Hm, maybe I should try to follow this one, and support the "Nordic" peoples against the Communist danger... Good luck Finland!
Hm, maybe I should try to follow this one, and support the "Nordic" peoples against the Communist danger... Good luck Finland!
Good set-up and background. I am looking forward to this. I wonder how HoI3 models sisu ?
Is your title image from Talvisota?
Yea, it's from Talvisota.
The Day It All Came Down - Finnish Civil War
Child soldiers were frequently used by both sides of the Civil War.
Oppressors slash their whips to our shoulders,
opposed by their White Army we are;
forced to fight, to die or to triumph
no one yet knows the outcome of war
Still we rise high our scarlet standard,
to rally the workers for our noble cause,
Inspired by our brotherly ideals we march
to the battle and sing for you all:
:,:For our cause that is just, dear and righteous
onwards ye oppressed, onwards march!:,:
Translation of the 1st verse of the Finnish version of an old Polish revolutionary song, Warszawianka
Reluctant revolutionaries - SDP on 1917
When Bolshevik Revolution finally managed to topple the struggling Provisional Government in Petrograd by a new uprising on October 1917, Russian Empire begun to disintegrate. On 23rd of October local leftist revolutionaries seized the streets in Tallinn, the capitol of recently established Autonomous Governorate of Estonia. Revolution was now virtually within sight from Helsinki, the capitol of the Grand Duchy. This period of uncertain future after the downfall of Kerensky Government gave new breathing space for Senate and Eduskunta - but when they finally regained political freedom to operate, the society of Grand Duchy was already polarized into two camps that were increasingly hostile and weary of their opposing political aims. SDP was determined to regain their former leading position in local politics to secure the rights of the working class, while Conservatives were terrified of the events in Russia and became increasingly determined to defend their leading position by any means necessary. When parliamentary work finally continued on 1st of November 1917, it was marked with hectic attempts to find some kind of a way out from the current political stalemate. On 9th of October Conservative-dominated Eduskunta agreed that the powers of Governor-General should be transferred to a new representative regent(s) chosen by parliamentary process. Initially the plan was to give this position a triumvirate: Svinhufvud, the leader of Conservatives, Tokoi from SDP and Alkio from the moderate Agrarian Party. It soon became clear that disputes of the actual division of power and future course of action between the Conservatives and Socialists were too great, and the plan was abandoned.
By now the leaders of SDP were increasingly certain that they had to make a fundamental choice about their political future: either to continue to cooperate and compromise with Conservatives or seize the political power by revolution. While in opposition, SDP had published their famous "We Demand"-program that was a direct ultimatum to Conservative-led Senate:
- New Parliamentary elections should be organized ASAP
- The current legislation should be replaced with the earlier SDP draft for legislature concerning the sovereignty in Grand Duchy
- Paramilitary Civil Guards should be dismantled and disarmed
- After the elections Eduskunta should quickly implement a number of new social reforms to stabilize the internal dissent within the society
Conservatives considered the "We Demand"-proclamation as a direct threat and challenge to their authority, and as a result the demands were never brought to vote in Eduskunta. Since they had begun their activity in Estonia and had supported the SDP before, Lenin and other Bolshevik leaders now begun to put pressure on leading Finnish Social Democrats, threatening that they would sent in loyal forces from Tallinn and Petrograd to spread the revolution to Grand Duchy by themselves unless the SDP would act independently - and soon. Bolsheviks increased their agitation among the Finnish Red Guards. This infiltration was relatively easy due the fact that in addition of being surrounded by the countryside inhabited predominantly by Finnish-speaking, Lutherian Ingrian villages the city Petrograd also had a huge community of immigrant Finns, who had been active in labor organizing and political turmoil in Russia well before the current revolution.
During autumn 1917 Lenin had personally spent some time in Helsinki to negotiate about his intentions with SDP leaders, but actual plans of cooperation were never made since local Socialists doubted the chances Lenin would have - he had already once failed to seize power in Russia after all. Now Petrograd had once again hoisted the red flag, but situation elsewhere in Russia was so uncertain that SDP leaders had to postpone their original attempt - on 10th of October they were planning a manifesto that would demand that Grand Duchy would gain "independent statehood." Yet matters were quickly moving forward. On 9th of October labor organizations in Finland (SDP, SAJ, Red Guards) joined forces and established Central Revolutionary Labor Committee as their new joint leading organization. On 12th of October, after the Senate had refused to bring the points of We Demand-program to discussion on Eduskunta the organization gathered to discuss the possible options, ultimately deciding not to attempt armed uprising by votes 18 against, 8 in favor. Instead the Central Committee and SAJ organized a general strike that paralyzed the whole Grand Duchy on 14th of October. Local strike committees and Red Guards virtually seized control of several municipalities in southern parts of the Grand Duchy, and over 85 000 workers joined to this mass movement that officially aimed to pressure the Senate to accept the points of "We Demand"-program.
