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Finland's War Of Choice: The Troubled German-Finnish Coalition in World War II

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This book describes the odd coalition between Germany and Finland in World War II, and their joint military operations from 1941 to 1945. This is a topic often missing in English, though in stark contrast to the numerous books on the shorter and less bloody Winter War. That conflict represented a gallant fight of a democratic "David" against a totalitarian "Goliath" that c This book describes the odd coalition between Germany and Finland in World War II, and their joint military operations from 1941 to 1945. This is a topic often missing in English, though in stark contrast to the numerous books on the shorter and less bloody Winter War. That conflict represented a gallant fight of a democratic "David" against a totalitarian "Goliath" that caught the imagination of the world. The story of Finland fighting alongside a "Goliath" of its own has not brought pride to that nation and was a period many Finns would rather forget. The prologue of this book brings the reader up to speed by briefly examining the difficult history of Finland, from its separation from the Soviet Union in 1917 to its isolation after being bludgeoned in 1939-40. It then examines both Finnish and German motives for forming a coalition against the USSR, and how--as logical as a common enemy would seem--the lack of true planning and preparation would doom the alliance.


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This book describes the odd coalition between Germany and Finland in World War II, and their joint military operations from 1941 to 1945. This is a topic often missing in English, though in stark contrast to the numerous books on the shorter and less bloody Winter War. That conflict represented a gallant fight of a democratic "David" against a totalitarian "Goliath" that c This book describes the odd coalition between Germany and Finland in World War II, and their joint military operations from 1941 to 1945. This is a topic often missing in English, though in stark contrast to the numerous books on the shorter and less bloody Winter War. That conflict represented a gallant fight of a democratic "David" against a totalitarian "Goliath" that caught the imagination of the world. The story of Finland fighting alongside a "Goliath" of its own has not brought pride to that nation and was a period many Finns would rather forget. The prologue of this book brings the reader up to speed by briefly examining the difficult history of Finland, from its separation from the Soviet Union in 1917 to its isolation after being bludgeoned in 1939-40. It then examines both Finnish and German motives for forming a coalition against the USSR, and how--as logical as a common enemy would seem--the lack of true planning and preparation would doom the alliance.

30 review for Finland's War Of Choice: The Troubled German-Finnish Coalition in World War II

