Was just wondering why the Red Army didn’t completely occupy Finland after breaking the Mannerheim line?
Why didn't Stalin completely annex Finland, even though it's alignment with Germany was clearly inevitable?
Well, one, there was a crisis of leadership after this epic failure, and if Stalin had sought to annex Finland, the Finns would have kept fighting the way they were good at: guerrilla attacks. Also there was a high likelihood this would bring in Sweden, Norway and the Entente for reasons mentioned in the winter war episodes.
It’s like when you try and pet a parrot and it bites the shit out of your hand. You are massively bigger than the bird and you could crush it’s hollow bones easily. However, not only will you sustain more injury, you’ll also look like a completely unhinged psycho in a moment of impairment. So you exit as gracefully as you can and bide your time until you’re healed or at least bandaged up.
As said, many reasons. When the Winter War ended the approaching spring would have melted the frost and made roads impassable for heavy Soviet units. Britain and France threatened to attack. Breaching of the Mannerheim line did not break the Finnish resistance. So outcome would have been uncertain. During the summer of 1940 Stalin had his hands full in making sure the illegal occupations and annexations of the Baltic states went through without a hitch - and by autumn Germans already had a presence in Finland. Molotov’s meeting with Hitler is rather telling of what the Soviets thought of this.
Hey could you link to the WW2 in real time video about that Hitler/Molotov meeting?
If you read book sources some of them even state that it was Hitler (or Fuhrer) extending his umbrella to protect Finland.
I’ll write in a bit more detail… Finland’s alignment with Germany was far from ‘clearly inevitable’ immediately after the Winter War. In fact Finland did not particularly appreciate Germany following the German decisions taken during the Winter War. Germans had helped the Soviets far more than what they did the Finns and even proposed using the German supply ships to resupply at sea the Soviet submarines hunting the merchant vessels headed to or from Finland (worth noting that the Soviets did not apply prize rules). Finland tried to take part to a defensive pact together with Scandinavian countries but the Germans and the Soviets objected to this. Then the Germans captured both Denmark and Norway. At this time Finns and Swedes tried to form essentially an union but again this didn’t fit the Soviet plans so it too was blocked. Germans were more like the last straw. In my opinion, had the Soviets not pushed Finland that strongly in 1940 there might still have been a chance that Finland would not have taken part to the war in 1941-44.
Mind you all this occurred while the Soviets were interfering with Finnish internal politics by demanding ministers to resign, readjusted the border (for example at Enso), shot down Finnish civilian airliner (Kaleva), tried to blackmail political concessions by withholding food shipments, and so on. Finally in autumn the Germans offered to release interned shipments, and even sell (captured) weapons to Finns in exchange for among other things Finns allowing Germans to form supply route through Finland to Northern Norway. At which point Finns pretty much just asked ‘where do i sign’. You got more weapons, more food, a trading partner, and a whole bunch of German soldiers which acted as a great counterweight and tripwire against the Soviets.
All in all this means that Finland’s alignment with Germany was not clearly inevitable until in the autumn of 1940. Even then the Soviets believed or hoped that the Germans would abide by their deal which split the Eastern Europe into the spheres of interest. The German involvement actually seems to have come as a bit of a shock and surprise to the Soviets.
Because it would’ve been a complete disaster for the USSR. It would’ve been worn down through guerilla warfare, plus wouldve alienated the International community away from the Soviets which was already occurring with Stalin’s annexation of the Baltic states. And Finnish alignment with Germany wasn’t inevitable, in fact had the Soviets not attacked, Finland would never have felt the need to join Berlin in attacking Russia.