1922 Encyclopædia Britannica/Finland
FINLAND (see 10.383). — The remarkable development of Finnish nationalism in the closing decades of the 19th century was primarily directed against the Swedish language and Finno-Swedish cultural domination. Through the revival of their own singularly rich and beautiful tongue, the Finns of Finland had learnt to think of their country as “Suomi,” as utterly distinct from Sweden and Russia, as possessing thought and literature of its own. Though open to European influences, specially in their art, and taking their political ideas from Scandinavia and Germany, the “Fennomans” (Finnish Finns) climbed “unto a language island” and, developing along extremely democratic lines, took no part at all in Russian affairs and showed little interest in those of Scandinavia. There was no sympathy even with the Russian proletariat in its early struggles, while the revolutionaries were cold-shouldered.
Second Period of Russification 1908-14. — The successive governors of Russia, however, regarded the “Suomilaiset” (or the people of the fens) as a strange and totally different nationality from themselves, although the Finno-Ugrian race blended with the Slav is to be found all over northern Russia; they could not forget that the “country of the thousand lakes” had been under Swedish rule for 600 years, and cherished a civilization wholly alien to their own. This so obviously democratic, almost self-governing grand duchy of Finland was a thorn in the side of the vast autocratic Russian State conception. Out of this train of thought arose Russia's first attack upon the liberties of Finland during the dark years 1899-1906.
when the Finnish constitution was suspended and the country came under the rule of the military dictator, Gen. Bobrikov. This earlier period of repression was arrested by the Russian Revolution of 1905 which, in the wake of the disasters of the war against Japan, forced a weakened Tsardom to concessions. The manifesto of the Emperor-Grand Duke of Nov. 4 (Oct. 22) 1905 annulled all unconstitutional interferences of the preceding seven years and enabled the dominant Finnish Constitutional party to democratize the Diet on the broadest basis — full adult suffrage, regardless of property, class or sex, coupled with proportional representation based on d'Hondt's distributive principle which contains safeguards against the tyranny of the majority. That was gain. But the Russia of post-revolution days was still the landlocked colossus whom Panslav aspirations directed against all that was alien in language, religion, character and administration. What had led to conflict with the Tsar now led to conflict with the imperial Duma — the tendency to create one vast homogeneous Russia stretching from the Norwegian coast to the Pacific. In this scheme of power, the first step towards the ultimate possession of the warm-water ports of Scandinavia was, once again, the Russification of Finland.
The initial cause of friction was, as on previous occasions, the question of the payments to Russia in lieu of military service. The Diets had voted an annual indemnity of 10 million Finnish marks in respect of the years 1905-8, though reluctantly, not only on account of the financial burden the people were called upon to shoulder, but by reason of the unconstitutional argumentations upon which the demands were based. More particularly, the first one-chamber Diet which passed the grants in respect of the years 1907 and 1908 expressed the hope that this matter be either thereby considered regulated or else settled forthwith in a constitutional manner. This notwithstanding an imperial ukase, dated Oct. 7 1909, declared the issue to lie solely within the competence of the Crown, and peremptorily fixed an annual contribution which, beginning at 10 million Finnish marks, was to increase automatically by a million a year until, in 1919, it was to attain its maximum total of 20 millions of Finnish marks. The objections of the Diet, which was even now ready to compromise, were answered by its dissolution and the annual amounts due made over to the Russian exchequer. The same occurred with the new Diet in March 1910 in respect of the contributions for the years 1910 and 1911. Finally the Duma, by the imperial law of Jan. 23 (10th) 1912, approved of the principle of the Finnish annual indemnity in lieu of military service.
