Mannerheim Line

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Mannerheim Line


a system of former Finnish border fortifications on the Karelian Isthmus. It was named after Finnish marshal C. von Mannerheim.

The line was constructed in 1927-39; its construction was completed under the direction of Belgian General Badout, who took part in construction of the Maginot line. The Mannerheim line covered the Keksgol’m and Vyborg axes, touching Lake Ladoga and the Gulf of Finland on the flanks. It was 135 km wide on the front and up to 95 km deep and consisted of the forward defense zone (15-60 km deep); the main zone (7-10 km deep); the second zone, which was 2-15 km from the main zone; and the rear (Vyborg) zone of defense. More than 2,000 permanent pillboxes and earth-and-timber works were built and joined into strongpoints, which had two or three pillboxes and three to five earth-and-timber works apiece; the strongpoints were then joined into centers of resistance, which had three to four strongpoints each. The main zone of defense consisted of 25 centers of resistance, which had 280 pillboxes and 800 earth-and-timber works. The strongpoints were defended by permanent garrisons (from a company to a battalion in each). In the intervals between the strongpoints and centers of resistance there were positions for field troops. The strongpoints and field troop positions were covered by antitank and anti-personnel obstacles. The forward defense zone alone had 220 km of wire entanglements in 15 to 45 rows, 200 km of abatis, 80 km of granite dragon’s teeth in up to 12 rows, antitank ditches and scarps, and many minefields.

During the Soviet-Finnish War of 1939-40, Soviet troops broke through the Mannerheim line. After the war most of the remaining structures were destroyed. During World War II (1939-45), Finnish troops partially restored the structures of the Mannerheim line. In 1944, Soviet troops again broke through the Mannerheim line along the Vyborg axis, and all its fortifications were subsequently completely destroyed.


Karbyshev, D. M. “Liniia Mannergeima.” In Izbr. nauchnye trudy. Moscow, 1962.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
In 1939, the USSR demanded that Finland cede the port city of Hanko along with portions of the Karelian Isthmus and several islands in the Gulf of Finland to Soviet control and demilitarize the fortifications (the Mannerheim Line) that Finland had established near the Russian border.
It is helpful to study the Finnish delaying tactics by analyzing the area of operations as two separate regions: the Mannerheim Line on the Karelian Isthmus and the region north of Lake Ladoga.
The defenses that were built there became known as the Mannerheim Line. (15)
Forward of the Mannerheim Line was the first element of the Finnish delaying strategy--the covering force.
With the field army already in position and the initial contact with Soviet forces resulting in some of the planned delays, the covering forces displaced to the relative safety of the main defensive line (MDL) and by 6 December were essentially integrated with the positions on the Mannerheim Line. (24)
Contemporary comparisons of the Mannerheim Line to France's heavily built and defended Maginot Line were exaggerated by both creative journalists and Soviet propagandists.
The Russians, specifically their tanks, faced layers of defense as they first approached the Mannerheim Line; after negotiating ditches, snow-covered swamps, and mud, they encountered the minefields and tank traps.
The composition of the strongpoints on the Mannerheim Line were varied in their construction.
During the first offensive against the Mannerheim Line, the Russian units were badly decimated, losing three-fifths of their tanks.
Accordingly, he excludes defenses hurriedly thrown up in wartime, or those made unavoidable by the weakness of the building power compared with its adversary (as with the World War II-era German Gustav Line and Finnish Mannerheim Line, respectively).
11The Mannerheim Line was the key feature of a war between which two countries in the winter of 1939-40?
Having observed Finnish successes along the Mannerheim Line against invading Soviet forces, the U.S.