In Finland, the Russian government did not mobilize. However, several hundred Finns volunteered for the Russian army. There was a fundraising fund for the Red Cross, with funds raised by the Finns, a field hospital was opened. In the hospitals of the principality were treated the wounded.
True, Finnish nationalists launched a more active activity. The “allies” of Russia in the Entente, England and France, planned in case of their victory to dismember the Russian Empire weakened in the war, to separate the Baltic States, Finland, the Kingdom of Poland, Ukraine and the Caucasus from it. The same aims were pursued by the German Empire. It is clear that the governments of the "Western democracies" did not advertise their intentions, Petersburg until the last moment had to regularly supply Russian "cannon fodder" to fight the Germans. Germany did not hide its goals. Therefore, the Finnish separatists began to focus on the Second Reich. They organized secret collection and departure points for the Finnish volunteers in the German army. This case was facilitated by the fact that the land and sea borders between Finland and Sweden were transparent. Russian gendarmes checked passengers and baggage on trains going to and from Sweden. But to go through the forests or cross the Gulf of Bothnia on a ship was not particularly difficult.
Part of the Finnish volunteers who joined the Russian army, did it to get military training and experience. Then such volunteers fled the Russian army, and entered the service to the Germans. In January, 1915, Germany announced its readiness to train Finns in military affairs. In groups, in secret, almost 200 young people moved first to Sweden and then to Germany. Finns have been trained at the Lokstedt camp in Schleswig-Holstein since February 1915. In September 1915, the Germans decided to increase the number of students to the size of the battalion in 1900 people. Finland begins secret recruitment across the country. In the spring of 1916, the Prussian Royal Huntsman's Battalion No. 27 was formed under the command of Major M. Bayer. Prussian Royal Chasseurs battalion took part in hostilities against Russia on the side of Germany in the Baltic States. Finnish rangers were transferred to the Riga region, where they participated in battles against Russian troops.
The war itself for the Grand Duchy, given the fact that the fighting did not touch the Finnish land, that the Finns themselves did not fight, did not shed blood and did not rot in the trenches, was extremely profitable. Plants received large military orders, and capitalists big profits. Peasantry and merchants engaged in speculation. Then the Finnish Governor-General F. A. Zayn set price limits for products and basic necessities. As a result, speculators lost super profits in the domestic market. But there was another way to enrich. The countries of the Entente blocked Germany and its allies, depriving them of the opportunity to receive goods and raw materials from neutral countries and colonies. Here Finnish businessmen got a unique opportunity to significantly increase their capital.
Before the war, the principality supplied butter, cheese and other products to European Russia and exported a significant amount of grain. With the beginning of the war, the supply of agricultural products to Russia was significantly reduced, and the supply of bread from Russia to Finland, on the contrary, increased significantly. And it is not surprising that Russian grain, Finnish butter and other products went to Germany with the help of the “Swedish transit”. Sweden still dreamed of revenge for the previous defeats from the Russians, but during World War II, the Swedes quickly realized that with the help of neutrality and through cynical speculation you can get just fabulous profits.
Interestingly, this behavior of the Swedes turned out to be beneficial to all participants in the war, and therefore no one began to catch their hand. As a result, Sweden turned out to be one of the main beneficiaries of the world slaughter, becoming the champion in terms of the wealth earned from it, even among other European countries that also held a neutral position - Denmark, Holland, Switzerland, Norway, etc.
In the autumn of 1915, London and Paris demanded that St. Petersburg stop supplying food and other goods to Germany through Sweden. Foreign Minister S. D. Sazonov informed Tsar Nicholas the Second that the blockade would affect the national interests of Sweden and could lead to its military alliance with Germany, which would worsen Russia's strategic position. Back in 1914, the commander-in-chief of the Russian army, Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolayevich, stated bluntly that Sweden’s entry into the war would be a “catastrophe” and it was necessary “to avoid all that could aggravate Russian-Swedish relations. However, the crisis of the outbreak of war has long passed, and in 1915, Sweden no longer wanted to fight, and sought to earn as much as possible at the bloodbath. Thus, because of the lack of will of the tsarist government, “Swedish transit” flourished and brought fabulous profits to Swedish and Finnish businessmen.