The interference of the Tsar with the constitutional rights of Finland was provocative and for that reason opened the new era of conflict. From the spring of 1907 to the spring of 1909 had supervened the two “crowded years of glorious life,” of great internal progress and political development. The old feuds of “Sveckoman” (Swedo-Finn) and “Fennoman” (Finno-Finn) had been taken up with renewed vigour. Aristocracy, middle class and proletariat were all politically equal; capital and labour, though frequently in conflict, yet fought their battle more scientifically than anywhere else in Europe. But by the end of 1909, the fresh wave of Russification paralysed all recent progress. The large measures of domestic reform passed by the Diet, and generally accepted by the Senate, were laid before the Tsar and never heard of afterwards. Such was the fate of the bill for the total prohibition of alcohol, as of measures relating to the care of children, insurance, old-age pensions, education, public health and the betterment of the condition of the “torpare” (landless worker upon the soil). Civil marriages, however, were instituted, illegitimate children placed upon a better basis, and the principle of “equal pay for equal work” was applied in teaching, in the printing trade and, in 1913, in the State service.
As early as June 2 (May 20) 1908 an imperial instruction had dealt with the regulation of Finnish affairs which affected the interests of the Russian Empire as a whole. It provided that the measures passed by the Diet and sanctioned by the Senate were no longer to be conveyed to the Tsar through the Secretary for Finland, but in order to obtain the imperial assent had to come before the Council of Ministers. To stifle opposition, the imperial ukase of March 27 (14th) 1910 laid down that the question as to whether Finnish affairs affected the interests of the Russian Empire or not rested not with the Finnish Diet, but with the imperial Duma. The new law came into force on June 30 (17th) 1910 after having been passed by the Duma amid triumphant shouts of “Finis Finlandiae.”
This, “The Imperial Legislation Act,” taken as a whole, never came into working since in the last resort it meant the complete unification of the grand duchy of Finland with Russia in language, education, finance, customs, laws, monetary system, press restriction, rights of assembly, etc. But inconsequently applied though it was, it roused great indignation not only in Finland, but throughout Europe. The claim of this bill, which was that the assurances given by the Tsars depended upon their autocratic rule and became null when they delegated some of their governing power to the Duma, called forth protests from members of the British, German, French, Italian, Dutch and Belgian Parliaments.
Directly the “Imperial Legislation Act” had come into force, two imperial laws were laid before the Diet which, however, refused them both and was promptly dissolved. The bills thereupon came before the imperial Duma, which passed them rapidly. One of these was the law of Jan. 23 (10th) 1912, already referred to above, in which the Duma affirmed the principle of an annual Finnish indemnity in lieu of military service, while the other, of Jan. 20 (7th) 1912, accorded full citizen rights to temporary Russian residents in Finland. This last-named measure, apart from its manifest injustice, led to great confusion in the overlapping of two fundamentally different codes of law, but the judges who resigned, rather than be a party to it, were deprived of their pension rights. Every single provisional governor was forced to leave the service or did so voluntarily; many high officials suffered imprisonment or exile. The government of the country was carried on by a packed Senate, in which after 1912 sat not only pliable Finns but Russian-born members; the Diet was capriciously summoned and dismissed, the press censored. Thus the conflict with the Duma in the years 1910-4 led to sufferings analogous to those in the struggle against the high-handedness of the Tsar in 1899-1906.
In addition, it should be mentioned that Finnish propaganda abroad met with less success on this occasion, for one thing because it was a twice-told tale, for another because England had, by thelogic of European events, been drawn towards Russia politically.
Effects of the World War, 1914-8. — In these circumstances supervened the World War of 1914, and it was left to Lt.-Gen. F. Seyn, the governor-general, to supervise the stringent censorship and the harassing restrictions of personal liberty which an unprecedented situation called for in all the countries of Europe. Though Finland escaped the horrors of foreign war upon its own soil, a descent of the German armies upon the coast was a military eventuality which had to be taken into account. Accordingly two lines of trench covering the chief railway lines were constructed across Finland, one system of fortified lines running from Tornea to Helsingfors, the other from Kajana to Kotka. Besides, the long sea border of the grand duchy was exposed to enemy action from the sea; and some 40,000 tons of the Finnish mercantile marine, which sailed under the Russian flag, exposed to destruction in the open waters of the Baltic Sea, remained locked in the harbours of the Bothnian gulf. This heavy loss to seaborne commerce was balanced by the extraordinary advantages which Finnish industries derived from the war partly by reason of the low tariff prevailing, partly through the influx of Russian labour. Industries connected directly with military supply, as also the iron, leather, glass, drugs and polishes trades and paper-manufacturing concerns, attained unexampled prosperity. The Russians, who were well aware that the Finnish people at the end of a 15 years' constitutional struggle did not love them, strongly garrisoned the country, but, the discipline in the Tsarist armies being maintained at a high standard, collisions between the military and the civil population were few. The Russian authorities, impulsive as was their wont and inconsequent in their application of the law, suffered from divided councils, and were alternately bent on reconciliation and repression. There being no means as in Sweden and Denmark to take advantage of leaks in the Allied blockade, the price of living gradually rose, railway fares and telephone costs being raised by 25%. But the country was relieved of the burden of the annual military indemnity, and the Russians, in their sporadic anxiety to please, were strangely negligent of such essential precautions as the surveillance of telephonic communications. There was, however, a special 5% tax on property and mortgage.