This was the point where SDP leaders where no longer able to fully control the course of events in the streets. While the prominent SDP leaders like Kuusinen, Tokoi and Manner were all still cautious and democratic Kautskyan Social Democrats, the local level organizers and leaders of various labor committees and local Red Guards were much more varied in their political inclinations. Anarchist ideals of writers like Kropotkin were mixed with the political vision of agrarian socialism promoted by the Russian Social Revolutionary Party, while influence was also taken from American-styled Syndicalism. (brought to Grand Duchy by immigrants returning from the US)
Finally the methods and ideals of Bolsheviks were also becoming more known in Grand Duchy. The mixture was fatal. For unemployed and landless supporters of SDP the news from Tallinn and Petrograd (brought to them by local political speakers who where often supporting their own personal political agendas instead of official SDP policy) seemed to indicate that bourgeois capitalistic system was collapsing in Russia and that the time to act was now upon them.
The wide support of the General Strike increased the confidence of Socialist forces, and new incidents that had occurred during had further antagonized the relations between Socialist and Conservatives. On 16th of November 1917 on 5 AM in the morning the Central Committee had a new secret vote that narrowly approved the initiation of an armed revolt with votes 14 in favor, 11 against. By now, even though they did not fully realize how dire the situation indeed was, the Conservatives were becoming increasingly alarmed by the events within the Grand Duchy, and sought to support the moderate majority of SDP against the radicals of Red Guards and SAJ. Parts of the "We Demand"-program were implemented as wew laws on 8-hour work day and municipal-level elections and democracy were implemented on 16th of November 1917. Meanwhile the turmoil within Finnish labor movement continued. The yes-votes for the revolution came from the leaders of Red Guards and SAJ, while the SDP actives remained still sceptical. Upon receiving the news from the acceptance of parts of "We Demand"-program, the current leaders of Central Committee refused to implement the earlier resolution, demanding a new vote that ultimately decided not to start the revolt by votes 13-12. A week later the General Strike was called off. 34 people had died during the clashes and violence that had occurred during it. The Strike had shown the power of Finnish labor movement - and the fact that SDP leadership was no longer able to control the movement they had originally founded. The most likely reason for the one-vote victory of moderates was the fact that even the most radical revolutionaries accepted that the Red Guards were still too disorganized and lacked weapons and training to stage a successful uprising.
Left-wing radicals within the SDP and SAJ formed the core of Finnish Red Guards, with additional support coming from landless agricultural workers in southern Finland. The failure of SDP leadership to control their rank-and-file supporters more or less doomed the Finnish independence to have a violent beginning.
Lenin and other Bolshevik leaders were furious upon receiving the news of this incident, and lost all faith on the willingness and capabilities of SDP to act as a revolutionary force in Finland. In the end the difference of methods between Kautskyan Finnish Social Democrats and Russian Bolsheviks was simply too great, and from now Lenin chose to ignore the current SDP leadership. Instead of negotiating with the moderate SDP, Bolsheviks now focused their efforts on the radical minority of Finnish labor movement, supported by Finnish Bolsheviks in Petrograd.
Estonia leads the way
Meanwhile the southern neighbour of Grand Duchy was also living historic times. As the German troops approached Tallinn, the Estonian National Council (Maapäev) decided to act and proclaimed itself the new highest authority in whole Autonomous Governorate on 28th of October. Finnish Conservatives followed closely how the Bolsheviks would react to this move. Once they reacted by repressing Estonian nationalist movement by dissolution of Maapäev, Finnish nationalists became confident that they should be extremely cautious in their own similar attempts and dealings with the Bolsheviks in general, especially since the Russians still had a strong military presence in the country in the form of their 60.000-men strong garrison force. Yet Conservatives were now increasingly confident of the fact that sovereignty in Grand Duchy would enable them to control the left-wing political activity by reducing the influence Bolsheviks wielded in Finland. On 15th of December 1917 Eduskunta followed the example of Estonian Maapäev and declared themselves the new highest authority in Grand Duchy. A new Senate led by Svinhufvud was formed on 27th of December, and after a week of preparations the Senate published a draft of a new document - proclamation of independence of the Grand Duchy of Finland. Eduskunta voted about this initiative - with Socialists voting against it and demanding that their own similar draft should be accepted instead - and approved it on 6th of December 1917.
And the life in the Grand Duchy went on as normal. Russian troops remained in their garrisons, mutual hostility between the Civil Guards and Red Guards kept growing, black market trade of consumer goods continued and prizes and unemployment kept rising. Politically the declaration made on 6th of December was only a symbolical gesture as long as foreign powers would not recognize it. And as the situation in Russia remained uncertain, there would be no diplomatic initiatives from other powers unless Petrograd would approve.
Now the Social Democrats, being ultimately Fennoman nationalists themselves, activated their old contacts to Petrograd and Bolsheviks. Between 9th and 27th of December they took contacts to Lenin, asking him to acknowledge the new sovereignty of Finland. This was also a matter of domestic political importance - SDP leaders were eager to regain their old influence among their common supporters and thought that being active on the matter of gaining independence in any form would be most beneficial for their long-term interests and support. Meanwhile Lenin was busily trying to secure the still uncertain outcome of revolution in Russia - a truce had been declared on Eastern Front on 6th of December and negotiations between German and Bolshevik officials were ongoing in Brest-Litovsk - and most likely calculated that a gesture of goodwill would gain more support for radical left in Finnish labor movement. But whatever the motives might have been, the result was nevertheless Bolshevik acknowledgment to the independence of Finland on 31st of 1917 signed by Lenin, Trotsky, Petrovsky, Steinberg, Karelin, Schlichter - and Stalin.
