningrad and as such did not participate in the Siege of Leningrad. Much to the annoyance of Third Reich Commanders and Hitler. They held all pre-Winter War land and secured their boarder for nearly two years, it was not till the Soviet Vyborg-Petrozavodsk Offensive which started in the summer of 1944; that Finland started to struggle in its defence. Even though Finland scored some major victories against the Soviets at the likes of Tali-Ihantala and Ilomantsi, the hardy Finns knew they could not hold of the massed ranks of Russian Soldiers. A cease fire was declared on the 5th September with the Moscow Armistice being signed on the 19th September.

Areas ceded by Finland to Russia
(Taken from Wikipedia)
The Armistice essentially restored the same conditions as the Peace Treaty of 1940 at the end of the Winter War but with a few changes. The 1940 treaty forced Finland to cede parts of Karelia (The entire Isthmus including the ancient fortress city of Vyborg) and Salla and some of the islands within the Gulf of Finland. The Soviets renounced their lease agreement on the port of Hanko (gained from the Finns after the Winter War but lost during the Continuation War) but demanded the Porkkala peninsular instead; for 50 years (it was given back to Finland in 1956 and soon became one of the main Finnish naval bases). In addition to the 1940 Treaty Finland had to hand over all of Petsamo and thus lose its access to the Barents Sea.

Finland was also made to pay $300,000,000 (around $4 billion today) in compensation which came in various forms of commodities over a period of six years. The Communist Party of Finland was also legalised, it had been banned in the 1930's, and to ban parties that the Soviets considered Fascist like the Patriotic People's Movement (Isรคnmaallinen Kansanliike). Further more to the already harsh conditions, individuals that had been responsible for the war, in the Soviets eyes, were arrested and put on trail. The armistice also forced Finland to remove German troops from its soil, this became know as the Lapland War (Lapin Sota).

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