World War II Finland: Continuation War--Finnish Front (1944)

Figure 1.--After the Finns took back Karelia which the Soviets had seized from them in the Winter War (1939-40), they did not press the fight further toward Lenningrad. The Finninsh Front was basically static which agrevated their German cobelligeranists to no end. Here we see a scene just before the Red Army launched a massive offensive. A nursing sister is looking after a little Finnish girl in Karela (May 5, 1944). This photograph is interesting because it was part of a story published by the a Norwegian newspaper under German control. It seemed to stress how German position in the East was holding up. Only days after the artilicle was published the dam burst on the NAZIs, in both the East anbd West. The Soviets launched major offenives and the Allies landed in Normandy (June 1944). The Swedish press caption read, "På inbjudan av Filands Barn har Svenska Dagbladets medarbetare ATTIS gjort en resa till Karelen och besökt Näset, Kexholm och Viborg. Hon skildrar här i en första artikel mötet med de karelska mödrar och barn, vilka i Viborg samlades kringen större barntransport, som från dessa trakter just avgått till Sverige, och kommer senare att berätta om mötet med dagens Viborg, Karelen och karelerna." That transltes as something like, "At the invitation of Filand Barn, Svenska Dagbladet's employees ATTIS made a trip to Karelia and visited Näset, Kexholm and Viborg. In her first article, she describes the meeting with the Karelian mothers and children, who in Viborg gathered the larger transport of children, who have just returned to Sweden from these areas, and will later tell you about the meeting with today's Viborg, Karelia and the Karels."

The Finns still held Karela when the Western Allies landed in France (June 6, 1944). The front had been stratic with little action for nealy 2 years. The Soviets at the same time the Western Allies opened a western froint, attacked on the Finnish front north of Leningrad. The Red Army struck with massive forces on the Karelian Isthmus (June 9, 1944). The attack with strong armored forces broke the Finnish front at Valkeasaari (June 10). The Finns withdrew to their secondary defence line at the Vammelsuu-Taipale (VT) Line. Again Soviet tanks and infantry were supported by massed artillery and aircraft. Within only a few days the Soviets breeched the VT Line at Sahakylä and Kuuterselkä (June 14). The single Finish armored division counterattacked at Kuuterselkä but failed and the Finns had to retreat. The Sovierts took Viipuri (June 20). The Finns were able to establish a new defensive front--the Tali-Ihantala Line. Here the Finns fought the largest battle in Scandinavian history (June 25-July 6). Finish reserves and new German anti-tank pieces were able to stop the Soviets. The Soviets suffered very substantial losses, especially in tanks. The Finns might have been able to hold, but with Operation Bsgration and the destruction of German Army Group Center, the fight ws hopeless. Stopped on the main front, the Soviets offened other offensives. They attempted to go arrond the main Finnish defense line by an amphibious attack at Viipurinlahti Bay on the Gulf of Finland (July 4). Here they used a chain of islands but the Soviets failed to gain a lodgement on the mainland. After a series of furious battles, the Soviets called off the attack (July 10). The Soviets also attemoted to cross the Vuoksi River (July 4). The ininital attack could not be exploited because of the strength of Finnish artillery supoported by the Finnish Air Force. The Luftwaffe "Kuhmley unit" also participated. After suffering substantial losses, the Soviets ended their offensive (July 11).


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Created: 6:32 PM 8/9/2018
Last updated: 6:32 PM 8/9/2018