Current History, Vol. VIII, No. 3, June 1918 online

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through which will be laid the ground for a real representation by
the people and a firm foundation for the future of the working

Although the Finnish Socialists are united with Russia by co-operation
and common aspirations, they do not desire to join the Russian
Federation. Finnish socialism identifies itself with the cause of
Finnish nationalism. It was the Socialists that were the stanchest
advocates of Finland's secession from Russia, and it was they that, by
calling a general strike, forced the Diet to adopt immediately the
Independence bill in November, 1917.

The notion of Finland's complete sovereignty forms the basis of the
peace concluded early in March, 1918, between the Russian Socialist
Federative Soviet Republic and the Finnish Socialist Workmen's
Republic, "in order to strengthen the friendship and fraternity between
the above-mentioned free republics." According to this pact, published
on March 10, Russia hands over to the Independent Finnish Socialist
Republic all its possessions in Finland, including real estate,
telegraphs, railways, fortresses, lighthouses, and also Finnish ships
which had been requisitioned by the Russian Government before or during
the war. Article IX. provides for "free and unimpeded access for the
merchant ships of the Russian and Finnish Socialist Republics to all
seas, lakes and rivers, harbors, anchoring places, and channels" within
their territories. The next article establishes uninterrupted
communication, without trans-shipment, between the Russian and Finnish
railways. Article XIII. contains the provision that "Finnish citizens in
Russia as well as Russian citizens in Finland shall enjoy the same
rights as the citizens of the respective countries."



If "Red" Finland has had the support of the Russian Bolsheviki, "White"
Finland has found a most enterprising ally in Germany. The Vasa
Government has been working in direct and now open contact with
Berlin. It is overwhelmingly pro-German. The relation between the two
Governments early assumed the character of vassalage on the part of the
Finns. This is evidenced by the peace agreement which official Finland
concluded with Germany on March 7. Its full text will be found elsewhere
in this issue.


Since the beginning of the war the Germans have been conducting in
Finland an active campaign of espionage and propaganda through a host of
agents and sympathizers. The propaganda found a favorable soil among the
propertied classes, and especially among the landed gentry of Swedish
extraction. On the other hand, the persecutions which the Czar's
bureaucracy inflicted upon the nation, and against which neither the
French nor the British press uttered any adequate protest, drove some of
the patriotic Finns into the arms of Russia's enemies. A number of
Finnish youths escaped to Germany and entered the ranks of the German
Army. The University of Helsingfors played a prominent part in this
movement. In 1915 an entire battalion made up exclusively of Finns
fought under the German colors, while no Finns served in the Russian
Army, exemption from military service being one of the ancient Finnish
privileges respected by the Imperial Russian Government.

After the March revolution, and especially after the fall of Riga, the
efforts of the German agents, with whom Finland now fairly swarmed, were
directed toward fomenting Finnish separatism. In fact, the Swedish press
asserted that from the very beginning of the war the Germans had spent
large sums of money in trying to fan the Finns' smoldering discontent
with Russia. At the same time Germany endeavored to enlist the
sympathies of the White Guards, (skudshär,) which the middle classes
were hastily organizing, ostensibly for the purpose of assisting the
militia and protecting the population from robbers. Berlin was so
successful in its task that as early as October, 1917, the head of the
Russian Bureau of Counterespionage in Finland spoke of the skudskär as
"the vanguard of the German Army." The Finns who served in Wilhelm's
army and were thoroughly indoctrinated with German military science and
German ideals were returned to their native country, and it was they
that took upon themselves to officer the White Guards. Some of the
weapons and munitions used by the latter were secured from Sweden, but
most of them came from Germany and were probably a part of the Russian
booty. The above-mentioned Russian official declared, in an interview
published in a Petrograd daily in October, 1917, that German submarines
appeared regularly off the Finnish coast and delivered arms and
ammunition to Finnish vessels.


