Independency

History of Finland between 1918 - 2017

Independence

The February and the October Revolution in 1917, had also ignited hopes in the Grand Duchy of Finland. After the abdication of Grand Duke Nicholas II on 15 March 1917, the personal union between Russia and Finland lost its legal base – at least according to the view in Helsinki. There was negotiations between the Russian Interim Government and Finnish authorities. The resulting proposal, approved by the interim government, was heavily rewritten in the Parliament and transformed into the so called Power Act, in which it declared itself now having all powers of legislation, except in respect of foreign policy and military issues, and also that it could be dissolved only by itself. At the time of voting it was believed that the Interim Government would be defeated. The Interim Government sustained, did not approve the act and dissolved the Parliament.

After new elections and the defeat of the interim government, on 5 November, the Parliament declared itself to be "the possessor of supreme State power" in Finland, based on Finland's Constitution The October Revolution of 1917 turned Finnish politics upside down. Now, the new non-Socialist majority of the Parliament desired total independence, and the Socialists came gradually to view Soviet Russia as an example to follow. On November 15, 1917, the Bolsheviks declared a general right of self-determination, including the right of complete secession, "for the Peoples of Russia". On the same day the Finnish Parliament issued a declaration by which it temporarily took power in Finland.

Civil War

Punakaartin sotilaita
Red Guards in the Civil War

Finland after 1917 was bitterly divided along social lines. The Whites consisted of the Swedish-speaking middle and upper classes and the farmers and peasantry who dominated the northern two-thirds of the land. They had a conservative outlook and rejected socialism. The socialist-Communist Reds comprised the Finnish-speaking urban workers and the landless rural cottagers. They had a radical outlook and rejected capitalism. From January to May 1918, Finland experienced the brief but bitter Finnish Civil War. On one side there were the "white" civil guards, who fought for the anti-Socialists. On the other side were the Red Guards, which consisted of workers and tenant farmers. The latter proclaimed a Finnish Socialist Workers' Republic. World War I was still underway and the defeat of the Red Guards was achieved with support from Imperial Germany, while Sweden remained neutral and Russia withdrew its forces. The Reds lost the war and the White peasantry rose to political leadership in the 1920s-1930s. About 37,000 men died, most of them in prisoner camps ravaged by influenza and other diseases.

Finland in the inter-war era

After the civil war the parliament, controlled by the Whites, voted to establish a constitutional monarchy to be called the Kingdom of Finland, with a German prince as king. However, Germany's defeat in November 1918 made the plan impossible and Finland instead became a republic, with Kaarlo Juho Ståhlberg elected as its first President in 1919. Despite the bitter civil war, and repeated threats from fascist movements, Finland became and remained a capitalist democracy under the rule of law. By contrast, nearby Estonia, in similar circumstances but without a civil war, started as a democracy and was turned into a dictatorship in 1934.

Nationalist sentiment remaining from the Civil War developed into the proto-Fascist Lapua Movement in 1929. Initially the movement gained widespread support among anti-Communist Finns, but following a failed coup attempt in 1932 it was banned and its leaders imprisoned. In the wake of the Civil War there were many incidents along the border between Finland and Soviet Russia, such as the Aunus expedition and the Pork mutiny. Relations with the Soviets were improved after the Treaty of Tartu in 1920, in which Finland gained Petsamo, but gave up its claims on East Karelia. Tens of thousands of radical Finns—from Finland, the United States and Canada—took up Stalin's 1923 appeal to create a new Soviet society in the Karelian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (KASSR), a part of Russia. Most were executed in the purges of the 1930s. The Soviet Union started to tighten its policy against Finland in the 1930s, limiting the navigation of Finnish merchant ships between Lake Ladoga and the Gulf of Finland and blocking it totally in 1937.

Finland in World War II

Raattentie T-26
Finnish soldiers at Raate Road

During World War II, Finland fought two wars against the Soviet Union: the Winter War of 1939–1940, resulting in the loss of Finnish Karelia, and the Continuation War of 1941–1944 (with considerable support from Nazi Germany resulting in a swift invasion of neighboring areas of the Soviet Union), eventually leading to the loss of Finland's only ice-free winter harbour Petsamo. The Continuation War was, in accordance with the armistice conditions, immediately followed by the Lapland War of 1944–1945, when Finland fought the Germans to force them to withdraw from northern Finland back into Norway (then under German occupation).

