Man-made Catastrophes and Risk Information Concealment by Dmitry Chernov & Didier Sornette

Man-made Catastrophes and Risk Information Concealment by Dmitry Chernov & Didier Sornette

Author:Dmitry Chernov & Didier Sornette
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Springer International Publishing, Cham

Distorted Red Army Causalities of the Finish Campaign

In spite of the repressions, the modernization plans of the former military command were being implemented intensively. At the end of the 1920s, the Red Army had only 89 tanks and 1394 military aircraft imported from Europe but, by 1941, the army already had 20,000 tanks and 22,000 military aircraft, designed and manufactured in the Soviet Union.892 In order to test the modernized Red Army in a real war, between November 1939 and March 1940, the Soviet Union tried to bring Finland back under Russian control. Finland had been part of the Russian Empire from 1809 to 1917, but was lost during the Russian Civil War. Stalin and the renewed military executive were counting on the power of mechanized armed forces, confident that the huge amount of modern military equipment would ensure victory. Voroshilov reported to Stalin before the Finnish campaign that “everything is good, everything is fine, everything is ready [for a successful military operation]”.893

However, the Red Army made modest military progress, gaining back for Russia only 11 % of Finnish territory; originally Stalin had hoped for total reunification with Finland. Against the Red Army’s military operation, Finnish generals—the majority of whom were former officers of the Russian Empire, just like the Soviet senior officers executed in 1937–1938—mounted a sophisticated defense strategy, adapting well to the terrain and carefully coordinating units of well-trained soldiers. As a result, the Red Army formally defeated Finland, but in reality failed to achieve its ambitious goal, and the two countries signed a peace treaty. During and after that war, Red Army commanders at all levels began to embellish the real situation in their reports to superiors, because of the fear of further repression from Stalin after such a poor performance from what was—despite its tremendous wealth of military equipment—an under-trained army with young and inexperienced commanders.

This embellishment manifested itself especially in the falsification of figures for war casualties. Red Army officers tried to underplay their own losses, and exaggerate those of the enemy, in their reports to Stalin and the General Headquarters of the Red Army. Thus—according to the report received by the Politburo and the Supreme Council of the USSR—48,475 Soviet soldiers were killed and 158,863 were injured during the Finnish campaign, but the Finnish Defense Forces lost more than 70,000 soldiers and 250,000 were injured. Decades later, historians found out that the Red Army had actually lost 95,200 soldiers, and the Finnish Defense Forces had lost 23,500.894 In other words, Red Army officers halved their own losses and exaggerated the losses of the enemy by a factor of three.

After the war, the Finns declared that the main defect of the Red Army was the weakness of its command. At debriefs, this statement was eventually admitted by the Red Army generals. They accepted that the troops did not suffer from a lack of equipment, but from an abundance of equipment and the inability of commanders of the infantry, tank divisions, the air force and the


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