Radicals take over
During December the radicalized Red Guards in major cities declared that they would no longer take orders from SDP leadership. By December 1917 the country had roughly 350 different local Red Guard detachments with a total strength of 31 000 active members. Simultaneously the Civil Guards had been reinforced due the restless period during the General Strike. With 400 more or less independent local organizations operating through the country, this organization also had total strength of roughly 30 000 by the end of 1917. These disorganized forces were also arming themselves. Both sides bought and acquired weapons from Russian Army and weapon smugglers operating from Germany and Russia.
Civil Guards were originally formed for various reasons - to maintain public order, to support hardliner Activist goals of separating Finland from Russia and later on increasingly to oppose the political goals of Red Guards - that in turn expanded their ranks because of the suspicion and mistrust caused by the expansion of Civil Guards.
Moderate opponents of revolution were still in the majority in SDP, especially in the countryside. There where members of party leadership who wanted to kick out the radicals, but by now the fact that Conservative militias were arming themselves made many argue that labor movement should not disperse its ranks in such a time but instead stand firm and united. Meanwhile the events in Estonia and Russia created fear and mistrust among Finnish conservatives against the growing power of Red Guards and their increasingly violent methods. Radicals in both sides gained more influence, and the situation begun to escalate. On 25th of January 1918 Conservative Senate ordered the Civil Guards to form a new army for the country - a move the radical Red Guard leadership was not going to accept. During January 1918 both sides begun active military operations, with Civil Guards starting to disarm Russian garrison troops in Ostrobothnia and Red Guards taking control of cities and major industrial areas in southern Finland. Roughly a month after Finland had declared independence and gained recognition for it from Bolshevik regime, Germany, France, Austria-Hungary, Sweden, Denmark, Norway Switzerland and Greece, the Finnish Civil War had begun.
Last edited by Karelian; 07-09-2009 at 15:18.
Funny that both the Central Powers and Entente were quite fast in recognizing our independence.
Where is von der Goltz?
Ahh, politics can be an absolute minefield at times...
Nice and informative, I admit my knowledge of pre-WW2 Finland is rather (very) limited
BTW, will you still update the Prisoner of Silence AAR?
HoI2, mod 1914 -- Could Schlieffen Plan have led to a German victory in the Great War? Find out in this AAR! -- Completed
"Superior training and superior weaponry have, when taken together, a geometric effect on overall military strength. Well-trained, well-equipped troops can stand up to many more times their lesser brethren than linear arithmetic would seem to indicate." - Spartan Battle Manual
Time for some feedback while I finish the update about the Civil War.
Myth: Finland is indeed interesting, especially since the new scale of HoI3 finally makes the warfare part more interesting than the endless battles of single-province Kajaani in HoI2...And as for the Jägers and politics, you ain't seen nothing yet
felix steiner: I was surprised myself to see that there weren´t any Finnish AARs here when I started this one. And as for joining the Entente - why would a neutral, nonaligned country ever want to do that?
Lordban: Thanks for the feedback, good to see that someone reads my other AARs as well
Enewald: Terrorists or freedom fighters...the definition for Jägers dependend on who would win the postwar power struggle. And as for the SDP, you will hear more about them in next updates as well. Just wait until I get to update conserning the 1920s...You might be surprised by some facts. And you are right about my gameplay style, I won't be going to conquest rampage towards Sweden to gain more IC - And as for your ancestors: many Finns simply don't speak about their family history during that period even today, quite amazing when you think about the fact that the descendants of people who fought on opposing sides often still live in the same municipalities.
Laurwin: Since this AAR intents to follow the historical decisions and situation, you might enjoy your time more with this one - at least the title seems more fitting to your taste
stnylan: Finland was quite unique sideshow of WWII, it didin't really fit well to the "main story" of that conflict.
Sedated: Wellcome aboard then.
Hellvink: The next update shall be for your taste then.
Winner: Yep, especially now when it's used as mod background material (check my signature for more info)
Nice updates. I'm really eager to see your first playing results. This AAR is already something special for me because I bought HoI3 and wanted to play Finnland to withstand the red tie but the game crashes seconds after the scenario loads. So now I look over your shoulder hoping to derive comfort in this.
The Vengeance of Kullervo - End of the Civil War
Red POWs gathered to the same square that had been filled with demonstrators 12 years ago.
1. Fierce are our blows, unyielding our wrath
we have neither mercy nor homeland.
At swords' points we hold our grim destiny
as we follow the calling of our hearts.
Our bloodstained war cry calls out for the land
that's finally braking its old chains.
We wont rest until we see the day when
the the nation of Finland shall be free.
We wont rest until we see the day when
the the nation of Finland shall be free.
2. When the nation and land had
abandoned all hope, we Jäegers
still held true to our fate. There was
night in our hearts, despair and pain
- and an idea so pure and so noble.
We arise as vengeance of Kullervo,
so sweet are the fates of war to undergo
A new legend in Finland will soon be born
- it will grow, storm forwards and triumph.