In the course of such trade, very interesting things were happening. In October, 1915 was imported from Russia to Sweden by a large batch of grain as payment for the production of 150 thousand gun barrels - the Russian army then experienced an acute shortage of rifles. Production weapons for a belligerent country it was a direct violation of neutrality, but for the sake of gain, Sweden easily compromised with the principles, and the Russian grain was immediately sold to Germany. The Russian authorities for the sake of additional rifles, and the Germans for the sake of additional bread together closed their eyes to such a brazen violation.
Finland could easily have remained part of Russia after the socialist revolution as one of the republics, if not for external intervention. In 1916, the Finnish Social Democratic Party (SDPF), founded back in 1899 at the convention in Turku, won the majority of the elections to the Seym. The left wing of the party, headed by O. Kuusinen, K. Manner and Y. Sirola, maintained close ties with the Bolshevik party and personally with V. Lenin. After the February Revolution in Russia in the industrial centers of Finland formed the working Diet, the Working order of the Guard and the Red Guard. The prototype was the militant workers' squads that were created during the 1905 Revolution of the year. They were staffed mainly from the workers and partly the rural poor under the leadership of political activists and the socialist intelligentsia. Many among the Red Guards were women and teenagers.
The leading revolutionary bodies were the Helsingfors Diet of Workers 'Organizations (created in March 1917) and the left wing of the SDPF, which collaborated with the Russian Soviets of Soldiers' Deputies and the sailor committees of the Baltic fleet and Soviets of workers' deputies. Guided by the Regional Committee of the Army, Navy and Workers of Finland, with the Helsingfors Committee of the RSDLP (b), with the Finnish National District of the Petrograd Organization of the RSDLP (b).
The interim government in March 1917 reestablished the autonomy of Finland, but came against its complete independence. At the request of the Social Democratic Party, the Finnish Diet passed in July 1917 of the year (taking advantage of the unrest in Petrograd) the “Law on Power”, which limits the competence of the Provisional Government in Finland to military and foreign policy. The Provisional Government, restoring order to Petrograd and using the support of the Finnish bourgeoisie and nationalists, broke up the Sejm. In the meantime, the Finnish bourgeoisie and the nationalists actively formed their troops — guard detachments, sückcor (the word originated from the Swede. Skyddskår - “guard corps”). They were also called the White Guard, the White Finns. They were based on the sports association "Union of Strength", created in 1906 year. The main exercises of the members of the "sports society" were sniper shooting and increasing physical endurance.
Emblem of the General Staff of the Security Corps of Finland
In October, 1917 was held a new election to the Seimas, which took place with numerous violations by the nationalists. As a result, the bourgeoisie and the nationalists received a majority in the Diet. The SDPP Board and the Finnish Trade Union Executive Committee 26 of October (8 of November) welcomed the victory of the October armed uprising in Petrograd. October 31 - November November 6 (November 13 – 19) there was a general strike in Finland for the implementation of the economic and political demands of the workers. The Red Guard disarmed the bourgeois detachments, occupied administrative buildings, railway stations, telegraph and telephone exchanges, and took over the protection of public order. In many cities, power has actually passed to the workers. However, the Central Revolutionary Council (formed in November), after the Saeima approved resolutions on taking over the supreme authority and laws on the 8-hour day and democratizing the system of communal elections, urged the workers to stop the strike. 13 (26) November, the Sejm approved the Senate, headed by Per Evind Swinhouvud.
December 4 Senate Swinhuvuda signed the Declaration of Independence of Finland. 6 December 1917, the Seimas unilaterally proclaimed Finland an independent state. 18 (31) December 1917 The Soviet government headed by Vladimir Lenin recognized the independence of Finland. Officially, the ratification took place on 4 on January 1918. Apparently, initially the Soviet government was confident in the victory of the “Reds” in Finland, after which it had to return to the sphere of influence of Russia.
