Российская ассоциация историков Первой мировой войны

Irina Novikova The Provisional Government and Finland: Russian Democracy and Finnish Nationalism in Search of Peaceful Coexistence


Irina Novikova


The Provisional Government and Finland: Russian Democracy and Finnish Nationalism in Search of Peaceful Coexistence


The period between the February and October revolutions of 1917 was one of the most tense and dramatic times in the history of Russian-Finnish relations. During these few months the Provisional Government, a new political entity that had appeared on the ruins of the autocracy, undertook series of desperate attempts to preserve the unity of the Russian empire. In this chapter, I analyze relations between the Russian Provisional Government and Finnish political parties; my goal is to clarify why Russian liberals and democrats in 1917 were unsuccessful in "domesticating" Finnish nationalism.

Finland was joined to the Russian empire as a result of the Russo-Swedish War of 1808-1809. By the peace treaty signed in 1809 in the Finnish city of Fredrikshamn (Hamina), Sweden gave up the Grand Duchy of Finland to Russia.1 Finland subsequently developed as an autonomous state with its own system of national administrative self-governance. Although a part of the Russian empire, it was nonetheless governed by the rules of Swedish administration, and over the course of the nineteenth century the parameters of the Duchy's autonomy tended to expand persistently. The Duchy received its own legislative organ, the Sejm, whose approval was required for the introduction of new laws and taxes. Finland likewise had its own legislative organ, the Senate, independent from St. Petersburg with regard to the Duchy's internal matters. Finland's autonomous status was also manifest in its own system of government, with an exclusively Finnish bureaucratic apparatus. Nor did Russian military structures extend to the Duchy, which was freed from providing recruits for military service and, beginning in 1878, was also permitted to have its own modestly sized army. This army became a symbol of Finland's special status within the empire.2 The Duchy also enjoyed a national postal service with its own stamps; a rail system with a gauge different from that in the rest of the empire; and distinct systems of customs, finance, and credit. The only thing common to Finland and the empire proper were the head of state (the Russian Emperor was simultaneously the Grand Duke of Finland), foreign relations, and the matter of the Duchy's strategic defense.3 On the whole, the Grand Duchy of Finland enjoyed more rights and powers within the Russian empire than any constituent part of the Russian Federation today.

However, the atmosphere of mutual understanding and cooperation between local and imperial elites that characterized Russo-Finnish relations throughout the nineteenth century was irretrievably lost toward its end. The rise of separatist orientations in the Duchy has correctly been linked to the so-called "policy of oppression," or Russification, whose causes historians have analyzed in detail.4 On the whole, the active separatism of Finland's residents was the consequence of the Russian center's departure from its traditional principles of administration in its western territories. As Andreas Kappeler has shown, in Finland the Russian government had employed three methods of governance with great consistency: the maintenance of the administrative and political status quo, cooperation with local elites, and religious tolerance.5 In the Duchy, the revision of Russia's Finnish policy under Nicholas II was regarded as a violation of the promises made by preceding Russian monarchs. Nicholas himself, who had promised upon his ascension not to violate the rights and privileges of the Duchy, earned among Finns the ignoble distinction of being a perjurer.

Moreover, at the turn of the century the Finnish national movement itself ceased to he modest and restrained. Finnish nationalists, due either to political inexperience or to a desire to obtain quick popularity in the eyes of their countrymen, underscored their national exclusivity importunately and unceremoniously, and began to promote an extreme vision of isolationism. The absence of moderation in the proclamations of the leaders of the Finnish national movement gave Russian officials reason to interpret the natural aspiration of a small people to a certain degree of insularity and the preservation of its privileges, language, and culture as a criminal form of separatism. By the beginning of the twentieth century the interests of Finland's national development were starkly juxtaposed to the imperatives of Russia's imperial development.

World War I subjected the Russian empire to a colossal test. In 1915-1916—although many Russian officials and military figures could not bring themselves to believe it—a number of Finnish volunteers joined the German army as the 27th Royal Prussian Jäger Battalion (Kuninkaalinen Preussin Jääkäripataljoona 27).6 Attempts to play down this unpleasant fact could not change its essence: a number of recently loyal Finns, who in the previous century had been considered among the non-Russians most devoted to the Russian crown, were now on the other side of the front, rendering aid to Russia's military enemy.

The fall of the monarchy in the February Revolution opened the way for Russia's transformation from a coercive empire to a voluntary union of equal peoples. The fate of the revolution's democratic gains depended on the success of this transformation.7 The national question turned on: to be no less urgent than issues of power, land, and peace. And a fundamental component of that question was the problem of the Grand Duchy's future status.

The February Revolution did not signify any essential change in the country's foreign policy. The Provisional Government continued the war and in this context maintaining control over the strategically important Finland retained great significance.8 Members of the Provisional Government were informed that ideas about the Duchy's secession from Russia were beginning to appear in radical circles in Finnish society—with either open or indirect support from Germany. In part, these ideas were being promoted by the extreme nationalist "activist" movement, whose leaders lived abroad in Berlin and Stockholm. It was they who had organize the recruitment of Finns for the Finnish Jäger Battalion formed on German territory with the support of Berlin. They hoped that in opportune circumstances—for example, in the case of a German naval landing—thus subunit could serve as the kernel of a Finnish army of national liberation.9 No less than before February, the possibility of a German landing in tine Duchy and a Finnish mutiny represented a substantial threat to Petrograd.

At the same time, the Provisional Government was well aware of the autocracy's earlier attempts at the forceful unification of Finland with Russia. It had been precisely the liberals and socialists now so prominent in the new government who had sharply condemned those actions earlier. The promises made by the Constitutional Democrats (Kadets) and the socialists during their opposition to the autocracy now awaited their fulfillment. In this regard, the Provisional Government's policy on Finland had to secure the loyalty of the Duchy's population to Russia's new democracy, bring them into active cooperation with central authorities in Petrograd, and compel them to reject secret relations with Germany. The Provisional Government's first steps with regard to the "Finnish question" were geared toward these tasks.

On March 16 (3) the commander of the Baltic Fleet, Admiral Andrian Nepenin, invited representatives of the leading Finnish political parties aboard the flagship Krechet and informed them of the revolution in Russia, the establishment of the Provisional Government, and the arrest of the most odious figures personifying the autocracy's policy of Russification—Finland's governor-general Franz A. Seyn and vice-chairman of the Finnish government Mikhail Borovitinov.10 After this meeting, a delegation of the Duchy's leading political figures departed for the Russian capital to conduct negotiations with the Provisional Government. The Finns requested that Petrograd establish a parliament (sejm), appoint a new governor-general, and grant the Duchy its previous privileges of autonomy. At the same time, as delegation member Karl Gustav Idman recalls in his memoirs, the Finns expressed neither the hope nor the demand that Petrograd recognize Finland's full independence.

The new Russian government actively responded to the wishes of the Finnish delegation, and on March 20 (7) published the Act of Confirmation of the Constitution of the Grand Duchy of Finland and Its Full Implementation. This document resurrected the Duchy's previous rights of autonomy that had been revoked by the autocracy's centralizing policy. Mikhail A. Stakhovich, a former member of the State Council well known for his defense of the Duchy's autonomy, now became the governor-general. In place of the reactionary Vladimir A. Markov, Karl Enckell, a native of Finland who was fluent in Russian, became the minister state secretary. All those who had fought against the autocracy's measures of centralization, as well as those who had participated in the Finnish Jäger Battalion in Germany, were amnestied.