Cold War

Finland retained a democratic constitution and free economy during the Cold War era. Treaties signed in 1947 and 1948 with the Soviet Union included obligations and restraints on Finland, as well as territorial concessions. Both treaties have been abrogated by Finland since the 1991 dissolution of the Soviet Union, while leaving the borders untouched. Even though being a neighbour to the mighty Soviet Union sometimes resulted in overly cautious concern in foreign policy ("Finlandization"), Finland developed closer co-operation with the other Nordic countries and declared itself neutral in superpower politics.

Recent history

The process of accession was completed on January 1, 1995, when Finland joined the European Union along with Austria and Sweden. Leading Finland into the EU is held as the main achievement of the Centrist-Conservative government of Esko Aho then in power. In the economic policy, the EU membership forced large changes. While politicians were previously involved in setting interest rates, the central bank was given an inflation-targeting mandate until Finland joined the eurozone.[54] During Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen's two successive governments 1995–2003, several large state companies were privatized fully or partially. Matti Vanhanen's two cabinets followed suit until autumn 2008, when the state became a major shareholder in the Finnish telecom company Elisa with the intention to secure the Finnish ownership of a strategically important industry.

References: Wikipedia

Popular sites founded between 1918 and 2017 in Finland

Parliament House

Since 1907 the Parliament of Finland was convened in House of the Estates and Finnish House of Nobility. Both buildings became however too small for the 200 members of the independent Finland Parliament. In 1923 a competition was held to choose a site for a new Parliament House. Arkadianmäki, a hill beside what is now Mannerheimintie, was chosen as the best site.The architectural competition which was held in 1924 wa ...
Founded: 1926-1931 | Location: Helsinki, Finland

Olympic Stadium

The story of Olympic Stadium began in 1927, when City of Helsinki and several sport associations created the Stadium Foundation. The purpose of foundation was to build an adequate venue for the summer olympics. Construction of the Olympic Stadium began in 1934 and it was completed in 1938. It was designed in functionalistic style by the architects Yrjö Lindegren and Toivo Jäntti.The stadium was built to host the ...
Founded: 1934-1938 | Location: Helsinki, Finland

Temppeliaukio Church

Quarried out of the natural bedrock, The Temppeliaukio church is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city; half a million people visit it annually. The interior walls are created naturally by the rock. The church was designed by architects Timo and Tuomo Suomalainen and opened in 1969. The interior was excavated and built into the rock but is bathed in natural light entering through the glazed dome. Due to ...
Founded: 1969 | Location: Helsinki, Finland

Sibelius Monument

The Sibelius monument was designed by Eila Hiltunen and completed in 1967. It consists of series of more than 600 hollow steel pipes welded together in a wave-like pattern. The purpose of the artist was to capture the essence of the music of Sibelius. The monument weighs 24 tonnes. It’s probably the most well-known abstract sculpture in Finland and popular tourist attraction.
Founded: 1967 | Location: Helsinki , Finland

The Finnish Labour Museum Werstas

The Finnish Labour Museum Werstas is located in the historical Finlayson cotton mill area. At Werstas, you can visit the Textile Industry Museum, the Steam Engine Museum as well as the Labour Museum's changing and permanent exhibitions.The exhibitions at Werstas offer an overview of the history of the industrial era, worker population and civil society from different perspectives. The constantly refreshed exhibitions pres ...
Founded: Museum founded in 1993 | Location: Tampere, Finland

Lenin Museum

The Lenin museum is located at the old Worker's Hall of Tampere, where V. I. Lenin and Josef Stalin met for the first time in 1905. It was opened in 1946 to present the life and ideas of Lenin. Today the museum focuses more widely to material related to Lenin's life and activities and the history of the Soviet Union.
Founded: 1946 | Location: Tampere, Finland

Forum Marinum

The Forum Marinum Maritime Centre exhibits seafaring history and traditions of the nautical culture in the southwest of Finland, history of the naval forces and the maritime history collections of Åbo Akademi University and Provincial Museum.In addition to permanent and temporary exhibitions there are several museum ships located to the museum or near Aurajoki river. Most well-known ships are full-rigger Suomen Jousten ( ...
Founded: 1999 | Location: Turku, Finland

