Military Review

Finland as a "strong pillow Petersburg"

Finland as a part of the Russian Empire actually possessed regional autonomy. It was so broad that it bordered on autonomy based on dynastic union. The Grand Duchy has become a “state within a state.” As a part of Russia, flourishing of Finland began, which was previously the remote outskirts of the Swedish kingdom.

In 1811, the Finnish Bank was established, the fourth of the oldest central banks in the world. In the year 1860, by decree of Emperor Alexander II, its own currency was introduced on the territory of the Grand Duchy of Finland - the Finnish brand, which contained a quarter of the Russian ruble. Five years later, in the 1865 year, it was separated from the ruble and tied to the international silver standard, and later, in the 1877 year, to the gold one.

All questions of Finnish self-government were carried out through the residence of the Finnish minister, the state secretary with residence in St. Petersburg, signed by the king and did not pass through the Russian bureaucracy. As a result, the opportunity was created to connect liberal-minded leaders who could be members of the Swedish party to the decision of the interior. At the head of the local administrative institutions was the governing council, in 1816, transformed into the Imperial Finnish Senate.

In 1812, Helsinki became the capital of Finland (before that - Turku). The purpose of this was to enable the territorial reorientation of the Finnish elite to Petersburg. For the same reason, in 1828, the university from Turku was transferred to a new capital. In the same direction, Alexander's order to begin in the capital the monumental construction was modeled on neoclassical Petersburg (therefore, the Finnish capital is very similar to Petersburg). The work was entrusted to the architects Ehrenstrom and Engel. At the same time, work began on improving the infrastructure of the territory. Thus, the Finns for the first time in stories felt like a single nation, with a single culture, history, language and self-awareness. In all spheres of public life reigned patriotic rise. In the 1835 year, E. Lönnrot publishes Kalevala, immediately recognized not only in the country, but also in the world as the national Finnish epos, which occupied an honorable place in world literature.

In the reign of Tsar Nicholas I, the country was ruled by local authorities on the basis of local laws, but the Diet did not convene even once. In 1831, Nikolai Pavlovich ordered the Grand Duchy of Finland to be divided into 8 provinces. Thus 4 province remained the same boundaries: Abosko-Borneborgskaya (Abo), Viborgskaya (Viborg) Vazaskaya (Vase) and Uleoborgsko-Kayan (Oulu) and 4 were formed: Nyulandskaya (Helsinki) Tavastguskaya (Tavastgus) St Michel (St. Michael) and Kuopios (Kuopio).

During the reign of Nicholas I in the Finnish educated society, national identity awoke. It has received the name of phenomnia. Phenomanism mainly took literary and scientific direction. Later, the opponents in the political arena became the beastmen who defended the rights of the Swedish language as an instrument of Swedish cultural influence on Finland. The Finnish national movement was suspected of separatism. The Russian government adopted a number of restrictive measures, in particular, introduced censorship. However, this order was soon canceled. Nikolai, engaged in more serious problems (the uprising in Poland and Hungary, the Eastern Question, etc.), did not attach serious importance to the nationalist movement in Finland. “Leave the Finns alone. This is the only part of my state that never brought us to anger, ”he said to Tsarevich Alexander Nikolaevich.

The reign of Tsar Alexander II was the era of the rapid economic and cultural development of the Grand Duchy of Finland. The Saimaa Canal was dug - 1856 year, in 1862, the first railway line between Helsinki and Hemenlinna was built, through 8 years - the railway line connecting Helsinki with Vyborg and St. Petersburg. In the year 1860, by decree of Alexander II, the own currency, the mark, was introduced in the territory of the Grand Duchy. In 1865, the brand was first separated from the ruble, and tied to the international silver standard (in 1878, to the gold standard, at the level of the French franc). The country has its own cadres of officials and judges, its own mail and even its own army. The metric system is introduced in 1887 — 1892. In 1863, a language law was passed, equalizing Finnish and Swedish as official languages. The decree of the king stopped the long-standing opposition of supporters of these languages. In Finland, introduced universal compulsory schooling. In 1858, classes began in the first Finnish gymnasium, and in 1872, the first Finnish theater began to give performances in Pori. In memory of the king and his “Era of Liberal Reforms”, which replaced 500-year-old Swedish rule and opened the era of state independence, a monument was erected on Senate Square.