Austro-German invading hosts through Poland and Lithuania to the confines of Great Russia proper by the marshes of the Pripet, was followed by the Finns with the anxiety of a people whose hope lay in a Russia which, weakened by a colossal military effort, would again be willing to respect the legal rights of the grand duchy. The Polish manifesto of the Grand Duke Nicholas was held to leave the Russian Government with a programme aiming at the final destruction of Finnish autonomy and nationality. Under the circumstances sympathy for the sufferings of Belgium was obscured by the consideration that France and England were the allies of that Russia which, if she emerged victorious, would again turn oppressor. In 1915 a Finn set fire to the Allied stores at Archangel in service, as he considered, to his Finland, where, as is now known on the authority of M. Sario who became Foreign Secretary of the White Government in 1918, persons were not wanting who referred to German victories as “our victories.” Only some 2,000 Finns volunteered for the Russian army, where, however, they fought with traditional valour under their own officers. About the same number enlisted in the German army, though ostensibly only for service on the eastern front, and did not return until the coup d'état.
Towards the close of 1916 the magnitude of the industrial effort in neglect of agricultural development was fast bringing its own punishment. Finland had changed — as far as her size, climate and scanty population allowed — from an agricultural to an industrial country in two and a half years. The ruin of her dairy trade drew workers into the factories, and, an ever more considerable part of Russian war material manufacture passing into Finnish hands, labour streamed in from the country and from across the Russian border. Wages rose with the increasing cost of food, and great fortunes were made while there was yet considerable unemployment. This happened in a country which even normally produced but five-sixths of her needful foodstuffs, at a time of world shortage and under pressure of an ever more effective blockade; in one, too, which, while the old order survived in Russia, was debarred from any sort of political expression. True, elections were still held in 1916, and resulted in the return of a Social Democratic majority, but the Diet was not allowed to function.
The Russian Revolution, March-Nov. 1917. — Then came the Russian Revolution. The Tsar Nicholas II. Alexandrovich abdicated on March 15 1917 and the new Provisional Government of Russia almost with its first breath restored representative government in Finland. The Russianized Senate was dissolved and a temporary body of twelve, half of whom were Social Democrats and the remainder members of the bourgeois parties, took up the executive power. Gov.-Gen. Seyn was replaced by Stakovich, while Rodichev, a tried friend, became Secretary of State for Finland. Kerensky, visiting Helsingfors at the end of the month, placed a wreath at the foot of the statue of Rüneberg, the national poet, and uncovered his head when the Finnish national anthem was intoned. The former Socialist speaker of the Diet, M. Tokoi, was nominated president of the Senate; Kullervo Manner, a young Finnish Social Democrat, was made speaker of the Diet; Vaino Jokinen, his former collaborator on the workman's journal “Tyomies,” and Lauri Ingman, a clergyman and a Swede of the Swedish party, became vice-speakers.
It was then quite clear that ever since 1907 the one constant factor n Finnish political life had been the growth of the Social Democratic vote. But now that anarchy corroded the body politic of the disintegrating Russian Empire, the possessing classes of Finland quailed before the rising power of a party which was morally saturated with Marxist doctrines and politically orientated towards Russia. The economic conditions justified the worst fears of the bourgeoisie, or not only had the vehement industrial development of the last three years strengthened the “hooligan element,” but the Imperial Legislation Act of 1910 and the conditions of the war had brought a large number of Russians into the country as settlers and even as refugees from famine and nascent revolutionary disorders. Beside the Swedo-Finns (about one-tenth of the population) and the Finnish-speaking Finns there was now this large fluctuating industrial element reinforced by some 40,000 Russian civilians. Apart from these, there were the Russian soldiers who, ever more irregularly paid, bade fair to become a danger to the State.