  1. 5 out of 5

    Dimitri

    The Barbarossa Directive of 18 December 1940 already assigned the Fins their old territory around Lake Ladoga & Hanko to tie down the Russians while they pushed towards the Murmansk railroad. Suffice it to say Finland got back what it wanted by autumn '41, more or less poised along its 1939 borders and on a line between the Gulf and the White Sea, far enough from Leningrad not to piss off the Russians even more. Consequently, the German commanders could lead a horse to water, but not a Finnish c The Barbarossa Directive of 18 December 1940 already assigned the Fins their old territory around Lake Ladoga & Hanko to tie down the Russians while they pushed towards the Murmansk railroad. Suffice it to say Finland got back what it wanted by autumn '41, more or less poised along its 1939 borders and on a line between the Gulf and the White Sea, far enough from Leningrad not to piss off the Russians even more. Consequently, the German commanders could lead a horse to water, but not a Finnish corps to Murmansk. A series of half-hearted attempts never managed to strangle their adversaries' supply line to the plentiful cargo of the Artic convoys. All was quiet on the Finnish front after spring '42, except light pushes to Leningrad. These were not inevitable bed fellows. If the German occupation of Norway had been thwarted, Finland would probably not have allied itself to the invasion of the USSR; indeed a Scandinavian block might've formed to keep the region out of the war, freeing up resources for the Soviet defense further south. As things stood in reality, the Winter War had cost Finland 10% of its territory rich in both industry and agricultural resources and Germany appeared the only friend left. Tempting proof for covert military operation exists in Lunde's opinion : I believe the Finnish General Staff, possibly with Mannerheim's blessing, did discuss contingency plans. It is otherwise difficult to explain why Army of Norway Chief Buschenhagen would travel to northern Finland in the company of the operations officer of the Finnish General Staff. He's reading between the lines of the Halder diary and Buschenhagen's testimony at Nuremberg, written in Soviet captivity. Naturally you can't start a coalition war without talking it over; otherwise it's such an akward situation on the first day of invasion! Ziemke already arrived at a definite YES based on such clear activities as increased reconnaissance and strengthening the supply network (which stretched across the Far North into Norway for German troop transfers). The only aspect that leaves no paper trail is whatever territorial ambitions they had entertained for the Continuation War beyond their 1939 border. Operation Bagration shook Finland awake from entrenched slumber into a tightrope game: trick Germany into taking over the front, while opening peace talks with the USSR. The most incredible thing is Mannerheim pulled it off with an armistice on 19 September 1944. Germany knew it was too weak to retaliate against a defective ally, although Hungary misassumed as much the next year. Neither could it muster the manpower to plug the holes, as it had done after the overthrow of Mussolini. Would Finland ordain an orderly evacuation ? Would the Soviet Army respect the armistice treaty and stand to at the pre-war borders, or pursue any German units in reach like bloodhounds on a scent ? As it turned out, they got a taste of everything. An amphibious attack on vital islands in the Finnish Gulf, where the Soviet Baltic fleet lay bottled up, was bloodily repulsed by Finnish troops. The retreat of the 20th Mountain Army in mid-september to mid-october '44 across the northern landbridge into Norway (on a scale of 200.000 men over 600km) was an astonishing feat of Artic warfare, with whole roads built from scratch. It also benefitted from a helping hand by the Finnish High Command and the country's northernmost railway lines. Conversely, scorched earth tactics and a general feeling of abandonment fueled mutual resentment between Finnish and German troops; minor armed clashes occured, but nothing that would earn the sobriquet "Finno-German war" Lunde employs. Norvegian soil would see a few thousand frontoviks buried before their commanding officers halted the pursuit. With the ranks of the Army of Norway swollen to 500.000, as many first-rate units as possible were shipped off across the Baltic to shore up the defence of the Reich to the bitter end, but about half remained behind to repulse a Northern Normandy that never came. Two thirds in, I was bored to death with this book. The fight is as passive as the Western Front in the popular imagination and the tone is dry. I suspect Lunde's unfamiliarity with both Finnish and Russian is to blame after all. He puts a lot of Ziemke's German Northern Theater of Operations"and The Memoirs of Marshal Mannerheim into the blender, adding the : the Halder Diariesto shore up the quotes. Nothing on the ground: no sneaking through 7 feet of snow to encircle a Russian outpost, no frosty bayonet charges. A recollection from one of those Finnish border trappers involved in anti-partisan hunts would read like The Most Dangerous Game. Or the recollection of a hapless Finnish veteran of WWI that witnessed the red storm of steel on the first day of operation Bagration. I'll agree he demythologises a few Eastern Front stock images, such as on p. 156: The condition of the 152nd Ural division may have played a role in the decision to end the offensive [against Mountain corps Norway in the Murmansk sector in May 1942] had not received it's winter equipment in time. Entire companies froze to death on the tundra on their way; of the 6000 troops only about 500 reached the front. Usually it's comically wrapped Germans around say, operation Typhoon, but Russians can also freeze to death. I don't often banish an expensive purchase, but I'm certainly not reading this again. Out it goes, with two stars. We need something else for this lesser-known part of WWII, pulled from original sources on both sides of the pine trees. High hopes for Hitler's Nordic Ally?: Finland and the Total War 1939 - 1945 !

