Lapland War

World War II in the Arctic

the Arctic 1944.1004

Lapland War

Arctic disputes, Winter War, Weather War, World War II, Cold War, Climate Change (4 October 1944)

Historical Map of the Arctic & the Far North

Finland, which had entered the War to reclaim land taken by the Soviets, had been trying to negotiate a ceasefire since the German defeat at Stalingrad in 1943. By September 1944, the situation was so dire it agreed to accept all the Soviet demands: the loss of further territory, the payment of a huge indemnity, the demobilization of much of its army, and the expulsion of German troops. Although the Germans had already decided to withdraw to Norway, clashes soon broke out between the two former allies as the Finns attempted to hurry them along.

Main Events

Liberation of Paris

With the approach of the US 3rd Army under General George Patton, the French Forces of the Interior (FFI) - the military component of the French Resistance - staged an uprising against the German garrison in Paris. While the Germans were skirmishing with the FFI, Free French forces entered the city on the night of 24 August, followed by General Philippe Leclerc's 2nd French Armored Division and the US 3rd Army on the morning of the 25th. Despite Hitler's orders to destroy the city, the German garrison surrendered at 3:30 pm that day.

Edelweiss weather stations

On 1 September 1944, United States forces caught Germans attempting to set up weather station Edelweiss off Great Koldewey Island, Greenland. A month later, another German weather station (Edelweiss II) was located nearby on Little Koldewey Island. US Army troops, landing from the icebreaker USCGC Eastwind, destroyed the station and took its crew prisoner on 4 October.

Soviet-Finn Ceasefire

Following the Finnish victory in the battle of Ilomantsi in August 1944, the Soviet Union brought its offensive in Finland to a halt and ended its demand for Finland's unconditional surrender. To allow for a peace treaty, Finnish President Ryti resigned and the new government requested a ceasefire in late August. The ceasefire came into effect on 4 September for the Finns, with the Soviets ending hostilities exactly 24 hours later.

Lapland War

Under its ceasefire and armistice agreements with the Soviet Union, Finland was forced both to demobilize and expel any German forces remaining on its territory. Although the Germans were already evacuating Finland for Norway and the Baltic states, conflict repeatedly broke out as the Finns attempted to hasten their withdrawal. The fighting was most intense in Lapland, where the Germans attempted to establish defensive lines extending to the Norwegian coast, but, although German pockets held out in the north until the end of the war, was largely over by early November 1944.

Moscow Armistice

Finland signed the Moscow Armistice with the Soviet Union and the United Kingdom, bringing an end to the Continuation War. By the terms of the armistice, Finland agreed to the cession of all the territories she lost in the 1940 Moscow Peace Treaty, along with Petsamo, and to lease Porkkala to the Soviets for fifty years. The Finns also agreed to pay $300 million in reparations, to legalize the Communist Party, to ban right-wing parties, and to expel the Germans from its territory.

Capture of the Externsteine

On 14 October 1944, a US search party located the German weather ship and icebreaker Externsteine trapped in ice 10 nautical miles from Cape Borgen, Greenland. The American icebreakers USCGC Eastwind - which had just captured the German weather station Edelweiss II - and USCGC Southwind approached the vessel late on 15 October, formally accepting its surrender early the following morning. The captured vessel was renamed East Breeze, freed from the ice with explosives, and taken to Boston, Massachusetts, bringing an end to the German attempts on Greenland.

About this map