Kilin Y. Svir-Petrozavodsk offensive operation // Studia Humanitatis Borealis. 2018. Vol. 1. № 1. P. 4‒9.

Issue № 1


Svir-Petrozavodsk offensive operation

Doctor of Historical Sciences, Professor,
Head of the Department of World History, Political Science and International Relations,
Institute of History, Political and Social Sciences, Petrozavodsk State University,
Petrozavodsk, Russia,
Ключевые слова:
Great Patriotic War
Karelian Front
Svir—Petrozavodsk offensive operation
Аннотация: In the spring and summer of 1944 the Karelian Front prepared and conducted two strategic operations. In coordination with the British and American allied command, by the order of the Supreme Command Headquarters (Stavka), the Northern Fleet, the troops of the 14th, 26th and 19th Armies of the Front, in order to mislead the enemy (the German 20th Lapland Army) from April 20 started to imitate the preparation for the offensive in the direction of Petsamo, Kirkenes with the landing of amphibious assault forces on the northern coast of Norway near Berlevåg. The activities of this strategic deception operation, the purpose of which was to prevent the transfer of German troops from northern Finland and northern Norway to France to counteract the Allied Operation Overlord, were carried out by the Karelian Front from May 1 to the beginning of the autumn of 1944. The military objectives of the “Stalin’s forth blow” were to consistently and rapidly, within a month, defeat the main forces of the Finnish army on the Karelian Isthmus and in South (Soviet) Karelia and occupy the territory of southeastern Finland far west of the 1940 state border; the political objectives of the operation, carried out by part of the forces of the two fronts, the right wing of the Leningrad and the left wing of the Karelian Front — included forcing Finland to unconditional surrender and the withdrawal of this country from the war. The operation of the two fronts was carried out simultaneously with Operation Bagration, the largest strategic offensive operation of the Great Patriotic War and was supposed to eliminate the threat of a possible flank attack from the territory of Finland in the eastern part of the Baltic Sea. To achieve this goal, the 21st, 23rd and 59th Armies carried out an offensive operation on the Karelian Isthmus from June 10 to July 15, that did not achieve the goals set by the Stavka. The armies were unable to reach the Saimaa system northwest of the 1940 state border on the line Imatra, Lappeenranta, Hamina, and suffered heavy losses. The plan of the operation of the 7th Army and the 32nd Army of the Karelian Front called for striking in converging directions, the main forces of the 7th Army advanced along the eastern coast of Lake Ladoga on Sortavala, and the forces of the 32nd Army on Porosozero, Vartsila and Ilomantsi, and the destruction of the main forces of the Olonets Finnish group consisting of two infantry corps (II and VI) in South Karelia before their withdrawal to the 1939 state border. This plan was initially unrealizable, as the weak 32nd Army did not receive reinforcements, and had to operate by four short-staffed infantry divisions. In addition, the Supreme Headquarters, fearing the counterattack of the Finns on the Karelian Isthmus, decided to transfer the 94th Rifle Corps from the reserve of the Karelian Front to the reserve of the Leningrad Front, thereby weakening the 7th Army. At the beginning of June 1944, Army Commander Kirill Meretskov, commander of the troops of the Karelian Front, unsuccessfully asked Stavka for ten additional rifle divisions to reinforce the 32nd army. The headquarters needed these forces to carry out Operation Bagration. The military objectives of the “Stalin’s forth blow” were not achieved either on the Karelian Isthmus or in South Karelia: the forces and resources allocated by the Stavka were insufficient for this, coordination of the two fronts was absent, which in particular was reflected in the failure to counter or completely interrupt the railway communication between South Karelia and the Karelian Isthmus. The unimpeded transfer of the Finnish 50,000-strong group from Karelia to the Karelian Isthmus and the inflexible actions of the Headquarters of the Leningrad Front enabled the enemy to keep the last defense line Vyborg—Kuparselkä—Taipale east of the state border of 1940, caused extremely heavy losses of the 21st, 23rd and 59 Armies and the failure of their tasks. By September 4, when the fighting ended (the Soviet troops stopped fighting on September 5, Finnish — on September 4), the troops of the two fronts had not reached the state border of 1940 (after severe fighting 289th and 176th Infantry Divisions of the 32nd Army encircled in the Ilomantsi region moved away from the territory of Finland on August 9, 1944) which was the intermediate line of the offensive to be continued deep into Finland. The two Soviet Fronts’ strategic offensive was unable to force Finland to unconditional surrender, but the main political goal of the “Stalin’s forth blow”, the withdrawal of this country from the war, was achieved.

© Petrozavodsk State University

Is passed for the press: 29 december 2018 year

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