Aviation Museum of Central Finland

The Aviation Museum of Central Finland exhibits the aviation history of Finland, from the early 1900s until today. The exhibition consists of aircraft, engines and aircrew equipment which has been used by the Finnish Air Force. The equipment of the Air Force Signals Museum has its own section. A large collection of scale models gives a wider perspective to the whole field of aviation.
Founded: 1979 | Location: Jyväskylä, Finland

Armoured Vehicle Museum

Parola Tank Museum, officially Armoured Vehicle Museum displays various tanks, armoured vehicles and anti-tank guns used by the Finnish Defence Forces throughout its history. A rare exhibit is an armoured train used in World War Two. A few kilometers away from the museum is also the Armoured Brigade. The museum was opened June 18, 1961, when there were 19 tanks and 12 anti-tank guns on display. Also Leopard 2A4, the lates ...
Founded: opened 1961 | Location: Hämeenlinna, Finland

Arktikum

Arktikum is the Provincial Museum of Lapland and Arctic Center. The exhibitions examine culture, history, and modern life in the Arctic. Concepts such as human life in tune with nature are explored in depth. In the Provincial Museum’s permanent exhibition “The Northern Ways” you will find out about the life and mothology e.g. of the moose and bear and you will also hear the sounds of the Lappish animals. ...
Founded: 1992 | Location: Rovaniemi, Finland

Åland Museum

The history of Åland from the Stone Ages to present times is exhibited at the permanent exhibition in the Åland museum. It’s concentrating on such themes as hunting and fishing, The Earth, The sea, The People and Autonomy. A comprehensive picture of Åland´s archaeology, folklore and natural sciences. In 1982 the museum received the European Museum of the Year Award.
Founded: 1981 | Location: Maarianhamina, Finland

Carelicum

Carelicum is a culture, museum, and tourist centre situated at the market place in the middle of Joensuu. The special interest is the collection of the Sortavala Museum, evacuated during the Second World War. A wide photographic collection related to North Karelia and Karelia on the other side of the border, the Ladoga Karelia.
Founded: 1998 | Location: Joensuu, Finland

Paimio Sanatorium

Paimio Sanatorium is a former tuberculosis sanatorium in designed by Finnish architect Alvar Aalto. The building was completed in 1932, and soon after received critical acclaim both in Finland and abroad. The building served exclusively as a tuberculosis sanatorium until the early 1960s, when it was converted into a general hospital. Today the building is part of the Turku University Hospital. The sanatorium was nominated ...
Founded: 1932 | Location: Paimio, Finland

Kaleva Church

Kaleva Church in Tampere is very exceptional church building in Finland. The modern church was designed by Reima and Raili Pietilä and it was completed in 1966.Vertical windows reaching from floor to ceiling give lot of light inside highlight the cathedral-style height of the building. Kaleva Church is characterized by space, light and and long shapes inside. There are also lot of wooden surfaces inside the church. The l ...
Founded: 1964-1966 | Location: Tampere, Finland

Maritime Centre Vellamo

Maritime Centre Vellamo is a unique building in Finland with a wave-like roof. It houses the Maritime Museum of Finland, Museum of Kymenlaakso and Information Centre Vellamo.The Maritime Museum of Finland is a national maritime museum operating under the National Board of Antiquities and the Ministry of Education, destined to record the history of seafaring in Finland and to convey related information. The Maritime Museum ...
Founded: 2008 | Location: Kotka, Finland

Vanajanlinna

The history of the original estate of Vanajanlinna, Äikäälä, goes back to the Middle Ages. Historical records mention Olle af Aeykaelum (Olli of Äikäälä) as the owner of the Äikäälä estate in 1374. After him the farm has had many owners and a colourful history as a freehold and holding farm used for agriculture.The actual history of Vanajalinna begins from the year 1918, when the industrialist Carl Wilhelm Ros ...
Founded: 1924 | Location: Hämeenlinna, Finland

Rauma Maritime Museum

The Maritime Museum was founded in 2004. It is located in the former Maritime school built in 1900. There are both permanent and temporary exhibitions of the maritime history in Rauma and the Finland west coast. The Maritime Museum is open in summer season.
Founded: 2004 | Location: Rauma, Finland