The first task of the Provisional Government in Finland was to appoint a new government, or Senate. Now Finns themselves gained the right to elect its members, although this fact hardly made matters easier to resolve. In the 1916 elections the Social Democrats had gained an absolute majority in the Parliament—103 of 200 seats—but at that time it was still the Senate, with Russian members, that governed the country. The SDs did not discuss the possibility of taking on the responsibilities of governing.11

After the Revolution, Finnish Social Democrats could have tried to form a government consisting only of their own members. The SDs would have secured tremendous power for themselves in light of their absolute majority in parliament, but they were also frightened by this power. They turned out to be unprepared to take upon themselves such a heavy responsibility. They had much experience in forming an opposition, but no experience in governing. Consequently, negotiations between the bourgeois parties and the SDs produced a coalition government. The SD's Oskar Tokoi was selected chairman of the Senate, while five other SDs and an representatives of bourgeois parties entered the government as well. As before, the chairman of the Senate remained the governor-general. On March 26, 1917, the Provisional Government confirmed the Finnish Senate.12 Finland now had a government whose members were not Russians but Finnish citizens, representing all the political groups of the country.

Having reestablished Finland's previous autonomy, the Provisional Government expected reciprocity from the Finnish population. The Finnish politician and Helsinki University professor Edvard Hjelt recalls in his memoirs a curious conversation with the new commander of the Baltic fleet, Admiral A. S. Maksimov. In the course of their discussion, Maksimov unambiguously noted that as a sign of thanks for the freedoms it had been granted, Finland should demonstrate its solidarity with Russia by offering volunteers for the army. In the admiral's opinion, “a sense of duty should have obligated the Duchy to enter the war more ardently on the Russian side”.13

The effective restoration of the Grand Duchy's autonomy initiated after the February Revolution in fact had generated a surge of sympathy for the new Russia among the majority of Finnish citizens and politicians.14 Finnish society simultaneously hoped that it could make use of the transfer of power in Russia for the benefit of its own country, and ascribed particular significance to the establishment of strong, civilized contacts with Russian authorities. The popular Finnish poet and activist Eino Leino wrote on this subject in the journal Sunnuntai [Sunday]. In a speech in March 1917 J. R. Danielson-Kalmari, the spiritual leader of the bourgeois-conservative party (the "old Finns" [starofinny]), compared the February Revolution to the French Revolution of 1789. He noted that the Eastern powers had now entered an important historical period through which the Western powers had passed after the French Revolution.15 The Finnish politician Juho Kusti Paasikivi meanwhile called upon Finns to maintain a line of cooperation with the empire, a strategy he referred to as a "policy of conciliation" (myöntymyyksen politiikka). He argued that no large changes should occur in the Duchy's political development, and he called upon Finns not to risk the opportunities that had already been attained, especially since Russian military regiments were located in the country.16 On the whole, most representatives of the bourgeois parties considered it essential to con­duct a policy of cooperation with the Provisional Government. The fur­ther broadening of the Duchy's autonomy in the framework of the Russian state appeared to be attainable by constitutional means, through a dialogue with the Provisional Government.

Representatives of the separatist activist movement took a rather differ­ent position, however. At the outset of the war they had declared the prin­cipal goal of their movement to be the attainment of Finland's complete political independence.17 But in a practical sense the leaders of the move­ment viewed the idea of "independence" less in terms of the country's ac­quisition of state sovereignty than in terms of its secession from Russia. Many of them did not exclude the possibility of Finland becoming a Ger­man protectorate.18 The revolution in Petrograd generated confusion for the activists; the murky, unexpected, and awkward situation required a reevaluation of the existing political line. But they were not prepared for this reevaluation and were unwilling to abandon the proposition, which was convenient from a propagandistic standpoint, that Russians were "he­reditary enemies."19 Germanophiles by conviction, they bowed before the might of the German empire; their faith in German arms was total. There­fore, individual concessions could not change their attitude toward Russia, which they still regarded as the oppressor of the Finnish people. Not with­out reason, Edward Hjelt, one of the activists already mentioned, wrote in his diary after his trip to Petrograd: "It seems to me that we have been striving for a different 'freedom' than the one that the Russian 'freedom' can give us. It must be created on reliable German soil, without remain­ing dependent on Slavic emotions."20 The leader of the émigré "activist" committee in Stockholm, Alexis Bonsdorf, was reported by German au­thorities to have dismissed the Provisional Government's manifesto of March 20 as "mere peanuts" (Linsengericht), for which one must not give up the aspiration for complete independence.21 From his perspective there were now greater possibilities to realize secession from Russia than at any­time previously.

In a report to German Chancellor Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg, the German ambassador in Sweden, Helmuth Lucius von Stödten, re­ported on a meeting of the Finnish separatists in Stockholm devoted to developing a strategy for the movement after the February Revolution. The participants called upon Finns not to trust Petrograd's promises. Without denying the importance of the March Manifesto, they nonethe­less did not consider it a decisive resolution of Russo-Finnish relations. The leitmotif of those who spoke was the idea that the Finnish question could not be resolved by the directive of the Provisional Government.22

In April 1917 Herman Gummerus, one of the "activist" leaders, sent a memorandum to the German foreign minister in which he proposed two solutions to the "Finland problem." The first involved the advance of Ger­man regiments on the Russian capital; the second foresaw the possibility of a peace agreement between Germany and Russia that would guarantee Finland's independence. In the latter case Finland would become an ally of Germany.23 In the memorandum, which was written in German, Gummerus used the German concept Unabhängigkeit (independence). Previ­ously he had preferred to express the final goal of the activist movement as Selbständigkeit, whose Finnish equivalent (itsenäisyys) signified merely autonomy within the empire, or self-governance. This was perhaps the first time since the beginning of the war that a member of the activist movement used the term Unabhängigkeit in the sense of full state sover­eignty (though without rejecting close ties with Germany). Thus, partially under the influence of the February Revolution, previously diffuse under­standings of Finland's future were becoming clarified and more concrete in the minds of the separatists.

As regards the labor movement, the revolution in Petrograd took Finn­ish workers almost entirely unawares.24 It was viewed initially as a return to the situation of 1905-1907, with the only difference being that the fall of the autocracy had made deeper changes possible. Finnish SDs at first did not demand the termination of relations with the Provisional Govern­ment.25 At the same time, like the bourgeois parties, they strove to limit the power of the Provisional Government in the territory of the Duchy.26 To be sure, the goals of these actions on the part of the bourgeois parties and SDs were different. The former regarded the broadening of the Duchy's autonomy as indispensable to restraining the revolutionary abarchy spreading from Petrograd. The latter viewed this demand as an essen­tial precondition for the introduction of social reforms that had until then been blocked by both the imperial center and the conservative elements in Finnish society.

