“Punainen myrsky, valkoinen kuolema” (“Red Storm, White Death”), a Winter War Alternative History

This is the table of contents for “Punainen myrsky – valkoinen kuolema” (“Red Storm, White Death”), a Winter War Alternative History. Links to completed sections are live. Sections will have links added as they are completed, with the latest sections added being highlighted for easy reference. For incomplete chapters, the title heading is provided so you can get an idea of what’s coming (and also so that I can keep it straight in my head – although chapter headings may change as I work through this). I’ll be continuously adding content to bring this up to date so check back, there’ll be new sections added every week or so until I’m caught up (the bit that takes the most time, funnily enough, is adding in all the photos, artwork and videoclips – but I feel the visuals are worth the extra work, they really bring home the details of history in a way that text does not accomplish. As you’ll see reading through, this is far more of a multi-media artifact than an online “book”).

Anyhow, all that aside, I hope you enjoy this. As always, comments, criticism, feedback and suggestions are always welcome.

What is Alternative History?

Finland – The Third Path

Independence, the Civil War, the Heimosodat & the aftermath

Foundations for Change: the 1920’s

Social Cohesion and a sense of national identity in Finland

A Time of Change – the 1930’s

 Govt and Politics of the 1930’s

  • Foreign Affairs thru the 1920’s and 1930’s and the attempts to build defence treaties
  • Ties with Estonia and Estonian politics, history and the armed forces
  • Sweden – Hopes and Disappointments
  • Latvia and Lithuania
  • Poland & the “secret agreement”
  • The Guns vs Butter debates – Defence Funding through the 1930’s
  • The USSR in the 1930’s
    • Internal and external politics
    • The Soviet Economy
    • Military developments and expansion
    • The Holodomor
    • The Red Army purges
    • The Finnish view (including Karelia and Ingria and the Purges)
    • Finnish Intelligence and the Soviet threat

 The Great Awakening: Munich, October 1938

  • Munich and the abandonment of Czechosolvakia / impact on Finnish military equipment orders from Czechoslovakia
  • Mannerheim’s Speech: “Storm Clouds are gathering over Europe”
  • Immediate increases in the defence budget
  • Moving towards a War Economy
  • Applying the lessons of the Spanish Civil War to the military
  • A Nation in Arms – “Switzerland is our example”
  • Contingency measures
  • The Emergency Procurement Program of October 1938
    • Ships
    • Aircraft
    • Fighter: playing the wild card
    • Artillery and AA Guns
    • Other weapons
    • The Coastal Fortifications
    • Dragon’s Teeth – The Isthmus Defence Program accelerated

 1939: Alone at the Brink of the Abyss

  • The Lyngenfjord Highway
  • Overtures and threats from the Soviet Union
  • The “Maritime Mobilization”
  • The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, the secret protocols and Finnish Intelligence
  • September 1939: The Fall of Poland
  • Pressure from the Soviets – Latvia and Lithuania cave in, Estonia mobilizes, further negotiations
  • From Hanko to Petsamo – Finland mobilizes for war
  • Tensions with Germany & The Last Convoy
  • The First Volunteers – The Poles & the Italians
  • The Opposing Sides: a Summary
    • The USSR
    • Finland
    • Estonia
  • Finland’s Military as of November 1939: a Summary
    • Force Structure – Armeijan
    • Force Structure – Ilmavoimat
    • Force Structure – Merivoimat
  • Soviet Forces positioned along the Finnish border in November 1939: a Summary
  • The Evacuation of the Isthmus & the Mainila Incident

 “Kunnes helvetti jäätyy” – (Until Hell Freezes Over): The Russo-Finnish Winter War of 1939-1940 – (Winter War Alternative History)

“If the Russians attack, sir, we’ll fight them until hell freezes over, and then, sir, we will fight them on the ice.” Unknown Finnish soldier to Marshal Mannerheim, October 1939.