In 1863, Tsar Alexander Nikolaevich personally opened the Diet. In 1869, the Seimas Charter (actually the constitution) was issued. The general meeting of the Senate was allowed to independently resolve a number of cases related to the administration of the principality. In 1877, the Sejm adopted a statute on conscription for Finland. Diet convened every five years. At the beginning of the reign of Emperor Alexander III, some events were held that were planned during the previous reign: Finnish troops were formed, the Diet received the right to initiate legislative issues (1886 year).

Finland even got its army! Before the 1878, the armed forces of the Grand Duchy of Finland consisted of one guards rifle battalion. In the 1878-1881 years, 8 rifle battalions were also formed, later a dragoon regiment was added to them. In 1890, Finnish troops numbered 220 officers, 507 non-commissioned officers and 4848 privates. In 1900, these numbers were 239, 590 and 5237 people. Finnish units were stationed only in Finland. Finns were called only to Finnish units, but Finnish officers could voluntarily serve in any part of the Russian Empire.

Thus, Finland, long before Russia itself, received self-government, universal compulsory schooling and the Constitution. At the same time, the Grand Duchy had its own management system, its own currency and army. Funds from the empire's budget went to Finland more than taxes came from there. And the princedom did not deliver recruits to the army. It turned out that within Russia there was a state formation (a state within a state) created by the Russian authorities themselves!

The status of Finland also had other advantages. So, the Russian army and fleet gave work to thousands of Finns. In Finland, gun carriages (machine tools) were ordered for very serious amounts. In the 1890th century, hundreds of warships and auxiliary ships were built for the Baltic Fleet at Abbey, Bjarneborg, Helsingfors and others. Russian garrisons and sailors left many thousands of rubles in the Grand Duchy. In Finland there was no persecution of local Protestants. The Orthodox Church almost did not carry out missionary activity in the principality. The Russian government did not encourage the influx of Russian immigrants into Finland, despite the low population density there. As a result, the principality was not Russified with the help of demographic policy. So, in 86, 13,5% of the population of the Grand Duchy of Finland were Finns, 0,4% were Swedes, and only XNUMX% of Russians and other nationalities.

It is worth noting that during almost the entire XIX century. The procedure for the enactment of general imperial laws in Finland, the exercise of supreme imperial rights in the territory of the Grand Duchy was not developed. This opened up a wide field for lawyers, state and public figures in interpreting the legal status of Finland within Russia and assessing the legality of the actions of the Russian authorities regarding the principality.

Alexander the Third and Nicholas II, realizing that such a situation was dangerous, began to pursue a policy of restricting Finnish independence, Russification. In 1894, the Penal Code of the Grand Duchy of Finland fixed the indication that the Finns were Russian nationals. Alexander Alexandrovich sought to achieve the unification of the customs, postal and monetary systems of Finland with the general imperial system. So, in 1890, the Finnish postal and telegraph office is subordinate to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia. However, Alexander III did not have time to complete this important matter.

By the Manifesto of February 3 of 1899, issues of national importance were withdrawn from the jurisdiction of the Finnish Diet. In 1900, the manifesto “On the gradual introduction of the Russian language in paperwork” was issued. In the period from 1898 to 1904, the governor-general of Finland was N. I. Bobrikov. He pursued a policy of establishing uniformity of order in Finland and the rest of the empire, which sometimes went against the constitution of the principality. In 1904, the governor was killed on the steps of the Senate. The Russian revolution 1905 of the year coincided with the rise of the separatist movement of the Finns, and all of Finland joined the All-Russian strike. Tsar Nicholas II was forced to repeal decrees restricting the Finnish autonomy. Moreover, Finland received new rights. In 1906, a new democratic electoral law was passed that gave women the right to vote. Finland became the first territory in Europe where women got the right to vote. In establishing universal suffrage, the number of voters in the country grew 10 times, the old four-division parliament was replaced by a one-chamber parliament.

