What If-Finland had been prepared for the Winter War?

Discussions on the Winter War and Continuation War, the wars between Finland and the USSR.
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CanKiwi2
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Re: What If - Finland had been prepared for the Winter War?

Post by CanKiwi2 » 18 Dec 2010 23:15

Kädestä Käteen Torjuminen "hand to hand defence". Very interesting term!
"Kädestä Käteen~ Hand to hand" literally means a helping hand, i.e. if your Neighbour's house is burned down, you collect money "kädestä käteen", to help him. So, not very suitable term for hand to hand battle.
In Finnish there are two beatiful phrases for this:
"Käsirysy" and "Käsikähmä"! :lol: :lol: :lol: Try to pronounce them, I must laugh a little more... :lol: :lol: :lol:

In fact "Käsirysy" could be the best word to use in the street-fights between "Lahtarit - the Butchers" vs. "Punikit - the Reddies".

"Käsikähmä" can mean a real man to man fight. KKT could be "KäsiKähmäTaistelu". The best I can make up! 8-)

Isn't Finnish a lovely language or isn't it!!! :D :D :D

Greets
Juha-Pekka
OK, "KäsiKähmäTaistelu" or KKT for short it is from now on. And yeah, you would laugh at my attempt to pronounce that. I work with some Finnish translation software, a dictionary and a finnish grammer book. One tricky language to learn. So far Ive managed about 4 books in Finnish - scan them in, run the s/w and then work thru trying to make sense of it. The basic stuff is fine but military terminology does not translate easily. Did Michael Cleverleys bio of Lauri Torni, Born a Soldier, that way and even the title took me a while to figure out from the Finnish.

BTW, just in case nobody figured it out, that was lifted from the development of Krav Maga in Hungary in roughly the same pre-war timeframe - now used by the Israeli defence forces. I invented a few things but its more or less for real as far as technique and training goes.
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CanKiwi2
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Re: What If - Finland had been prepared for the Winter War?

Post by CanKiwi2 » 18 Dec 2010 23:37

John T wrote: And some general notes on this scenario -
My biggest gripe is that if Finland did this economical revolution wouldn't rest of the world follow suit?
After "fifteen consecutive Nobel prices in economics for Finland" :) , some other countries must have followed, leading to possibly a Very different world in 1939.

My second biggest problem is one of national education, you need to factor in a huge expansion in higher education to be able to get all these improvements done.

And as it all ripples though all of society and if Finns would been so industrialised Isn't there a chance Finns in general would have been much less accustomed to the wilderness and becoming more like the Russians ?

But I find your scenario quite nice and I see forward to more :)

BTW
Once upon a time in the beginning of the century, there where a thread here on "ten improvements Finland could have done before the winter war", but I failed to find it now. It was much more limited in scope only dealing with procurements and priorites within the armed forces.
Thx for the feedback. Appreciated. As far as Nobel Prizes go, I was trying to stay away from any new inventions. Largely what Ive tried to do so far is map out an accelerated industrial development path that is all current (as in 1930s). OTL, this mostly all happened in the post war period as Finland worked to pay off the war reparations imposed by the USSR. ive tried to map out a realistic scenario where it happens earlier. So far, most of the additional employment would be largely industrial labour - mines, factories, shipyards, steel mills. No significant educational requirements outside of managers and specialists. Post-war, Finland managed to do all this with their internal resources, could it have been achieved in the 30s - yes, if necessary by hiring foreigners as was done in many cases (Germans with the submarines, Americans / Canadians with the Petsamo Nickel mine).

Funnily enough, I had a section planned on the education system, but its a little different. Take me a while to get there though. Anyhow, glad you are enjoying it - Sweden does end up having a little more involvement in this scenario later on.

BTW, I am totally open to suggestions and adjustments as this scenario involves, its kind of a Work in Progress. So if I write anything thats too whacky going forward, I will be happy to adjust based on feedback and comments. Comment on Education being a case in point - I will incorporate that going fwd for sure :D
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Re: What If - Finland had been prepared for the Winter War?

Post by phylo_roadking » 19 Dec 2010 00:11

So far, most of the additional employment would be largely industrial labour - mines, factories, shipyards, steel mills. No significant educational requirements outside of managers and specialists. Post-war, Finland managed to do all this with their internal resources, could it have been achieved in the 30s - yes, if necessary by hiring foreigners as was done in many cases (Germans with the submarines, Americans / Canadians with the Petsamo Nickel mine).

Funnily enough, I had a section planned on the education system, but its a little different. Take me a while to get there though. Anyhow, glad you are enjoying it - Sweden does end up having a little more involvement in this scenario later on.


First of all, a nationwide industrial growth requires all sorts of secondary and third-level educated people...drawing office clerks, wages clerk, draughtsmen, all sorts. It also means a great expansion in secondary level "technical" education, you don't in peacetime bring a clodhopper in from the fields and teach him how to use a lathe/drilling bench and micrometer!

problem is - where do you get the funding for all the development from? Other aspects of government expenditure are going to have to be squeezed to a degree; John will remember a thread where he posted up a link to the details of the Norwegian budgets for 1938, 1939....and the October 1939-published planned budget for 1940. Now, while norway may not seem to be a great comparison...it is from the point of view of the degree of government money invested in the Norwegian welfare state and eductaion etc....

For 1940, to find the money in the budget for Norway's greatly expanded military spending - new aircraft purchases, new torpedo boats ordered from British yards etc. - when you look through the planned budget for 1940, what can be seen is they found it mainly in TWO ways -

1/ the scheduled coming to an end of most of the electrification/re-gauging programmes for Norway's railways...but more importantly

2/ funding for primary and "special" education was about to drop off the edge of a cliff! Primary education was to be slashed to the bone, and "special needs" funding was to almost vanish.

Now - you can slash education in a panic; ideally it should only be for a short period of major capital investment elsewhere in the state budget. But for a huge industrial leap forward such as you posit for Sweden, it has to go hand in hand with a similar leap forward in education for a very long time. You need an investment in people as well as industry...
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Re: What If - Finland had been prepared for the Winter War?

Post by John T » 21 Dec 2010 00:24

CanKiwi2 wrote: Largely what Ive tried to do so far is map out an accelerated industrial development path that is all current (as in 1930s). OTL, this mostly all happened in the post war period as Finland worked to pay off the war reparations imposed by the USSR.
It is interesting and I really starts to wonder what woud be a good answer -economic History tends to be rather political in nature so I assumed that what I had read from Norwegian where classic left wing 1970'ish.
While what little I read on Finland are more contemporary liberal style. But I must say that the general FInnish picture (as I seen it) was a rather rosy story of economic growth and advances in market share. While little is said about the poor starting position, one corner of the Russian empire raising from a civil war.

Found some consistent data at http://www.ggdc.net/maddison/
Note thta it is not real dollars but rather "purchasing power" and such more usefull to compare inter war economies:
(And on the x axis 1 is actually 1900 and 40 1939 )
EconomichGrowth.PNG
To me the similarites are most interesting, eve then everyone was interdependent on each other even if countries did their best to limit free trade..
CanKiwi2 wrote:
ive tried to map out a realistic scenario where it happens earlier. So far, most of the additional employment would be largely industrial labour - mines, factories, shipyards, steel mills. No significant educational requirements outside of managers and specialists. Post-war, Finland managed to do all this with their internal resources, could it have been achieved in the 30s - yes, if necessary by hiring foreigners as was done in many cases (Germans with the submarines, Americans / Canadians with the Petsamo Nickel mine).
Well, you got twenty years to complete it in, My experience from Sweden where that people and companies had a hard time to adjust during the war. Too much of society where used to produce teh same product as last year and evolution was very incremental and often based on triel and error. Like Scania had one (1)BSC in 1937 (the Manager).
But for twenty years maybe..
CanKiwi2 wrote:
BTW, I am totally open to suggestions and adjustments as this scenario involves, its kind of a Work in Progress. So if I write anything thats too whacky going forward, I will be happy to adjust based on feedback and comments. Comment on Education being a case in point - I will incorporate that going fwd for sure :D
I'd gone for Norwegian small destroyers Aegir-class rather than the Plolish style Atalntic Destroyers, Finnish navy would hardly ever have superiority to stand and fight and artillery duell, but keep the MTB's.

Cheers
/John
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Re: What If - Finland had been prepared for the Winter War?

Post by CanKiwi2 » 21 Dec 2010 13:19

John T wrote:I'd gone for Norwegian small destroyers Aegir-class rather than the Plolish style Atalntic Destroyers, Finnish navy would hardly ever have superiority to stand and fight and artillery duell, but keep the MTB's.

Cheers
/John
Just took a look at them, hadn't heard of them before. Interesting. Apparantly Aegir was one of the Sleipner class - six destroyers built for the Royal Norwegian Navy from 1936 until the German invasion in 1940. The design was considered advanced for its time, using aluminium in the construction of the bridge, the mast and the outer funnel. Extra strength special steel was used in the construction of the hull. Unlike the earlier Draug class the Sleipner class had comparatively good capabilities in both main guns, anti-aircraft artillery and anti-submarine weapons. The class was named after Sleipnir, the eight-legged horse of Odin.

The armament within the class varied slightly. Æger had the armament listed in the article info-box. Sleipner, the lead ship of the class, carried just two 10 cm guns and could not elevate them for use as anti-aircraft weapons. Gyller had two extra torpedo tubes, for a total of four. Odin had a 20 mm anti aircraft gun instead of a 40 mm. Balder and Tor had not been finished when the Germans attacked, and it's not known if any changes in armament were planned. Although classified by the Norwegians as destroyers they have been widely regarded as torpedo boats because of their displacement and armament.

Displacement: 735 tons [1]
Length: 74.30 metres (243.77 ft)
Beam: 7.80 metres (25.59 ft)
Draught: 4.15 metres (13.62 ft)
Propulsion: 12,500 shp (9.3 MW) De Laval oil fuelled steam turbines
Speed: 32 knots (59.26 km/h)
Complement: 75 (? officers and ? ratings)
Armament: 3 x 10 cm guns
1 x 40 mm Bofors anti-aircraft gun
2 x 12.7 mm Colt anti-aircraft machine guns
2 x 53.3 cm torpedo tubes
4 x depth charge throwers

Image
Norwegian Sleipner class destroyer Æger at sea before the Second World War.

Bit smaller than the Swedish Goteborg class and slower, but 32 knots isn't bad. They'd certainly be cheaper to build and might be a good substitute for the Goteborg-class ASW Corvettes I threw in (reduce # of main guns, increase # of AA guns perhaps). Altho in the case of the Goteborg-class, buying design from Sweden increases ties between the two countries somewhat. Does anybody else think these would be a good substitute to my Goteborg-class based ASW Corvettes?

Overall, I was thinking Goteborg class for the destroyers initially but the Polish Grom class had a certain appeal - and there are later "political" reasons that emerge in this scenario as well with regard to the Grom Class.
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Part 2b - More on the Finnish Economy through the 1930's

Post by CanKiwi2 » 21 Dec 2010 18:11

A further discussion of Forestry and related Industries

Finland’s economy largely relied on her Forests, with Finnish farmers owning approximately half the forested land, the state owning a third (mostly in the North) and the remainder largely owned by forestry companies. Sawmills and lumbering were a large source of employment in rural Finland, and in the 1930’s Finland led the world in the export of sawn timber, ahead of Canada, the USSR, Sweden and the USA. Britain was the largest buyer, followed by Germany, Holland, Denmark, Belgium and South Africa.
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Finnish forestry workers with early mechanised log-haulers

With the rapid acceleration of industralisation and the consequent movement of people from rural areas to the towns and cities, there was a growing demand for housing. This resulted in the emergence of a new industry, which rapidly became one of Finland’s largest – the manufacture of prefabricated houses, schools, stores and warehouses. Initially, these were built for the Finnish market, but it was found that there was also an export market and through the 1930’s, sales picked up rapidly. In 1935 for example, 35,000 prefabricated houses were sold to the USSR. As their economies recovered from the Great Depression, Poland, Denmark, France, the UK, Holland, Belgium and Germany were among the countries which brought large numbers of these houses, with some thirty other countries buying smaller numbers.

Finland had, in addition to forestry, established a large variety of forestry-related industries including mechanical pulp mills, cardboard and building board factories, suphite and suplhite cellulose mills as well as paper mills. In 1932, Finland’s mechanical pulp production totalled 750,000 tonnes, cellulose 1.5 million tons and paper 550,000 tons and these numbers continued to climb through the 1930’s. The first plywood factpry was built in 1912 and by 1938, there were eighteen mills manufacturing plywood and exporting 200,000 cubic meters annually. In 1930, Finland began to maufacture wood-fiber panels and a geowing world-wide demand for this product had led, by the late 1930’s, to eight factories having been established to meet demand.

Finland had also established many smaller industries, both before and after independence, many of them to supply her own needs. As we covered earlier, the development of hydroelectric power was important to Finnish industry, as Finland had and has no black coal fields. With the development of hydroelectricity and the provision of increasing amounts of cheap power through the 1920’s and 1930’s, Finland’s small industries were able to increase production and compete successfully in both domestic and foreign markets. We’ve already looked at the metal industry’s growth – by 1938 this sector of the economy employed 83,000 works in 1,000 different companies, building machines and equipment for the woodworking industry, locomotives, ships, electrical machines and equipment, cables and machine tools, fittings for water and steam pipes, seperators, and automobile parts, bodies and engines among others. For a further example, the first porcelain factory in Finland, the Arabia, was started in 1874 in Helsinki, producing a wide variety of porcelain and earthernware articles such as toilets, basins, baths, technicak porcelain, china and the like. Arabia’s products won the Grand Prox at the World;s Exhibition in Barcelona in 1929, Salonika n 1935 and Paris in 1937 and were sold in more than thirty countries. Arabia's factory was the largest porcelain and china factory in Scandanavia, with 3,000 employees.
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Arabia Porcelain Factory in Helsinki

Another of Finland’s important secondary industries was clothing and textiles, with factories in Tampere employing around 10,000 people, nearly all women, and satisfying primarily domestic demand. By 1934, Tampere had the largest textile manufacturing plant in Scandanavia. Other industries included flour mills, the dairy industry (which produced over 30,000 tons of butter and 10,000 tons of cheese, most of which was exported). Finland also produced a large amount of leather, with approx. ninety shoe plants producing 4.8 million pairs of shoes annually. And then there was the very visible contribution of Finnish architects and designers to architectural and furniture design which was rapidly gaining respect and being imitated around the world. Alvar Aalto, Erik Bryggman, Sigurd Frosterus, Armas Lindgren, Valter Jung and Eliel Saarinen among others. Here’s a few examples.
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Eliel Saarinen’s Helsinki Railway Station (1909)

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Alvar Aalto’s iconic Auditorium of the Viipuri Municipal Library.