A new legend in Finland will soon be born
- it will grow, storm forwards and triumph.
Securing the bases of support
As the members of the last pre-war Senate fled to northern Finland or went underground in Helsinki, the opposing sides of the Civil War sought to organize their ranks, mobilize their supporters and most importantly started their military campaigns by securing their strongest support areas. For the White side the first action was the encirclement and disarmament of Russian garrison forces in Ostrobothnia, followed by siege and destruction of isolated local Red Guard strongholds in the industrial regions of northern Finland. At the same time the new leaders of soldier Soviets of Russian garrison troops declared that they considered themselves to be at war against the Civil Guards due their aggressive actions. The Soviet government in Petrograd approved this viewpoint, wiring in orders that demanded that the garrison troops "should actively participate to the conflict in Finland by destroying the White forces." While it thus initially seemed that the situation of Senate was hopeless, at the same time the international position of Bolshevik government was extremely precarious, forcing them to act carefully in the matters of Finland due the growing political pressure from Germany. Ultimately this led to the evacuation of remaining Russian troops, but before that Lenin had managed to secure a Treaty of Friendship with the SDP leadership in Helsinki in exchange of promises of material support.
While the White side consolidated its positions in northern parts of the country, the majority of the population and largest cities were firmly under the control of Reds who were busily turning their plans for the future of Finland into reality. The new People's Council assembled in Helsinki and created a new constitution that was heavily influenced by the Constitutions of Switzerland and the United States of America. People's Council also declared that they aimed to held general elections about the future status of the country and constitution "as soon as the current state of emergency is over and order is once again established throughout the country." In exchange of his promises of support, Lenin was able to persuade the leaders of People's Council to name their new state Finnish Socialist Workers' Republic . This made it politically easier for Lenin to justify the development in Finland since he could now directly compare the new state to the Socialist Workers' Republic of Ukraine. It is also noteworthy that new Treaty of Friendship spoke nothing about re-establishing the state union between Finland and Russia, and privately Lenin was frustrated by the fact that even when they were finally rebelling as he had long pleaded them to do, the SDP leaders still defied the Bolshevik ideology of proletarian dictatorship by instead drafting their new constitution upon the principle of direct, popular democracy.
Ali Baba and the White General
While the Red Guards were statistically impressive-sized militia, their fragmented organization and lack of training and military cohesion gave the more organized Civil Guards a fighting chance during the initial fighting in winter 1918. Led by former Russian Army Lieutenant Ali "Ali Baba" Aaltonen, the first proper campaign action of the Red side was offensive attempt towards north, to the railway lines that formed the backbone of the supply system of the White side. Even though they were able to create numerical superiority to the planned offensive area, the Red side suffered from the lack of competent commanders and their overly idealistic approach to this conflict in a similar way Anarchist militias operated during Spanish Civil War - votes on whether to attack or not, whom should be the leader for this week ech. This same lack of cohesion damaged the public image of the new Red administration, since the same active Red Guard leaders who had originally drawn the moderate Social Democrats to revolt along with them were now free to act and "continue the revolutionary process" as they themselves saw fit. Old grievances and the divide between the predominantly Swedish-speaking upper classes and Finnish working class caused an atmosphere where the former tenant farmers and other persons who felt that they had been unjustly oppressed had little restraint on terrorizing their former masters. These political murders, known as the "Red Terror" were relatively small in scale, but their political backslash was far-reaching.
As the White side repulsed these early attacks, they soon went over to offensive themselves. The fighting was geographically dispersed to various parts of the country, with different opposing forces facing one another in the battle fields of Satakunta, Tavastia, Savolax and Karelia. But while the Finns were focused on their Civil War, other powers in the region sought to take advantage of this new situation. While battalion's worth of Swedish volunteers had eagerly moved to assist the White side earlier on and 84 high-ranking Swedish officers had also volunteered to organize and lead the White forces, the decline of Russian power in Baltic made the official government of Sweden to take renewed interest to strategically important and ethnically Swedish Åland Archipelago.
The situation in Åland developed rapidly. Initially the islands had both Red, White and Russian troops, but acting officially out of humanitarian concerns Swedish soldiers arrived to the islands on 13th of February 1918. Bolsheviks were originally planning to send the Russian Baltic Fleet to repel this invasion, but since the sailors stationed in Finland and other naval bases had killed most of their officers, the fleet was not in operational condition and the plan had to be postponed. In addition the rulers of Petrograd had more things to worry about. After the negotiations had been going on inconclusively for moths, Germany had restarted hostilities in the East and her armies were now marching through Baltic region towards Petrograd itself. As a part of this activity German troops secured their flank by invading Åland on 4th of March - upon their arrival Sweden evacuated her own troops without a fight and this setback caused much political turmoil back in Stockholm.
