Dubbed by Stalin his “tenth shock”, in September 1944 the Soviets’ Karelian Front, under Colonel-General K.A. Meretskov, combined with the Northern Fleet under Admiral Arseniy Golovko and conducted a major offensive to drive the German Wehrmacht out of northern Finland. After taking Kirkenes on the Arctic coast, the Russians drove inland, capturing large areas of territory including the valuable Petsamo and Pechenga nickel mines, and successfully liberating the eastern parts of Norway from German occupation. The operation was heralded as a revolutionary new development in Arctic warfare, with the Soviets learning many lessons that they later applied in their Manchurian campaign. On 25 October, the Germans abandoned Kirkenes and withdrew from the region, but by demolishing bridges as they went, were able to keep most of their forces and equipment intact.
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