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Alvar Aalto’s Headquarters for the Suojeluskunta (Civil Guard) in Seinajoki

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Alvar Aalto Armchair – now you know where Ikea got their concepts from

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The Tilkka Military Hospital, Helsinki. Designed by architect Olavi Sorrka and built in 1930

Alvar Aalto’s Helsinki Olympic Stadium (Helsingin Olympiastadion)

Athletics have always held a particular importance in Finland and in the minds of the Finns. The first sports associations were founded as long ago as the end of last century, and from the beginning of the twentieth century the Finnish nation has been animated by a great zeal for sports. Finland participated in the international Olympia movement even before the country gained independence in 1917. The Finns’ excellent results in the Olympic Games of the 1920s fostered the dream that one day it would be possible to hold the Games in Helsinki. The Stadium Foundation, established 1927, started to implement this dream and their first and foremost task was to get a stadium built, which would permit Helsinki to host the Summer Olympics. Building began on February 12, 1934, and the Stadium was inaugurated on June 12, 1938.
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The Stadium arena, which has been described as the most beautiful in the world, was the product of an architectural competition. Architects Yrjö Lindegren and Toivo Jäntti won the competition with their clearly lined functionalistic style design.

The 1940 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XII Olympiad were originally scheduled to be held from September 21 to October 6, 1940, in Tokyo, Japan. When Tokyo was stripped of its host status for the Games by the IOC after the renunciation by the Japanese of the IOC's Cairo Conference of 1938, due to the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War, the IOC then awarded the Games to Helsinki, Finland, the runner-up in the original bidding process – much to the delight of Finns. The Games were scheduled to be staged from July 20 to August 4, 1940 but were cancelled after the Second World War broke out

The Emergence of Nokia Ltd (Nokia Oy)

In 1927, three companies, which had been jointly owned since 1922 (Finnish Rubber Works-Suomen Gummitehdas Oy, Finnish Cable Works-Suomen Kaapelitehdas Oy and Nokia Company- Nokia Aktiebolag) were merged to form a new industrial conglomerate named Nokia Oy. Through the late 1920’s and 1930’s, Nokia Oy was involved in many industries, producing paper products, car and bicycle tires, footwear (including rubber boots and boots for the Finnish Army), communications cables, electricity generation machinery, gas masks for the Finnish Army), aluminium and chemicals. Each business unit had its own director who reported to the Nokia Corporation President.

Nokia's history starts in 1865 when mining engineer Fredrik Idestam established a groundwood pulp mill on the banks of the Tammerkoski rapids in the town of Tampere, in southwestern Finland, and started manufacturing paper.[30] In 1868, Idestam built a second mill near the town of Nokia, fifteen kilometers (nine miles) west of Tampere by the Nokianvirta river, which had better resources for hydropower production. In 1902, Nokia added electricity generation to its business activities. In 1898, Eduard Polón founded Finnish Rubber Works, manufacturer of galoshes and other rubber products, which later became Nokia's rubber business.[29] At the beginning of the 20th century, Finnish Rubber Works established its factories near the town of Nokia and began using Nokia as its product brand. At the end of the 1910s, shortly after World War I, the Nokia Company was nearing bankruptcy. To ensure the continuation of electricity supply from Nokia's generators, Finnish Rubber Works acquired the business of the insolvent company. In 1912, Arvid Wickström founded Finnish Cable Works as a producer of telephone, telegraph and electrical cables and in 1922, Finnish Rubber Works acquired Finnish Cable Works.

Despite their reputation of being reticent, the Finns were among the forerunners in the world in the use of the telephone. The first telephone line was erected in Helsinki towards the end of 1877; only 18 months after the telephone had been patented in the United States. The first telephone company was founded in Helsinki in 1882, and 1930 a total of 815 local telephone companies had been set up in Finland. In most other countries telephony was regarded as a successor to telegraphy and hence became a state monopoly. Telephones first arrived in the largest towns, then gradually spread to smaller towns and the surrounding countryside. In urban areas telephones grew common quite rapidly. At the turn of the century Helsinki had 3.3 phones per 100 population, which was considerably more than in other towns. By 1930 there was approximately one phone for every six people.

Measured with any indicators, private telephony activity was many times more extensive than that of the State. For example, in 1932 State telephone companies had 227 exchanges whereas private telephone companies had as many as 1,998. Likewise, in the same year the State had 1,763 "subscriber apparatuses" but private telephone companies had 133,456. At the time, Telephone Services in Finland were an open market, with the state-owned telecom company having a monopoly only on trunk network calls, while most (c. 75%) of local telecommunications was provided by telephone cooperatives, with most of the actual telephones and switches being purchased from the Swedish Ericsson Company. In 1930, the newly appointed President (and former Technical Director) of Finnish Cable Works, Verner Weckman, made a case for Nokia to move into the design and maufacture of telephony equipment for the Finnish market. With the support of the Finnish Government (by way of placing orders and placing tariff barriers on imports), Nokia quickly established itself in the limited Finnish market for such equipment, at the same time gaining experience in the design and manufacturing of telephones and the new automatic switches that were slowly penetrating the telephony market.

In the 1920s and 1930s, the world telephone markets were being organized and stabilized by many governments. The fragmented town-by-town systems which had grown up over the years, serviced by many small private companies, were being integrated and offered for lease to a single company. Finland was no exception and in 1932, Nokia was awarded the contract for Finnish Telephone Services nationwide. Within two years, Nokia had expanded into Estonia and had begun selling telephones and switches to the other Baltic States and to Poland. As part of the trade deals with the USSR, in 1935 the Government secured a contract for the delivery of automated switches to the USSR, a minor order for the established European and American manufacturers but a significant sale for Nokia. By 1935, Finnish Cable was securely established as a small (by world standards) telephone equipment designer and manufacturer. And in 1935, influenced by Finnish Cables success in the communications field, the Defence Forces signed a research and development contract with Finnish Cable to design and develop a number of military communications devices for the Army and Air Force. The significance and impact of this R&D contract will be discussed in a later section.

Finland Steamship Company Ltd. / Suomen Höyrylaiva Osakeyhtiö / Finska Ångfartygs Aktiebolaget (FÅA)

In an earlier section, the founding of Finnish transoceanic shipping companies was covered. However, it’s also important to note that there were other quite large Finnish shipping companies that were focused primarily on European shipping routes with over 800 ships of various sizes and types in operation. A good example of these is the Finland Steamship Company. This company was founded in 1883 by Captain Lars Krogius to compete with the increasing number of steamers coming into service in the Baltic, and to maintain a regular service to the United Kingdom for Finland's agricultural and forestry products. In 1884 the first steamships, Sirius and Orion were completed.

The company expanded rapidly and owned eight ships by 1890 and 27 by 1899, totalling 30,000 gross tons. Originally winter traffic to Finland was considered impossible, and their ships were forced to sail south for the winter months. However, with the assistance of a loan from the State, the CAPELLA was built in 1888, able to withstand ice pressure, and in the winter of 1888-89 maintained a service between Hanko and Hull for most of the season. In the light of this, new ships were planned to meet ice conditions, and from 1898 to 1914 an uninterrupted service ran between Hanko and Hull. The export of butter to the UK required regular sailings by vessels equipped with refrigerated cargo space, and the company placed it's best ships on this service between Hanko and Hull, and later also between Turku and Hull. They were also heavily involved in the transport of Finnish emigrants to Hull on their way to America and by 1932 had carried nearly half a million passengers on this route.

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During the 1914-1918 war, the company lost eight of the nine vessels that were beyond the Baltic at the outbreak of war, and as these ships were employed by the British Admiralty, they never received full compensation. Payment was dependent on the approval of the Russian Government and this was never received due to the Russian Revolution. The company's ships played an important role in the country's war of independence and many ships were lost, but by 1919 economic conditions improved and the fleet expanded rapidly, by 1929 comprising 44 vessels, totalling 55,000 tons.
The trade depression of the 1930s did not affect Finland's export trade with regard to shipping to any great extent and the company continued to grow. Cargo services were operated to most European countries as well as the east coast of North America and passenger routes were operated between Turku - Stockholm, Helsinki - Stockholm, Helsinki - Copenhagen and Helsinki - Lubeck. From 1929 on, as the Company continued to expand, new ships were built in Finnish shipyards (18 altogether), and by 1939 the company owned and operated 62 Ships, both Cargo and Passenger, and operated 22 regular routes. This experience was typical of most of the smaller Finnish shipping companies, who experienced steady growth through the 1930's.

The economic effect of Logistical Improvements

Incidentally, the whole logistics sector had directly and indirectly greatly benefited from state intervention in maritime transportation. One of the crucial, although seemingly minor, modifications being implemented over the 1930's was large scale palletization of cargo combined with the large scale introduction of fork lifts. Although for the modern reader a humble pallet might not seem as important as the now ubiquitous container, it still had a dramatic impact upon labour and the time involved in cargo handling at the time. In 1931 it took three days man-effort to unload a boxcar filled with individual goods. In 1939, with palletization of loads, the same task took four hours. The effort to palletize transportation was carried out because investment in the Finnish rail network was well behind the countries strong economic growth, thus there was a need for the rail network to be utilized with maximum efficiency. Combined with strong Finnish trade with early palletizers in the UK and US, this path was inevitable.
Image
Looks simple doesn’t it, but it changed the economics of freight handling dramatically

It must be noted that without the general economic boom that had been taking place, the change would have been very difficult to implement due to the strongly luddite tendencies of stevedores as the changes did result in rather drastic cuts to manpower in stevedoring. On the other hand, the wages of the remaining stevedores increased as the work changed from one needing the use of muscle power to one demanding more mechanical skills.

The Co-Operative Movement and Farming

As with the other Scandanavian countries, Finland was fertile ground for the co-operative movement in the changed economic and social conditions that were brought about by the growth of industry. The swift growth of industry as well as foreign competition in agricultural products encouraged farmers and workers to collaborate. The co-operative movement began in Finland in the 1880’s but split in 1916 into two parallel organisations, each with it’s own stores, factories and central organization. The two co-ops, SOK and OTK, were the largest wholesalers in Finland, owning flour mills, bakeries, brick, macaroni, match, margarine, bedding and chemical factories as well as operating their own insurance companies. They also bought and marketed local agricultural produce – grain, eggs, meat and vegetables and between the two organisations, they amounted to 40% of Finland’s retail grocery business.

There were also co-operative dairy associations (the Co-operative Butter Association exported 90% of Finland’s butter and 70% of it’s cheese) while there were many other co-ops, including co-ops for the sale of livestock and eggs, harvesting and threshing grain as well as electricity, flour mill and sawmill co-ops. With the average Finnish farm being on a small scale, these co-ops assisted Farmers in raising their incomes. Speaking of Co-ops, we’ll address Trade Unions in an upcoming section on Finnish Politics through the 1920’s and 1930’s.

However, life in rural areas was still tough. Most farming was done by muscle power, rather than with machinery, and this in part encouraged the migration from rural areas into the industralising towns and cities. Between 1926 and 1939, 687,000 Finns, approximately one sixth of the population, moved from rural to urban areas. Of those Finns in rural areas, around 100,000 worked for industrial concerns near their homes while there were also an estimated 200,000 part-time farmers who worked their own farms in summer and for the remainder of the year worked as lumberjacks or in woodworking plants. Subtracting these numbers, roughly 40% of the population continued to be primarily employed in agriculture, and highly manual agriculture at that.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/c ... _tilaa.jpg
A typical small rural North Karelian Farm of the 1920's

In 1917, Finland produced only 40% of cereal consumed. By 1937 this had risen to 87% through the introduction of more scientific methods and the very slow introduction of mechanization, largely through farming co-operatives. As previously mentioned, Dairy farming made up a large percentage of agriculture but even by 1935, Finland was not self-sufficent in agricultural products and relied on imports to make up the difference. This began to change somewhat in 1935, when the Ministry of Agriculture encouraged the adoption of large-scale potato farming in Lapland. In initial trials the per-acre potato yield on land hitherto used for growing Hay had provided a better yield than prime potato growing acreage in the United States (25,000kg per hectare on average).

Large scale potato farming got underway in 1936, with acreage increasing rapidly on a yearly basis. This was fortuitis as it turned out – by 1939, substantial acreage in Lapland was devoted to potato farming (and to raising hogs, which happily lived off potatoes). When, with the outbreak of the Second World War, Finland was largely cutoff from from agricultural imports, it proved possible to expand potato cultivation and hog raising rapidly from a by-then well-established base, enabling Finland to become self-sufficent in food for the duration of the War.

An Economic Overview and a Note on the Finnish Education System

Prior to WW1, Finland participated fully in the global economy of the first gold-standard era, importing much of its grain tariff-free and a lot of other foodstuffs. Half of the imports consisted of food, beverages and tobacco. Agriculture turned to dairy farming, as in Denmark, but with poorer results. The Finnish currency, the markka from 1865, was tied to gold in 1878 and the Finnish Senate borrowed money from Western banking houses in order to build railways and schools. GDP grew at a slightly accelerating average rate of 2.6 percent per annum, and GDP per capita rose 1.5 percent per year on average between 1860 and 1913. The population was also growing rapidly, and from two million in the 1860s it reached three million on the eve of World War I. Only about ten percent of the population lived in towns. The investment rate was a little over 10 percent of GDP between the 1860s and 1913 and labor productivity was low compared to the leading nations.

During the two decades after the establishment of the republic in 1917, Finland made remarkable economic progress. At the time of the collapse of the Russian Empire in 1917, the Grand Duchy of Finland had the most backward economy in Nordic Europe. Situated at the outer edges of the spheres of influence of major European industrial powers – principally Britain, Germany and Sweden - newly independent Finland appeared destined to remain a poor, peripheral area. By the late 1930’s however, Finland had begun to gain somewhat of a reputation, with its citizens enjoying a high standard of living and industrialization proceeding rapidly. Although the economy was heavily dependent on exports, the Finns had developed markets in both Eastern and Western Europe, including the USSR, avoiding excessive dependence on any single market.

Material conditions had been difficult at the birth of the Finnish republic. The country's industries had started to develop after about 1860, primarily in response to a growing demand for lumber from the more advanced economies of Western Europe, but by 1910 farmers still made up over 70 percent of the work force. Finland suffered from food shortages when international trade broke down during World War I. The fledgling metal-working and shipbuilding industries expanded rapidly to supply Russia during the early years of the conflict, but the empire's military collapse and the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 eliminated trade with the East. The Finnish civil war and the subsequent massacres of the Reds spawned lasting labor unrest in factories and lumber camps, while the plight of landless agricultural laborers remained a pressing social problem.

During the immediate post-WW1 years, Finland depended on aid from the United States to avoid starvation, but by 1922 industrial production had reached the prewar level and continued to grow rapidly. While trade with the Soviet Union languished through the 1920’s for political reasons, Western European, especially German, markets for Finnish forest products soon reopened. In exchange for lumber, pulp, and paper-which together accounted for about 85 percent of exports--Finland obtained needed imports, including half the nation's food supply and virtually all investment goods. Despite initial political instability, the state built a foundation for growth and for greater economic independence.
The first and most important step had been an agricultural reform program that redistributed holdings of agricultural and forest land and strengthened the class of smallholders who had a direct stake in improving farm and forest productivity. The government also nationalized large shares of the mining and the wood-processing industries. The subsequent public investment program in mines, metal foundries, wood and paper mills, dams and power generation plants, shipyards and the like improved the country's ability to process its own raw materials. By the late 1920s, agricultural modernization was well under way, and the country had set key foundation stones industrialization in place, including the establishment of Finnish owned trans-oceanic shipping companies trading with North and South America (expanding to include the Far East in the 1930’s).

