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Finnish Socialist Workers' Republic

Finnish Socialist Workers' Republic
Suomen sosialistinen työväentasavalta




Red:Socialist territory
Blue:White territory
Capital Helsinki
Languages Finnish
Government Precursor of a Socialist state
Chairman Kullervo Manner
Legislature Finnish People's Delegation
Historical era World War I and Finnish Civil War
 -  Established 29 January 1918
 -  Disestablished 5 May 1918
Currency Markka
Today part of  Finland

The Finnish Socialist Workers' Republic (Finnish: Suomen sosialistinen työväentasavalta, Swedish: Finlands socialistiska arbetarrepublik); the more commonly used name Red Finland, was a short-lived precursor of a Finnish socialist state. It was outlined during the Finnish Civil War, on 29 January 1918 by the Finnish People's Delegation, the Reds and Red Guards of the Finnish Social Democratic Party, after the socialist revolution of 26 January 1918 in Finland. Red Finland/FSWR was an attempt to establish a socialist nation, based on the legacy of Scandinavian culture, socialist ideas originating from Central Europe and Finnish nationalism, including plans to expand the Finnish territory. The political visions included principles of democracy, but as Red Finland was primarily the formation of revolution and civil war, the acts of violence and warfare were emphasized in the policy. The Red Guards included a minor faction of Finnish Bolsheviks who supported association of FSWR to Soviet Russia. FSWR/Red Finland never gained a true status and form of state and republic as the Reds lost the Civil War on 5 May 1918.[1]

The geographical area of Red Finland as well as the front line between White and Red Finland took shape approximately between 28 January and 3 February 1918, and it remained largely unchanged until general offensive of the Whites in March 1918.[2]

The Finnish People's Delegation, mainly Otto Ville Kuusinen, formulated and set forth, on 23 February 1918, a draft for a constitution of Red Finland/FSWR, on the basis of the Finnish Social Democratic principles and mentality. The Marxist concept of dictatorship of the proletariat was absent from the program. Instead, it represented an idea of democratic socialism and it was influenced by the constitutions of Switzerland and United States, and French Revolution. The constitution model included most of democratic civil rights for the Finnish citizens, including an extensive use of referendum in political decision making, but private property rights were excluded and given to state and local administration. The draft was never finally formulated and approved in Red Finland, before the defeat of FSWR in the 1918 war.[3]

The power political situation after the January Revolution in Finland raised a major question in terms of the constitution draft, among the Finnish (moderate) socialists: would the power gained via revolution allow democracy a true chance in Finnish society? Finally, militant, political terror, carried out by the Red Guards during the Finnish civil war, led to marked controversy between the principles of democracy and true life.[4]

Although the Finnish Socialist Worker's Republic was supported by the RSFSR, led by V.I. Lenin, and the 1 March 1918 Red Treaty was signed between these two socialist (unstable) governments, their true policies did not follow the ideas of international socialism. Instead, both factions proved to be nationalists, focusing on the benefits of their own nations. The goal of the Finnish Reds' majority was neutral and independent Finland, and some of them demanded annexation of Aunus and Viena of Russian Karelia and Petsamo in the far-north to Red Finland. The Russian-Finnish Red treaty had only minor importance for the Bolsheviks as they carried out peace negotiations with the German Empire. In the end, the fate of the Finnish Reds and FSWR was determined through the power political decisions made between Russia and Germany.[5]

V.I. Lenin aimed to halt a complete collapse of Russia after the revolutionary year 1917. Prior to the October Revolution, in political opposition, Lenin emphasized the policy of nations' right to self-determination for the former parts of the Russian Empire. After the successful seizure of power in October 1917 and in January 1918, in the Petrograd area, the bolsheviks' power political strategy shifted gradually toward federalism. As for Finland, Lenin planned its annexation back to Russia, but the Russian Civil War, German-Russian Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, Finland-operation of the German Army, the victory of the White Guards in the Finnish civil war and the marked nationalism among the Finnish socialists stalled his plan.[6]

The warfare between the Reds and Whites took major attention and energy of the Red leadership. Therefore, formation of the local Red civil administration remained unfinished and waited for the result of the Civil War. The top and middle rank civil servants of the pre-civil war administration refused to co-operate with the Reds, and a new leadership had to be chosen and trained from the lower rank servants.[7]

The Finnish Civil War ended in the defeat of the Finnish Scandinavian and Russian culture, and affected primarily by socialist ideas of Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia (pre-WWI Austria-Hungary), were split in two. The moderate socialists continued their pre-1918 political culture, adhered to the society and political system of Finland, while the far-left faction formed the Communist Party of Finland in August 1918 in Moscow, with the main leaders living in exile in Russia and a marked part of the common supporters living in Finland.[8]


