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Emancipating Finns (the s.c.nordic FAQ)
nordic flags
The home pages for the Usenet newsgroup soc.culture.nordic
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Emancipating Finns

 

4.3.5 Finland as a Russian Grand Duchy

The time as a Grand-Duchy under the Russian Emperor is generally regarded as very good times for Finland.

Finland enjoys an economic autonomy, the taxes from Finland are spent in Finland. Finland gets a National Bank of its own, a currency of its own, and a customs service of its own.

Finland also gets a Civil Service of its own, and in all aspects a more independent position then she had had as one of many parts in the Swedish realm. (The position of Finland in the Swedish realm is sometimes compared to the present-day position of Norrland.)


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Pulska-alli
Painting by
Magnus von Wright
The Russian interest to draw Finland apart from Sweden, and to thereby make a re-conquest less likely, led to reforms which gradually promoted the use of Finnish language -  explicit expressions of nationalism were repressed, however.

Between 1863 and 1902, the status of the Finnish language in the Civil Service was gradually equalized with that of the Swedish language.

The 19th century was also the time when scholars and scientists in Finland began to be identified as Finns (and not Swedes) by the surrounding world. For the self-esteem of the Finns it was of particular importance that prominent scientists (such as for instance family of geologists Nordenskiöld and the family of zoologists von Wright of which Magnus von Wright, became famous for his outstanding zoological paintings) were working at the University of Helsinki.

From year 1869, the Parliament was to be regularly summoned every fifth year, although briefly 1899-1905 the Parliament was given a subordinate role in the legislative process as a step in the Russian policy of tying Finland closer to Russia. Until Russia's defeat by Japan in 1905 the situation in Finland remains very tense. Then the decree from 1899 is revoked, and common suffrage, equal for all men and women, is enacted in 1906.

The Social Democrats get a strong, bordering to very strong, position in the Parliament, but the Left loses its confidence in democracy as discussions and compromises with Liberals and/or Conservatives turn out to give very poor results. Furthermore: the Russian representative uses his power to close the Parliament to hinder radical reforms.

At the end of the first World War, the educated classes in Finland were (like those in Sweden) heavily oriented towards Germany. During the war, a number of Finnish men (mainly young and mainly of the educated classes, with pro-German and right-wing views) have secretly fled to Germany to receive military education, training and experience.

 

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4.3.6 The independence of Finland

As the political situation in Russia gets increasingly chaotic after the revolutions in 1917, Finland prepares for liberation. ...or sooner: the Conservative farmers and the educated class prepare for Independence. The agrarian and urban proletarians, inspired by the October Revolution in Russia, instead prepare for a World Revolution. Strikes, riots and shootouts occur in several cities and towns; as well as some widely-publicized murders.

The former organized so-called Security Corps - the latter Red Militia.

As Finland's parliament declares Finland a sovereign state on December 6th 1917, the "Security Corps" claim status as the national army, and the polarity between the Corps and the Red Militia aggravates further.

(The Åland Islands try to become independent too - from Finland! - but fail to achieve this.)

According to a revoked law from 1878, a compulsory military service is introduced, and the remaining Russian troops are required to leave. As they don't, they are disarmed by the National Army. This triggers the mobilization of the Red Militias of southern Finland against the "White" government at the end of January 1918.

The Civil War lasts only three months, but is both bitter and bloody. Initially, southern Finland (with a majority of the country's population and its major urban centers) is controlled by the Red Militias, while the White government controls the predominantly agrarian northern and central provinces.

Eventually, the White side defeats the Red, aided by volunteering officers from Sweden (8,000 man) and Norway (700 man), Finnish officers from the Czar's army, the Finnish officers educated in Germany and additionally also military support from Germany. Some 30,000 people (out of 3 mill. population) die as a result of the war; when the Red fronts collapse at end of April, the Militia leaders go underground or flee to Russia; tens of thousands of rank-and-file surrendered militia troops, male and female, are placed in prison camps. Several thousands are executed. At end of May 1918, General Mannerheim receives the White victory parade in Helsinki.

The Civil War is followed by enhanced orientation toward Germany, and a German prince is proposed to become king of Finland. As Germany loses the World War, this alternative becomes politically unrealistic.

 

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4.3.7 Wars with the Soviet Union

This section is not yet written


But, hei!

Angela writes:

> I need to know for school why that a high percentage 
> of Jewish people survived in Finland.

Hiski Haapoja replies:
Because the Finnish government didn't give in to German demands to deport them. The only known case is 8 Central European refugees, one of whom survived.  

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4.3.8 Finland after the wars

This section is not yet written



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© Copyright 1994-2001 by Antti Lahelma and Johan Olofsson.
You are free to quote this page as long as you mention the URL.
The line of flags is modified after a picture at det Åländska skoldatanätet.
This page was last updated June the 27th in the year of 1998.

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