The world-wide Great Depression started when share prices slumped on the New York Stock Exchange in September 1929. The effects from the 1930s depression could be seen earlier in Finland than elsewhere in Europe: the pace of economic growth already slowed down in 1929. In the same year the rate at which industrial output was going up also decelerated from the preceding years when it had exceeded 10 per cent. Between 1930 and 1931 Finnish industrial output suffered one of the strongest periods of decline in its history. The problems of Finnish industrial production did not arise as a direct consequence of the slump on the New Your Stock Exchange only. The biggest problems were caused by the difficulties the wood industry - the most important industry at that time - faced on the world market. Soviet Union entered the international market for wood, dumping prices downwards. At the same time, international demand for wood was declining as a consequence of the Great Depression of the 1930s. Added together, these factors caused to the industry serious problems, which could also be seen as declines in output in 1930 and 1931.

Yet, the Great Depression of the 1930s was much more short-lived in Finland than elsewhere in the world. Industrial output began to again climb in 1932. The international competitiveness of Finnish industry was improved by the devaluation of the Finnish markka in 1931-1932, which lowered its value by 50 per cent against the US dollar and by 15 per cent against the British pound. Although Finland suffered less than more-developed European countries during the Great Depression of the 1930s, the country nonetheless experienced widespread distress, which inspired further government intervention in the economy. Comprehensive protection of agricultural produce encouraged farmers to shift from exportable animal products to basic grains, a policy that kept farm incomes from falling as rapidly as they did elsewhere and enabled the country to feed itself better. Similar policies spurred production of consumer goods, maintaining industrial employment. As in other Nordic countries, the central bank experimented with Keynesian demand-management policies, using the creation of credit as well as loans from foreign banks and creative tax credit schemes to encourage investment in Finnish infrastructure by selected companies such as Ford (automobile manufacturing) and Inco (Nickel Mining at Petsamo).

In addition, such large-scale projects as Outukiumpu’s new nickel mines were financed by bank loans to the now well-established State-owned company itself, rather than by the extension of financing from the Government Budget. During the 1930s, the metalworking industries (Primarily the Shipbuilding, Machine Goods, Cable Products and new Locomotive construction industries) continued to grow their exports to the Soviet Union, a market in which the Finns faced virtually no competition from other Western countries. These were bartered for Oil, which was refined in the new Oil Refinery, with production in excess of Finnish demand in turn exported as finished petroleum products to Sweden, the Baltic States and even to Germany and Norway. In addition, transportation, communications, engineering, finance, and commerce became more important as the economy further developed and diversified.

Extensive borrowing in Western financial markets - especially in Sweden and in the United States - financed investments in infrastructure, agriculture, and industry. The consumer goods and construction sectors prospered in the booming domestic market, which remained protected by import controls until the end of the decade. In the 1930s, Britain replaced Germany as Finland's main trading partner. The two countries made bilateral agreements that gave Finnish forest goods free access to British markets and established preferential tariffs for British industrial products sold to Finland. Mainly driven by exports, industrial output grew very strongly, on average by over 20 per cent per year in the period between 1933 and 1938. This was assisted by a series of currency devaluations between 1935 and 1939 which boosted exports to the west. For example, the combined effect from the two devaluations in 1939 was that the value of the dollar rose by 70 per cent against the Finnish markka. From 1925 to 1939, Finland's gross national product (GNP) grew (despite the interlude of the Great Depression) at an average annual rate of 6.2 percent, considerably higher than the European average.

Control and ownership of Finland's economic life were highly concentrated, especially after the establishment of the large state-owned enterprises of the late 1920s. Thus, by 1937 three firms controlled most shipbuilding, a small number of large woodworking enterprises dominated the forest industries, and two main commercial banks exercised wide-reaching influence over industrial development. Large state-owned firms provided most of the energy, basic metals, and chemicals. The country's farmers, workers, and employers had formed centralized associations that represented the vast majority of economic actors. Likewise, a handful of enterprises handled most trade with the Soviet Union. Thus, while Finland remained a land of small family farms, a narrow elite ran the economy, facilitating decision making, but perhaps contributing to the average worker's sense of exclusion, which may have contributed to the country's endemic labor unrest through the 1930’s.

Innovative economic policies lead to rapid structural transformation, and Finland's structural transformation through the 1920’s and 1930’s was brutally quick, driving workers out of agriculture more quickly than had been the case in any other Western country. Although manufacturing output increased sharply, many displaced farm workers could not easily be placed in industry and this also contributed to the country's endemic labor unrest through the 1930’s. Yet, despite the costs of economic growth, most Finns were happy to have escaped the hardships of the Great Depression, short as it had been. The growing prosperity of the 1930’s made possible the extension of the welfare state, a development that did much to reduce tensions between workers and management. Finland's increased foreign trade made industrial competitiveness more important, causing greater interest in restraining the inflationary wage-price spiral. Starting in 1935, the government succeeded in sponsoring regular negotiations on wages, benefits, and working conditions. The political consensus that developed around income settlements helped to slow inflation and to increase productivity. Welfare programs and income policy thus helped to maintain economic growth and stability during the late 1930s.

A corollary of an increasingly industralised workforce is the need for a more educated workforce. Nationwide industrial growth requires all sorts of secondary and tertiary-level educated people...drawing office clerks, wages clerks, draughtsmen, skilled machinists, welders, mechanics. It also means a great expansion in secondary level "technical" education, you don't bring an agricultural farmhand in from the fields and teach him how to use a lathe/drilling bench and a micrometer! However, Finland had had a strong tradition of literacy since the Protestant Reformation. The Lutheran Church aimed at widespread literacy to enable the common man to read the Bible. In the eighteenth century, proof of literacy became a requirement for the right to marry. By the second half of the nineteenth century, legislation was in place for a general system of elementary education, although the tsarist regime did not allow its realization. Almost immediately after independence, the 1921 Comprehensive Education Act was passed that set the state a constitutional duty to provide "universal compulsory education," including elementary education, at no cost. Legislation also stipulated that Finnish citizens had a duty to be educated.

In the immediate post-WW1 period, the basic goal of Finnish education authorities had been to create a system that would provide equal educational opportunities for everyone within Finland. Even in the early 1920’s it was recognized that for Finland to evolve from an agricultural to an industrialized state had an educated and competent labour force as a key factor in the development process. With the Act of 1921, compulsory education came to apply to all children aged 7 to 13, that is, compulsory schooling consisted of a primary school with 6 grades. The State invested heavily in the education system to make this possible, constructing schools and hiring teachers. Gradually the Compulsory School Attendance Act extended primary education to cover the entire age group. In 1920 some 70 per cent of 15-year-olds were literate. The number of pupils in primary school started to rise quickly after the Act entered into force. As a consequence of regulations enacted in 1924 and 1922, two years of civic school were added to primary school, which then consisted of 8 grades.
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An elementary school in the working-class section of Helsinki, named after the Finnish Poet and Writer, Aleksis Kivi

Discussion on the establishment of comprehensive schools started in the mid 1920’s with the introduction of the idea of a 9-year universally free municipal comprehensive school. Under the system preceding the comprehensive school, pupils in the fourth grade applied for admission to secondary school, which opened up the route to further studies, e.g. the matriculation examination. Pupils not admitted to secondary school, or pupils whose parents could not afford or did not want to educate their children, stayed in primary school. Generally a fee had to be paid for attending secondary school. The increasing wealth of families through the 1920’s meant that more and more parents wanted their children to receive better education than before.

An amendment to the Compulsory School Attendance Act on the basis of the education system was enacted in 1928, and the comprehensive school was established and realised over the 1930s, with the statutory school age covering the age groups 7 to 16, with 6 year olds entitled to receive pre-primary education during the year before the start of their compulsory education. By the late 1930’s, nearly the entire age group attended voluntary pre-primary education for 6-year-olds while 95% of 7-15 year olds were attending schools and were literate. Secondary School education also became much more common and available through the late 1920’s and 1930’s. Attending secondary school was rare up until 1920, with less than 10 per cent of the age group going to secondary school. Until the late 1920s, secondary school was an educational institution mostly for children from affluent city families. However, from 1928 on, when the majority of state and private upper secondary general schools were taken over by the municipalities, the number of secondary schools started to increase rapidly, from 200 in 1928 to 300 in 1930 and exceeding 500 in 1939. Attendance grew rapidly, from 10% in 1920 to 25% in 1930 to 40% in 1939. At the same time, secondary education was broadened and reformed to allow a greater range of choices and opportunities.

Vocational education was also dramatically expanded. Vocational colleges had been mainly established during the late 19th century but saw a rapid expansion with the industrialisation program of the late 1920’s and then the onset of the Great Depression. Government funding for vocational education (and later for unemployed workers to be retrained) was increased, with retraining focusing on apprenticeship training and vocational education in areas where the government was funding or encouraging development. These programs continued to grow slowly through the 1930’s, with apprenticeship training and competence-based skills examinations. In addition, the state-owned companies saw it as a patriotic duty to increase the skill levels of Finnish workers and many introduced their own internal training and education programs.

University education was also expanded and distributed more equally across the country, with access to it widened. The beginning of the 20th century saw the founding of the University of Technology and the Helsinki School of Economics. After Finland became independent, Åbo Akademi, the University of Turku and Svenska Handelshögskolan started their operations. The number of students attending higher education grew steadily. In 1900, the University of Helsinki had 2,500 registered students, in 1920 all higher education institutions had a total of just 3,600 students. The 1930’s was a decade of expanding higher education: several new higher education institutions were founded. During the decade, the Lappeenranta and Tampere Universities of Technology as well as the University of Joensuu and the Vaasa School of Economics were founded. The University of Social Sciences became the University of Tampere and the Institute of Pedagogics became the University of Jyväskylä. The University of Oulu started its operations in the late 1930s and in 1939, just before the Winter War, the number of students was about 15,000, with a heavy emphasis in particular on Engineering.

Thus, there was a continuing expansion of the education system through the 1920’s and the 1930’s that resulted in an ongoing supply of educated and literate students moving into the industrial economy. Concurrently, there was a steady rise of the numbers of graduates from vocational training institutes and, more slowly, from Universities. The large state-owned organisations and many of the larger private companies also ran their own internal training and vocational education programs. Taken together, this resulted in a steady increase in the numbers of trained and educated workers in the industrial sector. Where shortages of specific skillsets existed, as with the construction of the Oil Refinery or of Smelters, the expertise needed was generally imported from North America, Germany or Britain. This also applied with rather more urgency to some of the military-industrial projects of the 1920’s (as we saw with German assistance in submarine construction) and in the 1930’s as we will see in the upcoming section describing the establishment of Finland’s internal defence industries.

Social Cohesion and the rapproachment between the Suojeluskunta (Civil Guard) and the Social Democrats

There were other factors at play through the 1930’s. Social cohesiveness, a growing sense of national pride and Finnish nationalism had an effect on the events of 1939-1940. By the late 1930's the Finnish economy was enjoying its longest and most powerful economic boom ever (as in OTL). GDP per capita was slightly higher than Swedish, German and British levels (being on Dutch level OTL), the employment situation was very good and wages had increased, bringing the standard of living for all up to a level never before dreamed of. Free education was the norm, health care and social services had improved dramatically, the large estates had disappeared from the rural landscape, their place taken by small farms, the working day was a standard 8 hours, 5 days per week and their was a boom in the construction of good quality housing for the rapidly growing numbers of industrial workers.
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One of the much loved new Finnish suburbs of the late 1930's. Identical two-story houses suited for the large families of the time, situated in spacious lots and flanked by three-story apartment buildings with two-bedroom apartments for young families. In coming years this scenery would change for the better as the birch and alder trees gave their shadow during summers. While these new suburbs were derided for their uniformity, they represented a huge leap in living standards.

The status symbols of the improved standards of living were still rather modest by modern standards. Bicycles were becoming a standard accessory for young and old alike. The yearly summer holidays, introduced in the mid-1930's, were being spent almost entirely in Finland due to the extremely high cost of foreign travel. However domestic travel became accessible for virtually everyone. Factory-produced functionalist furniture became a standard accessory. All this money and the demand for a better quality of life supported a burgeoning consumer goods industry and some rather innovative concepts, such as the large scale marketing of prefabricated housing.

Memories from the spring of hate of 1918 were rapidly being left behind. The general agreement of all the major political parties on the major industrial and construction projects being undertaken had lead to an increased sense of national unity and a decline in the formerly sometimes bitter disagreements between Left and Right on social and economic issues. There was a growing tendancy for behind-the-scenes compromise and with the economic boom, increased incomes and the “every family has a right to a home” policy that almost guaranteed everyone but the very poorest the ability to purchase their own house with affordable government-insured loans (and for the very poor, there was a state-owned rental housing program), there was a growing sense that this was “Our Finland” for all. The rapproachment between the Social Democrats and the Suojeluskunta in 1930, orchestrated behind the scenes by Vaino Tanner and Mannerheim (with the resultant rapid expansion of membership of both the Suojeluskunta and Lotta Svard organizations) was yet another manifestation of this growing social cohesiveness that would serve Finland so well in the dark days to come.

This rapproachment had its background in the ongoing meetings, both public and private, which took place over this period as a consensus was reached on the economic development programs being advanced in the late 1920’s. These served in particular to build an unexpectedly close relationship of mutual respect, if not liking, between Vaino Tanner, Risto Ryti and Mannerheim that had not previously existed.

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Väinö Tanner (March 12, 1881, Helsinki – April 19, 1966) was a pioneer and leader in the cooperative movement in Finland, and Prime Minister of Finland from 1926 to 1927. Tanner did not participate in the Finnish Civil War. When the war ended he became Finland's leading Social Democratic Party (SDP) politician, and a strong proponent of the parliamentary system. His main achievement was the rehabilitation of the SDP after the Civil War. Väinö Tanner served as Prime Minister (1926–1927), Minister of Finance (1937–1939), Foreign Minister (1939–1945)

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Risto Ryti, (3 February 1889 – 25 October 1956) started his career as a politician in the field of economics and as a political background figure during the interwar period. He made a wide range of international contacts in the world of banking and within the framework of the League of Nations. In 1921 he was appointed Finance Minister, in 1924 he took up the posoition of Chairman of the Bank of Finland. In 1934 he was awarded a British honour, being created a Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (KCVO) due to his great merits in Anglo-Finnish relations. It must also be noted that he had excellent relations with the leaders of the Bank of England, due to his similar economic policies, such as the belief in the gold standard until the Great Depression, and due to his excellent command of English (In fact, Ryti regularly telephoned the Bank of England's leaders when he wanted to discuss economic or financial policies with them). Ryti served as Prime Minister during the Winter War and was the fifth President of Finland from 1940 to 1944.

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Baron Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim (4 June 1867 – 27 January 1951) was the Commander-in-Chief of Finland's Defence Forces, Marshal of Finland and a politician. He was Regent of Finland (1918–1919) and the sixth President of Finland (1944–1946).

