greatwar-1914: May 17, 1918 – Finnish Civil Wa…


May 17, 1918 – Finnish Civil War Ends with White Victory

Pictured – German troops guard Red prisoners. The experienced German soldiers sent to aid the Finnish nationalists were crucial to their victory.

On May 16th the Finnish Civil War ended. Official victory was pronounced when nationalist White troops occupied a Russian coastal fortress in Karelia. The White leader Baron Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim claimed liberation had been achieved from foreigners. While the Finnish revolution was an offset of the October revolution, in truth the Bolsheviks had been uninvolved. The next day Mannerheim led a parade through the streets of the capital.

Revolutionary resistance had been broken weeks before after a German division landed in-country and helped defeat Red forces at the Battles of Tampere and Helsinki in April. These bloodied German troops made all the difference in destroying the enthusiastic but under-gunned Finnish Red army.

No negotiations were made or peace treaties signed. The nationalists led by  embarked on a brutal campaign of counter-revolution that killed 10,000 Finns and foreigners accused of being Reds. A further 80,000 were interned in concentration camps, where 12,500 perished of starvation or died when the Spanish flu swept across Europe. The scale of the White terror was not acknowledged until the 1960s.