In the spring of 1917 at party meetings and in the Finnish press two questions were discussed in detail: the future status of the Duchy and the mechanisms of relations with central authorities in Petrograd. Above all it had to be determined to whom supreme power over the Duchy had passed after the abdication of the Russian monarch. According to the March Manifesto the Provisional Government considered itself to be the heir of the supreme rights over Finland that had previously belonged to the Russian emperor—at least until the Russian Constituent Assembly, yet to be convened, could resolve the issue conclusively. But many Finnish le­gal specialists contested this proposition. Two points of view were ad­vanced on the question of supreme power in the Duchy. The first, put for­ward by P. A. Vrede and Robert Hermanson, representatives of the Old Finnish Party, held that Finland continued to constitute an indivisible part of the Russian empire. Accordingly, relations between the empire and its "national borderlands" should be rooted in the recognition that the bearer of supreme power in Russia was simultaneously the bearer of supreme power in Finland. From this position, the Provisional Government tempo­rarily possessed the right of supreme power in Finland. The second view was presented by the lawyer and activist Rafael Erich, a professor of law at Helsinki University. Erich, residing abroad at the time, tried to demon­strate to his fellow countrymen that with the fall of the autocracy, the union between Russia and Finland, personified in the person of the Grand Duke (the Russian emperor) was now dissolved. Therefore, no Russian government had the right to rule the Duchy. The Provisional Government thus did not represent the bearer of supreme power in Finland, nor could that power be transferred to the Constituent Assembly.27

In one of his articles Erich wrote, "For the inclusion of Finland in a Russian federal state there are neither historical, nor ethnographic, nor national-psychological conditions. All the Russo-Finnish institutions that were introduced or established by Russia became baneful for state life in Finland.... Even the position of a qualified state within a Russian fed­eral union cannot satisfy Finland's rightful pretensions."28 What did Erich propose as a solution? Even though he belonged to the cohort of activ­ist leaders, in spring of 1917 Erich nonetheless did not yet speak categori­cally in favor of Finland's complete state sovereignty. As an expert on the Duchy's fundamental law, he proposed to solve the problem of Russo-Finnish relations by granting Finland the special status of a state-appendage (gosudarstvo-pridatok). In this case Finland would remain in union with the Russian state, but would preserve the broadest possible rights of self-governance. The most important thing, in Erich's opinion, was to prohibit Russian interference in the definition of Finland's state status without the latter's consent. He proposed that Russian authorities agree to a referen­dum in the Duchy on the question of its future state status, even if this might lead to the severance of Finland's union with Russia. Erich thus con­sidered the establishment of normal relations of trust between the two countries to be more important than the imperial ambitions of the central authorities.29

On March 31 the Finnish Senate established a Constitutional Commit­tee, with Finland's subsequent first president, Karl Stolberg, at its head. Among its tasks was the preparation of a new treaty on Finland's status with respect to Russia. Stolberg was a realist who understood that the au­thority of the Russian tsar in Finland had been transferred to the Provi­sional Government: it was thus impossible to change this situation without either an agreement or a revolt.30 The Constitutional Committee worked out a draft treaty, according to which a substantial portion of the preroga­tives previously belonging to the Russian emperor—such as the power to convene and disband the Sejm, and the approval of Finnish laws—were transferred to the Finnish Senate. The Senate would become the focus or real power in the Duchy. The Provisional Government would retain the prerogative of appointing the highest officials in Finland, as well as decid­ing issues of defense and foreign policy. On April 7 this proposal was sent to Petrograd, where, in the course of the negotiations with the Provisional Government, it was rejected. As K. G. Idman, the secretary of the Consti­tutional Committee, remarked in response, dialogue with the Provisional Government "demonstrated the impossibility of establishing a common denominator."31 In general, the Provisional Government did not permit even an element of doubt concerning its competence to serve as Finland's temporary curator. It regarded as its duty to keep the state whole until the Constituent Assembly could be convened. Its determination to continue the war with new energy similarly required that it oppose everything that could weaken "unified and indivisible Russia."32

Meanwhile the Finnish Senate sought to appropriate the basic preroga­tives of the monarch in the Duchy. This desire was motivated, in part, by the aspiration of bourgeois members of the government to counteract the Finnish parliament, where the majority of the votes belonged to the SDs. Furthermore, members of the Constitutional Committee were surprised by the Provisional Government's different attitudes toward the Finnish and Polish questions. News of Petrograd's recognition of Poland's independence, should such a decision be approved by the upcoming Constitu­ent Assembly, quickly made its way into the pages of the Finnish press. In response to demands that the Duchy's autonomy be broadened, the Provi­sional Government declared that "recognizing Poland's independence is the same as giving a promise to the moon, since the territory of that coun­try is occupied by the German military."33 Still unoccupied by the Ger­mans, Finland was clearly in a different situation. In general, increasing disappointment with the Provisional Government led to greater support in the Duchy for refusing to recognize the Provisional Government's su­preme rights in Finland.

The April Crisis in Russia led to the dismissal of a number of more conservative ministers and to the first coalition Provisional Government. Finnish SDs succumbed to the temptation of using the changes in the Pro­visional Government to demand further concessions from Russia.34 Also in April the Finnish parliament began its work. Due to the preponderance of SDs, this parliament has gone down in history as the "Red Sejm." The left-SD Kullervo Manner was selected as its chairman. For the delegates, the speech of the Senate's vice-chairman O. Tokoi on April 20 was a sensation. Tokoi declared the necessity of attaining full political independence:

With time the Finnish people has developed and become sufficiently mature to be a sovereign people, independent in everything that con­cerns its rights, problems, and plans. In terms of its history and its economic and social development, Finland differs sharply from Russia. There can be no talk of their rapprochement. The neighbor of a new and free Russia must also be an independent people.

Although Tokoi's speech made no mention of the specific way in which independence was to be realized, his speech was consistent with the politi­cal line of those who refused to recognize the Provisional Government as the legal successor to the Grand Duke with supreme power in Finland.

Many of the SDs' declarations about the Provisional Government were imprinted with populism. In actual practice, in the spring of 1917 the lead­ers of that party, as before, did not rule out the possibility of a construc­tive dialogue with the Petrograd leadership. In an unofficial appeal to Aleksandr Kerenskii, the head of the Provisional Government, the promi­nent SDs Edvard Güllig, Otto Kuusinen, and Karl Wiik formulated the basic principles of a social-democratic variant of a state treaty between Finland and Russia. In its capacity as an "independent state" Finland was to form an "indissoluble union" with Russia. Questions of foreign policy would be decided by Russia, but elements of even that policy directly con­cerning Finland would go into effect only after their approval by its par­liament. Further, Finland would receive complete independence in internal affairs and an organ of supreme power independent of the empire. Defense would likewise be Finland's internal affair; in times of peace Russia would not have the right to station troops there. Finally, Russian citizens in Fin­land would enjoy equal rights and freedoms with the residents of Fin­land.36

The appeal was secret and was designed to test the waters for a possible agreement with the Provisional Government. Moreover, its authors were open to the possibility of reconsidering certain of the draft's points. An­ticipating the central authorities' likely objection that signing such an agreement would result in Finland's practical independence, the SDs noted "Finland is too small to scorn the interests and wishes of Russian state power." They were furthermore prepared to acknowledge that the Duchy’s position in union with Russia was more advantageous for Finland than its status as an independent country, whose inviolability was not guaranteed by anyone.37 Thus the Finnish SDs had in mind the application or principles of independence and sovereignty primarily in regard to internal affairs, with the goal of securing a maximum degree of autonomy whose maintaining some form of union with Russia. In all likelihood, if the Pro­visional Government had reacted to the SDs' proposal more attentively an: had not rejected a dialogue with them, an acceptable compromise would have been found, which in turn would have prevented the SDs from adopting a policy of open struggle with the central Russian authorities.

