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Finland in the eye of the storm

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In 2005, as near as I can tell, a Finish author, Erkki Hautamäki, published a book titled “Finland i stormens öga” (Finland in the eye of the storm). The book was published first in Swedish, a second volume is pending and a German edition is being prepared. Here is a little write-up about the book:

Chapter 10 deals with a pact between Churchill and Stalin, the French are also part of the plan. I was able to obtain a German translation of this chapter and translated it into English. I would like to thank Veronica Clark for her assistance.

Some of what Hautamäki writes I do not agree with, but my opinion is not the issue here. Hopefully the German edition will be available soon, allowing for a more contextual approach. The second volume should also help, but until that happens, here then Chapter 10.

10. Churchill and Stalin’s war operation agreements of October 15, 1939 in Moscow.

“Stalins double cover”

Translated by Wilfried Heink

Edited by Veronica Clark

The Great Powers, which had for years conducted clandestine politics, were about to make their last move on the chessboard of political agreements. Now soldiers and armies were entered onto the stage in decisive fashion. The “iron roller” of war could no longer be stopped by any reason.

In the minds of the leaders of the Western Powers, Hitler was unstoppable when it came to the Polish issue. He had tried to avoid a war on two fronts by signing an agreement with Stalin, but the pact was violated when Poland was attacked. Thus, Hitler became a sort of “Siamese twin” of Stalin’s. In the ensuing situation Hitler had to act in a way that respected Stalin’s interests as to the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. However, Stalin’s real intentions were discussed more and more in German circles. But the promise of Russian supplies of raw materials to Germany forced Hitler to be patient. To avoid the catastrophe of a two-front war, Hitler planned to attack the west first, since his peace proposals of 1939 had been rejected. According to his own account, he delayed action because of the rainy fall weather. It was a matter of survival for Stalin, the “Siamese twin”, to keep Hitler content and to fulfill his obligations arising out of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact without interruption. The Red Army was not yet strong enough to withstand a Wehrmacht onslaught. For Stalin this was indeed a nightmare.

Similarly, England, France and the USA, which entered the war later on, were not yet ready for war; they had all three only began to allocate the necessary resources needed to wage a war, thus actions against Germany were out of the question. Stalin, the dictator, was aware of the shortcomings of democracies. If Hitler could concentrate his military might early on against the Soviet Union—i.e., before the Western Powers were able to organize and force Hitler to station troops in the West instead—this would be a deadly danger for Stalin.

Stalin was above all a realist! Assessments undertaken by the Kremlin concerning material resources indicated that fortunes would favor the Western allies—England, France and the USA—if the war could be expanded enough to last a long time. Stalin decided to smash this Gordian knot that had turned into a matter of life or death for the Soviet Union (see Stalin’s speech of August 19, 1939), and to enter into the most secret agreement of WWII with the Western Powers. The military [Red Army?] had already, in the late summer of 1939, worked on joint operations in case of a German attack.

According to the plans worked out after August 23, the aim was to create new fronts to disperse and tie down German troops. Later, a concentrated attack from different directions against Germany was planned: after all the resources that were needed had been assembled. In light of Churchill’s extremely close contact earlier (after September 3, channeled into Chamberlain’s cabinet) Stalin was now willing to sign an agreement with the Western Powers. Disinformation was needed to keep this a secret.

Mannerheim was informed.

The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact is seen as the most important agreement of WWII. For Hitler this pact was vital, and he was gullible enough to take the signatures of Molotov and Stalin at face value, forgetting what Lenin had said about the importance of “papers”. But according to the information in Document S-32, the most important agreement of WWII was signed in Moscow on October 15, 1939—between the Soviet Union, England and France.


Mannerheim kept the content of that agreement secret in his S-32 document, copies of which have become known. Fifty-plus years later we find it prudent to make this agreement public, so as to gain an understanding of the truth of the most difficult time in the history of Finland.

Given the unique situation Finland was in following the war, the Marshall was not able to write about the political background of issues in his memoirs, and concentrated instead on military operations. We have depositions by the Marshall made to his agent VT on January 20, 1950 in which he stated:

“My military dos and don’ts are not the issue in this record (Doc. S-32), nor are my memories of them. I will leave this up to others. I cannot make these political background actions known to my generals, because that information would not be treated correctly and honestly by them”. The operational plans for this war were apparently signed by the minister of the Admiralty, Churchill, on February 8, 1940 in London. He handed them, in any case, to Stalin’s courier on February 9, to be forwarded by air mail to Moscow. German intelligence knew about this and intercepted the plane carrying the documents over the Baltic Sea. The plane was searched, the documents found, copied and the plane allowed, after a delay of 4 hours (Groesmann), to continue on as if nothing had happened. A detailed account of this will be provided in chapter 12.

On March 9, 1940, Mannerheim received, from Ribbentrop per courier, copies of portions of those plans, as they concerned Finland and Scandinavia, including maps and statements about the allied operations planned in Europe. Translated copies of those documents will be added below. The courier also handed a personal letter from Ribbentrop to Mannerheim in which he outlined the expected actions taken by Germany (more about this in chapter 12).

Declaration of intent of Churchill and Stalin (February 8, 1940, translated from Finish to Swedish).

