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The Continuation War of Finland and the Soviet Union ended on September 19, 1944. One of the peace terms was that Finland should drive out all German troops stationed in the country. The Germans were stationed in the northernmost part of Finland, also known as Lapland. They were to withdraw to positions in German-occupied Norway.

The withdrawal began peacefully, since the Germans had rather friendly relations with both the civilian population and the Finnish armed forces, as they had fought together against the Soviet Union. The withdrawal was not quick enough for the Soviet Union, however. They demanded that Finland start a full-scale military operation against the Germans. They threatened to take care of the problem themselves if Finland failed to comply. This was a strong incentive to act, since there were great fears of a Soviet occupation of Finland at this time. The ability of the Finnish army to attack the Germans was significantly hindered by the Soviet demand that a considerable portion of it had to be demobilized at the same time as it was executing a war against the Germans.

The attack on the Germans was begun. By November 1944 most of the Germans had been driven out of the country. Military casualties amounted to about 1 000 dead Finns and 2 000 dead Germans. A lot of Lapland was devastated, with property losses amounting to approximately 300 million US dollars in 1945 terms. Mines laid by the Germans wrought havoc on the civilian population of Lapland for years to come. Approximately 100 000 people had to flee their homes, which is a huge number considering that in 1940 there were about 140 000 inhabitants in Finnish Lapland.

Courses on Finnish history taken at school

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