Mannerheim, Carl Gustav Emil, born 04-06-1867, of a wealthy and distinguished Finland-Swedish family at Louhisaari Manor in Askainen, north of Turku. His father was Count Carl Robert Mannerheim and mother Hedvig Charlotta Helena (Hélène) von Julin . As a younger son of a count he inherited the title of baron. Mannerheim attended the Nikolayev Cavalry School in St. Petersburg. He was appointed to H.M. the Empress’s Chevalier Guard , and in 1902 he became a captain in the Imperial Russian Army. In 1904-1905 Mannerheim served in the Russo-Japanese war on the Manchurian front, where he won the respect of his superiors. Mannerheim was promoted to colonel and he received three decorations for his strategy in organizing the retreat from Manchuria. Mannerheim continued his military career in Poland and by 1912 he had attained the rank of Lieutenant-General. After the outbreak of World War I, he served on the front and received the valued St George Cross . When Finland declared her independence after the Bolshevik Revolution in October 1917, Mannerheim resigned from the Russian Army, and returned to Finland. During World War II Mannerheim commanded the Finnish forces in two wars against Soviet aggression: first in the Winter War in 1939-1940, and again in 1941-1944, when Finland joined the Germans. Before the war broke out in 1941, England’s Prime Minister Winston Churchill sent a letter to Mannerheim, saying: “I wish I could convince Your Excellency that we are going to beat the Nazis. I feel far more confident than in 1917 or 1918. It would be most painful to the many friends of your country in England if Finland found herself in the dock with the guilty and defeated Nazis.” Mannerheim answered on 02-12-1941: “I would regret if these operations, carried out in order to safeguard Finland, would bring my country into a conflict with England, and I will be deeply grieved if you will consider yourself forced to declare war upon Finland
. It was kind of you to send me a personal message in these trying days, and I have fully appreciated it.” Mannerheim was made Marshal of Finland in 1942. On his 75th birthday in the same year Germany’s leader Adolf Hitler (see Hitler parents)
visited Finland and brought his personal congratulations – however, Mannerheim did not cherish the memory of the visit. He was astonished – not only by the visit – at Hitler’s diet: “While the rest of us enjoyed the good but simple dishes, Hitler ate his vegetarian meal washed down with tea and water.” On his own visit to Germany Mannerheim again met Hitler and was entertained by Reichsmarschall Hermann Goering(see Goering Peter)
at his shooting box. When the Germans were defeated on the eastern front, Mannerheim was in August 1944 appointed the President of Finland to negotiate a separate peace with the Soviet Union. The Soviet offensive of June-July 1944 had forced the Finnish army to retreat, and Eastern Karelia and Viipuri were taken by the Red Army. Finland withdrew from the war on 04-09-1944. However, the Germans were still in force in the north. During the fighting between former allies, much of Lapland was laid waste by the German troops. In the autumn of 1945, Mannerheim traveled to Portugal, where he met Dr. António de Oliveira Salazar, the Portuguese, dictator. Salazar died age 81, on 27-07-1970.
Death and burial ground of Mannerheim, Carl Gustav Emil.
Mannerheim died in Lausanne on 27-01-1951, age 73. His body was brought to Finland, and he is buried at the Hietaniemi Heroes’ Cemetery, Helsinki with full military honours.