  • December 1939: Punainen myrsky / Red Storm
  • January 1940 – “Finland fights a Thermopylae every day”
    • We Stand Alone
    • Eagles Strike – the Ilmavoimat takes the offensive
    • They Came from the Sea – the destruction of the Soviet Merchant Marine
    • The VKT Line Holds – for a while
    • The Motti’s of Eastern Karelia
    • “Neighbourhood Friends” – the capture of Murmansk
    • “Horror on the Kola” – the discovery of the Soviet “Death Camps”
    • Volunteers arrive – the Spanish Blue Division, the Viking Division, the Magyar Division,
    • “Finland Fights On” – the world applauds, aid begins to trickle in
    • Sweden vacillates on military assistance
  • February 1940 – The Lion in Winter
    • Withdrawal to the Mannerheim Line
    • The Battle of the Summa Gap
    • Taking the Offensive – Mannerheim’s “Sword and Scabbard” speech
    • On the offensive in Eastern Karelia – Reaching the Syvari and Lake Onega, on to the White Sea, the Biggest Knifefight in Lapland
    • Special Forces on the offensive
    • The Ilmavoimat Rules the Skies
    • More volunteers – the Commonwealth Brigade, the Poles, the Boer “De La Rey” Battalion, the Irish Volunteers, Carlson’s Rangers, the San Martin Regiment, The Garibaldi Regiment
    • Foreign Aid begins to arrive
    • British and French Intervention Proposals
  • March 1940 – Deception
    • Mannerheimin velhon (“Mannerheim’s Wizards”) – Sowing Deception and Reaping the Harvest
    • Into the Grinder – Slaughter on the Karelian Isthmus
    • “Now We Strike” – the Red Army “breakthrough” and the battle of Tali-Ihantala
    • Raid and Reprisal – The Soviet Air Forces launches terror raids / Reprisal: “Our Target is the Leningrad Peoples Military Hospital”
    • A Bolt from the Blue: the annihilation of the Red Air Force (“Deep Penetration”) – the Ilmavoimat strikes Soviet airfields and aircraft factories deep behind the lines
    • Pommituslentolaivue 666 and the death of Colonel-General Shtern
    • Help from an Unexpected Quarter
    • The Helsinki Convoy
      • The Helsinki Convoy – The Die are cast
      • The Helsinki Convoy – “We are engaging the enemy”
      • The Helsinki Convoy – “Home Run …. I say again, Home Run”
      • The Helsinki Convoy –  “FNS Jykari will enter Port”
      • The Finnish Ambassador in Berlin: “The Northern Baltic is a Finnish Sea”
      • The Consequences
  • April 1940 – The War Goes On
    • Norway and the Finnish Intervention
    • From the Gulf of Finland to the White Sea, Intelligence reports are that the Red Army is building strength for a new offensive
    • War in the Air
  • May 1940 – “To the Gates of Leningrad”
    • “All Hell is breaking loose” – the Spring Offensive on the Karelian Isthmus
    • The Knife of the Marshal – the 21st Pansaaridivisoona leads the way
    • A boot to the head – Unleashing the Special Forces
    • Advance to Leningrad
    • We Will Go No Further
    • The End of the Phoney War in France
  • June 1940 – An Uneasy Stalemate
    • An Uneasy Stalemate
    • Mannerheim and Mussolini
    • The Fall of France, end of aid from France and the UK
    • “The long term situation is untenable”
    • The Red Army purges – and reorganizes
    • Aid shipments from the USA
    • The Finnish military-industrial complex at work
  • July 1940 – Case Zulu
    • From Leningrad to the White Sea – the Red Army attacks
    • Afrikanerhart – the Battle of the Onega Gap and the heroic stand of the de la Rey Commando
    • The Last Stand of Field Kitchen xxx
    • The Soviet Invasion of Estonia
  • August 1940 – Counterattack: Defeat into Victory
  • September 1940 – Desperate times demand desperate measures
    • Operation Hauki – airstrike to the heart of Soviet industry
    • Operation “Medusa’s Head” – the destruction of the Kremlin and the death of Stalin
    • The Soviet succession
    • Negotiations and concessions
    • Peace at last
    • Mannerheim’s Order of the Day, October 14, 1940

