The History Thread

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The History Thread

Post by miditek » Sat Jul 05, 2008 8:00 pm

Thought I'd start a new history related thread so that we won't get too off-topic in the US Presidential thread.
Carcass wrote:
Mormegil wrote:
miditek wrote:
Mormegil wrote:
browneyedgirl wrote:BTW, isn't Lauri Porra's Great-Grandfather this Sebelius composer fellow himself? ???
The same one. Probably the only remarkable person in Finland's history. :lol:
Well, I'm not sure about that... ;)

What about Field Marshal Mannerheim?

Or Simo Hayha- the world's deadliest sniper?

Just my $0.02, but I would say that the entire Finnish army in WWII was nothing short of remarkable. :D
Mannerheim is not entirely uncontroversial. With his silent approval thousands of his countrmates died in prison camps after the civil war.
Mannerheim might be another one, but I don't think anyone, not even all the Finns themselves, have heard of Simo Häyhä, unless they really are into history of WWII (like you I suppose). ;)
While I realize that Mannerheim was controversial, I was not aware of his tacit approval of imprisoning his own countrymen as you had mentioned. I did not envy him, particularly when having to deal with Stalin's bullying, and especially when considering just how close Finland is (geographically) to its giant neighbor; and one that has not always been very friendly. It's pretty clear that Mannerheim was walking a tightrope then- first with the Russians, then with the Germans, and finally with the Russians yet again.

Regarding Mr. Häyhä, I personally consider him to be a true Finnish patriot. I do not believe that he was a war-monger, but was simply a normal guy who did what he had to do under extremely difficult circumstances, and he did it extraordinarily well.

Image

I envy some of the tourists that had the opportunity to meet him before his death a few years ago. From what I have read, he was very polite to the people that had traveled thousands of miles to meet with him. Many of these men were gun collectors, I guess you would call them "Finnophiles" that had respect for the country's marital history, and were also interested in the Finns' well-known skill at weapons manufacturing. There is an interesting page dedicated to Mr. Häyhä at the link below-

http://mosinnagant.net/finland/simohayha.asp
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Re: The History Thread

Post by miditek » Sun Jul 06, 2008 4:54 am

An interesting link- and an excellent documentary.

Fire and Ice: The War of Finland and Russia
http://youtube.com/watch?v=mqRp09ZBd-U
Part 1 of 6 (in English w/ some Russian and Finnish subtitles)
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Re: The History Thread

Post by Mormegil » Sun Jul 06, 2008 11:01 am

Old, but I still love this:

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:lol:
miditek wrote:An interesting link- and an excellent documentary.

Fire and Ice: The War of Finland and Russia
http://youtube.com/watch?v=mqRp09ZBd-U
Part 1 of 6 (in English w/ some Russian and Finnish subtitles)
I think they shoved that in Finnish TV not too long ago. It's interesting to hear an outsider view instead of the rather partial Finnish one we've been getting.

I'm obviously proud of how the Finns, including my grandfather, defended this country and at least kept it out of Soviet Union. But if Stalin hadn't in his paranoia executed many of Soviet army's high-ranking officers and if he didn't have the Nazi-Germany to worry about, would we really have stood a chance?

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Re: The History Thread

Post by miditek » Sun Jul 06, 2008 6:42 pm

Mormegil wrote:I'm obviously proud of how the Finns, including my grandfather, defended this country and at least kept it out of Soviet Union.


It's very good to see that you recognize your ancestors' contributions to keeping Finland free for future generations. I don't think that any Finn would have fared very well under Soviet domination. It's also very interesting to see that your grandfather was one of the country's defenders- I personally consider all of them to be heroes.

My grandfather stayed stateside during WWII, and as an MP (Military Police) at Fort Knox, Kentucky, and guarded German POW's- some of which were even our distant cousins! His brothers did go to ETO (European Theater of Operations), and one of which, an Army Ranger, was grievously wounded- but survived somehow, at Bastonge. He was never completely the same after that though. He had lots of horrible nightmares and drank heavily when he got back here to the States, and was rather harsh and cruel to my cousin during his "hippie" phase.
Mormegil wrote:But if Stalin hadn't in his paranoia executed many of Soviet army's high-ranking officers and if he didn't have the Nazi-Germany to worry about, would we really have stood a chance?
Some interesting observations, Mormegil. Personally, I would chalk Stalin's purges of the Red Army officer corps to one of "Divine Providence"- or the unseen hand of God at work. It was very helpful for the Finns that at the time of the initial invasion in 1939 that the most of the Red Army's leaders were more or less political appointees rather than professional soldiers. Timoshenko was certainly a competent commander, but he did not come onto the scene until later- after his predecessor had been executed on Stalin's orders by the NKVD. Thank God that Zhukov (who also survived the purges) was still in Russia's far east provinces, as he was probably Stalin's most talented and effective commander.

