Finnish language in the republic had official status, and the slogan inscribed on the coat of arms "Workers of all countries, unite!" in Finnish it sounds like "Kaikkien maiden proletaarit, liittykää yhteen". Before 1956, the slogan in Finnish was also present on the coat of arms of the Soviet Union. On the left you can see if you look closely.
However, this republic was rather indirectly related to Finland and was located mainly on the territory of modern Karelia. It originated in March 1940 of the year - right after the end of the Soviet-Finnish war. Let's try to deal with history the emergence of this national education. It will be necessary to tell a rather long prehistory, which is closely connected with the Soviet-Finnish war.
Soviet Finland first appeared in January 1918, when a socialist revolution broke out in Helsinki and, after it, a civil war that lasted until May 1918. During the Finnish civil war, the Finnish Socialist Workers' Republic was proclaimed (Suomen sosialistinen työväentasavalta), headed by the chairman of the Social Democratic Party of Finland Kullervo Manner. But as a result of the defeat of the Finnish Reds, this republic dissolved itself, and its government fled to the RSFSR. Manner himself, by the way, disappeared twenty years later in the Stalinist camps.
In Karelia, during the Civil War, the Karelian Labor Commune was established, transformed in 1923 into the Karelian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic as part of the RSFSR.
In the autumn of 1939, when World War II broke out, the security issue of Leningrad became more acute. The problem was that in the immediate vicinity — approximately 25 kilometers from the second largest Soviet city — the border with Finland passed, and in the event that any third major European power appeared in Finland (first of all, of course, Germany), the security of Leningrad would be under serious threat - direct shelling from the shore of the Gulf of Finland could have blocked the Soviet navy in Kronstadt, and shots of long-range guns located on the border could reach industrial areas of Leningrad. In order to prevent such a turn of events, the USSR government in October 1939 proposes Finland to exchange territories: Finland needs to give up half of the Karelian Isthmus and a number of islands in the Gulf of Finland, in exchange the Soviet Union undertakes to give Finland twice the territory in Karelia. The second requirement of the Soviet side was to lease the Hanko Peninsula for the construction of a naval base, in order to cover the entrance to the Gulf of Finland. The territorial requirements of the Soviet Union are shown on the map below. The light yellow color indicates the territory that the USSR demanded from Finland, the light pink color - which it pledged to give in return, the dark brown line marked the state border.
Finland rejects all proposals, negotiations come to a standstill, and, due to the obvious impossibility of a peaceful resolution of the situation, 30 November 1939 begins the Soviet-Finnish war, also known as the Winter War (Talvisota). On the second day of the war, the puppet state of the Finnish Democratic Republic (Suomen kansantasavalta) was proclaimed and the so-called “people's government of Finland” was formed, which met in the Finnish border village of Terioki (now Zelenogorsk, a suburb of St. Petersburg). Even before the start of the war, Moscow broke off diplomatic relations with Helsinki and now de jure recognized the "people's government" as the only legitimate government of Finland. With the Finnish Democratic Republic, led by the Finnish Communist and prominent leader of the Comintern, Otto Ville Kuusinen, the Treaty of Friendship and Mutual Assistance was concluded, according to which the required exchange of territories took place. However, on a much larger scale, the USSR officially “gave” Finland not 5 and a half, but 70 thousands of square kilometers of territory, as shown on the map below.
Here I must retreat. There is a common point of view, according to which the plans of the Soviet leadership allegedly included the complete capture and Sovietization of Finland with its transformation into the sixteenth republic. I cannot agree with this point of view - it was planned only to temporarily occupy the country’s territory and, having sent troops into Helsinki, to force the Finnish government to sign peace on the terms on which the treaty was signed with Kuusinen’s puppet government. This government itself was created as an instrument of political pressure on the official government of Finland, and the possibility of using force to plant it in Helsinki was intended only as a last resort, however, this would not mean the sovietization of Finland. At the very beginning of the war, the puppet government was also used as an element of Soviet propaganda, which reported that the Red Army was going to Finland to liberate the working people of the Finnish people from the "bourgeois oppressors", but when it became clear that this very people had resisted the Red Army, - propaganda faded into the background. On the whole, I cannot for certain deny that in Stalin's thoughts there might have been intentions to Sovietize Finland, but this was not an end in itself.
