4. Russia/Finland (1904-1920)


Crisis Phase (January 1, 1904-January 27, 1918): Finnish nationalists began a movement for independence from Russia in 1904. Eugen Schauman, a Finnish nationalist, assassinated Governor-General Nikolai Bobrikoff on June 16, 1904. Finnish nationalists proclaimed a general strike in Helsinki beginning on October 30, 1905. Czar Nicholas II signed a manifesto submitted by Finnish nationalists on November 4, 1905, and the general strike was terminated on November 6, 1905. On July 20, 1906, Czar Nicholas II agreed to allow the election of a unicameral assembly (Eduskunta) consisting of 200 members. The Russian government dissolved the Eduskunta on July 31, 1917. Parliamentary elections were held on October 3-4, 1917. The Eduskunta assumed control of the grand duchy of Finland on November 15, 1917, and declared Finland’s independence from Russia on December 6, 1917. Soviet Russia recognized Finland’s independence on January 2, 1918. Sweden provided diplomatic assistance (diplomatic recognition) to Finland on January 4, 1918. France and Germany provided diplomatic assistance (diplomatic recognition) to Finland on January 6, 1918. Communists rebels took control of Helsinki on January 27-28, 1918, and government ministers fled to Vaasa. Some 1,500 individuals were killed during the Red Terror.

Conflict Phase (January 28, 1918-May 15, 1918): Government troops (White Guards) commanded by General Carl Gustav Emil Mannerheim and communist rebels (Red Guards) engaged in military hostilities beginning on January 28, 1918. At the request of the government, some 12,000 German troops intervened in support of the White Guards on April 3, 1918. The White Guards defeated the Red Guards in a battle near Tampere on April 3-6, 1918, resulting in the deaths of 2,000 Red Guards and 600 White Guards. The White Guards defeated the Red Guards in a battle near Viborg on April 30, 1918. The parties agreed to a cessation of military hostilities on May 15, 1918. Some 5,500 Red Guard soldiers and 5,300 White Guard soldiers were killed during the conflict.

Post-Conflict Phase (May 16, 1918-October 14, 1920): General Mannerheim became head-of-state on December 11, 1918. German troops withdrew from the country on December 17, 1918. Some 15,000 individuals died during the White Terror between May and December 1918. The Eduskunta approved a constitution on July 17, 1919, and Kaarlo Juho Stahlberg was elected president by the Eduskunta on July 25, 1919. Finnish and Russian representatives signed the Treaty of Dorpat on October 14, 1920, which provided for Russia’s recognition of the independence of Finland. Some 15,000 individuals were killed in political violence between May 1918 and October 1920.

[Sources: Clodfelter, 1992, 618; Hannula 1939; Kirby 1979; Langer, 1972, 1045; Smith 1958; Upton 1980.]