All of this certainly had a detrimental effect on Russia, as Hitler had followed the events of the Winter War with great interest, and the results of which formed his overall assessment of the Red Army's strength and leadership capabilities. Undoubtedly, Russia's humiliation and rough treatment at the hands of the Finns played a large role in Hitler's decision to launch Operation Barbarossa in 1941, which as we know, had catastrophic consequences for the Red Army itself. In the first ninety days of the campaign, the Wehrmacht killed over 3,000,000 Russian troops and captured millions more.

The one lesson that Hitler did not learn from the Winter War was that of old "General Winter" himself. This led to the premature and early disintegration of German forces in the East, and ultimately cost Hitler the war. It was very fortunate for the Finns that the Soviet military leadership was so incompetent at the onset, followed soon after by the largest invasion force in world history during the opening phases of Barbarossa. All of this, combined with the tenacious fighting abilities and marital spirit of the Finns is why Finland is free today.
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Re: The History Thread

Post by Shurik » Mon Jul 07, 2008 9:27 pm

The one lesson that Hitler did not learn from the Winter War was that of old "General Winter" himself.
That's the only lesson he should've learned. I mean, Russia is huge, and there are harsh winters there. Why the hell bother with going to the war with a huge country if you are not prepared for the weather there and don't have a chance of conquering it all in just a few months (by "all" I mean entire USSR, from baltic republics to the Vladivostok)?

German's Barbarossa plan was a dumb and impossible plan, and the Germans got where they got only due to all the stuff Soviets left behind during the first days of the war ...
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Re: The History Thread

Post by miditek » Tue Jul 08, 2008 4:42 am

The one lesson that Hitler did not learn from the Winter War was that of old "General Winter" himself.
Shurik wrote:That's the only lesson he should've learned. I mean, Russia is huge, and there are harsh winters there. Why the hell bother with going to the war with a huge country if you are not prepared for the weather there and don't have a chance of conquering it all in just a few months (by "all" I mean entire USSR, from baltic republics to the Vladivostok)?
I agree that Barbarossa was Hitler's worst military blunder. He grossly underestimated Stalin's reserves in the Far East, such as the 100 fresh divisions Stalin threw at him (that the Abwehr simply failed to detect) during Operation Uranus. (What a title!)

and this was compounded by several other items:

a) Failure to issue winter clothing (as you mentioned).

b) Attempting to do too much at once- such as splitting the main striking force into three groups with objectives that were far too broad. Most of his generals strongly advised on taking Moscow as a priority, but Hitler also wanted Leningrad, Ukraine, and Stalingrad as well.

c) Treating the Ukrainians roughly, when many of them would gladly taken up arms against Stalin- whom the majority of them hated with a vengeance.

d) Not allowing his generals to practice maneuver warfare after things got bad, and his obsession of holding on to every square inch of ground that he had taken- which led to disasters such as Stalingrad.

e) Underestimating Russia's industrial capability- and particularly their talent for turning out large numbers of T-34 tanks, among other things.

f) Hitler's inability to stop the Arctic supply convoys.

Russia was very close to collapse, perhaps much closer than many may have realized.

There were many blunders after Hitler invaded that simply worsened the idiocy of invading Russia to begin with. I do not think that Hitler intended on occupying the entire country- all the way to Vladivostok, as vast swaths of the far east were of little importance to him- the biggest prize were the oilfields in Grozny, as well as Moscow (for political reasons), in addition to the agricultural potential of Ukraine. I think that he would have been satisfied to have stopped at the Caucuses.
Shurik wrote:German's Barbarossa plan was a dumb and impossible plan, and the Germans got where they got only due to all the stuff Soviets left behind during the first days of the war ...
I think that today most Germans would heartily agree with that assessment. ;) Still, 25+ million Russians dead simply is beyond my comprehension.
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Re: The History Thread

Post by Shurik » Tue Jul 08, 2008 10:18 pm

Underestimating Russia's industrial capability- and particularly their talent for turning out large numbers of T-34 tanks, among other things.
Almost all the heavy industry was relocated to Siberia, and the rates of production were enormous once everything was in place. Not stopping it meant a constant war of attrition even if the Germans would have conquered everything up to Ural mountains. So Hitler had to destroy/conquer all those new industrial centers if he wanted to win the war.
I do not think that Hitler intended on occupying the entire country- all the way to Vladivostok, as vast swaths of the far east were of little importance to him- the biggest prize were the oilfields in Grozny, as well as Moscow (for political reasons), in addition to the agricultural potential of Ukraine. I think that he would have been satisfied to have stopped at the Caucuses.
But Siberia has lots of natural resources too - leaving it to what would remain of Russia is not a very good idea. He could've left it to the Japanese, but by that time the Japanese had the troubles of their own ...
Still, 25+ million Russians dead simply is beyond my comprehension.
Soviet command simply had no regard for a life of a soldiers.
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Re: The History Thread