Слева: Otto Ville Kuusinen. Photo 1920 of the year. On right: Signing of the Treaty of Friendship and Mutual Assistance between the USSR and the Finnish Democratic Republic. 1 December 1939 of the year
Under the terms of the treaty, the USSR recognized half of Karelia in Finnish territory, and in Moscow, maps had already been issued, where half of the Karelian isthmus is marked by Soviet territory, and the western half of Karelia is Finnish. On the new border it was already planned to begin the construction of border fortifications. The agreement on the exchange of territories was enshrined in a rather eloquent wording:
“... recognizing that the time has come for the fulfillment of the age-old aspirations of the Finnish people to reunite the Karelian people with their kindred Finnish people in a single Finnish state ...”
That, in general, is true. During the years of the Russian Civil War, Finland attempted to conquer Karelia.
However, the Red Army had extremely low combat readiness and was unable to conduct combat operations in the Karelian taiga. It fights with great difficulty against the much weaker and smaller Finnish army and suffers four times the heavy losses. Already in the first days of the war, it was clear that a quick march to Helsinki would not work, and the war was becoming protracted. Two weeks after the start of the war, the Red Army stopped on the Karelian Isthmus, unable to storm the Mannerheim Line - a strip of defensive structures stretched from the Gulf of Finland to Lake Ladoga; north of Ladoga, near the village of Kollaa, near the town of Suojärvi, the Finns stubbornly keep the defenses in the trenches, and in North Karelia the offensive completely fails - the Soviet divisions are surrounded. Mannerheim managed to break through the line only in February of the 1940 year - after lengthy preparation and transportation of reinforcements. In early March, the Red Army reached Vyborg, and the official Finnish government agreed to sign peace before the Red Army entered Helsinki. However, the conditions of the world were much more difficult for Finland, - the USSR demanded not half of the Karelian Isthmus, but all of South-West Karelia, including Vyborg, Kexholm (now Priozersk), Sortavala and Suojärvi, as well as the eastern part of the Salla polar volost with Kuolajärvi and Alakurtti, besides without compensation. It is difficult to say exactly why the requirements have expanded. Perhaps it was a certain act of reckoning for the huge losses of the Red Army, suffered during the war. Under the terms of the world, the Soviet Union also received a military base on the Hanko Peninsula. The world that ended the Soviet-Finnish war was signed in Moscow on March 12, 1940. The puppet government was then dissolved.
We now turn directly to the subject of the article. As previously reported, at the beginning of the war, Soviet propaganda reported on the "liberation of Finnish working people", and by agreement with the puppet Finnish Democratic Republic, the USSR de jure gave it half of Karelia. Accordingly, as the final part of this propaganda, it was decided to establish a separate union republic - the Karelian-Finnish SSR, which, in addition to Karelia itself, also included territories conquered from Finland.
Republic received the following outlines:
Thus, no matter how absurd it may sound, one could argue that a part of the Finnish people were still liberated, despite the fact that almost all Finnish residents of the conquered lands left their homes and moved to Finland. Actually, the republic itself could be conditionally divided into Karelia and Soviet Finland. “Soviet Finland” can be conditionally considered the territory to the west of the border established by the agreement with the puppet government (although this agreement was canceled), as well as the land actually seized from Finland. This division can be represented as follows (shown by the green line).
By the way, pay attention to where the border of the Karelian-Finnish and Russian Union republics lies on the Karelian Isthmus. And it passes to the north than the old border with Finland, because half of the Karelian Isthmus, which the Soviet side demanded before the war at the negotiations, was officially “received” by the Soviet Union, again, under an agreement with the puppet government. Therefore, in this place the border of the RSFSR with the Karelian-Finnish SSR coincides with the border that the USSR demanded from Finland at the talks.
The decision to establish the Karelian-Finnish SSR was taken at the 6 session of the USSR Supreme Council 31 in March 1940. And it was again headed by Otto Kuusinen. Proponents of the version that Stalin sought to sovietize Finland, as a rule, tend to believe that the Karelian-Finnish SSR was created as a foundation for the future accession of Finland to the USSR. But, in my opinion, it would be more logical to assume that Stalin decided to keep Finland in tight rein (although Nikolai Ivanovich proper, thanks to whom this expression appeared, was already shot) as an unreliable neighbor, and for this purpose kept the same method political pressure on this state, as during the Soviet-Finnish war, only then was the puppet government of the Finnish Democratic Republic, and now the Karelian-Finnish union republic. Well, in order to have a more severe influence on Finland, the USSR in 1944 demanded a military base on the Porkkala peninsula 20 kilometers from Helsinki, thus keeping the Finnish capital at gunpoint. Well, the second goal of the creation of the Karelian-Finnish Republic could be, as I have already mentioned, propaganda.
