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World War II Sites

Mannerheim Line

Mannerheim Line

Mannerheim Line is a famous line of military defences that stretched across Karelian isthmus on the border between new Finnish Republic and newly established Soviet Union to the South. It was named after Russian- Finnish General Baron Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim of German descent and proved more than formidable during 1939- 1940 Winter War (30 November 1939 – 13 March 1940) when armies of Joseph Stalin almost broke their backs trying to capture this line.




Location: Karelian Isthmus  Map

Constructed: 1918–1924 and 1932–1939




Mannerheim Line

History of Mannerheim Line

Mannerheim Line MapThe active part of the construction of Mannerheim Line can be divided in two periods. The first part began right after Russian Revolution of 1917 and subsequent Russian Civil War. The first fortifications were fairly basic. Several lines of trenches were protected by White Russian and White Finnish troops. Their only protection were scarcely scattered mine fields as well as barb wire. Their effectiveness of Mannerheim Line was fairly high due to landscape of the Karelian region. Many swamps and bogs in the area proved to be a formidable challenge that most people never dared to challenged. This left only few corridors for the attack. This significantly increased effectiveness of the small armies since their attackers were simply stuck in the numerous bottle necks across the whole Mannerheim Line.


The second period of Mannerheim Line construction lasted roughly from 1932 to 1939 when the war broke out. These defenses were significantly better. Several large concrete and steel bunkers were constructed at the areas where the attack was most probable. These small citadels were interconnected by numerous trenches, underground tunnels and roads for supply and communication. During the Winter War significantly better equipped and larger Soviet Red Army suffered huge casualties in their attempt to take Mannerheim Line. Eventually the war was won by Joseph Stalin, but not after he lost 127,000 men who were either killed or missing.




Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim (1867- 1951)


Mannerheim Line  Mannerheim Line

Baron Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim, the mastermind behind the Mannerheim Line, made an important mark in the history of the modern independent Finland. Ironically it was an unwilling contributions due to turmoil of the Russian Revolution in the early 20th century. Mannerheim comes from a German family that moved to Sweden in the 18th century and later emigrated to the Russian Empire. After finishing military academy Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim eventually rose to the rank of the lieutenant general in the Russian Imperial Army. During coronation of the last Russian Emperor Nicholas II in 1895 he was one of the guards during the ceremony. On the right picture above he is standing on the right side of the emperor with a white star on his chest. During the Russian Revolution Gustaf Emil Mannerheim remained loyal to the Russian Romanoff family and offered a stiff resistance against the Red Army. He even suggested that Finish White Guard (anti- Bolsheviks) should help fight the Lenin's government. This is one of the reasons why Vladimir Lenin (new leader of the newly established USSR) moved the capital of the new Soviet republic to Moscow. Unfortunately his eagerness to help the cause of the White Army went largely ignored by other Russian generals. The Russian Civil War was lost by the anti- Bolshevik coalition and Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim continued his service in Finland.










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