It was this relationship which had led to the unprecedented reconciliation betweent the Suojeluskunta (Civil Guard) and the Social Democrats – a reconciliation that was, incidentally, reviled by the Communists. While we will cover the Suojeluskunta (Civil Guard) and it’s role in Finnish politics and scoiety in detail in a subsequent section, the rapproachment between the Suojeluskunta (Civil Guard) and the Social Democrats Party in 1930 was one of the more epochal moments in Finland’s history, and one that also subsequently removed a major obstacle to increased defence spending.

Through the 1920’s, the Suojeluskunta (Civil Guard) and the Social Democrats had largely seen each other through the prism of the Civil War, in which many Social Democrats had fought as Red Guards. After the Civil War, the hostility continued, although the Social Democrats had to a certain extent moved away from the Communists. There were still, particularly in the industrial city of Tampere, running brawls between the so-called Lahtarit (the Butchers) and the Punikit (the Reddies) and these continued through the 1930’s. When, in 1930, Mannerheim and Vaino Tanner publicly and jointly announced that the Suojeluskunta (Civil Guard) and the Social Democratic Party (SDP) shared a common vision of the need for a spirit of national unity within Finland, jointly saw the dangers of the rising move towards totalitarianism in Europe and encouraged Finnish citizens of all political persuausions to join the Suojeluskunta or Lotta Svärd, this was a momentuous and earth-shattering political event that captured headlines across Finland.

However, Tanner had done his behind-the-scenes preparations within the Social Democrat organisation well, and Mannerheim’s allies and supporters within the Suojeluskunta and the rightist political parties had also done their groundwork. There was little publicly voiced opposition in the Press, indeed the Press generally hailed the rapproachment in the spirit with which it was made. The Communists reviled the move, but they were an illegal and underground movement, unable to voice their opposition publicly although the Unions they controlled or influenced were quick to make their opposition known, Within the Suojeluskunta, members were ready to take the first step in removing hostility between the SDP and the Sk-organization. In February of 1930, at the urging of Tanner, and with the active support of Mannerheim, the SDP party committee had first made private contact with the Suojeluskunta leadership, and the two organisations found common ground very fast. The means of publishing the news of the reconciliation between the two organizations needed some negotiating but this was also rapidly concluded and a formal event welcoming both Social Democrats into the Suojeluskunta, and Sk-members into the SDP was held on the 15th of March1930. The symbolic significance was large, but the actual results for members of both organizations were not immediately so.

By the 10th of April 1930, only about 1,000 Social Democrats had joined the Suojeluskunta. However, with Mannerheim, Vaino Tanner, other SDP politicians and party leaders and Suojeluskunta leaders working together to emphasis the need for Finland’s defences to be strengthened, and continually emphasizing that the Suojeluskunta was a “Finnish” organisation, and not a “political” organisation, membership of the Suojeluskunta began to grow significantly from 1931 on. Added encouragement was provided by the new financial incentives for Suojeluskunta training included within the State Budget from 1931 on, as well as the support offered by both state-owned and private businesses for Suojeluskunta membership. While there was still Union opposition, it became ever more muted over time as more and more Union members joined.

The growth in numbers of “Active” Suojeluskunta members from 1930 – 1939 was as follows:
1931: 88,700
1932: 89,700
1933: 101,200
1934: 109,500
1935: 126,700
1936: 152,500
1937: 161,900
1938: 201,000
1939: 276,300

The large surge in membership from 1935 to 1936 coincided with the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War whilst the additional large membership surge in 1938 concided with the Munich Crisis. There was a further massive surge in 1939 as the looming threat of another European War became ever more obvious and the pressure on Finland from the Soviet Union grew ever more blatant. These numbers were the “active” members capable of military service in the event of war. In addition, there were “Veteran” members, those who were classified as too old for active military service or who worked in a wartime-critical job and who were refused permission to leave their jobs but who kept up their training and who were grouped into “Home Guard” units. There were some 55,000 men in this category, grouped into Battalion-strength units and organised under the Home Guard Command structure. In addition there were a further 54,000 “Boy-Soldier” members (many of whom had, by 1939, military training as a result of the school-based Military Cadet program introduced starting from 1933).

The reconciliation between the Social Democrats and the Suojeluskunta had also had its effect on the Lotta Svärd. Unlike the Sk-organisation, this showed almost immediately with a substantial increase in the number of members as large numbers of women from Social Democratic families started to join almost immediately. The growth in numbers of Lotta Svärd members from 1930 – 1939 was as follows:
1930: 63,794
1932: 74,842
1934: 86,022
1935: 122,344
1936: 165,623
1938: 172,755
1939: 242.045

In addition, by 1939 there were also 49,000 Girl-Lotta’s (aged 17 and under, many of whom held positions of responsibility, particularly those in the 15-17 year old class (many of whom had also, by 1939, military training as a result of the school-based Military Cadet program).

And with SDP members in particular flocking to join the Suojeluskunta and Lotta Svard organisations, there was an ever increasing public awareness of the gaping holes in Finland’s defences. This rapproachment and growing public awareness somewhat indirectly resulted in some slow but significant adjustments in attitude to defence spending. Finnish politicians of the Left and even some of the Centre had been strongly resistant to any significant defence-related spending, placing their faith in the League of Nations and turning a blind eye to the potential threat posed by the Soviet Union. Indeed, Cajander had said at the time that he would “rather spend money on schools for our children than on uniforms and guns that will gather mould and rust in warehouses.”

However, public attitudes to defence spending had changed somewhat. The SDP’s rapproachment with the Suojeluskunta resulted in a lessening of opposition from the main Leftist political party (the promise of even more employment for industrial workers was also influential), the right-wing Kokoomus (National Coalition) Party had always backed Marshal Mannerheim’s defence proposals unanimously, the conservative Agrarian Party had usually supported improvements in national defence and the Swedish People's Party (RKP) saw the proposed naval buildup and construction work as a maritime issue of benefit to their supporters. As always, the only party wholly in opposition to the defence spending initiative was the Socialist Party of Workers and Smallholders (STP), a cover organization for Soviet-backed communists.

Starting in 1927, defence budget appropriations had been made to fund the early naval construction programs involving the Submarines and, in the early 1930’s, the construction of the Destroyer Flotilla. In 1931, Mannerheim was appointed Chairman of the Defence Committee, and for the first time, a significant increase in defence expenditure was included in the State Budget. This was a trend which would continue, and which we will examine more closely in a later section. For now, we’ll pause and take a closer look at the Suojeluskunta and Lotta Svard organizations and their changing social and military role in Finnish society.
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Part 3a - The Suojeluskunta and Lotta Svard organisations

Post by CanKiwi2 » 21 Dec 2010 22:30

The changing social and military role of the Suojeluskunta (Civil Guard) and Lotta Svard organisations

Off-ATL Topic: The Suojeluskunta (abbreviation=“Sk”) was a voluntary organization, in Finland often compared to the US National Guard and the British WW2 era Home Guard, but it was also an organisation that had played a major role in the defeat of the Reds in the Finnish Civil War and thus, for a long period, membership was a politically charged issue. During certain phases of its history, its functions were somewhat like the US National Guard or the British Home Guard, but in reality it was so unique that finding any internationally well-known exact equivalent is impossible. Even though the Suojeluskunta was disbanded following the Second World War, such was its political weight in Finnish history that discussion about the subject can still cause bitter arguments in Finland.

In this ATL, the Suojeluskunta and the SDP stage a historic reconciliation in 1930, earlier that occurred historically - to gain a better understanding of how important this reconciliation was, an overview of the historical background of the Suojeluskunta is needed, together with a clear outline of the Suojeluskunta role both before and after 1930 in my ATL. The Lotta Svard organisation, which was perhaps less controversial, will also be covered. I’ve tried to present as accurate a picture of the Suojeluskunta as I can from the English-language sources I have available to me – and it should be easy for Finnish readers to identify where I have moved into an ATL as opposed to the OTL. If anything sounds to implausible, or I’ve got some of the OTL history incorrect, let me know. And a note on sources - for much of this, I’ve used “The Suojeluskunta: A History Of The Finnish Civil Guard” by Jarkko Vihavainen as my source – any errors are however, mine.


Part I – Introduction to the Suojeluskunta

Through the 1920’s and increasingly in the 1930’s the Suojeluskunta and Lotta Svärd organisations filled an important role in Finnish Society, bringing together Finns of all classes and political backgrounds and giving them a common interest and purpose. The Suojeluskunta acted as a Non-Government Organisation (as we now term it) but at the same time slotted neatly into the national military chain of command. From 1921, the organisation consisted of a General Staff, Suojeluskunta districts (corresponding from 1934 on to Army Reserve Jalkaväkirykmentti - Infantry Regiments) and local Suojeluskunta chapters. Every municipality had at least a single chapter, responsible for its own funding, although they received minor funding from the state budget. The Suojeluskunta was active in numerous branches of life, organising sports activities, especially cross-country skiing, orienteering, shooting and Finnish baseball.

For fundraising, the chapters organised numerous informal events and lotteries. It is estimated that about one fifth of all get-togethers in Finland were organised by the Suojeluskunta and as many again by the Lotta Svärd. To this end, the Suojeluskunta chapters had several hundred choirs, orchestras, and theatre groups as well as numerous buildings that served a dual function as Armouries, Drill Halls and Social Venues (indeed, if you were a Suojeluskunta member, as often as not your wedding reception took place in a Suojeluskunta Hall). The Chief of the Suojeluskunta and the district chiefs were selected by the President of Finland. From 1921 to the end of WW2, this post was occupied by General Kaarlo Malmberg. In most cases, the district chiefs and most officers in the district headquarters were from the Regular Army. Only able-bodied males between 17 and 40 years of age could be full members of the Suojeluskunta. Every member was required to attend a specified amount of training on penalty of losing membership. Initially, members were required to buy their own equipment and rifle, with local chapters helping their members, if the chapters had funds for it.

Lotta Svärd was a Finnish voluntary auxiliary paramilitary organisation for women, in many ways the women’s equivalent of the Suojeluskunta. The name comes from a poem by Johan Ludvig Runeberg. Part of a large and famous book, The Tales of Ensign Stål, the poem described a fictional woman named Lotta Svärd. According to the poem, a Finnish soldier, private Svärd, went to fight in the Finnish War and took his wife, Lotta, along with him. Private Svärd was killed in battle, but his wife remained on the battlefield, taking care of wounded soldiers. The name was first brought up by Marshal Mannerheim in a speech given on May 16, 1918. The first known organisation to use the name Lotta Svärd was the Lotta Svärd of Riihimäki, founded on November 11, 1918 while the Lotta Svärd was officially founded as a separate organisation on September 9, 1920.

Part II - Historical Background to the Suojeluskunta

Finland was transferred from Sweden to Russia after the Swedish- Russian War of 1808 – 1809, in which Russia was victorious. When this war was over, the Russian Emperor, Alexander I, guaranteed the Finns a large variety of rights and exceptions as well as status as an autonomous Grand Duchy, making Finland quite different from other parts of the Russian Empire. The arrangement proved fruitful to both sides: The Finns became loyal citizens and an autonomous Finland prospered both culturally and economically within the Czarist Russian Empire. In the 1880's however, opinions among Russians concerning Finnish autonomous status started to change. As Slavophilism and Panslavism spread in Russia, it created suspicion, envy, and hate against the Finns and the status of an autonomous Finland.

When a new Russian Emperor (Nicholas) was crowned in 1894, Slavophiles and Panslavists gained a controlling position and started stripping autonomous rights from Finland one by one. The goal of this oppressive campaign was Russification of the whole of Finland by removing its autonomous status and replacing Finnish culture with a Russian one. In Finland, the Russification campaign met both passive and active resistance from the start, and the idea of an independent Finland increasingly started gaining popularity as the Russification program intensified. Hate created by an oppressive Russification campaign and growing Finnish nationalism had planted the seeds for demands for an independent Finland. The political and military environment however, did not permit any progress.

“Suojeluskunta” could be translated literally from Finnish as "Protective Guard" and the translation fits well with the original mission of the Suojeluskunta. The first organizations, which later developed into Suojeluskunta, were established locally by volunteers to maintain public order during the General Strike of 1905. Additional groups were established over the following years, but real growth came in 1917. In that year Russia faced two revolutions. The first revolution had already led to some murders in Finland, had created a lot of restlessness, and had led to Bolshevik Councils (aka "Soviets") spreading like a plague through Russian military and naval units stationed in Finland. As an aftermath of the first revolution, Finnish police departments were also dis-established.

It was, however, the second revolution by the Bolsheviks that caused real havoc. When news of the Bolshevik Revolution reached Finland, large numbers of Russian troops stationed in Finland started celebrating their new "svoboda" by executing their officers and more violence followed. Unfortunately for Finns, for too many of the now uncontrolled but well-armed Russian soldiers, this "svoboda" included the opportunity for taking whatever they wanted with the help of the weapons they held. At the same time the idea of creating a revolution in Finland gained popularity among members of the Finnish Social Democratic Party (SDP) and political violence started to spread in Finland from June 1917 on. The food situation was also getting worse (agricultural strikes during the planting season didn't exactly help the situation) and the revolutionary wing of the SDP, which had allied itself with the Russian Bolsheviks, started forming armed "Punakaarti" (Red Guard) units.

Political violence continued escalating: During a week of long general strikes in November 1917, armed Russian military and Finnish Red Guard units marched into many locations and 34 people were killed in political violence. Under these conditions, more local organizations for “maintaining order” were rapidly established. At the same time, independence activists seeking to separate Finland from Russia created their own local organizations disguised as voluntary fire departments. Even though local security organizations and "voluntary fire departments" made up of independence activists often had originally been established for separate reasons, typically they had no problem in finding common goals and soon started to develop into Suojeluskunta organizations.

Part I - The Suojeluskunta in the Civil War of 1918

In December of 1917 Finland became independent, led by the Finnish Senate. There were still large Russian military units (estimates of Russian soldiers in Finland at that time vary from between 42,500 to over 100,000) in Finland and the Russian Bolshevik Government had plans for them. The Russian Bolsheviks started arming the Finnish Red Guards and at the end of January 1918, violence in Finland escalated into outright Civil War as the Finnish Red Guards carried out a revolution against the democratically elected Finnish Government. At this time, local Suojeluskunta organizations didn't yet have any real command structure connecting them effectively. However, there was one organization that had some influence among them. This was the Senate-elected "Sotilaskomitea" (Military Committee), which was a small organization of well-known nationalistic Finns.
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Suojeluskunta in Nummi. Suojeluskunta were appointed the White Army of Finland on 25 January 1918.

In mid-January 1918 the Sotilaskomitea had asked C.G.E. Mannerheim, who had recently returned from Russia, to be its chairman. Soon after this, the Finnish Senate declared Suojeluskunta troops to be Finland’s Army and named Mannerheim as their commander. With the Suojeluskunta now facing Civil War, the situation was serious. The Suojeluskunta organisations had about 14,000 men, but they were not organized as military units and had no military training to speak of. The opposing Red Guards also had no military training and were also poorly organized, but had managed to mobilize some 25,000 men. However, these were only minor problems for the Suojeluskunta compared to the shortage of weaponry. The Suojeluskunta had only 9,000 rifles and 44 machineguns. The Finnish Red Guard had no such shortage as Russian garrisons were arming them and trainloads of weapons were transported to them from Russia.
The Germans decided to arm the Suojeluskunta, but the non-arrival of the cargo of the steamship Equity with the 20,000 rifles and 50 machineguns it was carrying almost caused the Suojeluskunta to lose the war at the start. Once the war started, the number of troops on both sides started increased rapidly. At the start of the war, the Finnish Reds had captured the southern part of Finland while the White Army hurriedly created from Suojeluskunta units gathered. Armed with the few available weapons they managed to hold the northern part of Finland. The frontline between the two sides formed a line running from Ahlainen - Vilppula - Mäntyharju - Antrea - Rautu. At beginning of the Civil War the Suojeluskunta had only about 5,000 - 6,000 men on the front lines.