  2. 4 out of 5

    Charles van Buren

    "Finland would be swept from the map of history forever." This review is from: Finland's War of Choice: The Troubled German-Finnish Coalition in World War II (Kindle Edition) For all practical purposes Finland was already at war, but Finland did have choices. All bad. The wrong choices would lead to the destruction of Finland as a nation. Perhaps as a people (see Stalin's resettlement programs). Try looking at those choices through the eyes of the Finnish people and leaders in 1939,1940 and 1941. "Finland would be swept from the map of history forever." This review is from: Finland's War of Choice: The Troubled German-Finnish Coalition in World War II (Kindle Edition) For all practical purposes Finland was already at war, but Finland did have choices. All bad. The wrong choices would lead to the destruction of Finland as a nation. Perhaps as a people (see Stalin's resettlement programs). Try looking at those choices through the eyes of the Finnish people and leaders in 1939,1940 and 1941. They were living a nightmare that Americans never faced and have difficulty understanding. The Finns tried desperately to make defensive alliances with Sweden and other Scandinavian countries only to be rebuffed by all. Sweden's behavior before and during the war seems to have been governed first by a left leaning government which was in sympathy with the Soviets, then by a government which cooperated with Nazi Germany. Finland was alone. After the Finnish government joined Germany as a cobelligerent, not an ally, Marshal Mannerheim explained to one of his confidants that he would not allow the Finns to participate in capturing Leningrad because the "Russians would never forgive us and Finland would be swept from the map of history forever"*. From his point of view he had to "win", but he couldn't win too big. For those like Lunde who would second guess the choices and decisions, there is one question. What possible, realistic ending position could the Finns have achieved that would have been better than the one they managed to reach? Particularly in view of the American abandonment of Eastern Europe after WW2 to the not so tender mercies of Stalin. Other reviewers have already noted Lunde's dearth of Finnish sources, his heavy reliance on German material and his inability to read Finnish, Russian and, apparently, German. He seems to have relied on sources available in English. Just for the record, Mannerheim was not just anti-Nazi, he wasn't exactly pro-German either. After all, before he again become a Finn, he was an Imperial Russian general. His goal was not German victory but the preservation of Finland. The author seems to believe that the goal was or should have been total victory. The accomplishment of which may have, in the long run, been worse for Finland than was Germany's total defeat.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    I consider this book flawed at best- it is a real handicap to not be able to work with primary sources, yet Mr. Lunde starts the book by stating up front that he does not read Finnish with any fluency, strongly implies that he does not read Russian (he states his use of Russian sources is limited to those that have been translated into English), and then mentions later in the book that he does not read German. In other words, he is working with secondary sources at best, as he must rely on sourc I consider this book flawed at best- it is a real handicap to not be able to work with primary sources, yet Mr. Lunde starts the book by stating up front that he does not read Finnish with any fluency, strongly implies that he does not read Russian (he states his use of Russian sources is limited to those that have been translated into English), and then mentions later in the book that he does not read German. In other words, he is working with secondary sources at best, as he must rely on sources that have been translated into English. Lunde's attitude toward Finland is judgmental throughout, as if they must be condemned and upbraided for getting in bed with the Nazis when they were making what appeared to be the best of bad choices regarding their own self-interest. Finland's primary goal was to retain their independence, which they ultimately succeeded in doing. Finland is aware, in retrospect and most probably also at the time, that Nazi Germany was hardly an ideal ally. But what would Lunde have done if he were caught between Hitler and Stalin? Hitler had already proven he did not respect neutrality, and the Finnish government can hardly be faulted for suspecting that Stalin would not either and hoped to deal with them in the same way he dealt with their neighbor across the way, Estonia (along with Latvia and Lithuania.) Lunde apparently feels a defensive pact with Norway and Sweden would have been an effective alternative to the alliance with Germany, but this does not appear to be very realistic, in view of combined German and Russian opposition to the idea. Lunde does acknowledge in the prologue that it was a mistake by the Soviet Union to oppose such an alliance, but apparently does not consider with any seriousness that in the face of Soviet opposition, pursuing that alliance might have given Stalin the pretext for an invasion. He feels that the Soviets would not have punished Finland for pursuing this alliance because it would have upset the US and the UK- a laughable argument, given the fate of Poland. Moreover, his conjecture that 'Allied presence' in Scandinavia might have kept Finland from the German alliance is pie in the sky- where does he propose such a presence would have come from? The US was not party to the war at this early stage, and neither France nor England were in a position to offer Finland the protection they needed. In short, while this might be informative to those who are unaware of Finland's role in World War II, it hardly breaks new ground, and shows a lack of understanding for the Finnish position- which might have been remedied had the author been able to make use of Finnish sources.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    I was looking forward to reading this, but sadly it is too dry. The book reads like a unit war diary.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Nick

    Henrik O. Lunde's book Finland's War of Choice primary purpose is to examine Finnish leadership's political and military decisions during the period 1940 – 1944. As expressed by COL Lunde Finland’s choices were limited as they strove to remain a free and independent Scandinavian nation during the war. COL Lunde delves into the political and economic landscapes of Scandinavia and Eastern Europe as it relates to Finnish developments, the choices with which Finland was faced, Finnish statecraft, an Henrik O. Lunde's book Finland's War of Choice primary purpose is to examine Finnish leadership's political and military decisions during the period 1940 – 1944. As expressed by COL Lunde Finland’s choices were limited as they strove to remain a free and independent Scandinavian nation during the war. COL Lunde delves into the political and economic landscapes of Scandinavia and Eastern Europe as it relates to Finnish developments, the choices with which Finland was faced, Finnish statecraft, and the political maneuvering of the Soviet and Nazi States and to a lesser extent Great Britain and the United States. He utilizes a number of resources to include published memoirs of Finnish and German political and military leaders along with fellow historians’ theories. I won’t state here whether COL Lunde believed the Finns made the correct choice by siding with Nazi Germany. You’ll need to read the book for yourself and decide if his arguments match with your thoughts on the matter. An interesting choice by COL Lunde was to include a significant amount of military details regarding maneuvers and engagements between Finnish, German and Soviet forces in Finland and surrounding nations. There is so much of this information one could almost state that the book was a military history of what is called in Finland ‘The Continuation War’. COL Lunde provides detailed movements of Finnish and German units, the strategy behind the troop movements, challenges faced fighting and sustaining military units in arctic environments, and the eventual Soviet response to the Finnish / German threat. As an armchair general and amateur military historian I was pleasantly surprised by the inclusion and enjoyed reading about the military campaign of which I know little about. However, the conflict as told through detailed military maneuver and engagements really didn’t add to the book’s primary purpose of discussing Finland’s political choices. I read the Kindle version of this book and as I have experienced in other volumes the conversion of military geographical charts and maps was very poor in many cases. So poor that place names could not be read and when zooming in the resolution of the chart or map was of such low quality that the names were nothing but a messy blur. Picture resolution quality aside, the quality of the map contents in comparison to the detailed military unit discussion in the text was not up to par. In many cases unit locations were not clearly identified, and in the case of Soviet units they weren’t even represented in the earlier maps. Having adequate maps to help the reader understand unit locations would have significantly aided in the understanding of unit strategic placement and decisions made for maneuver. Overall I believe COL Lunde’s book is a valuable addition to the literary collection of Finnish and World War 2 military history. Finland is an oft overlooked country in World War 2 discussions and good historical research is always welcome. COL Lunde is criticized by some for his lack of first hand sources. If one believed this book was about the Finnish military campaign – after reading it I can see were one might believe that was the purpose of the book – I can see where one might have a point with regards to primary sources. However, when recalling the primary purpose of the books was to examine Finland’s choice to side with Nazi Germany the selected sources are the primary sources. I recommend this book to anyone interested specifically in Finnish military history and the Eastern Front of World War 2.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Todd

