A selection of the Military Book Club: “A solid operational analysis” from “an established scholar of the Scandinavian theater” (Publishers Weekly).
This book describes the odd coalition between Germany and Finland in World War II and their joint military operations from 1941 to 1945. In stark contrast to the numerous books on the shorter and less bloody Winter War, which represented a gallant fight of a democratic “David” against a totalitarian “Goliath” and 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.
A prologue 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.
In this book, Henrik Lunde, a former US Special Operations colonel and 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.
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.