In its most direct form, a demand for the Duchy's state sovereignty in the spring of 1917 was advanced only by the student movement, whose leaders held activist views. On May 12 a joint meeting of the students of Helsinki University and the Higher Technical School adopted the follow­ing appeal: "Finland has now matured to the point that it may occupy a place among sovereign peoples. We are convinced that the hour will soon come when our country acquires full state sovereignty. In order to attain this goal, we wish to employ all our energy and means."38 The leaders of the student movement considered it their most immediate task to influence public opinion in the Duchy in order to prove the incompatibility of Finland's interests with its attachment to the Russian state. Students made similar declarations during Kerenskii's visit to the Duchy in the spring of 1917.

The war minister clearly voiced the position of the Provisional Goverment on the question of Finnish sovereignty when he stated, "As an inde­pendent state Finland would represent a constant danger to Petrograd, and the satisfaction of Finnish demands can be realized only on an equal ba­sis with the demands of other non-Russian nationalities populating the Russian empire.39 As Kerenskii and other members of the Provisional Gov­ernment contended, "Today Finland will secede, tomorrow Siberia and Ukraine. Thus, of Great Russia only Moscow will remain."40

In the spring and summer of 1917 the Finnish activists undertook an attempt to draw the Duchy's largest party—the SDs—into cooperation. On June 4 in Stockholm representatives of Finnish activism and the SDs conducted a joint meeting, during which the question of preparation for an armed uprising in the Duchy with the goal of secession from the Rus­sian state was raised. The SDs insisted that in the current conditions it was possible to achieve independence by peaceful means. The activists gave preference to armed forms of struggle.41 The two sides could not find a common ground; nonetheless, in the spring and summer of 1917 some ties between the two were established in the form of personal contacts of the parties' leaders and the creation of "guard detachments" (the so-called Schutzkorp), which were officially called upon to maintain internal order in the Duchy. The Activist Committee began forming these guards in the spring and summer of 1917.42 Almost simultaneously "guards of order" appeared from among workers. Initially there were no sharp conflicts be­tween the two armed organizations. It was not rare for them to conduct exercises together. Workers sometimes joined the Schutzkorp, an action that did not meet with protests from the SDs.43 The Activist Committee sought to strengthen these cooperative relations. Instructions for the or­ganizers of the Schutzkorp spoke of unrestricted admission of workers, so that the "guard detachments" would not obtain a "class character" in the eyes of the population.44 Russian counterintelligence at the initial stage of the creation of the Schutzkorp and the workers' guards of order did not see a fundamental distinction between the two.45

Gradually, however, differences became more apparent. The primary goal of the Schutzkorp was the preparation of armed cadres for a national revolt in the case of a German invasion of the Duchy. The Finnish Jägers arriving from Germany took active part in the organization of the Schutz­korp.46 The workers' guards, on the other hand, did not plan any actions against Russia. Russian military leaders rightly regarded the formation of the Schutzkorp with greater anxiety.47

Indeed, the rapprochement between the activists and the SDs in the spring and early summer of 1917 lacked a solid foundation not only be­cause of the different social constituency of the two movements, but also because of differences in their understandings of "independent Finland." The SDs regarded Finland's sovereignty as a necessary precondition for  social transformation, which had been hampered by central officials and local Finnish authorities. Moreover, they hoped for the support of their Russian colleagues in bringing about this transformation.48 Russian revo­lutionary activity in Finland, in the form of the Regional Executive Com­mittee of the army, fleet, and workers, offered grounds for hopes of this kind. The leading role in this organization was played by the Helsinki So­viet and the Central Committee of the Baltic Fleet. On June 2 (May 20) the Second Regional Congress of Soviets promised to support the demand for an independent Finland, should it be endorsed by a majority of the region's population.49 In contrast to the SDs, the activists were principally bourgeois nationalists, and the slogan of independence for them meant complete secession from the Russian state. For the realization of this goal the activists considered their allies to be not the revolutionary parties of Russia, but the movements of Russia’s other national minorities.

Relations between Russia and Finland were complicated further by a currency crisis. In 1917 Russia found itself in such a sorry financial state that it was forced to turn to Finland for a loan. The Provisional Govern­ment needed Finnish marks in order to pay its troops and for state orders, Three-quarters of Finland's workers were occupied fulfilling these orders and thus delay in these payments threatened to promote unrest. Making use of this circumstance, the Finnish Sejm linked the question of a loan to the granting of full autonomy to the Duchy.31 In one of his interviews Tokoi declared that Finland could provide 100-200 million Finnish marts on the condition that the Duchy be declared independent in its internal affairs and that the resolution of the Finnish question be transferred to an international congress of the Great Powers.32 After its unsuccessful inquiry with the Finns, the Provisional Government turned for a loan of $75 mllion to the U.S., which turned out to be more compliant. Having receive this American loan, the Provisional Government began in the summer of 1917 to purchase Finnish marks in Finland with American dollars, with the goal of paying for Russia's military orders in Finland.33 This opera­tion established a crucial precedent for Finland. By appealing to Finland for a state loan and then paying Finland in U.S. dollars—that is, in foreign currency—the Provisional Government in fact had recognized the complete sovereignty of the Finnish currency market, a recognition that Finland had specifically sought to achieve.34 Finnish entrepreneurs were entirely satisfied with the condition of Russo-Finnish relations in the early summer of 1917.

Meanwhile, in early July in Petrograd yet another political crisis broke out, and the authority of the Provisional Government was left hanging by a thread. In this context on July 18 (5), with a vote of 136 to 55, the Finnish Sejm approved a Law on Supreme Power, by which the prerogatives pre­viously belonging to the Russian monarch, with the exception of foreign-policy and military spheres, were transferred to the parliament.55 This was a significant step on the road toward complete internal sovereignty of the Duchy. The law was passed at the height of the July crisis, when the out­come of the struggle in Petrograd was not yet clear and when information coming to Finland about events in the Russian capital was incomplete and contradictory. Many deputies of the Sejm believed that the Provisional Government had been overthrown and wished to make use of the result­ing anarchy.56