Flag and coat of arms of the Karelian-Finnish SSR
It should be noted that by that moment Karelia was rather backward by the standards of the Soviet Union in a region where there were no large-scale productions. The Finno-Ugric peoples - Karelians, Finns and Vepsians, formally considered the titular nation of the republic, were in fact a national minority, making up about 30 percent of the population. The remaining 70 percent were predominantly Slavs - Russians, Ukrainians, Belarusians, including those delivered by trains to the lands seized from Finland in order to settle the depopulated region. And the Finns who inhabited the republic were not indigenous: they were either Finnish revolutionaries who fled from Finland after the defeat of the Reds in the Finnish civil war, or Ingermanland Finns who were expelled by the Soviet authorities from the Leningrad region, including after returning from deportation. And after the abolition of the republic there was a joke: "The Karelian-Finnish republic was abolished, because they found only two Finns in it - the financial inspector and Finkelstein." Of course, there were no objective reasons for giving Karelia the status of a union republic, and the Karelian-Finnish SSR was essentially an ephemeral decoration.
The Karelian-Finnish SSR became a theater of large-scale military operations during the Great Patriotic War. In the summer and autumn of 1941, most of the republic was occupied by Allied Germans by Finnish troops (despite the common misconception, the Finns crossed the old border, and how), in the northern part of the republic there were German units based in Northern Finland. The government of the republic was located in Belomorsk during the war, and the headquarters of the Karelian Front were located there. Life in the territory occupied by the Finns was generally less difficult than in the German occupation. However, the Slavic population as “non-national” was significantly affected by rights compared to the Finno-Ugric, was placed in concentration camps and in the long term had to be sent to the zone of German occupation.
Children - prisoners of the Finnish concentration camp in Petrozavodsk.
The picture was presented as evidence at the Nuremberg trials.
In the summer of 1944, as a result of the Vyborg-Petrozavodsk offensive operation, the Karelian-Finnish SSR was completely liberated, and on September 19, the USSR 1944 signed a separate peace treaty with Finland, according to the terms of which Finland declared war on Germany, turning weapon against yesterday’s ally, and starting hostilities against the German units stationed in the northern part of Finland. These events are called "Lapland War" (Lapin sota).
In 1944, the territory of the RSFSR was slightly increased at the expense of the neighboring Union republics, including the Karelo-Finnish. So from the Latvian SSR, the Pytalovsky district, which became part of the Pskov region, was transferred to the RSFSR; from Estonia - Ivangorod and the right bank of the Narova, as well as the Pechora region, which are included in the composition of the Leningrad and Pskov regions, respectively from the Karelian-Finnish SSR, the Vyborg and Kexholm districts (the northern part of the Karelian Isthmus) were transferred to the RSFSR, which became part of the Leningrad Region. In 1948, on the Karelian Isthmus (that is, already on the territory of the Leningrad Region), a wave of mass renaming of settlements was carried out (this will soon be a separate post), not affecting the Karelian-Finnish part of the lands seized from Finland. In 1953 and 1955, respectively, from the Karelian-Finnish SSR, the Alakurtti and Kuolajärvi villages, which became part of the Murmansk region, were transferred to the RSFSR. Then Karelia received its current shape. The map below shows in pink the territories separated from the Karelian-Finnish SSR in favor of the RSFSR in the post-war period.
After the death of Stalin and the coming to power of Nikita Khrushchev, the warming of Soviet-Finnish relations began. In 1956, the President of Finland becomes closely acquainted with Khrushchev Urho Kekkonen, and Khrushchev decides to release Finland from the “yoke”, the Soviet troops were withdrawn from the Porkkala base, and in the same year the Karelian-Finnish SSR was abolished, degraded again to the Karelian ASSR and included in the RSFSR.
Finally, pay attention to the flag of the modern Republic of Karelia (below) and compare it with the flag of the Karelian-Finnish SSR above. So, not only in Belarus, Soviet symbolism has been preserved.
You can for a moment submit a script from the category "If". Namely, if Khrushchev had not abolished the Karelian-Finnish SSR. In this case, she would surely, like the rest of the republics, be separated in 1991. In this case, Murmansk would now occupy the same position as Kaliningrad. So, we love to celebrate Khrushchev's dashing, for giving Crimea to Ukraine, but on the other hand, he still returned Karelia to Russia.