The Swedish party represented the most conservative elements in Finland, the nucleus of the largest property owners. There was, it is true, a Swedish branch of the Social Democratic party and also a number of purely Swedish capitalists, yet on the whole the Swedish element was bourgeois and its desire for independence economic since it foresaw the inevitable bankruptcy of Russia.
The Social Democrats, on the other hand, saw in Russia the possible social revolution and intended to go faster than any Miliukov or even Kerensky. Under such conditions the Diet which assembled on April 5 could do as little as the cumbrous governing body of six Social Democrats and six bourgeois representatives.
As far as the Swedish party was concerned, conciliatory relations were to be maintained with Russia until the Peace Conference, but the party congress which was held in May made it clear that independence was the final aim. Even before that the Hufoudstadtbladet argued that nothing short of complete independence suited the country's needs, and the Finnish Government in the Diet solemnly proclaimed that such was its policy. But this Diet, containing 80% of Social Democrats, 12% of Old and Young Finns, 6% Swedes and 2% Agrarian labourers, the bourgeois did not consider to be truly representative of the nation, on the ground that, at the time of its election in 1916, most people still boycotted the Diet by way of protest against Russian manipulation of the elections; it was only the Socialists who never gave up the class war.
The struggle between the Provisional Russian Government and the Finnish Diet crystallized around the declaration which was embodied in what became known as the “Law of July 18 1917.” In this, the Diet resolved that it alone decided, confirmed and put into practice all laws of Finland, including those relating to home affairs, taxation and customs. It made the final decision regarding all other Finnish affairs which the Emperor-Grand Duke decided according to the arrangements hitherto in force, though the provision of this law expressly stated that it did not apply to matters of foreign policy, to military legislation and military administration. The Diet was to meet for regular sittings without special summons and to decide when these were to be closed. Until Finland's new form of government was determined, the Diet was to exercise the right of deciding upon new elections and its dissolution. It asserted its control over the executive power in Finland which was, for the present, to be exercised by the economic department of the Finnish Senate whose members were to be nominated and dismissed by the Diet. This law reflected the standpoint of the Social Democratic majority of the Diet which demanded complete internal and economic freedom for the country, but was always ready to recognize Russia's supremacy in military matters and in foreign policy. The radical group of the Swedish Popular party, aiming further, proposed the following amendment: — “The Diet, which regards it as its right and duty to demand full independence in the name of the Finnish people and reserves in this respect its full freedom of action, resolves, etc.” This amendment, however, was rejected by 125 votes to 63, but the motion of the main committee not to submit the new law to the Provisional Russian Government for its sanction was passed by 104 votes to 86. An address was, however, forwarded to the Russian Provisional Government, in which it was expounded that, Finland having always been in relation with the Tsars of Russia but not with any Russian Government, the overthrow of Tsardom had automatically set the country free.
The Russian Provisional Government met this explanation by passing a resolution at the end of July, declaring that under no circumstances would it consent to the separation of Finland from Russia, wherefore it dissolved the Diet and ordered new elections for the beginning of October. The Finnish Diet, however, in its turn, disputed the Russian Provisional Government's right to exercise the prerogative of dissolution, and a deadlock ensued.
Pourparlers in Aug. between the Gov.-Gen. Stakovich and the Finnish leaders proved of no avail, although the Russian Federalist Congress in session at Petrograd on the 17th and 18th of that month sought “to work out a basis upon which the Federalists could unite and then prepare for the elections to a Constituent Assembly.” Thus the plan for a republic of all the Russias guaranteed autonomy in everything but matters relating to a whole and united Russia.
But it was precisely that which the Finns did not want, anxious as they all were, regardless of party, to avoid taking any part in Russian affairs. Even the Socialists, willing as they were to concede the control of foreign policy and the conduct of military affairs to the larger Power, yet met any kind of representation upon any sort of Russian governing body with a categorical refusal.
