During the Second World War Norway, Finland and the far north of the Soviet Union was unexpectedly the location of a series of major conflicts. First came the Winter War between Finland and the Soviet Union, a conflict that saw the Finns gain a great deal of sympathy in the west. Next came the German invasion of Norway, giving the Germans a short common border with the Soviet Union in the far north. The Finns then felt that they had little choice other than to side with the Germans, although without much enthusiasm. When the Germans invaded the Soviet Union in 1941 the Finns joined in, starting their Continuation War. This soon developed into a campaign that can be seen as two separate battles - the Finnish attempt to regain the lands lost in the Winter War, and a limited extra area, and the German attempts to threaten Leningrad from the north and to cut off Murmansk. The fighting on this front soon settled down into a long stalemate, while the main action in the north moved out to sea, where the famous Arctic Convoys fought their way past the German naval and air forces in Norway to take supplies to the Soviet Union. Finally, as the tide turned in their favour, the Soviets launched a major offensive in the north that forced the Finns to sue for peace, change sides, and attack their former German allies. I’ve read books on each part of this story, but this is the first one that attempts to cover them all.
Some of these topics are more familiar than others, at least to me. I’ve read plenty of material on the Winter War, the German invasion of Norway and the Arctic Convoys, but the sections on the Finnish front during Operation Barbarossa, the years of stalemate in Finland and the final Soviet offensive that forced the Finns to change sides cover much less familiar ground. These were thus the most interested sections for me,
When I started reading this book I was hoping that the author was going to focus more on those unfamiliar topics, but in reality that would produce a distorted text - the initial German and Finnish campaign of 1941 was fairly short, and quickly came to a halt once the Finns had reached their own targets. Over the next few years this was a fairly static front. The final Soviet offensive and the brief Finnish campaign against their former German allies do indeed get quite a bit of space, providing an account of how Finland managed to escape from the war with her independence largely intact.
1 - Germany, Finland and the Winter War
2 - The Invasion of Norway
3 - Hitler's Barbarossa Venture
4 - Stalemate on the Frozen Front
5 - The War on the Arctic Convoys
6 - Red Storm - Stalin's Revenge
7 - The Price of Occupation
Author: Chris Mann and Christer Jörgensen
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military
Year: 2016 edition of 2002 original