    This review is of the audio book. The portions relating the actual combat operations are mostly a litany of unit designations, commander names and repetitive locations. very little or no insight into tactics, motivations, or strategic events. The small portion that deals with Finland's political options and strategic approach to being squeezed between two totalitarian regimes and picking from just a few suboptimal choices is interesting, but brief. And the audio book narrator consistently mispron This review is of the audio book. The portions relating the actual combat operations are mostly a litany of unit designations, commander names and repetitive locations. very little or no insight into tactics, motivations, or strategic events. The small portion that deals with Finland's political options and strategic approach to being squeezed between two totalitarian regimes and picking from just a few suboptimal choices is interesting, but brief. And the audio book narrator consistently mispronounces "Murmansk" as "Murmanks" at least 200 times throughout the book, which is unbelievably annoying.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jimmie Aaron Kepler

    “Finland's War Of Choice: The Troubled German-Finnish Coalition in World War II” by Henrik O. Lunde tells the little know story of the strange partnership and joint military operations of Finland and Germany between 1941 and 1945. The coalition of these two is rarely included in English books. This is not the more well know “Winter War” of 1940 between the Soviet Union and Finland, but rather the story that has not brought pleasure to that Finns. It was a political decision and union the Finns w “Finland's War Of Choice: The Troubled German-Finnish Coalition in World War II” by Henrik O. Lunde tells the little know story of the strange partnership and joint military operations of Finland and Germany between 1941 and 1945. The coalition of these two is rarely included in English books. This is not the more well know “Winter War” of 1940 between the Soviet Union and Finland, but rather the story that has not brought pleasure to that Finns. It was a political decision and union the Finns would rather forget. Henrik O. Lunde is an excellent writer. He gives us the necessary background of Finland’s history. He gives a necessary overview covering the country’s severance from the Soviet Union in 1917. He explains Finland’s seclusion after the Winter War in 1940. Finally he explains the decision making process and unbelievable lack of planning and coordination used by both the Germans and Finns in forming this unlikely coalition against the Soviet Union. We see how bizarre it was for that the German Generals allowed their military machine to accept an unsteady and rickety alliance. We see how the normal planning processes just did not happen. We see the failure to plan their goals and objectives. We see inadequate command and control as well as no overall coordinated plan. We find the normally highly professional German General Staff not following normal procedures and protocol at every turn. We see how Leningrad jaded both the Germ and Finn’s planning and strategy. We see how the Finns quickly fell into “Goose-Step” with the Germans as the willing followed their leadership without question. We learn that their best trained and most powerful army made almost no major contribution because of its misuse in central and northern Finland. German lack the troop strength in this harsh climate theater to achieve success without the Finns. The Finns were unwell in provide the necessary assistance. The book concludes with the Finns battling the USSRs counterattack in 19944. We see how Finland lost all military gains. To the German’s dismay the Finns engaged in a separate peace agreement with the Soviets. This resolution gave the German’s no option due to their troop strength levels except to fight their way from the region. The casualties for this theater of operation were a staggering 1,000,000 plus. Compared to the Soviet losses of over 800,000 the Finland/German total of just fewer than 300,000 were meager. Former US Army Colonel Henrik Lunde has produced a well written, well researched book. It should be part of any World War II students library and is must reading for any student of 20th century European history. It is well done.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kbullock

