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

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

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by Henrik Lunde
 

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A selection of the Military Book Club.

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

Overview

A selection of the Military Book Club.

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.

This book posits that it was mind-boggling how the highly professional German General Staff allowed itself to accept the militarily unsound and shaky coalition that resulted. The war aims were not discussed or harmonized, there were no campaign plans with tasks and missions spelled out past the initial assault, no effective main effort established, inadequate force levels, and an unsound command structure with various headquarters. Practically every rule in the book was broken. The objective of linking up with the Finns in the Leningrad area was an important factor in Hitler opting for three main drives into the Soviet Union rather than an earlier OKH plan that called for only two.

After describing the operations during and after Barbarossa, this book describes how the Finnish theater became a blind ally for the Germans. Their strongest and best army was trapped both operationally and geographically in central and northern Finland, making virtually no contribution to the war effort. The Germans could not bring to bear enough forces to accomplish their objectives without substantial Finnish assistance, and that was not forthcoming.

The final chapters deal with the Soviet counteroffensive against the Finns in 1944. The Finns lost all their gains and quickly concluded a separate armistice. This left the German forces in Finland to simply vacate the territory, fighting between the Finns and Soviets alike as they tried to return to the main war. Jointly suffering 291,000 casualties, the only consolation was that the coalition had inflicted some 830,000 on the Soviets.

In this book, Henrik Lunde, a former US Special Operations colonel, and the renowned author of Hitler’s Pre-emptive War: The Battle for Norway, 1940, once again fills a profound gap in our understanding of World War II.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Finland's segue from its defensive war against the Soviet Union in 1939–1940 to its offensive coalition with Nazi Germany from 1941 to 1944 remains one of the neglected aspects of WWII historiography. Lunde, an established scholar of the Scandinavian theater, demonstrates that Finland chose its path deliberately. The government was by no means unaware of the nature and objectives of National Socialism. Nor did Finland fight a "separate war" to safeguard its own security from Germany. It sought the recovery of territory lost in the Winter War and possession of Soviet Eastern Karelia. Germany's failure to negotiate war aims and command relationships gave Finland opportunity to pursue its own objectives. Germany's commitment of limited forces guaranteed a compartmentalized campaign that achieved limited results and left the troubled coalition vulnerable to the Soviets' 1944 counteroffensive. Despite linguistic limitations impelling reliance on German sources, Lunde offers a solid operational analysis, stressing the Red Army's developing ability to wage high-tech war under arctic conditions. He ascribes Soviet willingness to conclude a compromise peace as reflecting respect for Finnish fighting power. And he successfully demonstrates that dining with the Nazi devil required a longer spoon than Finland possessed. (Apr.)
Miniature Wargaming
“…likely to be the definitive book on the subject for years to come.”
Stone and Stone
“…likely to be the best book on the diplomatic and military aspects of the conflict published in English for many years…Finland's War of Choice receives a very high recommendation, and it looks like a strong candidate to be named as one of the best new books of the year.”
wargamer.com
“…a fascinating book…rises above just being a basic history of what was in reality a strategic backwater …”
Wargames Soldiers and Strategy
“…still a touchy subject, Finland was a democratic state allied with the Axis. The subject is tackled frankly and well from political views on all sides…a good read…”
World War II magazine
“An under-examined corner of the Eastern Front: united only by their shared Soviet enemy, this coalition’s lack of planning and ill-defined objectives meant the Germans stranded an army and the Finns sued for a separate peace.”
Military Modelcraft
“…enormously informative…certainly one for the military and political historian and a serious work of scholarship
blogging about wars from a Nordic angle Lars Gyllenhaal
“…a real must for English-only readers interested of Nordic WWII history.”
Windscreen Winter 2011
“…a very interesting and well-written account.”
Kepler’s Military History
“… 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.”
Miniature Wargames
“…we are used to books that highlight the strains within the Allied Coalition during the war, but Lunde makes clear things were much worse on the other side…Like the author’s previous work on the Norwegian campaign, this is likely to become the definitive book on the subject…”
Kunikov’s Reviews
“…a highly detailed operational history …a fascinating look at the Continuation War and Finland’s alliance with the Third Reich.”
NYMAS
“…excellent coverage of otherwise obscure operations near and even above the arctic circle, with word portraits of many commanders and a good many desperate fights, culminating in the brief Finno – German War after the collapse of the alliance. A valuable read for anyone interested in WWII in Europe.”
Think Progress
"The German-Finnish alliance is a bit of a historical curiosity. Only one democratic country—Finland—allied itself with Nazi Germany. . . . Lunde argues that the alliance really was quite strange and in ways that mattered. . . . The theory, in other words, is that a well-managed alliance between Finland and Germany could have produced victory on the Eastern Front. It's a fascinating argument . . ."
History of War
“This is a fascinating look at an important but little known area of fighting during the Second World War. Lunde has produced an excellent history of the crucial fighting in the north, the often confused political and diplomatic background and the troubled relationship between the Finns and their German allies.
IPMS
This was a fascinating book, and even for a non-historian, will serve to enlighten the reader about an era of history that can be very confusing. It describes people realistically, and does not create a “good guy-bad guy” situation, although this is quite an achievement, considering some of the people involved, especially on the Soviet and German sides. This is definitely a “must-read” for anyone interested in World War II in Europe. Don’t miss out on it, as it is very reasonably priced, and well produced. Highly recommended

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781612000374
Publisher:
Casemate Publishers
Publication date:
02/22/2011
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
432
Sales rank:
1,086,363
File size:
5 MB

Meet the Author

Henrik Lunde, a native Norwegian and former U.S. Special Operations colonel, has written the most objective account to date of a campaign in which 20th-century military innovation found its first fertile playing field.

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Finland's War of Choice: The Troubled German-Finnish Coalition in World War II 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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