Strategy and Tactics Press Briefing Room World at War 86

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Between A Rock & A Hard Place: Finland in World War II, Part I

By John D. Burtt

Starting in 1323 Finland was a duchy within Sweden, until 1809 when it was invaded and annexed by Russia. When the Russian Revolution occurred, the Finns took advantage of the chaos to declare independence.

Friction between left- and right-wing groups in the country led to a brief civil war in 1918 that, aided by the intervention of Germany, saw the left crushed in April.The 1920 Treaty of Tartu delineated the border between Finland and the Soviet Union, and peace reigned for the next 20 years.

As war clouds gathered during the late 1930s, Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin developed a strategic interest in Finland for several reasons. First was Finland’s ownership of the Aland Islands in the Baltic, which could be used as a base from which to control the shipping in and out of the eastern portion of that sea. Finland also had strategically important nickel deposits at Petsamo in the north. Finally, Finland’s southeast border lay only 20 miles from Leningrad, which was both a major industrial center and the spiritual center of the communist state.

Read the Full Article in World at War #86

The Chaco War, 1932–1935

World at War, Issue #86 Magazine available!

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  • The Chaco War, 1932–1935 Paraguay and Bolivia claimed sovereignty over the Chaco, a desolate territory stretching from the Andes to the Paraguay River. For landlocked Bolivia, control of it was not just a matter of national pride. The Chaco gave access to the Paraguay River, which provides a route to the Atlantic. The largest war fought in South America in the 20th century was the result.
  • Between A Rock & A Hard Place: Finland in World War II, Part I In the 1930s the Finns faced strategic dilemmas that ultimately led them to fight three wars between 1939 and 1945: the Winter War, the Continuation War and the Lapland War. This is our analysis.
  • The Guadalcanal Naval Campaign From August 1942 to February 1943, while US ground forces battled the Japanese on Guadalcanal, the US and Japanese Navies fought six major actions on the seas around it. Those naval engagements determined the outcome of the overall campaign as much as the fighting on the island itself.
  • The Second Battle of the Alps, March–May 1945 On 1 March 1945, the French activated the Alpine Corps and detached it from their First Army in northeast France. The new unit’s mission was to reclaim French control of the passes leading through the Maritime Alps into northwest Italy. The result was a small and short-lived, but brutal, campaign fought in those high places.

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