The White Guards, commanded by General Mannerheim, fought the
revolutionists with varying success but without achieving a decisive
victory. Several towns in the south were the scene of prolonged battles
in which many lives were lost, notably Tammerfors, the important
industrial centre, where fierce fighting raged throughout the second
half of March. The factory districts in the north were also the scene of
stubborn fighting. A number of women were seen in the ranks of the Red

The two warring factions created a reign of "Red" and "White" terror in
the country. Both committed frightful atrocities. On April 17, Oskari
Tokoi, the Commissionary for Foreign Affairs in the Socialist Cabinet,
protested to all the powers against the manner in which General
Mannerheim treated his Red Guard prisoners. He pointed out that, while
the Red Guards regarded the captured White Guards as prisoners of war,
the Government troops, having taken a number of prisoners, shot all the
officers and every fifteenth man of the rank and file. On the other
hand, the corpses of many White Guards were found unspeakably mutilated.

Immediately after the outbreak of the Socialist rebellion, the official
Government conceived the idea of appealing for foreign military aid
against the revolutionists. On Jan. 30 such an appeal was reported to
have been sent to Sweden. The cause of White Finland had many
sympathizers in that country. The Finnish White Guards had a recruiting
office in Stockholm, and a number of Swedish volunteers fought in their
ranks. A considerable portion (12 per cent.) of the Finnish population
are Swedes, mostly members of the higher classes. In addition, the two
countries have common historical memories, for Finland was a Swedish
province for six centuries, from the time of Erik VIII., King of Sweden,
till the Russian annexation in 1809.

The Swedish Government did not, however, elect to intervene. It is not
certain whether Stockholm refused its assistance because Finland refused
to cede the Aland Islands to the Swedes as a compensation for their
services, or because, as Mr. Branting asserts, Sweden was to intervene
"as the creature and ally of Germany." The only step the Swedes took was
to send a military expedition to the Aland Islands, in response to
several appeals from their population, which is mostly Swedish. This
measure was decided upon by the Swedish Parliament on Feb. 16 and was
effected two or three days later.

The Aland Archipelago, consisting of about ninety inhabited islets and
situated between Abo on the Finnish coast and Stockholm, belongs to
Finland. Its strategic importance for Sweden is aptly characterized by
an old phrase which describes it as "a revolver aimed at the heart of
Sweden." The mission of Sweden's troops was to clear the islands, by
moral suasion if possible, from the bands of Russian soldiers and
Finnish White and Red Guards which for some time had been terrorizing
the population. The Bolshevist garrison offered stubborn resistance to
the landing of the Swedish forces.


At noon on March 2 a German detachment occupied the Aland Islands. The
next day the German Minister at Stockholm informed the Swedish
Government that Germany intended to use these islands as a halting place
for the German military expedition into Finland, undertaken at the
request of the Finnish Government for the purpose of suppressing the
revolution. He gave assurances that Germany sought no territorial gains
in effecting the occupation and would not hinder the humanitarian work
of the Swedish Supervision Corps in the islands. On March 22 the Main
Committee of the Reichstag rejected, by 12 votes against 10, the motion
of the Independent Social Democrats to evacuate the Aland Islands and
cease interfering with the internal affairs of Finland.


Mr. Branting, the Swedish political leader, denounced the talk that
Finland, deserted by Sweden, turned to Germany in despair, as "gross
hypocrisy." He is convinced that a secret agreement existed between
Finland and Germany long before the outbreak of the civil war, and that
Finland wants to be a dependency under Germany rather than a member of a
Scandinavian federation of States. Some members of the Diplomatic Corps
in Washington were also reported to believe that the civil war was
merely a specious pretext for inviting Germany to restore order in the
country, and that the negotiations which brought about the German
intervention had been going on secretly for months.