The Reds carried out a general offensive from mid-February to early March, attacking along main roads and railways, but the Suojeluskunta units managed to keep them at bay while the Whites got their main troops organized, equipped and trained. Suojeluskunta units were part of the White Army, but at the same time they remained separate from recruited and drafted units, which later became the Finnish Army. In mid-March the Whites attacked and there first success was the surrounding and subsequent capturing of the important industrial city of Tampere. After the Reds lost Tampere, their front fell apart, and further successful attacks by the White Army, including the battles of Tampere and Viipuri and the Battle of Helsinki, won by the newly arrived German Ostsee Division, sealed the fate of the Red Guards. Most of the Finnish Red Guard members ended up in POW camps while some managed to escape to Russia. The Civil War ended on the 5th of May 1918, but the situation in Finland remained restless for several years subsequently.
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Initial frontlines and offensives of the Civil War at the beginning of February (area controlled by the Reds in red, and by the Whites in blue)

At the end of January 1918 about 400 Suojeluskuntas units with about 38,000 members were facing some 375 Red Guard units with an estimated 30,000 men. In actuality the numbers of frontline combatants on both sides were not that large. The Red Guards naturally had Bolshevik-minded Russian soldiers and sailors fighting at their side from the beginning, but their number seems to have been relatively small. Officially, Bolshevik councils ("Soviet") controlled a majority of the Russian military units in Finland. In reality they were unable to control the unwilling and demoralized soldiers. At the end of 1917, the Russian Military still had large numbers of troops in Finland, but practically all of their units either remained passive or simply "melted away" when their soldiers decided to desert and return to their homes. In areas other than the Karelian Isthmus, the Russian units taking part in the war were not larger than platoon-size. However, as the military training of the Finnish Red Guards was basically non-existent, Russians often served with them as heavy weapons specialists, training personnel and even as leaders. The numbers of troops on both sides continued to increase until April, at which point the White Army had about 70,000 men and Red Guards about 75,000.

Suojeluskunta members of the Civil War can be roughly divided into three types of members. Those willing to fight both in their own local area and in other parts of the country, those willing to fight or maintain order only in their own area and supporting members, who supported the Suojeluskunta with finances and/or supplies without personally participating in battle. At end of the year 1917 and during the Civil War, "Lentävä Osasto" ("flying detachment") type units were established from those willing to fight in other areas of the country.

Wars are rarely clean, but the Finnish Civil War was as ugly as civil wars can be. In general, Suojeluskunta members saw the Russians as enemies of Finland and Finnish Reds as traitors who had betrayed their own country. Volunteers of the Suojeluskuntas wanted an independent Finnish State. For them the Russian military was an occupier and the Red Guards, who had allied themselves with the Bolshevik government, were a threat to Finnish independence. During the Civil War the White Army didn't have a real chain-of-command for the Suojeluskunta. The Advisory Committee of the Commander in Chief, which had representatives from the various Suojeluskunta, was intended as the connection between the local Suojeluskunta and Mannerheim’s HQ, but it didn't take part when it came to the actual commanding of troops. Also the military chain-of-command for frontline units was unclear, giving higher headquarters poor control of their troops.
Nationalism and hatred of the Russians being typical opinions of Suojeluskunta members, it wasn't surprising that many of them didn't like taking orders from the ex-Russian Army General Mannerheim and his Staff, many of whom were either Finnish born officers who had earlier served Russia, or Swedish officers. The lack of a clear command and control structure offered a convenient opportunity for the settling of old scores and the taking of revenge for lost friends and relatives of Suojeluskunta members when they returned to their old villages, towns and cities.

During the civil war, the White Army and the Red Guards both perpetrated acts of terror, the Red and White terror respectively. The main purpose of the Red and White terror was to destroy the power structure of the opponent, clear and secure the areas governed by the armies since the beginning of the war and the areas seized and occupied by the common units during the conflict. Another goal of the terror was to create shock and fear among the civil population and the opposing soldiers. The lack of combat skills of the common soldiers in the both armies created the opportunity to use terror as a military weapon. Terror achieved some of the intended military objectives, but also gave additional motivation to each side to fight against an enemy perceived to be inhuman and cruel. The propaganda of the Reds and Whites utilized the terror acts of the opponent effectively, which increased the local political violence and the spiral of revenge.

The Red Guards executed the representatives of economic and/or social power in Finland, including politicians, major landowners, industrialists, police officers, civil servants, teachers, and leaders and members of the White Guards. Servants of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland (ten priests) and the labour movement members (90 obviously moderate socialists) were executed also, but they were not the main targets of the terror. The two major sites of the Red terror were Toijala and Kouvola. There 300–350 Whites were executed between February and April 1918. In total, 1,400–1,650 Whites were executed in the Red terror. Without straying into the whys and wherefores, the road to further carnage was paved by the Suinula mass-murder by the Reds of Suojeluskunta POWs, the incident that became widely known as the "Suinula massacre".

The Whites responded in kind, and as the White Army won the war, its units and members naturally did most of the killing, murdering or executing 7,276 people. In regard to the executions and murders, many Suojeluskunta units also gained a worse reputation than the average White Army unit. There were probably good reasons for this. Their members had volunteered for personal and/or ideological reasons, this combined with weaker discipline and lack of an effective chain-of command didn't exactly improve the odds that they would treat POWs more humanely. Often the executions had nothing to do with justice or due process, people were executed for old personal grudges, hate, revenge and convenience. As the war continued, executing prisoners of war often become the standard method for troops of both sides. After the War, Red prisoners of war were kept in POW camps, where hunger and pestilence (like the influenza of 1918 and typhoid) killed almost 11,700 of them.
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Prison camp in Suomenlinna, Helsinki. More than 11,000 people died in such camps due to hunger, disease, and executions.

The Finnish Civil War of 1918 left festering wounds among Finns and it is open to question if the wound, even nowadays, is fully healed. For part of the Finnish population the Suojeluskunta were the heroes that liberated Finland, while the other part still called them by their old nickname "lahtari" (butcher) or “Lahtarikaarti” (Butcher Guard) used by the Reds during the 1918 war. This is what made the public reconciliation in 1930 between the Suojeluskunta and the Social Democratic Party (SDP) such an epochal event in Finnish history.

In the next section, we’ll look at the Suojeluskunta through the 1920’s and 1930’s and their changing role.
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Re: What If - Finland had been prepared for the Winter War?

Post by John Hilly » 22 Dec 2010 12:47

Nice work! :D
CanKiwi2 wrote: Lotta Svärd was a Finnish voluntary auxiliary paramilitary organisation for women, in many ways the women’s equivalent of the Suojeluskunta. The name comes from a poem by Johan Ludvig Runeberg. Part of a large and famous book, The Tales of Ensign Stål, the poem described a fictional woman named Lotta Svärd. According to the poem, a Finnish soldier, private Svärd, went to fight in the Finnish War and took his wife, Lotta, along with him. Private Svärd was killed in battle, but his wife remained on the battlefield, taking care of wounded soldiers.
The War, Runeberg is poeting, is in Finland called "Suomen Sota", the Finnish war, but it is the Swedish- Russian War of 1808 – 1809 fought in Finnish territory.

And Nicolaus was the second (Nikolai II).

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Re: Part 2b - More on the Finnish Economy through the 1930's

Post by Jurgen Wullenwever » 22 Dec 2010 21:17

CanKiwi2 wrote: The economic effect of Logistical Improvements

Incidentally, the whole logistics sector had directly and indirectly greatly benefited from state intervention in maritime transportation. One of the crucial, although seemingly minor, modifications being implemented over the 1930's was large scale palletization of cargo combined with the large scale introduction of fork lifts. Although for the modern reader a humble pallet might not seem as important as the now ubiquitous container, it still had a dramatic impact upon labour and the time involved in cargo handling at the time. In 1931 it took three days man-effort to unload a boxcar filled with individual goods. In 1939, with palletization of loads, the same task took four hours. The effort to palletize transportation was carried out because investment in the Finnish rail network was well behind the countries strong economic growth, thus there was a need for the rail network to be utilized with maximum efficiency. Combined with strong Finnish trade with early palletizers in the UK and US, this path was inevitable.
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Looks simple doesn’t it, but it changed the economics of freight handling dramatically

It must be noted that without the general economic boom that had been taking place, the change would have been very difficult to implement due to the strongly luddite tendencies of stevedores as the changes did result in rather drastic cuts to manpower in stevedoring. On the other hand, the wages of the remaining stevedores increased as the work changed from one needing the use of muscle power to one demanding more mechanical skills.
Just out of curiosity, that particular pallet type shown is currently used in the United States (and the Japanese have a similar model of finer cut wood) but is that the model that the Finns used or would use, in this scenario? Current European pallets use a number of different designs, but I have not encountered that one being made in Europe.

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Re: What If - Finland had been prepared for the Winter War?

Post by John Hilly » 23 Dec 2010 12:58

Jurgen Wullenwever wrote:Just out of curiosity, that particular pallet type shown is currently used in the United States (and the Japanese have a similar model of finer cut wood) but is that the model that the Finns used or would use, in this scenario? Current European pallets use a number of different designs, but I have not encountered that one being made in Europe.
The one in the picture seems to be one the Finns call "kertakäyttölava" meaning disposable pallet used in overseas traffic.
In Finnish internal traffic the recyclable "VR-lava" - Finnish Railroad pallet was used. The Finnish box cars are wider than in Europe. That's the reason "VR-lava" was also a bit wider than the recyclable European pallet used in international traffic up until the container -period, and still in use.

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P.S. The pic seemto be from Wikipedia, and insn't the Finnish "VR-lava", as mentioned! :x
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Pallets

Post by CanKiwi2 » 23 Dec 2010 13:51

Jurgen Wullenwever wrote:Just out of curiosity, that particular pallet type shown is currently used in the United States (and the Japanese have a similar model of finer cut wood) but is that the model that the Finns used or would use, in this scenario? Current European pallets use a number of different designs, but I have not encountered that one being made in Europe.
Yes, the pic was from Wikipedia, and isn't the Finnish "VR-lava", as Juha-Pekka mentioned. Honesttly, I had no idea what pallets the Finns used or when they were introduced, I kind of extrapolated from the Wikipedia article and a few bits and pieces I'd read.

Generally, the type of pallet as pictured was in use by around 1925/26 which fits my scenario. OTL, I have no idea when palletization was introduced into Finland, maybe someone from Finland could clarify that one - none of my English-language sources on Finland have anything on that, but generally pallets began to be used from the start of the twentieth century on.

Part of the reason was the increasing transport of freight by train boxcars - the level surface of the boxcar floor made it easier to use load and unload using pallets, and pallets in turn, along with high-lift forklifts made the economics of warehousing cheaper since it was much easier to store in vertical racks. They also speeded up turnaround time for ships and boxcars, meaning you got more transit and less idle time. When you look at the history of palletization, they were first introduced in the early years of the 20th century around the same time as the first forklifts (A crude low lift hand truck was invented in 1887, a more durable, all-steel low lift truck design was introduced in 1909 and the first high lift fork truck first appeared in 1915. With further modification in 1919, the truck could lift loads several feet high while other improvements included cantilever design and forks). The emergence of forks as well during the same period enabled lift trucks to handle a much greater range of materials.These developments, along with the emergence of the double-faced pallet during the same time period, allowed for tiering of unit loads. So by 1926, the essence of the modern lift truck had been developed. That meant also that pallets were no longer simply a means of more easly moving materials around but could also be lifted and stacked. High lift trucks made possible vertical stacking of unit loads and a resulting dramatic improvement of warehouse and plant storage efficiencies.

The pallet itself was developed in stages. Spacers were used between loads to allow fork entry, progressing to the placement of boards on top of stringers to make skids. Eventually boards were also fastened to the bottom to create the pallet in the photo I used. The addition of bottom boards on the skid, which appeared by 1925, resulted in the modern form of the pallet. With the bottom deck, several problems common to the single faced skid were addressed. For example, the bottom boards provided better weight distribution and reduced product damage; they also provided better stacking strength and rigidity. Lift truck manufacturers promoted the idea of using more vertical area of a plant for stock storage.

When you look at the economics of palletization, you can see why they took on so, quickly (similar to containerisation later on). Pallets can carry loads of up to 1000 kg (over 2200 lbs) and they make it easy to move weighty stacks using forklifts of varying sizes and even hand-pumped pallet jacks. Companies which load and unload cargo on wooden pallets are more efficient and reduce their costs associated to these tasks - in the 1930s, a boxcar with 13,000 cases of canned goods would take about 3 man-days to completely unload; these same canned goods loaded onto pallets took a mere 4 hours to unload.

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Here's a real classic old forklift, no idea from when but it sure looks like an early model

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Couldn't find any photos of a 1920's/1930's forklift but here's a restored WW2 Allis Chalmers forklift

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And here it is at full extension. This is early 1940's technology

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Here's an older Towmotor Forklift

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Here's a circa-1945 Forklift in action

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And here's another older Forklift - Allis Chalmers as well
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Kertakäyttölava - Disposable Pallets

Post by CanKiwi2 » 23 Dec 2010 13:57

And here's a photo that looks like Kertakäyttölava

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Re: What If - Finland had been prepared for the Winter War?

Post by John Hilly » 23 Dec 2010 15:39

CanKiwi2 wrote:Couldn't find any photos of a 1920's/1930's forklift but here's a restored WW2 Allis Chalmers forklift
carrying an worn out Euro-pallet.
CanKiwi2 wrote:And here's a photo that looks like Kertakäyttölava
Nope! These are old VR-lavoja.

Believe me, I was working in warehouses during my studies, uh, uh! :D

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Re: What If - Finland had been prepared for the Winter War?

Post by CanKiwi2 » 23 Dec 2010 16:10

John Hilly wrote:
CanKiwi2 wrote:And here's a photo that looks like Kertakäyttölava
Nope! These are old VR-lavoja.

Believe me, I was working in warehouses during my studies, uh, uh! :D

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Juha-Pekka :milwink:
Ah-ha, that explains the in-depth knowledge of Finnish and european pallet-types. :o
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Revised Part 3a Suojeluskunta / Lotta Svard

Post by CanKiwi2 » 24 Dec 2010 21:18

Re-read what I'd written and decided it needed a substantial revision to include a lot more detail on the Civil War, so here's a substantially revised Part 3a.