At the same time Germans were increasing their influence in Finland on other fronts as well. On 25th of February, roughly a month after the Red side had proclaimed the Finnish Socialist Workers' Republic on 28th of January, the German-trained 700 Finnish volunteers of the Königlich Preussisches Jägerbataillon Nr. 27 arrived to Vaasa, the temporary capitol of Senate forces. On a following day this unit was greeted on a parade by "that Russki general", as the Jäeger officers privately mocked the new commander of Senate forces. Their new leader, a son of of an old Swedish noble family, was indeed a former career officer of Russian Army and had been rewarded with St. Georges Cross for his successful command of Corps-sized cavalry formations in the Eastern Front a few years earlier. Now, after having fallen out of favor of the new regime in Russia he had returned to his former homeland and soon found himself in command of Senate's ragtag militia force that he was tasked to transform into fighting army of independent Finland. His name was Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim, and from the beginning the relations between him and the Jäegers were troubled.
Mannerheim disbanded the Jäeger battalion, dispersing the trained units throughout the ranks of the White forces to gain new officers and leaders for future NCO courses. Mannerheim did this also to increase his own control of the military situation - he was bitterly opposed to the pro-German faction of Senate forces, led by Svinhufvud who had earlier stated that he was going to return to power in the country "with the help of God and Hindenburg." Mannerheim believed that the Reds could be beaten without outside interference, and to prove this and to bolster his own status he needed a decisive military victory and fast. As the White forces pushed the crumbling Red front southwards in Tavastia, the battles soon begun to approach the city of Tampere. Tampere had been an important industrial center during the times of the Grand Duchy, and thus it was one of the solid strongholds of Red forces. Both sides knew that they would have to control the city to secure the vitally important railway connections located there.
From Tampere to the bitter end
By 24th of March the city was besieged by White forces, with over 12 000 strong Red garrison and most of the civilian population trapped inside the pocket. Since Tampere was (and still is) the largest inland city of Fennoscandia, the ensuing battle soon turned into bitter urban warfare. The eastern parts of the city were ravaged by artillery fire as the White forces gradually pushed the determined Red defenders to the inner parts of the city. Despite local counterattacks and fanatical resistance in some blocks of the city, by 6th of April it was all over, and the remaining defenders surrendered. While Mannerheim had now proved that White forces were more than capable of gaining decisive victories in the Civil War, the Senate had nevertheless made an official request of help to German government that was once again fighting against the Bolshevik regime in Russia after truce negotiations had broken down.
The famous Ostsee-Division, having specifically trained for amphibious warfare and led by Graf Rüdiger von der Goltz hit the beaches in southern Finland on April 3rd 1918. The Germans advanced quickly, meeting only sporadic resistance from Red forces as the majority of reserves had been transferred to delay the advancing White forces up north. Helsinki was captured ten days later, and a smaller detachment of German forces cut the escape route of retreating Red forces at Lahti a day later on April 19th. With the last West-to-East railroad line cut, the Red forces were effectively split in two and soon forced to lay down their arms. While it was clear that the battle of Tampere had broken the back of the Red war effort, the swift German intervention had clearly hastened the defeat of the Red forces and tied Finland firmly into German political orbit. On 18th of May the last Russian garrison forces and remaining Red militias had moved across the border to Russia, and White army marched triumphantly through the streets of Helsinki. Mannerheim resigned soon afterwards, and the winners of the bloody Civil War begun to argue about the future course their country should take. And while war in Finnish soil was finally over, new challenges awaited in Estonia, Eastern Karelia - and Ingria.
And Finland finds that despite its internal troubles it, like all the other nascent states and ideological movements of Eastern/Northeastern Europe, there is still literally a whole world out there, some of which is greatly interested in what's going on...It'll be interesting to see where Finland goes from here.
I so wish now that Germany had not surrendered in 1918.
We need Kaiserreich for HoI3.
Ah, sending the guerillas to Petsamo, Estonia and Aunuksen Karjala?
If only Mannerheim had joined the British push against the Reds, or even attacked Petrograd in 1918...
Russian civil war could have been won by the whites if Finland had intervened on the side of the whites...
-to get Karelia and Ingria back
-to straighten their position once the civil war possibly has ended
-to stop communism
-in case we would have conquered Petrograd, the Russians should pay dearly to get it back
-and many more possible options
Ah. A Finland AAR.
Nice posts about our history altough i would like to see an gameplay update.
This mark entitles the bearer to have beer bought by Lurken ●The Radiant Light of The Rising Sun, Bringer of Clarity, Herald of DawnLurken says:
and she texts "It is difficult when you are so kind - it gets hard to avoid..." am I the only one reading it as she texts that it is hard to avoid dumping him and make a new move on me?
I read it as her trying to say "Oh, take me and ravage me as if I were the Russian hordes trying to reclaim the Baltic States, you charismatic Swede, you"
Time for some feedback, a new update is on the works as well.
Kingdom of Finland and Kinship Wars
Volunteer force of the Vienna Expedition crossing the border to Eastern Karelia on summer 1919.
Monarchists make their move
When Finland has first declared her independence on December 1917, the new country had declared itself as a republic without any serious debate or alternative proposals. When the Eduskunta officially assembled on May 1918 for the first time after the Civil War less than a year later, the situation was however drastically different. During the declaration of independence the SDP had had 92 representatives in the parliament, but after the Civil War 40 of them had fled to Russia and 50 of them had been imprisoned. As a result the post-Civil War Eduskunta had only one Social Democratic representative and was thus dominated by Conservatives, who now sought to secure their victory and consolidate their power within the country. While all Conservative parties agreed on this goal, they were divided on monarchists and republicans.