The Admiralty is hereby making a declaration of readiness regarding the reached agreements on October 15, 1939 for waging war, signed and delivered by Mr. Stalin on January 28, 1940, the agreement to read as follows:

1. As soon as the Soviet Union publicizes its occupation of Finland in its entirety, including its bays, coastline and islands, the maritime ministry is prepared to send marines and other forces no later than the night of May 14-15, 1940 to occupy important objects in Norway. In addition, England will occupy Denmark. In cooperation with French troops, England will occupy Swedish Göteborg as well as southern Sweden. At the same time British naval forces will control the North Sea and block access to it from the Baltic Sea for German ships and submarines.

2. Agreement was reached during negotiations between France and England concerning Finland’s ‘often asked for’ assistance in its fight against the Soviet Union, which our governments had promised. This promised assistance, which Finland had asked for, will be redirected to Sweden and Norway where it will be placed on hold, even if those countries proved willing to allow the transit of troops. France promised 50,000 to 100,000 troops, to be stationed in Sweden to tie up the Swedish forces, to allow the Soviet Union to occupy Finland and intern its forces. English forces will be stationed in Norway, about 5,000 to 8,000 troops will land in Göteborg, Sweden.

3. Following the occupation of Finland, Norway, Denmark and Sweden, agreement can be reached between English and Soviet forces as to the distribution of troops and their targets, as well as the timing of the attack against Germany; that according to already established plans, so that:

Troops of the English and French expedition force will jointly initiate an attack along the Cherbourg-Rotterdam line with the Siegfried-Line as their target, while at the same time Poland and Czechoslovakia are attacked by Soviet forces.

The defense forces of Holland and Belgium have agreed to join British/French troops.

French and English naval forces will close the North Sea, as well as the English Channel, to any naval traffic of German ships until Germany’s forces are defeated and Germany is forced into a peace agreement.

4. For the main attack from the Baltics and the Scandinavian Peninsula, the plan for the supply of the troops will be worked out in a joint effort in Paris, at the time of your choosing, according to your suggestions.

5. The joint committee of the French-English air force agreed to immediately invite a representative of the Soviet air force for the purpose of cooperation in an effort to once and for all eliminate the German air force, even before an attack by sea and land begins [emphasis added].

6. The assurance of assistance of military support to Finland, mentioned in Art. 2, is based on the Crimea negotiations between the general secretary of the Soviet Communist Party and England’s Winston Churchill, to obtain a troop transit agreement from Sweden, Norway and Denmark to help Finland militarily. If those Nordic countries agree to this transit of troops, English and French troops can be moved onto the Scandinavian Peninsula without encountering any resistance. The occupation of the Scandinavian Peninsula, and the interment of its forces, could thus be achieved by making it appear as a bloodless coup. The Soviet Union would thus be relieved of concern about the English/French troops posing a danger to it. The occupation of the Scandinavian Peninsula will take place even if said transit agreement for the support troops is not granted. The Soviet Union will be invited to send a military expert to observe operations for occupying Scandinavia, as well as the preparations of those operations. It would be beneficial if this expert could arrive as soon as possible.

7. As to the request to set up mine fields along the coast of Norway by the Soviet Union, a map five (5) is attached showing the mine field as agreed to. English naval forces will expand this mine field and extend it starting April 5-6, according to attachment six (6). The unmined areas will be shown in attachment 6.

Attachments 5 and 6 were not found when this document was copied on January 19 and 21, 1950 (author’s note).

Significance and implications of this agreement

With this agreement Churchill and the Western Powers allowed the Soviet Union to bring all of the small adjoining countries under its control. This went far beyond what was agreed to under the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact concerning “regions of interest”. At the same time Churchill granted himself the right to interfere with the sovereignty of many neutral countries (Island, Faeroe Islands, Norway, Sweden, Greece, etc.).

The only concession Stalin was asked to make in the supplementary agreement concerned the situation of the small states following the war. According to that agreement those small states were to be given their freedom and sovereignty (Groesmann).

The date for the Moscow agreement was set for October 15, 1939 (Groesmann). An interesting detail was why this agreement was signed just then. In 1972 an elderly railway official in Lwow (formerly Lemberg) divulged that the railway station, including the surrounding areas, was cordoned off—because an important visitor was expected. Additional research has revealed that this had to have been around the time of October 16. Edvard Radztnsky, a Russian researcher who checked this, has evidence that Stalin was not at the Kremlin from October 18 to the 19; nobody knew where he was.

A letter of July 19, 1940, found in the Washington National Archives, brought this matter to the fore. The letter, from FBI-Chief J. Edgar Hoover, was addressed to Adolf A. Berte Jr.—a secretary in the US foreign office. The letter states that Hoover had information that Hitler and Stalin had met on October 17, according to a certain source! Because this could not have been so, the question was asked: “Who did Stalin meet at that time? Who sent this uninformative news to Hoover?”

At the same time, Britain’s “ready leader” waged a campaign without equal with the aim to establish a Tri-Part agreement to defeat Germany. Given the Swedish-based ore transports to Germany by ship, Scandinavia—though mostly Norway—was allotted the most important role regarding Churchill’s ongoing war plans in the North—since November/December 1939. Those plans included the so-called “Baltic Sea Operation”. The clandestine operations aimed at Scandinavia, which began on October 15, 1939, provided for (the Moscow Agreement): those operations far exceeded what was necessary to interrupt the ore transports from Narvik (“Front N”).

Among the documents found and copied by the Germans—the ones confiscated from the Soviet courier plane on February 9, 1940—was a map of those operations, with an explanation for the realization of those plans, approved by the British Admiralty (Churchill).

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