* World War II -- Karelia


Figure 1.--This Swedish press image was captioned in German, presumably for German newspapers. "06.11.41 Der Markt in Petroskoj mit dem Lenin-bildnis vorher '25. Oktobermarkt' Die Finnen haben ihn num zu '1 - Oktobermarkt' getauft als Erinnerung an dem Tag als sie in das Dorf einzoge." We are unable to properly translate this, but recognize many of the words and believe its says something like, "06:11:41 The market in Petroskoj with the Lenin statue in front of the '25 October market'. The Finns have changed the name to '1 - October market' baptized as memory of the day when the Finns liberated the village." The date the photograph was taken seems easy, November 6, 1941, early in the Continuation War (1941-44). The location is alao easy--Petroskoi / Petroskoj (Petrozavodsk) which stretches along the western shore of Lake Onega. The Soviets after seizing Karelia in the Winter War (1939-40), made the city their new capital and added a statue of Lenin in the market square. The Finns seemed to have recaptured the city on October 1, 1941. Presumably the women with their babies are meant to represent returning Finnish civilans.

The border area between southern Finland and the Soviet Union is Karelia. It is the area between the White Sea and the Gulf of Finland. It is an extensive area which includes the two largest lakes in Europe, Lake Ladoga and Lake Onega. What is often referred to as the Karelian Isthmus is located between the Baltic Gulf of Finland and Lake Ladoga. To the south is Ingria, the land of the closely related Ingrian people. The traditional western boundary was the Neva river itself but was eventually shifted northward into the Karelian isthmus to follow the Sestra River which since Napoleonic times was the Russo-Finnish border.The River Svir on the other side of Lake Lagoda completed the souther border of Karlia. Lake Saimaa marked the Western border while Lake Onega and the White Sea mark the Eastern border. Thevland to the north was occupied by nomadic Samis (Lapps), but unlike the south there were no natural border onky trackless woods (taiga) and tundra. Karelia became the primary bone of comtention between Finland an the Soviet Union during World War II. This clash was not new. Russian Novograd and the Sweses fought over the area during the medieval era. It was the border area between Swedish controled Finland and the Tsarist Empire. The issue was settled for a time by the Great Northern War in which Russia seized Finland. With Finnland part of the Tsarist Empire, Karelia became a dead issue. This changed after the Russian Revolution when Finland managed to achieve its independence and Karelia again became an international border area. Finland had almost all of Karelia and it included because of its southern location, a substantial part of the best aricultural land in Finlnd. This was the border Stalin demanded, taking advantage of the NAZI-Soviet Non-Aggressiin Pact and the Allies (Britain and France) need to focus on NAZI Germany. Stalin demanded among other matters tht the birder be shifted further north, encompassing almost all of Karelia. When the Finns refused, Stalin invaded, setting off the Winter War (1939-40). The Finns were forced to ceed most of Karelia and evacuated their people. It would be fought over again in the Continuation War (1941-44)


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Created: 5:45 AM 9/11/2016
Last updated: 5:45 AM 9/11/2016