News of the Sejm's passage of the Law on Supreme Power called forth a storm of indignation in the Russian press. The newspaper Den' published an interview with M. A. Stakhovich, the governor-general of Finland, who laid all the blame for what had occurred on the Russian Social Democrats and called on the next Congress of Soviets to condemn the Finns' actions.57 The Kadet paper Rech' published an article by Dmitrii Protopopov, who called the Sejm's decision "an act of great political tactlessness" and "near­sightedness." He proposed instituting harsh political and economic sanc­tions against Finland.58 Famous for its anti-Finnish pronouncements, the newspaper Novoe vremia greatly exaggerated Finland's dark ingratitude and perceived hidden German support behind the Sejm's decision. Mensheviks and Socialist Revolutionaries (SRs) also criticized the law; in their opinion it injured the interests of the Russian state.59 The actions of the Finnish parliament were unconditionally supported only by the Bolshe­viks,60 although, according to the English historian Robert Service, at this time the Bolsheviks were not playing the "national card" very actively and preferred to allow the grievances of the national regions against the Provi­sional Government to accumulate and to await further developments.61

The development of the Russo-Finnish conflict occurred against the background of rumors about a coming German landing in the Duchy. Military intelligence uncovered facts of activists preparing for an uprising in Finland. In the opinion of the new commander of the Baltic Fleet, Dmitrii N. Verderevskii, the Provisional Government had therefore to act with the necessary circumspection.62 At the same time, military circles dis­cussed their options should disorders break out in Finland. V. N. Klembovskii, commander of the 42nd Army Corps stationed in Finland, pro­posed concentrating the mass of troops around Vyborg for the protection of Petrograd, bringing together troops scattered in small groups through­out Finland into larger contingents, and warning the local civil adminis­tration that if any rebellious activities should occur, then large cities—first and foremost Helsinki—would be sacked.63 It became clear that Russia's armed forces intended to retain Finland at all costs.

On July 31 (18) the Provisional Government issued a manifesto dissolv­ing the Finnish Sejm.64 This was, it seems, one of its fatal mistakes. Despite all of its passion in asserting national sovereignty, the Sejm had in fact sought to attain for the Duchy the broadest possible internal autonomy, but not separation from Russia. As historian Vitalii Startsev notes, Russia's strategic interests were not even touched by the Law on Power. The Sejm did not concern itself with foreign policy and did not demand the with­drawal of Russian troops.65 The Finnish parliament, in which the majority of votes belonged to the SDs, dreamed of appropriating for itself supreme power in the internal affairs of Finland, thus pushing into the background the Senate, where members of the bourgeois parties blocked the passage of many important social reforms. The SDs lacked practical experience in legislating, and if the Provisional Government at this juncture had re­frained from hasty and abrupt measures with regard to the Finnish parlia­ment, the two sides possibly would have come to a mutual compromise. The Sejm, after receiving reports from Petrograd about the Bolshevik de­feat and the victory of the Provisional Government in the July Days, had swiftly prepared the necessary documents to clarify its position on the question of Finland's internal sovereignty.66 But the Provisional Govern­ment did not even begin to look them over. Instead of engaging in dia­logue, it preferred to disband the obstinate Sejm.

The SDs left the government to protest the disbanding of the Sejm, leav­ing only bourgeois senators, with Professor E. Setala at its head. The SD majority of the Sejm, not recognizing the supreme rights of the Provisional Government in Finland, nonetheless attempted to call the dissolved par­liament on August 29 (16). But Governor-General Stakhovich summoned soldiers and closed the meeting hall. As the Finnish historian Pentii Luntinen notes, this was the last time that "the army defended imperial inter­ests in Finland. Soon revolutionary agitation penetrated all military ele­ments, once and for all shattering their discipline and fighting spirit."67 With the dissolution of the Sejm, a new and complicated stage in Finland's internal political development began. Now not only did the SDs demand complete internal sovereignty for the Duchy, but practically all the bour­geois parties supported this as well.68

The shift of the Duchy's ruling elite to a more radical position was con­ditioned by the Provisional Government's destruction of many of the po­litical and administrative structures that had supported the multinational state, based on the naive hope that society would preserve the empire in its new, democratic form.69 It had seemed that the democratization of society would, by itself, remove all the problems of the multinational state, and that with the strengthening of democracy the national question would disappear on its own. However, with the disintegration of the institutions that had bound the empire together and the worsening of Russia's military, foreign-policy, and internal situations, national elites that had initially taken a moderate stance were now more and more inclined to the idea of complete secession.

Moreover, the Finnish political elite became seriously concerned about the strengthening of Russian revolutionary sentiment in the Duchy. After the Kornilov Affair (an unsuccessful right-wing coup attempt in Russia proper), trust in the Provisional Government had been undermined, while the influence of the Bolsheviks had grown. The Bolsheviks prevailed at the Third Regional Congress of the army, fleet, and workers of Finland in Sep­tember of 1917.70 The Bolshevik Ivan T. Smilga was selected chairman of the Regional Committee's Executive Committee, and under his leadership on October 3 (September 20) that organ took charge of all the Russian governmental institutions in the Duchy. No directives from the Provi­sional Government could be carried out in the region without the ap­proval of the Regional Committee. For example, the Regional Committee countermanded the Provisional Government's order that forces not ready for combat be brought out of Finland and replaced with new formations.71 In general, the Regional Committee acted in accordance with the instruc­tions of Lenin, who ascribed great significance to the maintenance of pro-Bolshevik forces in Finland.72 On October 10 (September 27) the Regional Committee took control of the Russian security service, the so-called "guards of people's freedom." According to the Finnish historian Eino Ketola, this amounted to a revolt against the Provisional Government.73

Indeed, the Regional Committee systematically interfered in the inter­nal affairs of the Duchy, supporting the actions of the Finnish SDs that were directed against the Provisional Government and the Finnish bour­geoisie. The Finnish workers' guards were provided with arms, to the cha­grin of the local population.74 In the fall of 1917, due to fears of a German naval landing and flashes of separatist disorders, the number of Russian forces in the Duchy, together with the Baltic squadron, amounted to ap­proximately 125,000 men.75 But these forces suffered from a decline in dis­cipline and general demoralization.

The Russian side recognized the interference of Russian forces in the internal affairs of the Duchy, although in comparison to 1914-1916, the Russian forces in Finland represented the sad result of the Provisional Gov­ernment's policy of "democratizing the army." A report on the Finnish question prepared by a member of the Baltic Fleet's counter-intelligence indicated that "Russian forces regularly support various disorders and in­terfere in the directives of local authorities. Through such actions they in­cite the residents, who endure great losses as a result of maintaining the forces (the felling of forests, illegal requisitions, and so on). A very difficult situation has been created."76

The increased German military presence in the Baltic region also played a role in the radicalization of Finnish national aspirations. In an attempt to weaken its eastern opponent internally, Germany had adopted a "policy of revolutionizing" (Revolutionierungspolitik), which included support for the secession of national minorities from the Russian empire. The Febru­ary Revolution gave a second wind to this policy of revolutionizing Fin­land. On March 15 the head of the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Arthur Zimmermann, requested that the Stockholm activist center "make use of the current situation for energetic activity" in the Duchy, declaring that "the moment for the declaration of independence, it seems, has ar­rived."77 Alongside the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the political division of the German General Staff, headed by Ernst von Hülsen, also took an active part in the program of "revolutionizing" Finland. On March 20 von Hülsen requested the ministry to support an appeal that 1 million marks be given to the Finnish separatist movement.78 This sum consti­tuted one-fifth of the funds that the Secretariat of Foreign Affairs had re­quested from the German imperial treasury in March 1917 for revolution­ary propaganda in all of Russia. As documents from the archive of the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs show, the imperial treasury granted 5 million marks on April 3 for the realization of this task.

