"When did Germany or its allies know that they're going to lose the war?" - Finnish view

A question quite often asked in the Internet is that when did Germany or its allies understand that they are going to lose the war. I do not know about Germany or it other allies, but Finnish military came to this conclusion in February 1943.

On February 3rd, 1943, Finnish defense forces chief of intelligence (Aladar Paasonen) held a presentation to the Finnish commander in chief (Mannerheim), president (Risto Ryti), prime minister (J. Ragnell) and three other ministers. He concluded that “We should be pleased if the peace terms would be similar to those in the Moscow Treaty” [1]. All of the participants agreed on the grim view that Paasonen presented: Germany would lose the war and Finland was on the losing side.

Later in February, Paasonen gave similar presentation to the Finnish Parliament. If Timeghost is interested, I could try to search for the presentation and translate it to you (I didnt find it from the internet).

[1] Waldemar Erfurth: Sotapäiväkirja 1942-1943. Translation is mine

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what?!! germany is going to lose? But but they will take stalingrad for sure.

All joking aside if the finiish military did come to this conclusion in 1943, then why didn’t they sign a peace deal with moscow ASAP. Did hitler know this and bullied the fins into not leaving?

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It’s very easy to get into a war, but it’s much harder to get out of one advantageously, especially if you already know you’re going to lose in the long term.

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so the only way to get out of a war is to lose it badly? couldn’t the fins have gone and told the soviets “you know what? Same borders as at the end of the winter war. Look at the bright side we would be out of the war and you would have more men to deal with germany. Win-win deal”.

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Finns tried to pursue peace already in 1943. And as you guessed, Germany got hint of this and did not like it (I dont remember their exact reactions though).

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so why not send troops to overthrow the government and install a puppet government like they did with the Czechs in Finland?

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At that point they didn’t have any free troops and the German Surface Fleet had never recovered from the sinking of its ships in the invasion of Norway. Allied Air power in thr Baltic put paidvto any notions of an invasion.

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Geography alone would be a decisive reason not to do it, as unlike Czechoslovakia, the Germans didn’t have the Finns totally surrounded. Politically, the Finnish government had far greater public support than the remnant Czech government did, so – given how fiercely the Finns fought the Soviets in '39-40 – the Germans would have had to devote much more significant forces to “pacify” Finland than they had available, and rural Finland offers far better opportunities for guerilla forces to hide than the remnant of Czech lands after the Sudetenland had been occupied.

Finland would have suffered horrific casualties in the struggle, but my money would have been on the Finns at least fighting the Germans to a draw if not defeating them outright (especially if the Soviets provided some direct support).

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I am quite interested in this presentation as indeed it indicates the how people started to feel about the war.

As for the other forces in the Axis camps. Morale is really hard to measure and then again it is only the “morale of people who can do something about it” that really counts. E.g Stauffenberg with his failed bomb attempt.

But I think it is safe to say there that we need to use World War 1 and 1812 as the prism they had (their history, they know nothing of the future and are stuck in a day to day struggle).

In WW1 Germany fought Russia as well as the Western Allies and than the US came in and they lost. Napoleon also fought in Spain/Portugal and the destruction of the Grande Armee was famous.

In WW2 I am sure that not every ally was a different experience and memory but in General.

1 The Battle of Britain showed it would be a long war and shortages and the Shoah genocide showed it was a vicious war.
2 Not everyone was confident in Barbarossa (The 2 front war of Kaiser Wilhelm)
3 and THEN the declaration of war on the United States by Mussolini while also stuck in the Soviet Union. The Finns for one weren’t that stupid and were rewarded with diplomatic relations which the US used to give carrots and sticks. Warnings when going to far and carrots as they helped the Finns later using diplomacy. Also here note that in speeches Roosevelt spoke of the evil regimes of Germany and Japan, I think he didn’t mention the list of “minor Allies” exactly because he want to return those to at least neutrality.

The Italian resistance grew however and they managed to depose Mussolini in July 1943. The Mussolini Government never bothered

So just by these 2 I don’t think Stalingrad was not the only reason but it was and is the most obvious one in a long string of starting new fights with never finishing one.

But I would love the presentation and wonder if there also is a mention of the genocidal policies in Russia and the question “do we really want to cooperate with that regime” Or “what do you think what happens when we lose after having cooperated”.

But again many thanks for the post and I would love to see the presentation.

I

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Also
Here is a paper on Finland and the diplomatic tightrope it walked. Not sure if something is missing but it does describe the incredible complexity of the diplomatic side. There are just too many things going on for an easy answer but I am sure Stalingrad and Allied diplomacy stopped Finland from going “too far”.