In its domestic policy the Social Democratic majority of this Diet was similarly averse to any comprehensive measures of collective reorganization pending events in Russia. Thus the capitalist development of the country was allowed to follow its course. The reform bills passed in recent years and held up by the Tsar were passed en bloc, among these the total prohibition of alcohol and the eight-hour day. The municipal councils were democratized and a war bonus was added to the wage of all workers, part being paid by the State and part by the employer. The fixing of maximum prices for food and the control of the supply of fuel, bread, milk, sugar and butter were merely the extension of the work initiated by the pre-revolutionary Senate.
Such action, however, did not strike at the root of the evil, for it was easy to see that a famine threatened the country. Nothing was done to avert it save that large quantities of grain were purchased from America which, owing to difficulties of transit, could not be delivered until starvation and civil war menaced Finland. From about March 1917 to Feb. 1918 there was a veritable strike mania; every trade, every municipal body, every committee even, flung down its job and the Diet and the Senate alike were unable to cope with the situation. The long printers' strike brought it about that from the beginning of July to the middle of Aug. no Moderate papers appeared, though the Social Democrat journals continued to be published. The trouble lay in the dilatoriness of the Russian Provisional Government in confirming the measures passed by the Diet and the Senate which had been hung up by the Tsar since 1910. The All-Russian Congress of Workers and Soldiers, which was already under Bolshevist influence, had met early in July and urged the Provisional Government to grant full autonomy to Finland and all executive power to the Diet, which action gained it the sympathy of the Finnish Socialists. A “general strike” was called for against the wishes of Tokoi and Manner, and the Diet was to reassemble despite the threats of the governor-general that its doors would be guarded and sealed. After two or three days of disturbances, this ill-considered move collapsed, but the Russian Provisional Government proposing that the economy department of the Finnish Senate should have the supreme power, Tokoi dissolved the governing body composed of six Social Democrats and six Bourgeois representatives because it was too evenly balanced for effective administrative work. Thereupon the Socialist senators resigned while the Moderates were induced to form a Senate. This was regrettable, as the Russian Provisional Government now gave way, and on Aug. 24 ratified a number of the reform measures passed by the Diet and Senate between 1911 and 1914. A day later the Moscow conference, under Menshevik influence, expressed its desire to retain all powerover Finland which the restored constitution allowed.
of Nekrasov as governor-general in place of Stakovich influenced the elections for the Diet which, completed by Oct. 2 1917, proved a setback to the Social Democrats and caused the Old and Young Finns, the Swedes and the Agrarians to form a Moderate bloc of 108 members. The absorbing controversy, whether the Senate (through its economy department) was to hold the supreme power or the Diet, was settled on Nov. 15 by Alkio, the leader of the Agrarians, in favour of the latter, and on Nov. 28 a Moderate Senate of eleven members was elected. Still, however, nothing was done to increase the food production. Though countered by the Moderate coalition, the Social Democrats were still the strongest individual party in the House, and would have had the bulk of the people behind them if they had been able to seize and nationalize the land. The economic conditions, beyond a doubt, rendered this task very difficult, for in Finland, as in Russia, the cultivation of the soil was carried on individually and the transfer to the State would have been a delicate operation.
The Bolshevist advent to power in Russia between Nov. 4 and 15 1917 deepened the pro-Russian sympathies of the Finnish Social Democrats who had been alienated by Kerensky's equivocal policy, while the bourgeois parties, arguing that there was now no settled government in Russia, desired complete independence. On Dec. 6 1917 the Diet and the now bourgeois Senate drew up a very old-fashioned declaration of independence which, however, historically marks the birth of Finnish freedom. As the Socialists still sought an understanding with Russia, the bourgeois bloc, which governed the situation since it had furnished the new administration at the beginning of the month, acting with great haste sent the declaration to Sweden and Germany at once. Both these Powers replied that Finland must first obtain full recognition of her independence from Russia. The Diet then decided to approach the Constituent Assembly in Russia through a friendly manifesto which explained that the assertion of independence was not a hostile act and that a joint committee would settle outstanding questions so that Russia could proceed with her war without fear of trouble from Finland. But as the Constituent Assembly was not allowed to meet, the Finnish Senate finally appealed to the Bolshevist Government and was informed on Jan. 4 1918 that the steps taken conformed with the policy and programme of the Bolshevists. Immediately afterwards the Swedish Government recognized the independence of Finland and was followed by the other Scandinavian countries. Recognition by France preceded recognition by Germany.