On April 23, 1917, the German leadership met in Kreuznach to define the tasks related to the conduct of the war.79 At this meeting the German Supreme Command exhibited a rather cool attitude toward the requests of Finnish activists concerning direct military support in the form of naval landing in the Duchy. But the activists were promised arms so that they would not sheathe their swords.80 In May a German U-boat brought the first batch to Finland.81 In the summer of 1917 the number of Finnish Jägers sent to Finland to form the Schutzkorp began to grow. In a telegram to Erich Ludendorff, head of the German Supreme Command, Zimmermann noted, "We are now sending many Finns who have received a mili­tary education to Finland and are assisting the country in its creation of a military organization. True, the fact of our help should remain secret."82

The future of the Provisional Government's June offensive against the Central Powers, Russia's internal instability, the reduction of the combat-readiness of its army and fleet all helped to convince the German Supreme Command that further annexations in the East would meet little or no resistance. At the beginning of September, German forces captured Riga, and in October they occupied the islands of Esel, Dago, and Moon along the eastern Baltic coast. These new annexations in the Baltic region served to reinforce Finnish public opinion that Germany was prepared to begin military action on the Duchy's territory. The Germans themselves eagerly spread such rumors.83

The Russian military command noted with bitterness the growth of Germanophile sentiments among Finland's population and contended that in the case of a German landing in Finland the population would most likely provide assistance. The Duchy's residents often idealized Ger­many's aspirations for the "liberation of small nations"; moreover, they hoped that Germany would help solve the extreme food crisis in Finland.84 However, it would be naive to reduce the whole range of factors serving to radicalize Finnish national demands merely to a theory of a German con­spiracy.

A significant role in the radicalization of the national aspirations of the Finnish bourgeoisie was played by its conflict with local Social Democracy. Growing social discontent was regarded by the political elite of the Duchy less as a result of the natural dissatisfaction of thousands of Finnish work­ers than as a consequence of revolutionary agitation coming from Russia. Finland's ruling circles, displaying their strong authoritarian tradition, saw only two possible alternatives for the Duchy's future development—either strengthening the status quo or opening the floodgates of revolution. In the opinion of historian J. Paasivirta, liberalism did not wield much in­fluence on the Finnish political scene and was ultimately unable to estab­lish a basis for social compromise.85 The general attitude of the Duchy's political elite was based on a sense of urgency. Finland should make use of the moment to take another step toward state independence. And in this regard the country had two advantages: the instability of the central au­thorities in Russia and the strengthening of the German military presence in the Baltic region.

In early October 1917, elections were held to the Finnish Sejm. The bourgeois parties, united in a single bloc, managed to win a majority of the seats—108 out of 200. In Petrograd negotiations on the question of broad­ening the Duchy's internal sovereignty recommenced. Stolberg's Constitu­tional Committee proposed strengthening the connection between Russia and Finland by accepting a Law on Relations of Mutual Rights, a draft of which was to be ratified in both the Finnish Sejm and the future Rus­sian Constituent Assembly. Finland would be declared a republic in which supreme executive power would belong to a ruler (valtakunnan pääies), elected from among Finland's citizens, who would hold all the powers of the Russian monarch in Finland with the exception of hereditary rule and permanent office. Foreign policy would remain in Russia's hands, but Finnish delegates would participate in those international conferences that touched on Finland's interests. Russian forces would remain in the Duchy until the creation of the latter's own army, which in times of war would be under joint command with the Russian army but would operate only within Finnish borders. Provisions were included for Russia and Finland to turn to the international tribunal in The Hague in the case of disagree­ment.86

The notion of Finland's internal autonomy did not raise misgivings in the Provisional Government, but its extent was a source of distress. Petro­grad objected to the stationing of Russian forces on Finnish territories only at times of war, the idea of having issues resolved in an international court of arbitration, and the excessively broad range of powers of the ruler. Rus­sian legal experts also considered indispensable that all draft laws passed by the Finnish Sejm also be confirmed by the supreme Russian power.87

The Finnish side solicitously entertained the Provisional Government’s remarks and agreed to certain concessions. The Constitutional Committee proposed transferring powers, aside from those pertaining to the military sphere and the status of Russian citizens, to the Finnish Senate. The posi­tion of governor-general of the Duchy would be eliminated. On November 7 (October 25) the new Finnish governor-general, Nikolai V. Nekrasov and State Secretary Enckell left for Petrograd in order to lay out these proposals to the Provisional Government. Their realization would have prevented the sharing of power with the socialists in the Sejm. But this solution was proposed too late. At the train station on the Russian border Nekrasov and Enckell were informed that the Provisional Government no longer existed.88

A retrospective consideration of the Provisional Government's policy on the Finnish question reveals distinct parallels with the collapse of the USSR—between the actions of the Provisional Government with regard to Finland in 1917 and the USSR's policy under Gorbachev with respect to the national regions in 1989-1991. Both instances involve attempts to de­mocratize public life and a surge of regional nationalism. And in both cases compromise with national elites was probably possible, though the opportunity for this was allowed to pass. In both 1917 and in 1989-1991, a fledgling Russian democracy preferred a policy of postponement and procrastination in the hope that with the strengthening of society's democ­ratization, national problems would solve themselves automatically. This may help to explain why in 1917 Russian liberals and democrats were un­able to find a modus vivendi with the Finnish elite. In the course of the February Revolution, the mechanisms of power holding the empire to­gether were destroyed, and the framework on which the empire had been constructed was eliminated. As a result, the regions experienced a vacuum of power that threatened catastrophe. The Finnish political elite was sim­ply left with no alternative but to fill that vacuum and to assume some of the prerogatives of the central authorities. The leaders of the new Russia, however, remained captives of an imperial understanding of national in­terests of the country and did not wish to offer an acceptable compromise to national elites.

Translated by Paul Werth




All the dates in this essay are provided in New Style, with dates in Old Style given in parentheses where appropriate. The term "Finnish" is used to refer to the citizens of Finland, who could be Swedes as well as ethnic Finns.