  • See also 1
  • Citations & Notes 2
  • External links 3
  • References 4

See also

Citations & Notes

  1. ^ The name FSWR for Red Finland was proposed by V.I. Lenin during negotiations for Finnish-Russian Red Treaty of 1 March 1918, Rinta-Tassi 1986, pp. 73–113, 417–429, Klemettilä 1989, pp. 163–203, Keränen et. al 1992, pp. 88, 106, Pietiäinen 1992, pp. 252–403, Manninen 1995, pp. 21–32, Jussila 2007, pp. 287–288, Jyränki 2014, pp. 10–16
  2. ^ Keränen et. al 1992, pp. 88–90
  3. ^ Upton 1973, pp. 105–142, Rinta-Tassi 1986, pp. 19–24, 30–33, 497–504, Alapuro 1988, pp. 167–176, Keränen et. al 1992, pp. 88, 102, Piilonen 1993, pp. 486–627, Jussila 2007, pp. 287–288, Suodenjoki 2009, pp. 249–269, Payne 2011, pp. 25-32
  4. ^ The relation between democracy and revolution was contradictory for the socialists, as the February revolution empowered the lamed Finnish Parliament, until July 1917; restoration of the socialists' power in the Parliament was among the main goals of the January Revolution 1918. The Finnish Red-White conflict of 1918 has been described as Class War, Rebellion, (Red) Revolt and Abortive (Red) Revolution by the Finnish Red veterans, Kettunen 1986, pp. 9–89, Rinta-Tassi 1986, pp. 497–504, Piilonen 1993, pp. 486–627, Kalela 2008, pp. 31-44
  5. ^ Edvard Gylling was the prime mover at the start of the Finnish-Russian talks for the Red Treaty; among other things he aimed to work for peace talks between the Finnish Whites and Reds, by diminishing the Russian influence in Finland. The Finnish Bolsheviks, few in number, but influential and active in the Finnish Red Guards supported Lenin's Russian federalism. The Finns got Petsamo, but the question of Aunus and Viena remained open, Upton 1981, pp. 262–265, Rinta-Tassi 1986, pp. 417–429, Klemettilä 1989, pp. 163–203, Keränen et. al 1992, pp. 106, Pietiäinen 1992, pp. 252–403, Piilonen 1993, pp. 486–627, Manninen 1995, pp. 21–32, Jussila 2007, pp. 287–288, Jyränki 2014, pp. 83–96
  6. ^ In fact, Lenin's "socialist" power policy followed that of the former Romanov empire; the geopolitical position of a country determined the way it was treated by the Russian leadership (e.g. Poland-Ukraine vs. Finland), Rinta-Tassi 1986, pp. 24–28, Klemettilä 1989, pp. 163–203, Pipes 1996, pp. 382–406, Jussila 2007, pp. 282–288
  7. ^ Piilonen 1993, pp. 486–627, Suodenjoki 2009, pp. 249–269
  8. ^ Rinta-Tassi 1986, pp. 19–22, 497–504, Jussila 2007, pp. 287–288

External links

  • Treaty of Friendship with the Finnish Socialist Workers’ Republic, a Russian-Finnish treaty.
  • Treaty with the Finnish Socialist Workers’ Republic, Lenin’s writings on the matter.


  • Alapuro, Risto (1988), State and Revolution in Finland. University of California Press, Berkeley,  .
  • Jussila, Osmo (2007), Suomen historian suuret myytit. WSOY, ISBN 978-951-0-33103-3.
  • Jyränki, Antero (2014), Kansa kahtia, henki halpaa. Oikeus sisällissodan Suomessa?, ISBN 978-951-884-520-4.
  • Kalela, Jorma (2008), Yhteiskunnallinen kysymys ja porvarillinen reformismi. In: Pernaa V. & Niemi K. Mari (eds.) Suomalaisen yhteiskunnan poliittinen historia, pp. 31-44, ISBN 978-951-37-5321-4.
  • Keränen Jorma, Tiainen Jorma, Ahola Matti, Ahola Veikko, Frey Stina, Lempinen Jorma, Ojanen Eero, Paakkonen Jari, Talja Virpi & Väänänen Juha (1992), Suomen itsenäistymisen kronikka. Gummerus, ISBN 951-20-3800-5.
  • Kettunen, Pauli (1986), Poliittinen liike ja sosiaalinen kollektiivisuus: tutkimus sosialidemokratiasta ja ammattiyhdistysliikkeestä Suomessa 1918-1930. Historiallisia tutkimuksia 138. Gummerus, Jyväskylä, ISBN 951-9254-86-2.
  • Klemettilä, Aimo (1989), Lenin ja Suomen kansalaissota. In: Numminen J., Apunen O., von Gerich-Porkkala C., Jungar S., Paloposki T., Kallio V., Kuusi H., Jokela P. & Veilahti V. (eds.) Lenin ja Suomi II, pp. 163–203, ISBN 951-860-402-9.
  • Manninen, Ohto (1995), Vapaussota - osana suursotaa ja Venäjän imperiumin hajoamista. In: Aunesluoma, J. & Häikiö, M. (eds.) Suomen vapaussota 1918. Kartasto ja tutkimusopas, pp. 21–32, ISBN 951-0-20174-X.
  • Payne, Stanley G. (2011), Civil War in Europe, 1905-1949. Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-1-107-64815-9.
  • Pietiäinen, Jukka-Pekka (1992), Suomen ulkopolitiikan alku. In: Manninen, O. (ed.) Itsenäistymisen vuodet 1917–1920, III Katse tulevaisuuteen, pp. 252–403, ISBN 951-37-0729-6.
  • Piilonen, Juhani (1993), Rintamien selustassa. In: Manninen, O. (ed.) Itsenäistymisen vuodet 1917-1920, II Taistelu vallasta, pp. 486–627, ISBN 951-37-0728-8.
  • Pipes, Richard (1996), A Concise History of the Russian Revolution, ISBN 0-679-74544-0.
  • Rinta-Tassi, Osmo (1986), Kansanvaltuuskunta Punaisen Suomen hallituksena. Opetusministeriö, ISBN 951-860-079-1.
  • Suodenjoki, Sami (2009), Siviilihallinto. In: Haapala, P. & Hoppu, T. (eds.) Sisällissodan pikkujättiläinen, pp. 246–269, ISBN 978-951-0-35452-0.
  • Upton, Anthony F. (1973), The Communist Parties of Scandinavia and Finland. Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London, ISBN 0-297-99542-1 .
  • Upton, Anthony F. (1981), Vallankumous Suomessa 1917-1918, II, Gummerus Oy, ISBN 951-26-2022-7.

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