Off-ATL Topic: The Suojeluskunta (abbreviation=“Sk”) was a voluntary organization, in Finland often compared to the US National Guard and the British WW2 era Home Guard, but it was also an organisation that had played a major role in the defeat of the Reds in the Finnish Civil War and thus, for a long period, membership was a politically charged issue. During certain phases of its history, its functions were somewhat like the US National Guard or the British Home Guard, but in reality it was so unique that finding any internationally well-known exact equivalent is impossible. Even though the Suojeluskunta was disbanded following the Second World War, such was its political weight in Finnish history that discussion about the subject can still cause bitter arguments in Finland.

In this ATL, the Suojeluskunta and the SDP stage a historic reconciliation in 1930, earlier that occurred historically - to gain a better understanding of how important this reconciliation was, an overview of the historical background to the Finnish Civil War (in which the Suojeluskunta played a key role) as well as of the Suojeluskunta is needed, together with a clear outline of the Suojeluskunta role both before and after 1930 in my ATL. The Lotta Svard organisation, which was perhaps less controversial, will also be covered. I’ve tried to present as accurate a picture of the Suojeluskunta as I can from the English-language sources I have available to me – and it should be easy for Finnish readers to identify where I have moved into an ATL as opposed to the OTL. If anything sounds to implausible, or I’ve got some of the OTL history incorrect, let me know. And a note on sources - for much of this, I’ve used “The Suojeluskunta: A History Of The Finnish Civil Guard” by Jarkko Vihavainen as my primary source on the Suojeluskunta – any errors are however, mine.


Part I – Introduction to the Suojeluskunta

Through the 1920’s and increasingly in the 1930’s the Suojeluskunta and Lotta Svärd organisations filled an important role in Finnish Society, bringing together Finns of all classes and political backgrounds and giving them a common interest and purpose. The Suojeluskunta acted as a Non-Government Organisation (as we now term it) but at the same time slotted neatly into the national military chain of command. From 1921, the organisation consisted of a General Staff, Suojeluskunta districts (corresponding from 1934 on to Army Reserve Jalkaväkirykmentti - Infantry Regiments) and local Suojeluskunta chapters. Every municipality had at least a single chapter, responsible for its own funding, although they received minor funding from the state budget. The Suojeluskunta was active in numerous branches of life, organising sports activities, especially cross-country skiing, orienteering, shooting and Finnish baseball.

For fundraising, the chapters organised numerous informal events and lotteries. It is estimated that about one fifth of all get-togethers in Finland were organised by the Suojeluskunta and as many again by the Lotta Svärd. To this end, the Suojeluskunta chapters had several hundred choirs, orchestras, and theatre groups as well as numerous buildings that served a dual function as Armouries, Drill Halls and Social Venues (indeed, if you were a Suojeluskunta member, as often as not your wedding reception took place in a Suojeluskunta Hall).

The Chief of the Suojeluskunta and the district chiefs were selected by the President of Finland. From 1921 to the end of WW2, this post was occupied by General Kaarlo Malmberg. In most cases, the district chiefs and most officers in the district headquarters were from the Regular Army. Only able-bodied males between 17 and 40 years of age could be full members of the Suojeluskunta. Every member was required to attend a specified amount of training on penalty of losing membership. Initially, members were required to buy their own equipment and rifle, with local chapters helping their members, if the chapters had funds for it.

Lotta Svärd was a Finnish voluntary auxiliary paramilitary organisation for women, in many ways the women’s equivalent of the Suojeluskunta. The name comes from a poem by Johan Ludvig Runeberg. Part of a large and famous book, The Tales of Ensign Stål, the poem described a fictional woman named Lotta Svärd. According to the poem, a Finnish soldier, private Svärd, went to fight in the Finnish War and took his wife, Lotta, along with him. Private Svärd was killed in battle, but his wife remained on the battlefield, taking care of wounded soldiers. The name was first brought up by Marshal Mannerheim in a speech given on May 16, 1918. The first known organisation to use the name Lotta Svärd was the Lotta Svärd of Riihimäki, founded on November 11, 1918 while the Lotta Svärd was officially founded as a separate organisation on September 9, 1920.

Part II - The Finnish Civil War and the Historical Background to the Formation of the Suojeluskunta

Finland was transferred from Sweden to Russia after the Swedish- Russian War of 1808 – 1809, in which Russia was victorious. When this war was over, the Russian Emperor, Alexander I, guaranteed the Finns a large variety of rights and exceptions as well as status as an autonomous Grand Duchy, making Finland quite different from other parts of the Russian Empire. The arrangement proved fruitful to both sides: The Finns became loyal citizens and an autonomous Finland prospered both culturally and economically within the Czarist Russian Empire. In the 1880's however, opinions among Russians concerning Finnish autonomous status started to change. As Slavophilism and Panslavism spread in Russia, it created suspicion, envy, and hate against the Finns and the status of an autonomous Finland.

When a new Russian Emperor (Nicholas) was crowned in 1894, Slavophiles and Panslavists gained a controlling position and started stripping autonomous rights from Finland one by one. The goal of this oppressive campaign was Russification of the whole of Finland by removing its autonomous status and replacing Finnish culture with a Russian one. In Finland, the Russification campaign met both passive and active resistance from the start, and the idea of an independent Finland increasingly started gaining popularity as the Russification program intensified. Hate created by an oppressive Russification campaign and growing Finnish nationalism had planted the seeds for demands for an independent Finland. The political and military environment however, did not permit any progress.

Huge crowds had cheered in the streets of Helsinki, Viipuri and Turku when the Russian Baltic Fleet had sailed towards it’s fate during the Russo-Japanese War in 1905. But while few had anticipated it at the beginning of the hostilities against Japan in Manchuria, that war had transformed the Grand Duchy of Finland and rest of the Russian Empire for good. The 1905 Russian Revolution had brought about the first general strike in the history of the region, demonstrating the strength of the Finnish SDP, the Social Democratic Party. The Social Democrats had successfully created the first mass political movement in the history of the country, and during the turmoil in Russia they publicly demanded abolition of censorship in the Grand Duchy and more political freedoms, including universal suffrage.
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Demonstators during the SDP-organized General Strike of 1905. Since they appeared to the political life of the Grand Duchy on a right time and were strongly against the old injustices of Finnish society, the Social Democrats of SDP soon became the strongest party in local-level politics. They were popular both in the countryside as well as in the cities, and their massive support made them the most important political force in the Grand Duchy.

However, 1905 also saw the formation of the first Finnish Red Guard units, which were active in the demonstrations at the time.
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The Finnish Red Guards were originally organized by local-level worker organizations during the demonstrations of 1905

And in turn, the first organizations, which later developed into Suojeluskunta, were established locally by volunteers to maintain public order during the General Strike of 1905. “Suojeluskunta” could be translated literally from Finnish as "Protective Guard" and the translation fits well with the original mission of the Suojeluskunta, which was to provide protection against Strikers and early Red Guard militants.
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Civil Guards were originally formed for various reasons - to maintain public order, to support hardliner Activist goals of separating Finland from Russia and later on increasingly to oppose the political goals of Red Guards - that in turn expanded their ranks because of the suspicion and mistrust caused by the expansion of Civil Guards.

Ultimately the developments in Russia in 1905 brought a temporarily halt to the Russification politics that were being implemented in the Grand Duchy during the last decades before WW1. Most important for the future of the Grand Duchy, however, was the November Manifesto. As the old Romanov regime was forced to undertake reforms in Russia, the Grand Duchy of Finland that had been ruled under the same legislation and bureaucratic structures ever since it had been tranformed from eastern half of Sweden to it's current political structure now suddenly received a new Parliament with universal suffrage. The resulting reform replaced the archaic "Diet of Four Estates" administration of the Grand Duchy with a parliamentary system where each citizen had universal right to vote and to be elected. This system was actually the most liberal of it's time since it had no racial restrictions (as in Australia) and it gave women the right to be elected as well as to vote (unlike New Zealand, where women had been give the vote but could not stand for election).

The first elections with the new system, held in 1907, gave the SDP 80 of the total of 200 seats, and the relative strength of the Social Democratic Party kept growing during each of the pre-war elections, reaching 90 seats in 1913. Russian authorities had followed political developments in the Grand Duchy with growing alarm, and at the beginning of the war they were swift to declare a state of emergency with wartime censorship and special decrees - the new Russian Constitution of 1906 had given the Tsar full rights to veto decisions of the Eduskunta (the Parliament of the Grand Duchy) and a free hand as to whether or not to implement the parliamentary decisions made by it. Given the attitude of the Tsarist authorities, it was perhaps only logical that the first free parliamentary elections in Grand Duchy were followed by a period of repression. The Tsarist authorities in St. Petersburg gradually replaced the troublesome Finnish Liberals in the Senate of the Grand Duchy with ethnic Russians, resulting to a total statis in parliamentary domestic politics of the Grand Duchy. The Eduskunta still existed, but by August 1914 it was increasingly seen as an inefficient discussion forum that had no political power- much to the dismay of the leadership of the SDP.

During this time the leaders of the Finnish Social Democrat Party were mostly following the example of their German colleagues, and as a result their political program was based on the political philosophy of Karl Kautsky. Violent revolution was out of the question, and society could instead be reformed by democratic reforms where the proletariat would take over the parliamentary system by their strong numerical majority - after this the capitalists would be more or less forced to cooperate with the movement, starting a process of reforms and steady improvement of the well-being of common workers. While they were therefore extremely satisfied with the reforms implemented after the Russo-Japanese War, their ever-growing political power meant little as long as the Tsarist system controlled the supreme authority in Grand Duchy.
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Eduskunta, the Parliament of the Grand Duchy at work in 1917

Initially the leadership of the SDP opted to patiently wait and see how the European war would play out. The SDP leadership calculated that the war would bring about a new revolution in Russia just like the last one had done. But since Russia was viewed as a backward, largely agrarian society that "could not be ready for full revolution of the proletariat in a true Marxist sense", the leadership of SDP expected that a new bourgeois government would topple the monarchy and seize power in Russia, thus hopefully bringing an end to the current oppressive period of Russian rule and giving the Finnish SDP new significance in future negotiations with these would-be future rulers of Russia. Despite the fact that Lenin had often used Finland as a safe haven (and Lenin and Stalin had actually first met one another in Tampere), Bolshevik ideas and writings were virtually unknown in Finland, and the local Socialists firmly believed that world revolution would begin in Germany or one of the other developed and industrialized nations of West rather than in Russia.

All in all the leaders of the SDP looked to the future with confidence in 1914. The local-level militant organization of the SDP, the Red Guards, had been created roughly a ten years before and during the period between 1905 and 1914 new local branches had been established through the entire Grand Duchy. While the total membership numbers were roughly 30, 000 by 1917, the support of SDP was strongest among the industrial workers in largest towns and cities and among the large landless population in countryside of southern Finland. But while the Left was organizing its ranks, other political forces were also at work within the Grand Duchy.

While the SDP opted to wait out for a future revolution in Russia, the Finnish nationalist movement was more than eager to utilize the new situation to their advantage. During the previous ten years the Finnish local-level political resistance to Russian rule had begun to follow a vicious cycle, where new repressive actions and censorship further radicalized a small minority of Grand Duchy citizens. Political organizing among university students led to the creation of the Activist movement that sought to separate Finland from Russia through the use of violence and terror - a dramatic change to the earlier Finnish historical tradition of resistance through legalist, nonviolent means. While they were initially dismissed as a mere group of angry teenage amateurs, the successful assassination of General-Governor Bobrikov on 16th of June 1904 made them the prime target of Russian security organizations. By 1914 many prominent Activists had been successfully captured and sent to exile in Siberia, but this crackdown had considerably increased the local support for Activist political goals.

During the first years of the war the Activist movement successfully made contact with the German authorities and began to secretly recruit volunteers for "Boy Scout courses", aka military training in German Empire. While many volunteers were captured and ended up in jail in St. Petersburg instead of reaching their planned destination, by 1916 there were enough volunteers to form the Königlich Preussisches Jägerbataillon Nr. 27.
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The volunteers of Royal Prussian 27th Jäger Battalion enlisted to the service of foreign power and enemy of Russia, thus linking their future to the war success of Germany

But while different factions within the Grand Duchy waited for time to act, the war effort of Tsarist Russia was slowly beginning to crumble. The slow, steady decline of the Russian war effort finally led to major changes in the situation of the Grand Duchy on 15th of March 1917, when a deteriorating security situation in the capital of Petrograd turned into an open revolt against the old reign. Tsar Nicholas II was forced to abdicate, and members of the earlier disbanded 4th Duma formed a new Provisional Government. Determined to bring about long-awaited reforms to solve the dire crisis Russia was facing, the new government was quick to bring about radical reforms. Initially controlled by liberals, the Provisional Government abolished the death penalty and released large numbers of political prisoners - several important Finnish politicians among them.

The former Russification politics were set aside, and the Provisional Government acknowledged the autonomous position of the Grand Duchy of Finland. The Eduskunta, the Parliament of the Grand Duchy, was finally able to wield the political power that it legally had, and based on the earlier elections of 1916 a new Senate was soon formed. With a compromise membership made up of of six Socialists from the SDP and six representatives of other parties, the Senate devised a new amd ambitious political program that aimed to ease the rising tensions within the Grand Duchy. It aimed to expand the internal democratic powers of the Eduskunta by seeking to limit and gradually remove the veto powers of the Russian Provisional Government. Other goals included the expansion of local-level municipal democracy, improvement of working conditions (with new laws on minimum working hours, social security, compulsory schooling system and freedom of religion).

Initially, the "compromise Senate" seemed to appease the majority of the Grand Duchy’s citizens. Conservatives were pleased with the domestic political goals of the Provisional Government and by the fact that the fall of the oppressive Tsarist regime had seemingly ended the Russification era in the Grand Duchy. Additionally the future seemed bright for the local economy because of the the continually growing demands of the Russian wartime economy. For workers the developments were even more promising: the Eduskunta (where the SDP had an absolute majority) was getting stronger and restrictions put in place by the wartime legislation of the Tsarist regime were removed. With renewed rights to organize strikes and use their freedom of speech, the working class finally seemed to have gained an influential position in society.

This initial optimism was not to last. The new Senate was soon facing a steep economic decline as the economic growth caused by the war during the earlier prosperous two years begun to slow down. Unemployment and inflation grew. For the working class, this sudden turn to the worse caused increased hardship because of the rising prices of food. Fear and insecurity grew, accompanied by new strikes and increased political activity. As the new Senate struggled to cope with the new strike activity and rising food prices while trying to simultaneously redefine the relations between the Grand Duchy and rest of Russia, full support of all political forces would have been pivotal to the success of these efforts. Such support never appeared, as the SDP leadership preferred to focus their efforts on their parliamentary work in the Eduskunta and to organizing their growing street level support. Political organization was rapidly expanding: during 1917 the SAJ, the Trade Union of Finland (Suomen Ammattijärjestö) increased it's membership from 40 000 to 160 000.