Post by Just a Vampire » Fri Jul 11, 2008 2:02 am

Shurik wrote:
Still, 25+ million Russians dead simply is beyond my comprehension.
Soviet command simply had no regard for a life of a soldiers.
True. Besides, they were encouraged to fight until death, for proud, patriotic efforts, and the fact that if they tried to flew, they would be executed. So, figth or fight, there was no other choice
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Re: The History Thread

Post by Mormegil » Fri Jul 11, 2008 2:40 pm

During Winter / Continuation War, Soviet soldiers' were given propaganda about how badly the finns treat their prisoners of war. I think that's bigger reason why they fought until death than patriotism.
Those who got captured actually had hard time believing they were treated and fed better as prisoners of the enemy than as soldiers of their own country.

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Re: The History Thread

Post by miditek » Mon Jul 14, 2008 6:37 am

Just a Vampire wrote:
Shurik wrote:
Still, 25+ million Russians dead simply is beyond my comprehension.
Soviet command simply had no regard for a life of a soldiers.
True. Besides, they were encouraged to fight until death, for proud, patriotic efforts, and the fact that if they tried to flew, they would be executed. So, figth or fight, there was no other choice
I think I needed to clear one thing up regarding the numbers thing- (20-26 million dead, depending upon whom you ask)- if you take the reports from SHAEF (Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force) along with those of the Kremlin, the numbers are still frightening and something along with lines of:

9 million or so troops and combatants (the rough equivalent of 900 divisions total destroyed) Most military estimates show 3,000,000 Red Army troops killed in the first ninety days of Barbarossa.

17 million or so civilians killed, either in the crossfire, or were deliberately murdered behind the lines (under the guise of the Commissar Order, Partisan Order, as well as the Severity Order). The Einsatzkommando and the SS/SD and collaboration units (Lithuanian and Ukrainian irregulars being among them) were some of the worst offenders, but many regular German army units also took part as well.

So it's a given that there were astounding numbers of civilians killed as well.

At least six or seven million troops were also captured by the Germans, and fared none too well in German POW camps. "Special Treatment" was reserved for Russian troops that were not necessarily accorded to other Allied troops. Luftwaffe stalags, under the orders of Goering treated captured non-Russian Allied pilots and flight crews somewhat better.

So it is safe to say that with the sheer number of Soviet troops that either capitulated and while others collaborated, not all of them fought to the death against the Germans. The POW camps were simply too full with documented cases of millions of prisoners to suggest otherwise. There were also documented cases of Russians that had been conscripted into service in the Wehrmacht that were captured in locales such as Normandy, among other places.

One of the most famous prisoners, a young Russian lieutenant by the name of Yakov Dzughashvili was offered by the Germans in trade for German XI Army commander Field Marshal Friedrich von Paulus, who surrendered his forces at Stalingrad (and whom Hitler wished to publicly hang, if he could have gotten his hands on him). The reply from STAVKA, signed by Stalin himself was quite chilling; "My son? He is already dead."
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Re: The History Thread

Post by Shurik » Tue Jul 15, 2008 7:12 am

There were also documented cases of Russians that had been conscripted into service in the Wehrmacht that were captured in locales such as Normandy, among other places.
There was a famous case of General Vlasov who was captured somewhere near Leningrad with the remains of his unit. After the capture he went to the German side, was used in a propaganda and was even given the command of some semi-bogus Russian Liberation Army. He was captured by Americans, was sent back to the USSR and was hanged there app. a year after the war.

Many of those who were captured and spent time in German camps were sent to Soviet camps after the liberation, they were considered traitors and cowards by Stalin.
One of the most famous prisoners, a young Russian lieutenant by the name of Yakov Dzughashvili was offered by the Germans in trade for German XI Army commander Field Marshal Friedrich von Paulus, who surrendered his forces at Stalingrad (and whom Hitler wished to publicly hang, if he could have gotten his hands on him). The reply from STAVKA, signed by Stalin himself was quite chilling; "My son? He is already dead."
That was Stalin's general policy towards Soviet POWs - they were considered traitors and cowards because they preferred capture to death.
About Paulus - he was given a rank of Fieldmarschall during the last days of Stalingrad battle in order to hint him to commit suicide, so that no officer of such a high rank would be captured. Paulus ignored the hint and preferred captivity, later becoming a critic of Nazi regime (I'm not sure how sincere was he, probably some of it was due to a Soviet treatment of German POWs). That, among other things connected to Germans' defeat in Stalingrad, enraged Hitler and he indeed promised Paulus a public execution, had he ever returned to Germany.
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