In 1908 - 1914 the tsarist government tried to continue the policy of Russification of the Grand Duchy, but without much success. This has already caused a serious wave of Finnish separatism, based on the general trend of degradation of the building of the Russian Empire and the tsarist government, which could not bring order to its territory. Finland has become one of the bases of the Russian revolutionary movement, a real “raspberry” for revolutionaries of all stripes, since there they were actually safe from the gendarmes.

Finland as a "strong pillow Petersburg"

Bank of Finland building. The building project was designed by German architect Ludwig Bonstedt. The building was built in 1882 year. In front of the bank there is a monument to the Minister of Finance and ideologist of the Finnish national movement Johan Snellman (1806 - 1881)

Why did Russia even need Finland? Mainly due to military strategic considerations. The meaning of the wars with Sweden was to solve the problem of the defense of the north-western strategic direction and the capital, St. Petersburg (because of this factor, Russia also needs the Baltic States). The Gulf of Finland is the western gate of St. Petersburg. The southern coast of the bay is flat and low, that is inconvenient for the construction of fortresses and coastal batteries. On the Finnish coast is a rugged coast with thousands of small islands and rocks - skerries. It is there that is convenient to build coastal fortifications. Skerries allowed enemy ships to go from the shores of Sweden directly to Kronstadt. Even a strong fleet operating in the Gulf of Finland could not intercept them without entering the skerries. Not surprisingly, Alexander Pavlovich said that Finland should become a "strong pillow of St. Petersburg."

At the beginning of the XIX century in the Gulf of Finland there were four sea fortresses - Kronstadt, Sveaborg, Vyborg and Revel. In the middle of the century, the Revel fortress was abolished. In 1830, they began to build the Bomarzund fortress on the Aland Islands. But it was built very slowly and by the Crimean (Eastern) War only one-fifth of the works were completed. In the summer of 1854, the Anglo-French landing force seized an unfinished fortress. In 1856, the Aland Islands belonging to Russia were declared a demilitarized zone. England and France during the Eastern War tried several times to persuade Sweden to attack the Russian Empire. However, the Swedes remembered the old lessons well and did not allow themselves to be made “cannon fodder” again in the fight against Russia. Although for taking part in the war, which ended in the defeat of Russia, they could get a part of Finland. As subsequent events showed, the Swedes did this time wisely. In the 1870 year, Prussia utterly defeated France and Russia lifted the 1856 restrictions of the year. At this time, she could easily return and occupied by Sweden.

Computer model of the fortress of Bomarsund

Russia continued to strengthen the northwestern direction in order to protect the capital. A single Baltic fleet was not enough to solve this complex task. In 1909, the construction of two powerful forts began on the southern coast of the Gulf of Finland near the town of Krasnaya Gorka and on the Finnish coast near the village of Ino. Later, these forts were named Nicholas and Alekseevsky - in honor of the king and his son, the heir. The forts were finally operational by the end of 1914. At the end of 1912, the construction of the artillery position of Revel-Porkalaudsky position began - it was called the “Peter the Great Fortress”.

In connection with the beginning of World War II, the agreement on the demilitarization of the Aland Islands became invalid. In May, the Russians began to equip the artillery of the Abo-Aland skerry position, which was incorporated into the Peter the Great Fortress. By December 1917, the territory of Finland was saturated with artillery weapons - coastal and field guns. Guns from the Kronstadt fortress, part of the guns of the Vladivostok fortress, barrels bought in Japan in 1915 - 1916, and even guns from the disarmed Amur flotilla were delivered to the Finnish territory. Almost all of these guns and tens of thousands of shells to them - a huge arsenal, will go to Finland when it becomes independent. As a result, Finland received a fleet of artillery parks, which in their power will exceed the artillery of several northern European states at once - Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Holland.