    First, the good: The author does a good job exploring the diplomatic and political aspects of the conflict, even if the Soviet and Swedish points of view are not explained in much depth. His explanation of the consequences of the German-Finnish failure to cut the Murmansk railroad is a real eye-opener. Between 1941 and 1943, before their other supply connections to their allies were established, the Soviets were able to import a staggering amount of raw materials, supplies, and equipment through First, the good: The author does a good job exploring the diplomatic and political aspects of the conflict, even if the Soviet and Swedish points of view are not explained in much depth. His explanation of the consequences of the German-Finnish failure to cut the Murmansk railroad is a real eye-opener. Between 1941 and 1943, before their other supply connections to their allies were established, the Soviets were able to import a staggering amount of raw materials, supplies, and equipment through the Murmansk route. The lifeline enabled them to replace the enormous material losses that they suffered during the German 1941 and 1942 offensives. Without the Murmansk route, it is difficult to imagine how the Soviets could have rebounded nearly as quickly as they did. The description of the near-miraculous withdrawal of the German 20th Mountain Army from northern Finland in late 1944, under heavy Soviet pressure in early winter, is one of the high points of the book. Then the bad: In the 21st century, researching and writing a book on the WWII Eastern Front without taking advantage of the Soviet archives is almost an act of historical malpractice. The author lacked language skills in German, Finnish, or Russian, and apparently he lacked research assistants with those skills. Therefore, he relied heavily on secondary sources and postwar memoirs, very few of which were written before the opening of the Soviet archives. In fact, the author's most important sources were published in the late 1940s and 1950s. Therefore, if you want to find out what role Ultra intelligence or the Lucy spy ring played in the allied military and diplomatic decisions, this book does not help. The accounts of military operations are told from the 30,000-foot level, which makes these passages very dry. The lack of good maps aggravates this problem. The book desperately needs some first-person accounts from front-line soldiers or even civilians who lived through the conflict. It's an informative book, but we're still waiting for the definitive English-language account of WWII in northern Europe .

  9. 5 out of 5

    Friedrich Haas

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Finland knew from the Winter War with the Soviets, that England and France were useless as allies. They suffered the loss of prime territory. It then made the calculation that Germany was it's only friend in standing against Russia. Poland, on the other hand, believed in the support of England and France, and so resisted the return of Danzig. It was over run by Germany, and eventually became a Soviet client state. Who was the bigger fool? A detailed study, unfortunately more so than I am intere Finland knew from the Winter War with the Soviets, that England and France were useless as allies. They suffered the loss of prime territory. It then made the calculation that Germany was it's only friend in standing against Russia. Poland, on the other hand, believed in the support of England and France, and so resisted the return of Danzig. It was over run by Germany, and eventually became a Soviet client state. Who was the bigger fool? A detailed study, unfortunately more so than I am interested in at this time.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Josh Griffiths

    Henrik O. Lunde provides an excellent look at the semi-alliance between Finland and Nazi Germany in World War II. It's not a story you typically hear much of, at least outside of Finland, but perhaps one of the most fascinatingly intricate and extensive from the war. This book detail's Finland's and Germany's ties that go all the way back to World War I, when Germany sent troops to aid the Finnish White Army against the newly established Soviet Russia and Finns loyal to her. We then watch as this Henrik O. Lunde provides an excellent look at the semi-alliance between Finland and Nazi Germany in World War II. It's not a story you typically hear much of, at least outside of Finland, but perhaps one of the most fascinatingly intricate and extensive from the war. This book detail's Finland's and Germany's ties that go all the way back to World War I, when Germany sent troops to aid the Finnish White Army against the newly established Soviet Russia and Finns loyal to her. We then watch as this relationship spirals out of control, to the point where, with a war with Russia taking place, Finland feels like they have no choice but to continue soliciting help from Hitler. The best history books are told with minimal or no bias, and Lunde does that well. He talks about how to this day the Finnish people don't see themselves as allies to Nazi Germany, but co-belligerents, and how they didn't fight in World War II, but some made up war called the Continuation War. But he also points out the facts - that Finland fought alongside Nazi Germany against Russia, and at one point had to defend themselves against British attacks as well. It's a fair, honest, and balanced look at why Finland entered the war at all, why they'd align themselves with Hitler, and why they ultimately switched sides. But this book makes one grave error: it's boring. Finland's War of Choice was an absolute slog to read, as it's written not as a non-fiction novel but more like a textbook. It's incredibly dry, to the point where I started skipping sections that I was less interested in just to finish it. In fact, maybe as a textbook isn't accurate, it's more like an order of battle, or some kind of official document on the course of the war that isn't meant to be consumed by the public. It's very matter of fact, stating fact after fact without setting up much in the way of characterization or setting, throwing you into events without really caring about any of the people involved, or understanding the setting of where these events take place. Because of this bland writing, an otherwise great book really suffers, and I can't recommend it to anyone but hardcore history buffs, or those with a high tolerance for this kind of bland writing style.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Tad

    I think most students of WW2 history are fairly clear on the 1st Soviet-Finnish winter war of 1939-1940, with the post-purge Soviet Red Army trying to sledgehammer the better trained, higher morale, but ultimately overwhelmed Finns. The ski troops, the Mannerheim Line, the Soviet disaster at Suomussalmi are all fairly well known. What is less well known is the focus of this book, what is known as the "Continuation War", where the Finns joined forces with Nazi Germany in an attempt to reclaim the I think most students of WW2 history are fairly clear on the 1st Soviet-Finnish winter war of 1939-1940, with the post-purge Soviet Red Army trying to sledgehammer the better trained, higher morale, but ultimately overwhelmed Finns. The ski troops, the Mannerheim Line, the Soviet disaster at Suomussalmi are all fairly well known. What is less well known is the focus of this book, what is known as the "Continuation War", where the Finns joined forces with Nazi Germany in an attempt to reclaim the losses of the Winter War. This book does an adequate, but not outstanding, job of describing the events of this conflict. Where this book shines is in attempting to show the lack of cohesion between the Finnish and German commands, apparently thrown together with very little attempt to form a joint command, or even really agree on objectives. Where it does somewhat less well is in describing the actual conflicts, which quickly bog down into a somewhat dry recitation of divisions and dates. Overall, I'd recommend it to someone trying to bridge a gap in their general knowledge of the Eastern Front in the north during WW2. Useful but not ground-breaking.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Reza Amiri Praramadhan