The most pressing political matter was the question of food shortages. The Senate tried to solve the matter by maintaining the wartime policy of fixed prizes. When food imports from Russia begun to diminish during 1917, a new food supply law was enacted in June 1917. To be effective, the new law would have required an effective system of control and firm political support from all major parties in the Grand Duchy. Without it, the new law was largely irrelevant as a vast black market soon emerged. Food prices kept rising sharply and relations between conservative farmers in the countryside and working class people in the cities deteriorated accordingly. Many agricultural producers felt that confiscating food and routine inspections of food storage facilities were nothing but a Socialist violation of private property. While the situation in Grand Duchy deteriorated, the food trade to Petrograd continued and rumors on the streets were that the shortage was artificially created and made worse by the greedy producers and black market dealers. As newspapers wrote extensively about the matter, dissent among the population kept growing through the year.

The Question of Sovereignty

While Russia seemed to be on the brink of a new revolution and internal dissolution due the war and the internal struggle for power between the Petrograd Soviet and the Provisional Government through 1917, all political parties in the Grand Duchy had virtually similar political goals. Their aims were focused on restoring and further expanding the pre-Russification era autonomy of the Grand Duchy, culminating in some kind of new political independence. But as the struggle for power and unrest within the Grand Duchy itself kept growing, the Conservatives begun to hesitate about their previous goals of expanding the powers of the Eduskunta - after all, in Parliament the SDP had an absolute majority. Simultaneously the SDP sought to expand the autonomy of the Grand Duchy, thus expanding their domestic influence even further. Initially the SDP was most active in the relations between the Grand Duchy and the Russian Provisional Government, seeking political allies for their goals. Ultimately only one faction was willing to listen to them - a radical minority fringe group known as the Bolsheviks, led by recently returned exile V.I. Lenin. While these early contacts between the SDP and Bolsheviks had no early concrete results, they would have major significance later on.

Lenin, who was busily planning to seize power in Russia in the summer of 1917, fully supported the goals of SDP since he calculated that unrest in Grand Duchy would cause the Provisional Government’s position to deteriorate even further. But while this political scheming continued in Petrogad, the Senate in Helsinki pondered a difficult question: what was the legal position of the Grand Duchy in the current situation? Tsarist power was over, and legally speaking the sole legal Head of State of the Grand Duchy had been the Tsar of Russia in his role as the Grand Duke of Finland. As the debate on the question of sovereignty continued, two sides emerged. The Committee led by Senator Antti Tulenheimo created a draft of a new law, soon nicknamed the “Lex Tulenheimo”. Since everyone understood that this was a matter of utmost political importance, the Committee was filled with the leading and most experienced Conservative politicians and law experts, future president Ståhlberg among them. Meanwhile the SDP devised their own draft legislation.

Lex Tulenheimo envisioned that the legal powers of the former Grand Duke would be transferred mostly to the Senate of the Grand Duchy. Russia would still have retained the powers to call, open and disperse the Parliament as well as administer matters of defense and foreign policy. The draft legislation of the SDP aimed to give the majority of power to the Eduskunta, leaving Russia to control solely foreign policy and defense. This law draft was also clearly based on the assumption that there would be future changes in the structure of the Provisional Government. Of these two options the more radical law draft of the SDP soon gained more support, and it was accepted by the Eduskunta on the 18th of July 1917 after an election where the SDP, the Agrarian Party and independence-minded Conservatives (Activists) joined forces against the fierce opposition of the Conservative representatives.

Kerensky Reshuffles The Deck – the Russians retain their control of Fortress Finland

The political aspirations of the Grand Duchy came to a sudden stop when the first revolutionary uprising of soldiers and workers in Petrograd ended in failure in August 1917. The Provisional Government was shaken but still standing, and under the new leadership of Alexander Kerensky it refused to accept the new legislature of the Grand Duchy, disbanded the current Eduskunta on the 31st of August and reinforcing the presence of the Russian military in Finland. New parliamentary elections were to be held in October 1917. For Finnish politicians this was a bitter reminder of the fact that even with the Tsar gone, the Russians still viewed the Grand Duchy as an integral part of their empire. For Russians, in addition to being a vital supplier of consumer goods for the capitol, the area of the Grand Duchy was also seen as vitally important for the security of Petrograd.

This can hardly be considered a surprise. During the first years of WWI, when Germany focused on the Western Front, the Russians had had ample time to create extensive naval minefields in the Gulf of Finland and the northern Baltic. With the threat of German invasion thus removed from the Gulf, the Russian planners begun to fear that the Germans would invade the long coastline of the Gulf of Bothnia and then move towards Petrograd through the Grand Duchy. As a result the Russians strongly fortified the Åland Islands, and begun an extensive fortification effort within the Grand Duchy. The strategic idea of building a belt of defensive lines within Finland was planned so that the defending forces would delay the enemy while withdrawing to South-Eastern Finland, buying time for reinforcements to reach the area so that they could then move forwards in a counterattack.
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By 1917 the Grand Duchy of Finland was on a full war footing, with extensive fortification lines constructed throughout the country and large forces of the Russian military stationed on the coastlines.

So while the Russian military stayed in their garrisons throughout the Grand Duchy, Finns voted in their new parliamentary elections. Here the more radical line adopted by the SDP during the previous summer returned to haunt them at the ballot box, and the up till then continuous growth of the SDP received a strong setback. The SDP was left as the parliamentary opposition rather than expanding as they had anticipated. With the SDP ousted from control of the new Senate, the attitudes of many workers became increasingly radical and their trust in the Senate and its ability to solve problems like the food shortages was reduced. The SDP was now mobilizing its supporters to defend the gains they had made instead of aiming to further expand them as they had hoped.
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The new Conservative Senate hoped in vain to gain control of the situation after the dissolution of Eduskunta on August 1917

Meanwhile the Conservatives who had supported Lex Tulenheimo now cooperated with the Russian authorities after the dissolution of the SDP-majority Parliament. As a result of this situation the Grand Duchy was on a course towards crisis. Without a strong Parliament and Senate there were no official authorities that could solve the domestic problems of the country. Policemen clashed with violent strikers throughout the country, and as the first people died in these clashes mutual mistrust made the Conservative elements of the society to start organizing their own "Civil Guards" as a response to the growing power and radicalization of the Socialist Red Guards. With Russia in turmoil, citizens of Grand Duchy were increasingly left to deal with their hopes, fears and conflicting visions of future among themselves. Time was running out.

Reluctant revolutionaries – The SDP in 1917

When the Bolshevik Revolution finally toppled the struggling Provisional Government in Petrograd by way of a new uprising on October 1917, the Russian Empire begun to disintegrate. On the 23rd of October 1917 local leftist revolutionaries seized the streets in Tallinn, the capital of the recently established Autonomous Governorate of Estonia. Revolution was now virtually within sight of Helsinki, the capital of the Grand Duchy. This period of uncertainty after the downfall of the Kerensky Government gave a new breathing space to the Senate and the Eduskunta - but when they finally regained the political freedom to operate, the society of the Grand Duchy was already polarized into two camps that were increasingly hostile and leary of each other’s opposing political aims. The SDP was determined to regain their former leading position in local politics and to secure the rights of the working class, while the Conservatives were terrified of the events in Russia and were becoming increasingly determined to defend their position by any means necessary.

When parliament finally resumed on the 1st of November 1917, it was marked with hectic attempts to find some kind of a way out of the political stalemate. On the 9th of October 1917 the Conservative-dominated Eduskunta had agreed that the powers of Governor-General should be transferred to a new representative regent(s) chosen by parliamentary process. Initially the plan was to give this position to a triumvirate made up of Svinhufvud, the leader of the Conservatives, Tokoi from the SDP and Alkio from the moderate Agrarian Party. It soon became clear that disputes on the actual division of power and future courses of action between the Conservatives and Socialists were too great, and the plan was abandoned.

Simultaneously, the first revolution had already led to Bolshevik Councils (aka "Soviets") spreading like a plague through the Russian military and naval units stationed in Finland. It was, however, the second revolution by the Bolsheviks that caused real havoc. The success of the Bolshevik coup against the Provisional Government in October led to large numbers of Russian troops stationed in Finland started celebrating their new "svoboda" by executing their officers and more violence followed. Unfortunately for Finns, for too many of the now uncontrolled but well-armed Russian soldiers, this "svoboda" included the opportunity for taking whatever they wanted with the help of the weapons they held.

Under these conditions, more local organizations for “maintaining order” were rapidly established. At the same time, independence activists seeking to separate Finland from Russia created their own local organizations disguised as voluntary fire departments. Even though local security organizations and "voluntary fire departments" made up of independence activists often had originally been established for separate reasons, typically they had no problem in finding common goals and soon started to develop into Suojeluskunta organizations.

By now the leaders of the SDP were increasingly certain that they had to make a fundamental choice about their political future: either to continue to cooperate and compromise with the Conservatives or to seize political power by revolution. While in opposition, the SDP had published their famous "We Demand" program that was a direct ultimatum to the Conservative-led Senate:
- New Parliamentary elections should be organized ASAP
- The current legislation should be replaced with the earlier SDP draft for legislature concerning the sovereignty of the Grand Duchy
- The Paramilitary Civil Guards (Suojeluskunta) should be dismantled and disarmed
- After the elections the Eduskunta should quickly implement a number of new social reforms to stabilize the internal dissent within the society

Conservatives considered the "We Demand" proclamation a direct threat and a challenge to their authority, and as a result the demands were never brought to vote in the Eduskunta. Since they had begun their activity in Estonia and had supported the SDP before, Lenin and other Bolshevik leaders now begun to put pressure on leading Finnish Social Democrats, threatening that they would sent in loyal forces from Tallinn and Petrograd to spread the revolution to the Grand Duchy by themselves unless the SDP acted independently - and soon. The Bolsheviks increased their agitation among the Finnish Red Guards. This infiltration was relatively easy due the fact that Petrograd had a huge community of both Ingrian Finns as well as immigrant Finns, who had been active in labor organizing and political turmoil in Russia well before the current revolution. In addition, the countryside surrounding Petrograd was predominantly inhabited by Finnish-speaking, Lutherian Ingrian villagers.

During the autumn of 1917 Lenin had personally spent some time in Helsinki negotiating with the SDP leaders, but actual plans for cooperation were never agreed to since the local Socialists doubted Lenin’s chances - he had already once failed to seize power in Russia after all. Now Petrograd had once again hoisted the red flag, but the situation elsewhere in Russia was so uncertain that the SDP leaders postponed their original attempt to seize power - on the 10th of October 1917 they were planning a manifesto that would demand that the Grand Duchy gain "independent statehood." Yet matters were quickly moving forward. On the 9th of October labor organizations in Finland (the SDP, SAJ and the Red Guards) joined forces and established the Central Revolutionary Labor Committee as their new joint leadership organization. On the 12th of October, after the Senate had refused to bring the points of the “We Demand” program up for discussion in the Eduskunta, the Central Revolutionary Labor Committee gathered to discuss their possible options, ultimately deciding not to attempt an armed uprising by 18 votes against, 8 in favor. Instead, the Central Committee and the SAJ organized a general strike that paralyzed the whole of the Grand Duchy on 14th of October.

Local strike committees and Red Guards virtually seized control of several municipalities in southern parts of the Grand Duchy, and over 85 000 workers joined the mass movement that officially aimed to pressure the Senate into accepting the "We Demand" program. This was the point where the SDP leaders where no longer able to fully control the course of events in the streets. While prominent SDP leaders like Kuusinen, Tokoi and Manner were all still cautious and democratic Kautskyan Social Democrats, the local level organizers and leaders of various labor committees and local Red Guards were much more varied in their political inclinations. Anarchist ideals of writers like Kropotkin were mixed with the political vision of agrarian socialism promoted by the Russian Social Revolutionary Party, while influence was also taken from American-styled Syndicalism. (brought to the Grand Duchy by immigrants returning from the US). Finally the methods and ideals of the Bolsheviks were also becoming more widely known in Grand Duchy. The mixture was fatal. For unemployed and landless supporters of the SDP, the news from Tallinn and Petrograd (brought to them by local political speakers who where often supporting their own personal political agendas instead of official SDP policy) seemed to indicate that the bourgeois capitalistic system was collapsing in Russia and that the time to act was now upon them.

The wide spread support for the General Strike increased the confidence of the Socialist forces, and new incidents occurred that further antagonized the relations between Socialist and Conservatives. On the 16th of November 1917 at 5 AM in the morning the Central Committee held a new secret vote that narrowly approved the initiation of an armed revolt with 14 votes in favor, 11 against. By now, even though they did not fully realize how dire the situation was, the Conservatives were becoming increasingly alarmed by events within the Grand Duchy, and sought to support the moderate majority of the SDP against the radicals of the Red Guards and SAJ. Parts of the "We Demand"-program were implemented as new laws on an 8-hour work day and legislation on municipal-level elections and democracy were implemented on the 16th of November 1917. Meanwhile the turmoil within Finnish labor movement continued.

The yes-votes for the revolution came from the leaders of the Red Guards and the SAJ, while the SDP activists remained sceptical. Upon receiving the news of the acceptance of parts of the "We Demand" program, the leaders of the Central Committee refused to implement the earlier resolution, demanding a new vote that ultimately decided not to start the revolt by 13 votes to 12. A week later the General Strike was called off. 34 people had died during the clashes and the violence that had been associated with it. The Strike had also shown the power of the Finnish labor movement - and the fact that the SDP leadership was no longer able to control the movement they had originally founded. The most likely reason for the one-vote victory of the moderates on the Central Committee was the fact that even the most radical revolutionaries accepted that the Red Guards were still too disorganized and lacked sufficient weapons and training to stage a successful uprising.
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Left-wing radicals within the SDP and SAJ formed the core of Finnish Red Guards, with additional support coming from landless agricultural workers in southern Finland. The failure of SDP leadership to control their rank-and-file supporters more or less doomed the Finnish independence to have a violent beginning.

Lenin and other Bolshevik leaders were furious upon receiving the news of this decision, and lost all faith in the willingness and capabilities of the SDP to act as a revolutionary force in Finland. In the end the difference of methods between the Kautskyan Finnish Social Democrats and the Russian Bolsheviks was simply too great, and from this moment on Lenin chose to ignore the SDP leadership. Instead of negotiating with the moderate SDP, the Bolsheviks now focused their efforts on the radical minority in the Finnish labor movement, supported by Finnish Bolsheviks in Petrograd.

Estonia Leads the Way

Meanwhile the southern neighbour of the Grand Duchy was also living in historic times. As the German troops approached Tallinn, the Estonian National Council (Maapäev) decided to act and proclaimed itself the new highest authority for the whole Autonomous Governorate on the 28th of October 1917. Finnish Conservatives followed closely how the Bolsheviks would react to this move. Once they reacted by repressing the Estonian nationalist movement by dissolution of the Maapäev, Finnish nationalists became confident that they should be extremely cautious in their own similar attempts and in dealings with the Bolsheviks in general, especially since the Russians still had a strong military presence in the country in the form of their 60,000-men strong garrison force. Conservatives were also now increasingly confident of the fact that sovereignty in the Grand Duchy would enable them to control the left-wing political activity by reducing the influence the Bolsheviks wielded in Finland.