Monarchists, who joined forces by creating Committee of Security of New Finland as their coalition organization, sought to turn the country into monarchy primary for reasons of Realpolitik. By creating strong monarchist ties to Germany they sought to counterbalance the position of Finland against foreign threats - during this time the White forces of Russia refused to acknowledge the independence of Finland and the Bolsheviks had just recently supported the revolution against the current Finnish government. As the Finnish economy was also firmly tied to Germany by a new trade agreement signed right after the Civil War, many former republicans and influential Finnish politicians had quickly turned their coats to support the idea of a German king - future presidents Svinhufvud and Paasikivi among them. During the summer 1918 the issue had become the key political question in the country and the supporters of republic had also united their ranks by creating the Central Organization of Republicans. Since Monarchists had parliamentary majority, they were initially able to dictate the course of events.
The Crown of King of Finland and Karelia, Duke of Åland, Grand Prince of Lapland, Lord of Kaleva and the North
On June 1918 the Senate represented a draft of a monarchist new constitution to Eduskunta. It was otherwise virtually similar to the old republican constitution draft represented on December 1917, the sole difference being that the position and powers of President would be replaced by King. Even though this draft gained majority support, it didn't receive enough votes to be implemented immediately but was instead shelved until new parliamentary elections could be arranged. Since the monarchists knew that they now fielded much more power than their true democratic support would ever give them in a fair elections, their leaders decided to act before it would be too late. Soon they demanded that the country should quickly elect a new monarch, based on the still formally official 38rd Paragraph of the (old Swedish) Constitution of 1772. stating that if the ruling dynasty should die out the Diet should assemble to elect a new one. Since Nicholas II had abdicated and none of his relatives had not risen to the throne either, the monarchists argued that this was just the kind of the situation the constitution was referring to - after all, the powers and missions of old Diet had been transferred to Eduskunta on 1907. This polical gamble seemed to work, since Eduskunta approved the actions of Senate on 9th of August.
Friedrich Karl of Hesse, the would-be King Freedrik Kaarle I.
By now the republican opponents were increasingly determined to stop the monarchists at any costs. Many imprisoned SDP MPs suddenly found out that their charges of treason had been canceled and they were rushed back to resume their work in Eduskunta - just in time to vote against the new constitution draft. As the legal process of creating the new kingdom was thus temporarily blocked, the monarchists opted for pressuring some uncertain Conservative politicians to support their proposal. By October 1918 their gamble paid off - after a whole summer of inconclusive elections, 64 votes (fully manned Eduskunta had 200 seats) against 61 managed to elect Friedrich Karl Ludwig Konstantin Prinz und Landgraf von Hessen-Kassel, the brother-in-law of Wilhelm II as the King of Finland. Republicans boycotted the elections. Now the country had a Finnish regent, a German King and a dubious legal situation with an old Swedish-era constitution dating back to 1772 being still officially in force. But as the monarchists were busily planning the crowning ceremony, the geopolitical changes elsewhere in the world finally affected to the situation of Finland. When the Finns were electing their king, German war effort was already crumbling on the Western Front and on 11th of November 1918 the guns of Great War fell silent in trenches of Belgium and France. A month later Friedrich Karl wrote a formal letter of resignation to Finnish Senate. As a backslash of their political defeat the Monarchist Senate left office, and a new State Council was assembled to lead the country from republican politicians. They summoned Mannerheim to temporarily lead the country as a Regent until the first Presidential elections could be organized on the following summer.
When Finland declared independence, a century of nationalist agitation had created a mood where Finnish politicians viewed Eastern Karelia as nationally Finnish territory that should be included to any future administrative reorganization of the Grand Duchy. Already during the Civil War the White forces begun to prepare for hasty intervention to the region, acknowledging that they would have to utilize the collapse of Russian state to fulfill the nationalist goal of unifying the "kindred nation" of Karelians with Finland. At the same time the Senate wanted to avoid direct confrontation with the factions of the Russian Civil War, thus refusing to send official military across the border. Yet the recruitment of volunteers was never abolished, and soon various volunteer units composed of Civil War veterans marched eastwards filled with nationalist zeal. Entente Powers were not amused. Where the Finnish nationalists saw a long-waited fulfillment of their nationalist agenda, they saw aggressive expansionism of German puppet state to the strategically important territory of their former key ally. On 6th March Royal Navy landed 130 Royal Marines to Murmansk with the tasks of guarding the local supply storages and preventing the Finnish forces from reaching the Murmansk Railway. The Entente Campaign in North Russia had begun. The original goals of this operation were ambitious, hoping to create a new anti-German resistance center to the former Eastern Front in the north by providing support to local anti-Bolshevik forces. As a result of these conflicting goals, Eastern Karelia was about soon experience the chaotic summer of 1918.