The Finnish Civil War Feb.-May 1918. — At this time the social and economic differences between the political parties were too deep to admit of an easy settlement. The possessing classes, — that is to say primarily the Swedo-Finn and Finno-Finn bourgeoisie, but especially the first-named — rather than see the wealth amassed during three years of the World War taken from them by the rising Social Democrats, were jeopardizing the newly won independence, now by intrigues which aimed at the cession of the Åland Is. to Sweden, now by manœuvres which tended to set Finland under the heel of Germany. The Moderate bloc to which the Swedo-Finns adhered was anyhow determined to break away from Russia, and its leaders openly discussed the chances of union with Sweden on the one hand and the adoption of some German prince as grand duke on the other.
Apart from that, there were some Finnish contractors who had allowed the Russian Government credit for the provision of war material, food and clothing, and did not desire to incur the loss which a complete rupture of relations was certain to entail. They therefore stood for the maintenance of the connexion with Russia.
Principally, however, the Social Democrats believed that Socialist governance had come to stay in Russia, and they were not minded to protect Finnish capital from seizure if the birth of a coöperative commonwealth in Finland could thereby be accelerated. When the Bolshevist coup d'état in Russia became known, they unwisely fraternized with the Russian soldiers stationed in Finland, and with their help rejected municipal bodies and replaced them by Social Democrat committees. Such action was hardly designed to relieve the ever-growing food difficulties and laid their party open to the reproach of harbouring anarchical tendencies. The Socialists were almost all Maximalists and anti-militarists, and, as such, averse even to the formation of a democratic citizen army maintained for purposes of order and defence. They pinned their faith on the Muscovite connexion to save their country from invasion — oblivious of the fact that the Russian soldier, freed of the restraints of a discipline which had become his second nature, starving and unpaid, was, to say the least, an uncertain factor. While free passes were given, whole trainloads of revolutionary soldateska arrived from Petrograd nominally to assist the Socialists in their active differences with the bourgeoisie, but in reality to create disturbances. Having massacred their officers and any bourgeois elements which remained among them, they entered the so-called Finnish “Red Guards,” and ransacked the country. The reactionaries, getting together the doubtful elements of the disbanded gendarmerie and their own adherents, organized the “White Guards.” German arms and explosives were imported by one side; Russian bayonets by the other. At Christmas 1917 matters came to a head at Åbo, where the Social Democrats imprisoned the governor and the chief of the police. For about a week the “Red Guards,” which were composed of casually armed Social Democrats, remained on duty notwithstanding the fact that their pay had been suspended by the local Moderate bourgeois authorities. Then they gave up their job, and Russian troops and “hooligan elements” seized the opportunity to sack a part of Åbo. After some days' disorders, hurriedly summoned “Whites” from another district and some of the original “Reds” restored order together. But the bourgeois bloc neglected to introduce a democratic citizen army and opposed the reactionary efforts of the Swedish party to form a conscript army round the nucleus “White Guards.”
The Bolsheviks were clearly bent on precipitating civil war in Finland, and poured arms, munitions and troops into the country for the ostensible purpose of helping the Social Democrats. For this reason the Senate on Jan. 29 addressed a protest against the action of the Russian Government to the various Powers which had recognized Finnish independence. But it was too late, as now even the sanest Social Democrats were swept into a flood of Bolshevism. Helsingfors on that very day was seized by the Red Guards and by Feb. 8 1918 the coup d'état had occurred and “Whites” and “Reds” were in brutal conflict everywhere.