 Balancing Act: Neutrality in a World at War

  • October 1940 to May 1941
    • An Agreement with Germany on Norway
    • A Greater Finland
    • The Foreign Volunteers Depart
    • Karelians, Ingrians, Estonians and Refugee Resettlement
    • Finland rebuilds and rearms / Trade and Industry
    • “The Finnish military will protect Sweden if she is attacked by Germany” – Talks with Sweden
  • June 1941 (Barbarossa) to March 1944: Finland On Guard
    • “Where do Finland’s best interests lie?”
    • The Germans have attacked: Soviet and German threats, Finnish mobilization
    • The Baltic is a Finnish Sea: Peace through Superior Firepower
    • A Courageous Neutrality: German victories, German pressure and the Siege of Leningrad
    • Aid from America and the Atlantic Convoys
    • Watching and Waiting
    • The Tide is Turning – Winter 1942 and Stalingrad
    • 1943 – the Russian Bear attacks
    • Debates and Decisions
    • The Die are Cast: Preparations for War
    • Old Friends Return (the Polish Divisions, US and British Divisons, Norwegian, Danish & Swedish volunteers, the Kiwis and Australians).

 Invasion: Reluctant Enemies, Reluctant Allies

  • April 1944: “Finland is again at War” / E-Day and the Invasion of Estonia
    • The Airborne Drops & Special Forces
    • The Capture of Narva
    • Tallinn is Ours
    • Beachhead
    • Armoured Spearhead: the thrust South
    • Battle of the Blue Hills – convincing the Red Army that “Finland is an Ally”
    • The Courland Offensive
    • Estonia is Free
  • May-July 1944
    • The Destruction of Army Group North
    • Neck and Neck towards the South
    • The Capture of Bornholm
    • The East Prussian Front & the Fall of Konigsburg
  • August 1944 – April 1945
    • The Warsaw Uprising and the Soviet Betrayal
    • The Polish Home Army rises
    • The Drive to Warsaw
    • Liberating Poland: Polish borders, Soviet Anger
    • Across the North German Plain
    • Onwards to Berlin
    • Firestorm– the death of Lt-Gen Nicholas Reek, the annihilation of the Red Army’s xx Corps and the taking of North Berlin
    • Finland Victorious, Poland Resurgent
  • End Game
    • The Finnish Zone of Occupation
    • The Potsdam Conference – July 1945
    • East Prussian independence and the fate of Eastern Europe’s German’s
    • The Polish Question – Borders and Bloodlands
    • The division of Czechoslovakia – “communist” Slovakia and the “democratic” Czech Republic
    • The Finnish-Polish Coalition and the Nuremburg Trials
    • Mannerheim in Berlin
    • The Finnish Navy in the Pacific War – Task Force “Hirose Chusa” and the Surrender of Japan
    • “An Iron Curtain has descended across Europe”
  • The Aftermath
    • The Post-war Recovery and the Finnish economy
    • The recovery of the “Baltic Tigers” – Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and East Prussia
    • Poland Resurgent
    • The Post-war USSR & the “Bucharest Pact”
    • Germany: West, East and North
    • The Cold War and the Finno-Soviet Relationship
    • A Glimpse into the Future
    • The Finnish aerospace and high-tech industries
    • “Rocket Island” – the Finnish/Polish/German space program of the 1960’s and “Finns in Space”
    • The ‘Union of Baltic States” today
  • In Memoriam
    • Marshal Mannerheim
    • Hymn for the Fallen (Finnish War Cemeteries & War Memorials)

Some background to “Punainen myrsky – valkoinen kuolema” (Red Storm, White Death) – An Alternative History of the Russo-Finnish Winter War of 1939-1940

A Winter War Alternative History. The Winter War of 1939-1940 was a military conflict between the Soviet Union and Finland that began with a Soviet offensive on 30 November 1939—two months after the start of World War II and the Soviet invasion of Poland – and which ended on 13 March 1940 with the Moscow Peace Treaty. The League of Nations deemed the attack illegal and expelled the Soviet Union from the League on 14 December 1939.

