4.2.10

Finland’s civil war a very brief account

In 1917 the Russian revolution was whistling along to supposedly free Russian citizens from the Tsar’s yoke; this did not happen in fact it was worse for the poor Russian citizens; however the Russian fleet, which was in Helsinki Finland at the time mutinied; in my day military personnel do not mutiny. The provisional government of the day in Helsinki cancelled most if not all of the Tsar’s government policies in regard to its neighbour Finland; to be blunt they wanted independence and frankly I don’t blame them. Both the Tsar’s and the new communist regime were both degrading and shocking. In these troubled times Finland was not ruled by a government per se, most of the power came from what was known as strike committees, breaking that down middle class and working class; this happened once before in 1905; same rules applied, they even had their own private armies or militias, police were replaced; that sort of thing, in fact things were sticky all round. Unease set in, arguments, violence; and then the so called power act was passed which led to the making of decisions highly unpopular. Finland’s government was then dissolved (and we think we have problems) murders were committed, in fact a highly unpleasant atmosphere was abroad. Cutting to the chase non socialists won, in fact socialists had 92 seats out of 200. Man being the beast he is (still can be at times) made the socialists royally pissed off, in fact Finnish society was gradually splitting up into two camps; both armed and damned dangerous and I bet you thought they were gentle people; they were not at that time I assure you. Then along came the Bolshevik takeover in Russia; middle class Finns quite naturally dreaded this; not so the workers who thought quite differently. However in November a middle class government of Finland was established; run efficiently by Pehr Evind Svinhufvud, on December 6 1917 Finland was declared independent. Bolshie Lenin (and to think he lived in London once, relax he was in gaol there) recognised Finland’s independence; December 6 has been known to Finns as their independence day; it is still celebrated as such. Finland’s point of no return came when Svinhufvud’s government authorised the white guard to be the security force, and try and establish law and order, as by this time it had all but broken down. Returned German guards transformed this white guard into a very credible fighting force; run by a former fighting Tsarist General, named Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim, this General was a Finn but a Swedish speaking one; he also had a number of professional Swedish Military officers to aid and abet his cause Military action was called for on Jan 27-28 1918; foreign intervention helped a little in this struggle After the Brest-Litovsk treaty was signed artillery troops were withdrawn, the conflict was finally resolved; General Mannerheim entered Helsinki on May 16 1918 just to end the conflict on a formal note. Strangely every year until WWll was celebrated as a kind of second Independence Day. This tragedy was really because of the horrific terror released by reds and whites. In hindsight it should have been nipped in the bud; I have never met anyone with hindsight; it could well have prevented many wars Finland’s civil war was a catastrophe, in a few months around 30,000 were wiped out, society was divided; I won’t go into the fine details, I would never finish (excuse the pun) this blog

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