March passed in preparations for the expedition. On the morning of April
3 the Russian icebreaker Volinetz, which had been captured by the White
Guards, piloted a German naval squadron, consisting of thirty-six ships,
into the Finnish waters of Hangö, which is the extreme southwestern
point of the Finnish coast, within a few hours of Helsingfors. During
the afternoon the Germans landed on the peninsula of Hangö a force
which, according to an official German statement, comprised 40,000 men
under General Sasnitz, 300 guns, and 2,000 machine guns. The next day
the Berlin War Office issued the following statement: "Eastern
Theatre - In agreement with the Finnish Government, German troops have
landed on the Finnish mainland." Later more German detachments were
landed at Abo.

According to one report, the Germans, upon their landing, opened
negotiations with the Finnish Socialists, but their overtures were
apparently rejected. The Russian Government immediately protested to
Germany against the landing in Finland. The German Government replied by
demanding that the Russian war vessels in Finnish territorial waters
should either leave for Russian ports or disarm, according to Article 5
of the Brest-Litovsk treaty, on or before midday, April 12. The
Bolsheviki ordered the commander of the Baltic fleet to carry out this
demand. Four Russian submarines were fired upon and sunk by the Germans
at Hangö during the landing and several other Russian warships were
blown up by their own crews for fear of being captured by the Germans.


On April 13 the Finnish Official News Bureau gave out a statement to the
effect that all German troops landed in Finland had been dispatched at
the request of the Finnish Government. On April 17 the Germans landed
40,000 men at Helsingfors. Their naval squadron stationed in the harbor
of the Finnish capital consisted of twelve vessels.


The Red Guards offered a stubborn resistance to the invaders, but it
soon became apparent that their cause was lost. Upon the landing of the
Germans, the Socialist Government escaped from Helsingfors and
established itself at Viborg, seventy-five miles northwest of Petrograd.
On April 13 the German troops, aided by naval detachments, entered
Helsingfors, "after a vigorous encounter with armed bands," as the
German official announcements read. According to a Reuter dispatch, a
three days' battle preceded the capture of the Finnish capital. It was
taken by storm after fierce fighting in the streets. About the same time
the City of Abo was taken by the White Guards. The Germans then
proceeded to move on Viborg. On April 23 the Finnish Socialist
Government protested to the allied representatives, including the
American Ambassador to Russia, against the German interference. It
declared that the Finnish Socialists would continue for the cause of
freedom, with "a profound hatred and contempt for the executioners of
nations and of the labor movement."

Viborg fell into the hands of the White Guards on April 30, after nearly
all its defenders, 6,000 in all, were slaughtered. Among the prisoners
taken was Kullerwo Manner, the President of the Socialist Government. On
May 4 Berlin was able to announce complete victory in Finland. The
official report follows:

Finland has been cleared of the enemy. German troops, in
co-operation with Finnish battalions, attacked the enemy between
Lakhti and Tevasthus in an encircling movement, and in a five days'
battle, in spite of a bitter defense and desperate attempts to break
through, we have overwhelmingly defeated him. The Finnish forces cut
off his retreat in a northerly direction. The enemy is closed in on
every side, and, after the heaviest losses, is laying down his arms.
We took 20,000 prisoners. Thousands of vehicles and horses were

A dispatch dated May 8 reported, however, that the country was far from
pacified, and that the Red Guards continued to offer resistance at many

Speaking before the Main Committee of the Reichstag, on May 8, Friedrich
von Payer, the German Imperial Vice Chancellor, defended Germany's
intervention in Finland. The fundamental aim of this step was "to
create in North Finland a final condition of peace, both military and
political." He stated that the entire staff of the 43d Russian Army
Corps was recently captured in Finland. He denied that Germany intended
further to interfere in the inner affairs of Finland, and added that
Germany had concluded economic and political treaties with Finland
whereby both parties would profit.


