Letter to Germany's Führer and Commander-in-Chief Adolf Hitler

In this hour of hard decisions I am impelled to inform you that I have arrived at the conviction that the salvation of my nation makes it my duty to find a means of ending the war.

The general development of total war greatly restricts Germany's ability to send us sufficient help at the right time and in the difficult situations which can be expected. It is my sincere belief, however, that Germany wishes to offer us this assistance. But the dispatch of a single German division to Finland requires such a long time that our resistance against the overwhelming superiority of the enemy might break down before its arrival. I also fully understand that the situation does not permit a sufficient number of German divisions being kept permanently in readiness in Finland.

The experiences of the past summer confirm this.

The judgment of the war situation which I have just given is shared by a growing majority of the representatives of the Finnish people. Even should my opinion be other than it is, it would not be possible for me, having regard to our constitution, to ignore the plainly shown wishes of the majority of the nation. When Field-Marshal Keitel recently visited me, he insisted that the people of Greater Germany could doubtless continue the war for another ten years if necessary. I replied that even if one might hope that this be true of a nation of ninety millions, it was equally true that we Finns were physically incapable of continuing the war. The Russians' great assaults in June exhausted our reserves. We cannot expose ourselves to another such blood-letting without the whole future of the small Finnish nation being jeopardized.

I wish especially to emphasize that Germany will live on even if fate should not crown your arms with victory. Nobody could give such an assurance regarding Finland. If that nation of barely four millions be militarily defeated, there can be little doubt that it will be driven into exile or exterminated. I cannot expose my people to such a fate.

Even though I can hardly hope that my opinions and reasons will be accepted by you, I wish to send you these lines before the hour of decision.

Our roads will probably soon part, but the memory of our German brothers-in-arms will live on.

In Finland the Germans have certainly not been the representatives of a foreign usurper, but helpers and brothers-inarms, but even though that be the case, the position of foreigners is bound to be a very difficult one. I can assure you that during the past years nothing whatever has happened which could cause us to regard the German troops as oppressors or invaders. The conduct of the German Army in Northern Finland towards the local population and the local authorities will, I think, stand out in our history as an almost unique example of correct and friendly relations in similar conditions.

I regard it as my duty to lead my people out of the war. The arms which you have generously given us I will never of my own accord turn against Germans. I cherish the hope that, even though you may take exception to my letter, you will share my wish and the wish of all Finns, that the change in our relations may not give rise to animosity.

Yours Sincerely and Gratefully baron Mannerheim, Marshal of Finland, President of the Republic of Finland
September 2, 1944