    Finland occupies an unique place within history of World War II, for the Finns were the only democratic power who fought on Axis’ side alongside Germany. Unlike the more David-vs-Goliath-ish Winter War in which the little Finns were pitted against the gargantuan, yet still clumsy Soviet juggernaut, German-Finnish coalition in so-called Continuation War was more complex. Finns desire for revenge, coupled with Hitler’s paranoid obsession to keep Norway safe at all cost, became the main factors for Finland occupies an unique place within history of World War II, for the Finns were the only democratic power who fought on Axis’ side alongside Germany. Unlike the more David-vs-Goliath-ish Winter War in which the little Finns were pitted against the gargantuan, yet still clumsy Soviet juggernaut, German-Finnish coalition in so-called Continuation War was more complex. Finns desire for revenge, coupled with Hitler’s paranoid obsession to keep Norway safe at all cost, became the main factors for this unholy alliance, in my opinion. This book tried to present the whole events through two lenses: military lens and international relation lens. For me, the Finns’ position already interesting in itself, and how they managed to avoid the wraths of both Germans and Soviets also interesting to know. The Finns were very skillfully walking on the tightrope of realpolitik, avoiding the fates experienced by other Axis’ collaborating nations such as Hungary and Romania. I find that reading this book is a fine experience for me, except that the map of military operations being unreadable to me, most annoying.

  13. 4 out of 5

    djcb

    About the continuation war, where Finland somewhat reluctantly fought on the German side against the Soviets, to win back the Finnish territories lost in the Winter War. The book describes the general narrative of the various campaigns and why they, after initial success, ultimately failed, and it took quite a bit of diplomatic acrobatics to let Finland survive all of this is an independent state. The Germans didn't follow some of the Clausewitzian principles (like having clear war goals, clear c About the continuation war, where Finland somewhat reluctantly fought on the German side against the Soviets, to win back the Finnish territories lost in the Winter War. The book describes the general narrative of the various campaigns and why they, after initial success, ultimately failed, and it took quite a bit of diplomatic acrobatics to let Finland survive all of this is an independent state. The Germans didn't follow some of the Clausewitzian principles (like having clear war goals, clear chain of command etc.) esp. with respect to the cooperation with the Finns (dealing with democracies is hard!). And the Finns weren't to clear on their exact goals, and tried to do a bit of whitewashing after everything was over. Overall, interesting read, learned a lot.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Justin

    Underrated history book on the northern front This book traces Finland's role in World War 2. Finland was caught between the rock and a hard place, between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. It is easy to say in hindsight what Finland could have done. It entered the War more or less willingly with Germany, but at the end of the war, there was no equivalent of a Nuremberg Trial, the leadership remaining the same, and never occupied. Lunde comes up short in some of the analysis and on the whole the Underrated history book on the northern front This book traces Finland's role in World War 2. Finland was caught between the rock and a hard place, between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. It is easy to say in hindsight what Finland could have done. It entered the War more or less willingly with Germany, but at the end of the war, there was no equivalent of a Nuremberg Trial, the leadership remaining the same, and never occupied. Lunde comes up short in some of the analysis and on the whole the book is dry. However it is still a good book covering the basic history and decision made.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Lawrence L Czachor

    A tough read I have read more than 3 dozen books on WW II. Nearing the end of my interest, I was intrigued to learn why Finland had fought on the German side. The author obviously spent an incredible amount of time researching. His details of every event and troop movement forces the reader to slog on because , occasionally, his interpretation of the events is clear and concise. If your are curious why Finland fought with Germany, simply read the epilog and save a lot of time.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Matthew

    Excellent ... statistical? research on the topic but not at all fun to read. Even the dramatic political schism between the Finns and Germans comes off bland. I hate to admit i didnt enjoy this but i didnt enjoy this. This great person goes to all the trouble to do this incredible research and translation and all of that hard work is in here, it is a bona fide scholarly work, but the attempted translation into a gripping narrative and bringing these generals and divisions, corps, regiments to li Excellent ... statistical? research on the topic but not at all fun to read. Even the dramatic political schism between the Finns and Germans comes off bland. I hate to admit i didnt enjoy this but i didnt enjoy this. This great person goes to all the trouble to do this incredible research and translation and all of that hard work is in here, it is a bona fide scholarly work, but the attempted translation into a gripping narrative and bringing these generals and divisions, corps, regiments to life, just got lost in all of the math. High marks on scholarly quality however!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Laurance