The complexities of the local political situation are best explained by viewing the motives of various local factions and forces. The locals themselves were Karelians, a Finnic Orthodox ethnic group that had gradually developed their own separate distinct culture with Russian influences and key differences to Finns in a similar way the South Slavic population of Balkans gradually separated from common origins to Serbs, Croats and Bosniaks. In 1918 Karelians were hungry and uncertain of their political future. During the last century they had seen wide Russian settlement to their formerly remote home territory due the growing importance of Murmansk, and now their local economy that had been linked to city of St. Petersburg and internal Russian grain trade had collapsed. When the opposing armies of foreigners entered to Karelia, they met a population that was threatened with starvation. Politically the Karelian local leaders would have preferred independence, or at least autonomy from whomever would rule Russia after the Civil War. Only some of them initially supported the idea of state union with "the Swedes", as the locals referred their Lutherian western neighbors.
Finnish volunteer in Estonia, 1919. The fighting in Eastern Karelia, Estonia and Ingria provided much experience to the forming Finnish officer corps, but also created deep mutual enmity between Finns and senior Red Army commanders.
Meanwhile the war in Eastern Karelia continued. By June 1918 the Entente expeditionary Murmansk Force in Eastern Karelia was steadily growing in size due the active work of Colonel P.J. Woods. Woods was acting more or less independently when he decided to bolster the ranks of his hodgepodge force of British-French-Polish-Serbian Entente units by starting recruitment campaigns among the Finnish Red Guards that had withdrawn to Eastern Karelia and were now continuing their civil war against the Finnish volunteer military expeditions there. Woods allowed these men to enlist to his service, and by June 1918 he had over 1 500 volunteers, of whom he chose one-third to receive British military training and weapons. Even though this unit was mocked as "His Majestys Royal Bolsheviks" by many other officers of the expedition, Woods continued his recruitment efforts, this time targeting the local Karelian population, resulting to the creation of another volunteer force, the Karelian Regiment. Soon Woods and his 4000-men strong "Irish Karelians" were without question the strongest military force in the region, and the early hopes of Finnish nationalists were quickly fading away. Karelians were increasingly looking towards Entente powers, especially Britain as the protector of their interests and the Finnish volunteer forces were unable to "rise the locals to revolt against their old Russian oppressors" as they had perhaps naively originally hoped. Finns had to offer little expect nationalist propaganda, while Entente provided bread and rifles to anyone willing to enlist to their service.
Up in the Viena region the British forces kept the Finns at bay, while in Aunus area between the lakes of Laatokka and Ääninen the fresh Bolshevik reinforcements send in by Trosky defeated the small volunteer detachments from capturing Petroskoi (Pedrozavodsk). When the Entente forces finally withdrew from the region in October 1919, the Karelian Regiment lost its supplier and dispersed, while the Murmansk Legion was shipped to Britain along with rest of the Entente expeditionary forces. Bolsheviks moved in to fill the military vacuum in the region, and the Finnish volunteer forces withdrew westwards, remaining only in the two border parishes of Repola and Porajärvi.
Estonia and Ingria
As a proof of the swift political changes and confused situation in Baltic region, Finnish volunteer units with 2000 men arrived in Estonia on January 2nd 1919 escorted and partially transported by a Royal Navy Baltic detachment, on the same time when other Finnish volunteer units were fighting against British-sponsored forces in East Karelia. Unlike in East Karelia, the Finnish volunteer forces gained success in the fighting in Estonia, Western Ingria and Northern Latvia. The 1st Finnish Volunteer Corps captured Narva a mere few weeks after an amphibious assault (another operation supported by Royal Navy) to the rear of Red Army units - Trotsky himself was reportedly inside the city organizing defense by the time Finns stormed the city by a surprise and the defense collapsed, but he managed to get out before being captured. Later on the relations between Estonian commanders and uppity and independent Finnish volunteer leaders deteriorated - Finns attacked the city of Alūksne in northern Latvia without the approval of Estonian HQ and their prominent commander Hans Kalm (an ethnic Estonian) had his own ambitious plans on 1919 - he planned raise a new volunteer force from Estonia and then use it and the Finnish volunteers to conquer Ingria from the Bolsheviks.
Kalm was not the only officer with ambitions towards Ingria. The region around St. Petersburg had been a historical gateway between Estonia and Finland, forming the easternmost part of the Finnic populations living around the Gulf of Finland. Like the Estonians and Finns, the Ingrians were Lutherian people who spoke a language that was classified as a dialect of Finnish. They were mostly descendants of immigrants that had moved from Finland during the time when the region had been under Swedish rule - after the establishment of St. Petersburg they had stayed on their old villages located to the countryside around the growing new capitol of Russia. Now this 120.000 strong community suddenly found itself living in the vicinity of the new center of Bolshevik power. After the Finnish Civil War the leaders of the failed revolution from Finland had fled to Petrograd, where they soon created the SKP (Communist Party of Finland). Lenin tasked this group to organize all Finnic peoples of Russia to support the Soviet war effort, and naturally the organizers of SKP started their work from Petrograd and surrounding Ingria. Conservative elements in the Ingrian population resisted this development, and by spring 1918 small groups of armed Ingrian guerrillas had established their presence to the border parish of Kirjasalo next to Finnish border in Karelian Isthmus.
Georg Elfvengren and his North Ingrian Regiment in Kirjasalo, 1919.