While these military operations were being carried on, Finland was
becoming a German province. Late in March an American and an English
officer, visiting General Mannerheim at Vasa upon orders from their
legations, were threatened by Finnish White Guard officers with personal
violence and turned out of the dining room of the chief hotel. This
incident was described as characteristic of the feeling existing among
the majority of Finns. On April 1 Vasabladet, the chief Vasa newspaper,
wrote: "No military or other similar persons from any of the countries
at war with Germany ought to be allowed to stay within the borders of
our country so long as we, with the help of God and Germany, are
fighting our hard fight for liberty, order, and justice against the
barbarous ally of the western powers." It appears from a case reported
on April 26 that the viséing of foreign passports by Finnish officials
depends now upon the consent of the Berlin authorities.

Finland was proclaimed a republic in December, 1917. It has always been
one of the most democratic countries in Europe. It is asserted,
nevertheless, that the experiences through which the former grand duchy
has passed in the last six months have converted many classes of the
population to monarchism. A Stockholm dispatch dated May 8 declared that
a monarchy would probably be proclaimed in Finland, and that Duke Adolph
Frederick of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, uncle of the Crown Princess of
Germany, would be appointed King.


In the middle of April it became known that the Finnish statesmen had an
ambitious plan for the territorial aggrandizement and political
expansion of their country at the expense of Russia, and possibly also
of Norway. A Stockholm paper published a statement that Germany had
agreed to the establishment of a Greater Finland, to include the
territory of the Petrograd-Murman railway to the arctic. The newspaper
added that the Finnish railway system was to be enlarged with a view to
establishing direct connection from North Cape to Budapest and
Constantinople. Thus Finland would become the cornerstone of a
"Mitteleuropa" stretching from the arctic coast to Asia Minor and
beyond. A well-known Finnish painter stated in an interview that the
Finnish troops, co-operating with the Germans, would take Petrograd as
well as the south coast of the Gulf of Finland, which is ethnically
Finnish. An announcement was made on May 8, before the Main Committee of
the Reichstag, that no Germans were participating or would participate
in the advance of Finnish troops on Petrograd.

A movement has been set afoot among Karelians, presumably by Finns, in
favor of the Finnish annexation of Russian Karelia, on the basis of the
principle of self-determination. Karelia includes parts of the
Governments of Petrograd, Olonetz, and Archangel; its aboriginal
population belongs to the Finnish race.


Peace Treaty Between Finland and Germany

Full Text of the Document

The Imperial Government of Berlin announced on March 7, 1918, that a
treaty of peace between Germany and Finland had been signed. Two days
later the full text was transmitted from Berlin to London through the
wireless stations of the German Government. This treaty with Germany was
made by the element in the Republic of Finland represented in a military
way by the White Guards, who were pro-German and co-operated with the
German army sent immediately afterward to make war in Finland against
the Red Guards, who represented the Bolshevist element of the Finnish
population. During April an armed conflict between the Reds and the
Germans raged around Helsingfors, where the Bolshevist forces fought to
annul this treaty, though with steadily diminishing prospects of

The full text of the treaty follows:

The Royal German Government and the Finnish Government, inspired by
the wish, after the declaration of the independence of Finland and
its recognition through Germany, to bring about a condition of peace
and friendship between both countries on a lasting basis, have
resolved to conclude a peace, and for this purpose they have
appointed the following plenipotentiaries: For the Royal German
Government, the Chancellor of the German Empire, Dr. Count von
Hertling; for the Finnish Government, Dr. Phil Edvard Immanuel
Hjelt, State Adviser, Vice Councilor of the University of
Helsingfors, and Rafael Waldemar Erich, LL.D., Professor of State
Law and of the Law of Nations at the University of Helsingfors, who,
after the mutual setting forth in good order and form of their
plenipotentiary powers, have come to an agreement on the following

_CHAPTER I. - Friendship Between Germany and Finland and the Assuring
of the Independence of Finland_

Article 1. The contracting parties declare that between Germany and
Finland no state of war exists and that they are resolved henceforth
to live in peace and friendship with each other. Germany will do
what she can to bring about the recognition of the independence of
Finland by all the powers. On the other hand, Finland will not cede
any part of her possessions to any foreign power nor constitute a
charge on her sovereign territory to any such power before first
having come to an understanding with Germany on the matter.

