History: The Reset

by Andrew Stuttaford

Imagine for a moment  the response if  Angela Merkel  had just proposed putting up memorials honoring German soldiers killed during the Polish campaign in 1939. And then imagine the response if Merkel capped that by explaining that the attack on Poland ought to be seen as an attempt to correct mistakes made at the Treaty of Versailles.

AP reports (via the Miami Herald):

MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin has voiced support for building memorials to honor Red Army soldiers who died in a 1939-1940 war with Finland. Putin said Thursday at a meeting with military historians that Soviet dictator Josef Stalin launched the war to “correct mistakes” made in drawing the border with Finland after the 1917 Bolshevik revolution.

As a reminder, in the autumn of 1939 the Soviet Union made various demands on the three Baltic states and Finland. The Finns decided to say no, and were then invaded. To Stalin’s surprise, the hugely outnumbered Finns fought back very hard indeed, inflicting massive casualties on the Red Army. In the end, they were forced to make peace, ceding a rich slice of Karelia and what was then Finland’s second largest city, Viipuri (“Vyborg”), to the USSR.

But they kept their independence.

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