    What a slog of a book. This is essentially an operations overview with politics mixed in. The Author openly admits in the preface upon his lack of Finnish skills and thus the limiting of Finnish sources in his work. This is a big mistake for anyone writing about Finland and its involvement in the Second World War. Mr Lunde (as pointed out by another reviewer) leans extremely heavily on Ziemke's German Northern Theater of Operations, with sprinklings of Mannerheim's memoirs and the Halder Diaries. What a slog of a book. This is essentially an operations overview with politics mixed in. The Author openly admits in the preface upon his lack of Finnish skills and thus the limiting of Finnish sources in his work. This is a big mistake for anyone writing about Finland and its involvement in the Second World War. Mr Lunde (as pointed out by another reviewer) leans extremely heavily on Ziemke's German Northern Theater of Operations, with sprinklings of Mannerheim's memoirs and the Halder Diaries. This really makes the books pretty much dry in numerous aspects. The author promises to explore the relationship between the Finnish Military and Government and the Nazi Military and Government but it rarely touches upon this. Often it forces or sandwiches in little tidbits of the relationship between large slabs of text that is akin to a units war diary. He skims over Finland's reasoning for getting involved with the Third Reich, or why it took the course of action that it did but seems to point finger that Finland is completely incorrect in its actions. The book has its pluses in the point of it being a campaign driven book, and we can read about the movements of troops, but it does suffer from lack of maps to help the reader see those movements. Overall the book is dry, a drag, boring but full of information for those who are very much interested in troop movements. It lacks greatly in research and sources and is eclipsed by more modern books written in this area. It fails to achieve its stated purpose of exploring Finland's reasoning behind joining with the Third Reich. The Book should be more appropriately titled 'Germany's War in Finland: The Troubled German-Finnish Coalition in World War II'

  18. 4 out of 5

    Robert R. Anderson Jr

    Readable, thoughtful, well documented Well written, greatly researched, heavily footnoted,, logical in presentation, and insightful in a very complex political, military, national objective of survival of a small Democratic nation in a risky geopolitical situation.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Alan

    This part of the war is often neglected, it provides information that I was not fully aware of in my previous readings on World War II. My problem with the book was that at times it was hard to follow....and sadly, boring. That said I am glad to learn more about these events.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Hunter

    An OK military history, likely held back significantly by Lunde's self-admitted inability to read Finnish or Russian.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Nancy_wayne Didelko

    Thorough and thoughtful Thorough and thoughtful. Lunde describes vividly the battles, logistics and strategies that marked this often overlooked theater. Well written and engaging.

  22. 5 out of 5

    James Klagge

    While I am a WWII military history fan, this front never seemed to have much interest. But 2 years ago when we were in Helsinki, we wondered about the Finnish role in WWII and how they had fared after opposing the Soviet Union. The Russians have always threatened the Finns, and this came to a head in late 1939 when they attacked the Finns as part of a land grab along with the Germans. The Russians bogged down and suffered horrible loses, but still managed to occupy important chunks of border ter While I am a WWII military history fan, this front never seemed to have much interest. But 2 years ago when we were in Helsinki, we wondered about the Finnish role in WWII and how they had fared after opposing the Soviet Union. The Russians have always threatened the Finns, and this came to a head in late 1939 when they attacked the Finns as part of a land grab along with the Germans. The Russians bogged down and suffered horrible loses, but still managed to occupy important chunks of border territory which the Finns conceded in the 1940 peace treaty, amounting to 11% of their land and 30% of their economy. So when the Germans turned to attack the Soviet Union in 1941, they sought the help of the Finns, who were only too willing to take their territory back. They were not officially allies of Germany, but they did have a common enemy, and they worked together and allowed German troops in Finland. At first it seemed a no-brainer to side with Germany as a way of getting their territory back. After having accomplished that in 1941, they didn't do anything to threaten or help the Germans threaten Leningrad. In this way they managed not to become complete enemies of the Soviet Union. Finally, in 1944, they made a separate peace with the Soviets and moved to expel the German forces. They were not held to the "unconditional surrender" that the Axis countries were. And they were not occupied by the Soviets. Being a small country they had learned to play both sides to the extent that they could. After the war they were a neutral country that benefited from trade with East and West. This book was heavy on military detail--really too much given the relatively uninteresting battles that took place. But the author did a good job of addressing the military issues in the context of the political issues. And this is what ultimately made the book interesting to me. This gave me insight into the Finnish situation and to some extent the Finnish character.

  23. 5 out of 5

    J.