The Soviet government did not yet know that in December 1917, Svinhovud entered into negotiations with Germany and sent all the gold from a Finnish bank from Helsingfors to the north of the country. Also, the Finnish bourgeois government conducted a secret operation to buy grain from the peasants at extremely inflated prices. Purchased grain was also stored in the north of the country. Having learned about the large purchases of grain at high prices, the peasants practically ceased supplying cities. The country was threatened with hunger. Especially strongly shortage of bread affected the city, although it was felt everywhere.
All this was done during the preparation of the war in order to bring the entire country under the control of the bourgeoisie and nationalists. 9 January 1918, the government of Swinhuvud authorized the White Guard command (sützkor) to restore public order in the country. On the night of January 10, the White Finns clashed with the Red Guard. On January 12, the parliament passed laws granting emergency authority to the government of Svinhovud and taking over the government. On January 16, the Senate, which received extraordinary powers from the Sejm, appointed former Tsarist General Carl Gustav Mannerheim to be the commander-in-chief of the White Guard. The political and military center of counter-revolution was created in the city of Vasa (Nikolaistadt). On January 25, the Senate proclaimed all the formations of the lawyer to be the legal forces of the Finnish government. In February, Mannerheim introduces a universal military duty, guaranteeing the army the necessary number. At the same time, the main part of the Finnish rangers' battalion that fought on the German side returned from the Baltic states. They became part of the "white" Finnish army.
At the same time, the moderates and the radicals of the Social Democratic Party 23 in January created the Workers' Executive Committee, the highest revolutionary body that prepared the coup plan. On January 26, the committee ordered the Working Guard to prepare for the seizure of all government agencies and strategic locations. On January 27, the committee issued a “Revolutionary Appeal to the Finnish People.” The working guard of the order and the Red guard united to adopt the name of the latter. The signal for the beginning of the revolution was a red flag, raised in Helsingfors on the evening of January 27 on the tower of the People’s House. Folk houses in Finland were similar to similar institutions in other Scandinavian countries — they were controlled by social democrats and exercised educational, educational, and cultural functions among workers.
On the night of 27 on 28 in January, Red Guard units in Helsingfors, in response to the sabotage attacks of the white forces, occupied the Council building and other central institutions. The bourgeois government fled from Helsingfors. On January 28 a revolutionary government was formed - the Council of People's Commissioners (SNU) consisting of Social Democrat Manner (chairman), Sirola, Kuusinen and others. The supreme authority is the Chief Workers Council of the 35 people (10 - from the SDPF Party Council, 10 - from the trade unions, 10 - from the Red Guard, 5 - from the Helsingfors Workers' Sejm). Its chairman was Valfrid Perttila. The workers of Abo, Tammerfors, Pori, Kotka, Lahti, Vyborg and other cities of the south rose up to the struggle. Under the control of the "red" government was the most developed territory, where lived around 2 / 3 population of the country. Under the control of the former "white" government remained, although large in territory, but far less populated north and much of central Finland.
On January 29, the Council published the Declaration, which contained the program of the bourgeois-democratic revolution. At the initiative of the workers, the old state apparatus was scrapped, workers were controlled at enterprises, railways, etc. The revolutionary upsurge forced the SNU to move to a more decisive policy. Control was established over private banks, counter-revolutionary newspapers were closed, the Supreme Revolutionary Court was established, and the Sejm of workers' organizations actually became the organs of the dictatorship of the proletariat. February 23 published a draft democratic constitution. Finland was proclaimed a republic. However, large industrial enterprises and private banks were not nationalized, land and forests were not confiscated from large landowners and timber companies, the issue of allotment of land to small farmers was not resolved, etc. The Council did not take the necessary decisive measures to ensure state security and liquidate counterrevolutionary underground.
The battalion of Finnish rangers at the parade in Liepaja, summer 1917
To be continued ...