  1. Finland received the status of Grand Duchy in the sixteenth century, under the Swedish King Johann III. In practice, however, this was in large measure merely a pleasant-sounding declaration, lacking any real content.
  2. In 1901 a new law was passed, on military service, which was supposed to elimi nate the Finnish forces and to obligate the residents of Finland to serve in the regular Russian army. However, this law was not realized in practice. The majority of recruits boycotted the new provisions, and as a result St. Petersburg merely demanded that the Finnish authorities, by way of compensation for Finland's exemption from providing recruits, pay a so-called "war tax." Initially, the annual payment of the tax amounted to 2 million Finnish marks, rising subsequently to 15 million. Rossiiskii Gosudarstven-nyi Istoricheskii Arkhiv (hereafter RGIA), f. 1538, op. 1, d. 2,1. 2ob. (Dokladnaia zapiska V. K. Pleve Nikolaiu II ot 28.03.1902.)
  3. Andreas Kappeler, Russland als Vielvölkerreich: Enstehung, Geschichte, Zerfall (Munich, 1992), 77; A. B. Beloglazov, "Federalizm v 'tiur'me narodov': Velikoe kniazhestvo Finliandskoe," in Federalizm: Problemy formirovaniia (Kazan, 1994), 47-48: and I. N. Novikova, "Velikoe kniazhestvo Finliandskoe v imperskoi politike Rossii," in Imperskii stroi Rossii v regional'nom izmerenii, XlX-nachaloXXveka (Moscow, 1997), 134.
  4. See Novikova, 134-136; T. Polvinen, Derzhava i okraina (St. Petersburg, 1997. 20-46; Venalaisten sortokausi Suomessa (Porvoo and Helsinki, 1960), 19-23; J. Paasivirta, Pientet valtiot Europassa (Helsinki, 1987), 350.
  5. Kappeler, 88-90.
  6. A total of 1,897 persons fought on the German side in the Finnish Jäger Battal­ion. See M. Lackmann, Jääkärimuistelmia (Keuruu, 1994), 12. For more on the Finnish Jäger Battalion, see O. Apunen, Suomi keisarillisen Saksan politiikassa (Helsinki, 1968 and M. Lauerma, Kuninkaallinen Preussin Jääkäripataljoona 27 (Helsinki, 1966).
  7. V. Iu. Cherniaev, "Revoliutsiia 1917 goda i obretenie Finliandiei nezavisimosti,” in Padenie imperii i novaia organizatsiia Evropy posle Pervoi mirovoi voiny. Rossiisko-finliandskie gumanitarnye chteniia (St. Petersburg, 1993), 14.
  8. The border of the Grand Duchy passed within 32 kilometers of Petrograd. Fin­land thus protected the approaches to the Russian capital from the north. Finland moreover, was home to the main base of Russia's Baltic Fleet.
  9. Politischen Archiv des Auswärtigen Amts [hereafter PAAA], Grosses Haupt-qwartier (GrHq), Finnland, Bd. 1., L 084155/68 (F. Wetterhoff, Über eine militärische Aktion in Finnland vom 24-25 August 1915).
  1. Rossiiskii Gosudarstvennyi Arkhiv Voenno-Morskogo Flota (henceforth RGAVMF), f. r-29, op. 1, d. 153,1. 92 (M. E. Zinger, 1917 god v Baltiiskom flote).
  2. V. Rasila, Istoriia Finliandii (Petrozavodsk, 1996), 142.
  3. V. Rasila, E. Jutikkala, and K. Kuhla, Suomen polittinen historia, 1905-1975 (Porvoo, Helsinki, and Jyvä, 1980), 64.
  4. Cited in E. Hjelt, Vaiharikkailita vuosilta. Muistelmia, vol. 2 (Helsinki, 1919), 34. As we have seen, the general military draft did not extend to Finland. With the start of the First World War, authorities in Petrograd had hoped that the surge of patriot­ism evident in Russia would extend to Finland as well, and that the latter would sent volunteers to the Russian army. But the results of this enlistment were unimpressive in 1914 only 400 Finns entered the Russian armed forces, in 1915 only 40, and in 1916 a mere four. In all only 544 Finns served in the Russian army. See O. Turpeine, Keisarillen Venäjän vironomaisten suhtautuminen jääkäriliikkeeseen (Helsinki, 1980), 262. Admiral Maksimov, like many other representatives of the Russian liberal elite, thought that the resurrection of Finland's autonomy would automatically lead to a change in the attitude of young Finns toward service in the Russian military.
  5.             See, for example, RGIA, f. 229, op. 4, d. 2039,1. 235 (Poslanie finnskikh grazhdan F. I. Rodichevu ot 10.03.17).
  6.             J. Paasivirta, Finland and Europe, 1914-1939 (Helsinki, 1988), 65.
  1.  K. Ikonen, J.K. Paasikiven polittinen toiminta Suomen itsenäistymisen murrosvaiheessa (Helsinki, 1991), 354.
  2. Herman Gummerus, Jaakarit ja aktivistit (Porvoo, 1928), 34.
  3. PAAA. Der Weltkrieg (hereafter Wk.) 11 c, Bd. 7, A18546 (F. Wetterhoff an Moltke vom 9.04.1915); Sweden 56:1, Bd. 3., H 055177 (F. Wetterhoff an A. Zimmermann vom 17.05.1915).
  4. V. V. Pokhlebkin, SSSR-Finliandiia: 260 let otnoshenii, 1713-1973 (Moscow, 1975), 174.
  5. Cited in Hjelt,41.
  6. PAAA. Wk. 11 c., Bd. 19, Bl. 135 (Lucius an Bethman-Holweg vom 22.03.1917).
  7. Ibid., Bd. 20, Bl. 340-346 (Finnlandisches Memorandum, ohne Datum).
  8. Ibid.
  9. J. Paasivirta, Finland and Europe, 68.
  10. Ibid.
  11. Thus one of the leaders of Finland's Social Democratic Party, Yrjö Makelin, publicly expressed the hope for the development of an independent Finnish political activity (aktivnost') that would be free from intrusive limitations of the center.
  12. K. G. Idman, Maamme itsenäistymisen Vuosilta (Porvoo and Helsinki, 1953), 24; Rasila, Jutikkala, and Kuhla, 65.
  13. Arkhiv Vneshnei Politiki Rossiiskoi Imperii [hereafter AVPRI], f. 135, op. 474, d. 374/245,1. 3.
  14. Ibid.
  15. Rasila, 144.
  16. Idman, 127.
  17. T. Polvinen, "Oktiabr'skaia revoliutsiia i stanovlenie nezavisimosti Finliandii," Rossiia i Finliandiia, 1700-1917: Materialy VI sovetsko-finliandskogo simpoziuma istorikov (Leningrad, 1980), 13.
  18. E. Ketola, "Revoliutsiia 1917 goda i obretenie Finliandiei nezavisimosti," Otechestvennaia istoriia 6 (1993): 29.
  19. V. I. Startsev, "Vremennoe pravitel'stvo i Finliandiia v 1917 godu," Rossiia i Fin­liandiia v XX veke (St. Petersburg and Lichtenstein, 1997), 10.
  20. Cited in R. N. Dusaev, "Obrazovanie nezavisimogo Finliandksogo gosudarstva," Vestnik Leningradskogo gosudarstvennogo universiteta, vyp. 1 (1975): 89.
  21. Rossiiskii Gosudarstvennyi Arkhiv Sankt-Peterburga, f. 7384, op. 9, d. 320, 11. 18-19.
  22. Ibid.