Turkansaari

The Turkansaari Open-Air Museum consists over 40 museum buildings. The buildings include for example a church built in 1694 and the old country manor house of Ylikärppä, completed in 1894. In Turkansaari, you can see the old trades that the region’s economy used to revolve around, including tar-making, salmon fishing, lumbering and log floating.Turkansaari church was built as the chapel in 1694. At that ti ...
Founded: 1922 | Location: Oulu, Finland

Pielinen Museum

Pielinen Museum is the second largest open-air museum in Finland. There are over 70 buildings or structures from different centuries, the oldest hut date back to the 17th century. The permanent exhibition focuses on the living and building conditions. The open-air museum area comprises three farmyards from the 18th to 20th centuries, forestry department with lumber cabins, a mill, farming and fire sections.Reference: Muse ...
Founded: 1963 | Location: Lieksa, Finland

The Salpa Line Museum

The Salpa Line is a massive line of defensive fortifications approximately 1200 km long that was built in 1940-41 and in 1944 in order to defend the Eastern border of Finland. The Salpa Line Museum in Miehikkälä is a museum on military history established in 1987 displaying the history of fortification works of the Salpa Line. The permanent exhibition of the museum consists of the exhibition and multimedia shows ...
Founded: 1940-44 | Location: Miehikkälä, Finland

New Valamo

Tradition has it that the original Monastery of Valamo was founded in the 12th century or no later than the 14th century. New Valamo or New Valaam is an Orthodox monastery in Heinävesi. The monastery was established in 1940, when some 190 monks from Valamo Monastery in Karelia were evacuated from their old abode on a group of islands in Lake Laatokka (Ladoga) to Eastern Finland. The old Valamo Monastery was quite soo ...
Founded: 1940 | Location: Heinävesi, Finland

Vehoniemi Automotive Museum

Vehoniemi Automotive Museum exhibition consists about 50 restored cars and motocycles. In the museum you can see for example the only Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL Waxenberger 6.3 in the world and Trabant donated to the Police of Finland. The museum is located in the Vehoniemenharju preservation area. The observation tower has a nice view over the Roine and Längelmävesi lakes.
Founded: 1983 | Location: Kangasala, Finland

Orthodox Church Museum

The Orthodox Church Museum, established in Kuopio in 1957, derives from the Collection of Ancient Objects founded at the Monastery of Valamo in 1911. Most of the exhibits, which consist mainly of icons, sacred objects and liturgical textiles, are from the monasteries and congregations of Karelia: a region in southeast Finland that was partially ceded to the Soviet Union in connection with the Second World War. Objects in ...
Founded: 1957 | Location: Kuopio, Finland

Reposaari Fortress

Reposaari Fortress (Reposaaren linnakepuisto) was a coastal defence system built in the 1930s. It was designed to protect the important harbor of Pori against Russian fleet. The stronghold area is about 20 hectares and consists of two gun positions, magazines, dugouts, trenches etc. Wooden buildings have been reconstructed in the 1990-2000s. During the Winter War Reposaari Fortress eliminated one Russian bomber and heckl ...
Founded: 1930s | Location: Pori, Finland

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Wawel Castle

Wawel Hill – a Jurassic limestone rock, a dominant feature in the landscape of Kraków, have provided a safe haven for people who have settled here since the Paleolithic Age. It is supposed that the Slav people started living on Wawel hill as early as the 7th century. Early medieval legends tell stories about a dreadful dragon that lived in a cave on Wawel Hill, about his slayer Krakus, and about the latter’s daughter Wanda, who drowned herself in the Vistula rather than marry a German knight. Towards the end of the first millennium A.D Wawel began to play the role of the centre of political power.In the 9th century it became the principal fortified castrum of the Vislane tribe. The first historical ruler of Poland, Miesco I (c.965-992) of the Piast dynasty as well as his successors: Boleslas the Brave (992-1025) and Miesco II (1025-1034) chose Wawel Hill as one of their residences.

At that time Wawel became one of the main Polish centres of Christianity. The first early Romanesque and Romanesque sacral buildings were raised here, including a stone cathedral that was erected after the bishopric of Kraków was established in the year 1000.

During the reign of Casimir the Restorer (1034-1058) Wawel became a significant political and administrative centre for the Polish State. Casimir’s son, Boleslas the Bold (1058-1079) began the construction of a second Romanesque cathedral, which was finished by Boleslas the Wrymouth (1102-1138). In his last will of 1138, this prince divided Poland into districts, and provided that Kraków was to be the residence of the senior prince. In 1291 the city of Kraków along with Wawel Hill temporarily fell under the Czech rule, and Wenceslas II from the Premysl dynasty was crowned King of Poland in Wawel cathedral.

