Friday, March 12, 2010

Day 195 March 13, 1940

The Winter War is over after 105 days. At 2 AM in Moscow, 1 AM in Finland, Finnish and Soviet delegates sign the Moscow Peace Treaty (documents are dated March 12, having been prepared by the Soviets the day before). However, the ceasefire is not scheduled until 11 AM Finnish time. In a vengeful act to punish the beaten and humiliated Finns, Red Army gunners shell the Finnish lines all morning, emptying their magazines as much as possible.

Finns lose 26,662 killed & 41,692 wounded. Civilian casualties are 892 dead & 1,856 wounded. 65 seamen die in the Finnish merchant fleet.

Soviet losses are 126,875 dead & 264,908 wounded, plus unknown numbers killed by NKVD behind Soviet lines and hospitalized with frostbite and other illnesses.

The Allies are robbed by the Finnish collapse of any pretext to move into Norway and Sweden. British troops march off the transport ships without having left port. The Allies do not abandon their ambition for action in Scandinavia. Churchill understands the importance of Norway to both sides and writes to British Foreign Minister Lord Halifax “Whether they [the Germans] have some positive plan of their own [for Norway]… I cannot tell. It would seem to me astonishing if they have not”.

[Footnote: The Finns kept remarkable records of their casualties, so these numbers are reliable. USSR on the other hand had no reliable records, so their casualty figure are at best SWAG (scientific wild-assed guess). Official Soviet estimates of casualties range from 200,000 killed and wounded (Molotov, just after the Winter War) to 1 million (in Nikita Khrushchev’s memoirs he states that 1.5 million Red soldiers went into Finland and only half a million came out). Neither of these figures is correct and the answer is somewhere in the middle.

The Gulf of Finland islands & the lands in Karelia (Isthmus and areas surrounding Lake Ladoga) and at Salla, given up by Finland in 1940, continue to be Soviet territory to this day. However, USSR formally renounced its lease on the Hanko Peninsula in the Paris peace treaty of 1947.]

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