    Many people know about the gallant resistance plucky Finland put up against Russia in the winter war of 1939, but what did Finland do after that in WWII? I certainly had no idea. Since we have a Finnish exchange student this year (a marvelous young lady) and this book came up in an advertisement, I figured it was time to find out. The Finns had to give up a lot of territory in the peace settlement with Russia in 1939 and were naturally afraid that Russia would soon swallow them whole, like the o Many people know about the gallant resistance plucky Finland put up against Russia in the winter war of 1939, but what did Finland do after that in WWII? I certainly had no idea. Since we have a Finnish exchange student this year (a marvelous young lady) and this book came up in an advertisement, I figured it was time to find out. The Finns had to give up a lot of territory in the peace settlement with Russia in 1939 and were naturally afraid that Russia would soon swallow them whole, like the other Baltic states. This led to an uneasy military alliance with Germany against Russia. Finland basically tired to get everything it could out of Germany while keeping them at arm's length. Things went well at first, then bogged down, and then got very bad in 1944 as Russia defeated both the Germany and Finnish armies. This book sets limited goals of describing the military strategy and high level tactics, with some political and economic background, as needed. The author sorts through the conflicting German and Finnish after war memoirs and other histories to give a comprehensive overview of the military situation during the war years. The maps included are adequate but just barely, considering the Finnish and Russia place names confusing the reader. But overall the book delivers what it promised.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    Finland's War of Choice is a welcome addition to the literature on Finland in World War II. Although not much new ground is broken in terms of archival findings, the book provides necessary interpretation of Finland's geopolitical and diplomatic maneuvers in the period after and during World War Two. Lunde interweaves the battles and tactics with Finland's attempts to secure its safety vis-a-vis its neighbor to the east. It did so by making a military alliance with Nazi Germany. Here's the twist Finland's War of Choice is a welcome addition to the literature on Finland in World War II. Although not much new ground is broken in terms of archival findings, the book provides necessary interpretation of Finland's geopolitical and diplomatic maneuvers in the period after and during World War Two. Lunde interweaves the battles and tactics with Finland's attempts to secure its safety vis-a-vis its neighbor to the east. It did so by making a military alliance with Nazi Germany. Here's the twist: most histories that deal with the subject tend to put Finland in isolation, or discuss Finland's contribution to Germany's war against the Soviet Union. Lunde argues that the Finnish-German alliance was not in Germany's best interests. Rather than simply freeing up German forces for the war against the USSR, Finland's participation required the expending of many resources and the failure of both Germany and Finland to devote enough of those resources. As a result, the potential threat to Murmansk and the supply line it represented was limited. German leaders realized that Finland's participation had limits, and once Finland came under sustained offensives Germany found Finland's allegiance lacking as well.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Clayton Brannon

    Very little is written about the war in Finland. This is an excellent book that contrary to the authors own words seems to be a well researched and documented account of Finlands participation during WWII. The only thing I would recommend is that you have a good map of the area on hand in order to better follow the movements of the armies involved. I am not familiar with Finnish or any other Scandinavian names and places outside the major cities and even less so of the places in the far northern Very little is written about the war in Finland. This is an excellent book that contrary to the authors own words seems to be a well researched and documented account of Finlands participation during WWII. The only thing I would recommend is that you have a good map of the area on hand in order to better follow the movements of the armies involved. I am not familiar with Finnish or any other Scandinavian names and places outside the major cities and even less so of the places in the far northern reaches, too, a good map will help solve this small problem.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Erika

    I was looking for more of an anecdotal account of Sweden/Norway/Finland in WWII, and this book was highly technical, and not anecdotal at all. The military lingo was WAY over my head, but I think it was still really interesting, and probably great for what it is. However! The author had a serious lack of commas, which really confused the meaning of some of his sentences, and with a less than stellar understanding of the context, this was a big problem for me.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Christoph Fischer

    Three stars probably not the author's fault but maybe my expectations of the book. I found the book hard to follow and would have liked more maps of the big picture. The very detailed description of war tactics and troop movements was for my purposes over done and did not always add to the analysis that followed. I was more keen on the troubles in the coalition and found that aspect underdone in comparison.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Eric

    An interesting look at an aspect of WW2 that I didn't know anything about. I'm not a huge military buff, so after a while the catalog of military movements (and there are a lot) becomes rather numbing. That said, the details presented as to what went wrong and why, and how it all happened, were very intriguing to read about. If you like reading about troop movements, you'll probably love this.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jon

    Overall it was an interesting book. I was a bit disappointed with the emphasis on the battles and the numbers of troops involved. I had believed it would be more of an inside look into the thoughts and decision making process of the leaders of the nations. Entertaining but it could have been so much more.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kyle Worlitz

    This is the most comprehensive English account of Finland's Continuation War out there. Also detailed are the trials and tribulations of the German Army of the Lapland. The combined force suffered 290,000 casualties while inflicting some 830,000. During this "continuation" of the Winter War of 1939-40, the Finns showed themselves to be among the best soldiers the world has ever seen.

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