Article 2. Diplomatic and consular relations between the contracting
parties will be resumed immediately after the confirmation of the
peace treaty. The freest possible admission of Consuls on both sides
is to be provided for by arrangements in special treaties.

Article 3. Each of the contracting parties will replace the damage
which has been caused in its own territory by the war, or which the
States or populations have brought about by actions contrary to
international law, or which has been caused by the consular
officials of the other party either to life, liberty, health, or

_CHAPTER II. - War Indemnities_

Article 4. The contracting parties renounce mutually the making good
of war costs; that is to say, State expenses for the carrying on of
the war as well as the payment of war indemnities; that is to say,
of those prejudices which have arisen for them and their subjects in
the war zones by reason of the military measures connected with all
the requisitions undertaken in enemy country.

_CHAPTER III. - The Re-entry Into Force of State Treaties_

Article 5. The treaties which lapsed as a consequence of the war
between Germany and Russia shall be replaced as soon as possible by
new treaties for relations between the contracting parties, and they
shall be made to correspond to the new outlook and conditions which
have now arisen. Especially the contracting parties shall at once
enter into negotiations in order to draw up a treaty for the
settlement of trade and shipping relations between the two
countries, to be signed at the same time as the peace treaty.

Article 6. Treaties in which, apart from Germany and Russia, also a
third power takes part, and in which Finland appears together with
Russia or in the place of the latter, come into force between the
contracting parties on the ratification of peace treaty or, in case
the entry takes place later, at that moment. In connection with
collective treaties of political contents, in which other
belligerent powers are also involved, the two parties reserve their
attitude until after the conclusion of a general peace.

_CHAPTER IV. - Re-establishment of Private Rights_

Article 7. All stipulations existing in the territory of either of
the contracting parties, according to which, in view of the state of
war, subjects of the other party are subjected to any special
regulation whatever in the observation of their private rights,
cease to be of force on the confirmation of this treaty. Subjects of
either of the contracting parties are such legal persons and
societies as have their domicile in the respective territories.
Furthermore, subjects of either of the parties, legal persons and
societies which do not have their domicile in the territory, must be
regarded as on the same level in so far as in the territory of the
other party they were submitted to the stipulations applying to such

Article 8. With regard to the civil debt conditions which have been
influenced by war laws, the following has been agreed:

1. The debt conditions will be re-established in so far as the
stipulations in Articles 8 to 12 do not decide otherwise.

2. The stipulation in Paragraph 1 does not prejudice the question as
to what extent the conditions created by the war (especially the
impossibility of settlement of debt owing to the obstacles in
traffic or commercial prohibitions in the territory of either of the
contracting parties) shall be taken into account in the
determination of claims of subjects of either party in accordance
with the laws applying thereto in the respective territories. In
this connection subjects of the other party who have been prevented
by the measures of that party, are not to be dealt with more
unfavorably than the subjects of their own State, who have been
prevented by the measures of that State.

A person who by the war has been prevented from carrying out in good
time a payment shall not be obliged to make good the damage which
has occurred owing thereto.

3. Demands of money, whose payment could be refused during the war
on the strength of war laws, need not be paid until after the
expiration of three months after the confirmation of the peace
treaty. In so far as nothing else has been stipulated in the
supplementary treaty, an interest of 5 per cent. per annum must be
paid on such debts from the original date on which they were due,
for the duration of the war and the further three months, regardless
of moratoriums. Up to the day on which they were originally due, the
interests agreed upon, if any, must be paid. In the case of bills or
checks submission for payment as well as protests against nonpayment
must take place within the fourth month after the confirmation of

Online LibraryVariousCurrent History, Vol. VIII, No. 3, June 1918 → online text (page 11 of 30)