World War I


Finland's parliament declared the country's INDEPENDENCE (Dec. 6th 1917). As Russian troops were still in the country, the new Finnish Republic called the Finns into military service; the Russian troops were disarmed (January). However, Finnish society, although agreeing on national independence, was as divided as Russias; the REDS also took up arms and Finland's Civil War began. In April 1918, German troops landed, supporting the Finnish whites, while Swedes occupied the ALAND ISLANDS (with a Swedish-speaking population). The Finnish Whites won the civil war. Having lots of other problems to deal with - ending World War I, winning the Civil War, reforming society, getting the economy back on track, Lenin, indebted to Finland (Finns had been hiding him when the secret police looked for him) granted Finland independence in 1920. A Brigade of Swedish Volunteers fought in the Finnish Civil War, on the side of the Whites. The civil war had ended in May 1918; K.J. STAHLBERG became the country's first president. The socialists (Reds) were regarded as irreliable, and in a period of WHITE TERROR many were executed. The number of casualties of the civil war, including the subsequent terror, is estimated at ca. 30.000. Finnish society remained divided. In the west there were the ALAND ISLANDS (in Finnish : Ahvenanmaa), administratively part of Finland, but with a Swedish speaking and feeling population. In 1918 they were occupied by Swedish forces, and the population's sentiment tended toward unification with Sweden. Finland claimed it's right and referred the case to the LEAGUE OF NATIONS, which decided in favour of Finland. The islands (of ca. 20.000 inhabitants) remain with Finland, but enjoy political and cultural autonomy.
With the Russian Revolution going on, the Finnish-speaking population of AUNUS (in Russian Olonets), a region located to the East of Finland, voted for autonomy (1919) and independence from Russia (1920); the nascent statelet leaned closely on Finland. However, it was occupied by the Red Army in summer 1920. Similarly, INGERMANLAND (Ingria, Finnish Inkeri), a region located between St. Petersburg and Estonia (Swedish 1617-1621), having a clear majority of Ingrian language speakeers (related to Finnish) opted for autonomy, closely leaning on Finland, the Red Army ending that movement. In the TREATY OF DORPAT (1920), Finland and the USSR fixed their border; most Ingrians and many from Aunus emigrated into Finland.

In 1917, the Finnish Orthodox Church declared its autonomy from the Russian Orthodox Church.

In 1918, Finland produced 6,000 metric tons of wheat, in 1920 9,000; potato production was 0.455 million metric tons in 1918, 0.558 million in 1920 (IHS p.266). If the consumer price level of 1929 is set at 100, that of 1917 was 22, that of 1920 was 80 (IHS p.848).

Article Political Nordism, Finnish Orthodox Church, from Wikipedia
Library of Congress, Country Studies : Finland
DOCUMENTS List of Finnish Presidents, Prime Ministers etc., from Finland, by Ben Cahoon
Historical Population Statistics : Finland, from Population Statistics (Jan Lahmeyer)
Historical Flags, of Ingria, of East Karelia from FOTW
Estimates of Death Toll in Finnish Civil War, posted by Matthew White, scroll down
REFERENCE IHS : B.R. Mitchell, International Historical Statistics. Europe 1750-1988, NY : Stockton Press 1992 [G]
Article : Finland, in : New International Year Book 1918 pp.207-209, 1919 pp.238-241, 1920 pp.224-226 [G]
Article : Finland, in : Statesman's Year Book 1918 pp.1233-1238, 1919 pp.1215-1220 [G]

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2000, last revised on September 14th 2008

Click here to go Home
Click here to go to Information about KMLA, WHKMLA, the author and webmaster
Click here to go to Statistics

Impressum · Datenschutz