  23. PAAA, Wk. 11 c, Bd. 21 (Bericht über die Lage in Finnland vom 31.05.1917).
  24. RGIA, f. 1093, op. 1, d. 88,1. 8.
  25. AVPRI, f. 135, op. 474, d. 395/245,1. 47.
  26. Gummerus, 467.
  27. For details, see O. Manninen, Kansannoususta armejaksi (Helsinki, 1974), 25.
  28. E. E. Kaila, "Suojeluskuntatyö Suomessa sodan puhkeamiseen," Suomen Vapaussota 2 (Jyväskylä, 1922), 100.
  29. RGIA, f. 1093, op. 1, d. 88, l. 44.
  30. See for example the reports of the head of the counter-intelligence unit at the Sveaborg fortress, A. Simonich, in RGAVMF, f. 1356, op. 1, d. 278, ll. 8-8ob.
  31. Kaila, 99.
  32. By August of 1917 Russian military circles had excluded the possibility of joint actions by the Schutzkorp and the Finnish workers' guard, and they contended that, most likely, hostility would emerge between the two formations. In such a case, they supposed that Finnish society might well fall into civil war. See RGAVMF, f. 418, op. 1. d. 549, l. 9.
  33. Ibid., f. 1356, op. 1, d. 278, ll.44-45ob. (Tuo 21.07.1917).
  34. V. Iu. Cherniaev, "Revoliutsiia 1917 goda i obretenie Finliandiei nezavisimosti,"40.
  35. PAAA. GrHq., Bd. 1, L084179/80. On the cooperation between Finns and the Baltic peoples, see S. Zetterberg, Die Liga der Fremdvölker Russlands, 1916-1918 (Hel­sinki, 1978); and O. Hovi, Interessensphären im Baltikum (Helsinki, 1984), 25-32.
  36. Cherniaev, 41.
  37. RGAVMF, f. 418, op. 1, d. 2859, l. 114 (Ǻland 18.07.1917).
  38. Startsev, 22; Pokhlebkin, 177.
  39. Pokhlebkin, 177.
  40. Startsev, 15-16; Rasila, Jutikkala, and Kuhla, 68.
  41. Työmies [Worker], July 18, 1917.
  42. AVPRI, f. 135, op. 474, d. 395/245, l. 30 (Den’, July 9,1917).
  43. Ibid. (Rech’, July 12,1917).
  44. RGAVMF, f. 418, op. 1, d. 2859,1. 23ob. (Obzor pressy za 30.07.1917).
  45. V. Antonov-Ovseenko, V semnadtsatom godu (Kiev, 1997), 152-153.
  46. R. Servis [Robert Service], "Gosudarstvo i revoliutsiia," Sovremennye metody prepodavaniia noveishei istorii (Moscow, 1996), 329.
  47. RGAVMF, f. 418, op. 1, d. 342,1. 32 (V. N. Verderskii to A. P. Kapnist, July 7 1917).
  48. Ibid., d. 278,1. 13 (V. N. Klembovskii to D. N. Verderskii, July 18,1917).
  49. RGIA, f. 1276, op. 14, d. 23,1. 122 (Manifest rospuskeseima ot 18 [31].07.19
  50. Startsev, 17.
  51. Ibid, 18.
  52. P. Luntinen, "Razluka bez pechali," Rodina 12 (1995): 29.
  53. RGAVMF, f. r-315, op. 1, d. 86,1. 1 (Obzor fmliandskoi pressy).
  54. For more on this process, see Mark von Hagen, "The Russian Empire," in A-Empire: Multiethnic Societies and Nation-Building (Boulder, Colo., 1997), 67-68.
  55. Antonov-Ovseenko, 199-202.
  56. In part, the matter concerned the removal of the 128th division, which had pro-Bolshevik sympathies, and its transfer to the Revel section of the front. Already at the time of the June offensive, this division had refused to submit to the orders of the Provisional Government. See Novoe vremia (July 14, 1917).
  57. In a letter of September 27, 1917, to Smilga, Lenin wrote, "It seems that the only thing that we can have entirely in our own hands and that plays a serious military role are the troops in Finland and the Baltic fleet... Under no circumstances can we allow the transfer of [those] troops out of Finland—this is clear. It is better to do everything else, an uprising or the seizure of power." Cited in I. I. Siukiianinen, "Gel'sinsforsskii seim rabochikh organizatsii v 1917-1918 gg.," Skandinavskii sbornik, vyp. 5 (Tallin, 1962): 101-102.
  1. At the 11th Finnish-Soviet Historians' Symposium in 1987, Ketola offered the thesis that the uprising in Finland represented a strategic prerequisite for the Octo­ber Revolution and was simultaneously that revolution's first successful operation. (Ketola: Suomen sotilaskapina-Lokakuun vallankumouksen strateginen edellytys," XI Suomalais-Neuvostoliitolainen Historioitsijoiden Symposio, 1987 (Helsinki, 1988). In contrast another Finnish historian, P. Luntinn, questioned the high degree of Bolshevization among the sailors of the Baltic Fleet. Opposition to the Provisional Government, in his view, derived not from ideational positions, but from war fatigue (ibid.).
  2. RGAVMF, f. 353, op. 1, d. 127, 1. 12ob. (Reshenie Oblastnogo Komiteta ot 19.10.1917).
  3. O. Rinta-Tassi, "Lokakuun vallankumous ja Suomen itsenäistyminen," Lenin ja Suomi II (Helsinki, 1989), 98; P. Huttunen, Venäläisten linnoitustyöt Suomen sisämaassa ensimmäisen maailmansodan aikana (Oulu, 1989), 274.
  4. RGAVMF, f. 418, op. 1, d. 549, ll. 35-35ob. (V. Sadovskii v General'nyi morskoi shtab ot 26.09.1917).
  5. PAAA, Wk. 11 c, Bd. 19 (Zimmerman an Lucius vom 15.03.1917); M. Menger, Die Finnlandspolitik des deutschen Imperialismus, 1917-1918 (Berlin, 1974), 55; I. Schu­bert, Schweden und das Deutsche Reich im Ersten Weltkrieg (Bonn, 1918), 124.
  6. PAAA, Wk. 11 c., Bl. 104 (von Hülsen an AA vom 20.03.1917).
  7. W. Schuman, Weltherrschaft im Visier (Berlin, 1975); Fritz Fischer, Griff nach der Weltmacht (Düsselddorf, 1994), 290.
  8. T. Polvinen, Venäjän vallankumousja Suomen 1 (Porvoo and Helsinki, 1987): 138.
  9. P. Luntinen, Saksan keisarillinen laivasto Jtämerella (Helsinki, 1987), 130.
  10. PAAA GrHq., Finnland, Bd. 1 (Zimmermann an Lersner vom 04.08.1917).
  11. Upon the seizure of the island of Esel, the local population was informed that the next object would be Finland. RGAVMF, f. 418, op. 1, d. 549, 1. 67 (Oberkvartirmeister 42-go armeiskogo korpusa K. Berens v General'nyi rossiiskii shtab ot 29.10.1917).
  12. For more on Germany's Finland policy in 1917, see I. N. Novikova, "Rol’ Germanii v protsesse provozglasheniia Finliandiei nezavisimosti i vykhoda iz sostava Rossiskoi imperii (fevral—dekiabr' 1917 g.)," Rossiia i Finliandiia v XX veke (St. Peters­burg, 1998), 34-47.
  13. Paasivirta, Finland and Europe, 95.
  14. RGIA, f. 1361, op. 1, d. 68, 11. 19-26ob. (Zakon o vzaimnykh pravovykh otnosheniiakh Rossii i Finliandii ot 16 [29] oktiabria 1917 g.).
  15. Ibid., 11. 26-27ob.; Idman, 166.
  16. Polvinen, 96-100.

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