Adolph Hitler (Left) and Carl Mannerheim (Right)
Carl Gustav Emir Mannerheim 4 August 1944 – 4 March 1946) was one of the met interesting monarch’s in late 20th century Europe. He was a Finnish military leader who rose to Lieutenant General in the army of Tsar Nicholas II. When the Russian Revolution concluded, he led a force of “Whites” against the Bolshevik “Reds” and maintained his borders in the turbulent years of the birth of Communism. He was Commander in Chief of the Finnish Armed Forces, the Marshal of Finland, and certainly, a great tactical general who essentially kicked the Russian army out of Finland. In the Winter War, Gustav and his 300,000 men and 32 tanks and a hundred aircraft defeated the Russian 750,000 man army with 5,000 tanks and 3000 aircraft.
This was the war that Hitler watched and made the quip about Russia: “Once we kick the door in the whole rotten thing will come crashing down.” Hitler respected Mannerheim and delivered blandishments about him to other, Mannerheim despised Hitler. On the occasion of mannerheim’s 75th birthday, Hitler flew to Helsinki to wine and dine him. There was a discussion about the upcoming invasion of Russia. That said, here is transcript of the conversation.
Russia returned and forced an armistice. All Stalin wanted was access to the Karelian Isthmus as this would give him ready access to Baltic ports.
From http://www.feldgrau.net, we find this transcription of a conversation between Mannerhiem and Adoplh Hitler.
(Beginning of the Audio Recording:)
Unidentified (Hitler?): “…a very great danger, perhaps the gravest one…”
Hitler: “(unintelligible)…we ourselves were not completely sure of this, how monstrous this strong armament was.”
Mannerheim: “We had not suspected this, in the Winter-War, in the Winter-War we had not suspected this, of course we had a (one unintelligible word) that they were well armed, but so as they had been in fact, and now there is no doubt at all what they had planned (‘was sie hatten in ihrem Schild’)”
Hitler: “It is evident…evident. They have the most monstrous armament that is humanly conceivable (‘menschendenkbar’)…so…if anybody had told me that one state…(footsteps)…if anybody had told me that one state can line up with 35.000 tanks (Hitler uses the word ‘tank’), I had said ‘you have gone mad’…
Hitler: “35.000 Panzer (now he uses the word ‘Panzer’)…we have more than, we have at the time more than 34 Pan…thousand Panzer destroyed. If somebody had told me this to…had said: you…if one general of mine had declared, that a state here had 35.000 tanks, I had said, Mister (‘Mein Herr’), you are seeing everything double… or tenfold, this is crazy, you are seeing ghosts…I had not thought this possible…If somebody had told me that…I have told this just before, we have found industrial plants…one of this in (unintelligible: Kalanuskaja?) for example, that was under construction two years ago…and we had no idea…and today there is a tank production facility that…that…in the first shift a bit over 30.000 and in full development should have employed more than 60.000 workers…one single tank production facility…we have occupied it…a gargantuan facility…lots of workers who nevertheless live like animals and such…”
Unidentified: “An amazing region…”
Another Unidentified (Hitler?): “An amazing region…”
Mannerheim: “If one considers that they had for 20 years…more than 20 years…25 years nearly, the freedom to arm themselves…and expended all, all for armament…only armament…”
Hitler: “May I tell you…(couple of unintelligible words)…president of state, I have not suspected this, had I suspected this, my heart would have felt even heavier…but I had made the decision all the more…because there was no other possibility. It was obvious to me, already in winter 39/40 that the (Invasion of the Soviet Union?) had to come. But I had the nightmarish pressure (‘Alpdruck’) of the West on me, because a war on two fronts, that would have been the downfall…we, too, would have been crushed. We see that better today as we could realize it back then…we would have been crushed…our complete…originally I wanted in autumn 1939 to…I wanted to carry out the West Campaign, only that continuously bad weather we had, that has hindered us. Our whole armament was…it is a ‘Good Weather’ Armament (‘Schönwetterbewaffnung’), it is very capable, it is good, but it is unfortunately a Good Weather Armament. Indeed, we have seen it recently here in this war, naturally all of our weapons are styled (‘zugeschnitten’) for the west. And we all had the conviction…that was until now (mumbling)…it was just our opinion, since the oldest times…one cannot wage war in wintertime. And we have…the German tanks…the German tanks have not been put to the test to perhaps prepare them for winter-war, but test-runs were made to prove that one cannot wage war in winter. It has been a different starting point. In autumn 1939 we have been facing the question…and I wanted yet to attack under all circumstances…I had the conviction that we would finish France within six weeks…but there was the question wether one would be able to move…and it was this continuously rainy weather…and since I know this French region very well…and I, too, could not discount the opinion of many of my generals, that we, probably, would not achieve this verve (‘Elan’), that we would not be able to make full use of the tank force (‘Panzerwaffe’), that we would not be able to make full use of the Air Force, too, with the front air fields, because of the rain…I knew northern France myself, I have been soldier for four years during the Great War…and that was the reason for this delay. Had I finished France