Heinrichs, Axel Erik.

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Heinrichs, Axel Erik, born 21-07-1890, in Helsinki, Helsinki sub-region, Finland, from a Swedish speaking family. Heinrichs also grew up in Helsinki, where he went to study Swedish. He graduated in 1908 and went to work as a journalist for a newspaper and later for a news agency. However, journalism was not what Heinrichs wanted and he applied for military training and was a member of the Royal Prussian Hunter Battalion No. 27. In 1918 he returned to independent Finland and served in the White Army fighting the socialist Red Army. He fought among others at Tampere and Viipuri. From 1925 to 1928 he studied at a military college in France. During the Winter War (1939-1940), Lieutenant General Erik Heinrichs was commander of the Finnish 3rd Army. The III Corps was responsible for the area stretching from the German XXXVI Corps, under command of General of the Cavalry Hans Feige, in Lapland to the 14th Division under command of Generalmajor Lothar Rendulic near Rugozero. The corps advanced towards Ukhta and Kestenga. After the German advance in the north had stalled the corps was reinforced with SS Mountain Division Nord. under command of Brigadeführer Karl Herrmann. , Hermann died: 08-10-1960, age 68..This attack stalled too and the corps was never able to reach its goal, the Murmansk railroad. General Feige subsequently was placed into the Führerreserve and never took over an active command again. As result of this inactivity he finally retired on 30-06-1942 and died 17-09-1953, aged 72, in Bad Schussenried, Baden.

In the period 1940-1941 Heimrichts visited Germany a few times with the request for German support in a possible new attack by the Soviet Union on Finland. In May 1941 he led an important Finnish military delegation in Salzburg with Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel and Chief Operations Oberst General Alfred Jodl. Heinrichs also tried to find out during the talks whether Germany would attack the USSR, but he was only told that Germany might wage a preventive war with the Soviet Union. No word was said by the Germans about Operation Barbarossa. Operation Barbarossa – the large-scale German attack on the USSR – had already been mapped out. Jodl wanted to know if it was possible to station a German army unit in Finland, but this resolutely rejected Heinrich’s; after all, there was no war between the Soviet Union and Finland at that time. Then Heinrichs and the delegation traveled on to Berlin where the Germans asked if the Finns were willing to fight in the eventual war between Germany and the USSR in an attack on Leningrad. Heinrichs also rejected this. Should there be a war between Germany and the USSR, Finland would remain neutral, only if the Red Army attacked Finland would Finland invade the Soviet Union with German assistance, but only to recover the lost areas from the Winter War recapture.

Some time after Heinrich’s return to Finland, Germany invaded the USSR. Heinrichs was shocked and did not expect this. Almost immediately afterwards a large-scale Soviet air attack (22 June 1941) started on Finland. Finland then declared the war the Soviet Union. The Follow-up War had begun.

During the Second World War (1941-1944) he was initially commander of the Karelian Army, but in January 1942 he again became chief of the general staff. During the war years – also during the Winter War – Heinrichs worked closely with Commander-in-Chief Marshal Carl Gustaf Mannerheim. Mannerheim had complete confidence in his chief of the General Staff.

In 1944 Heinrichs received the Mannerheim Cross as the second person in Finland, on 05-08-1944 he received the German Cross : One day after Mannerheim became president of Finland. Mannerheim appointed a new government consisting of members of the “peace opposition” in Finland. Heinrichs was sent to the Soviet Union as part of a negotiating delegation in September 1944 to close a ceasefire. On 19-09-1944, a ceasefire treaty was concluded in Moscow.

From 1944 to 1945, Heinrich’s supreme commander of the Finnish army (as successor to Mannerheim). Besides commander-in-chief Carl Mannerheim, Heinrichs was the only one to be awarded the Mannerheim Cross 1st Class. This award was presented to him on 12-31-1944. In 1945, Heinrichs was relieved of his duties as Chief of General Staff. In 1948 he played an important role when, as President Paasikivi’s

military expert of the Finnish delegation, he signed his signature under the YYA (Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance) in Moscow. This treaty sealed the friendship between Finland and the Soviet Union.

Death and burial ground of Heinrichs, Axel Erik.

 His wife Johanna Mathilda Heinrichs (Rönnholm) died 23-10–1945, age 79, in Kauniainen, Uusimaa, Finland

Heinrichs died 16-11-1965, aged 75 in Helsinki, Helsinki sub-region, Finland and is buried at Kulosaari Cemetery, Kulosaari, Helsinki Municipality, Uusimaa, Finland.

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