The German Intervention, March-May 1918. The Diet belatedly adopted, on Jan. 17 1918, certain measures suggested by Senator Kaarlo Castrén for the strengthening of the White Guard formations. As these were insufficient to save the White army, which was under the command of the former Russian general of cavalry, Baron Carl Gustav Emil Mannerheim, the necessity arose of seeking foreign intervention. As regards this it is known from the Swedish statesman Branting that the Finnish Government, when it “made its official proposal for a Swedish intervention . . . . . had simultaneously asked in Berlin for a German armed intervention.” Thus Sweden, had she assented, would have been dragged into the war, as “nobody can imagine that Germany would have refused an offer so favourable to her hegemony in the Baltic.”
This judgment is true, for while Sweden refused official help, the Germans did not hesitate. After all, they had kindled the Bolshevist fires in the East and sent war material into Finland for the express purpose of fomenting troubles which they could exploit to their own advantage. The situation was favourable to them, for as Mr. E. Löfgren, Minister of Justice in the Swedish Coalition Government of 1918, publicly explained, “the Finns immediately after the declaration of their independence had entered into negotiations for a treaty with Germany, which in a commercial political sense made Finland the ally and vassal of Germany. . . .” The allusion is to the Finno-German treaty of March 7 1918.
But since the public knew little of the underground workings of German policy, the landing of a German composite division in the Åland island of Ekerö on March 3 and in Finland by April 3 caused the Prussian general officer commanding, Count Rüdiger von der Goltz, to be hailed as the liberator of the country. He had initially some 12,000 men under his orders, viz., three dismounted cavalry regiments, three Jäger battalions, Bavarian mountain artillery, two heavy batteries, a squadron of cavalry, and sundry technical and supply formations which were subsequently reinforced by the detachment “Brandenstein,” consisting of three infantry battalions, one cyclist battalion, a squadron of cavalry and two batteries. He had further the support of the German navy in the landing operations, and the remnant of the 2,000 Finnish exiles who had joined the German army in 1915-6 and made up the famous “27th” Jägers, who were as well drilled in Pan-Germanism as in military science.
Gen. von der Goltz, by landing in the rear of the Red forces and holding part of these in a successful action near Karis on April 6, enabled Gen. Mannerheim to win the battle of Tammerfors, while he himself, by a rapid advance on Helsingfors, between April 11 and 13, freed this capital which he officially entered on April 14. Finally his victory over the Reds in the three days' battle (April 30-May 2) of Lahti-Tavastehus contributed to Mannerheim's decisive defeat of the Red eastern army near Viborg on April 28-29. The remnants of the Red army being forced eastwards into Russia, the campaign ended in a month with the complete victory of the Whites.
The terrible cruelty of the Reds, however, led to the White Terror as the price the country had to pay for being dragged into “Mittel-Europa.” Some 15,000 men, women and children were slaughtered in cold blood, and by June 27 1918 73,915 Red insurrectionaries, including 4,600 women, were prisoners of war.
The Diet, which met in June 1918, was Moderate, since the Socialists or 46% of the electorate were excluded from the register. It authorized Senator Pehr Evind Svinhufvud, who under the Russian régime had been an exile from his country, to exercise the supreme power in so far as it had not already been conferred on the Senate which was bringing forward proposals for a monarchical form of government by offering the crown to Prince Frederick Charles of Hesse, brother-in-law of the German emperor.
But the Germans pursued the ulterior object of securing Finnish military coöperation against the Murman railway, which, having been built by English enterprise during the war, was now guarded by a British expeditionary force. The claim of the liberators upon the gratitude of the Finns was assuming the most peremptory forms known to diplomacy, when, three days later, on July 18, events took place on the western front which marked the turn of the war to Germany's disadvantage. One collision between a Finnish force and a detachment commanded by a British officer, Lt. Quinn-Harkin, occurred in northern Karelia, but valuable time was gained until the rapid transformation of the European war, culminating in the Armistice of Nov. 11 1918, caught Finnish reaction between wind and water. Svinhufvud, the pliant tool of Germany, relinquished the supreme power, and was succeeded on Dec. 12 by Gen. Mannerheim as regent, who formed a Coalition Government composed of six Republicans and six Monarchists. The persons discredited by their extreme pro-Germanism, among them Gen. Thesleff, the Minister of War, were replaced in order to obtain the recognition of Finland by the Great Powers and secure the food supply of which the country stood in need. The definite orientation towards the Entente marked the transition from the monarchist period of German influence towards the democratic régime associated with England and America.