And Russia has a huge gap in the northwest strategic direction. And the problem will be extremely difficult, given the aggressive policy of the new Finnish state, which seeks to create "Great Finland" at the expense of the Russian lands and the Finns' orientation towards the enemies of Russia - the Second Reich, England and France, then Germany again - the Third Reich. Soviet Russia will have to take emergency measures to protect the second Soviet capital - Leningrad (Petersburg) and the Leningrad industrial region.

Open marine battery with Kanet 152-mm gun on a wooden platform. Sea fortress named after Emperor Peter the Great, 1916-1917

To be continued ...
Articles from this series:
How the Finns were freed from the "prison of nations"
How Russia donated Finland’s statehood
Dear reader, to leave comments on the publication, you must to register.

I have an account? Sign in

  1. parusnik
    parusnik 15 December 2017 07: 40
    The Russian government did not encourage the influx of Russian immigrants to Finland
    ... As in the Baltic states, Transcaucasia ...
  2. Blue cop
    Blue cop 15 December 2017 11: 13
    Plus, and I want to say - that Finland was the most important outpost of Russia.
    It is enough to recall the war in the Baltic in 1914-17. and in 1944-45. (when submariners began to use Finnish ports as a base).
    It is a pity that neither in 1939-40, nor in 1944 did they attach this valuable territory (or at least included in the social camp).
    1. Monarchist
      Monarchist 15 December 2017 15: 49
      "at least include in heard", so that they, like Fell, and other countries of "socialist orientation" change their shoes in a jump?
      As I recall, under the terms of the 1940 peace agreement. Finland provided the Soviet Union with a naval base on the Zharko peninsula for a period of 50 years. But in 1956, "faithful Leninist" with prompts Vasilievsky (?) Or "left foot" N. S. Khrushchev refused then the Navy at Hanko and at that time the main points of the construction of communism were formed. In the seventies, Brezhnev realized that there was no way to build communism and put forward the slogan "developed socialism." In the late 70s, we built a gorgeous naval base in Kamranna and sold it to Vietnam for a ruble. Apparently, Brezhnev still believed in the inviolability of the social block.
  3. Monarchist
    Monarchist 15 December 2017 16: 07
    On the website, comrades have already noted that if "Russia is a prison of peoples" then Finland was provided with a privileged camera. And now we can add that the "prisoners" had their own "overseers": their own armed forces! Thanks to the author for reminding me, otherwise I forgot about such a detail.
    As I recall now: we were told a lot in the school “Ilich’s hut”, how poor Ilyich passed the bay at night. Something about the Sveaborg uprising, but that Finland had its own currency and its own army (a "prison" is good) NOT A WORD. About the Finnish brand, something was mentioned in the textbook, but I DO NOT REMEMBER about the ARMY!
  4. Monarchist
    Monarchist 15 December 2017 16: 11
    Quote: parusnik
    The Russian government did not encourage the influx of Russian immigrants to Finland
    ... As in the Baltic states, Transcaucasia ...

    In Transcaucasia, unlike Finland, many Russians lived
  5. Lexus
    Lexus 15 December 2017 16: 12
    In fact, it turned out to be a pillow-pad.
  6. Viktor.N.Aleksandrov.
    Viktor.N.Aleksandrov. 15 December 2017 21: 38
    The sovereigns of the privileged territories created at one time - the "kingdom of Poland", "the great principality of Finland"! No, to Russify everything, you see, and the territories were preserved. But Lenin and his comrades took the same path, laying a mine already under the new state - "you see, they wanted to ..." until the separation ...
  7. lwimu1976
    lwimu1976 8 February 2018 09: 19
    Quote: lexus
    In fact, it turned out to be a pillow-pad.