This small local rebel band was soon swept away into a major conspiracy involving top levels of Finnish Government. During the stormy year of 1919 Finland had indeed held two elections that had dramatically changed the political situation within the country. On the insistence of United States, Britain and France, Finland was due to have "new, free parliamentary elections." That meant that the SDP was allowed to campaign as well. Despite the understandable icy and tense atmosphere of the election process, the elections (under international supervision) went on without major fraud and SDP remarkably maintained the position of strongest party with 80 seats, despite the loss of twelve when compared to previous election.
Even though SDP was left to opposition, the new political situation in the country no longer enabled the Conservatives to conduct foreign policy as freely as during the previous year. When the decision to let Eduskunta elect the first President for the country was approved and the elections approached on summer 1919, the supporters of more aggressive policy towards Russia begun to conspire behind the scenes. These groups were based on the contacts of pre-independence Activists who were now aiming their activities against the growing threat posed by Bolshevik government and their presence in Petrograd. The conspirators knew that in order to gain support for their plans, they would have to support Mannerheim for President. The former commander of White forces was however strongly opposed by SDP, and would surely lose the summer elections unless something major would take place near the borders of Finland. As the months went by, secret shipments of weapons and supplies begun to trickle through the border in Isthmus to Kirjasalo, and recruiters were soon circulating in Ingria and Finland, gathering suitable men to join to the newly established "Regiment of North Ingria." This force was soon led by eccentric Civil War veteran officer, Georg Elfvengren, who had joined forces with the Activist plotters for his own reasons. Like Hans Kalm in Estonia, Elfvengren was a former officer of Russian Army and hated Bolsheviks like poison. He wanted to see them driven out from Petrograd, and figured that fully mobilized Finnish Army could to the job. But a casus belli was needed to justify the intervention against the Bolshevik capitol, and here Elfvengren and his Ingrians came to play. They were tasked to invade Ingria from Isthmus, "rising the locals to wide uprising" that would create similar feelings of empathy and calls for intervention as the Red Army invasion of Estonia had done. In this situation Mannerheim could win the elections, declare martial law, mobilize the Army and march to Petrograd.
Elfvengren gave the order to attack day before the Eduskunta gathered to vote, and immediately afterwards he wired to all major Finnish newspapers and radio stations and declared that "Ingria had risen against the Bolshevik terror." The poorly armed and trained Ingrian volunteers who marched southwards on those critical days of June were opposed by Red Army units that were ironically composed from Finns of St. Petersburg and Ingrians from the surrounding countryside. Just like in Eastern Karelia and Estonia, the locals were fighting among themselves while major powers played their own games in upper levels. The invasion failed miserably, and the public mood was more likely surprised than shocked. Mannerheim was still widely despised among SDP and distrusted by the Agrarian Union, and he lost with clear numbers to K. J. Ståhlberg on 26th of July 1919.
For the next year the North Ingrian Regiment and Elfvengren used the region or Kirjasalo as their base, fighting what was more or less a private war against the local Bolshevik Ingrian units defending Leningrad. By now situation in Finland and more importantly in Russia was stabilizing somewhat, and attempts to change borders in East Karelia were looking increasingly unlikely due the fact that Eduskunta was once again dominated by SDP. Lenin wanted to secure his northern flank, while Finland wanted to solve the uncertain "undeclared war" status between Finland and Bolsheviks. As border negotiations were underway, Ingria was not even among the discussed topics even though Bolshevik government stated that it would respect the local wishes for autonomy both in East Karelia and Ingria. As the Russo-Polish War was drawing to an end, Finland and Bolshevik Government signed the Treaty of Tartu on 14 October 1920 after four months of complex negotiations. The North Ingrian Regiment withdrew to Finland to be disarmed and demilitarized, and the situation in the border seemed to finally calm down.
Roughly a year later fighting flared up once again, this time in Eastern Karelia. Even though the Entente forces had left East Karelia two years ago, they had left behind thousands of trained Karelian men. As the region was now brought to Bolshevik control due the crumbing White Russian war effort, the locals were becoming increasingly frustrated to the way Bolsheviks were dealing with the local population. On October 1921 the Karelians did what the Finnish nationalists had expected them to do two years earlier - they organized their ranks and rose to armed revolt against the Bolshevik government. Since Finland had just recently gained a border agreement, the government declared neutrality and stated that it would only provide humanitarian aid to the local population. However, over 500 Finnish volunteers soon crossed the border, several notable Civil War commanding officers among them. The fighting in Eastern Karelia lasted through much the winter, but gradually the reinforced Red Army pushed the rebelling forces away from the area. The Karelian forest guerrillas, among with some 14 000 local refugees crossed the border to Finland between 1921-22, ending the turbulent period of Kinship Wars. Greater Finland remained a pipe dream of the Finnish political right-wing groups and nationalists, Ingria and Eastern Karelia remained as parts of the forming Soviet Union and Finland was successfully transformed from autonomous Grand Duchy to yet another new state in post-Versailles Eastern Europe.
A lovely chapter!
I wonder why they don't teach this well in the Finnish schools.
Maybe some of the most important years in Finnish history.
And a thousand 'what ifs'.