Microsoft Word - Thesis Formatted.docx (txstate.edu)

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There were actually other issues. Germans were given military control over the northern part of the country and had number of troops located there. And therefore the Germans held small part of population (and country) as a sort of a hostage. Furthermore Finland was not self-sufficient at the time and was dependent on the foreign trade on food just to survive. The USSR could not be trusted (due to the Winter War and subsequent events) to do this - after all the USSR had already in 1940 tried to blackmail Finland into political concessions using food shipments as an extortion tool. So the main route to Finland was across the Baltic Sea (in fact in many ways Finland was like an island in this respect). With Germans controlling Denmark and Norway this pretty much meant that the Germans would have been in control of it.

Had the Western Allies intervened in Norway the situation would have been very different. More on this: Finnish plans if allies land in Norway? - #2 by WandererRTF

Also the problem with allowing the Soviets ‘to help’ was that they had tendency of not leaving afterwards so despite of the threat posed by the Germans i doubt the Soviet ‘direct support’ would have been accepted.

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I will try to get the book from my local library. Getting the book and translating the text may take some time.

If I recall correctly, genocidal policies were not mentioned or at least not emphasized. Let’s see if I remember correctly :).

If my memory serves the presentation was (in my opinnion) very objective and well grounded. The most astounding detail that I remember was that Paasonen foresaw “a struggle” between Soviet Union and the west after Nazi-Germany would fall (i.e. cold war).

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This summary that I found from the Internet gives some hint: [Aladàr Paasonen ; translation by Google Translate]

So while Finnish military and political high command agreed that Germany would lose, many MPs did not agree this.

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Brave people for telling the Parliament what they rather not want to hear👍

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Below is the presentation in Finnish. Google Translate does mediocre job with it. I will translate it myself at some point. I may take some time, though (the text is not particularly easy to translate).

Some picks from the intelligence analysis:

  • Paasonen seemed to have thought that Germany would not be victorious.
  • Paasonen seem to have thought that a prolonged war followed with a compromise peace between Germany and Soviet Union would be the best possible outcome.
  • However, Paasonen thought it would not be likely that Stalin would accept such a compromise peace given his recent successes.
  • Paasonen emphasized quite lot the ideological conflict between the western allies and Soviet Union. He basically foresaw the conflict that would end up being the cold war.

Source: “Salaisen sodan sivut : tiedustelua, vakoilua ja salatoimintaa jatkosodassa” ISBN: 951-25-1486-9

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Here is a English translation. I did it in haste and it is far from perfect, but still better than what Google Translate gives you.

I recommend reading it fully. I think the most interesting parts of the text are towards its end.

As said, the text is not particularly easy to interpret as it is often unclear to who Paasonen refers to. That is, depending on the context, “enemy” can refer to Germany or Russia, and “ally” can refer to Axis allies, Finnish Allies, Western Allies, or Allies in general. Also, the text uses passive quite a lot (which is typical for Finnish) which may confuse even further who Paasonen is talking about.

Please post any questions you may have. It is possible that I have translated some parts inaccurately.

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This really made sense from in 1943 as the US an Uk fought the Bolshevist in 1919. Although history went different it is plausible.

Not sure about white race lots of Russians are blonde blue eyes people.

Many, Many thanks for taking the time to translate while pointing out the difficulties of finding context after almost 80 years and that translating is not just copy-translate paste but that grammar between languages can complicate things.

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Finland faced a tough choice. If you decide to “quit” early, Germany might decide to send a few divisions, occupy the country and install a government with absolute loyalty to Germany. This might not be a popular government, but it does not need to be. All it would need to do from the German point of view is keep Finland in the war.

Finland seems to have decided from early 43 onwards to do the absolute minimum required to stop that from happening, keeping the Germans just happy enough to maintain their autonomy but not provoking the Soviets too much in case some negotiation will take place later.

Once the Soviets launched their five stage summer offensive in 1944 (1 Karelo-Finland, 2 Baltics, 3 Belarus, 4 North Ukraine, 5 South Ukraine) the Finns had to get the timing just right. Ask for an armistice too early, enter the scenario where Germany sends a few divisions to keep Finland in the war which will then end with Helsinki occupied by the Red Army. If you ask for an armistice too late the Red Army will break through and end up occupying Helsinki. Finland managed to time it just right, early enough to be able to preserve something in negotiation, but late enough so Germany couldn’t intervene anymore on account of all her troops being engaged in battle.

People should not forget, despite the ridiculously inept Red Army performance in the initial and mid stages of the Winter War, the Soviet Union did win it eventually and managed to extract significant concessions from Finland, and again in 1944. But the most important for Finland was that they fought well enough to preserve their independence.

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German forces in was a problem but I don’t think it was the biggest one. The real issue was that Finland was very heavily dependent on food imports from Germany. Any sign that Finland was seriously pursuing peace, and Germany would cut the wheat supply, which would have caused starvation.

Many Soviet POWs, and even some Finnish civilians, died in Finland due to starvation. And this was despite the food imports from Germany.

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