in the year 39, the world history would have went a different way, but this way I had to wait until the year 1940…and that was not possible until May…the 10th of May was the first fair day, and I have attacked on the 10th of May at once. I have given order on 8th of May to attack on the 10th and…then there had to be…had this giant transposition of our divisions from the west to the east to be made…(unintelligible: the first occupations in…?) then we had this task in Norway…during the same time came…came actually, I can say that today, this very great misfortune upon us, namely the weaknesses that had arisen for Italy, firstly the North-African situation, secondly with the situation in Albania and Greece, a very grave misfortune. We had to help now. That, at a blow, meant for us first of all again a rending of our Air Force, a rending of our tank units…while were preparing our tank units for the east, we had, at a blow, to commit two divisions…two complete divisions, it turned out to be three at the end…and had to replenish very great losses there…it were bloody fights that have been fought out in the desert…naturally all of this has been missing here in the east…and…it was not imaginable any other way that the decision, which has been inevitable. I had a talk back then with Molotov, and it was absolutely obvious…Molotov left with the decision to begin the war, and I dismissed him with the decision to beat him to it, if possible…because, the demands this man was making were obviously aiming at ultimately ruling Europe…(the next sentence is whispered and largely unintelligible, something like ‘I have […] to dispute this, is downright ridiculous […]’)…Already in…in…in autumn 1940 there was constantly this question for us: shall one …err…risk a sundering?…I have advised the Finnish government back then…err…to negotiate and…err…to gain time to…err…err…to handle things divertoric (‘die Sachen divertorisch zu behandeln’- I have to admit that I never encountered the word ‘divertorisch’ before, but it seems to derive from the latin ‘divertere’ – to deflect, akin to the English ‘divert’), because I always had one fear: that Russia would suddenly assault Romania in late autumn, and would annex the petroleum sources…and we would have been not finished yet in late autumn 1940. If Russia had occupied the Romanian petroleum sources, Germany would have been lost…(unintelligible one or two words, something with ‘need’?)…with…with, with 60 Russian divisions this thing could have been arranged; back then we had in Romania no task force yet, the Romanian government has turned to us very lately…and what we had would have been ridiculous indeed. They only would have needed to occupy the petroleum sources, I could not have started a war in September or October any more with our arms, that was indeed impossible…we also had the deployment of our troops in the east not prepared in any way, the units had to be consolidated in the west first, the armament had to be brought in order…because, naturally, we had also have made our sacrifices during the West Campaign. It would have been impossible to line up before the Spring of 1941, and if now the Russian, back then in the autumn of 1940, had occupied Rumania, and had annexed the petroleum sources, then we would have been…err…helpless in the year 1941…We had…have the large German production, but the amount the Air Force alone is consuming, the amount our tank-divisions are consuming that is something quite monstrous. It is a…a…a consumption surpassing all imagination. And without the afflux of four to five million tons of Rumanian petroleum, we would not be able to wage the war…. (Unintelligible, a few words, some of them ‘had to let’?)…And this worried me greatly, hence my attempt to overcome this time through negotiations, until we were strong enough to oppose this extortionate demands…the demands were sheer extortion, it were extortions, the Russians knew that we were helpless, that we were tied in the west, they could extort everything from us…and only on the visit of Molotov…then I have offhandedly declared them, that we could not accept the demands…these many demands…Basically with this the negotiations were…abruptly ended…(a few unintelligible words)…there were four points, the one point concerning Finland…was the freedom to protect themselves from the Finnish threat…I said: ‘You do not want to tell me that Finland is threatening you?…He said, well, in Finland one would act against the friends of the Soviet Union…this would be a society…they would be continuously persecuted, and a Great Power could not accept being threatened from a small state regarding its existence.’ I said: ‘ you…your existence is not threatened by Finland, is it? You are not trying to tell me that your existence is threatened by Finland?’ (In the background someone says: ‘ridiculous.’) Well, there also would be a moral threat to the existence of a Great State, and what Finland was doing would be the mor…a threat to the moral existence…And I said to him, that we would not be able to accept another war on the Baltic Sea as passive spectators. Then he asked me how our positions would be regarding Romania, we had made a guarantee after all…whether this guarantee would be directed against Russia as well…I said: ‘I do not think that it is directed against you, because you do not have the intention to assault Romania, don’t you? Tell me…we never have heard that you have the intention to assault Romania, you have always stated that Bessarabia belonged to you, but you have never stated that you wanted to assault Romania.’ He said that he wanted to know precisely…”
(End of Audio-Recording)