Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Mannerheim Line was a defensive fortification line on the Karelian Isthmus built by Finland against the Soviet Union. It was named after Marshal C.G.E. Mannerheim. Some of the most fierce fighting of the Winter War took place on the line.
The first plans for a defensive line on the Karelian Isthmus were made after the Finnish Civil War by Carl Gustaf Mannerheim, but they were ignored when Mannerheim resigned after the war.
The line was constructed during the 1920s and 1930s. It ran from the coast of the Gulf of Finland through Summa to the Vuoksi river and ended at Taipale. It consisted of about two hundred machine gun positions made from concrete. The area around Summa was the most heavily fortified because it was thought to be the most vulnerable position. The first bunkers were built between 1921 and 1924. A second phase began in 1932, but was interrupted by the Winter War.
Unlike the Maginot Line and other similar forts made with huge bunkers and lines of dragon's teeth, the Mannerheim Line was mostly built by utilizing the natural terrain. Many natural things such as fallen trees and huge bolders were used as defensive positions. The Finns also mastered camouflage techniques, which they put to use when building this defensive line.
The name Mannerheim Line was spread by foreign journalists and it was supposedly coined by Jorma Gallen-Kallela.
In the Winter War the Line halted the Soviet advance for two months.
See also: Salpalinja
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