The Soviet objective was to recover the territory of the Grand Duchy of Finland which had been lost during the Russian Civil War in 1917, when Finland had declared independence from Russia, as they also did with the three small Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. The Soviets possessed more than three times as many soldiers as the Finns, thirty times as many aircraft, and a hundred times as many tanks. The Red Army, however, had been crippled by Soviet leader Joseph Stalin’s Great Purge of 1937, reducing the army’s morale and efficiency.

Finland - Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid!
Finland – Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid!

With more than 30,000 of its senior officers executed or imprisoned, including most of those at the highest ranks, the Red Army in 1939 had many inexperienced senior and mid-level officers. Because of these factors, and the high morale and stubborn determination of the Finnish forces, Finland was able to resist the Soviet invasion for far longer than the Soviets expected, whilst also inflicting massive losses on the Red Army.

Hostilities ceased in March 1940 with the signing of the Moscow Peace Treaty. Finland ceded 11% of its pre-war territory and 30% of its economic assets to the Soviet Union. Soviet losses were heavy, and the country’s international reputation suffered. Soviet gains exceeded their pre-war demands but Soviet forces did not accomplish their war objective of the total conquest of Finland. The Finns, however, retained their sovereignty and enhanced their international reputation.

The peace treaty thwarted the Franco-British plan to send troops to Finland through northern Norway and Sweden. One of the operation’s major goals had been to take control of northern Sweden’s iron ore and cut its deliveries to Germany, for this reason, it was also a major factor in the launching of Operation Weserübung, Nazi Germany’s invasion of Denmark and Norway.

Historically, Finland lost the 1939-1940 Russo-Finnish Winter War in large part due to an ill-equipped military (who did amazingly well with what they had) and politicians who failed to see the writing on the wall and act. But what if Finland had been prepared? What if the Finnish armed forces had been adequately equipped and prepared to fight a war with the USSR?  Finnish soldiers fought hard with the equipment that they did have, they inflicted enormous casualties on the attacking Soviet forces, casualties out of all proportion to their own losses. What could an adequately equipped and trained Finnish Army, Air Force and Navy have achieved? This Winter War Alternative History is dedicated to just that proposition.

Please note that this Winter War alternative history has also been posted in part on www.alternatehistory.com and on forum.axishistory.com (where it all began) – but I’ve done or am doing a fair bit of editing as I bring my own website up to date – and some things have changed. So if you’ve come here from either of those websites, you may want to skim through to see the changes that have been made. Also, neither of the above sites include the below Table of Contents.

For those who have come across this Winter War alternative history for the first time, please note that it’s written more as an actual history and not as a novel. It actually started out as the background for a novel I was writing for fun as much as anything, but the background history took over. I’ve always been one of those people who enjoyed the explanatory appendices to alternative history novels (the appendices to “The Peshawar Lancers” being a case in point) – consider this Winter War Alternative History one giant set of such appendices (and I am still working on a couple of novels set in this alternative – excerpts from which will appear now and then in here). You may also note from the Table of Contents that the scope extends considerably beyond the Winter War itself – both prior to, and after.  Consider that a bonus 🙂

Also note that this is a work in progress. Some sections are complete, some are being worked on, many have not yet been started and consist of the Table of Contents line below plus a few notes. I’m working on this on an ongoing basis – if you enjoy what you’ve read, please do bookmark this site and return.

And a note regarding Finnish conventions for book, article and post titles – unlike in English, the present-day convention in Finnish is to write all words in the title with lowercase initials (with the exception of the first word) – a convention I will be following with all Finnish titles.

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One Response to “Punainen myrsky, valkoinen kuolema” (“Red Storm, White Death”), a Winter War Alternative History

  1. Pingback: Japan's relations with Finland 1919-1944

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