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

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

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

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

The Church of the Three Crosses

The Church of the Three Crosses (Vuoksenniska chruch), designed by academician Alvar Aalto, is architecturally an interesting building. Its slender, high belfry describes a down shot arrow. Instead of the altar painting there are three crosses. Among the 103 windows only two are identical. Aalto planned the church also for other activities in the parish besides services. Therefore the church can be divided into three part ...
Founded: 1957 | Location: Imatra, Finland

The Suur-Savo Museum

The Suur-Savo Museum is located to a stone granary that was built in 1848 to serve as the parish of Mikkeli’s municipal granary. The building has been used as a museum since 1960. The permanent exhibition of the Suur-Savo Museum contains items from the peasant culture in Southern Savo and artefacts that depict the history of the city of Mikkeli. In addition, temporary exhibitions are held, usually in their own facil ...
Founded: 1960 | Location: Mikkeli, Finland

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Porta Nigra

The Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. It is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened colour of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta.

The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side. For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.

In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city. The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle. The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.

In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse. Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.

After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him. Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church. A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate - the much smaller Simeon Gate - was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.

In 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the church in the Porta Nigra and the monastery beside it, along with the vast majority of Trier"s numerous churches and monasteries. On his visit to Trier in 1804, Napoleon ordered that the Porta Nigra be converted back to its Roman form. Only the apse was kept; but the eastern tower was not rebuilt to its original height. Local legend has it that Napoleon originally wanted to completely tear down the church, but locals convinced him that the church had actually been a Gaulish festival hall before being turned into a church. Another version of the story is that they told him about its Roman origins, persuading him to convert the gate back to its original form.

In 1986 the Porta Nigra was designated a World Heritage Site, along with other Roman monuments in Trier and its surroundings. The modern appearance of the Porta Nigra goes back almost unchanged to the reconstruction ordered by Napoleon. At the south side of the Porta Nigra, remains of Roman columns line the last 100 m of the street leading to the gate. Positioned where they had stood in Roman times, they give a slight impression of the aspect of the original Roman street that was lined with colonnades. The Porta Nigra, including the upper floors, is open to visitors.