Operation Silver Fox
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
ww2dbaseAs early as Jul 1940, Germany had her eyes on the nickel mines of Petsamo, a Finnish port very recently seceded to the Soviet Union as Finland lost the Winter War. During Blue Fox operations, German forces moved into Finland after negotiations that brought the ambitious Germany and the vengeful Finland together. The offensive struck Russia on 22 Jun 1941, the same day that Operation Barbarossa was launched to the south. The people of Finland often referred to this invasion as the beginning of the Continuation War between Finland and the Soviet Union.
ww2dbaseTwo German divisions struck from Norway and penetrated Petsamo which was already surrounded by Finnish troops. The port fell quickly from the shock of the surprise attack. The second phase of the attack was launched on 29 Jun 1941 as German and Finnish troops marched across the barren northern terrain. Exposed German vehicles in this coverless terrain became easy targets for Soviet air and artillery attacks, and logistics became so difficult that the attack virtually halted as they approached the port city of Murmansk. The southern pincer in the attack was fought over entirely different terrain as the one in the north toward Murmansk. The southern offensive was also launched on 29 Jun with German troops marching through thick ancient forests. The advance through the roadless forest halted the southern offensive as the barren terrain had done to the northern pincer. The Soviet troops, enjoying a much shorter supply line, slowly gained dominance as skirmishes took place on the stagnant frontlines. German Lieutenant General Eduard Dietl, commanding officer of the offensive, declared the operation a failure on 22 Sep after seeing all his troops being tied down and his frontlines becoming defensive lines.
ww2dbaseIn hindsight, the failure of Operation Silver Fox, together with the later Luftwaffe failures to destroy the Karelian railroads by aerial bombing had a profound impact on the outcome of the war. Murmansk became more and more important as a major port in which supplies from the United States came in which sustained Soviet Union in her war against Germany.
ww2dbaseMurmansk received the honor of Hero City in 1985 for the city's efforts to stop the Finnish-German invasion of Jun 1941.
Last Major Update: Sep 2005
Operation Silver Fox Interactive Map
Operation Silver Fox Timeline
|17 Jun 1941||Finland began to secretly mobilize its military for Operation Silver Fox, the Finnish invasion of the Soviet Union in concert with the German Operation Barbarossa.|
|25 Jun 1941||In Stockholm, Sweden the Riksdag sanctioned the passage of the German Wehrmacht's Engelbrecht Division from Norway across Swedish soil to the front in Finland.|
|25 Jun 1941||Soviet Air Force attacked several Finnish airfields, hoping to destroy Luftwaffe aircraft believed to be stationed there.|
|26 Jun 1941||Finland issued declaration of war against the Soviet Union.|
|29 Jun 1941||The German Army 20.Gebirgsarmee began advancing on Murmansk in northern Russia.|
|10 Jul 1941||Finnish Army began an attack toward Lake Ladoga north of Leningrad, Russia.|
|29 Aug 1941||Soviet troops evacuated the Karelian Isthmus as Finnish forces retook Viipuri in northern Russia.|
|4 Sep 1941||Finnish troops captured Beloostrov, which was 20 miles from Leningrad, Russia. Germany requested Finland to immediately press on against the city, but Finland rejected, noting that Finland was only attempting to reclaim territory lost to the Soviets.|
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James Forrestal, Secretary of the Navy, 23 Feb 1945