On the 15th of December 1917 the Eduskunta followed the example of the Estonian Maapäev and declared themselves the new highest authority in the Grand Duchy. A new Senate led by Svinhufvud was formed on the 27th of December 1917, and after a week of preparations the Senate published a draft of a new document – the proclamation of independence of the Grand Duchy of Finland. The Eduskunta voted on this initiative - with the Socialists voting against it and demanding that their own similar draft should be accepted instead - and approved it. Life in the Grand Duchy went on as normal. Russian troops remained in their garrisons, mutual hostility between the Civil Guards and the Red Guards kept growing, the black market trade of consumer goods continued and prices and unemployment kept on rising. Politically the declaration of independance was only a symbolical gesture as long as foreign powers would not recognize it. And as the situation in Russia remained uncertain, there would be no diplomatic initiatives from other powers unless Petrograd approved.

It was at this point that the Social Democrats, ultimately being Fennoman nationalists themselves, activated their old contacts within Petrograd and with the Bolsheviks. Between the 9th and 27th of December they made contact with Lenin, asking him to acknowledge the newly declared sovereignty of Finland. This was also a matter of domestic political importance – the SDP leaders were eager to regain their old influence among their supporters and thought that being seen as active on the matter of gaining independence in any form would be most beneficial for their long-term interests and support. Meanwhile Lenin was busily trying to secure the still uncertain outcome of the revolution in Russia - a truce had been declared on the Eastern Front on 6th of December 1917 and negotiations between the German and Bolshevik officials were ongoing at Brest-Litovsk - and most likely calculated that a gesture of goodwill would gain more support for the radical left within the Finnish labor movement. But whatever the motives might have been, the result was nevertheless the Bolshevik acknowledgment of the independence of Finland on the 31st of December 1917 signed by Lenin, Trotsky, Petrovsky, Steinberg, Karelin, Schlichter - and Stalin.

The Radicals Take Over

During December of 1917 the radicalized Red Guards in the major cities declared that they would no longer take orders from the SDP leadership. By December 1917 the country had roughly 350 different local Red Guard detachments with a total strength of 31,000 active members. Simultaneously the Suojeluskuntas had been building their strength following the General Strike. With 400 more or less independent local organizations operating through the country, this organization also had a total strength of roughly 30,000 by the end of 1917. These disorganized forces were also arming themselves. Both sides bought and acquired weapons from Russian Army and weapon smugglers operating from Germany and Russia.

Moderate opponents of revolution were still in the majority in the SDP, especially in the countryside. There were members of the party leadership who wanted to kick out the radicals, but by now the fact that the Conservative militias were arming themselves made many argue that the labor movement should not disperse its ranks at such a time but instead stand firm and united. Meanwhile the events in Estonia and Russia created increasing fear and mistrust among Finnish conservatives against the growing power of Red Guards and their increasingly violent methods. Radicals on both sides gained more influence, and the situation begun to escalate.

Meanwhile, roughly a month after Finland had declared independence and gained recognition from the Bolshevik regime, Germany, France, Austria-Hungary, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Switzerland and Greece had followed suit. And the Finnish Civil War had begun.

The Civil War of 1918

When Finland declared independence, there were still large Russian military units (estimates of Russian soldiers in Finland at that time vary from between 42,500 to over 100,000) in Finland and the Russian Bolshevik Government had plans for them. The Russian Bolsheviks started arming the Finnish Red Guards and at the end of January 1918, violence in Finland escalated into outright Civil War as the Finnish Red Guards carried out a revolution against the democratically elected Finnish Government. At this time, local Suojeluskunta organizations didn't yet have any real command structure connecting them effectively. However, there was one organization that had some influence among them. This was the Senate-elected "Sotilaskomitea" (Military Committee), which was a small organization of well-known nationalistic Finns.

As the members of the last pre-war Senate fled to northern Finland or went underground in Helsinki, the opposing sides of the Civil War sought to organize their ranks, mobilize their supporters and most importantly started their military campaigns by securing their strongest support areas. For the White side the first action was the encirclement and disarmament of Russian garrison forces in Ostrobothnia, followed by the siege and destruction of isolated local Red Guard strongholds in the industrial regions of northern Finland. At the same time the new leaders of the Soldier Soviets of the Russian garrison troops declared that they considered themselves to be at war against the Suojeluskuntas due their aggressive actions. The Soviet government in Petrograd approved this viewpoint, wiring in orders that demanded that the garrison troops "should actively participate in the conflict in Finland by destroying the White forces." While it thus initially seemed that the situation of the Senate was hopeless, at the same time the international position of Bolshevik government was extremely precarious, forcing them to act carefully in the matter of Finland due to the growing political pressure from Germany. Ultimately this led to the evacuation of the remaining Russian troops, but before that Lenin had managed to secure a Treaty of Friendship with the SDP leadership in Helsinki in exchange for promises of material support.
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Pukkilan Punakaartilaisia / Red Guards from Pukkila

Oppressors slash their whips to our shoulders,
opposed by their White Army we are;
forced to fight, to die or to triumph
no one yet knows the outcome of war

Still we rise high our scarlet standard,
to rally the workers for our noble cause,
Inspired by our brotherly ideals we march
to the battle and sing for you all:

For our cause that is just, dear and righteous
onwards ye oppressed, onwards march!


Translation of the 1st verse of the Finnish version of an old Polish revolutionary song, Warszawianka

While the White side consolidated its positions in the northern parts of the country, the majority of the population and largest cities were firmly under the control of Reds who were busily turning their plans for the future of Finland into reality. The new People's Council assembled in Helsinki and created a new constitution that was heavily influenced by the Constitutions of Switzerland and the United States of America. People's Council also declared that they aimed to hold general elections to determine the future status of the country and constitution "as soon as the current state of emergency is over and order is once again established throughout the country." In exchange for his promises of support, Lenin was able to persuade the leaders of People's Council to name their new state the Finnish Socialist Workers' Republic. This made it politically easier for Lenin to justify the developments in Finland since he could now directly compare the new state to the Socialist Workers' Republic of the Ukraine. It is also noteworthy that new Treaty of Friendship said nothing about re-establishing the state of union between Finland and Russia. Privately Lenin was frustrated by the fact that even when they were finally rebelling as he had long pleaded with them to do, the SDP leaders still defied the Bolshevik ideology of proletarian dictatorship by instead drafting their new constitution based upon the principles of direct, popular democracy.

In mid-January 1918 the Sotilaskomitea had asked C.G.E. Mannerheim, who had recently returned from Russia, to be its chairman. Soon after this, the Finnish Senate declared Suojeluskunta troops to be Finland’s Army and named Mannerheim as their commander. With the Suojeluskunta now facing Civil War, the situation was serious. The Suojeluskunta organisations had about 14,000 men, but they were not organized as military units and had no military training to speak of. The opposing Red Guards also had no military training and were also poorly organized, but had managed to mobilize some 25,000 men. However, these were only minor problems for the Suojeluskunta compared to the shortage of weaponry. The Suojeluskunta had only 9,000 rifles and 44 machineguns. The Finnish Red Guard had no such shortage as Russian garrisons were arming them and trainloads of weapons were transported to them from Russia.
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Suojeluskunta in Nummi. Suojeluskunta were appointed the White Army of Finland on 25 January 1918.

The Germans decided to arm the Suojeluskunta, but the non-arrival of the cargo of the steamship Equity with the 20,000 rifles and 50 machineguns it was carrying almost caused the Suojeluskunta to lose the war at the start. Once the war started, the number of troops on both sides started increased rapidly. While the Red Guards were statistically an impressively-sized militia, their fragmented organization and lack of training and military cohesion gave the more organized Suojelusjuntas a fighting chance during the early fighting in the winter of 1918. Led by former Russian Army Lieutenant Ali "Ali Baba" Aaltonen, the first proper campaign action of the Red side was an offensive attempt towards the north, along the main roads and railway lines that formed the backbone of the supply system of the White side. Even though they were able to create numerical superiority in the areas of the planned offensive, the Red side suffered from a lack of competent commanders and their overly idealistic approach to this conflict in a similar way to the way Anarchist militias operated during Spanish Civil War - votes on whether to attack or not, whom should be the leader for this week, etc. The end result was that the Suojeluskunta units managed to keep hold the Red Guards at bay along a frontline running from Ahlainen - Vilppula - Mäntyharju - Antrea - Rautu while the Whites got their main troops organized, equipped and trained.
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Lapuan suojeluskunnan miehet valmiina lähtöön Punaisia vastaan / Civil Guard of Lapua get organized and ready to march to the front and fight against the Red Guards.

Suojeluskunta units were part of the White Army, but at the same time they remained separate from recruited and drafted units, which later became the Finnish Army.

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Punainen sotilasosasto marssilla Helsingin Unioninkadulla / Red soldiers marching in Unioninkatu in Helsinki

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Initial frontlines and offensives of the Civil War at the beginning of February (area controlled by the Reds in red, and by the Whites in blue)

This same lack of cohesion damaged the public image of the new Red administration, since the same active Red Guard leaders who had originally drawn the moderate Social Democrats into the revolt along with them were now free to act and "continue the revolutionary process" as they themselves saw fit. Old grievances and the divide between the predominantly Swedish-speaking upper classes and the Finnish working class caused an atmosphere where former tenant farmers and other persons who felt that they had been unjustly oppressed had little restraint in terrorizing their former masters. These political murders, known as the "Red Terror" were relatively small in scale, but their political backlash was far-reaching.

After the White’s repulsed these early attacks, they soon went over to the offensive themselves. The fighting was geographically dispersed across various parts of the country, with different forces facing one another in the battlefields of Satakunta, Tavastia, Savolax and Karelia. At the end of January 1918 about 400 Suojeluskuntas with about 38,000 members were facing some 375 Red Guard units with an estimated 30,000 men. In actuality the numbers of frontline combatants on both sides were not that large. The Red Guards naturally had Bolshevik-minded Russian soldiers and sailors fighting at their side from the beginning, but their number seems to have been relatively small. Officially, Bolshevik councils ("Soviet") controlled a majority of the Russian military units in Finland. In reality they were unable to control the unwilling and demoralized soldiers. At the end of 1917, the Russian Military still had large numbers of troops in Finland, but practically all of their units either remained passive or simply "melted away" when their soldiers decided to desert and return to their homes.
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Venäläisiä sotalaiva Petropavlovskin merimiehiä kesällä 1917 Helsingissä. Lipussa teksti "Kuolema porvareille" / Revolutionary Russian sailors of the Russian Imperial Navy battleship Petropavlovsk in Helsinki during Summer 1917. The Flag carries the text "Death to the petty bourgeoise".

In areas other than the Karelian Isthmus, the Russian units taking part in the war were not larger than platoon-size. However, as the military training of the Finnish Red Guards was basically non-existent, Russians often served with them as heavy weapons specialists, training personnel and even as leaders. The numbers of troops on both sides continued to increase until April, at which point the White Army had about 70,000 men and Red Guards about 75,000.
But while the Finns were focused on their Civil War, other powers in the region sought to take advantage of this new situation. A battalion's worth of Swedish volunteers had moved to assist the White side earlier on and 84 high-ranking Swedish officers had also volunteered to organize and lead the White forces, and the decline of Russian power in the Baltic made the Government of Sweden take a renewed interest in the strategically important and ethnically Swedish Åland Archipelago.

The situation in Åland developed rapidly. Initially the islands had both Red, White and Russian troops, but acting officially out of humanitarian concerns, Swedish soldiers arrived on the islands on the 13th of February 1918. The Bolsheviks were originally planning to send the Russian Baltic Fleet to repel this invasion, but since the sailors stationed in Finland and other naval bases had killed most of their officers, the fleet was not in an operational condition and the plan had to be postponed. In addition the rulers of Petrograd had more serious concerns. After negotiations had been going on inconclusively for months, Germany had restarted hostilities in the East and her armies were now marching through the Baltic region towards Petrograd itself. As a part of this activity German troops secured their flank by invading the Åland islands on the 4th of March - upon their arrival Sweden evacuated her own troops without a fight and this setback caused much political turmoil back in Stockholm. At the same time the Germans were increasing their influence in Finland on other fronts as well. On the 25th of February 1918, roughly a month after the Red side had proclaimed the Finnish Socialist Workers' Republic on the 28th of January, the 700 German-trained Finnish volunteers of the Königlich Preussisches Jägerbataillon Nr. 27 arrived in Vaasa, the temporary capitol of Senate forces. On a following day this unit was greeted on a parade by "that Russki general", as the Jäeger officers privately mocked the new commander of the Senate’s forces.
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Vaasaan Saksasta (25.2.) saapuneiden Jääkäreiden paraati 26.2.1918 / Finnish Jäegers parade in Vaasa 26th February after arriving from Germany, 25th February 1918

Fierce are our blows, unyielding our wrath
we have neither mercy nor homeland.
At swords' points we hold our grim destiny
as we follow the calling of our hearts.
Our bloodstained war cry calls out for the land
that's finally breaking its old chains.

We will not rest until we see the day when
the people of Finland shall be free.
We will not rest until we see the day when
the people of Finland shall be free.

When the nation and land had
abandoned all hope, we Jäegers
still held true to our faith. There was
night in our hearts, despair and pain
- and an idea so pure and so noble.
We shall arise as the Vengeance of Kullervo,
so sweet are the fates of the war we undertake

A new legend in Finland will soon be born
- it will grow, storm forwards and triumph.
A new legend in Finland will soon be born
- it will grow, storm forwards and triumph.

Häme, Karelia, the shores and lands of Viena,
One great Finnish Nation.
Its idea cannot be defeated by any force,
beneath the northern sky.
The Lion flag is carried,
by the strong hand of we Jaegers,
yli pauhun kenttien hurmeisten
päin nousevan Suomen rantaa.
yli pauhun kenttien hurmeisten
päin nousevan Suomen rantaa


(Off-topic – couldn’t translate that last chorus so that it made sense to me, maybe someone else can help out on that one)
Jaeger March (1917, Composer: Jean Sibelius, Lyricist: Jaeger Heikki Nurmio)

Their new leader, the son of of an old Swedish noble family, was indeed a former career officer of Russian Army and had been rewarded with the St. Georges Cross for his successful command of Corps-sized cavalry formations on the Eastern Front not to much earlier. Now he had returned to his former homeland and soon found himself in command of the Senate's militia force, a forces that he was tasked to transform into the fighting army of independent Finland. His name was Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim, and from the beginning the relations between him and the Jäegers were troubled.
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Valkoisten joukkojen ylipäällikkö sisällissodassa, Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim Tampereen lähellä / The White army´s commander-in-chief during the Civil War, Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim near Tampere

Mannerheim disbanded the Jäeger battalion, dispersing the trained men throughout the ranks of the White forces to gain new officers and leaders for future NCO courses. Mannerheim did this also to increase his own control of the military situation - he was bitterly opposed to the pro-German faction of the Senate, led by Svinhufvud who had earlier stated that he was going to return to power in the country "with the help of God and Hindenburg." Mannerheim believed that the Reds could be beaten without outside interference, and to prove this and to bolster his own status he needed a decisive military victory and fast. After the White forces pushed the crumbling Red front southwards at Tavastia, the battles soon begun to approach the city of Tampere. Tampere was an important industrial center within the Grand Duchy, and thus it was one of the solid strongholds of the Red forces. Both sides knew that they would have to control the city to secure the vitally important railway connections located there.
ex Ngāti Tumatauenga ("Tribe of the Maori War God") aka the New Zealand Army

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