The German troops, in part mutinous, were conveyed back to Germany in the middle of Dec., but with difficulty, as the German navy refused to transport units which had remained faithful to the Emperor. Gen. Mannerheim, who as regent wielded the powerof a quasi-dictator, was a monarchist, but not a pro-German.
Events in 1919 and 1920. — The year 1919 witnessed the growth of the Republic of Finland out of the ashes of a country laid waste by civil war. Mannerheim organized the “Skyddskorps” or Protective Guards, a body of over 100,000 men, whose loyalty to the existing order of society could be relied upon.
The general election of March 1 1919 showed the following division of parties: Social Democrats 80, Agrarians 42, Coalitionists 28, Progressives 26, Swedish 22, Christian Labour two. The Social Democrats had thus diminished by 12 since the 1917 elections. This was largely attributable to the disfranchisement of over 40,000 voters for participation in the Red revolt. The tendency towards a republican form of government was outlined by the Agrarian party, composed of small landowners hostile to the claims of the Swedish-speaking Monarchist section.
Mannerheim's popularity being immense with the parties of the Right and the army, the temptation of exploiting the military impotence of Soviet Russia was very great. In 1919 continued the Entente intervention on the Murmansk and Archangel fronts, and when the 237th Brigade (Gen. Price), which formed part of the expeditionary force under the English Maj.-Gen. Maynard, at the end of May reached Medvyejva Gora at the head of Lake Onega, the Finnish Government offered coöperation in return for the possession of Petrozavodsk. The offer being declined, a Finnish volunteer force nevertheless assaulted the town independently, but without success. Again, at the close of the year, when the White-Russian Gen. Judenitch was marching on Petrograd, Mannerheim went so far as to sound the Allies as to their views on the proposed Finnish intervention. But he received no encouragement from Paris or London, nor from the Moderates at home.
Already on July 17 of that year the Finnish Diet had resolved to establish a republic, with a president to be elected every six years, and, on July 25, Prof. Kaarlo Juho Ståhlberg was chosen as the first president by 143 votes against 50 recorded for Mannerheim. It was then that the Vennola Government, which was a coalition of the Progressive and Agrarian parties, came into power. Though it commanded only 64 out of 200 seats in the Diet, it marked a great administrative improvement from a democratic point of view. It introduced the Amnesty bill, which after a chequered career was passed by the Diet on Dec. 18 by 165 votes to 68. Its adoption synchronized with the abandonment of the Communists by the extreme Left. The de jure recognition of the republic was accorded by Great Britain soon after the instalment of Ståhlberg.
The outstanding event of the year 1920 was the signing of a peace treaty with Soviet Russia, which after long negotiations was signed at Dorpat on Oct. 14, the military defeat of the Bolsheviks by the Poles being a contributory factor. Pechenga was ceded to Finland, which thus obtained the much-desired outlet on the Arctic Ocean, while Russia retained eastern Karelia, where, after the collapse of Gen. Skobelzine's White-Russian front in Feb., fighting had occurred with Bolshevik troops with results satisfactory to Finnish arms. The treaty was approved on Dec. 1 by the Diet with only 27 dissentient voices and ratified on Dec. 11 by the President. Finland soon after was admitted as a member of the League of Nations.
Åland Islands Dispute. — The question of the Åland Is. was, in its simplest form, whether the group of islands adjacent to Finland and inhabited by a few thousand people of Swedish extraction should belong to Sweden or to Finland. In its wider aspect, however, the whole network of islands which form the archipelago of Åbo and that of the Åland Is. constituted the key of the defence of the coast of Finland and of the gulfs of Bothnia and Finland against attack from the west. In 1920, as in previous years, sovereignty was claimed over these islands by Finland on the ground that it was for her a question of existence, though autonomy was given to the Ålanders and for the safety of Sweden the absolute demilitarization of the islands was conceded. Under such circumstances the question was referred on June 19 1920 to the League of Nations, and in June 1921 (see Åland Islands) its decision was given in favour of Finland.
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(W. L. B.)