In 1306 the Duke of Kuyavia Ladislas the Short (1306-1333) entered Wawel and was crowned King of Poland in the Cathedral in 1320. It was the first historically recorded coronation of a Polish ruler on Wawel Hill. Around that time, at the initiative of Ladislas the Short, the construction of the third Gothic cathedral began, the castle was expanded and the old wooden and earthen fortifications were replaced by brick ones. The tomb of Ladislas the Short in the cathedral started a royal necropolis of Polish kings in Krakow.The last descendant of the Piast dynasty, Casimir the Great (1333-1370) brought Wawel to a state of unprecedented splendour. In 1364 the expanded gothic castle witnessed the marriage of Casimir’s granddaughter Elizabeth to Charles IV accompanied by a famous convention of kings and princes, subsequently entertained by a rich burgher Wierzynek. The accession to the throne in 1385 of Jadwiga from the Hungarian dynasty of Andegavens, and her marriage to a Lithuanian prince Ladislas Jagiello (1386-1434) started another era of prosperity for Wawel. The royal court employed local and western European artists and also Rus painters. During the reign of Casimir Jagiellon (1447-1492) the silhouette of the hill was enriched by three high brick towers: the Thieves’ Tower, the Sandomierz Tower and the Senatorial Tower. The first humanists in Poland and tutors to the king’s sons: historian Jan Długosz and an Italian by the name Filippo Buonacorsi (also known as Callimachus) worked there at that time.

The Italian Renaissance arrived at Wawel in the early 16th century. King Alexander (1501-1506) and his brother Sigismund I the Old (1506-1548) commissioned the construction of a new palace in place of the Gothic residence, with an impressive large courtyard with arcaded galleries which was completed about 1540. Sigismund’s patronage also left an indelible impression in the cathedral, where a family chapel was erected, known today as Sigismund’s Chapel - the work of Bartolomeo of Berrecci Florence, and through various foundations, one of which was that of a large bell, called the Sigismund to commemorate the king. Close artistic and cultural relations with Italy were strengthened in 1518 by the king’s marriage to Bona Sforza. Alongside Italian artists, German architects, wood workers, painters and metal smiths worked for the king. The last descendant of the Jagiellonian dynasty, Sigismund II Augustus (1548-1572), enriched the castle’s interiors with a magnificent collection of tapestries woven in Brussels. In the “Golden Age” of Polish culture Wawel became one of the main centres of humanism in Europe.

The reign of Sigismund III Waza (1587-1632) also made a strong impression on the history of Wawel. After a fire in the castle in 1595 the king rebuilt the burned wing of the building in the early Baroque style. The relocation of the royal court to Warsaw was the cause of a slow but nevertheless steady deterioration in the castle’s condition. The monarchs visited Kraków only occasionally. Restoration of the castle was undertaken during the reign of John III Sobieski, the Wettins and Stanislas Augustus to counteract neglect.

After Poland had lost its independence in 1795, the troops of partitioning nations, Russia, Prussia and Austria, subsequently occupied Wawel which finally passed into the hands of the Austrians. The new owners converted the castle and some of the secular buildings into a military hospital, and demolished some others, including churches. After the period of the Free City of Kraków (1815-1846) Wawel was once more annexed by Austria and turned into a citadel dominating the city. By the resolution passed by the Seym of Galicia in 1880, the castle was presented as a residence to the Emperor of Austria Franz Josef I. The Austrian troops left the hill between 1905-1911. At the turn of the 20th century a thorough restoration of the cathedral was conducted, and shortly afterwards a process of restoration of the royal castle began which lasted several decades.

When Poland regained its independence in 1918, the castle served as an official residence of the Head of State, and as a museum of historic interiors. During the Nazi occupation the castle was the residence of the German governor general, Hans Frank. Polish people managed to remove the most valuable objects, including the tapestries and the “Szczerbiec” coronation sword to Canada, from where they returned as late as 1959-1961. At present, the main curators of Wawel are Wawel Royal Castle – State Art Collection and the Metropolitan Basilica Board on Wawel Hill.